Discover the rich history and vibrant charm of San Diego through its time-tested watering holes. In this article, we’ll embark on a journey to explore the oldest bars in San Diego, where weathered wood and vintage decor hold tales of generations past. From classic cocktails to the echoes of lively conversations, join us in raising a glass to the enduring establishments that have stood the test of time in this coastal Californian city.
505 Sixth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 232-6754
Not only is Tivoli Bar and Grill one of the oldest bars in San Diego, it’s probably a contender for the city’s most fun places to go out in general. This spot is not too far from the Balboa Theatre, and if you want friendly staff and excellent drinks, look no further. The establishment sports a classic decor and a vintage charm that makes you want to stay awhile. They offer a variety of drinks, from Jameson Irish Whiskey to familiar cocktails such as their delightful margaritas. I enjoy the local draft beers, catering to a mix of regulars and newcomers alike. The next time you’re in San Diego, drop by to get good eats and good drinks all under one roof!
2044 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 232-9656
Waterfront Bar & Grill has stood as a historic landmark in San Diego’s maritime culture. Nestled along the scenic waterfront virtually in front of the Waterfront Park, it has been a favorite of mine for years. I can’t get enough of the stunning views, speedy service, or delicious food. From the personable bartenders to the affordable prices, it’s a fantastic place to hang out. They serve a selection of drinks, from refreshing cocktails such as the Colorado Bulldog and classic Mai Tai, along with a variety of draft beers, allowing you to unwind while you soak in the atmosphere.
3365 India St, San Diego, CA 92103
Phone: (619) 297-7211
Aero Club Bar is near Harper’s Topiary Garden, offering quite the experience from the moment you walk through the door. The bar’s vintage aviation-themed decor and welcoming staff let you know you’re in the right place to have a great night out. Aero Club presents an impressive array of more than 1000 whiskey choices, but that’s not all. They also provide various other delicious drinks, such as their signature Aero Mule and Whiskey Sour, and draft beers from local breweries. It’s one of the best places to go out if you want to enjoy the area’s history.
4757 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92105
Phone: (619) 284-0158
Located in the legendary City Heights building, The Tower Bar has been in business since 1932, and it’s always on my list of bars to stop at before I leave San Diego. This whimsical establishment exudes a rustic charm that gives off laid-back vibes. You can watch live shows, hear your favorite songs on the jukebox, and dance the night away. I always get the Speed Racer with some popcorn, but they have traditional and specialty drinks, as well as all the beer options you can think of. I highly recommend giving them a try if you’re visiting San Diego!
4927 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA 92107
Phone: (619) 223-7549
As one of the oldest bars in San Diego, Pacific Shores Cocktail Lounge has become a staple in the neighborhood. With its underwater theme, ocean views, and retro ambiance, you’re sure to enjoy yourself at this laid-back bar that offers traditional cocktails in a cozy and dimly lit space. You can find it near the OB Playhouse & Theatre Company, and there’s usually a diverse crowd. They offer plenty of domestic beers, draft beer, and familiar favorites like the Gin and Tonic. Plus, the drinks are strong and cheap, which is always a bonus.
929 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 234-4404
The Chee-Chee Club is one of my favorite bars in the city. Situated near the Tenth Avenue Arts Center, it has evolved over the years while retaining an inviting atmosphere. The bar’s intimate setting and vintage decor create a relaxed and casual vibe that draws locals and tourists alike. Known for tasty classic cocktails, the old jukebox, bar games, and sports playing on the flat screen, you can’t go wrong taking a trip to Chee Chee’s. The staff is also pretty down-to-earth, which I appreciated. The Chee-Chee Club offers a fantastic time for those looking for recommendations on where to get a drink.
817 W Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103
Phone: (619) 298-3624
The Lamplighter has been a gathering spot for years, and with the energetic vibes you get when you walk through the door, I can see why! It’s one of my top three fun places to get drinks in San Diego. You can find it near Jo’s Diner, and be aware that they only accept cash. There’s karaoke every night, which I love, bar games, great music, and more. With a variety of drinks, from well-crafted cocktails to a selection of beers, The Lamplighter offers a comfortable and relaxed setting. Making it a favorite dive bar for those seeking a unique and upbeat experience.