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

San Diego Skyline
San Diego Skyline.

Wan Ru Chen / Getty Images

Each spring, visitors flock to San Diego in March to enjoy the mild temperatures and the change of season. During this month, Southern California's rain starts to taper off, and then disappear altogether. Most of the tourist spots remain uncrowded if you go early. However, as the month goes on and college breaks let out, both the city and the beaches tend to fill up with visitors. You'll need to bring your wetsuit if you choose to swim or surf in the ocean, but all you'll need for a seaside stroll during the day is a light jacket. Head inland to the Carlsbad Flower Fields, where it will really feel like summer, and then bundle up for a trip out to sea to watch the whales migrate.

San Diego Weather in March

March is the perfect time to visit San Diego, as the typical morning sea fog gives way to a bright and sunny afternoon—like clockwork—almost every day. Winter rains recede as the regional foliage starts to turn green and bloom. Temperatures on the coast typically stay mild during this month, however a sunny, high-pressure day may make it feel more like summer.

  • Average High Temperature: 66 degrees Fahrenheit (19 degrees Celsius)
  • Average Low Temperature: 53 degrees Fahrenheit (12 degrees Celsius)
  • Water Temperature: 58 degrees Fahrenheit (14 degrees Celsius)
  • Rain: 1.81 inches (4.6 centimeters)
  • Sunshine: 70 percent
  • Daylight: 13 hours

What to Pack

San Diego enjoys moderate March temperatures, which is a relative statement, depending on where you're visiting from. If you just came from winter, shorts and flip-flops will suit you just fine, especially once the marine layer burns off each afternoon. But, if you're coming from the desert southwest, you may find coastal temperatures cooler, warranting a jacket and light pants (the preferred couture of the locals this time of year).

Mostly, you'll need to pack light layers, as some days might be shorts-and-swimsuit weather, but you'll need to throw on a sweatshirt or light sweater when the fog moves in or the wind picks up. Pack a mid-weight jacket for beachside evenings and some long-sleeved shirts to layer over your summer-like attire. A cozy fleece jacket is a versatile piece that helps warm a chill and keeps out coastal moisture. If you plan to spend time inland, expect temperatures to be at least 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer, making shorts, a sleeveless shirt, and a sundress a must.

Check the short-range forecast before you pack your suitcase to see what's in store for your vacation.

San Diego Events in March

March equals spring in San Diego, a time when the sun sits high in the sky, the flowers start to bloom, and the whales begin their migration up the coast. These seasonal celebrations give locals and visitors alike tons of stuff to do. Head to Carlsbad to visit the flower fields, book a trip on a whale-watching dayboat, or head to the beach to watch the silvery grunions mate in the moonlight.

  • Mid-March begins peak bloom season at the Carlsbad Flower Fields. Check out the Giant Ranunculus, as well as a miniature rose garden, a poinsettia greenhouse, and a sweet pea maze, Then, head to the garden's shop to purchase fresh-cut flowers or bulbs to plant in your own garden. Get your tickets online and in advance.
  • The waterfront neighborhood of Seaport Village hosts the only Busker Festival in Southern California, bringing street performers from across the country to perform their bizarre talents. The kids will love seeing acts by fire breathers, sword swallowers, stilt walkers, and contortionists. Then, after dark, check out the edgier acts for the over-18 crowd.
  • During San Diego's St. Patrick's Day Parade and Festival, you can watch floats, high school marching bands, dance performers, city police, and the fire department make their way north on Fifth Avenue to Balboa Park. After the parade, the festival in Balboa Park hosts acts on three stages, alongside craft and food booths.
  • Whale Watching season in San Diego runs from December through March, with March being the peak time to view the gray whale migration. These fascinating creatures calve in the warm waters of Baja and make their way up the coast in pods of two or three, past San Diego, on their way to Alaska.
  • San Diego's annual grunion run—a uniquely California event—takes place March through August. During this time, thousands of tiny, silvery fish mate by the light of the full or new moon. Head to La Jolla Shores beaches, Pacific Beach, between Tourmaline Park and Lifeguard Tower 20, Mission Beach, between Lifeguard Towers 19 and 10, Ocean Beach, between Mission Bay Channel and the Ocean Beach Pier, and Coronado Island, between the Hotel del Coronado and Dog Beach, to catch the action.
  • The San Diego Padres baseball team typically hosts home games during the month of March. Rub elbows with the locals and grab yourself some signature San Diego fish tacos while you take in a Major League baseball game.

Some events, like Busker Festival and the Saint Patrick's Day Parade and Festival, have been canceled for 2021. Please check with event organizers for up-to-date information.

March Travel Tips

  • Daylight Saving Time takes place in mid-March. On this day, many local attractions change their hours to accommodate the time change and the longer evenings.
  • Due to spring break, hotel occupancy is high in March. Reserve your lodging months prior to travel to avoid sellout and high rates, but make sure you won't be penalized for canceling.
  • Plan your trip around national conventions if you want to stay downtown, as city hotels, as well as those in the Gaslamp Quarter, raise their rates and fill up.
  • Music lovers can seek out local performances by consulting the San Diego Reader's guide to live music in the region.

To learn more about San Diego's weather—in case you want to visit during another time of the year—check out our guide to the city's weather and climate.