San Diego by the Seasons

San Diego has miles of beaches and bays, numerous lakes, mountains, and deserts to explore. With balmy average temperatures and less than a foot of rain per year, the lure to go play outside is hard to resist. That said, Southern California isn’t as seasonless as some claim. Although the weather is generally mild and sunny year-round, the seasons do bring different outdoor activities.

Summer is the best time to plan your trip from an outdoor activities point of view (this is peak tourist season for a reason). San Diego’s proximity to the ocean offers an almost endless selection of water activities. Rent kayaks at La Jolla Cove, take a charter boat off Point Loma for deep-sea tuna fishing, or simply hit the beach and go for a swim. Action Sport Rentals, operating out of the Bahia Resort at Mission Bay, offers paddleboards and sailboat rentals to help you enjoy the shimmering bay. Visitors planning a trip in early summer should be aware of the phenomenon known as "May Gray and June Gloom," when fog often blankets the coast in the morning. Things usually clear up by the afternoon, but occasionally the fog lasts all day, making a trip to the beach a damp and chilly affair.

The temperature begins to cool down for winter, but before it does, Santa Ana winds usher a warm dry spell throughout Southern California through the fall. It’s the perfect time to shoot 18 holes at the Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad, or take a hike at the Bayside Trail at Cabrillo National Monument—fall’s cloudless skies allow for a crisp, clear vision of the Pacific. And although the foliage in San Diego doesn’t turn into burnished reds and golds, you can appreciate the rare species of evergreen at Torrey Pines State Reserve.

Winter in California is hardly bitter or harsh, but the weather certainly gets too cold for water sports. Serious surfers love the breaks best in winter, when the swells are high. Thick wet suits are a must, because water temperatures can drop into the mid-50s. Black’s Beach continues to be one of the most challenging surfing beaches in San Diego. Winter is also when gray whales migrate to warmer waters. Charter boats offer whale-watching trips between December and March. View the whales with San Diego Harbor Excursion or with one of the more intimate sailboat charters offered around town. Sunsets can be particularly spectacular during the winter months.

In spring, wildflowers begin to appear in the desert and at the 50 acres of flower fields at the Carlsbad Ranch. At its peak, Southern California's largest bulb farm is abloom with thousands of Giant Tecolote ranunculus.

If you’re interested in something sportier, Escondido’s lakes are filled with bass, bluegill, and catfish waiting to be hooked.

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