San Diego in Winter

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    San Diego in Winter: December, January, February

    Winter on a Southern California Beach
    Gabe LHeureux / Getty Images

    A Californian will tell you that winter is the rainiest time of year in San Diego - and the coldest, but of course, it's all relative. Daytime temperatures are generally comfortable, but it can be cloudy and rainy, a real disappointment if you were dreaming of a sunny getaway. Crowds are moderate except in late December, and hotel occupancy is at its lowest of the year.

    If you want more detailed information by month about things to do and what to expect, you can find that in the guide to San Diego in DecemberSan Diego in January, and San Diego in February.

    Reasons to Visit San Diego in Winter

    • Holiday Celebrations: See the winter events listed below and you may be surprised.
    • Ice Skating Beside the Beach: At the Hotel Del Coronado, you can go ice skating within sight of the beach.
    • Costs: Except during the year-end holidays, you can get good prices on hotel rooms, package deals, and other incentives this time of year.

    Reasons to Avoid San Diego in Winter

    • Rainiest Season: Winter months bring the most precipitation of the year, but depending on how much it rains where you live, it may not seem like much: a maximum average of a couple of inches per month. If you visit and get caught in the rain, use the San Diego Rainy Day Guide to find things to do.
    • Cold Water: This is not the time of year to go swimming or surfing unless you're used to the cold Pacific Ocean. Water temperatures dip to about 60°F (16°C) by December and stay there through February.
    • Holiday Crowds: All Southern California tourist attractions get very busy over the end-of-year holidays, making them less enjoyable.

    Cost Considerations in Winter

    Winter is a good time to get a really good hotel rate and an especially good time to use these amazing tips to get a lower cost than you might think possible.

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  • 02 of 03

    Winter Events Worth Planning Ahead For

    Big Bay Balloon Parade, San Diego in December
    Port of San Diego/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Winter holidays include Christmas (December 25) and New Year's Eve (December 31).

    • Whale Watching: San Diego Whale watching season runs from December through March.
    • Christmas: You'll find a lot of really fun Christmas-themed events in the San Diego at Christmas Guide and many visitors enjoy the local Christmas parade, which takes places in the water.
    • Big Bay Balloon Parade: Those folks in New York City aren't the only ones who can put on a parade with big balloons. In fact, San Diego's version has more enormous balloons than any other parade and is held in late December. Details about this year's parade.
    • Holiday Bowl: The annual NCAA football game takes place in late December Get this season's details.

    More Seasons in San Diego

    To pick the season that's best for you, check the guides to San Diego in SpringSan Diego in Summer, and San Diego in Fall.

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  • 03 of 03

    What to Expect in San Diego in Winter

    San Diego Weather in Winter
    ©2013 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

    The graphic above covers the basics about San Diego in Winter, with temperature, rainfall and sunshine averages, hotel occupancy information for recent years. A few additional facts and tips:

    • Average hotel occupancy is more than 70%. The average San Diego hotel rate in 2015 was $140 per night, higher when they're near capacity and lower when they're less busy. Rates go up about 5% per year.
    • Average temperatures are interesting, but the most important thing is what's going to happen during your trip. Check the current forecast to get a better idea.
    • California rainfall varies widely from year to year. You might see nothing but blue skies and sun or you might get drenched in a downpour. Expect anything and check the forecast before you go.