Due to the stellar weather, summer is probably the best time of the year to visit one of America’s prettiest cities, San Diego. The weather is always great in Southern California, but summer in San Diego certainly takes things up a level (or two).
The great weather will only be further complemented by the slate of summertime San Diego attractions, events, and activities that are coming up in 2015.
If you’re planning on doing a lot during your vacation, consider a Go San Diego® Card, an all-inclusive pass that can save you up to 55% on admission to over 40 of the best area attractions. Or, customize a pass with two or more attractions and save between 15-20%.
Festivals & Free Events
San Diego County Fair – Del Mar Fairgrounds
June 5 – July 5, 2015
Beginning June 5, North America’s fourth-largest fair will get underway at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. With over 1 million visitors anticipated each year, this festival only gets bigger and better as times goes on.
Some of the new events and attractions this year include Distilled: The San Diego Spirit & Cocktail Festival, Fiesta Village (which is just as much fun as it sounds like!), Farm to Table Dinner, and Asian Festival.
Ashford University Summer Pops – Embarcadero Marina Park South
June 27 – September 6, 2015
Each summer a stage is erected by the bay at Embarcadero Marina Park South to host the San Diego Symphony’s annual outdoor summer concert series. The Ashford University Summer Pops series begins just before the 4th of July and runs through Labor Day.
San Diego ComicCon – San Diego Convention Center
July 8 – July 12, 2015
For fans of Superman, Spiderman, Spawn, and the Simpsons, there’s probably no better San Diego Attraction than the annual Comic-Con International show. Comic-Con International: San Diego has quickly become the largest comics and pop culture event in the United States.
During Comic-Con San Diego, more than 130,000 artists, celebrities and comic book fans will pack the San Diego Convention Center – a huge transformation from when about 100 people attended the first “minicon” in 1970.
U.S. Olympic Training Center – Chula Vista
For an athletically-themed trip, head out to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista for a free tour of the 150-acre facility. Guided tours of the center’s fields, tracks and athlete dorms are only available on Saturday on a walk-in basis, but self-guided tours are available on a each day.
Yelp reviewers consistently note that this site is a hidden gem that many locals aren’t even aware of. “This place is one of many San Diego area super-cool hidden patriotic and nationalistic treasures that everybody should take the time to come see,” wrote John from San Diego.
Tour San Diego Harbor
There are many fun San Diego boat tours that explore the beautiful San Diego harbor. With its proximity to the Pacific, the San Diego Harbor has plenty of sealife and ocean vistas for visitors to ooh and ahh over.
A harbor tour will show you the highlights and give you the inside scoop on the San Diego skyline, local landmarks, and natural wonders of the area.
This beautiful historic expanse, featuring the Old Point Loma Lighthouse and the Cabrillo National Monument, is a beautiful free National Park that families love to explore. You’ll find excellent views of the city, tide pools, and the beauty of nature all around you.
Visit the Beautiful Beaches
No vacation to San Diego is complete without a trip to California’s famous long stretches of coastline, speckled with surfers all year long. Whether you’re a seasoned surfer, looking to learn, or just want to check out the locals riding the “gnarly” waves, San Diego has a beach for you.
La Jolla Beach is one of our favorites, so be sure to build in some time to stop there. You can soak up the sun, splash in the waves, rent a kayak, play beach volleyball – you name it! Your summer dreams await at this popular and gorgeous beach.
Get a taste of California surf culture (and perhaps a few gulps of salty sea water) at Mission Beach, home to a two mile stretch of white sand that attracts bronzed crowds for sun bathing and water sports. The mild waves offer a gentle initiation to the Pacific Ocean for those who have never surfed before.
Whale Watching Cruise
Whale watching cruises in San Diego are some of the most exciting ways to observe some of the ocean’s most majestic creatures. Learn all about these precious animals: from their migration patterns to what they like to eat and how they play, you’ll know basically everything there is to know about whales by the time you’re back on shore.
Just steps away from the surf on Mission Beach is Belmont Park where you can experience one of the last remaining beach front amusement parks, satisfy that surfing-induced craving for fair food, and stock up on California beach apparel at the various surf shops.
Belmont Park is an action-packed, palm tree-lined amusement park right on the coast, and it is the place to soak up those Southern California rays while enjoying the hustle and bustle of an amusement park! An unlimited wristband lets you ride as many times as you want!
There are few places as lovely as Coronado. Hop aboard the ferry and spend the day at this beautiful island that’s just minutes from downtown San Diego. From the historic Hotel Del Coronado to the pristine beach and delicious restaurants, you’ll love every minute. Shop your heart out at the famous Coronado Marketplace.
Balboa is arguably the country’s finest urban cultural park, surpassing even New York’s Central Park in terms of natural beauty and the wealth of attractions, parks, gardens, picnic spots, and biking trails located within.
Pack a blanket and some sandwiches and enjoy a leisurely lunch, and then stop into any one of the renowned cultural institutions. Or, move your picnic back to dusk and make it a romantic evening in the park.
You’ll find tons of top museums (a few of which are listed below), some of the area’s most peaceful gardens (from the Japanese Friendship Garden to the Cactus Garden) in addition to performance spaces, recreation areas, and restaurants. You could practically spend your entire vacation right here!
Museums, Zoos & More
San Diego Zoo
One of our favorite zoos in the entire country, the San Diego Zoo is home to some of the most adorable animals in the world, including the endangered Giant Pandas, along with hundreds of other species. It’s a must-see attraction for any animal lover, but be aware that its massive size means you’re in for a good bit of walking or a lot of tram rides.
Full of family-friendly activities, classes, and tours, you’ll never tired of exploring all the critters that call the San Diego Zoo home. The San Diego Zoo is consistently rated among the best San Diego attractions by travelers!
Perched right at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, this local aquarium is actually affiliated with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, so you know it’s both entertaining and educational. Here you’ll find a wide variety of exhibits and marine life, from living coral reefs to majestic whales. A favorite with kids!
Be sure to check out their summer lecture series on various topics pertaining to ocean life, conservation, and other scientific work.
San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Cousin to the San Diego Zoo, this park emphasizes animals commonly found on African Safaris, including exotic tigers, lions, elephants, rhinos, and more. Their new Tiger Trail exhibit has been a huge hit with visitors, allowing you to see a tiger accelerate from resting to full speed in just seconds – a truly jaw-dropping sight.
Knott’s Berry Farm & Knott’s Soak City
America’s first theme park continues to thrill visitors daily with world-class roller coasters, water rides, children’s activities and plenty of entertainment.
Located immediately adjacent to Knott’s Berry Farm is Knott’s Soak City. This unique, 13-acre waterpark is and has everything a kid could want in the way of tube slides, raft rides, wave pools, and more. Grab a bathing suit, slather on the sunblock, and you’re ready to go.
Living Coast Discovery Center
Explore San Diego’s wildlife at the Living Coast Discovery Center. There are only so many sea specimens you’re likely to see on your snorkeling adventures, so pay a visit to the Living Coast Discovery Center to learn about creatures big and small that populate the coastal region around San Diego.
The Center is also deeply invested in its conservation work, so it’s a great attraction for anyone interested in working with animals or the environment.
San Diego Natural History Museum
One of the many prestigious museums located in Balboa Park, the San Diego Natural History Museum contains a diverse variety of exhibits, artifacts, and other objects pertaining to the natural history of the California and Baja California region.
Among its many exhibits, theNAT features dinosaur bones, a collection of gemstones, fossils, and a wide selection of plant of animal life for you to explore. New this summer is the “Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed” exhibit.
With so many things to do in San Diego this summer, you’ll find yourself trying to narrow down a capacious list rather than struggling to fill up your days. Remember, if you want to do and see a lot when you’re in town, a Go San Diego® Card can save you a bunch on admission!
PETCO Park Tours
Go see a baseball game. Cheer on the San Diego Padres with a PETCO Park tour before an exciting ball game. What says American summer more than a good old-fashioned afternoon at a ballpark?
Watch the Padres in their beautiful stadium, munch on some hotdogs or pretzels, and keep an eye out for fly balls! The Padres will often feature special promotions throughout the summer, like kid nights or fireworks, so look into their schedule before you attend.