San Diego is a summer hot spot for tourists and locals alike. There is plenty to experience in San Diego year-round but some of these special events are only available in the summer. Lots of water play adventures of course, but plenty of offerings for those of you who prefer to stay on dry land as well! Plan on arriving early for any event in the San Diego area during the summer for your best chance at finding a parking spot and to minimize crowds and wait times.

7 Can’t-Miss Summer Experiences in San Diego

Ocean Beach, San Diego – Photo Credit: Julie Bigboy/Day Trips Traveling Mom

1. Snorkeling at La Jolla Cove

7 Can’t-Miss Summer Experiences in San Diego

La Jolla, San Diego Photo Credit: Julie Bigboy/Day Trips Traveling Mom

This “jewel” of San Diego is a beautiful spot for swimming with Garibaldi fish and tame leopard sharks. I enjoy the short sandy beach in this tiny cove, because it’s easy for me to keep track of my family (versus the larger beaches that are several miles long). Stake out your spot early in the day before the summer crowds swarm. Be aware that the only way down to the small cove and beach area is down a steep staircase in Scripps Park. Don’t be thrown off by the morning overcast, it will almost always burn off by mid-morning in the summertime. Keep in mind that this area is an underwater park ecological reserve, so surfboards and boogie boards are not permitted. Be sure to take a walk down to the Children’s Pool to view the sea lions that lounge on the beach.

2. Comic-Con International: San Diego

Held yearly in San Diego since 1970, Comic-Con is a world-wide known event of cosmic proportions. Even if you can’t obtain one of the coveted tickets, you can still hang out in the Gaslamp Quarter near the San Diego Convention Center for the chance to spot some of the many celebrities or costumed characters that frequent this event.

7 Can’t-Miss Summer Experiences in San Diego3. Padres Baseball

7 Can’t-Miss Summer Experiences in San Diego

Ocean Beach, San Diego – Photo Credit: Julie Bigboy/Day Trips Traveling Mom

Spend a sunny Sunday afternoon watching baseball on the lawn in the “Park at the Park” area of Petco Park in downtown San Diego. There is even an uber-California “Beach Club” area where kids can play in the sand during the game. Save money and pack a picnic lunch to bring with you into the game. Outside food is permitted in soft sided coolers (no glass). Don’t forget to bring a blanket to lie on as well as a hat and sunscreen. The Park at the Park section does not offer any shade.

4. Cruising up the Coast

Bring your suits, towels and sunscreen and spend some time soaking up those lovely San Diego sun rays. After you’ve had your share of water play in the waves, retreat to the coastal amusements at each local beach city.  Belmont Park at Mission Beach has more than enough entertainment; Ride the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster or one of the other carnival-type rides or experience the FlowRider endless wave pool. Grab a big burger at the famous Hodad’s in Ocean Beach but make sure to show up before you’re hungry because you’ll likely be standing in a line out the door. End the night with s’mores around the bonfire at Crown Point.

7 Can’t-Miss Summer Experiences in San Diego

Palm Trees, San Diego – Photo Credit: Julie Bigboy/Day Trips Traveling Mom

5. Make a Splash at the Water Park

With younger children, you might prefer the clean confines of a water park over the hot sandy beach. San Diego has you covered! Aquatica, SeaWorld’s water park in Chula Vista is San Diego’s largest. The Wave in Vista offers very reasonable pricing. The LEGOLAND water park in Carlsbad features two sections (one being the Chima water park), both of which are heavily LEGO-themed. Consider renting a cabana for the day to assure that you have a shady spot to rest or nap mid-day as well as a place to store your valuables or anything you don’t want to get wet. You can purchase LEGOLAND California tickets upfront with a discount through Undercover Tourist.Affiliate

7 Can’t-Miss Summer Experiences in San Diego

San Diego Zoo- Photo Credit: Julie Bigboy/Day Trips Traveling Mom

6. Zoo at Night at the San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is a must-see during any San Diego visit but especially entertaining when it’s open at night. Arrive when the zoo opens and stay late during special summertime hours that keep the zoo open till 9:00 pm. Your one-day park ticket allows you to stay all day. Tickets to the San Diego Zoo can be purchased at a discount through Undercover Tourist (and you can avoid waiting in line). There are fun summer-only events like musicians, an evening bus tour and shows. Make sure to see those nocturnal animals that might otherwise be snoozing when you visit in the afternoon. Bring in your own snacks to save money (no glass or straws permitted). Pack a lightweight jacket for after night fall.

7. San Diego Bay Dinner Cruise

7 Can’t-Miss Summer Experiences in San Diego

Sunset in San Diego- Photo Credit: Julie Bigboy/Day Trips Traveling Mom

During the day, you can take the ferry from downtown San Diego across the bay to Coronado. Choose to cruise at night and you’ll be treated to dining, dancing and a spectacular view of the downtown San Diego skyline. Purchase tickets for the San Diego Harbor Cruise or Sights and Sips Sunset Cruises through Undercover Tourist and receive a discount. Flagship Cruises is also highly rated as they have been sailing in San Diego since 1915.

Do you have any fun San Diego summertime memories? Share them with us in the comments!