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When you’re ready for some serious SoCal fun, head down to the Gaslamp District in San Diego. This is the shiny centerpiece of “America’s Finest City,” anchored by the towering Petco Park and flanked by historic buildings.

The Gaslamp itself begins right across the train tracks from the Convention Center, and follows a vaguely rectangular shape from L Street all the way up to Broadway. You can drive around the area fairly easily, provided it’s not a Saturday night, but the district is also small enough to hoof it for an evening on the town. Lots of native San Diegans (and more than a few visitors) make a pilgrimage downtown for some Gaslamp nightlife. These are four of the hottest, most unique joints in the Gaslamp that locals and visitors should have on their must-visit list.

Omnia

So what, exactly, are you going to do once you’re downtown? For starters, check out some of the Gaslamp clubs. Omnia, located on 6th Avenue, is a couple years old, but just as popular as the day it opened. On the weekends in particular, you can expect big crowds, energetic DJs, and a freakin’ awesome light show.

Best for: The top place for bottle service in the Gaslamp.

Vin de Syrah

Looking for other things to do in the Gaslamp like drink vino at the best wine bar in the district? About four blocks north of Omnia, over on 5th Avenue, is Vin de Syrah. This is technically a bar, but there’s a small dance floor and DJs, and live bands routinely play…that is, if you can find your way into the building. The entrance is hidden down a dark flight of stairs, and once you’re inside, you’re pretty much down the rabbit hole (no, really—it’s got an “Alice in Wonderland” garden theme). Good luck getting out after indulging in a cheese platter and sangria flight. That stuff is seriously tasty.

Best for: The biggest selection of wine in the Gaslamp.

Werewolf

Not down with rabbits? Or maybe your allergies are just keeping you from really enjoying anything green. One of the other San Diego Gaslamp bars you should check out—especially if you want the best downtown whiskey selection— is Werewolf. It’s about three blocks south of Vin de Syrah on 4th Avenue. While I haven’t seen any wolf men lurking around—even during a full moon—you can certainly eat like one. Order a wild boar burger and top it off with one of their fine whiskeys from their whiskey book.

Best for: One of the biggest whiskey books in the Gaslamp.

Jolt’n Joe’s

The best place in the Gaslamp to watch your favorite sports teams, Jolt’n Joe’s, also happens to be on 4th Avenue about two blocks south of Werewolf. This is one classy sports bar, but rest assured you can still shriek at your favorite sports team on the big- and small-screen TVs. In between rounds of watching soccer, horse racing, and hockey–among other sports—you can play a rousing game of pool or drag your mildly tipsy friends into the photo booth with you.
Sometimes draft beers and Fireball Fridays aren’t enough to bolster local spirits, so Jolt’n Joe’s breaks out the grub. Their Mac Daddy is a king among mac and cheese dishes, and they quite possibly crafted the best, most delicious tater tot dish of all time—the Blue Cheese Tots. Queso, bits of bacon, and blue cheese crumbles combine forces to create something magical.

Order them. Eat them. Love them.

Best for: Watching sports in the Gaslamp.

You’re welcome. And please, enjoy your visit to the Gaslamp.

Suz Baldwin
Suz Baldwin
Suz Baldwin likes history, zombies, and coffee, and any combination of the three. You can usually find her avoiding the sunlight and/or embarking on impromptu road trips with friends.

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