Why Fall Is the Perfect Time to Visit Southern California

Summer may get most of the press when it comes to taking San Diego vacations — and that’s understandable. There’s no denying that the sun, sand, and surf in the warmer months are a pretty big draw. Still, we’re firm in our belief that there’s NEVER a bad time to visit America’s Finest City. In fact, the autumn months may be the best time to drop by. Why? We’re glad you asked. Here are just a few of the reasons why we love fall in Southern California. 

Milder Weather

It’s a sentiment that’s been expressed often: The weather in San Diego is just about perfect all year round. Even in the middle of what most cities would consider winter, San Diego’s average temperatures rarely dip below daytime highs of 65°F. Still, summer can be a bit warm for some, with highs in the low-to-mid 80°F range. This rounds off a bit in the fall, with the typical temperature hovering in the supremely comfortable mid-70°F range. In other words, as perfect as it gets.  

Smaller Crowds

As you might imagine, with travel to the city being so heavy in the summer months, San Diego experiences a pretty decent-sized swell in temporary seasonal population. So planning your trip for the “off-season” can often mean an easier go of things — specifically, more open, flexible reservations for lodging and restaurants, shorter lines at attractions, and more space to stretch out on the beach. There’s certainly something to be said for the energy of crowds. But if you’re someone who likes a little bit of extra personal space, this may be the time for you to really enjoy your destination. 

More Affordable Attractions

It’s basic Economics 101: High demand and low supply can mean paying a premium price. But invert the equation, and prices drop. Many San Diego attractions (e.g., theme parks, restaurants, museums, etc.) experience greater demand in the summer months and enact seasonal pricing as a result. But once the lines shorten up a bit, the premium point of entry relaxes a bit too. As an added bonus, airfare is often considerably less pricey in the fall as well, so your vacation budget goes farther.  

Surf’s Up

Ask any local —  the idea of “Endless Summer” may be what drew many boarders to one of SoCal’s best surf cities, but fall is far and away when the best surfing can be found here. During the autumn months, larger and more consistent waves result from seasonal Santa Ana winds and produce ideal wave-riding conditions. Every autumn, experienced surfers head to Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, Silver Strand State Beach, and Coronado looking to catch waves that are much more robust than in the relatively calm summer months.

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Surfing under the sunset 🌊 🏄

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Superior Snorkeling

It’s also generally agreed upon that there’s no better time than autumn to head out into the shallows with a snorkel and check out some underwater activity. During the fall months, the water temperature is much milder than it is in the summertime. So not only is the local sea life more active, but swimmers tend to be more comfortable. La Jolla Cove is a popular local hot spot, since waves tend to be minimal and the water has good visibility. 

A Cavalcade of Color

There’s a common misconception that the only trees Southern California has are palms. True, we certainly do have our fair share of these tropical titans. But California’s rich ecosystem is home to many varieties of deciduous trees, and San Diego is surrounded by some truly beautiful natural forests. So you could hardly pick a better place to see spectacular explosions of fall color. A short trek to fall-color hot spots like Palomar Mountain or Cleveland Natural Forest will have you surrounded by the spectacular shades of autumn.