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What To Do in San Diego This Summer?

June 30, 2021

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San Diego is spoiled with beautiful weather no matter what season you’re here, but San Diego in the summer is still a fantastic time to be out and about in America’s finest city.

As things return to normal and San Diego summer events get back to full swing, it can almost be overwhelming deciding how to spend those extra hours of sunshine. Check out this guide to fun things to do in San Diego this summer and shake off that June gloom.

Outdoor Summer Concerts

San Diego summers are made for live music, especially when you’re able to enjoy an evening of tunes outside underneath the stars. While some of the summer concert series are postponed until summer 2022, you do still have options this summer for outdoor shows.

The Spreckels Organ Society returned to hosting free outdoor concerts in their pavilion as part of their San Diego summer events calendar. Concerts are held in Balboa Park every Sunday at 2pm from the end of June, replacing their online-only offerings that got them through the pandemic.

The San Diego County Fair in Del Mar is back, too, with their HomeGrown Music Series featuring daily local musicians at the fair’s West Gate as entertainment for the price of your admission. Daily caps for the event and any county fair activities will be in place, so it’s best to buy tickets in advance. You don’t want to get shut out of not only the live music, but those elephant ears, too.

The free Coronado Summer Concert Series schedule this summer will include over a dozen events of varied musical genres in Spreckels Park. Come across the bridge and dance away to folk acts, classic rock bands, and bluegrass.

Del Mar Fairgrounds at nightPhoto Credit: David deLeon / Unsplash


Beach Bonfires

Extra hours of sunlight make for perfect long beach days, but if you want to extend things into the night, find San Diego beaches set up for beach bonfires. Keep in mind that fire pits are first-come first-served in most cases, so arriving early on weeknights will give you the best chance at snagging a spot for you and your group.

Options for city-sanctioned beach bonfires include Oceanside Harbor Beach, Moonlight State Beach in Encinitas, Ocean Beach City Beach, Mission Bay Park, Coronado Beach, and Silver Strand State Beach.

Most beaches shut down at 10pm, whether you’re setting up for a bonfire or just enjoying the sand. Make sure you do your due diligence and read through any rules and regulations specific to your chosen beach once you know where you’re going. This is likely a given, but any fires set will need to be limited to the fire pits available on each beach.

Group of people having a bonfire on the beachPhoto Credit: Kimson Doan / Unsplash


Al Fresco Dining

There’s just something special about dining outside. In the summer months, most San Diego nights don’t even need the heat lamps, and are primed for al fresco meals.

Head to Little Italy for the city’s best Italian at popular eateries like Civico 1845, or try more inventive fare and themed sushi rolls at Cloak & Petal. The neighborhood has made the effort to keep any additional seating installed during the pandemic through at least the summer months. That means European-style sidewalk cafes and patios that extend out into the street are here to stay for now.

If you’re looking for delicious views to go along with your dinner, head to somewhere like Viewpoint Brewing Company in Del Mar, a casual waterfront eatery with views of the San Dieguito Lagoon and its resident birds. For special occasion dining and a delicious brunch menu, classic Brockton Villa has a patio with views of La Jolla Cove. It doesn’t get more San Diego summer than that.


San Diego Farmers Markets

Sometimes you’re not sure what you want for dinner until you see what’s fresh that day. A great place to do that is San Diego’s farmers markets. No matter where you’re located or where you’re visiting, you’re likely to find a market available to you every day of the week.

If you want to see the most impressive market, head to Little Italy on Saturday mornings for the Little Italy Mercato. They’ll have fresh fruits and veggies for you to peruse on top of prepared items from the city’s best food trucks if you’re not really looking to cook. You’ll be able to hear some live music from street performers most weekends, too.

If you’re looking for weekday markets, hit up the North Park Thursday Market for local produce and baked goods, or Ocean Beach for the OB Farmers Market on Wednesdays. That one always has a variety of unique items on sale that speak to the neighborhood’s alternative vibes. Think kombucha and pre-packaged foods from hyper-local vendors.


Hikes That Beat the Heat

Winter hiking in San Diego is ideal if you’re staying close to the city. Temperatures are lower and any water features you’re looking to explore won’t be dry yet by that point. That doesn’t mean you don’t have options to hit the trails during the summer months when you’re searching for summer fun activities in San Diego, especially if you know where to look.

Seek hikes at elevation for cooler temps. Palomar Mountain State Park’s Doane Valley Nature Trail is a great option with beautiful scenery, a relatively easy hike along a creek, and year-round waterflow. Stonewall Peak in San Diego County’s high country is a more moderate hike with a great payoff, panoramic views of Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.

Closer to the city, Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve is a good option, as you’ll find several trails that offer some shade throughout your hike.

No matter where you go and how fit you think you are, make sure to bring along plenty of water, snacks, and sun protection. That means hats, sunscreen, and UV400 sunglasses to protect yourself, especially if you’re going out at midday.

Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve - San Diego HikesPhoto Credit: Ewen Roberts / Flickr


Movies With a View

Streaming movies from your couch is super convenient, but a change of scenery is never a bad thing. Imagine the upgrade with a movie surrounded by the San Diego skyline, instead, complete with popcorn and drinks for that complete movie theater experience.

The Rooftop Cinema Club at the top of the Manchester Grand Hyatt features mostly modern classics that will make you laugh, cry, even dance if you come on one of their musical nights.

Tickets go fast for screenings, so booking in advance is key to make sure you don’t miss out on the movie of your choice. You’ll be treated to your favorite snacks and drinks if you’d like to indulge, along with blankets if it’s a chilly night.

If you’re looking for more of a vintage experience, San Diego still has drive-in movie theaters, too. Head to the South Bay Drive-in Theatre for a budget-friendly feature at just $10 per adult, and only $1 for kids under 9. That’s a steal compared to the city’s traditional venues. The theatre is open every night, and you’ll find all the newest releases here.


Hit the Water

Take advantage of what San Diego is known for and beat the heat with some time on the water. Explore some of the city’s best beaches on Coronado, in Carlsbad, or along Mission Bay. Take a surfing lesson on the gentle waves of Encinitas. Rent snorkels, stand-up paddle boards, or kayaks and explore La Jolla’s cave systems.

By August, the water temperatures won’t get warmer, so it won’t get more comfortable out there in the water for you.

If you’re not the strongest swimmer or like staying dry while you enjoy those ocean shores, take a San Diego boating or sailing tour. From fishing trips to romantic dinner cruises, harbor tours to trips that will take you from the land to the water, there are options no matter what you’re after to take in San Diego’s sights from the water.

Even taking the ferry from downtown San Diego to Coronado is a treat when the sun is shining.

Boats in the San Diego marinaPhoto Credit: Eric Ward / Unsplash

Summer is here. Enjoy the best of San Diego and have some fun in San Diego as the city comes alive with all the best summer activities.

Written by Agnes Groonwald for Knockaround.

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