San Diego, located on the coast of Southern California, is a city that can be visited year-round. However, the best time to visit depends on your interests and priorities.
If you want to soak up the sun and enjoy the beaches, the summer months of June through September are ideal. The weather is hot and the ocean is perfect for swimming, surfing, and other water sports.
Spring and fall seasons from March to May and September to November offer milder temperatures and fewer crowds, making it easier to explore the city’s attractions and landmarks.
The winter months of December through February are perfect for budget-friendly travel, but note that the weather may be cooler and rainier.
Overall, San Diego is a destination that has something to offer for every season.
San Diego is a coastal city located in the southern part of California, United States. The city is known for its mild weather, beautiful beaches, and vibrant culture. San Diego is situated on the Pacific Ocean, bordered by Mexico to the south and the state of Arizona to the east.
San Diego’s weather is generally warm and sunny throughout the year, with an average temperature of around 70°F. The summers are typically dry and warm, with occasional heat waves, while the winters are mild and rainy.
There are many major attractions in San Diego, such as the world-famous San Diego Zoo, which houses a diverse collection of animals from around the world. Another popular attraction is Balboa Park, which is home to several museums, gardens, and cultural institutions.
The USS Midway Museum, located in downtown San Diego, is a floating aircraft carrier that has been turned into a museum. SeaWorld San Diego is also a popular attraction, where visitors can see a variety of marine life up close and watch animal shows.
San Diego also offers a variety of beach and outdoor attractions, including surfing, hiking, and biking, as well as numerous shopping and dining options. The city is known for its laid-back and welcoming atmosphere, making it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.
If you want to enjoy the deserts of eastern San Diego County and witness the Carlsbad Flower Fields, visit San Diego during Spring (March to May).
If you want to participate in Comi-Con, visit San Diego in July.
If you wish to enjoy Jazz and value-for-money dining, visit San Diego in Septemper.
If you are a beer aficionado and want to participate in San Diego International Beer Festival, visit San Diego in June.
San Diego experiences four seasons:
Spring (March to May): Average daytime temperatures range between 18°C and 22°C (high 60s to low 70s) while average low ranges between 10°C and 13°C (low to mid 50s). Spring tends to be cloudy and cool.
Summer (June to September): Average daytime temperatures range between 24°C and 28°C (mid 70s to low 80s) while average low ranges between 17°C and 20°C (low to high 60s). August & September experience the highest temperatures of the year with an average high temperature of 25°C.
Fall (October to November): Average daytime temperatures range between 20°C and 26°C (high 60s to high 70s) while average low ranges between 11°C and 14°C (low to high 50s). Hot and dry Santa Ana winds blowing in the east from the desert move towards coastal Southern California, making fall pleasantly war.
Winter (December to February): Average daytime temperatures in winter months range between 17°C and 21°C (low to high 60s) while average low ranges between 8°C and 12°C (high 40s to mid 50s). Winter months are usually the wettest.
From the tourism aspect, San Diego’s climate is divided into:
Peak or High Season (June to August): This is when San Diego sees the biggest crowds and high accommodation prices.
Shoulder Season (March to May and October to November): San Diego has fewer crowds, and prices are reasonably low. Booking is possible on short notice.
Low Season (December to February): San Diego’s low season has the fewest visitors, and prices hit rock bottom. The city is a great destination for winter travel, with mild temperatures and numerous holiday events.
There is no go or bad time to visit San Diego. It is a year-round tourist destination. The best time to visit San Diego will depend on the activities you want to enjoy and your budget.
Here is a month-by-month breakdown of the best time to visit San Diego:
During the month of January, San Diego residents can be seen donning parkas and boots to combat the frigid weather, which can see temperatures dropping as low as 49° despite reaching as high as 65° within the same month.
This considerable contrast in temperatures understandably leads visitors from colder winter climates and the East Coast to perceive San Diego as warm.
The temperature range in January fluctuates from a low of 49° to a high of 65°, with approximately seven days of rainfall and a total of 216 hours of sunshine.
If you intend to visit the ocean, the average water temperature is 58°, necessitating the use of a full wetsuit.
Participating in the Carlsbad Marathon and Half-Marathon, which begins at the Shoppes in Carlsbad, passes through Carlsbad Village, and follows the Pacific Coast Highway along the oceanfront, is an excellent way to ring in the New Year.
The San Diego Restaurant Week, usually scheduled during the third week of January, provides an excellent opportunity to experience fixed menus at a reasonable price. You can also enjoy San Diego Brew Fest early in January.
Furthermore, January marks the peak season for whale watching, with gray whales migrating to and from the warm waters of Mexico to give birth.
February presents an opportune period for San Diego tourists to enjoy low hotel rates and participate in various activities, provided they can avoid the days surrounding Presidents Day weekend.
Nevertheless, visitors are still advised to pack warm clothing as sweaters are more suitable than short sleeves.
The temperature in February spans from 51° as the low to 65° as the high, with about seven days of rainfall and a total of 212 hours of sunshine.
The average ocean temperature is 57°, necessitating the use of a full wetsuit for those interested in swimming.
San Diego Museum Month occurs in February, offering half-price admission to over 40 museums.
Visitors can explore a range of fascinating museums, including the San Diego Natural History Museum, the Maritime Museum of San Diego, and the Fleet Science Center.
Half-off coupons are available at any public library or Hilton Hotel in San Diego, providing a chance for everyone to indulge in a unique experience.
As of the second week of March, hotel rates tend to increase in anticipation of the upcoming spring break, which varies according to the school schedule.
For those looking to book a family room, including double queen or specialty suites, during the mid-March to mid-April spring break season, early booking is recommended. However, prices won’t reach peak until summer kicks in.
Despite the slightly increased hotel rates, San Diego experiences more sunshine and beachgoing activities in March, as longer days resulting from daylight savings provide visitors with more beach time.
Compared to the previous months, more people can be seen at the San Diego beaches in swimwear, particularly tourists, who delight in the ocean without wetsuits.
In March, the temperature ranges from 53° as the low to 66° as the high, with approximately seven days of rainfall and a total of 262 hours of sunlight. The ocean temperature averages 58°, and locals usually wear full wetsuits.
March hosts several significant events, including the family-friendly Kia Classic LPGA Golf Tournament in Carlsbad. Baseball enthusiasts can attend a Padres game at Petco Park in downtown San Diego to witness the season’s first game. For live music lovers, there’s San Diego IndieFest.
Furthermore, the seasonal Butterfly Jungle exhibit at San Diego Zoo Safari Park opens for a few short weeks, and the Carlsbad Flower Fields also open to the public.
April is characterized by sunny weather in San Diego, and after Easter, the city enters another shoulder season, providing affordable hotel prices before the summer crowds.
The temperature ranges from 56° as the low to 67° as the high, with around 5 days of rain and 242 hours of sunlight. The ocean temperature is about 56° to 57°, and people can be observed wearing both spring and full wetsuits.
The Mission Federal ArtWalk is a prominent April event, where more than 300 artists exhibit and sell their artwork on the streets of Little Italy, an area with numerous art galleries and lovely restaurants.
Visitors can also enjoy Coronado Flower Show and the beautiful Carlsbad Flower Fields adorned with blooming ranunculus and the Butterfly Jungle exhibit that still remains open.
Oh! Don’t forget the San Diego BBQ Fest in Makers Quarter and Fallbrook’s Avocado Festival.
Typically, the academic year in many educational institutions concludes in May, a month that experiences a weather phenomenon known as “May Gray.”
This condition is characterized by overcast skies, although at times, the haze clears to give way to sunny weather along the coast.
Nevertheless, there is no cause for alarm, as this period sees a surge in tourism, and the weather remains favorable for outdoor sightseeing, with occasional rainfall and no extreme cold.
The length of the May Gray period varies annually, although the Memorial Day weekend is usually sunny.
During this period, temperatures oscillate between a low of 59° and a high of 67°, with roughly 2 days and 261 hours of sunlight. The ocean temperature ranges from 61° to 63°, and while it may still be slightly chilly, swimming without wetsuits is possible.
One notable attraction during this time is the Gator by the Bay festival, a four-day event that features live music on seven stages. This festival takes place at Spanish Landing, located across the airport. Visitors can also indulge in the southern cuisine theme, with pounds of crawfish brought in from Louisiana.
Other smaller festivals, such as Fiesta Del Sol in Solana Beach, also occur at various locations around the town during this time of the year.
As the May Gray period continues, it often transitions into what is known as June Gloom. Even though the skies sometimes clear up in the afternoon, it is not always the case.
While some days experience no gloom, others remain overcast throughout the day.
On sunny days, many individuals can be seen on the beach and in the ocean. The temperature fluctuates between 62° and 71°, with around one day of rainfall and 253 hours of sunlight. The ocean temperature ranges from 64° to 65°.
One of the most sought-after events during this season is the San Diego County Fair, held at the Del Mar Fairgrounds from early June until the weekend of July 4th.
The fair caters to all, from leisurely strolls through the flower exhibition to thrilling carnival rides. It also showcases entertainment, exhibits, petting zoos, and a wide array of indulgent fair foods.
Besides the fair, visitors flock from all over to partake in the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon and attend the San Diego International Beer Festival.
June Gloom clears up in San Diego, and the weather turns mostly sunny in July, making it a perfect time to plan a visit.
The temperature during this period typically ranges between 66° and 76°, and there is scanty precipitation.
Moreover, visitors can enjoy up to 293 hours of sunshine, and the ocean temperature fluctuates between 66° to 67°.
Additionally, Comic-Con takes place in July at the San Diego Convention Center , an event that attracts entertainment and comic book enthusiasts to downtown San Diego.
Attending the convention offers a chance to escape reality and indulge in the world of comic book characters and Hollywood blockbusters. However, acquiring tickets is often challenging as they tend to sell out within a short period, sometimes on the day of release.
During and around the convention, hotels in downtown San Diego often become fully booked, and prices in neighboring areas such as Coronado and La Jolla can soar due to the high number of attendees.
For those seeking warm ocean temperatures and plenty of sunshine, August is the ideal month to plan a visit to San Diego.
While the second and third weeks of the month often coincide with the return of school for some children, the final week of August is typically less crowded at San Diego beaches, tourist attractions, and hotels, except for the Labor Day weekend.
Throughout August, visitors can expect a temperature range of 67° to 77°, and an average of 0 days of rainfall.
There is also an abundance of sunlight, with approximately 277 hours of sunshine during this period. The ocean temperature averages 68°, making it a perfect time to enjoy water activities. August’s summer weather is perfect for a beach vacation.
During this time, San Diego hosts several one-day festivals throughout the city. However, most visitors prefer to spend their time at the beach or participate in outdoor activities.
One of the most popular outdoor events is the San Diego Symphony Bayside Summer Nights concerts, which commence in June and are family-friendly.
Image Credit: Jon Sullivan, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
In September, San Diego is an optimal location for tourists, particularly following the Labor Day weekend. This is due to a decrease in hotel prices when children return to school, coupled with the city’s pleasant and warm weather featuring clear blue skies and sunny days.
September still offers long daylight hours for visitors to enjoy despite being the last leg of summer.
In addition, San Diego’s popular attractions, such as the renowned San Diego Zoo, are less crowded during this time of year. Plus, visitors typically do not require wetsuits except for early morning surfing, and the city’s beaches continue to be frequented by locals.
The temperature during September in San Diego ranges from a low of 66° to a high of 77°, with only one day of rainfall on average. The city experiences around 255 hours of sunshine, and the ocean temperature averages around 66°.
Furthermore, San Diego offers a variety of exciting events throughout September, including the San Diego Bayfair featuring the world’s fastest boats racing around Mission Bay, the Miramar Air Show, the Kaboo Music Festival, Padres baseball games at Petco Park, San Diego Blues Festival, and many other events.
San Diego Restaurant Week comes again on the third week of the month. You can enjoy value-for-money dining.
In October, despite the reduction of daylight hours due to daylight savings, there are numerous enjoyable activities to partake in.
Although the latter half of the month witnesses a decrease in the amount of daylight, the weather remains warm, especially during the initial half, and at times, hot due to the Santa Ana winds, which pass through the area.
San Diego’s temperature range in October is from 65° to 73° at a minimum and maximum, respectively. The city experiences roughly three days of rainfall, and there is an approximate total of 234 hours of sunshine.
The ocean temperature gradually decreases to approximately 63° to 65° towards the end of the month, prompting the necessity of wearing a spring or full wetsuit when indulging in prolonged swimming or surfing.
Additionally, Kids Free San Diego is celebrated annually throughout the month of October, which offers substantial savings for families.
This means that children, generally 12 years of age and under, can stay, play, and dine for free in over 100 attractions, hotels, and restaurants throughout the county, including popular destinations such as San Diego Zoo, LEGOLAND California, and SeaWorld San Diego.
Other attractions include and La Jolla Art and Wine Festival and Harvest Festival.
The delightful October weather and this fantastic opportunity to save on sightseeing make it an ideal time to visit San Diego with your family.
Although the Thanksgiving break attracts many tourists to San Diego, visiting the city earlier in November provides an opportunity to enjoy some of the year’s lowest hotel rates.
In November, San Diego experiences temperatures ranging from 54° to 69°, with approximately four days of rainfall and approximately 236 hours of sunlight on average.
The ocean temperature remains chilly at 61°, requiring the use of a full wetsuit when swimming or surfing.
November is a great month for foodies in San Diego, as it offers fantastic culinary events. The San Diego Beer Week, which spans ten days, and the San Diego Bay Food and Wine Festival provide delightful food and drink experiences across the city.
Furthermore, holiday events at major hotels, including Skating by the Sea at Hotel del Coronado, begin during the Thanksgiving week.
San Diego is a popular destination for many travelers in December who want to escape the cold, enjoy the good weather and participate in the various festive events.
Visitors to San Diego can ice skate by the beach while wearing shorts, making it a unique location for winter fun. To avoid the holiday rush, it is advisable to book hotels early.
In December, the temperature in San Diego ranges from 48° to 65°, with about 6 days of rain and 217 hours of sunlight. The ocean temperature is 59°, necessitating the use of a full wetsuit.
San Diego residents love to celebrate the December holiday season with a wide range of activities, including the Holiday Bowl Parade, which is the largest balloon parade in the country and features marching bands and elaborately decorated floats.
December Nights at Balboa Park also showcases festive light displays, choirs, dancers, bands, food, and other entertainment. Visitors can watch over 80 lavishly decorated boats during the annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights from the harbor.
The Cygnet Theater in Old Town and the Old Globe Theater in Balboa Park have unique presentations of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, respectively.
The California Ballet also presents The Nutcracker annually at the Civic Theatre. Additionally, Fairmont Grand Del Mar’s Winter Wonderland and Hotel del Coronado’s Skating by the Sea are some of the most festive hotels during this period.
Though the whale watching season in San Diego lasts from mid-December to April, the peak whale watching time is January.
Winter is the cheapest time to visit San Diego to enjoy cheapest prices because this San Diego’s low season. Winter is not an ideal beach weather. Avoid planning a beach vacation in winter.
Digital nomads and long-term travelers with a bit more flexibility should consider the shoulder months (Spring: March to May and Fall: October to November) to visit America’s finest city. Weather is mild, prices are relatively low and the summer crowd is absent.
While many consider the summer months to be the best time to visit San Diego, I believe the shoulder months (Spring and Fall) are ideal to avoid crowd and enjoy low prices.
However, if you are planning an ideal beach vacation, summer will be the best time because of hottest ocean temperatures and a lot of fun events including Comic-Con.
San Diego’s rainy season starts in November and ends in March. However, you will still enjoy many days of sunshine in between.
The enjoy the best Italian cuisines visit San Diego during June.
Spring and Fall are ideal to visit San Diego’s museums, theme parks and historic districts because it is not too hot during those months and it will be comfortable walking around.
The perfect time to visit San Diego depends on your personal preferences. Peak or high season (summer from June to September) is great if you want to enjoy an ideal beach vacation and don’t mind the crowds. However, this is when everything is expensive and you must book everything well in advance.
If you can brave the winter chill (not so chill), winter or low season (December to February) is the cheapest time to visit San Diego. It is also the time for whale watching.
Shoulder season (March to May and October to November) is another cheap time to visit San Diego, and enjoy San Diego with great beach weather and fewer crowds.
No matter what’s on your mind, San Diego is a beautiful city to visit. I hope this article on the best time to visit San Diego has helped with your travel plans.