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

Marine Street Beach, Summer sky
Stephen Simpson / Getty Images

With the throngs of tourists receding from the beaches and less chance of fog or rain, September makes a great window for traveling to San Diego. The month is packed with alfresco concerts, culinary happenings to celebrate California's fall harvest, and the largest military air show in the U.S., and rounds out with Restaurant Week.

San Diego Weather in September

San Diego maintains warm temperatures throughout the year, but mid-September through mid-October is especially comfortable.

  • Average high: 76 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius)
  • Average low: 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius)
  • Average water temperature: 67 degrees Fahrenheit (19 degrees Celsius)
  • Rain: 0.15 in (0.4 cm)
  • Daylight: 13.5 hours

Whereas summer can see highs of 80-some degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius), late September tends to linger in between 65 and 76 degrees Fahrenheit (18 and 25 degrees Celsius) and threatens less fog and rain than other times of the year.

What to Pack

There's little chance of rain in September, but evenings near the ocean can feel chilly. Take a sweater or mid-weight jacket or an extra layer to stay comfortable. Although September has less steamy days than peak summer, you'll still find people baring skin at the beach. Bring your swimsuit—and your sunscreen—if you plan to join them. And to help get the sand off before your restaurant reservation, carry around a bit of cornstarch or baby powder. Sprinkle it on your skin, and the sand will brush off with ease. San Diego is a breezy, laidback city, so feel free to fill your suitcase with casual attire.

September Events in San Diego

With most schools starting back up in early September, it may feel like summer is over, but you'll still find plenty of events to entertain you throughout the month.

  • U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge and 3D Art Expo: September in San Diego kicks off with an intense version of a sandcastle competition, beckoning artists from all over the country to create astounding 3D masterpieces along the beach. Spectators will be amazed by the creations. Gourmet food trucks and live music keep the vibe lively. 2020's Sand Sculpting Challenge has been canceled.
  • Del Mar Races: Del Mar has been a hub for thoroughbred horse racing since 1937. Races are held every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday throughout the summer, ending on Labor Day. Sometimes they even include a free concert.
  • Miramar Air Show: The U.S. Navy's Blue Angels are a mainstay at this annual salute to marine aviation held at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. It's the largest military air show in the country and it's all free. The Miramar Air Show has been canceled in 2020.
  • Humphreys by the Bay Concerts: Humphreys Half Moon Inn hosts an annual outdoor summer concert series held on Shelter Island from June through mid-October. 2020's series has been canceled, but 2021's is slated to include The Go-Go's, Hot Chip, and They May Be Giants.
  • Shakespeare at the Old Globe Theatre: From mid-June through late September, this performing arts theater stages outdoor Shakespeare productions and other plays in a reproduction of the playwright's original Globe Theatre. The series has been canceled in 2020.
  • Restaurant Week: Harvest time for Central California crops means September is a great month to sample some of San Diego's finest restaurants. Restaurant Week offers special tasting menus and prices from September 27 to October 4, 2020.

September Travel Tips

  • Between July and September, leopard sharks gather just off the La Jolla coast. These beautiful spotted creatures are timid and docile. The Birch Aquarium at Scripps hosts leopard shark snorkeling adventures and La Jolla outfitters like Hike Bike Kayak and Everyday California offer leopard shark snorkeling tours. 
  • Hotel occupancy is lower in September than in the summer, which makes it easier to find a reasonable rate in your preferred area.
  • Anytime a big convention comes to town, hotels in the Gaslamp neighborhood and downtown fill up and room rates rise.
  • September falls in the middle of San Diego's peak surf season, August to November.
  • You can also save money on airfare for the month of September. Try to time your ticket purchase between 45 and 30 days ahead of time, when fares dip.
  • If you're keen on reeling in a really big fish, June through October is the tuna sportfishing season.
  • Sign up for a free account with Goldstar to get access to discounted tickets for local performances and save on San Diego attractions.
  • For local events, keep tabs on the San Diego Reader and San Diego Union Tribune's calendars.
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