Remember when you could drink booze on the beach in San Diego?
One of the gnarliest days I can remember was on the 4th of July 2007, just a couple years before turning 21 years old. Every square inch of sand in Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, and Ocean Beach was littered with people clutching red plastic cups and/or jello shots. My teenage brain, shocked and awed, couldn’t believe how “Dazed and Confused” SD could get.
With all the beach real estate covered in canopies and kegs, booze was handed out like candy on Halloween. It was the ultimate, until it wasn’t.
That same year, during a food fight with police, one of the officers’ 4×4 quads got dragged into the ocean. Then, police in riot gear pelted partiers with rubber bullets. The melee led to many arrests as well as a longstanding ban of alcohol, glass, and smoking on the beach.
So, if you’re into partying responsibly by the shore, but don’t know where to spend your sandy cash, here are some the best outdoor bars in San Diego for boozing by the beach.
A contemporary steak and seafood restaurant, JRDN at Tower 23 Hotel features killer cuisine for lunch and dinner, daily. More importantly, it has an insane patio area with boardwalk people-watching for days.
Mavericks Beach Club
PB Shore Club
Jamming upstairs bungalow for revered fish tacos & pub grub with plenty of beautiful people and kick-ass beach views.
American eats and fancy schmancy cocktails, plus an upstairs, outdoor patio with DJs and club vibe after-dark.
Sup, brah! 2-story beachfront pub popular with locals for house-brewed beer, bar eats, and epic patio people-watching.
Baja beach cafe
Lively boardwalk jam offering fish tacos, burgers, sandwiches, burritos and specialty margs. YEW!
Fancy Mexican restaurant and bar featuring a menu of tacos, tortas and cocktails, plus a rooftop patio that crushes. Muey sick.
Bustling neighborhood hangout for pub grub and party people, with a rotating selection of craft beers on tap and happy hour deals, yo.
Lahaina Beach House
Old to the school cash-only beachfront bar with a menu of burgers and tacos, plus a vast patio with sunset views and salty dogs.
Miss B’s Coconut Club
Laid-back hangout with an open-air bar serving Caribbean-inspired fare ant tropical cocktails with giant straws.
Draft Mission Beach
Gastropubby but casual American bar & grill featuring small plates plus beer on tap and beach views. Touristy, but chill.
Sandbar Sportsbar & Grill
Sitting in the heart of San Diego’s historic Mission Beach, Bi-level, oceanside spot features sports, brew & basic pub grub on to 2 patios with epic views. Vintage awesomeness.
Trendy venue for upscale sushi and small Japanese dishes served in a rooftop space with ocean views. Bring your wallet and a date.
Beach House Grill
Formally the Wave House, this YUGE outdoor hangout serves up drinks, burgers & snacks with plenty of Mission Beach Boardwalk people watching.
Sunshine Company Saloon
Old school O.B. hangout offers cocktails, pool & sports TVs, plus a 2nd-floor open deck with ocean views. Smokers paradise.
South Beach Bar & Grille
World famous bar and grille offering insane ocean views and some of San Diego’s best fish tacos and seafood.
Wonderland Ocean Pub
This chill pub is the quintessential beach bar, serving up a variety of dishes and cocktails options. Dope hang for sure.
Expansive brewpub for house-brewed beer in a ridiculous, three-story space with a large rooftop patio. One of our favorite hangs, no question.
Wheat & Water
Venturing North of PB, Wheat & Water is a great destination for creative wood-fired pies & share plates in a laid-back space with woodsy-chic decor. Outdoor patio space is a great place to crush their expansive craft beer list.
Super sick breezy outdoor eatery at La Jolla Shores with a straightforward menu, craft beer & casual, surf-inspired decor. Perfect spot post-surf.