New and Returning Cocktail Bars Offer Unique Sips in San Diego

Plus, enjoy San Diego Restaurant Week and more fun things to do in San Diego this weekend.

Spring’s finally come to San Diego, and you know what that means: The water is getting warmer, the California poppies are blooming, and our picture-perfect weather is just right for long, leisurely days at beautiful beaches and balmy nights that are ideal for scenic sips at a craft brewery or vibey rooftop bar. It’s also a fantastic time for a road trip to go wine tasting, reclaim your zen, or check out our all-time greats. Don’t miss out on a single minute of the fun—just consult our handy guide to all the fun things to do in San Diego and get out there!

Food and Drink Events in San Diego

North Park, Prices vary
Two San Diego cocktail scene experts have teamed up to open Happy Medium, a family-and-dog-friendly new restaurant and bar in North Park, filling the space left by Streetcar Merchants, which closed last year after nearly a decade there. Christian Siglin, who is currently also a partner at Fernside in South Park, and Eric Johnson, beverage director of SDCM (The Whaling Bar, Kettner Exchange), are the force behind the cocktail-driven restaurant. Expect draft cocktails and slushies, along with shareable plates like roasted cauliflower, mushroom toast, and cheese curd, plus a trio of sandwiches including Harlem’s famous chopped cheese. The restaurant will be open seven days a week.

La Jolla, Prices vary
After a decade-long hiatus, The Whaling Bar has returned to the historic La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla. The iconic lounge, which hosted San Diego luminaries like actor Gregory Peck, writer Raymond Chandler, and author and cartoonist Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel, has undergone a $1.5 million renovation, with a new bar and restaurant program from SDCM Restaurant Group, the local hospitality team behind Kettner Exchange, Camino Riviera and The Grass Skirt. Cocktails run between refreshers like The Jewel; mezcal, green tea, lemongrass, honey, lemon, and a red Alaea sea salt rim and direct, such as The Parm, parmesan fat-washed Tito’s vodka, fino sherry, house dry vermouth, house olive brine, and an olive/dehydrated cherry tomato garnish. The menu has updated favorites from the previous one, including wild mushroom mille feuille and liver and onions, plus new editions like za’atar fried chicken and Rioja braised short rib bao.

March 3–10
Various locations, Prices vary
As far as fun things to do in San Diego go, this is one of the best. For eight glorious days, nearly 100 eateries all over the county will be participating in the bi-annual San Diego Restaurant Week. There are delicious options for every taste and budget—restaurant offerings will include two-course prix-fixe lunch menus and three-course prix-fixe dinner offerings for $10 to $60. Use the interactive website to plan your food odyssey, and be sure to make reservations at your favorite participating places early; tables will fill up quickly. Karma tip: Your servers will be extra busy during SDRW, so exercise patience, thank profusely, and tip generously.

Festivals in San Diego

March 2–3
Waterfront Park, $130 and up
Dance until you drop at CRSSD Festival, returning to Waterfront Park with three stages of dynamic live acts like Lane 8, Tale Of Us, Red Axes, Roosevelt, WhoMadeWho, and more at the Ocean View stage. Head to The Palms stage for sultry house vibes from Loco Dice, East End Dubs, Maz, and Sofia Kourtesis, as well as standouts Armand Van Helden, Astra Club, and more. Over at the City Steps stage, guests can look forward to Joris Voorn, TRYM, KASIA,Marie Nyx, and Nils Hoffmann. The CRSSD experience extends beyond the stages, with craft food and cocktails from various vendors and CRSSD After Dark, where you can continue the party at venues all around the city. CRSSD always sells out, so grab your tickets while you can.

More fun things to do in San Diego

March 1–3
Kearny Mesa, $30
Cristela Alonzo brings her raucous laugh and hilarious observational standup to the Mic Drop Comedy Main Stage for five shows this weekend. Alonzo is the first Latina to create, produce, and star in her own prime-time network sitcom, Cristela, on ABC, as well as the first Latina lead character in a Disney Pixar film, as Cruz Ramirez in Cars 3. In addition, she has two comedy specials currently streaming on Netflix, Cristela Alonzo: Lower Classy, released in 2017, and Cristela Alonzo: Middle Classy, released in 2022. Alonzo’s shows are almost always sold out, so don’t wait too long to pick up tickets.

March 1–31
Various locations, Prices vary
During San Diego Theatre Month, more than 30 San Diego organizations will come together to celebrate performing arts, including music, comedy, theater, dance, and musical theater. Participating venues include the San Diego Ballet, Diversionary Theatre, The Old Globe, the National Comedy Theatre, and many more. They will be offering a variety of special promotions throughout the month. Peruse the shows and purchase tickets online.

March 3, 11:30 am
The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, Free
Grab your sunscreen, a picnic basket, and some folding chairs, and head downtown to The Shell for the third annual Picnic in the Park. It’s free and includes performances by 2023 San Diego Music Award winners Rebecca Jade, Jeff Berkley and The Banned, and the San Diego Symphony Orchestra musicians. If you’d rather not bring your own refreshments, there’ll be plenty of food and beverage options from The Shell’s food partners, delicious pizzas from Biga Pizza, tacos from Lola 55, Urban Kitchen, burgers, and ice cream from Cali Creamery. In addition, celebrity chef Richard Blais will be on-site signing his newest cookbook, Plant Forward, by Jazmin and Richard Blais, for those who want to purchase it. Other activities include a San Diego Padres fast-pitch station, giveaways, and more. Gates for this event open at 10:30 am. Outside alcohol is not permitted, but alcoholic beverages will be sold at the event.

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Mary Beth Abate is a San Diego-based freelance writer.