Best Time to Visit San Diego

San Diego has incredible weather all year round, but each season has its own pros and cons. Here’s when you should visit America’s Finest City.
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Planning Your San Diego Vacation

San Diego is an incredible city to visit with beautiful beaches and warm, sunny weather all year-round. The city is paradise for outdoor lovers. Add in a vibrant food and nightlife scene plus plenty of rich local culture, and you get a vacation destination that should be at the top of everyone’s list!

Since the weather in San Diego is incredible during every season of the year, you might be having a difficult time deciding when it's best to arrive.

If you don’t have time to get into the details, here’s the answer to the question of ‘When is the best time to visit San Diego?’

While there are advantages and disadvantages to visiting during every season, our choice is the fall season. More specifically after Labor Day (early Sept) until mid-October. The weather is generally fantastic, San Diego's top attractions like the San Diego Zoo and LEGOLAND California are less crowded and there's the best chance for great weather at the beaches to get in activities like snorkeling, surfing or paddle boarding!

With that in mind, any time of the year is a great time to visit San Diego if you’d like to learn a bit more, here’s what to keep in mind as you plan your San Diego vacation!

The 4 Seasons in San Diego Explained

1) Fall

The fall season is arguably the best time to plan to visit San Diego!

The weather is consistently warm and sunny, which is perfect for visiting one of San Diego’s more than 78 picturesque beaches, hiking the best trails in the area, and just exploring the city. You can expect it to not be too hot - expect temperatures in the mid-70s, with a light breeze coming off the ocean.

The other advantage of visiting San Diego during the fall season is that there are far fewer tourists than in the summer. The beaches will be less crowded, plus there will be shorter wait times for local restaurants and the most popular attractions in San Diego.

Flights to the San Diego International Airport and the best hotels are usually cheaper during this time of year than they are during the summer. Start comparing prices a few months in advance to find the best deals, as prices can fluctuate!

There’s a lot to do in San Diego during the fall season. You can explore Balboa Park with your family, home to more than a dozen exciting and educational Balboa Park museums as well as the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Expect the air to be crisp and dry and the skies to be clear and sunny!

Consider purchasing a Go San Diego pass in advance of your travels to take advantage of the discounted rates on San Diego’s most popular attractions such as many of the museums in Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld San Diego and many more.

As an added bonus, if you purchase the Go San Diego pass via our website you will get an additional discount to pile on the savings as it can be combined on top of the Go pass’ already discounted admission prices!

Another tip for travelers in the fall to consider is that San Diego customarily holds its annual restaurant week during the fall months of September or October. Culinary enthusiasts can enjoy great deals on the city’s most amazing restaurants in Downtown San Diego, the Gaslamp Quarter and the La Jolla neighborhoods, to name a few.

San Diego Beer Week is also held in November, which makes it the perfect time to sample the best beers from San Diego’s world-famous craft breweries!

2) Winter

If you don’t mind slightly cooler weather, visiting San Diego in the winter can be very pleasant!

If you visit during the winter months, you might still be able to enjoy all of the great beach-centric activities the city has to offer with light crowds. Temperatures and an abundance of sunshine will still allow for time at one of the area's beaches.

Surfers should know that the ocean and bay temperatures will be noticeably cooler and the days will be shorter. On a positive note, the sunniest month of the year, based on the percentage of days that are sunny, is actually December!

Temperatures are typically in the 50s and 60s, so while you’ll be able to enjoy some time outside, you likely won’t want to get in the water for very long if at all. Rain storms are also more common in San Diego during the winter season but still average less than 2.5 inches of rain in even the rainiest month!

The Christmas season in San Diego can be very fun, particularly if you’re looking for a holiday away from the snow and freezing temperatures. Balboa Park and Downtown San Diego are decorated with lights and there are themed events happening all over town.

For nature lovers, winter in San Diego is the best time to go whale watching. Gray whales migrate through the area during this time, and you can see them from land or from whale watching cruises. If you come during the end of the season, you may even see whale calves swimming with their mothers.

If you’re looking to save money on your San Diego vacation, hotels and flights can get very cheap in the winter, particularly after the Christmas season is over.

3) Spring

Spring is another particularly great time to visit San Diego!

The weather is starting to warm up, but temperatures aren’t too hot yet. It’s also not as crowded as it can be during the summer, so you won’t have to compete for a spot on the beach or wait in line to get into popular attractions.

If you’re visiting during the late spring, keep in mind that San Diego goes through a period of overcast weather during this time. This is often referred to as “May Gray” and “June Gloom”. During this time, temperatures are still relatively warm, but you may have to wait if you want to enjoy a warm, sunny day.

All of San Diego’s wildlife is in bloom during the spring, making it a great time for nature lovers to enjoy and explore one of the areas many parks. The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch open in March and stay in bloom through May, which makes for a fun outdoor activity with family or friends.

For those willing to adventure outside of the city, you’ll also find stunning wildflowers in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, which is roughly two hours north-east of the city.

4) Summer

Summer might seem like the best time to visit San Diego and it is not a bad choice!

Do be aware though that there are some downsides to visiting during this season. The weather is consistently warm and sunny, but temperatures can get quite hot at times.

Summer is also the busiest time of year in San Diego, so things can get very crowded. It may be harder to get into popular bars and restaurants, and activities like the San Diego Zoo may have longer wait times as well. In addition to an influx of tourists during the summer, kids are also out of school, which can make things a bit more crowded from locals exploring all the city has to offer as well.

Generally, flights and hotels in San Diego are more expensive during the summer months. If you want to visit in the summer, you’ll need to start planning your trip several months in advance to get good deals.

These higher prices, larger crowds and often longer wait times can be offset by the breadth of events and activities held during this exciting season.

Comic-Con San Diego is the largest Comic-Con event in the world, and it is held annually in July of each year. During this time, flights and hotels are much more expensive than normal. However, visiting during Comic-Con can be very exciting, as there are events happening all over the city and the entire downtown area is transformed into a nerd’s paradise.

There are plenty of other exciting events that happen during the summer in San Diego as well. The San Diego County Fair and the Del Mar Races at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club are both held throughout the summer.

The San Diego International Beer Festival is held in June and features some of the best brews from around the world. San Diego also has an excellent Pride festival in July for the LGBTQ community, which is held in the Hillcrest neighborhood.

If you’re interested in these exciting events or just want a guarantee of warm weather during your visit, summer may be the best time for you to come to San Diego!

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Tips for Visiting San Diego at the Best Times of the Year

Now that you know the perks of traveling to San Diego in each season and month, you may be wondering if weekdays or weekends are better and how to save on flights and hotels. Read on to learn more!

Is it Better to Visit on Weekdays or Over Weekends?

Planning your trip to San Diego during the week rather than over a weekend has its pluses and minuses.

Prices for flights and hotels are usually most affordable in the middle of the week, plus there won’t be as many crowds at the beach.

However, if you are interested in San Diego’s vibrant nightlife scene or want to attend one of the many festivals that happen throughout the year, consider visiting on a weekend.

Nightlife districts like the Gaslamp Quarter and Pacific Beach draw huge crowds and host dance parties and other events during this time.

Tips for Booking Flights to San Diego

Once you’ve decided when you want to visit San Diego, it’s time to start booking your flights for your trip!

Flights to and from San Diego can fluctuate dramatically in price depending on when you book and where you are coming from. Here are some tips to help you book affordable flights to and from San Diego.

  • Set up alerts on your computer or cell phone for flights to San Diego. These alerts can tell you when flight prices are lowest, so you don’t miss a deal.
  • Consider other airports. San Diego International Airport (SAN) is the easiest place to fly into, but if you don’t mind driving, you might be able to get a deal by flying into Los Angeles (LAX) or Orange County (SNA). Look at several different options before making a final decision.
  • Try to book about two months in advance of your trip. This is typically when the best deals pop up, particularly for peak summer travel times or the holiday season into San Diego. If you miss that window, try waiting until about two weeks before your trip, when prices may start to dip.
  • Be flexible with your travel dates if you can. Flights are usually cheapest on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and prices can vary from day to day. Look at the flight calendar to see which days are cheapest before booking.

Tips for Booking Hotels in San Diego

Another key part of planning your San Diego vacation is deciding on the best hotel for your trip. Here are some tips to help you choose the right hotel for you and get a good deal in the process to matter what time of year you plan to arrive.

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Dec
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