San Diego
1. The Holding Company
Ocean Beach 

The cocktail menu here includes all the requisite beach bar choices, including vibrant, 90-ounce cocktail towers filled with mimosas, mules, and margaritas, but you can also get a $300 shot of Pappy Van Winkle 23 Year, or one of more than 60 other choices, including four private barrels. Not to worry, though, it's also got a wallet-friendly weekday happy hour with $4 wells and $15 off towers, and live music almost every evening.

2. Sandbar
Mission Beach

Sandbar embraces all the reasons we love San Diego—sun, sand, and endless ocean vistas. Cocktails run from fresh and fruity margs and agua frescas to its slap-you-awake Big Ass Bloody Marys and the ubiquitous Red Bull Slushie. Foodwise, the award-winning TKO fried fish tacos are the correct choice.

Pacific Beach

JRDN’s boardwalk location makes it the perfect venue for sipping build-your-own mimosas or spicy, jalapeno- and cilantro-infused Bloody Marys while you watch the parade of locals and tourists strolling by. It’s pricier than some of the other spots we’ve listed, but the craft cocktails are definitely a step up, and besides, sometimes you just want to feel fancy.

5. The Beachcomber
Mission Bay

The Beachcomber has been around since the 1940s, and it’s easy to see the lasting appeal once you step inside. Drink specials, Bingo Mondays, and a crowd that ranges from retirees to college grads are just part of the charm here, and if you spend an extended period of time in San Diego without visiting The Comber, you’ve failed.

6. The Kraken

Located maybe 100 yards down the road from Tower 13, The Kraken is a far different scene. This is a dive bar in every sense of the word, but there’s live music almost every day, cheap drinks, a massive pool area, and a crowd that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Let your hair down, throw back a few drinks, and dance to the tunes of a middle-aged cover band.

More City Guides

Discover the best things to eat, drink, and do
with our expertly curated city guides.