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When the sun goes down in San Diego, the city lights turn up. Even though San Diego is known for its warm, sunny weather and active outdoor lifestyle, if you find yourself in San Diego for work or a conference, there are plenty of great activities that will allow you to experience the best of San Diego after 5.
If you are visiting San Diego for work, there is a good chance you’ll be staying downtown near the Convention Center. This area of San Diego is easy to navigate on foot and just a stone’s throw away from many of the city’s best neighborhoods, including the Gaslamp Quarter.
Aside from architectural beauty of this neighborhood (it dates back to the mid-1800s), the Gaslamp Quarter is the place to be at night. There are dozens of bars, clubs, restaurants, shops and theaters, and the streets themselves are alive with activity. The sound of live music pours out the open doorways. Thanks to San Diego’s warm climate, almost all of the Gaslamp’s bars and eateries have sidewalk seating. The range of dining options is endless – offering everything from Mexican food to sushi and pizza to steaks. A night out at the Gaslamp Quarter is a must for any trip to San Diego!
Also within easy walking distance from the Convention Center is San Diego’s Seaport Village. Seaport Village is a lively 14-acre stretch of waterfront shopping and dining right on the harbor. Built in 1980, this area of San Diego is open until 9:00 pm most of the year, and 10:00 pm in the summertime! Here you can also catch a harbor cruise. There are many dinner cruises and sunset cruises to enjoy after 5, and seeing San Diego from the water is a wonderful perspective on the city!
Old Town San Diego
Old Town is the historic heart of San Diego. Established in the late 1700s, Old Town is the site of California’s first Spanish settlement. Today it features 12 acres of Mexican heritage and historical sites, colorful shops, restaurants, museums, gardens, a theater and the restored Cosmopolitan Hotel.
Although most of the museums close by 6:00 pm, the park is open late and you can still explore the park and interesting building exteriors. Most shops stay open into the evening, and Old Town San Diego features some of the best and most authentic Mexican food anywhere! Come after work and stay for dinner and margaritas. There is live Mariachi music in the Fiesta de Reyes outdoor courtyard in Old Town to enjoy whether you decide to eat at that restaurant or not! Old Town is the place to go in San Diego for great food, folklore and fun.
See the City Lights
No time to take a sightseeing tour during the day? No problem! Old Town Trolley Tours offers the San Diego City Lights Night Tour and it is the perfect way to take in the highlights of San Diego after 5.
The narrated tour departs every evening from Seaport Village, and goes past some of the city’s most notable landmarks, including Balboa Park and the USS Midway. The trolley crosses the famous Coronado Bay Bridge and stops at Coronado’s Ferry Landing so you can take in the beauty of the expansive San Diego city skyline across the bay.
Tour a Brewery
Many people are surprised to learn that San Diego is a hotspot for microbreweries. In fact, there are well over 100 in San Diego County, and many offer free tours and tastings. If you’re a fan of craft beer, a brewery tour should be on your list things to do in San Diego at night. Many of the tour companies offer transportation, so you don’t have to worry about drinking and driving, or renting a car if you don’t have one!
Summer Nights After 5
If you are visiting San Diego in the summer, you’re in luck! Some of San Diego’s most famous tourist attractions stay open late and add extra fun, so you don’t have to miss out just because you are in town on business!
- The San Diego Zoo – Every summer Nighttime Zoo features “rock and roar” with live music, shows, and special animal encounters, in addition to the zoo’s regular exhibits. The zoo is open daily until 9pm from June through Labor Day.
- Sea World – Sea World Summer Nights includes fireworks and special nighttime shows. Sea World is open until 9pm in the summer.
- Belmont Park – Located right on the beach, Belmont Park is San Diego’s quintessential Southern California nighttime beach destination. Ride the historic Giant Dipper Roller Coaster or sip a beer on the sand. Play a carnival game or go on the bumper cars. Belmont Park has an old school boardwalk amusement park vibe. There is no admission to get in and walk around; just pay to play! Belmont Park is open year round, but only open late every night of the week in the summertime! The rest of the year, it closes at 6pm on weekdays and 9pm Friday through Sunday.
San Diego is an amazing city to visit! If you find yourself in San Diego on business, you’ll find no shortage of things to do after 5:00 pm in California’s southernmost city.