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

El Nino Storms Bring Massive Waves to California Coast
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San Diego is an excellent place to visit in January, especially if you live in an area where it's cold, and you want to get away from cold, snowy weather and dreary, gray skies.

California's southernmost big city boasts January weather that's almost like a dream, with moderate temperatures and clear skies. And in January, the number of tourists in town drops to half of its mid-summer level, leaving you plenty of room no matter where you go. All of that makes January a good place to visit in January.

On the downside, it might rain in January. You can read more about that below.

San Diego Weather in January

January is right in the middle of San Diego's rainy season, bringing the most unpredictable weather of the year. In some years, it will rain very little, and in others, it may rain a lot. And 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: 49 F (9 C)
  • Rainfall: 1.98 in (5.0 cm)
  • Sunshine: 72 percent
  • Water Temperature: 59 F (15 C)

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 typical San Diego weather. And you can get more info to help you decide whether to visit in January by checking the pros and cons of going to San Diego in the winter.

What to Pack

Packing experts suggest creating a capsule wardrobe for travel. You can find suggestions for the number of tops, bottoms, layers, and shoes you need in an easy infographic at Classy Yet Trendy. For San Diego in January:

  • The tops should be long-sleeved, and the bottoms should be full length.
  • The layers should include a sweater.
  • The shoes should be enclosed enough to keep your feet warm and dry. Pack flat-soled with good traction if you plan to visit the USS Midway. They'll make your visit much safer.
  • If rain is forecasted, pack a warm, waterproof jacket with a hood. Umbrellas will keep you dry but are hard to manage in a crowd and easy to lose.
  • Pack a warm jacket that's appropriate for the weather forecast if no rain is predicted.
  • A scarf may come in handy, too.
  • Take party dresses, fancy shoes, and whatever else you might wear for a night out on the town in the Gaslamp district. Otherwise, casual wear us appropriate everywhere.
  • If you plan to go across the border into Tijuana, take your passport. You won't get there (or back home) without it.

January Events in San Diego

  • San Diego Restaurant WeekJanuary is a great month to sample some of the city's best restaurants during this annual event, which features special tasting menus and prices.
  • San Diego International Car Show: During the first part of January, you can see hundreds of the latest new models, take a few test drives, and browse automotive products at the San Diego Convention Center.
  • Polar Bear Swim: If jumping into the Pacific Ocean in January is your idea of fun, you can join the other shivering swimmers at the La Jolla Swim Club.
  • Farmers Insurance Open Golf TournamentSome of the biggest names in golf play on the course in Torrey Pines.
  • San Diego Brew FestivalSan Diego is well known as a city with lots of craft breweries, and this event celebrates them all, along with some international craft beers. San Diego’s most popular food trucks will be there, too, and you can also enjoy some good music.

Things to Do in January

  • San Diego Whale Watching: The whale watching season in San Diego runs from December through March. To learn more about California whale-watching and San Diego excursions use the San Diego whale watching guide

The annual events listed above happen every year, but they're not all that's going on in San Diego in January. If you're looking for a fun concert, sporting event, or theatrical performance, try these resources:

January Travel Tips

  • San Diego hotel occupancy is at its lowest levels of the year in January, making it a good time to get lower rates.
  • However, a few large conventions happen in San Diego in January. They bring lots of people into town, filling up hotels and raising rates, especially downtown. If you want to avoid them, check their dates on the San Diego Convention Center website.
  • You can save money on airfares to San Diego in January, compared to peak season (June). No matter what month you fly in, time your ticket purchase between 45 and 30 days ahead of time, when fares dip.
  • Any time of year, use these tips to be a smart San Diego visitor who has more fun and less aggravation.
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