San Diego makes for an ideal getaway when you’re looking for perfect patio weather, ocean views, and enough festivals and events to keep any sort of traveler happily occupied. The weather is usually sunny and mild, it’s easy to get to since the airport is 10 minutes from downtown, and there are several scenic day trips nearby.
There are plenty of activities to keep families with kids in tow happy as well as couples looking for a romantic getaway or a group of girlfriends looking for a relaxing vacation. San Diego is good choice for pretty much any type of trip.
If you’ve decided to add this destination to your vacation list it’s time to start researching the best time to visit San Diego. SoCal in general is nice to visit year-round, but if you want to get picky, I’ll take you through month by month on what to expect and share the best time to go to San Diego.
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Fall in San Diego | September - November
Fall is the best time to visit San Diego; specifically October and early November
Fall in San Diego is my absolute favorite. The weather is ideal hovering in the 70’s, the sun is shining, and the crowds start to decrease the further you get into autumn. Try to visit mid to late fall for lower prices and crowds. September tends to have similar tourist levels to summer. The combination of beach weather in the high 70’s, Labor Day weekend, and vacationers trying to squeeze in their last bit of summer brings packed beaches and high hotel prices. September also brings a number of popular events like the San Diego Blues Festival, restaurant week, San Diego Festival of Beer, and the KAABOO music festival. Check the dates of the festivals before you book your flight. Unless you are specifically going to San Diego to attend these festivals, avoid these dates at all costs. Hotels are sold out months in advance during the weekend of KAABOO.
I prefer to visit in October and early November. These are the best months to visit San Diego with the ideal combination of lower crowds and perfect weather. It might not be warm enough to swim in the ocean, but it’s the ideal time for outdoor activities like hiking, lounging by the pool, and taking in the sights without breaking a sweat. Temperatures hover in the low to mid 70’s during the afternoon and the mornings and evenings see temps in the 50’s and low 60’s; ideal sweater weather where it’s acceptable to drink pumpkin spice lattes and sit by the fire pit. Keep in mind that starting in November there is a chance of rain and temperatures start to lower pretty quickly as the month goes by. October has a scattering of smaller events revolving around Halloween and Oktoberfest; nothing major like KAABOO to watch out for. Notable November events include San Diego Beer Week and Art San Diego.
Spring in San Diego | March – May
April is the best month to visit San Diego in Spring
After October and early November, April is the next best month to visit San Diego. Temperatures are comfortable in the mid 50’s to mid 60’s and you’ll see plenty of sun with a low chance of rain. Crowds are lower than fall so you’ll have an easier time getting into restaurants without reservations and lower hotel prices.
Avoid aptly named “Gray May” as this month tends to be overcast. March has a higher chance of rain and temperatures typically don’t reach above the mid 60’s. If you don’t mind it being a bit cooler, March has a lot of fun events that bring the city to life. Celebrate Mardi Gras (sometimes late February) in the Gaslamp Quarter or watch the largest parade West of the Mississippi on St. Patrick’s Day. After the parade attend the Irish Festival at Balboa Park where you can drink green beer in the beer garden, visit the Celtic Village, and watch live music.
San Diego in Winter | December – February
Winter is the best time to visit San Diego if low crowds and prices are a priority
Winter is the best time to visit San Diego if you’re looking for an affordable getaway as this is low season. December through February may bring cooler temperatures, but it’s nothing like the rest of the country. Lows stay in the high 40’s and highs are consistently in the mid 60’s. Pack your umbrella because winter is the rainiest time of year for San Diego. What you lose in ideal beach weather you can make up for with whale watching season (mid-December through April). Watch out for the Farmers Insurance Open which takes place in January at Torrey Pines (cue the increase in crowds and prices). If you’re here in December watch the holiday boat parade in the bay at the annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights or visit Balboa Park for December Nights featuring food and crafts from around the world.
San Diego in Summer | June – August
Summer brings high crowds and prices
Summer is my least favorite time to visit San Diego. Beaches are packed with vacationers and hotel prices will reflect the high demand this time of year. I also find the weather to be more enjoyable in early fall and April. Even though temperatures range from the 60’s to 70’s, the sun is strong and often feels hotter than it actually is. Like May, “June Gloom” has a reputation for being overcast. If you’re doing a lot of activities and sightseeing this may actually be preferable so you aren’t battling the hot sun. If you are visiting San Diego primarily for beach time and to actually swim in the water, try for August, which is slightly less crowded than July and brings more sun than June.
Summer is busy with events, which adds to the tourist levels. The biggest event to watch out for in the summer is Comic-Con in July. Hotels sell out months in advance and the city sees a considerable spike in visitors. Other fun summer events include the San Diego County Fair, the Coronado Surf Dog Competition, and the Annual Sandcastle Competition. This website lists the most popular events.
A summary of the best time to visit San Diego
The best time to visit San Diego is fall and spring; shoulder season. You’ll see the ideal mix of lower prices, have an easier time getting into restaurants, and you won’t have to battle the rush of summer tourists. October through early November and April are the overall best months to visit San Diego. Pick your ideal month and double check the events calendar before you book your tickets. If you’re like me, you will find yourself coming back again and again and will soon discover your favorite time to visit.
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Are you a SoCal resident of do you visit often? When would you say is the best time to visit San Diego? Let me know in the comments below!
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