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Seven Tips to Make the Most of Your San Diego Summer

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The solstice is behind us and Summer is officially here!  For San Diego residents and visitors alike, this means an ideal time to capitalize on the longer, warmer days, kids out of school and vacation days.

Summer in San Diego can almost be an overwhelming proposition – Both with the sheer number of things to do as well as figuring out how to maximize your budget and avoid overspending and over scheduling.  Below are seven suggestions on how to make the most of it all!

  • Be schedule aware — Check the San Diego visitor’s bureau main web site for a comprehensive look at the master calendar of all the different events, festivals and fairs happening throughout the month.  This serves two main purposes: One, to help you potentially plan dates around things you may want to see such as the San Diego County Fair or Horse Racing at Del Mar, and two, to help you avoid booking a trip during potentially super crowded weeks like Comic-Con where lodging is scarce and extremely expensive where available.
  • Plan geography accordingly — While you may think everything in “San Diego” is within the confines of San Diego city proper, that’s actually not the case.  The region spans nearly 50 miles north to south and far into the east.  Do your kids want to see the San Diego Safari Park and the San Diego Zoo?  Take heed these attractions are nearly an hour apart without factoring in traffic.  Make a list of all the places you most want to visit and pick accommodation based on that; while you may not have thought to stay in Carlsbad specifically, if you are spending a lot of time in North County San Diego you can save yourself a good deal of headache and hassle driving back and forth to downtown or even Mission Bay.
  • Book accommodations that work for your down time — While it is true you will likely spend a ton of time away from accommodations doing things, you may find yourself wanting to unwind a bit and maybe even spend a free day without plans.  San Diego offers a number of fantastic hotels all over the region and is also home to some stellar Airbnb properties.  The important choice is figure out which setup best works for your needs — Do you want to have on-site amenities like a pool, restaurant or fitness center and the ability to just pop downstairs if you need something?  Pick a full-service resort such as The Catamaran Resort & Spa or Town & Country Hotel for tons of choices right on site.  

However, if your idea of perfect downtime is exploring a neighborhood, finding a hidden gem coffee shop, cooking a meal with items from a local farmers market or popping over to the beach like a local, search for choices such as an Airbnb or serviced apartments smack in the middle of Mission Beach or Little Italy.

  • Become a coupon clipper for everything — Not in the literal grocery store manner, but become a digital clipper and scour sites like Groupon or Viator for deals on any number of attractions.  Going whale watching?  Snag a 40% off Groupon at San Diego Whale Watch before booking.  Want to explore via a small group tour or take a specialized cooking class?  Hit up Viator or even the Airbnb ‘experiences’ option to see what’s on sale.  These are also great options if you don’t know exactly what you want to do on certain days — Simply hit San Diego as your region and enter a date and browse all the options that pop up — you could be inspired!
  • Always take advantage of free offers and attractions — Whether visiting San Diego or any summer destination, check out free days or admissions for key landmarks.  San Diego’s stunning Balboa Park is on many traveler’s lists but you may not know the museums rotate free admission days on Tuesdays throughout the month.  If planning a visit, try and time it with the free days and use the saved admission cost on a fantastic lunch or souvenir.  San Diego also boasts miles and miles of some of the most beautiful coastal and inland trails and hikes – Many with picnic areas and amenities such as bathrooms or even concessions to spend a very inexpensive afternoon!  The San Diego County Parks & Recreation department has an interactive database where you can browse by region, length and difficulty — Everything from a peaceful stroll through the trails of San Elijo Lagoon to a glute-busting climb up Cowles Mountain for an awe-inspiring panorama!
  • Layer up! — while the vision of San Diego is always blue sunny skies and 72 degree days, the reality is the summer can be a bit all over the place; coastal cities may remain cloudy and cool until midday or later, while the inland areas are bright and warm from early on then cool dramatically as evening sets in. No matter what time of summer you are in San Diego, definitely prepare everyone in your group with a little bit of everything for whatever the days may bring!
  • Think outside the box — Meaning the big ‘must do’ check boxes for San Diego.  While it is amazing to hit the Zoo or Legoland and frolic in the waves at Coronado, you may find just as many enduring family memories under a starry sky in Julian far in the mountains of Eastern San Diego County or visiting an alpaca farm in the countryside out by Ramona, often without crowds of tourists!

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