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Best Time to Visit San Diego (Monthly Guide By a Local!)

Explore the best times to visit San Diego for beaches, events, and avoiding crowds with our local's monthly guide. Perfect for travelers seeking optimal experiences.

Tobi Miles
July 21, 2022
Best Time to Visit San Diego (Monthly Guide By a Local!)

San Diego is known around the world for its massive zoo, beautiful beaches, and unique culture. The idyllic weather and countless attractions make San Diego one of the most popular tourist destinations. So, what is the best time to visit San Diego?

The best time to visit San Diego is between April and August when it’s the warmest and there are several special events. San Diego gets crowded in June and tourism declines from September through November. Winter is the cheapest time to visit San Diego when tourism is at the lowest and hotel rates are affordable.

The San Diego Comic-Con is the biggest event of the year, and it can make the city crowded during July. You can have fun in San Diego year-round, but a well-planned trip will be the best time. Follow along as we explore the best time to visit San Diego

Worst Time to Visit San Diego

The worst time to visit San Diego is from mid-July to August. This period is when San Diego is the most crowded and ultimately the most expensive. Massive events like the San Diego Comic-Con in July attract over 130,000 guests for a single event alone.

Conventions, music festivals, and San Diego Padres games attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to San Diego. The summer is a great time to visit San Diego because of the weather, but the excessive costs can be a deterrent. Costs start to drop between late August and September after the summer crowds thin out gradually.

Hotel rooms can cost $320 or more per night during the summer in San Diego. This cost is worth it for travelers eager to visit Coronado Beach on a hot summer day. However, the extreme costs can be hard to justify for a summer trip to San Diego, so some tourists wait until the fall or winter.

Cheapest Time to Visit San Diego

Winter is the cheapest time to visit San Diego because it is a shoulder season for tourism. Tourism hits a low for the year between December and February. The colder weather and lack of special events during the season make winter an unappealing time to visit San Diego.

It is worth visiting San Diego during the tourism off-season because of the reduced rate. San Diego is notoriously expensive, but some hotel rooms go for as low as $71 per night during December. However, you can still expect to spend at least $140 per night at high-end hotels.

Flights to San Diego cost between $245 and $370 or more in December. Costs vary based on where you depart from and the time of year. Book your winter trip to San Diego at least 3 months in advance to get the most affordable flight rate.

What Time of the Year is the Best Weather in San Diego?

Winter in San Diego

January: Best Time for Local Events

January is the best time to visit San Diego in winter because it isn’t too cold and it doesn’t rain much. Temperatures fluctuate between 50 and 66 degrees throughout January in San Diego. The comfortable weather pairs well with the many fun special events for locals and tourists alike.

Eat something that will warm you up at the BIG Salsa Festival San Diego each January. Sample countless salsas and celebrate the prominent Latin culture and history San Diego is known for. Check out the Hip Hop Run if you want to burn off some calories with a backdrop of unique music.

Visit the San Diego Home Improvement Expo to bring home some new ideas to your home after your trip. Golfers will appreciate the Farmers Insurance Open with some of the best players in the world and unique concessions. Skating By The Sea is a great way to enjoy Coronado Beach and glide across the rink.

  • BIG Salsa Festival San Diego
  • Hip Hop Run
  • San Diego Home Improvement Expo
  • Farmers Insurance Open
  • Skating By The Sea

February: Best Time to Visit in Winter

You can expect temperatures between 51 and 66 degrees during February in San Diego. Temperatures generally start to warm up at the end of the month, but it’s still wise to bring a jacket. It typically rains for 3-5 days of the month each February in San Diego.

Visit the San Diego Bird Festival if you appreciate the beautiful environment and wildlife the city is known for. Car-enthusiasts will love the Broken Yolks For Car Show Folks event during February in San Diego. The San Diego Jazz Party is a great chance to enjoy a cold drink with some great music.

  • San Diego Bird Festival
  • Broken Yolks For Car Show Folks
  • San Diego Jazz Party

Related Read: 25 Romantic Getaways in San Diego

March: Best Time for Whale Watching

March is both the best time for whale-watching and your last chance for the year. The whale-watching season runs from December through the end of March in San Diego. Temperatures warm up towards the end of March in San Diego so you won’t see whales as it turns into spring.

The annual San Diego St Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl & Block Party is a great event for adults in the city. Celebrate local artists and creators at the SoCal Etsy Guild Market San Diego. Check out UNITE! Music Festival to hear some live music amongst locals.

Temperatures stay fairly cool throughout March in San Diego and rarely exceed 67 degrees. Bring your jacket because it can get down to 54 degrees or lower in March.

  • San Diego St Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl & Block Party
  • SoCal Etsy Guild Market San Diego
  • UNITE! Music Festival

April: Best Time to Visit in Spring

Spring is a beautiful time to visit San Diego, and April brings the best weather. Flowers bloom and temperatures stay between 56 and 70 degrees during April in San Diego. You don’t have to worry about rain when you visit San Diego in spring because it only rains for 2 days on average.

Many of the events in April are focused on the local environment in San Diego. The Creek to Bay Cleanup event is a chance to participate in making the beaches look their best. Visit Balboa Park to partake in the San Diego Earth Fair and appreciate nature.

Enjoy comfortable temperatures and great food at the nearby Encinitas Street Faire. Otherwise, you can break a sweat and run for a cause at the SpeakUp5K in San Diego.

  • San Diego Earth Fair at Balboa Park
  • Encinitas Street Faire
  • Creek to Bay Cleanup
  • SpeakUp5K

May: Best Time for Mexican Food

Cinco De Mayo is a big deal in San Diego, and it’s a great time to taste the best Mexican food in the area. Experience some southern vibes at Gator By The Bay and eat some Lousiana cuisine. May is a great time to cheer on the San Diego Padres if you are a baseball fan.

The Socal Taco Fest is the perfect event for you if you enjoy are looking for some authentic Mexican food in San Diego. Otherwise, you can hear some great music outdoors at the North Park Music Fest. You can expect temperatures between 60 and 69 degrees all month long, and May is a great time to be outside.

It’s the perfect weather to see the San Diego Padres early in their season. The Padres play at the famous Petco Park, and it’s a fun stadium to visit whether you like baseball or not.

  • Cinco De Mayo
  • Baseball Games
  • Gator By The Bay
  • Socal Taco Fest
  • North Park Music Fest
  • San Diego Space Day

June: Best Time for Adults

You can find the perfect mixture of hot days and cool nights during June in San Diego. Temperatures fluctuate between 66 and 88 degrees when you visit San Diego in June. Check the weather before you head to Coronado Beach because it rains for up to 7 days each June in San Diego.

June is the best time for adults to visit San Diego, but families can have a great time as well. Many of the most notable events during June involve drinking, such as Beer By The Bay. Cool off indoors after a long day on the town at the Sip Into Summer Wine Series.

The Sunset Concert Series runs throughout the month and offers a unique lineup of musicians. Enjoy a quiet and elegant evening at the annual Art Gala & Auction and possibly go home with a new piece of art.

  • Sip Into Summer Wine Series
  • Sunset Concert Series
  • Beer By The Bay
  • Art Gala & Auction

July: Best Time for Festivities

You will see and hear fireworks all over San Diego each year on the 4th of July. Seaworld hosts an impressive 4th of July fireworks display that you won’t soon forget. You can also get some fun exercise for a good cause on July 4th in San Diego at the Crown City Classic run.

The city becomes flooded with travelers from throughout the world for the annual San Diego Comic-Con. Hotels, flights, and restaurants fill up quickly each July for the biggest convention of the year. Adults can sample beers from all over California at the Best Coast Beer Fest.

July is also a popular time for concerts as musicians come through San Diego on tour all month. Check out famous San Diego music venues like the Music Box, House of Blues, and Brick by Brick. You can expect temperatures between 68 and 90 degrees during July in San Diego.

  • Seaworld 4 of July Fireworks


  • Crown City Classic
  • San Diego Comic-Con
  • Best Coast Beer Fest

August: Best Time to Visit San Diego Beaches

August is the best time to visit San Diego beaches because of how hot it gets. La Jolla Cove Beach, Coronado, and Pacific Beach are idyllic destinations during August. The water temperature is considered the most comfortable in August as it’s had time to warm up.

San Diego beaches are known for having cooler water earlier in the summer, however. Temperatures fluctuate between 69 and 90 degrees throughout August. The weather is perfect for outdoor events like the Carlsbad Music Festival and Audiotistic.

Otherwise, you can check out the annual Island Vibe Music Festival and head to the beach afterward to cool off.

  • Island Vibe Music Festival
  • Carlsbad Music Festival
  • Audiotistic

Related Read: 20 Best San Diego Beaches

September: Best Time to Beat the Heat

September offers some of the best weather of the year in San Diego with temperatures from 58 to 82 degrees. The autumn weather begins in September, and temperatures continue to drop until February in San Diego. You can expect it to rain for 4-6 days out of the month each September.

There is no shortage of fun events throughout September, such as the Wild Horses Festival. The San Diego Spirits Festival is the perfect mixture of beautiful art and fun cocktails. You can enjoy a calm day and learn about new design trends at the San Diego Home Show in September.

  • San Diego Spirits Festival
  • Wild Horses Festival
  • CRSSD Festival
  • San Diego Home Show

October: Best Time to Visit in the Fall

Adults will love the annual Oktoberfest each October in San Diego for great food and drinks. Blended Festival is one of the biggest parties of the year in San Diego and takes place over 2 days. Attend the San Diego International Film Festival for a laid-back and mentally stimulating event.

Say Cheese Fest is a niche event for cheese-loving tourists and locals. Celebrate the spookiest holiday of the year at the Halloween Pub Crawl. The Black Pearl Halloween Yacht Party is another chance to celebrate the holiday in a unique setting.

Check out the Haunted Trail of Balboa Park if you want to get scared before Halloween. Temperatures fluctuate between 61 and 74 degrees during October in San Diego.

  • Blended Festival
  • Oktoberfest
  • San Diego International Film Festival
  • Say Cheese Fest
  • Halloween Pub Crawl
  • Black Pearl Halloween Yacht Party
  • Haunted Trail of Balboa Park

November: Best Time to Experience the Culture

November marks the last month of warm weather until February in San Diego. You can expect temperatures between 55 and 70 degrees when you visit San Diego in November. It only rains for 2 days on average each November and it’s a great time to be outside.

San Diego Jazz Fest and Wonderfront Music & Arts Festival are the most fun events in November. The best November event for adults is the San Diego Brewers Guild Fest. Sample all of the best local craft beers and meet the people who create them.

Make sure to visit Donut Fest to taste the best local donuts if you have a sweet tooth. The Spirit of Christmas is a way to celebrate the holiday early before December starts. Dog-lovers can’t help but check out the Doggie Street Festival.

  • Wonderfront Music & Arts Festival
  • Donut Fest
  • San Diego Jazz Fest
  • San Diego Brewers Guild Fest
  • The Spirit of Christmas
  • Doggie Street Festival

December: Best Time to Celebrate the Holidays

San Diego is a great place to be during the winter holiday season. Christmas events like Breakfast With Santa Weekend and Balboa Park December Nights are a great way to get into the holiday spirit. The Sound of Christmas Sing-Along is a great event for families and solo travelers alike.

New Year’s Eve is also a big deal in San Diego and you can find many fun events. You can find New Year’s Eve events at restaurants, cruise ships, and the annual NYE Pub Crawl.

December is often the coldest month of the year in San Diego, so that can limit your outdoor activities. It doesn’t get bitterly cold during December in San Diego, but it can drop to 49 degrees. You can still enjoy a nice beach walk or bike ride because temperatures get up to 66 degrees when you visit San Diego in December.

  • Balboa Park December Nights
  • The Sound Of Christmas Sing-Along
  • Annual Christmas Day Orphan Ride
  • Breakfast With Santa Weekend
  • New Year’s Eve

Best Time to go to San Diego With Family

The best time to go to San Diego is between April and early June. San Diego isn’t quite as crowded during spring and the start of summer, so you can get a great hotel rate. That is an important factor when traveling with family because every penny counts and San Diego is expensive.

High temperatures between 68 and 87 degrees during the spring and early summer are perfect for outdoor family outings. With that said, it can still get as cool as 45 degrees during April in San Diego on a rare day. You can time your spring or early summer family trip based on the experience you want.

For example, book a trip to San Diego at the beginning of June if you want to spend time at the beach. You can still have fun at the beach when you visit San Diego in April or May, but the water will be too cold. It’s a great time to visit Sea World which is just as fun for the kids as it is for the adults.

Related Read: 35 Best Camping Spots in San Diego

Best Time to Visit San Diego to Avoid Crowds

The best times to visit San Diego to avoid crowds are the fall and winter. Tourism declines significantly during September and it continues through autumn. Cooler temperatures are less enticing to travelers that want to visit San Diego for the warm California weather.

You won’t have to navigate busy streets, crowded hotels, and packed parking lots during fall and winter. Hotels respond by lowering their nightly rates which is extremely helpful for a San Diego vacation. Up to 10 million tourists visit San Diego per year, but most of them come during the summer.

San Diego is among the most expensive cities in the United States, but it’s much cheaper later in the year. You can save hundreds or thousands of dollars when you visit during the fall and winter.

What Months Can You go to the Beach in San Diego?

The best months to go to the beach in San Diego are June through August. San Diego’s beaches are on the Pacific Ocean which is known for its often cool water. Many dedicated swimmers still get in the water as early as May.

The water may be too cold for the average person at Coronado Beach in San Diego during May. You can comfortably swim starting in June, but the water is the best in August. The high temperatures in late summer warm the water and make it much more appealing.

However, you can walk along the beach at any time of the year in San Diego. It’s rarely colder than 46 degrees in San Diego so you can even walk on the beach in the winter. You don’t need to get in the water to have a great time at the beach, so don’t let cool weather hold you back.

Best Time to Visit San Diego Zoo

The best time to visit the San Diego Zoo is on a weekday morning in the spring. Visit the zoo as early as possible before it becomes too crowded and parking is a nightmare. Spring is a great time to visit the San Diego Zoo because you’ll be able to see all of the animals.

The perfect weather in the spring makes it easy to move through the large zoo. You can avoid large crowds between Monday and Thursday during the spring. Weekdays become much more crowded when during the summer when kids aren’t in school.

It is difficult to avoid crowds at the San Diego Zoo on the weekend year-round. The San Diego Zoo hosts special events on weekends and it is a huge hub for tourism.

Related Read: 20 Best Hiking Trails in San Diego

Best Time to Visit Seaworld

May is the best time to visit Seaworld before it gets too crowded in the summer. You will still get good temperatures up to the low 70s and you can get a full day out of your visit. Weekdays are much less hectic than weekends at Seaworld.

Specifically, Monday through Wednesday is when you can best avoid crowds at Seaworld. Guest attendance picks up on Thursday and peaks between Friday and Sunday. Seaworld is one of the biggest attractions in San Diego and there is little competition so it fills up fast. A weekday morning in the spring is your best bet to dodge long waits at Seaworld.

What is the Rainy Season in San Diego?

The rainy season in San Diego begins in November and ends in March. It still rains off and on the rest of the year, but the winter and early spring is the rainiest time. You can expect rain for up to 4 days out of the month during the rainy season in San Diego.

Snow and ice aren’t factors in San Diego, but the mixture of cold temperatures and rain is something to consider. The rain slows down once it turns to April in San Diego when it only rains for 2 days on average. It is rare for it to rain heavily between May and September in San Diego, but you’ll still get the odd rainy day.

Wildfire Season

Sadly, California has many dangerous wildfires and San Diego is at risk during wildfire season. The wildfire season in California lasts from July through October. Wildfires are possible outside of the season, but that’s when they are most common.

Dry brush and soil paired with long periods without rain lead to wildfires throughout California. September marks the most dangerous point of wildfire season in San Diego and it can be dangerous. Pay attention to weather forecasts and local news before you plan a trip to San Diego during wildfire season.

Tobi Miles
Article updated:
March 28, 2024
A nomadic wordsmith savoring the world's flavors and penning stories that turn every journey into an epic.
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