Frequently asked questions that I receive — since I live here and help people plan San Diego vacations — are about what it’s like in San Diego during certain months of the year. So, I figured that I’d start with San Diego in July since we’ve just finished what is normally a glorious month for weather, events, and things to do.
Needless to say, what actually happened this year was unprecedented, but let’s press on in the hopes that this month next year will be far better. My goal is to share what it feels like to be outside, how we dress, and even what we locals are up to so that you can visualize and plan for the San Diego July lifestyle.
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San Diego July Weather
San Diego July is pretty awesome with a few caveats. Let me tell you what that actually means.
A Note About Microclimates
Microclimates in San Diego include coastal regions, inland valleys, mountains, and the desert. San Diego weather in July that you care about depends on where in the county you’re headed to.
Most visitors are concerned about the weather in the coastal regions because they’re here to enjoy the beach. The best San Diego resorts and the San Diego International Airport are located in this microclimate as well. As a result, when you see average temperatures for San Diego, they’re talking about mostly the coastal regions though our local meteorologists will provide forecasts for all microclimates separately.
Occasional June Gloom Spill Over
We have coastal fog that we (not-so-) lovingly call May Gray and June Gloom in, you guessed it, May and June. It disappears if you drive a mile or five inland and sometimes it burns off along the coast in the afternoon (but not always). If you’re a beachgoer or staying in beachfront San Diego hotels, this weather phenomenon impacts you.
We’re talking about San Diego weather in July so why does this matter? June Gloom has been known to carry over into the first week of July. Yes, July 4th is occasionally celebrated under a marine layer. Does this dampen the festivities? Absolutely not. A few may skip the beach but rest assured the holiday is still quite the to-do.
Also, the cloudy skies don’t mean that you need to bundle up. We still wear shorts. Kids plow into the ocean without thinking twice. Sunglasses and sunscreen are must-haves.
Sunny Skies Otherwise
When we see June Gloom break and normal summer weather surface, all of a sudden the sun is mostly out in full force with a cloudy morning or day sprinkled in here and there. It’s just glorious and why my husband refuses to travel in mid-July through August because you can’t beat the beaches and summer weather in La Jolla.
For those of you who like weather stats, here they are for July:
- Average temperature (high/low): 76°F/66°F
- Rainfall: .1 inches
- Days of sunshine: 68%
- Daylight: 14 hours
- Ocean temperature (high/low): 65.4°F/68.5°F
What the Beach Is Like
The days surrounding July 4th are the busiest of the year at San Diego beaches, maybe tied with Labor Day weekend and to an ever-so-slightly lesser degree, Memorial Day weekend.
Tourist season escalates in July. Locals also save up their beachgoing until June Gloom blows over so we’re at the beach in July, too.
Does it mean you won’t find space for your chairs and umbrella? Absolutely not. Choose one of the beaches with lots of sand like La Jolla Shores Beach, Pacific Beach (especially at Law Street on the north side), Mission Beach, or Coronado Central Beach. Even with today’s need to distance, you can find space even on the busiest days, though arriving early is advised for parking reasons.
The same can’t be said on the smaller beaches like Windansea. These gems can be jammed with people on peak days but some sunbathers and surfers don’t mind this at all.
In July, you can shed your wetsuit unless you plan to go scuba diving or take a snorkeling tour. Long periods of time spent in Southern California ocean water require wetsuits at any time of the year. Surfers wear full or spring suits depending on the time of day and length of time in the water. If you or your kids enroll in any of the San Diego surfing schools, you’ll likely be given or asked to rent a wetsuit. They provide a little buoyancy, too.
High Hotel Occupancy
If you’re planning to stay in a San Diego hotel in July, book as soon as possible because hotels sell out. In normal times, summer rates increase closer to the date. I can’t tell you how many people I speak with, even now, who wait too long only to find their preferred room or hotel completely sold out. Again, even in July 2020 with all of the stuff going on in the world, San Diego hotels are selling out (granted they are also operating at a reduced occupancy).
Readers who book my portfolio of hotels are entitled to room upgrades subject to availability at check-in. In July and August, these upgrades (even with my volume and ability to give you VIP status) are hard to come by. So, if you’re visiting San Diego during the summer, book the hotel room that you want. Don’t rely on upgrades.
San Diego July Events
Seasonal San Diego events draw people from all over the country, which also helps explain why our hotels sell out.
Big Bay Boom
The spectacular fireworks show over San Diego Bay that is coordinated to music played on local radio stations was canceled in 2020, but normally a very big deal that can be seen from across the County. Other smaller fireworks shows happen across the county but people plan in advance to be somewhere to see it on July 4 whether dining reservations, securing a spot on the Embarcadero, or booking a San Diego Airport hotel or downtown San Diego hotel with a view.
Arguably the largest event in San Diego is Comic-Con at the Convention Center. Tickets for the live event (it was online in 2020) sell out within minutes. If you’re lucky enough to snag a ticket or would like to experience the surrounding festivities, book your hotel room as soon as possible. A year in advance isn’t unreasonable, otherwise, you’ll be subject to peak pricing like you’ve never experienced.
Downtown San Diego hotels sell out way in advance during Comic-Con and the days leading up to and following it. This means that guests spill over into Mission Valley, Coronado, La Jolla, and even further north which causes rates to skyrocket in other neighborhoods.
San Diego County Fair
Things to do in San Diego in July before Comic-Con include the San Diego County Fair which typically runs between Memorial Day weekend and July 4th weekend. Here, you’ll enjoy your “fair” share of gluttonous food from fried Oreos to fried Kool-Aid in addition to plenty of carnival rides and a concert line up full of big names.
Del Mar Racing Season
Mid-July also marks the start of Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s summer horse racing season. People come from all over to place bets on their favorite horses and jockeys. During racing season, Del Mar hotel rates skyrocket.
Things to Do in San Diego in July
July marks the start of my three favorite months in San Diego. Most of the top things to do in San Diego and things to do in San Diego with kids can be done during this month (and really any month) so here are some ideas.
Go to the Beach
I’ll say it again, but one of the most popular things to do in San Diego in July is to go to the beach. The ocean temperatures are trending upward so boogie boarding, swimming, and quintessential Southern California beach days are in full swing.
Go Kayaking in La Jolla
July is a fantastic month for kayaking around the La Jolla Underwater Park to see this marine life rich area, our sea caves, and enjoy the sunshine. You can do it on your own or take a tour.
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Enroll in Surf Camp
One of my favorite San Diego activities for kids during any season is learning how to surf. Arrange a private or group lesson with one of our highly-regarded San Diego surf schools. Many of them offer half-day or full-day summer camps for kids.
Try Bay Water Sports
You can rent everything from stand-up paddleboards to ski boats at various centers like Action Sports Rentals along Mission Bay or in Carlsbad at Agua Hedionda Lagoon.
Check What’s Happening at Theme Parks and Museums
Usually, July means really cool programming at Balboa Park museums and our theme parks. Pick your favorite and go according to what’s on. We’re talking science labs for kids, nature walks, and much more. Sadly, none of this happened in 2020 but let’s hope for a better 2021.
LEGOLAND California usually offers its own fireworks display on July 4th in addition to other patriotic, LEGO-themed festivities. It was also canceled in 2020. (Learn how to buy discount LEGOLAND California tickets.)
What to Pack for San Diego in July
As during any season, what to pack for San Diego in July includes layers. The days are long with the sun setting at 7:30 p.m. or later. Tank tops and shorts during the day are normal thanks to sunny San Diego July weather, but you’ll want a sweater or light jacket in the evening.
If you’re planning to enjoy a beach bonfire, a pair of sweats, sweatshirt, and a blanket are good to have on hand. Be sure to also pack:
- Bathing suit
- Rashguard or UV shirt for sun protection
- Flip flops
- Bathing suit cover-up
- Tank tops
- Sweatshirt, jacket or wrap for evenings
- Casual dress or collared shirt and nice jeans
If you’re going clubbing downtown, check the dress code requirements as they can be strict in some places.
Saving Money Around San Diego in July
People tend to be out and about in July so it helps to know the ways to save in San Diego. Tourists who are trying to fit in all of the theme parks and museums should take a look at the All-Inclusive Go San Diego Card that lets you save up to 55% on admission to over 55 attractions.
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During the summer, residents should take a look at the Build-Your-Own Go San Diego Card. Why? You can add just two attractions and save 20% off of gate pricing. And, you have 30 days to use the pass.
And, for individual tickets keep in mind that I have a San Diego Zoo tickets promo code and a San Diego Zoo Safari Park ticket promo code.
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Lifestyle: What Residents Are Up To
When we’re not shuttling the kids back and forth to summer camp and sports, we’re also out and about enjoying San Diego July weather. We tend to avoid the crowds in downtown San Diego surrounding Comic-Con and driving anywhere near the racetrack where people are coming and going from the fair and horseraces (unless we’re attending).
If there’s one thing to put on your summer bucket list, it’s find a great San Diego restaurant with patio dining. Whether at home or out, we’re eating outside, because we can.
We’re also exercising outside. You can find everything from beachside yoga to outdoor boot camp. And, of course, we’re enjoying beaches and swimming pools.
In 2020, I can also tell you that locals are staycationing all month long at resorts like Hotel del Coronado. We’re lucky to live in a popular vacation destination during times when we can’t really travel elsewhere.
If you live here, please share your thoughts about San Diego in July! Next up: San Diego in August.
Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).
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And, don’t forget to save money on sightseeing with my discount tickets or a Go San Diego Card.
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