When Is the Best Time To Visit San Diego?
San Diego is a beautiful city filled with culture and diversity. The weather is beautiful pretty much year-round. It is not called the city of eternal spring for nothing. During the summertime, the sun shines and the beaches are lively. During the winter, you can still chill at the beaches but the rain makes you want to cozy up in one of our small coffee shops.
There’s really no best time to visit San Diego because it’s great year-round. But let me tell you some pros and cons for each season and help you make a decision which time is best for your San Diego getaway.
Why Is Spring the Best Time to Go to San Diego?
When I say springtime, I mean March to May. So really it’s the transition period before summertime. It’s not as hot in San Diego since we’re just coming off of winter but it’s also not as cold as the wintertime. Days can vary from a little cloudy to really bright but it’s still very lively and beautiful. Obviously hot and cold are relative when it comes to San Diego weather. In the summer, near the beaches, we rarely get into the 90s, and during winter, when we get close to freezing, it is a major news event.
San Diego is beautiful regardless, a bigger reason to travel during this time is for the travel deals you can get and the overall rates are much lower than during the summer. There are plenty of festivals and conventions to check out too and there are always plenty of free things to do in San Diego, but especially in spring. You can get a lot of the summer fun in the springtime if you plan it right. Here are a few options to consider.
San Diego Comic Fest
Unlike Comic-Con, the Comic Fest dedicates its time to showcase the professional artists out there drawing and writing comics, science-fiction, and films. Each year has a different theme. In 2020, they’re dedicating their theme to the celebration of 100 years since the birth of science-fiction master, Ray Bradbury.
The festival is held at the Four Points by Sheraton San Diego. Tickets are available in bundle packages and day passes. Also unlike Comic-Con, they’re not mind-blowingly expensive. Tickets range from $25 for a single general admission day pass to $50 for a full four-day pass. They even offer discounts for students, active duty and family, and children under 12.
You can enjoy booths for independent artists and writers as well as panels featuring amazing guests renown in the sci-fi and writing world.
While some of the people who organized the festivals are Comic-Con co-founders, they are not affiliated with Comic-Con International. Tickets can be bought online.
Mission Valley Craft Beer & Food Festival
I’m not gonna lie. Some beer and food festivals in San Diego are just fronts meant to tempt you with a title and make you pay tab after tab until your wallet is empty. This festival is not one of them. The Mission Valley Craft Beer & Food Festival actually provides an awesome experience for foodies.
There are two types of tickets, the general and the VIP tickets. No matter which one you buy, you get unlimited beer and spirit tasters and one taster from each food booth. That’s pretty good. VIP guests get specialty beer & spirits plus a brew cozie. Otherwise, there isn’t much difference.
The festival is from 1 PM to 5 PM but VIP ticket holders get a 12 PM entry time for those specialty liquors. Live music plays on stage and everyone just has a great time.
Early bird tickets start at $50 for general admission and $70 for VIP. After that, it’s $60 for general and $90 for VIP. Unless you want to pay for food outside the tasters, that’s all you have to pay.
Gator By the Bay
Once again, I know that some food festivals are money-sucking shams but this is not one of them. You can get the true taste of the bayou while visiting a picturesque beach town.
Tickets start at $45 but the early birds can get them for as low as $30. Those 17 and under can get in for free with a paid adult and discounts are offered with active duty and seniors. This four-day event is filled with music, dancing, and delectable authentic Louisianna grub.
If your mouth doesn’t water at the thought of 10,000lbs of live crawfish made int a boil then maybe it will at the idea of beignets, crepes, gumbo, and jambalaya. This is a can’t miss for the spring. You get the best of Louisianna with the best of San Diego.
D6 Night Market: May 16th, 2020
Night markets are pretty popular in Asia and other parts of the world. With that in mind, Mira Mesa decided to hold a night market. It’s totally free to walk around and window shop the booths or participate in the fun activities. It’s also welcome that you eat, shop, and have fun.
There’s a little something for everyone and the buzz of the market is sure to make you feel lively and excited.
Why Is Fall the Best Time to Travel to San Diego?
When I say fall, I mean September to November. It’s that nice calm time between summer and winter in San Diego where people are traveling for business more than pleasure. This is by far my favorite time in San Diego because it’s a slow transition into fall. It’s cooler, quieter, and all-around a little more peaceful with school back in session and people getting ready for Halloween, Dia de Los Muertos, or Thanksgiving.
On top of it being nice brisk weather, you can get deals on travel expenses such as hotels and flights. I also find that it’s an ideal time to visit Old Town and the Gaslamp district. To me, it’s the absolute best time to visit San Diego. Here are a few things you can do during this time.
San Diego Pumpkin Patches
Ok, we admit it. Getting into the fall spirit when its 80+F and you see palm trees is a bit hard. So we San Diegans take any chance we get for some “Fall Feeling”. And the best way to do that? Head to a pumpkin patch of course! Whether you go with the whole family, your partner or simply to get some fall photos, you’ll have fun, we promise. Take a look at our list of Best Pumpkin Patches in San Diego here.
Old Town San Diego Fiestas Patrias
In September, Old Town celebrates Mexican Independence Day. To celebrate, they hold a festival in Old Town San Diego that’s free to the public. Everyone is welcome to enjoy the food, dancing, music, and cultural importance in Old Town. There are even piñatas for the kids.
This is a spectacular opportunity to learn about Old Town and the Mexican culture. The festival is as informative as it is fun. Enjoy it from 11 AM – 4 PM.
San Diego Festival of Beer
I add these festivals because they are worth the price they’re at and are not money-grubbing shams. This beer festival is actually very wholesome. Every year, they set up Downtown on the Broadway Pier. Every year 100% of the money they make goes to cancer-fighting charities. It’s run by volunteers and is completely non-profit.
Tickets range from $35-$75 but include unlimited beer tasters. Early entrance tickets get people through the door an hour before everyone else at noon. They exclusive access to specialty aged beer tasting on top of the unlimited tasters. There are food trucks, live music, and games to enjoy too. But the party stops at 5 PM. It’s hard to miss the fun and views they have. No Admittance For Those Under 21.
Apple Picking in Julian
Nothing feels more like fall than apple picking. Julian is the apple capital of Southern California and famous for its apple pie beyond these borders. Apple picking in Julian is the perfect fall activity, whether you take your date, a bunch of friends or the whole family. Read our guide on the best apple orchards, apple pie bakeries and other fun stuff to do in Julian.
Without Walls Festival
If you’re a connoisseur of theatre then this might interest you. The La Jolla Playhouse hosts a four-day event where the plays break the conventional four walls of a theatre. Multiple plays are performed from kids’ stories to deep emotional cultural stories.
Ticket prices vary from free to $35 depending on the play you want to see. It’s a weekend of exhilarating site-based works that completely immerse the audience in the story. There are restaurants and bars nearby but they are very worth it as each is different and compelling.
Coronado Film Festival
Every year, the city of Coronado holds a four-day film festival/convention dedicated to the film innovation and the classics. This is a luxury level event, but the tickets have a good deal. You’ll see celebrities and fellow filmmakers/film aficionados. There are restaurants around and the Village Theater has a good selection of movie snacks too. You can visit panels and workshops, parties, and even the Hospitality Lounge for a breather.
There are three types of tickets you can purchase. For $75 you get an all-access pass for one day with no certainty of a spot but still access. $195 will get you an all-access pass for all four days plus access to Culinary Cinema. This also isn’t a guarantee for seats but you have four days. $395 is your ticket to four days of VIP treatment; priority seating in all shows, panels, workshops, and Culinary cinema, access to the Hospitality Lounge, and an invitation to a Celebrity Tribute where you can meet and dine with a celebrity.
Why Go To San Diego During the Summer?
This is kind of a no brainer to go to San Diego during the summertime. The beautiful beach and the awesome ice cream choices plus those fresh fish tacos.
If you come mainly for some fun in and around the water, we recommend to stay at a hotel or rental house near the water as well. Take a look at our recommendations for the best Beach resorts in San Diego for any budget. What more could you want? If you need more convincing then check out all the awesome summer events that happen.
While the rates to visit San Diego are a bit higher during the summer, there are tons of activities and fun that are worth the higher price tag and larger crowds.
RB! Alive Street Fair: June 2nd, 202
This lively yet relaxing free street fair includes over 300 booths of food, trinkets, games, and more! There’s no way to get bored. This is a chance for small businesses to get out there and visitors to soak in the San Diego culture and history. On top of it all, check out the hard to resist classic car show.
Address: Bernardo Center Drive between Lomica Drive and Bernardo Plaza Court, San Diego, CA 92128
The summer is a prime time for outdoor concerts, especially in San Diego where the weather is usually promised to be perfect. If you’re a music lover then browse all the concerts that will be happening in Summer 2020. The prices and dates vary but either way, it’ll be a lot of fun!
You can’t not go to the beach when you visit San Diego in the Summer! You’ll be banned from the city forever if someone should find out your dirty secret! No, but seriously, San Diego Beaches are the best and you should definitely go. Kids always love the beach and it is one of the cheapest ways to entertain them (take a look here, for more ideas of free things to do with kids in San Diego) And if you are visiting with your dog, check out the awesome dog beaches in San Diego!
If you’re like me, then you love movies. What better way to encompass the freedom of summer than to go to a summer movie festival? All around San Diego from Little Italy to the beaches, there are film festivals.
All of them will be outside but it gives you an opportunity to breathe in the fresh San Diego air while you nibble on smuggled in movie snacks. There is a plethora of festivals to enjoy, all you have to do is pick one.
The Del Mar Fair
This is a hot event that happens every year. The Del Mar Fair is filled with fair food, rides, and attractions. People from across the country come and check out this renowned fair. Every year there’s a different awesome theme that the rest of the booths find inspirations in. Past themes include Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz. In 2020, it’s all about superheroes! It’s sure to be a blast.
Why Winter is a Great Time to Visit San Diego
San Diego is not prone to snow during the winter but we can have some showers. The magical thing about San Diego in the winter is how much the city embraces the crisp air and the nip in the air.
It’s really a beautiful time of year where people feel a lot more charitable. Wintertime is just awesome and in San Diego, the trip expenses are so worth it. Let me tell you a couple of things you can do during the winter.
Winter Wonder at Belmont Park
At the ever-present Belmont Park in Mission Beach, there is a winter celebration that helps raise money for charities like Toys for Tots and Big Brother, Big Sisters. On top of the regular rides offered, you can get free photos with Santa, listen to live caroling, and winter-themed beach activities. Tickets are available at the park and 2020 details are TBD.
Julian Country Christmas Tree Lighting
Julian is a little north of San Diego but you’re still close enough for a little day trip. Being in the mountains, you’ll feel Jack Frost nipping at your nose, smell the fires burning in their places, and perhaps some pine mingling with the spices of apple pie.
Take pictures with Santa, enjoy the live performances, tree lighting, and maybe try some of that pie. Be sure to check out their awesome Christmas Tree lighting ceremony and the beautiful snow that falls up there in the winter.
This is the most popular thing to do during the winter. December Nights is a few nights of spectacular winter fun. There are museum tours, live music, delicious food, and gorgeous twinkling lights down in Balboa Park. It’s a free event to go to and enjoy with friends and family. Grab a blanket and watch live music all night.
New Years Eve
New Year’s Eve in San Diego is a lot of fun, but a lot more relaxed than in other Metropolitan cities. The warm climate makes outdoor events possible and you can go as fancy or as low key as you want. From glamourous parties and balls to a bonfire by the bay, San Diego has it all!
San Diego is a wonderful city that can be enjoyed during every single season. Remember that there are some pros and cons for each season like anywhere else. However, you’re bound to have fun no matter when you go.
Best Time To Visit San Diego was written and edited by Hedge Metreyeon. For more San Diego Explorer posts, check out our homepage. For more of their articles visit here. Follow them on social media here.
Last Updated on February 22, 2021 by Maria Haase