November in San Diego marks the beginning of our (slightly) rainy season, but many people choose to visit during this time for many reasons that I’ll get into below. We are also a top-rated Thanksgiving break destination.
This month by month series aims to help you decide when the best time to visit San Diego is for you. For residents, I add in tidbits about what’s happening around town. If you make bookings using the links below, I may be compensated.
San Diego November Weather
San Diego weather in November consists of cloudy mornings that usually become sunny during the afternoon. You’ll need a jacket toward the late afternoon, especially in the shade.
The Santa Ana heat waves that grace San Diego in October have disappeared, and the air overall is cooler. Thanks to the time change, the days are also shorter. And it will rain at some point.
In November, San Diego weather for you to pay attention to depends on which of our four microclimates you’ll be visiting. The temperature changes between the coastal regions, inland valleys, mountains, and the desert become more drastic during this month.
It’s Less Sunny in November
The days after Halloween are still typically sunny, but as the month progresses out come the sweaters. The sun might still be shining but crisp air means that you’ll see people wearing shorts while others are bundled up and wearing UGG boots.
Here are the San Diego November weather stats:
- Average temperature (high/low): 69°F/54°F
- Rainfall: 1 inch
- Days of rain: 4
- Days of sunshine: 75%
- Daylight: 10.5 hours
- Ocean temperature (high/low): 63.9°F/61.8°F
If you plan to visit San Diego in November, try to come during the first couple of weeks. The odds of capturing sunny beach days are higher during this timeframe but certainly not impossible for the rest of the month. There will be days of partial sun and some cloud cover and a couple of rainy days.
What the Beach Is Like
Most locals have shifted to using San Diego beaches for walks, running, water sports, and sunset watching. Not many of us are recreationally sunbathing or swimming in the ocean, but there are always a few exceptions.
Visiting families tend to ask whether they can go to the beach in November. Yes, but you may not enjoy the stereotypical Southern California beach day just because the weather is cooler.
Rest assured that plenty of tourists who are coming from colder climates are sunbathing and swimming. To them, it’s delightful. Kids will probably plow right into the water. Just bring a sweatshirt and sweat pants for after as wet bathing suits and hair in crisper weather make you colder after swimming. You’ll go, but you may not stay as long as you would in, say August.
Even though the weather has cooled down, you should still coat your entire body in sunscreen. You can still definitely get sunburned in November in San Diego.
The ocean temperature has dropped by several degrees which means you should plan on wearing a wetsuit.
The best way to enjoy the ocean in November is through water sports including snorkeling tours and surfing lessons. I would definitely plan to rent a wetsuit for either activity. You don’t need one for kayak tours, however, just wear athletic pants and a jacket.
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Advice for Booking Hotels in November
San Diego hotel rates are at off-peak levels, except during Thanksgiving week. This means if you’re looking for a getaway, most of November provides excellent value. And, right now, there are quite a few incentives floating around for mid-week stays.
Some beach valet services (shuttles to the beach, chair set-up at the beach, etc.) may pause in November and restart for Thanksgiving week.
The vast majority of hotel swimming pools are heated year-round. And, most jacuzzis are now operational per county regulations. Capacities for swimming pool areas are limited, but this shouldn’t be an issue in November (outside of Thanksgiving week).
Many hotels begin their holiday festivities the week of Thanksgiving. While, sadly, Hotel del Coronado will not be having their seaside ice skating rink in 2020, they’ll be offering special dining and a Winter Wonderland on the Windsor Lawn.
San Diego November Events
San Diego events in November typically focus on food and drink in addition to gearing up for the holiday season.
San Diego Beer Week
The annual San Diego Beer Week is happening between November 6-15. Events throughout the county showcase our 150+ independent craft breweries. And, there are even opportunities this year to join in on the fun from home. Check the calendar.
San Diego Zoo Jungle Bells
Jungle Bells at San Diego Zoo was supposed to start at the end of November but it’s been pushed to December. Dates are currently set (but subject to change) for December 4-6, 11-23, 25-Jan. 3. The celebration includes lighted displays, seasonal food, live animal presentations, holiday decor, and more.
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SeaWorld San Diego Red, White, & Blue Salute / Christmas Celebration
SeaWorld San Diego is now open five days a week (more during holidays) as an accredited zoo. Through November 15, Active Duty and former military personnel and up to three direct dependents may enjoy one complimentary admission through the park’s Waves of Honor program.
You’ll also be able to start celebrating Christmas at SeaWorld San Diego from November 13 through January 4! You’ll be able to see Santa at a proper distance, enjoy popular park shows like Dolphin Island Christmas Presentation and Clyde & Seamore’s Christmas Special, in addition to seasonal food. Admission is included with regular park admission.
Refer to my post about buying cheap SeaWorld San Diego tickets. Reservations are required.
Fleet Week San Diego
Fleet Week San Diego celebrates the men and women in the military. This year, events have been modified to include ways to participate from home, such as a virtual art show, virtual STEM Day, and more. You can catch the boat parade on November 11 at 10 a.m., which can be viewed from the Embarcadero in downtown San Diego.
Thanksgiving — Eat Dinner Out or Grab a Chef Meal for Home
If you’re among the many who are wondering if a high-effort, multi-course Thanksgiving meal makes sense for just your immediate family, you can go out to one of the many San Diego restaurants serving Thanksgiving dinner. Many of the same restaurants in that link are also offering chef-prepared meals that you can pick up to eat at home or in your vacation rental. These include:
- Pendry San Diego
- Hotel del Coronado
- Rancho Bernardo
- Rancho Valencia
Things to Do in San Diego in November
Things to do in San Diego in November that are worth considering include tide pooling and the beginning of our holiday activities. The first few weeks of the month are also excellent times to sightsee and visit San Diego theme parks because the crowds that came for Kids Free October are gone.
Go Tide Pooling
November begins tide pooling season in San Diego because one of our twice-daily low tides happens during daylight hours. The best times to go are during minus tides. To find out when these occur, you can check the online tide charts.
Refer to my list of best tide pools in San Diego to find out where to go. A few of the best spots are actually tide pools in La Jolla. The easiest place in my seaside community to view tide pools during a low tide is along the La Jolla seal trail to hit a few popular spots like La Jolla Cove and Shell Beach.
Remember to practice good etiquette. Touch, but don’t take. Even a pretty shell could be a sea creature’s habitat. You should be able to see plenty of sea anemones, hermit crabs, sea cucumbers, and small fish.
Peep Fall Colors
While San Diego seasons sometimes feel like they’re all blending, a great thing to do in San Diego in November is to head over to the Japanese Friendship Garden. Some maple tree leaves turn color into pretty reds and oranges, but there are also a couple of exhibits to check out.
The first is the Maneki Neko, or lucky cat, collection on display through the month’s end. You may have seen these before as they’re part of the Mingei Museum’s collection but always fun for kids to see, too.
Watch an Outdoor Movie on the Bay
Book dinner and a movie with Hornblower on the top deck of their biggest yacht — Inspiration. The latest schedule is as follows:
- Thursday, 11/5/20 –Jurassic Park
- Sunday, 11/8/20 – Frozen 2
- Friday, 11/13/20 – Casablanca
- Sunday, 11/15/20 – Raiders of the Lost Ark
- Thursday, 11/19/20 – The Blind Side
- Sunday, 11/22/20 – Black Panther (Back by popular demand!)
- Sunday, 11/29/20 – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
- Thursday, 12/3/20 – Elf
- Sunday, 12/6/20 – Polar Express
- Thursday 12/10/20 – Scrooged
- Thursday, 12/17/20 – The Grinch
- Tuesday, 12/22/20 – A Wonderful Life
- Wednesday, 12/23/20 – Christmas Story
- Sunday, 12/27/20 – Sleepless in Seattle
Drive the New Belmont Park Go Kart Track
Support your favorite beachfront amusement park who put in a neat outdoor Go-Kart track with health and safety measures in place. Through November 14, Belmont Park will also continue their Harvest Walk event on Saturdays, complete with pie-eating contests!
Take a Wellness-Centric Staycation (or Vacation)
It’s also a great time for residents to consider wellness-centric resorts like Rancho Valencia, where there are tons of fitness activities. Or recharge batteries at Golden Door, one of the best destination spas in the world. I have benefits at both places that you’ll want to take advantage of!
What to Wear in San Diego in November
Your San Diego packing list for November will involve more pants and sweaters than you would need in October. It’s long sleeves weather. Right now, it’s November and raining. I’m wearing a sweater and boots, but my husband is in a T-shirt and shorts. You’ll see a mix of both outfits around town.
Here’s what to put in your suitcase:
- Face coverings — required everywhere you’re not 6′ away from someone
- Portable umbrella
- Bathing suit and warmer cover-up
- Rashguard or UV shirt for sun protection and warmth
- Flip flops for the beach and pool
- Shorts for beachgoing
- T-Shirts (short-sleeved for exercise and beachgoing, but mostly long-sleeved otherwise)
- Pants or jeans
- Sweater or jacket for evenings
- Comfortable walking shoes for sightseeing
- Casual dress or collared shirt and nice jeans (only if you plan to dine in one of our nicer restaurants )
- Sweaters and sweatshirts
- Wetsuit, if you have one (otherwise they’re easy to rent)
You probably do not need a full-blown raincoat. Many San Diegans don’t even own one. I like to have a jacket that can double as a raincoat or get a little wet when I don’t feel like busting out an umbrella.
See also: Fall Things to Do in San Diego
Lifestyle: What Residents Are Up To
We locals start firing up our car seat warmers and bringing out the UGG boots, but it’s really not that cold.
Restaurant patios that have spanned into the streets still welcome diners. It’s important to remember to support these businesses who will likely see reduced numbers because of shorter days and local tendencies to stay homebound when temperatures drop. It’s a weird time, for sure.
If you live here, please share your thoughts about San Diego in November!