Dance, Theater, and Music

La Jolla Music Society

“Superb international soloists and some of the most talented resident musicians.”—Cathy Robbins, music writer, Concerts range from piano recitals and jazz trios to dance companies and symphonies; acclaimed SummerFest under direction of violinist Cho-Liang Lin in August; performances in various venues. Tickets from $25. 7946 Ivanhoe Avenue, La Jolla; tel. +1 858 459 3728.

La Jolla Playhouse

Founded by Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire, and Mel Ferrer and winner of the 1993 Tony for Outstanding Regional Theatre. Many Broadway hits originated here, including Jersey Boys, I Am My Own Wife, and The Farnsworth Invention; performances in three venues on the UCSD campus. Tickets from $28. 2910 La Jolla Village Drive, La Jolla; tel. +1 858 550 1010.

La Jolla Symphony

The season, which runs November through June, ranges from a sing-along of Handel’s Messiah to the American premiere of a new Philip Glass work in 2007; performances in Mandeville Auditorium, UCSD Campus. Tickets from $15. 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla; tel. +1 858 534 4637.

The Old Globe

“I love the Shakespeare Festival in the summer with the peacocks calling from the zoo.”—Debbie K. Hardin, author of Great Destinations: San Diego and Tijuana. Beloved year-round producing organization with three theaters in Balboa Park. Numerous premieres of subsequent Broadway hits, including The Full Monty. Tickets from $29. 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park; tel. +1 619 234 5623.

San Diego Opera

Under leadership of Ian Campbell the San Diego Opera has emerged as one of the city’s most successful arts organizations. The season of five operas runs late-January through mid-May—usually including warhorses like Aida with a couple more adventurous offerings; performances at the Civic Theatre. Non-subscription tickets go on sale in December, priced from $28. 1200 Third Avenue, downtown; tel. +1 619 533 7000.

San Diego Symphony

An organization with its share of struggles over the years, but rescued by a significant donation in 2002. Now under direction of Jahja Ling with performances October-May at Symphony Hall (a 1929-era movie theatre), plus a summer pops season June-August at the Embarcadero Marina Park. Tickets from $20. 1245 Seventh Avenue, downtown; tel. +1 619 235 0804.



“It’s a beautiful, state-of-the-art place, and they’ve already drawn major people like Chick Corea and Arturo Sandoval.”—George Varga, pop music critic, San Diego Union-Tribune. Opened in 2007, this $3.5 million, three-level jazz cum supper club wins raves for its architecture, acoustics, and dining. Tickets from $5. 1337 India Street, Little Italy; tel. +1 619 595 0300.


“San Diego’s only true dance club, with house music, good DJs.”—Erin Chambers, San Diego editor, The food is forgettable, overpriced (even if it offers a break on the cover), but the whomping sound system compensates, powering two sprawling dance floors with hip-hop, house, and trance vibes. Cover charge. 919 Fourth Avenue, downtown; tel. +1 619 231 9200.

The Casbah

“Everybody from Ice-T to Eddie Vedder has hung out there, so it has real cachet.”—George Varga. It’s a dive bar with a capacity of just 200, but a history of showcasing acts like Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins on the cusp of fame. Tickets from $6. 2501 Kettner Boulevard, Little Italy; tel. +1 619 232 4355.


“An exercise in restraint when a lot of downtown places are going for over-the-top.”—Erin Chambers. The club is intimate but not overly exclusive, with trendy small plate food and a good-looking staff. Cover charge. 901 Fourth Avenue, downtown; tel. +1 619 696 8888.


Intimate, reliable spot for local jazz artists in the Gaslamp, with regular appearances by namesake Jim Croce’s son (and musician) A. J. Croce. Cover charge waived if you dine at the pricey restaurant. 802 Fifth Avenue, downtown; tel. +1 619 233 4355.


A 1,300-seat outdoor venue next to the San Diego Bay that draws a high-profile annual lineup covering rock, folk, jazz, blues, and standup comedy. The season runs mid-May through October; some audience members enjoy concerts floating in a kayak. The rest of the year smaller acts perform in the adjacent restaurant. Tickets from $40. 2241 Shelter Island Drive, Point Loma; tel. +1 619 224 3577.


Whale Watching

Mid-December to mid-April. Annual migration by thousands of gray whales from their summer feeding grounds in Alaska to winter breeding lagoons in Baja, California. Once on the road to extinction, view the whales from the shore at Point Loma or take a whale-watching tour.

Thoroughbred Racing Season

Mid-July to early-September. “The turf meets the surf” in Del Mar at Bing Crosby’s 1937 racetrack, with handsome Spanish Mission-style architecture. tel. +1 858 792 4242.

San Diego LGBT Pride

Mid-July. The fifth largest gay pride gathering in the country starts in Hillcrest with a Saturday morning parade, then shifts to Balboa Park for an annual fair commemorating the struggle for LGBT rights. Food, music performances, and elaborate costumes. tel. +1 619 297 7683.

Comic-Con International

Late July. Since 1970, this four-day convention held downtown draws comic book, sci-fi, and movie fans from around the world. Many of the 125,000 attendees come in costume for sneak previews of Hollywood films and panels with high-profile creative types. Tip: Day passes sell out weeks in advance, as do downtown hotels. tel. +1 619 491 2475.


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