Museums After Dark: 10 Ways to Explore San Diego’s Coolest Culture at Night

San Diego museums offer an inviting array of nighttime programs, concerts, events, films, exhibitions and more, from Liberty Station to Balboa Park, La Jolla, Old Town and Carlsbad. Here’s a look:

Expect live music, glowing drinks and a new look at the mysteries of the ocean during this monthly 21+ event on Thursday nights.

Balboa Park’s Natural History Museum is open until 10 p.m. on the third Friday of every month, and all ages are welcome to explore the museum’s exhibits as well as the cool rooftop deck with beer, wine and small bites on the menu. Admission drops to half-price after 5 p.m., too. 

The recently renovated museum offers free admission and extended hours until 8 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month. Don’t miss the “Griselda Rosas: Yo te cuido” exhibition opening in March 2023. 

The Sky Tonight, a live planetarium show led by astronomers in the Heikoff Giant Dome Theater, plays on the first Wednesday of each month at 7 and 8:15 p.m. Exhibit galleries are also open late until 8:15 p.m. on those evenings. 

Both walk-ins and reservations are accepted at the new Artifact at the Mingei restaurant and bar until 8 p.m., and the museum’s first floor is also open late on Thursdays and Fridays. And don’t miss special guided tours at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month, plus evening concerts and other special events updated regularly on the museum’s website. 

With extended hours until 7 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays and until 6 p.m. on Sundays, this museum in the heart of Balboa Park offers a “pay as you wish” admission policy. 

Check the museum’s website for a wide variety of rotating after-hours talks, classes and special events, such as the “Craftivism” series of evening craft-making. 

Each month, the District’s First Friday promotion offers evening events at a variety of galleries, museums and studios, while the New Americans Museum (also in Liberty Station) offers special nighttime events such as the upcoming “Motions & Emotions: Filipino American Stories of Healing” festival. 

For a more ghostly evening experience, this Old Town museum runs evening guided tours and even an “After Hours Paranormal Investigation.” Don’t miss the many great restaurants and bars within walking distance of the Whaley House, too.

Farther north, this interactive Carlsbad museum hosts frequent concerts ranging from blues bands to classical flutists to Mexican folklorico. Be sure to check the website in advance for tickets. 

California, Destinations

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