Wondering when’s the best time to visit San Diego? This handy guide has got you covered when it comes to visiting San Diego, season by season.

San Diego might be an undeniably popular summer destination, but come fall and winter, the city is still full of things to do.

In fact, out of all the major Californian cities, I would wager a bet that San Diego is the most suited to travel all-year-round. From its temperate ocean to abundance of cool places to drink, dine and shop, you’re never short of places to visit at any time of year.

Planning a trip to San Diego but not sure when to go? I’ve got you covered with this handy guide.

When’s the Best Time to Visit San Diego?: At A Glance

Balboa Park San Diego

Okay… So you’re here because you’re wondering when to visit, right? 

Let me tell you that while summer might be the top time to visit, you’ll save loads of cash in the cooler months. Which is handy – San Diego is a rather expensive city.

If you want my top advice, I recommend heading to San Diego between March and May and September and November for the best of both worlds.

The Best Time to Visit San Diego

What is the Best Month to Visit San Diego?

unset La Jolla San Diego

The tail end of summer is the best time to travel to San Diego since you can enjoy the city’s breathtaking beaches and most well-known attractions.

In fact, San Diego’s summer temperatures can stretch all the way through until September. This month, in particular, has a reputation for having the best weather, the hottest ocean temperatures, and fewer visitors. For this alone, it might just be the best time of year to visit San Diego.

Most visitors come to San Diego for its stunning beaches, so if spending time in the sun, sand, and sea is what you’re looking to do, you should schedule your trip for September.

When’s the High Season in San Diego? 

The early summer months (June/July) are when most people visit San Diego.

The summer peak season typically begins on Memorial Day Weekend and lasts until Labor Day Weekend. 

While popular, the downside is that it’s when hotel room rates are at their highest, and the number of tourist attractions can be overwhelming to some. It’s certainly not my favourite time of the year to visit.

The Cheapest Time to Visit San Diego 

Mission Beach San Diego-

Listen up peeps because I’m about to spill some juicy secrets. San Diego’s low season runs from December through January (excluding the holiday season) and is the most affordable time to visit. 

During these months, budget travellers won’t need too much help finding discounts on hotels and flights. You also won’t have to wait in line at the city’s finest attractions – a real win.

The Best Time to Visit San Diego for Activities

San Diego 

One of the reasons I love San Diego so much is because you can enjoy activities like surfing, boating, and snorkelling throughout most of the year. 

As I’ve already mentioned, I advise visiting San Diego in September – when the weather is warm but most tourists have already left – to escape the congestion.

Many of San Diego’s most well-liked sites are better in the off-peak months when there are fewer visitors, and it’s colder outside. For instance, the San Diego Zoo is much more fun in the fall and spring when you can wander around in bearable heat.

In addition, some fantastic hiking routes east of the city are breathtaking in the fall and spring but excessively hot in the summer. Thus you need to go during those months if you want to experience the best hikes in San Diego.

The Best Time to Visit San Diego for the Best Weather

San Diego Museum of Art

San Diego has a Mediterranean-like climate and landscape, and comprises a coastal desert. 

The city is famous for its excellent climate, typically warm and moderate year-round, particularly around the seaside. However, San Diego’s weather can be more severe further inland, so it’s best to avoid it in the summer.

People often wait anxiously until well into July for the proper summer sunshine and beach weather because spring and the early summer are frequently gloomy and cold. Summer continues long into September. 

Santa Ana winds, which push hot, dry air from the eastern desert towards coastal Southern California, are frequently experienced in October. So you don’t need to worry about bringing your winter coat around Halloween, either.

The year’s hottest months are August and September, with average highs of 25°C (77°F), while the average high temperature in December is 19°C (67°F), and the nighttime low drops to a chilly 10°C (51°F). 

It should come as no surprise that the wettest weather generally occurs in the winter, though San Diego is well known for its frequent dry spells.

San Diego by Season

Spring in San Diego

March – May

San Diego Hikes

I know I’ve stressed that San Diego really is a year-round spot, but spring would probably be my least favourite season to visit America’s Finest City.

Rising temperatures and gloomy skies typically mark San Diego’s springtime. The city is the prototype for April showers, May grey, and June gloom. But the bright blooms that emerge during the spring in San Diego serve to contrast the gloomy skies. If you can withstand some drizzle, this could be a great time to visit.

If you enjoy flowers, now is the ideal time to go. The Coronado Flower Show happens during this time and the Carlsbad Flower Fields are at their best bloom despite San Diego not being famous as a flower destination.

This is also the best time to visit the deserts of eastern San Diego County, even though the beach may not be beckoning. These areas get nice weather earlier than the seaside towns.

Key Events and Things to Do in San Diego in Spring 

  • Busker Fest (March)
  • San Diego EarthFair (April)
  • Coronado Flower Show (April)
  • Mission Fed ArtWalk (April)
  • Gator By The Bay (May)
  • Fiesta Old Town Cinco de Mayo (May)

Pros to Travelling to San Diego in Spring

  • The weather is more pleasant than in the summer due to the temperatures not being too high or low.
  • There are fewer tourists in the area.

Cons to Travelling to San Diego in Spring 

  • There isn’t sun every day, especially in May, known as “May Grey”.

Summer in San Diego

June – August

Sunset La Jolla San Diego

Of course, summer is the best and busiest season to visit San Diego. However, cloudy spring often continues into June, so avoid early summer if you’re looking for high temps and sunshine.

Room rates increase in July, particularly during Comic-Con, the biggest event in the city. Because of Comic-Con’s popularity, hotels in both the Downtown area where the convention is and the surrounding neighbourhoods frequently sell out months in advance. 

Although August doesn’t beckon as many guests as July, it is still theoretically one of the busiest travel months in San Diego. There are many events during this time and surfing season officially starts – therefore prices will be higher.

Key Events and Things to Do in San Diego in Summer 

  • Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon (June)
  • San Diego International Beer Festival (June)
  • San Diego County Fair (June-July)
  • Comic-Con (July)
  • San Diego Pride (July)
  • Del Mar Racing Season (July-September)

Pros to Travelling to San Diego in Summer

  • The weather has pleasant high temperatures.
  • There are many festivals and activities taking place.
  • The beach is busy, and the water is nice and warm.

Cons to Travelling to San Diego in Summer 

  • Hotels and other accommodations become more expensive. It’s the worst time to visit for budget-conscious travellers.
  • The high temperatures only start toward the end of summer (mid-July onwards).
  • The city is bustling with tourists, which can be overwhelming to some.

Autumn / Fall in San Diego

September – November

Best Hikes in San Diego

Tourism in San Diego is at its best during the autumn if you like fewer crowds. Although travellers frequently stay well into September to enjoy the remains of the warm weather, crowds and hotel prices tend to decline in October and November. 

If you’re asking, when does it start getting cold in San Diego? Then stick around. Early autumn in the city is still mild, enabling locals and out-of-season visitors to take advantage of the numerous San Diego beaches. 

As the season goes on, the days and evenings get cooler, and moderate San Diego weather settles in, allowing you to move beyond the beaches in San Diego County. 

You can enjoy plenty of music, art, wine, and sporting events in San Diego during the autumn. The numerous culinary events held during this time, including Restaurant Week, will attract foodies.

Key Events and Things to Do in San Diego in Autumn/Fall 

  • Jazz at the Creek (September)
  • San Diego Blues Festival (September)
  • Miramar Air Show (September)
  • San Diego Restaurant Week (September-October)
  • Fleet Week (October-November)
  • San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival (November)

Pros to Travelling to San Diego in Autumn/Fall

  • The area becomes less busy as tourists leave.
  • The weather remains warm until at least the middle of autumn (from November, it gets colder).
  • Hotels and lodging get less expensive from October onwards.

Cons to Travelling to San Diego in Autumn/Fall  

  • The weather does get colder from the end of October, and the beach becomes less popular.

Winter in San Diego

December – February

The Pier Cafe in Seaport Village, San Diego

San Diego is famous for mild weather all year long, yet the city may experience extremely chilly winter evenings with lows of just 10°C (51°F). Avoid coming at this time if you’re dreaming of a chilled-out beach vacation. 

Rain showers are expected and the ocean’s waters are so chilly at this time of year that most locals don’t even attempt to venture to the shoreline. However, surfers rejoice in the large winter swells and excellent surf.

On the other side, wintertime typically sees reduced hotel rates. Try a whale-watching expedition if you desire to be on the sea during your winter travels.

There are fewer things to do in San Diego during winter, but it’s a perfect time to visit the city’s fantastic indoor attractions, including museums, as there won’t be as many people around. 

Better yet, you’ll benefit from travelling during the low winter season if you don’t mind the cooler weather because hotel rates are frequently less expensive.

Key Events and Things to Do in San Diego in Winter 

  • Balboa Park December Nights (December)
  • San Diego Bay Parade of Lights (December)
  • San Diego Museum Month (February)
  • Chinese New Year Fair (February)

Pros to Travelling to San Diego in Winter

  • Hotel and accommodation rates are at their lowest, which is ideal for budget-conscious travellers.
  • There aren’t many people around as most tourists have left, and locals prefer to stay indoors.

Cons to Travelling to San Diego in Winter 

  • Cold weather means there are typically fewer activities and festivals in the area.
  • Rain showers are common, so it can be hard to plan expeditions.

When to Travel to San Diego: Practical Tips + Tricks 

  • You can enjoy the beaches in San Diego all year round. Even though it’s more comfortable to visit the beach in the summer, if you have a good tolerance for the cold and wear the proper attire, the water is tolerable all year long.
  • After a significant downpour, you should avoid the ocean for a few days. Since there aren’t many major storms in San Diego, when they come, runoff from the land might irritate the environment by entering the water.
  • The temperature in San Diego can fluctuate erratically during the day and from one day to the next. The temperature is usually cool in the morning and night, especially in the fall and spring, but it warms up in the middle of the day. Remember to bring layers that you can remove if it gets warmer.

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