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Best Time to Visit San Diego - How Long to Stay

Step #2: Planning a San Diego Vacation

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Weather and other considerations for planning San Diego vacations

Ice Skating at the Hotel del Coronado

©2010 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
San Diego can be fun in any season and the best time to visit depends on your personal preferences.
  • Weather: Many people think San Diego has sunny skies and warm weather 365 days a year, but in fact, it endures 102 cloudy days per year on average, according to the data published by The Western Regional Climate Center's Desert Research Institute1. Like the rest of California, San Diego gets most of its rain in the winter, and like most coastal areas, it gets lots of clouds and fog in early summer. August through November have the clearest skies and you can expect moderate temperatures year round.

    Check the San Diego weather and climate for the time you plan to visit. You can also use this guide to San Diego by Season to pick the time that's best for you.

  • Crowds: In summer, the top sights are crowded with tourists, especially during the annual influx of visitors escaping Arizona's summer heat. Spring and fall are busy but not hectic, but big conventions bring crowds to the Gaslamp any time of year.

  • Costs: Hotel rates are least busy November through January (except when a big convention comes to town). The busiest convention months in 2009 were February, May and July.

  • Annual Events: Whether you're looking for a special event to attend or just trying to avoid the crowds that gather for ComicCon, this Annual Event Guide will give you a month-by-month summary of what's going on.

How Long to Stay

Our list of San Diego sights A to Z is more than 20 items long and you can browse through a dozen great ways to spend a vacation day in San Diego. Throw in some tours and a couple of day trips and your visit could easily last two weeks. According to the San Diego Visitor's Bureau, people stay just four nights on the average and you may have even less time than that, so some prioritizing is essential.

These are the highlights, but before you start planning, you need to know that it takes a full day to visit the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, San Diego Zoo Safari Park or Legoland.

If you have just one day, take a harbor cruise. Before it or afterward, take a drive over the bridge to Coronado or putter along the coast up to La Jolla. Both are fun places to visit and they have great beaches, too.

If you have a weekend, you can slow down a bit. Plan a weekend getaway and you'll have time to visit one of the attractions that take a full day.

If you have 3 to 4 days, add Balboa Park and visit Old Town, another all-day sight or a side trip. You'll find plenty of ideas for them in the Day Trips Around San Diego section of this guide.

If you have 5 to 6 days, take a day off. These destination hotels are a good place to do it, or spend the whole day relaxing at Mission Bay.

1Western Regional Climate Center's Desert Research Institute

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