December in San Diego: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Ice Skating at Hotel Del Coronado
Ice Skating at Hotel Del Coronado. SD Dirk/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

If you visit San Diego in December, you won't find ice or snow unless someone made them artificially. Santa Claus is more likely to be wearing board shorts and a Hawaiian shirt than a fur-trimmed red velvet outfit. And you might see people surfing on Christmas Day.

San Diego Weather in December

You won't have a white Christmas if you spend it in San Diego — unless you head for the mountains. But December is in the rainy season, and all of the monthly rainfall often comes all on the same day, especially during winter storms. If precipitation happens, try these things to do on a rainy day in San Diego.

  • Average High Temperature: 65 F (18 C)
  • Average Low Temperature: 48 F (9 C)
  • Water Temperature: 59 F (15 C)
  • Rain: 1.53 in (3.9 cm)
  • Rainfall: 5.8 days
  • Daylight: 10 hours
  • Sunshine: 7.5 hours
  • Humidity: 65 percent
  • UV Index: 3 (lowest of the year)

If you want to compare these weather conditions to what San Diego is like the rest of the year, you can find that all in one place in the guide to San Diego's weather and climate. And you can get more info to help you decide whether to visit in December by checking the pros and cons of going to San Diego in the winter.

Averages can help you plan, but don't count on conditions during your trip being "average." Check the San Diego weather forecast before you leave home.

What to Pack

Pack an umbrella or rain jacket with hood for rainy days and a warm jacket if no rain is predicted. You won't need a heavy winter coat. Long-sleeved shirts and sweaters in layers work best. A scarf is a good idea, too.

San Diego residents are causal dressers, wearing shorts, T-shirts and yoga pants any time they can. For a meal in a fancy restaurant, men can get by with nice jeans and a collared shirt. For women, casual dresses are perfect. Stuff a pair of tights in your day bag to layer beneath it in case it gets chilly, and bring some jewelry to dress it up. If you want to enjoy the nightlife in the Gaslamp, however, bring those party dresses, fancy shoes, and whatever else you might wear for a night out on the town.

Some people say to pack your flip-flops for San Diego. That's a good idea if you want to walk on a sandy beach, but if you follow that advice for your only footwear in December, you could end up with cold feet or wet toes.

If you want to spot migrating whales from the land, don't forget your binoculars. And if you plan to go across the border to visit Tijuana, you'll need a passport. Use this guide to crossing the border to get all the details.

December Events in San Diego

Most of San Diego's December events center around the holidays. You can use the guide to Christmas in San Diego to explore the best Christmas celebrations, parades, pageants, concerts, and holiday activities in San Diego.

  • Holiday Bowl Parade: If you're a big fan of parades, don't miss the Holiday Bowl Parade, which includes marching bands, floats, drill teams, and more enormous balloons than any other parade (including the one in New York City).
  • Holiday Bowl Game: Besides the holiday-themed events, you can also watch a football bowl game. The San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl is held in December.
  • San Diego does not have a professional football team. They moved out of town to become the Los Angeles Chargers.

Things to Do in December

If you're looking for something else to do in December like a fun concert or theatrical performance, try these resources:

Winter in San Diego ends in December. For some seasonal things to do, try the guide to San Diego in the winter.

December Travel Tips

  • If precipitation happens, try these things to do on a rainy day in San Diego.
  • Hotel occupancy is at its lowest level of the year in December, which makes it a good time to get a great hotel rate.
  • Some attractions may be closed on Christmas Day, although the major theme parks, including Sea World, Legoland, and the San Diego Zoo are open. Check with places you want to go to find out their hours during the holidays.
  • Anytime a big convention comes to town, hotels in the Gaslamp and downtown fill up, and room rates rise. To plan your trip during dates when fewer conventioneers are in town, use this convention calendar.
  • Any time of year. you can use these tips to be a smarter San Diego visitor who has more fun and puts up with fewer annoyances.
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