March through May is one of the best times to visit San Diego, especially if you avoid crowded spring break school holidays. The rainy season winds down by April in most years and skies are frequently clear and sunny.
What to Expect in San Diego in Spring
The graphic above covers the basics about San Diego in Spring, with temperature, rainfall and sunshine averages and hotel occupancy information for recent years. A few additional facts and tips:
- Average hotel occupancy is more than 70%. The average San Diego hotel rate in 2013 was $130 per night, higher when they're near capacity and lower when they're less busy. Rates generally go up about 5% per year.
- Averages are interesting, but the most important thing is what's going to happen during your trip. Check the current forecast to get a better idea.
- Water temperature remains near its winter lows through March and April, warming slightly in May but still too cold for all but the hardiest swimmers, making the beach a better place for walking than water play.
- All of the popular tourist attractions will be crowded during spring break, but otherwise, expect a leisurely pace in spring and fewer people around.
Reasons to Visit San Diego in Spring
- Summer Hours: During spring break weeks, local theme parks and animal attractions will be open longer, following their normal summer schedules.
- Beaches are Great: Beaches are uncrowded during the week and sunnier than they'll be in early summer.
Reasons to Avoid San Diego in Spring
- Spring Break Crowds: San Diego's sunny climate attracts a lot of families, but it also draws a considerable number of college students, many of them intent on consuming as much alcohol as they can manage. Spring break may be held around Easter1 where you live, but in California (where many San Diego visitors live), the schedule is more staggered. California schools schedule their breaks any time between mid-March and the end of April.
- Off-Season Hours: Except during spring break, theme parks and other attractions will likely reduce their hours and offer fewer extra activities than they do in the summer.
Cost Considerations in Spring
If you plan your trip before or after spring break and avoid the big conventions, spring is a good time to get a really good hotel rate and an especially good time to use these unexpected tips to get a good rate.
San Diego is one of the country's most popular convention locations and the big ones can fill hotels and drive up rates. The busiest convention months times are late May through July. Use this convention calendar to plan your trip during dates when fewer conventioneers are in town.
Spring Events Worth Planning Ahead For
Spring holidays include Easter1 and Mardi Gras (which happens 46 days before Easter and is celebrated as Carnevale in San Diego), St. Patrick's Day (March 17) and Cinco de May (May 5), a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride.
- Carlsbad Flower Fields: It's not a specific event, but the springtime flowers in the commercial fields are a unique sight.
- Whale Watching: Whale-watching season usually ends after March.
- Grunion Runs: March is the beginning of the annual grunion run, when thousands of tiny, silvery fish mate by the light of the full moon (or the new one). See the schedule. La Jolla Shores is a good place to see it, or Birch Aquarium offers guided trips.
1Easter is a lunar holiday which can occur between March 22 and April 25