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How to Prepare for San Diego Weather

San Diego is known for having the best weather in the United States and one of the best climates in the world. It rarely gets too hot, never gets too cold, and averages only 10 inches (250 mm) of rain a year. San Diego has the least amount of change in barometric pressure in the continental United States.

Even during the winter, San Diego can have perfect beach weather. When these perfect days occur, the local newspaper enjoys publishing pictures that contrast the weather between San Diego and the rest of the country.

What is San Diego Weather Like During the Summer

San Diego’s summer is warm and dry with daytime highs in the mid to upper 70°s (24-25°C). It’s a great place to escape the heat and humidity. San Diego can go upwards of six months without any rain. There are still days in the months of June, July, August and September where we’ve never recorded rain in San Diego’s history. If it does rain in the area bringing a slight uptick in humidity, it’s usually in the mountains and local desert and not along the coastline where most residents live, work, and play. One of the benefits of this great summer weather in San Diego is you won’t see much in the way of flies, gnats and mosquitoes. However, one thing to be aware of is our cool summer evenings. Temperatures drop into the 60°s (17-18°C) with a cool breeze if you are downtown, going to watch a baseball game, or near the bays or beaches. Bring a long sleeve shirt or windbreaker for the evenings if you plan to be outdoors in these areas. Even though the 60°s and light breezes sound like ideal evening weather, it seems a lot cooler if you are visiting from a hot and humid climate.

What is San Diego Weather Like During the Fall

Fall weather in San Diego is similar to what it is like during the summer. However, from time-to-time you may hear the weather forecasters say Santa Anas are coming. That means instead of ocean breezes, the winds will be coming from the desert bringing very dry air (pack your lotion) and sometimes temperatures in the 90°s (34-35°C). It typically only last a few days at most before returning to ideal weather. We also have an increased chance of rain but it is still quite rare.

What is San Diego Weather Like During the Winter

Winter weather in San Diego brings cooler daytime temperatures ranging in the mid to upper 60°s (17-18°C). It’s also considered our rainy season but it is still so rare that the months of November, January, and February are the three sunniest months of the year in San Diego. The occasional rain, which seems to generally occur at night, clears the air and affords San Diegans and visitors spectacular views from the hillsides and mountains that dot the San Diego landscape.

We might have a few days during the winter when the daytime highs don’t get out of the mid 50°s (13-14°C) but then we’ll have a week here and there of temperatures in mid to upper 70°s (24-25°C). In fact, every day of the year in San Diego except for Leap Day (February 29) has a record high temperature of at least 77°s (25°C).

What is San Diego Weather Like During the Spring

Spring weather in San Diego provides a mixed bag of weather, depending on where go. If you only want to spend your time at the beach when visiting San Diego, be cautious of visiting during May and June. Visiting other areas of San Diego during those months should be just fine.

Known as May Gray and June Gloom, a marine layer of clouds develops if the ocean temperatures are still cool while the desert begins to heat up. In some years, we have very little of it and in other years it can become persistent. Even in the bad years, the clouds usually ‘burn-off’ by mid-day everywhere east of highway I-5. (Highway I-5 runs north and south within a mile of the ocean.) Along the coastline, the clouds sometimes ‘burn off’ by mid-afternoon and sometimes they do not.

Even if there are a lot of days with the marine layer in a particular year, May and June are still a great time to visit San Diego. The morning cloud cover and smaller crowds make it even more enjoyable to visit the major attractions like the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, SeaWorld, and LEGOLAND. If you want to bask in afternoon sunshine, you will likely find it if you stay at a hotel east of highway I-5. The farther east you go, the more likely you will get to enjoy the sunshine earlier in the day.

As strange as it may seem, there are days during these months when there is 100% sunshine on the east side of highway I-5 and 0% on the west side. So, be sure to check the weather conditions for each of San Diego’s climate zones.

Understanding San Diego Micro-climates

Forecast for San Diego:  Inland | Mountains | Desert

When visiting San Diego, you will see four different microclimate forecasts – Coastal, Inland, Mountains, and Desert. Coastal areas are considered the beach areas west of highway I-5 and the Inland areas are along highway I-15 and goes eastward toward the mountains. Unless you are staying at the beach or going to attractions very close to the beach, such as SeaWorld, most visitor hotels and attractions are located between the Coastal and Inland areas. So, if you see it is going to be 75° (24°C) along the Coast and 90° (32°C) Inland, you should expect it to be 80°-85° (27°-29°C) when you visit some of our major attractions such as San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, Old Town, and LEGOLAND.

Coastal San Diego

Generally, everything west of highway I-5 to the beaches. This includes Downtown San Diego, Coronado, La Jolla, Del Mar, Encinitas, Carlsbad and Oceanside.

  • Average High Temperatures: Ranges from 65 degrees in the winter to 77 degrees in the summer.
  • Average Low Temperatures: Ranges from 48 degrees in the winter to 66 degrees in the summer.
  • Rain – From November to March, Coastal San Diego averages from 1 – 2 inches of rain per month. The farther north you go towards Oceanside, the better chance there is for rain (up to an inch more during winter months). It is rare to see rain between May and September.
  • Coldest Days – There are a few days during the winter when highs only reach the upper 50s, usually when a storm front has moved down from Alaska. Fortunately, the Alaskan storm fronts usually only reach as far as Los Angeles (100 miles to our north).
  • Hottest Days – It is rare to see temperatures in the 90s unless we get Santa Ana winds, which usually come during September and October. Humidity is low so you do not have to worry about sweating.
  • Find more Coastal Weather historical data at Weatherbase.com

Inland San Diego

Generally east of highway I-15 in the north and SR-125 in the south. This includes El Cajon, Escondido, and the Safari Park.

  • Average High Temperatures: Ranges from 69 degrees in the winter to 88 degrees in the summer.
  • Average Low Temperatures: Ranges from 41 degrees in the winter to 64 degrees in the summer.
  • Rain – From November to March, Inland San Diego averages from 1 – 3 inches of rain per month. It is rare to see rain between May and September.
  • Coldest Days – If there is snow in the nearby mountains, nighttime temperatures can fall below freezing while daytime temperatures hover in the 50′s.
  • Hottest Days – From May through October, there can be spurts of days with temperatures of 100 degrees or more. During the spring there can be days where it is only in the 60′s along the coast but over 100 degrees inland. Santa Ana winds, which usually come during September and October, can also bring heavy doses of heat and wind. However, humidity is low so you do not have to worry about sweating. Instead, you need to make sure you drink extra water.
  • Find more Inland Weather historical data at Weatherbase.com

San Diego Mountain Areas

Includes the historic town of Julian and the Cleveland National Forest

  • Average High Temperatures: Ranges from 55 degrees in the winter to 91 degrees in the summer.
  • Average Low Temperatures: Ranges from 35 degrees in the winter to 54 degrees in the summer.
  • Rain – From November to March, the Mountain areas of San Diego average from 3 – 5 inches of rain per month. Rain clouds may pass over the Coastal and Inland areas and not drop any rain but once they hit the mountains, which range up to around 6,000 feet, it becomes a different story. June and July are the driest months, averaging under a half inch of rain.
  • Coldest Days – Each year, one or two snowstorms usually reach down from Northern California and drop a few inches of snow. Tire chains are often required if you want to go there for sledding. Otherwise, the mountains enjoy cool, but not cold, air.
  • Hottest Days – There are many days in the late summer and early fall with temperatures in the 90s, especially when the Santa Ana winds kick-up. However, evenings cool down quickly so be sure to bring a long sleeve shirt or light jacket if you plan to stay overnight.
  • Find more Mountain Weather historical data at Weatherbase.com

San Diego Desert Areas

Includes Borrego Springs and the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

  • Average High Temperatures: Ranges from 69 degrees in the winter to 107 degrees in the summer.
  • Average Low Temperatures: Ranges from 43 degrees in the winter to 75 degrees in the summer.
  • Rain – From November to March, the Desert areas of San Diego average about one inch of rain per month. There is also an occasional rainstorm (usually July and August) that can cause flash floods. However, the monthly average for these months ranges from a third to two-thirds of an inch.
  • Coldest Days – There is a large contrast between daytime and nighttime temperatures making the nights seem cool enough that you may want to bring along a jacket if you stay overnight, especially during the winter.
  • Hottest Days – Expect over 100 degree weather all summer long and occasionally during the spring and fall. It is best to visit the desert between fall and spring. However, it is usually a very dry heat, except for the late summer when a monsoonal flow may arrive from the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Find more Desert Weather historical data at DesertUSA.com

San Diego Sunrise and Sunset

During the summer, the sun rises well before 6am and sets by 8pm. During the winter, the sun rises well before 7am and generally sets shortly after 5pm. Checkout the daily sunrise and sunset times in San Diego from TimeAndDate.com.

San Diego High and Low Tides

If you want to plan a long walk in the beach or want to spend time looking for marine life in local tidepools, you can check the daily high and low tide predictions for San Diego (La Jolla) from NOAA. If you want to see surfers in action, check out wave predictions for the next few days. Waves are usually 3 to 4 feet in height. However, they can rise well over 10 feet on occasion and attract crowds of onlookers.

Note: Thanks go out to Robert Krier from the U-T Newspaper for providing a couple of the weather tidbits.

San Diego Airport / Lindbergh Field

San Diego’s Lindbergh Field is the most tourist friendly airport in the country. The San Diego airport ranks #2 in the United States for customer service and is conveniently located adjacent to the tourist attractions in downtown San Diego. Flying non-stop to San Diego is a convenient option for most visitors, including those coming from Toronto, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, San Francisco, and Maui.

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What to Expect for San Diego’s Transit System

San Diego is one of the easiest cities to visit in the world. Why? The San Diego Airport is only one mile away from the hotels and attractions in Downtown San Diego.

Yes, you fly right over the museums at Balboa Park and through Downtown as you come in for landing. Within 10 minute you can reach the main transit center (Santa Fe Depot) or go right through the center of downtown San Diego along Broadway Avenue by using Bus #992 from each terminal at the San Diego Airport. This makes it very convenient and quick for you to get started on enjoying your vacation in San Diego. So, the question is, where else can you go on public transit and what is it like to ride transit in San Diego.
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Information for Foreign Visitors in San Diego

There are many resources for foreign visitors in San Diego.  While traveling far from home, take comfort that there are many people from your country who now live in San Diego.  They host cultural events and provide San Diego resources for fellow emigrants and visitors to San Diego.

You can find San Diego resources from the internet links below to help make you feel at home or find assistance if you need help.  Come visit San Diego.  It is a great international city where you will feel welcome and experience travel that you will remember for a lifetime.

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San Diego Traffic

Latest Traffic Updates: Visit the CALTRANS or SANDAG web sites or Call 511.

Right Turn on Red Lights: Allowed unless otherwise noted.

Cell Phone Use While Driving: Must use a hands-free device.

Park & Ride Lots: Map of lot locations and related information.

San Diego Traffic Overview

San Diego is a relatively modern city. Most of the area’s development took place after the interstate highway system was built. As a result, the width of highway construction was not constrained by earlier development, allowing the system to include at least 4 to 5 lanes going in each direction. Combined with the state highway system, most of San Diego can be reached in a short driving time from anywhere else in San Diego. If you ask someone how long it will take to get from point A to point B, the typical response will be 10 – 20 minutes. With the following exceptions and notes about common traffic choke points, that response should be quite accurate.

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International Visitor Information Center

Location: Downtown San Diego

Hours: Generally open 9AM – 5PM during the Summer and 9AM – 4PM during the Winter

Services: Professionally trained staff and volunteers to assist with San Diego vacation plans, brochures, maps, and discount tickets. (Great Deals on SeaWorld 2-Day Tickets and LEGOLAND Adult Tickets. Other tickets are generally $1 – $2 off standard or upgraded admission prices.)

Host: San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau

Printable San Diego Visitor Planning Guide – 175 pages.

Google Map

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Taking Pictures in San Diego / Photography Help

Features: Get your cameras ready for taking lots of pictures in San Diego County. Learn what to expect, where to look for great photo opportunities, and where to go to address any camera problems you may have while visiting San Diego.

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San Diego Amtrak Stations

AMTRAK offers four train stations in San Diego County. All are located near the coastline and major tourist attractions. They all provide service for AMTRAK’s Pacific Surfliner. Details on the AMTRAK Stations, including Google Maps, and what to expect on the beautiful ride to San Diego are noted below.

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Taxi Cabs in San Diego

Yellow Cab of San Diego – 1-619-234-6161 – Picks up in the City of San Diego, La Jolla, El Cajon, and nearby areas, but not Coronado.

Yellow Cab of North County – 1-760-722-4214 – Picks up in the North County area of San Diego including Oceanside, Carlsbad and Escondido.

Yellow Cab of Coronado – 1-619-542-1926 – Picks up on Coronado.

Orange Cab of San Diego – 1-619-223-5555 – Picks up in the City of San Diego, El Cajon, and other nearby areas, but not Coronado.

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Coronado Ferry

The Coronado Ferry is a great way to visit Coronado while enjoying San Diego Bay and the downtown skyline views. The Ferry is operated by Flagship Cruises (formerly San Diego Harbor Excursions) and runs hourly from the Broadway Pier and generally every two hours from the Fifth Avenue Landing behind the Convention Center to the Coronado Ferry Landing Marketplace. It takes only 15 minutes to cross the bay. The Hotel del Coronado is 1.5 miles from the Coronado Ferry Landing and can be reached by foot, bus, pedicab, or taxi.

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Smoke Free Attractions in San Diego

Smoke Free advocates have been successful at encouraging most attractions in San Diego to go Smoke Free. Maintained by the American Lung Association, the Smoke Free San Diego web site lists all of the Smoke Free zones in San Diego. They also note the number, and sometimes the location, of designated smoking areas. Below, you will find an overview of what to expect in San Diego for smokers and non-smokers.

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San Diego Radio Stations

Find your favorite radio station sorted by music format, news station, talk show, sports team, or Spanish language broadcast. Print it out and take it along for your drive through San Diego. Also, help keep this up-to-date by submitting changes using the form below.

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