One of America’s most laid-back of cities, San Diego in southern California somehow manages to juggle its surfer dude relaxed ambience with being one of the largest cities anywhere in the United States. Divided into districts that each have their own unique village-like charms, there’s plenty to interest visitors, from the thriving Downtown area to over 60 beaches and some incredible nearby countryside just waiting to be explored.
But with the city’s location lying close to the border with Mexico, when exactly is the best time to visit San Diego? In this guide we take account not only of the prevailing weather conditions you’re likely to encounter from month to month, but also things such as when hotel prices and tourist numbers are at their height. We also provide you with a list of the top events happening in San Diego each month.
When it comes to weather, the best conditions of the year are generally found to be during the summer months, but colliding with the long summer school vacations in North America and Europe, heading to San Diego at this time of year with also find the city at its busiest and most expensive for accommodation.
This is our INSIDER GUIDE for the best times to visit San Diego!
A good alternative would be the two annual shoulder periods that exist on either side of high summer. Temperatures are still more than acceptable – with the city never seeing the thermometers drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit at any time of year. You can also find some very attractive hotel deals during these times.
Low season sits firmly within San Diego’s winter months, when the city experiences the majority of its rainfall, and the Pacific’s waters become too chill to delve into for any length of time.
What months are the best time to visit San Diego?
The clear skies and sunny weather of the summer runs right through from June to the end of August. Either side of this period, San Diego’s shoulder periods last roughly from March through to May, and then again from September through to November. May and June are considered by residents to be rather overcast months, although rainfall is almost non-existent at any time from the end of April until the beginning of November.
Read below for information about San Diego weather in January (Photo credit – climate-data.org)
San Diego weather in January
Even at the height of winter, in San Diego you certainly won’t need to dig out your thick coats or thermal underwear. The lowest temperatures you’re likely to encounter are nighttime temperatures of 49°F (9°C), while during the day the temperature can easily reach 66°F (19°C). The wettest month of the year, around 1.8 inches of rain falls, usually over no more than 4 days.
San Diego events in January
San Diego International Auto Show
The new year sees some 400 different vehicles from 20 different global manufacturers all under the same roof. From concept cars to family run-arounds, the show boasts 15,000 square feet of automotive wonder, with test drives and a dedicated family day too.
Farmers Insurance Open
It may not sound like the most exciting of sporting events, however don’t let its name fool you. Taking place towards the end of the month, this golf open attracts the sport’s top names: Tiger Woods won in 2013, and Justin Rose in 2019.
Gray Whale Migration
If you’ve never headed out whale watching before, make sure you don’t miss out on this opportunity, which sees 20,000 individual animals migrate from feeding grounds further north in the Bering Sea to the calving grounds around Baja California.
Read below for information about San Diego weather in February (Photo credit – TripSavvy)
San Diego weather in February
The temperatures in January hold roughly steady until the end of February. The second month of the year sees slightly less rain falling, with 1.5 inches recorded as falling over 4 days. From 10.5 hours of daylight in January, this rises to 11 hours in February.
San Diego events in February
Lunar New Year
Taking place towards the very end of January or early February, the lunar – or Chinese – new year is celebrated with a range of free events on the big day. Expect traditional lion dancers, the sharp bangs of firecrackers, and plenty of eastern food options too.
San Diego Museum Month
San Diego has some amazing museum spaces, and one of the best times to explore them is in February. This month offers half-price entry into more than 40 of the city’s cultural spaces, all you need to do is pick up a free discount pass!
San Diego Theater Week
Alongside Museum Month you’ll also find Theater Week, which takes place in the middle of the month. It sees more than 30 performing arts organizations from around the city coming together to create a stunning schedule of performances and other events that’s really not to be missed.
Read below for information about San Diego weather in March (Photo credit – TripSavvy)
San Diego weather in March
While the average lows experienced in March rise to 53°F (12°C), the highest temperatures you’re likely to enjoy remain identical to those of January and February, at a very pleasant 66°F (19°C). When it comes to rain fall, this rises again after February, with around 1.8 inches measured over 4 days in the month.
San Diego events in March
Spring Busker Festival
The Seaport Village district of San Diego hosts southern California’s only busker festival at the beginning of March. Very professional buskers are brought in from across the US to demonstrate their specialist talents, whether that’s circus tricks or comedy skits.
Marking the start of the Easter season, Mardi Gras takes place in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. Traditionally a huge blow-out before the more somber mood of Lent takes hold, the multiple day festivities in San Diego include live music, parties, DJ sets, and extended happy hours in many bars and restaurants.
Butterfly Jungle at San Diego Zoo
Open from the end of March until the beginning of May, this pop-up jungle within a greenhouse gives you the chance to walk among free-flying butterflies at San Diego Zoo. There are hundreds of these majestic creatures, of all sizes, shapes, and colors.
Read below for information about San Diego weather in April (Photo credit – TripSavvy)
San Diego weather in April
With the average number of daylight hours now hitting 13 hours per day, the temperatures also take another slight nudge upwards. You’re unlike to see a minimum temperature below 56°F (13°C), while peak temperatures rise to 68°F (20°C). In contrast, rainfall plummets to just 0.8 inches across the whole month.
San Diego events in April
The world’s largest free to attend environmental fair and Earth Day celebration, this event regularly attracts 50,000 people interested in discovering how they can help improve their local and home environments, as well as tuck into some tasty cuisine and drink at the food courts and beer gardens.
San Diego’s Little Italy is the location for the city’s ArtWalk week at the end of April. Sixteen blocks are filled with visual and performing artworks with attendees able to buy much of the art on show, while enjoying the live dance and music performances.
Chicano Park Day
Chicano Park Day is a day dedicated to the traditional culture of the Aztecs, from just south of the US border in Mexico. Live bands play throughout the day, alongside speakers, workshops, children’s activities, and folk dance groups.
Read below for information about San Diego weather in May (Photo credit – TripSavvy)
San Diego weather in May
Unsurprisingly, the temperatures take their onward, upward march in May, although this refers mainly to the lower end of the daily spectrum, with highs remaining almost identical to those in April. Very little rain falls – just 0.4 inches – although cloud cover lingers to give the city a slightly overcast feel.
San Diego events in May
Cinco de Mayo
Taking place on May 5 each year in San Diego’s Old Town district, this is a fiesta with its origins in Mexico, and marks the country’s independence from Spain. One of the largest celebrations of its kind outside of Mexico, there are all manner of cultural traditions on display, from tacos to mariachi bands.
Blues and Crawfish Festival
Just about as far from the Cinco de Mayo festivities as you can get, this festival has its origins in Louisiana. Extending across four days, seven stages host more than 100 live performances, while there’s also plenty of opportunity to try some of the south’s favorite flavors, from beignets to jambalaya.
Festival of the Sea
A two-day event in late May which combines a celebration of San Diego’s coastal location with what makes the modern city so special, this event has an atmosphere somewhere between county fair and historical reenactment. Gun battles compete with movie screenings and live music for the visitor’s attention.
Read below for information about San Diego weather in June (Photo credit – tripsavvy)
San Diego weather in June
While there’s a full 14 hours between sun rise and sun set, and so little rain its barely worth talking about (0.07 inches should you be interested), June is generally quite another overcast month. On the up-side, temperatures now reach 72°F (22°C), and only ever fall to levels of 62°F (around 17°C).
San Diego events in June
San Diego County Fair
Running right though the month of June, the San Diego County Fair has the traditional stalls you would expect from such an event, including plenty of fried foods and theme park rides, alongside impressive exhibitions of art, photography, and live performances.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon
At the very beginning of June (or even late May), this race series incorporates marathon, half-marathon, 10K and 5K runs. With a course that takes in the San Diego streets, it is open to people of any age or ability, welcoming around 20,000 runners each year.
San Diego International Beer Festival
Beer fans will want to head to San Diego during the middle of June, when hundreds of beers from breweries large and small across the United States and further afield can be sampled at the International Beer Festival. Entrance includes a souvenir tasting glass, unlimited tastings, and entrance to the county fair too.
Read below for information about San Diego weather in July (Photo credit – sandiegouniontribune.com)
San Diego weather in July
The beginning of high summer balances clearer skies with a complete absence of rain and temperatures ranging between 66 and 76°F (19 to 25°C). Incredibly, this lower figure is also the temperature you’ll be able to enjoy should you opt to head for the beach and jump into the waves.
San Diego events in July
What could be better than heading to a stretch of world class sand and gazing out over the Pacific Ocean as a stunning display of fireworks explodes overhead? Head towards the bay for 9 pm to be sure not to miss the colorful show, or head to Ocean Beach, with a display launched from the pier here at about the same time.
San Diego Pride
This three-day festival culminates in the annual Pride Parade, an event that sees the largest gathering of the year of members of San Diego’s LGBT+ community. The parade usually takes place on the second or third Saturday of the month, with a block party in the Hillcrest district the night before, and Pride festival in Balboa Park after.
San Diego Convention Center opens its doors to Comic-con towards the end of July. It’s a great place for fans of the Marvel and DC Comics universes to meet with the artists, actors, and directors involved in bringing the characters to life, and an excellent excuse for dressing up as your favorite character too!
I’m sure you know a bit about San Diego, but we have a few historical facts you might not have heard yet.
Read below for information about San Diego weather in August (Photo credit – climate-data.org)
San Diego weather in August
The steady build-up in warmth over the past months comes to a head in August, which is San Diego’s warmest month of the year. With lows of 67°F (19°C) and highs of 78°F (25°C), its never too hot to enjoy all the city has to offer however. Nor is rain a problem. Sea temperatures hit 68°F (20°C).
San Diego events in August
Bike the Bay
The warm summer weather is a wonderful reason to get outside and get some exercise, as is the Bike the Bay event. A relaxed and scenic bike ride along San Diego’s bayside, it also includes the opportunity to pedal your way across the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge – usually closed to cyclists.
Taking place at the very end of August, the US Sand Sculpting Challenge lasts for three days. This family-friendly event also includes plenty of sand-based fun for the kids, and live music and food for the adults.
Read below for information about San Diego weather in September (Photo credit – Weather Atlas)
San Diego weather in September
The summer might be official over for another year, but that doesn’t mean San Diego becomes a no-go destination. Far from it in fact, with temperatures still lying within the range of 65-77°F (19-25°C), and rainfall that doesn’t even reach a quarter of an inch.
San Diego events in September
Miramar Air Show
Held at an active Marine Corps base at the end of September, the Miramar Air Show is the largest military air show in the United States. Lasting three days, there’s a big display of static (non-flying) aircraft, as well as a huge number of aerial displays from both military and civilian aircraft, including the Blue Angels display team.
San Diego Bayfair Powerboat Racing
If you’re a fan of incredible speed, then September could well be the month in San Diego for you, with the Miramar Air Show and Bayfair Powerboat Racing, which sees some of the most powerful boats in the world soar along the 2.5-mile course on the bay.
Find yourself in Waterfront Park at the end of September and you’ll be joined by thousands of others there to enjoy all the CRSSD Festival has to offer. A 48-hour music festival dedicated to the electronic genre, three stages host more than 36 top performers.
Read below for information about San Diego weather in October (Photo credit – climate-data.org)
San Diego weather in October
The true beginning of fall manages to keep some pretty impressive temperatures, with the thermometer not falling below 61°F (16°C), and highs up into the middle 70s (or around 24°C). October is also the last month in the year when you don’t need to worry about rain, with less than half an inch falling on the coastal city.
San Diego events in October
San Diego International Film Festival
One of the most important festivals on the independent film circuit, the festival takes place in the middle of October. Besides screenings and premieres, there are also a host of parties, attended by the more than 200 filmmakers.
Halloween is as big in San Diego as it is elsewhere in the United States – so you can be sure to find all manner of spooky events on offer, from pumpkin carving and child-friendly ghostly activities to tours of historic houses known to be home to a ghost or two.
Read below for information about San Diego weather in November (Photo credit – Weather Atlas)
San Diego weather in November
There is a noticeable drop in temperatures for Thanksgiving month. Lows now fall back to 54°F (12°C), while highs are still able to manage a peak temperature of 70°F (21°C). The main change between October and November has to be the amount of rain to expect, with 1.5 inches measured on average in the month.
San Diego events in November
Maybe it should find a new name as Beer Week now lasts a full ten days. The important fact is that the week connects more than 130 craft breweries with beer fans from right around the world.
A week of activities organized by the United States Navy, Fleet Week sees ships on active duty enter San Diego. Visitors are able to take tours of the ships, while the week is also often accompanied by air displays and naval demonstrations.
Possibly the most important day of the year after Independence Day in July, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the third Thursday in November and has traditions dating back to giving thanks for the year’s harvest. Many restaurants offer traditional menus for the day, with roasted Turkey and pumpkin pie featuring heavily.
Read below for information about San Diego weather in December (Photo credit – TripSavvy)
San Diego weather in December
Coming close to the being the coldest month of the year, which December avoids by just a few tenths of a degree, temperatures can fall as low as 49°F (9°C). On the plus side, highs still reach 66°F (19°C), though the month also sees just over 1.5 inches of rain across 4 days.
San Diego events in December
Bay Parade of Lights
This nighttime watery parade on San Diego’s Bay incorporates a procession of somewhere in the region of 80 highly-decorated boats glowing with Christmas lights. Each year has its own theme, such as Comic-con, and is entirely free to attend.
December Nights at Balboa Park
A spectacular way to mark the festive season, Balboa Park’s December Nights has something for everyone – dance performances, live music, stalls with plenty of gift ideas, and more than enough food and drink stalls to keep you going for most of the month!
What is the best time to visit San Diego weather wise?
The best time to visit San Diego weather wise is arguably some time during the months from March through to November – a pleasingly long period in which to consider visiting the city. Thanks to its location in southern California close to the border with Mexico, the city has warm to hot weather right the year round, with temperatures never falling below around 50°F (9°C).
March through to May, slap bang in the middle of spring, not only has good all-round temperatures, but the latter half of this period also sees very little rain, although cloud cover can be an issue. The high summer months of June, July, and August offer almost guaranteed warm weather and sunny skies, and also has the sea warming up enough that you can enjoy surfing and other water sports without worry.
Finally, the period from September through to November is broadly similar to that of March to May, although rain once more becomes a factor to take into account of when entering November itself.
Final thoughts on the best time to visit San Diego
The weather can rarely put much of a dampener on events in San Diego, making this Pacific coast city in southern California a potential vacation destination at pretty much any time of year. This is absolutely fantastic news, since San Diego offers an incredible wealth of attractions for visitors, from its laid-back ambience, and district by district vibe, to San Diego Zoo, Comic-con, and some world-class museums. The fact is, whatever time of year you decide is the best time to visit San Diego for you, you’re sure to find events and activities that show the city off to its very best.
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Gin lover. Coffee addict. Nicola has traveled the world for 7 years and is a staff writer for Hotel Jules. Born in London, Nicola first got the taste of travel studying abroad in Barcelona. Since then she's been hooked - traveling the world non-stop. Passionate about green travel and vegan lifestyle, Nicola spends more of her free time staring at maps wondering where she will head to next!