San Diego in March 2023 is looking pretty great. Did you know March through May is one of the best times to visit San Diego? You’ll see fewer crowds, which means easier parking, more available reservations, and skipping long lines. Days can be warm, and nights are cool.
But don’t wait to plan because I’ve been swamped with spring break vacation questions and hotel bookings. (I’ve never seen this kind of volume before.)
All traveler types choose San Diego for March vacations because we have fantastic weather, beaches, and things to do.
You can save on tickets, tours, and hotels through my affiliations. If you make purchases through some links in this post, I may be compensated. Our editorial guidelines.
San Diego Weather in March
A jacket is still necessary in the late afternoon and evenings, but it’s starting to warm up. I say this realizing that East Coasters probably don’t think it’s cold here to begin with.
San Diego weather in March is mostly sunny, but there are some cloudy days, and it does rain.
We have four microclimates in San Diego: coastal (where most tourists are headed), inland valleys, mountains, and desert. I will cover them here in more detail since March is a popular time to visit San Diego, and you can hit multiple microclimates in one vacation.
Our local television stations give weather forecasts by microclimates. So, if you just punch in “San Diego” on your weather app, it’s may not give you the data you’re looking for. It’s giving you data for the City of San Diego in the coastal region, not for the full county.
Here’s a tip. Put in the city within San Diego County that you’re headed to. Here are some examples.
- Coastal: Coronado, La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Oceanside, Downtown San Diego
- Inland Valleys: Rancho Bernardo, Escondido (where San Diego Zoo Safari Park is located), Ramona
- Mountains: Alpine, Julian
- Desert: Borrego Springs (where Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is located)
Looking at the weather in each microclimate will help you decide what to pack (layers).
Here are your San Diego March weather statistics (coastal region):
- Average temperature (high/low): 67°F/54°F
- Rainfall: 1.8 inches
- Days of rain: 4
- Days of sunshine: 70%
- Daylight: 12 hours
- Ocean temperature (high/low): 60.7°F/58.1°F
Can You Go to the Beach in March?
You will see more people on the beaches in San Diego in March (especially later in the month) than in February. People will be in the ocean.
Spring break for some schools starts in mid-March, which is part of why it’s busier than other months. Tourists are in the water swimming, taking surfing lessons, kayaking the La Jolla sea caves, and enjoying beach weather. Locals are beginning to join them, too.
Once the time changes and the days are longer, I really enjoy going to the beach in the late afternoons. It’s a nice way for the kids to unwind after school and to watch the sunset. Bring a picnic or a pizza. Highly recommend.
What It’s Like to Swim in the Ocean
You’ll see people without wetsuits enjoying the ocean. Kids especially don’t seem to mind the chilly water. But, for water sports, you’ll want more warmth. It’s chilly.
You can rent wetsuits, including kids’ sizes (call ahead for availability) at various surf shops and surfing schools around San Diego.
Advice for Booking Hotels in March
If you are considering coming to San Diego during the summer of 2023, please book your trip now. Our hotels are already booked for some summer dates.
If you’re looking for places to stay in San Diego during Easter week, you are still in luck. Inventory is shrinking, however.
It’s always wise to book spring break hotels as far in advance as possible.
Many people are choosing Hotel del Coronado. Although The Del has already completed the construction of their Master Plan, an interior re-design and renovation of Beach Village is happening now. You’ll be okay in other parts of the hotel, and I’m happy to guide you with room selections.
You can also see my list of San Diego resorts for more staycation and vacation ideas.
San Diego March Events
Festivals dominate March events in San Diego, but there’s more fun to consider.
San Diego Latino Film Festival
The 29th San Diego Latino Film Festival takes place from March 9-19. Purchase a pass to watch films at AMC Mission Valley or Digital Gym Cinema. Check the schedule of events to learn more and purchase tickets.
Cherry Blossom Festival
The 18th annual Cherry Blossom Festival at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park is March 10, 11, and 12 this year.
Celebrate the Japanese custom of “hanami,” which means to appreciate the beauty of cherry blossoms. There will be performances (including cosplays with prizes), cherry blossoms, sake, vendors, and exclusive Japanese Friendship Garden merchandise. VIP tickets gain access at the Bamboo Gate.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival
This year’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival at Balboa Park takes place on March 11, 2023. For the festival location, parade route, and other information, visit the St. Patrick’s Day Parade website.
If you want to celebrate on St. Patrick’s Day, find an Irish pub like The Field where you can sip Guinness on an outdoor patio. Many restaurants and bars across San Diego County are offering their own food and drink specials. If you’re ready to join the party in progress, try a neighborhood event. Here’s a fun list.
SeaWorld Seven Seas Food Festival
Between March 3 and April 30, head over to SeaWorld San Diego on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays to taste your way around the world at their Seven Seas Food Festival, included with Park Admission.
I’ve written in detail about how to buy discount SeaWorld San Diego tickets. You can purchase Seven Seas Food & Beverage Samplers beyond your ticket. A 15 tastings sampler is $85, 10 tastings sampler is $70, or Happy Hour Friday 5 tastings sampler is $25.
Sesame Place 1st Birthday
Sesame Place is celebrating its first birthday in March, and everyone is invited! There will be birthday decorations, birthday-themed entertainment, and one-of-a-kind birthday photo opportunities from March 4th to 31st.
On March 20th, Sesame Place celebrates Big Bird’s birthday too!
On Saturday, March 25th, Sesame Place celebrates their birthday with a Happy Birthday song and birthday cake with the park president and all the Sesame Street friends.
Join in the fun and always get the best prices on tickets.
Season Opener for San Diego Wave FC
San Diego is lucky enough to have a professional women’s soccer team, and the season is about to kick off! This is the Wave’s second season in the National Women’s Soccer League.
The Wave play the Chicago Red Stars in the first game of the season on March 25, at Snapdragon Stadium. Get all the fun details here.
San Diego Restaurant Week
San Diego Restaurant Week is back from March 26 to April 2. You’ll get to dine your way through budget-friendly prix fixe meals at restaurants across San Diego.
One of the best things about San Diego Restaurant Week is trying out casual neighborhood spots you’ve never been to, as well as fine-dining restaurants you’ve been dying to try.
The California Restaurant Association sponsors San Diego Restaurant Week. The Restaurant Week website lists all participating restaurants and helps you plan your eats by searching neighborhoods, food types, or dining options.
Padres MLB Season Home Opener
Major League Baseball fans can enjoy spring training this month as the Padres host 15 home games in March. But for the real excitement, the MLB home opener game against the Colorado Rockies is March 30 at 1:10 p.m.
If work interferes with opening day, get ready to watch the Padres vs. the Rockies Friday, March 31, at 6:40 p.m. Southwest Airlines hosts this season’s first Friday Party in the Park: BeerFest pre-game celebration in Gallagher Square. Join the fun!
Things to Do in San Diego in March
Because of spring break, people are looking for family activities in San Diego but rest assured what’s on tap is great for all ages.
You can also read my list of fun outdoor activities for even more ideas.
Visit the Carlsbad Flower Fields
Now through Mother’s Day, you fill your Instagram feed with photos from the Carlsbad Flower Fields. Walk or take an antique tractor ride through rows of colorful Giant Tecolote Ranunculus flowers near the coast in Carlsbad.
You can learn from Master Gardeners, let kids enjoy the playgrounds, shop for plants and flowers, and much more.
Take a Day Trip to See Desert Bloom
Desert bloom takes place in San Diego’s Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. If you’ve never seen them, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the millions of colorful flowers that carpet the desert floor. Some years are better than others, depending on winter rains, but you’ll rarely be disappointed.
The best time to see the desert bloom is from the end of February to the first of April. The Anza Borrego Foundation has updates on what’s in bloom, directions, and what to know before you go.
Bonus: If you can, go March 11-12 to also check out Circle of Art in Borrego Springs, the 2023 fine art show and sale, where you’ll find artworks representing a variety of media from watercolors to weaving to pottery, and many more.
Make Plans for Easter
Sometimes, Easter happens in March, but this year it’s on April 9. That being said, it’s never too early to start thinking about Easter celebrations in San Diego that may happen earlier in the week.
Look for Baby Seals
Check Out Our Tide Pools
March is one of the last months with minus tides during daylight hours. Check the tide charts.
Afternoon minus tides are happening between March 16-22, so use this as a chance to go out and safely explore. Pair a visit to the La Jolla tide pools with a stop at the Children’s Pool seal rookery.
Go Grunion Running
Here’s a fun activity for the night owls. Grab your headlamp and a warm beverage, and head to the beach at night. You might see some slippery silver fish.
Check the calendar of expected runs.
Visit Our Attractions
Beat the summer rush and visit in temperate weather.
San Diego Zoo & San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Reservations are not required to attend the San Diego Zoo or Safari Park, but you can purchase tickets online before your visit for the sake of convenience.
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USS Midway Museum
The USS Midway Museum is fully open and operational with both self-guided audio tours and docent led tours. This is one of San Diego’s most popular attractions year after year. You can get tickets here.
The museum marks the 50th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War on March 29th in a special ceremony on the ship’s flight deck. Here’s how to participate in this free event.
Birch Aquarium at Scripps
Things to do in San Diego in March definitely include the new Little Penguins exhibit at Birch Aquarium at Scripps. Plus, you can admire one of San Diego’s best views and even grab a bite to eat in their Splash! Cafe.
Other fun options around town include:
Go Gray Whale Watching
It’s nearing the end of the season, but you can still go gray whale watching in San Diego on boat tours, a lovely way to spend a half-day outside.
The whales have headed back north with their calves further away from the shore, so your best chance of seeing them is on a boat tour.
What to Wear in San Diego in March
Your San Diego packing list for March includes sweaters, long-sleeved T-shirts, jeans, and jackets among other things.
Here’s what to put in your suitcase:
- Medium weight jacket for the afternoons and evenings (I wear a Patagonia or Lululemon puffer jacket)
- Athleisure (a San Diego wardrobe staple)
- Hiking shoes for trails
- Portable umbrella (optional)
- Bathing suit and warmer cover-up
- Rashguard or UV shirt for sun protection and warmth
- Hat for sun protection
- Flip flops for the beach and pool
- Shorts for beachgoing
- T-Shirts (mix of long- and short-sleeved)
- Pants or jeans
- Sweaters or sweatshirts
- Comfortable walking shoes for sightseeing
- Casual wool/warm dress or collared shirt, sweater, and nice jeans (if you plan to dine in one of our nicer restaurants )
- Sweaters and sweatshirts
- Wetsuit (you can rent one)
Even though I said it might rain here in March, you don’t need to pack a raincoat if you don’t have one. Many San Diegans don’t even own them.
Lifestyle: What Residents Are Up To
Locals are planning staycations and road trips for spring break. We’re excited about longer days and signs of spring.
If you are a local, please share your thoughts about San Diego in March!