When Is the Best Time
The time of year you choose to visit San Diego can make or break your trip, depending on what you plan to do and see. You’ll want to consider the time of year that is best for your activities.
Our best time tips and our monthly guide will help you make the right decision for your next San Diego visit.
The Best Time to Visit San Diego
The best times to visit San Diego are between March and May and then September and October. During these months, crowds are lower, the weather is pleasant, and hotel prices are reasonable.
However, there’s certainly no wrong time of year to visit San Diego. It’s all about what type of vacation you are interested in and what attractions in San Diego are interesting for you or your family. While the crowds may increase in the summer months, if the beach is your number one concern, you may still want to visit during this time. As with planning any trip, it’s all about balancing the pros and cons of visiting at certain times to choose what is best for you.
Best Time to Avoid the Crowds
The least crowded time in San Diego month is from December to January (except Christmas until New Year's Eve). September and October are great shoulder months without the heavy summer crowds and a great time to experience pleasant weather.
Best Time for Hotel Reservations
June, July, and August demand the highest hotel prices in San Diego, so book a summer visit 6 to 12 months in advance. For the quieter months, you can afford to book a hotel three months in advance.
Keep in mind that San Diego is a popular convention and conference city. Each July, it hosts the Comic-Con, which is the biggest pop culture by far even in the United States. Best availability for accommodations will be found in the winter months, with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year.
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Best Time to See Seals and Sea Lions at La Jolla
The best time to see seals and sea lions on San Diego's beach is between late April and early June while they are molting. The number of visible seals increases dramatically during that time.
However, the seals and sea lions are always there, no matter what time of year you visit. The best spots are Children's Pool and La Jolla Cove.
The best time of day to see the sea lions and seals in San Diego is in the morning and later in the afternoon or early evening. Around noon more of them are swimming and looking for food.
Best Time to Visit San Diego's Museums
The best time to visit a museum in San Diego is in February. Each year in February is museum month, and most tickets are being offered 50% off. You just need to pick up the 50% pass at any Macy's department store in San Diego. Most museums participate in that program, including the Balboa Park museums, the maritime museum, or the USS Midway Museum.
Of course, all San Diego Museums are worth visiting year-round. The county has fascinating museums from almost every area with truly unique collections. The best ones are the USS Midway Museum, the San Diego Natural History Museum, the San Diego Museum of Man, the Fleet Science Center, and a few more.
The Best Time for the Unique Activities
We highly recommend purchasing tickets for the best activities and tours in advance. For most tours, the best time is a morning spot, as it's usually less crowded. Find the best tickets via our partner GetYourGuide (with excellent service and mobile vouchers):
Best Time for a Family Vacation
The best time of year for a family vacation in San Diego is in September. The summer crowds will have departed, but the warm temperatures remain.
Alternatively, May through August is a popular time for families. While crowds are higher, all the city’s attractions and water parks are open. Expect higher temperatures during these months, making it the best time for a family beach vacation. There are also plenty of great events during this time of year, so there’s always something new to see in the city.
Best Time to See Bioluminescence
The best time to see bioluminescence is from July to October. You’ll need to head out at night time once it’s dark to see this blue wave.
When the ocean looks brown or red in the daytime, expect a good chance of observing this phenomenon at night. There is no way to predict how long these tides will last, and they can range from days to weeks to months. Unfortunately, there are currently no tools to predict the next tide. By visiting from July to October, you’ll have the best chance of witnessing this incredible sight.
Best Time to Visit San Diego Zoo Safari Park
The best time to visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is on a 4:30 pm afternoon tour. During this time, temperatures are comfortable, and animals are most active, as they will be roaming around and responsive.
Avoid visiting in the middle of the day, as many are sleeping during the hottest part of the day. During the summer months, you may find the morning tour a good option, where you can avoid crowds, and the animals will be pretty active.
Best Time to Visit SeaWorld San Diego
The best time to visit SeaWorld San Diego is in the spring, with May being the top month to visit. The weather is pleasant, the crowds are light, and baby animals are born during this time.
In the spring, the flowers around the park are also in full bloom. The rule of thumb with this attraction is to avoid major holidays and school breaks. Avoid SeaWorld San Diego throughout the summer when kids are out of school. The park is extremely crowded, and the weather is often overcast in June.
Weekdays are quieter at SeaWorld San Diego, but more special events occur during the weekend. These can often be worth braving the crowds for and will add more fun and excitement to your visit. During the peak visitor times, you’ll find more shows are offered each day. It’s up to you to decide whether you would rather enjoy more attractions or a quieter park touring experience.
As with most major attractions and theme parks, you’ll want to arrive at park opening time each day. The first shows of the day attract fewer crowds, making it easier to find a good seat in the stadium. The first hour or two after the park opens is the best time to enjoy the most popular attractions and animal exhibitions without crowds.
Best Time to Surf
The best time to surf in San Diego is between August and November. During this time, the swells and winds create fantastic barrels and offshore walls.
Avoid March to May, as the waves are inconsistent during this time. June and July see an improvement in surfing conditions, but August is when the peak surfing season commences. The winter is another good time to surf, although you will experience colder water temperatures.
You’ll enjoy clean water surfaces during the early morning hours each day. If you are looking to enjoy the quietest time in the ocean, visit at around midday on a weekday. Staying near the beach on your trip to San Diego will allow you to enjoy more time in the ocean and catch the waves when they are at their best.
Best Time for Tide Pooling
Winter is the best time to enjoy tide pooling in San Diego. The season for tide pooling begins in November and ends in March. The low tides during this time offer the chance to observe more sea life.
Times for the tides change daily, so you’ll want to check the tide table before heading to the beach for this activity. It’s recommended to visit the tide pools around two hours before the low tide recedes until two hours before the water comes back in.
Best Time for Swimming
For warm waters, the best time for swimming in San Diego is between July and October. Between November and February, bring a wetsuit if you are planning to swim in the ocean.
Water temperatures are in the low 50s in the winter months and reach the low 70s during the peak of summer. San Diego experiences bigger waves during the fall, so you’ll want to swim with caution during this time.
After a few days of bad rain, you will want to avoid the ocean. The street gutters drain onto the beach, making it very unpleasant to swim. Also, never enter the water when red flags are showing.
For the quietest swimming experience, head to the beach first thing in the morning or around midday on weekdays. Naturally, the weekdays are much quieter throughout the year than weekends for swimming.
Best Time to Visit Balboa Park
The best time to visit Balboa Park is during its December Nights. The park is busiest in the summer months, especially during weekends. Visiting on a weekday is your best option to enjoy fewer crowds, and the earlier you visit, the more you can see in the day.
December Nights take place over a few weekends in the month, and you’ll enjoy special events and light displays. While many locals visit during this time, it’s one of the most spectacular times to visit the site. Many visitors spend two to three days enjoying everything the site offers, so arrive early to pack as much into your visit as possible.
Best Time to Watch the Grunion Run
The best time to witness the Grunion Run in San Diego is in spring, between April and June. It can only be witnessed during this season, and fishing is off-limits in April and May.
After high tide and during a full moon, you have the best chance of viewing the fish in large numbers. The largest number of fish usually appears an hour after the Grunion Run commences. Check online for the schedule before heading out, as there is usually a two-hour period each evening where the most activity is expected.
Best Time for a Wedding
San Diego experiences minimal rain in the summer, making it the best time for a wedding. Avoid June gloom near the coast by opting for a wedding between July and September.
If budget is a concern, opt for the fall or winter months. In the fall, you’ll escape the heat and find some great deals on venues and hotels. Avoid Thanksgiving and Christmas, as prices increase again during this time.
If you are planning a summer wedding, book at least one year in advance. For quieter months, you’ll find you can book six months or so in advance and still have good options to choose from.
Best Time to Visit Legoland in Carlsbad
The best time to visit Legoland in Carlsbad is between August and February, when the kids are back at school. The summer and holiday seasons are the busiest, with high crowd levels and wait times.
An off-peak visit on a weekday will give you the best chance to enjoy all the park’s attractions. Weekends are busy throughout the year but are particularly unpleasant during the summer months.
Arrive at the park thirty minutes before opening, as the turnstiles and a few attractions may open early. This will minimize your time waiting in line for the most popular attractions.
If you are planning to visit the water park, arrive before 11 am or after 3 pm. The water park is best experienced in the summer months and is closed during the week in the winter.
Season Guide | Weather Details
Spring is one of the top times to visit San Diego. Between March and May, the temperatures average in the mid-60s, and the crowd levels are low before summer. The city looks beautiful during this time, with its flowers in full bloom and the Coronado Flower Show.
Enjoy hot weather in San Diego throughout the summer, with average temperatures in the mid to high 70s. It’s a busy time to visit, with crowds and hotel prices at their highest. The later part of the summer is the best time to visit, as you’ll avoid the infamous June gloom. Avoid Comic-Con if you are not attending the event, as hotels are usually fully booked during this time.
Between September and November in San Diego, temperatures remain in the mid-70s. Crowd levels drop significantly, and October and November offer the lowest crowds and hotel rates. There are some great events during this time of year, including Restaurant Week each September.
Temperatures in San Diego drop to their lowest in winter, with lows in the high 40s. Crowds and hotel prices are low during this time, apart from Christmas and New Year. This is not a good time for a beach vacation, and you’ll need to pack a wetsuit in case you plan to swim in the ocean.
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Best Times by Month
Each month in San Diego, there’s something new and exciting for visitors to experience.
2021 Update: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the events and activities below may be postponed until 2022. However, the recommended attractions for each month will remain the same throughout the upcoming year. When choosing the best month for your visit, you’ll want to consider the temperatures, crowd levels, and hotel prices to find the best combination for your travel party.
- Temperature: Average high 66°F (19°C), average low 49°F (9°C)
- Rain: 6 days
- Ocean: 58°F - wetsuit necessary
- Crowds and Hotel Rates: Low-moderate
San Diego in January has cool temperatures, especially at night-time, with an average low of 49°F (9°C). The city averages a daily high of 66°F (18°C), making it more pleasant during the day. January is unpredictable, with an average of six rainy days.
Crowds and Rates: After New Year, the crowds drop to the lowest you will experience all year, with hotel prices reflecting this. Once the holiday crowds have left at the start of the month, January is a great time to visit San Diego if you are looking for low crowd levels.
The attractions throughout the city offer minimal crowds, although it’s a little chilly for swimming in the sea. However, if you are a keen surfer, this time of year offers some of the best surfing conditions. Hotel prices are generally low throughout this time unless a big convention is being held in the city.
What to Wear: For the daytime, you’ll want to pack long pants and a sweater to keep you warm. As there can be unexpected rain during the month, be sure to pack an umbrella in your day bag.
If you are planning to spend any time in the ocean during your trip, a wetsuit will be critical for a January visit. The temperatures drop quite low at night, so ensure you pack a jacket or thick sweater.
Things to Do: This is the best time of year to see whales in the wild. Head out on a whale-watching cruise to try and catch a glimpse of these magnificent creatures. This is a great time to enjoy low crowds at some of the most popular family attractions, such as SeaWorld and the San Diego Zoo.
Events: This month, enjoy trying craft beers at the San Diego Brew Fest, which also offers live entertainment. San Diego Restaurant Week happens on the third week of the month. You’ll enjoy great value-for-money menus in many top restaurants. The Farmers Insurance Open Golf Tournament welcomes some of the best golf players to the city on this PGA tour stop.
- Temperature: Average high 67°F (19°C), average low 51°F (10°C)
- Rain: 4 days
- Ocean: 57°F - wetsuit necessary
- Crowds and Hotel Rates: Low-moderate
San Diego’s weather in February has an average high of 67°F (18°C) and low of 51°F (10°C). It usually only rains for a few days, but you’ll want to pack an umbrella just in case.
Crowds and Rates: This is a great time to visit for low crowds before Spring Break begins next month. Crowd levels remain low throughout February, except Presidents’ Day weekend. The attractions will offer low crowd levels, but the sea is still cold for swimming. Hotel prices will remain low throughout the month, offering great deals before Spring Break hits town.
What to Wear: You’ll want to avoid short sleeves in February still, as the temperatures are not much warmer than in January. If you are heading out at night, be sure to pack a light jacket or fleece to keep you warm. For anyone braving the ocean, ensure you wear a full wetsuit when swimming or surfing.
Things to Do: This is the best month to enjoy the city’s museums, thanks to the San Diego Museum Month. More than forty museums offer half-price admission, so you can enjoy visiting the San Diego Natural History Museum, USS Midway Museum or Maritime Museum of San Diego. Otherwise, all major family attractions will offer minimal crowds as in January.
Events: Apart from the San Diego Museum Month mentioned above, you can also enjoy the Gaslamp Quarter Mardi Gras Parade and Celebration. If you are a keen runner, you’ll also love taking part in the San Diego Color Fun Fest 5K.
- Temperature: Average high 67°F (19°C), average low 54°F (12°C)
- Rain: 7 days
- Ocean: 58°F - wetsuit necessary
- Crowds and Hotel Rates: Moderate-high
March in San Diego has an average high temperature of 67°F (19°C) and low of 54°F (12°C). The city sees up to seven days of rain in March, so an umbrella or rain gear is advised. The sea temperature is still at 58°F, and a wetsuit is usually recommended.
Crowds and Rates: The first two weeks of March are a pleasant time to visit San Diego, but crowds increase dramatically by the middle of the month for Spring Break. Dates vary slightly each year depending on schools, but hotel prices rise dramatically. Book early if you are planning to visit during Spring Break.
The ocean is a little warmer this month, so visitors may find it pleasant to swim without a wetsuit.
What to Wear: You’ll still want to pack a sweater or light jacket for the night-time in March, as it can be chilly exploring the city. Locals will recommend you wear a wetsuit in the water, but many visitors are brave enough just to use swimwear. Check the weather forecast and pack an umbrella to avoid getting caught in the rain.
Things to Do: Enjoy the very end of the whale watching season by heading out on a whale-watching cruise at the start of the month. Don’t miss visiting Balboa Park for its beautiful spring blooms in March. It’s a great time to enjoy the city’s parks and outdoor attractions, as you’ll enjoy more sun than in the winter months. San Diego Zoo Safari Park opens their Butterfly Jungle exhibit this month, and Carlsbad Flower Fields opens also.
Events: In Carlsbad, the Kia Classic LPGA Golf Tournament takes place in March. The city also celebrates St. Patrick’s Day in style with a parade and festival. The Seaport Village Spring Busker Festival is a fun event showcasing street performers. Finally, if you enjoy live music, don’t miss the San Diego IndieFest, with over fifty bands performing each year.
- Temperature: Average high 69°F (21°C), average low 56°F (13°C)
- Rain: 4 days
- Ocean: 58°F - wetsuit optional
- Crowds and Hotel Rates: Moderate-high
San Diego in April offers pleasant temperatures with an average high of 67°F (19°C) and low of 56°F (13°C). Expect only four days of rain, and the ocean temperature is beginning to feel more pleasant for swimming.
Crowds and Rates: After Easter, crowds are still quite manageable in San Diego before the summer begins. Hotel prices are reasonable throughout the month, except for Easter.
The weather begins to warm up for beach visits, although many still use a wetsuit in the Pacific Ocean.
What to Wear: As temperatures begin to increase, you’ll find short sleeves more appropriate for the daytime. However, temperatures still drop at night, so you’ll want to pack layers to ensure you don’t get too chilly in the late evening or morning. Visitors find they can use just swimwear this month in the ocean, but you may still want a wetsuit if you are sensitive to the cold.
Things to Do: April is a great time of year to visit the La Jolla Ecological Reserve, and you can access the caves by kayak. The Carlsbad Flower Fields look wonderful during this time and will be in full bloom. Avoiding Easter, you’ll find the family attractions such as SeaWorld San Diego and Legoland Carlsbad have lower crowd levels than will appear in the summer months.
Events: Don’t miss the San Diego BBQ Fest, which is held in the Makers Quarter. For more indulgence, enjoy the Mission Valley Craft Beer and Food Festival. Alternatively, for a unique event, head to Fallbrook for the Avocado Festival, which is fun for the whole family. The Coronado Flower Show usually takes place in the middle of the month, drawing crowds from across the region.
- Temperature: Average high 69°F (21°C), average low 59°F (15°C)
- Rain: 2 days
- Ocean: 61°F
- Crowds and Hotel Rates: Moderate
May in San Diego offers the perfect climate for visitors, with an average high of 69°F (21°C), and low of 59°F (15°C). The rain reduces to approximately two days in the month. In May, the ocean is warm enough for swimming without a wetsuit.
Crowds / Rates / Weather Details: Before the schools finish for the summer, May is one of the best times of the year to visit San Diego. You’ll enjoy low crowds and moderate hotel prices for the first weeks of the month.
The temperatures make it more pleasant to enjoy the beach and outdoor attractions in May. You may experience “May Gray,” where the sky is overcast but then clears up for a sunny day.
What to Wear: Temperatures are much improved during May, and in the daytime, you’ll feel comfortable in short-sleeved tops and light pants or shorts. You may still want to add a light sweater at night, especially if you are spending time outdoors. Swimwear will be fine for swimming in the ocean this month unless you are susceptible to the cold.
Things to Do: This is a great month to enjoy the most popular city attractions, such as SeaWorld San Diego, the San Diego Zoo, and Balboa Park. The outdoor attractions look beautiful with their blooming flowers, and the rides and shows are running to their full extent. This is a great month to watch the Grunion Run, which happens during the late evening hours.
Events: Gator by the Bay offers four days of live music and delicious food at the Spanish Landing. Another fun festival is the Fiesta Del Sol, which takes place at Solana Beach. Don’t miss the city’s Cinco de Mayo celebration at the Fiesta Old Town.
Your whole family will enjoy a day out at the Vista Strawberry Festival, which offers delicious food and fun live entertainment. For three weeks this month, the Del Mar Horse Show takes place. Finally, the San Diego Dragon Boat Festival is a family-friendly event with competitions and performances.
- Temperature: Average high 71°F (21°C), average low 62°F (16°C)
- Rain: 1 day
- Ocean: 63°F
- Crowds and Hotel Rates: High
June in San Diego sees warmer temperatures but also welcomes the June gloom. With an average high of 71°F (21°C) and low of 62°F (16°C), this month has a mix of overcast and sunny days. Minimal rain is expected in June, which makes it a great time for outdoor attractions.
Crowds / Rates / Weather Details: June is the start of the peak tourist season in San Diego. Expect warmer weather, higher crowds, and increased hotel prices. Coastal fog, which is nicknamed June gloom, is expected throughout the month.
While the temperatures are higher for beach visits, it can be tricky with the overcast weather. The ocean is finally warm enough for swimming without a wetsuit.
What to Wear: Pack your summer wardrobe for a visit in June, as you’ll likely spend most of your days outside. If you feel the cold, you may still want a light jacket or sweater for the evenings or early mornings. If you are planning a beach vacation, ensure you pack your swimwear. Kids and teens will want to make the most of the pool at your hotel during this time of year.
Things to Do: Enjoy visiting the beach on sunny days in June, where the sea temperature has improved for swimming. The swells start to pick up a little this month for surfing, so it is a good time for surf lessons.
If you are lucky, you’ll catch the end of the Grunion Run this month. Try to avoid the major attractions where possible in June, as these will be very crowded. However, they will offer longer opening hours to compensate for the crowds.
Events: The San Diego County Fair takes place each year at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Runners descend on the city for the San Diego Rock’n’Roll Marathon, which usually sells out months before the event. For a free event for the whole family, visit the Ocean Beach Street Fair and Chili Cook-off. If you enjoy tasting different cuisines, don’t miss the Taste of Little Italy food festival.
- Temperature: Average high 76°F (24°C), average low 67°F (19°C)
- Rain: 1 day
- Ocean: 66°F
- Crowds and Hotel Rates: High
July is one of the warmest months of the year to visit San Diego. Visitors can expect average high temperatures of 76°F (24°C) and lows of 67°F (19°C). It rains only one day on average, and skies are clear for visiting the beach.
Crowds / Rates / Weather Details: Thanks to July’s sunny weather, it’s one of the best times for visiting San Diego for beach and family vacations. You can make the most of all the city’s top attractions and enjoy spending long days outdoors.
However, hotel prices and crowds are at an all-time high. This is especially true around July 4th, where crowds will be at some of the highest of the year. San Diego also hosts Comic-Con this month, and this sell-out event increases hotel prices dramatically.
What to Wear: Enjoy wearing shorts, t-shirts, and vest tops throughout July. If you are spending time outdoors, you’ll want to opt for light pants and shorts in the daytime. Don’t forget your swimwear, to make the most of the city’s beaches and swimming pools. Pack a cap and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.
Things to Do: This is the perfect time of year for a beach or family vacation. However, you’ll experience higher crowd levels at attractions. It’s the best time of year for swimming, whether that’s at the beach, your hotel’s pool, or Legoland’s water park. July is the start of the top time to see the bioluminescence, which you’ll want to head out at night to see.
Events: San Diego’s biggest event of the year takes place in July: Comic-Con. This is the world’s largest comic book convention, with many celebrity guests and fantastic events.
The San Diego Smooth Jazz Festival takes place in the San Diego Marina for three days this month. From the middle of the month, the Del Mar Races begin, which continue until September. To celebrate 4th July, head to the Annual Big Bay Boom fireworks show, which can be witnessed from across the city.
- Temperature: Average high 77°F (25°C), average low 67°F (19°C)
- Rain: 1 day
- Ocean: 68°F
- Crowds and Hotel Rates: High
August in San Diego offers the highest temperatures of the year, with an average high of 77°F (25°C) and low of 67°F (19°C). The water temperature also reaches its peak, and with one day of rain, it’s an ideal beach vacation month.
Crowds / Rates / Weather Details: The beginning of August in San Diego experiences similar crowd levels and hotel prices to July. By the middle of the month, kids return to school, and the crowds reduce to a moderate level until Labor Day. The last week of the month is perfect for a beach vacation, with warm ocean temperatures and slightly lower crowds.
What to Wear: You’ll be safe wearing shorts, tank tops, and t-shirts this month during the daytime. With hot temperatures, make sure you pack your sunglasses and cap to protect your head when outside. Don’t forget your swimwear, as it’s one of the best times to enjoy swimming in the ocean.
Things to Do: August is a great month for a beach vacation, especially during the last two weeks when crowds are a little lower. This is another good month to witness the bioluminescence. If the ocean is red or brown in the daytime, you’ll have a good chance of witnessing it come nightfall.
The end of the month is a great time to return to popular attractions such as SeaWorld San Diego and Legoland Carlsbad. Once kids have returned to school, you’ll enjoy lower crowds but long opening hours still. August is the start of the peak surf season, which continues through to November.
Events: If you enjoy live music, check out the San Diego Symphony Bayside Summer Nights concerts. Also, the Summer Fest Under the Stars is another popular event. For foodies, don’t miss the Margaritas & Mas Festival or the Latin Food Festival. Kids will enjoy the San Diego International Kids’ Film Festival, which takes place over three days in August.
- Temperature: Average high 77°F (25°C), average low 66°F (19°C)
- Rain: 1 day
- Ocean: 66°F
- Crowds and Hotel Rates: Low-Moderate
Visitors to San Diego in September can still enjoy average high temperatures of 77°F (25°C), and lows of 66°F (19°C). With only one day of rain and high ocean temperatures, it’s a great time for visiting the beach.
Crowds / Rates / Weather Details: After Labor Day weekend, we recommend September as one of the top months to visit San Diego. You’ll enjoy warm temperatures, low crowds levels, and lower hotel prices.
Temperatures are consistent throughout the month, but you may experience the odd, particularly hot or cold day. This is one of the peak months for surfing in the city.
What to Wear: Temperatures are still generally warm throughout the month, so that you can wear short-sleeved tops in the daytime. You’ll find this month does have some random hot and cold days, so you may want to pack a sweater or light jacket to be safe. You’ll be fine swimming in swimwear and will only need a wetsuit for early morning surfing.
Things to Do: This is one of the top months to visit San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld San Diego. You’ll enjoy low crowd levels and pleasant temperatures for spending the day outdoors with minimal chance of rain.
It’s a great month for swimming and surfing, and locals make the most of the quieter beaches during this time. If you are able to visit during this time, it’s one of the best months for a family vacation and a popular time for weddings.
Events: The San Diego Restaurant Week returns for the second time in September, offering great value for money dining. San Diego Blues Festival takes place on the first Saturday of the month for one day.
If you enjoy live music, you’ll also want to catch the two-day Adams Avenue Street Fair on the last weekend of the month. This is one of the best months for events and also hosts the popular San Diego Bayfair, Miramar Air Show, and Padres baseball games.
- Temperature: Average high 73°F (23°C), average low 61°F (16°C)
- Rain: 3 days
- Ocean: 64°F – wetsuit recommended
- Crowds and Hotel Rates: Low-Moderate
October weather in San Diego is pleasant throughout the month, with average highs of 73°F (23°C) and lows of 61°F (16°C). Daylight savings at the end of the month makes the days shorter.
You’ll experience minimal rainfall still but may want to bring a wetsuit for swimming this month.
Crowds / Rates / Weather Details: October is one of the best times for families to visit San Diego, thanks to the Kids Free San Diego month. It’s a quiet month at the city’s attractions and a great time of year for surfing.
The rainfall is still minimal in October, so you’ll enjoy days outside and time at the beach. Hotel prices are extremely reasonable, making it one of the best times of year to visit.
What to Wear: Temperatures are beginning to fall a little this month, so you’ll want to add a few more layers to your suitcase. The daytime temperatures can still be high at the start of the month, but by the end of October, expect to need a few layers at night. The sea temperature is starting to drop, so bring a wetsuit if you plan to swim or surf.
Things to Do: Thanks to the Kids Free San Diego month, you’ll want to check out the family attractions in October. Kids will enjoy free admission to San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld San Diego, and Legoland.
For adults, this is a great month for surfing or visiting the La Jolla Ecological Reserve. This is the final month where you’ll have a good chance of seeing the bioluminescence at night-time.
Events: October welcomes the Miramar Air Show, which takes place over three days and offers free admission. It is the largest military show in the country and is well worth a visit.
The Pacific Beachfest is a fun event during this sunny month. If you love your food and drink, don’t miss the Harvest Festival and La Jolla Art and Wine Festival.
- Temperature: Average high 70°F (21°C), average low 54°F (12°C)
- Rain: 4 days
- Ocean: 61°F – wetsuit necessary
- Crowds and Hotel Rates: Low (apart from Thanksgiving)
November in San Diego sees a drop in temperature to an average high of 70°F (21°C) and low of 54°F (12°C). The ocean temperature drops to 61°F, so it’s recommended to wear a wetsuit when swimming. On average, November sees four days of rain.
Crowds / Rates / Weather Details: Except for Thanksgiving, November is one of the quietest months for visiting San Diego. You’ll enjoy low hotel prices and fewer crowds at the city’s attractions.
The weather is no longer as warm for the beach, so you’ll want to base your vacation around the city’s other offerings. The week of Thanksgiving naturally sees an increase in crowds, so expect family attractions and hotels to be busy.
What to Wear: November sees the start of the colder winter months. Pack accordingly by mainly opting for long pants and adding in a light jacket for evenings. If you plan to swim, you’ll want to use a wetsuit this month unless you are particularly brave. An umbrella is worth bringing in case you get caught in the rain when out and about.
Things to Do: This is the last month of the peak surf season, where you’ll still enjoy good conditions. It’s the start of the tide pooling season, which is a fun activity the whole family will enjoy.
You’ll find attractions throughout the city to be quiet during the month, apart from Thanksgiving, where you’ll want to avoid SeaWorld San Diego and the San Diego Zoo.
Events: For about ten days this month, you can enjoy the San Diego Beer Week. There’s also the San Diego Bay Food and Wine Festival in November.
Thanksgiving will also see the start of the city's holiday offerings, such as Skating by the Sea. We also recommend the Old Town Dia de los Muertos, which takes place early in the month and is free to visit.
- Temperature: Average high 66°F (19°C), average low 48°F (9°C)
- Rain: 6 days
- Ocean: 59°F – wetsuit necessary
- Crowds and Hotel Rates: Moderate
Temperatures drop significantly in December in San Diego to an average high of 66°F (19°C) and low of 48°F (9°C). Expect up to six days of rain in the month. A wetsuit is needed, as the ocean temperature drops to 59°F,
Crowds / Rates / Weather Details: For anyone coming from a cold destination, you’ll still find San Diego’s December temperatures pleasant for exploring. The city is quieter in the first weeks but then becomes busier during the holidays.
San Diego offers many exciting holiday events for visitors. Hotel prices are at their highest during the Christmas and New Year week. We recommend booking in advance if you plan to travel during this time for the best prices.
What to Wear: You’ll want to pack a medium-weight jacket for the evenings in December, where you can expect low temperatures. If you are planning to swim, a wetsuit is definitely necessary. Expect to spend most of your days in long pants or jeans, and pack an umbrella to be safe.
Things to Do: Enjoy holiday activities this month, such as Skating by the Sea at the Hotel del Coronado and the Winter Wonderland at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar.
This is one of the best times to visit Balboa Park, as their December Nights offer stunning light displays and entertainment. Many of the famous family attractions will have fun holiday additions but should be avoided during Christmas week.
Events: Families will love seeing the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights near the beach. You’ll also enjoy the Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade, which is the biggest parade of its type in the US.
If you are opting to spend New Year’s Eve here, the Gaslamp Quarter is the best place to enjoy the festivities. If you appreciate theater and dance, enjoy a night at the Cygnet Theater or the Civic Theater this month. They both host ballet and theater shows celebrating the Christmas season.
Where and Tips
Must-Know Visiting Tip | Sightseeing & Photography
There are tons of amazing things to see in San Diego. A local photographer is providing the following tips:
- La Jolla is a must-do. Walk to La Jolla cove for photos of the cove and wild sea lions. La Jolla Cove is one of the best free things to do in San Diego.
- Sunset Cliffs provides great natural tide pools beside other stone structures along the shores.
- Ride the Giant Dipper roller coaster! This is the 2nd oldest wooden roller coaster on the west coast. A great photo opportunity. It's located on the famous Mission Beach in San Diego.
- Visit the resort City Coronado which is located across the magnificent San Diego Bay. On the Coronado Bridge, you'll have an amazing view of San Diego.
- Seaport Village is another must-visit. It's a waterfront shopping and dining complex located between the historic USS Midway Aircraft Carrier and the San Diego Convention Center.
- The USS Midway Aircraft Museum is just some blocks from there. A must-visit. Purchas skip-the-line tickets in advance if possible.
- Downtown's Historic Gaslamp district is right there as well.
- All these places are downtown, and you can walk everything if you like, which I always preferred.