Lots to Do if You’re Under 21

Check out these venues in San Diego


Even if you’re under 21, you don’t have to be at the bar to enjoy live music at Cafe 21 in San Diego (Photo by Steve Churchill)

Steve Churchill

You’ve turned 18, graduated from high school, enrolled in college — feeling like an adult. You can drive a car, vote in elections, be drafted into the military for foreign wars.

It can be frustrating, though, to be 18 and be “legal,” but not really. You can’t drink or buy alcohol, so you can’t go out to clubs or bars to dance and listen to live music, depending on the venue. You, of course, must be 21 to drink alcohol.

So until that next milestone of young adulthood, where can you gather with friends for some music and dance, without the alcohol? What offerings are there? Well, it turns out there are quite a few.

Java Joe’s is a coffee shop located just a short distance from City College (Photo by Steve Churchill)
Java Joe’s is a coffee shop located just a short distance from City College (Photo by Steve Churchill)

Coffee houses are the first choice. Popular, trendy and many with live music. The coffee buzz replaces the alcohol, and friends can gather to socialize and enjoy live music. San Diego can offer many venues — from downtown to neighborhood locations. A few of the more popular include LeStat’s, Java Joe’s, Rebecca’s, and the recent hArt downtown.

There is also the Queen Bee’s Cultural Center in North Park, Dizzy’s Jazz Club near Mission Bay, and the WorldBeat Cultural Center in Balboa Park.

They offer concerts and live music, and no alcohol, which means their events are open to all ages.

The Adams Avenue Street Fair, largest free music festival in San Diego.

There are also annual community street events that include music. Adams Avenue has two to offer — the Adams Avenue Street Festival, and the new Unplugged, which replaced the longtime Roots Festival. Featuring a variety of music, many of the listeners also enjoy dancing in the streets.

Adams Avenue Street Fair

Unplugged (formerly the Roots Festival)
Unplugged has expanded to 17 stages and more than 100 musical acts.

There are a few clubs that cater to the under-21 crowd, SOMA being the most popular.

SOMA San Diego
Legendary punk and hardcore concert venue in San Diego.
Sports Arena Square Shopping Center, 3350 Sports Arena Blvd.
(619) 226–7662

There are a few locations that have sections where there is no alcohol served, but you can take a seat to enjoy the live music, such as Cafe 21 in the Gaslamp Quarter.

Cafe 21
802 5th Ave.
(619) 795–0721
The venue offers live music in the bar area, but you can listen from the sidewalk cafe or restaurant only feet away.

And there are plenty more options.

Google Map- https://goo.gl/maps/58lD6

Dizzy’s San Diego
4275 Mission Bay Drive
(858) 270–7467
This music venue presents all-ages jazz and folk concerts in the showroom of San Diego Jet Ski Rentals. ‘Where The Music Matters Most’.
Public transportation from City College — Bus #30: http://www.sdmts.com/mtscr/Route.aspx?r=30; Google map: https://goo.gl/maps/58lD6

Queen Bee’s Art & Cultural Center
3925 Ohio Street
(619) 255–5147
Located in the heart of North Park.
Public transportation from City College — Bus #7: http://www.sdmts.com/mtscr/Route.aspx?r=7; Google map: https://goo.gl/maps/0KYHS

3015 Juniper Street
(619) 284–3663
Rebecca’s, located in South Park, offers regularly scheduled events. You can enjoy performances by the San Diego Songwriters Meet-up group in an intimate listening environment.
Public transportation from City College — Bus #2: http://www.sdmts.com/mtscr/Route.aspx?r=2; Google map: https://goo.gl/maps/93Smt

Lestat’s Coffee House
3343 Adams Ave.
(619) 282–0437
Open 24 hours, this traditional European-style coffee house is located in Normal Heights, and includes live music, open mic and comedy.
Public transportation from City College — Bus #11: http://www.sdmts.com/mtscr/Route.aspx?r=11, or #215: http://www.sdmts.com/mtscr/Route.aspx?r=215; Google map: https://goo.gl/maps/kzUU4

Java Joe’s
3536 Adams Ave.
(619) 882–0902
Java Joe’s is one of the originals, going back to its days in Pacific Beach. Now on Adams Avenue in the ‘’ neighborhood. Open Mic Fridays.
Hours: 7AM-11PM easy to reach with Bus #2. Public Transport from SDCC — Bus #7>#11, #2 or #215
Google Map- https://goo.gl/maps/7iE1h

hART lounge
734 Park Blvd.
(619) 519–7569
hArt is one of the most convenient spots for SDCC students being on the east side of downtown in the ever changing ‘East Village’ scene. Right off of the trolley line on Park Blvd., only blocks away from SDCC. A short walk down Park Blvd., between ‘F’ & ‘G’!
Public Transport from SDCC — Bus # , Google Map- https://goo.gl/maps/IT8dh

WorldBeat Cultural Center in Balboa Park

*WorldBeat Cultural Center in Balboa Park — San Diego, CA — www.worldbeatcenter.org/ — (619) 230–1190
2100 Park Blvd.
Makeda Dread from the center works to offer a safe and fun environment with music and a multicultural experience. The center is a nonprofit institution in Balboa Park dedicated to African and African-American arts and culture.
Public transportation from City College — Bus #7 or #215;
Google map: https://goo.gl/maps/w9zHQ

The Prado in Balboa Park
The Prado in Balboa Park — this restaurant is the only thing open in the park after dark! With a late night happy hour offering food and drink specials and live music. Live music Tuesday to Saturday, with dancing encouraged!
The musicians and crowd range in age from 20–70, with music from 1950 and the 1960s to today’s hits.
Public transportation from City College — Bus # 7 or #215; Google map: https://goo.gl/maps/Ilc3S

The Amigo Spot at the King’s Inn in Mission Valley

If you’re a jazz fan this is the spot.
Live Jazz! Quartet on Saturdays, 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Public transportation from City College — Bus #20, 120, 88;
Google map: https://goo.gl/maps/QKUy5

Here are some more options.

Galley at Marina, Chula Vista Harbor
This restaurant and bar caters to the locals living on their boats and offers up live music, a few feet from the San Diego Harbor.
Google map: https://goo.gl/maps/7jWE5

Proud Mary’s live music with San Diego City College’s own KSDS radio sponsored events
5550 Kearny Mesa Rd.
Jazz and blues calendar: www.jazz88.org/calendar.asp
Google map: https://goo.gl/maps/aWTQQ

There are clubs in San Diego to keep the 21-and-up crowd dancing, but what about the under-21 crowd? Check out these Web links: www.sandiegoclubs.com/under-21-entertainment.html and www.usahostels.com/what-to-do-in-san-diego-if-you-re-under-21/.

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