San Diego weather doesn’t vary too much year-round, which means winter in San Diego is more pleasant than in most places around the country. Those mild temperatures also mean you’ll have plenty of things to do in San Diego during winter, even after all of the holiday activities are done for the year.
Winter in San Diego Weather
Winter weather in San Diego doesn’t require the level of preparation many states need due to snowstorms, icy conditions, and dropping temperatures that are common in most places.
How cold do San Diego winters get? San Diego winters never get too cold. The average temperatures in the winter months of December through February typically fall around 50-65 degrees Fahrenheit in the California city.
While it won’t be too cold in San Diego during the winter, you may see more rain. January-March is San Diego’s wetter season, with an average of about 2 inches of rain per month during that time. That said, the amount of rain San Diego gets during those months is still markedly less than states with true rainy seasons.
Things to Do in San Diego in Winter
There’s no limit on things to do in San Diego in winter. Rainy days may limit some outdoor plans, but those are still few and far between. You’ll likely find smaller crowds in Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo, and fewer people by the water.
Do people go to the beach in San Diego during the winter? The water won’t be at its warmest, but many locals and visitors alike still go to the beach in San Diego during the winter.
Let’s take a look at more things to do on not only a San Diego winter vacation but for those who live in San Diego year-round.
Winter is the start of peak whale watching season in San Diego. From mid-December into April, 20,000 gray whales begin their migration from colder seas down into Baja California, and San Diego is an important stop along the way.
Book a whale watching tour or choose from any of San Diego’s best whale watching spots to catch a glimpse of the action. The Birch Aquarium at Scripps, Cabrillo National Monument, or Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve are good places to start.
Desert Day Trips
San Diego winter is the best time to hike all of those trails that get too hot in the summer months, especially if they’re in the desert. Temperatures are cooler and much more comfortable for exploring on your feet. Head to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park for hiking trails and desert wildlife. For more adventure, take the Hellhole Canyon Trail out to Maidenhair Falls. The falls are modest but striking, as they’re in the middle of what you’d expect to be a bone-dry desert.
San Diego Winter Activities
Just because the sun is shining throughout Southern California doesn’t mean you can’t embrace traditional winter activities. If you want to pull those skates out of storage, head out to the San Diego Ice Arena during one of their public ice skating sessions. The UTC Ice Sports Center in La Jolla also offers public ice skating, with the option to book skate times in advance online.
For real snow, you’ll need to drive into the mountains. Julian, Mount Laguna, and Palomar Mountain all get snow accumulation in the winter months. Keep in mind that places like Mount Laguna are a popular excursion after even minor snowfalls, so you may experience traffic as you travel up to the more popular spots. Big Bear is the closest ski weekend to take from San Diego.
Whatever You Want!
Winter in San Diego is the perfect time to continue doing what you love during the rest of the year. Cooler temperatures make for more comfortable hiking conditions and smaller crowds in the city’s most popular attractions. If all you want is to enjoy your neighborhood with continued patio dining, you can still do that, too. Winter in San Diego is just that nice.