The Best Time to Visit San Diego is Entirely up to YOU
There are so many factors determining the Best Time to visit San Diego (weather, cost, crowds, events), but the single most important being your personal preferences, resources and availability.
If you are travelling with kids, you are likely limited to school breaks and holidays (typically during the most expensive and crowded peak seasons due to the high demand).
If you are on a budget, you will get more bang for your buck in the off-season. You will benefit not only from lower rental costs, but also smaller crowds at the beaches and attractions.
Obviously, if you are coming to San Diego to participate in an event, attend a business meeting or convention, or for a wedding, anniversary or family reunion, you have no leeway on the dates. Instead you want to find the best accommodations that meets your needs and that is within your budget.
Over the coming weeks, I will update this article to help you make the best decision no matter your reason(s ) for visiting San Diego. My goal is to provide you with good data, and to summarize the pros & cons on a seasonal (and possibly a monthly) basis. I also plan to address the best time to visit San Diego depending upon a variety of circumstances (most affordable, best weather, lowest crowds, and local events). For now, I will upload a variety of charts to provide a top level visual for you to evaluate several factors such as climate/weather, crowds and pricing/availability. Stay tuned for more!
April 7, 2019
Summer Peak Season
Late-May through Mid-August
- Sunny weather & blue skies in July and August
- Kids are out of school make it the perfect time of year for family vacations
- Locals have named the low-lying cloud cover along the coast in early summer “May Gray” and “June Gloom”
- High demand and low inventory during peak season drives up rates for accommodations
- It is hard to find last minute deals - properties in prime locations book up months in advance
- Tourist attractions and beaches are crowded and the roads are full of traffic
- Book Reservations at least 6 months in advance for High Season (some guests book 9-12 months in advance)
- Late May to early June may offer the best combination of nice weather without the crowds
- If you want to avoid the heavy influx of Arizona visitors who flock to San Diego looking to escape their hot summer, we suggest May and August which have lower crowds (and lower rental rates) than July.
Autumn / Fall
Between Labor Day & Thanksgiving
September (after Labor Day) through Late-November (before Thanksgiving)
- Beautiful, "near-perfect" weather
- Fewer crowds at attractions & beaches
- Accommodations are less expensive than in the prime summer season
- Dozens of events & festivals county wide, including Restaurant Week, Festival of Beers, Film Festival, Art Walk, Music Festivals, Rodeos, Boating Regattas, Street Fairs, Marathon/Triathlon
- This is MY Favorite time of year! Each year on my birthday (in early November), my husband takes me on an outdoor adventure -- from a Segway tour betweeen downtown San Diego & Balboa Park, an exhilerating tour zipping around the San Diego Bay on a mini-speedboat, climbing to the top of the California Tower in Balboa Park to enjoy the 360 degree views, chartering a sailboat to explore the Big Bay and Beyond, or going whale-watching out past Point Loma.
Thanksgiving & Christmas
- Daytime Temperatures average in the 60s, with nights cooling off to the high 40s to mid-50s
- Crowds are relatively low (compared to summer)
- Prices are below the Peak Summer Season
- Some guests book a full year in advance to secure the dates for their holiday vacation
San Diego Climate & Weather
San Diego is one of the top-ten best climates in the Farmer’s Almanac and is one of the two best summer climates in America as scored by The Weather Channel.
San Diego has a mild climate year-round, with an average of 201 days above 70 °F (21 °C) and low annual rainfall: 9–13 inches [23–33 cm].
Average Daily Temperature by Month:
As you can see below, there is only a slight (11°F) deviation of the daily "highs", which range between 65°F in the winter months (Dec-Feb) and 75-76°F in our summer months (July-Sept).
There is a greater swing (19°F) in San Diego's daily "lows" over a year, with nighttime temperatures dipping into the 48-51°F range in the winter (Dec-Feb). Between June-October, San Diego's nighttime lows fall to the 62°F to 67°F range.
Of course, we do experience warmer days in the summer, and cooler nights in the winter, but the temperature variations in San Diego are pretty mild.
Average Rainfall by Month
San Diego receives very little rain in the average year, typically between 9"-13". Our wettest monthis are November through April when we accumulate 90% of the annual rainfall. Our driest months are May through October when we receive only trace amounts of rain, typically less than 1" during these six months.
In fact, the chance of encountering a rainy day between June and September is pretty darn close to zero.
If you are planning to surf & play in the Pacific, you'll want to visit July-September where the average ocean temperatures reach 68°F to 69°F. May, June and October have sea temps in the mid-60's, with the coldest water temps falling bewteen November-April when the ocean dips between the high 50's to low-60's.
If you love a long day, you'll get an extra hour or two of daylight if you visit San Diego between mid-April and August when we enjoy 13-14 hours of daylight. We experience 10-11 hours of sunlight in the winter months (October through February).
I love the summer months when it stays light till 7pm or 8pm (late March through early September). During the winter months under Pacific Standard Time, it gets dark between 5pm and 6pm.
San Diego Sunshine
July, by far, is San Diego's sunniest month, with 20% more hours per day of sunny skies (not just daylight hours, but SUNNY). August is a close second, follwed by March, May, June and September. In May and June, San Diego experiences a low cloud cover, or marine layer. The weather (temperature) is fantastic, but the skies are cloudier than normal. A semi-cloudy day will not affect your enjoyment of San Diego or the area's top attractions and activities.
June through August are the three most popular months to visit San Diego as families travel during their kid's summer vacations. During these months, we experience a spike in overnight visitors to San Diego -- and this is especially pronounced during July when out-of-town visitors are 35% higher than the yearly average.
We see the lowest overnight visitors between September and May, with February attracting 40% fewer overnight visitors than during July. If you are looking to escape the crowds, and your schedule allows, the best months are February, September (after Labor Day weekend) and October. Aside from Thanksgiving and Christmas, November and December also have fewer visitors.
San Diego Attraction Crowds
If your visit to San Diego includes the area's top attractions and activities, you'll find the lowest crowds between November and February. As with overnight visitor levels, attractions are busiest between June and August.
Hotel & Vacation Rental Occupancy
Visiting San Diego in January
Weather & Climate:
- 65F average daily high (7% lower than annual average)
- 49F average daily low (15% lower than the annual average)
- January is the second wettest month of the year (just behind February), with just under 2" of rain (spread over the entire month). San Diego experiences an average of 7 days of measurable rain in January -- or a 23% chance of a rainy day.
- January has the one of the coldest ocean temperatures of the year, ranging from 58F to 60F, approximately 6% lower than the annual average
- San Diego receives 10.2 hours of sunlight each day, about 16% less than the average month
- San Diego receives an average of 216 hours of sunshine in January (or about 7 hours per day), which is 12% lower than the average month (and 26% lower than July, our sunniest month)
- Almost 1.4 million visitors spend the night in San Diego each January, about 8% lower than the average month (or 32% less than than in July)
- San Diego attractions are visited by almost 1 million visitors in January, making this the least crowded month of the year (28% less than the average month, or 54% less than July). If you want to avoid the crowds and long lines, January is the way to go!
|Average Daily High °F||65||93||87|
|Average Daily Low °F||49||85||75|
|Average Rainfall Inches||1.97||227||--|
|Chance of a Rainy Day||23%||190||--|
|Ocean Temperature HIGH °F||60||94||88|
|Daylight Hours (sunrise to sunset)||10.2||84||73|
|Hours of Sunshine Month||216||88||74|
|Overnight Visitor Crowds (millions)||1.39||92||68|
|Attraction Crowds (millions)||0.93||72||46|