It’s a rough life we lead: blue skies, hot sun, idyllic beaches, emerging nightlife, vibrant entertainment, and best of all, laid-back locals who love and respect the roots of San Diego lifestyle.
While you won’t ever hear me complaining about 75-degree weather on Christmas Day, there is no question that summer is the most magical season in America’s Finest City. From raging hotel pool parties and elegant rooftop nightlife to outdoor fitness, thrilling adventures, fresh farmer’s markets, and luxury staycations, the fun is never ending, just how we like it. To help you make the most of your San Diego summer, I narrowed down the ten best entertainment ideas.
Discover my ultimate San Diego summer lifestyle guide.
San Diego Pool Parties
I would be lying to myself and to you if I didn’t put pool parties as the number one thing to do during summer in San Diego. Though sipping champagne on Astroturf will never quite compete with craft beer on the beach, pool parties definitely have a few unique perks of their own. From Hard Rock Hotel to Sè Hotel and Andaz Hotel, we locals don our sexiest suits and party under the summer sun at San Diego hotel’s best pool lounges. Although, when it comes down to it, the actual pool is pretty irrelevant to our party routine. This summer, Hard Rock hosts the signature Intervention Sunday pool party, featuring a massive Astroturf dance floor, VIP cabanas, plush daybeds, and a star-studded talent lineup, including Benny Benassi, Armin Van Buuren, and Above & Beyond. Up Fifth Avenue, the Sè Hotel is hosting a new Saturday pool party concept along with DJhere and SpyOnVegas, dubbed the Hot 100 Series. And for the best of both worlds, goth-glam nightclub Voyeur is putting on Sunday events at Wavehouse, located on the boardwalk in Mission Beach. This summer’s lineup at Wavehouse boasts Steve Lawler, M.A.N.D.Y. and more. See for yourself! Learn more about pool parties.
San Diego Rooftop Lounges
Even when the sun goes down, we locals still love to party outside and soak in the warm air. San Diego summer lifestyle is all about perfect weather from day to night, so why would we waste precious time partying inside? From Ivy Rooftop at the Andaz Hotel to Float atop Hard Rock Hotel, Siren at the Se Hotel, ALTITUDE at Marriott Gaslamp Quarter and LOUNGEsix at Hotel Solamar, just to name a few, it’s undeniable that San Diego hotels are home to some of the hottest rooftop lounges on the West Coast. And although Stingaree is a nightclub and not a hotel, I can’t help but include it in my top picks. See for yourself! Discover more about rooftop lounges.
San Diego Waterfront Restaurants
During summer we may pass on heavy steaks and creamy pastas in honor of our sacred itsy bitsy swimwear, but you better believe we never skip on style. Summer dining is all about the best waterfront restaurants in San Diego. Yes, they will tempt you with calorie-packed goodies, but there are also light and healthy menu items for everyone to enjoy this summer. Hey, I always say, my salad and lemon water taste better with a view. A few of my favorite waterfront eateries include Jake’s in Del Mar, JRDN in Pacific Beach, Bali Hai in Shelter Island, and Red Marlin on Mission Bay. During sunset at Bali Hai, enjoy the Caramelized Watermelon Salad and Herb Crusted Mahi Mahi with red pepper honey emulsion, celery bacon powder, and hearts of palm. Discover more about waterfront restaurants.
San Diego Outdoor Fitness
If you’re like me, once May comes around, fitness is the number one priority in your life. But, the downside of getting back to the gym is that you end up wasting hours of precious summer sunshine while slaving away on that dreaded treadmill. Instead, work out smarter, San Diego style, and take your fitness routine outside. From hiking and surfing to biking and bootcamp, there are a million and one ways to work up a sweat and have a blast outside this summer in San Diego. Mixing up unique outdoor activities such as stair climbing, snorkeling, rock climbing, kayaking and even beach yoga, is a great ways to disguise your workout, increasing your chances of getting fit, and staying that way. Discover more about outdoor fitness and outdoor bootcamps.
San Diego Adventure Experiences
Maybe it’s just me, but there is something about the vacation mindset that makes me let my hair down and embrace new experiences, no matter how daring or dangerous. Shark diving, waterfall hike, and cliff jumping before breakfast? Bring it on! On the flipside, it’s easy to get trapped in mundane routine during everyday life in San Diego. So why not mix things up this summer with thrilling adventures right here at home? A few of my favorite local adventures include helicopter tours along the coast, tandem skydiving in Chula Vista, scuba diving and snorkeling in La Jolla Cove, water sports in Mission Bay, hot air balloon rides in Del Mar, and private gondola rides in Coronado. Discover more about local adventures.
Outdoor Spa Treatments
Pool parties and skydiving are nice and all, but I’ll take a luxury spa day over just about anything in San Diego. What? Working on my fitness is not as easy as it looks; these muscles need some quality rest and relaxation. But don’t you even think about being cooped up in a dark and tiny treatment room. Thanks to a handful of superlative San Diego spas, we can now enjoy our choice services alfresco. And yes, it’s just as amazing as it sounds. From private poolside cabanas at The Spa at Rancho Bernardo Inn to the Indonesian inspired garden setting at Bergamot Spa in Encinitas and outdoor cabana rooms with flowing water fountains at Sea Spa in Coronado, you’ll have to fight me for an appointment at these San Diego spas this summer. Discover more about outdoor spas.
San Diego Farmer’s Markets
Although it’s important to support sustainability all year round, summer is the perfect time to get outside, shop local, and eat local at San Diego farmer’s markets. More than convenient and full of surprises, there is a local farmer’s market in just about every neighborhood this summer. The vibrant Ocean Beach Farmer’s Market turns Newport Avenue into a high-energy street festival with fresh produce, crafts, clothes, art and live music, every Wednesday evening. If you’re a downtown dweller, you must check out the Little Italy Mercato, held every Saturday morning, featuring a fine selection of fresh produce, artisan foods, specialty items, flowers, and local entertainment. More of my favorites include the La Jolla Open Aire Market, Hillcrest Farmer’s Market, and Solana Beach Farmer’s Market. Discover more about farmer’s markets.
San Diego Picnics
I can’t wait to bring back that age-old summer pastime – picnics! It’s a midsummer night's dream to sip champagne and taste fresh picked local strawberries while cozying up to my man on a comfy blanket atop the lush green hillside. Guys, take notes: this is a free date idea that girls are sure to swoon over. If you’re looking for a romantic picnic spot, check out Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach, Seaport Village in San Diego, and the classic La Jolla Cove. If you’re heading out with friends or treating the kids to a fun day at the park, I recommend Balboa Park, Carlsbad State Beach, and San Dieguito County Park. Discover more about picnic spots.
San Diego Staycations
While your dream summer vacation may be in Costa Rica or the Caribbean, that trip is much easier said than done, especially when you have work and family holding you back. If you can’t island hop in the tropics, create your own fun at home in San Diego. After all, did you forget that San Diego is one of the most desired vacation destinations in the world? San Diego offers a variety of beach hotels and spa resorts that invite you to hide away for as long as you wish. When I need quality R&R, my top staycation picks include L’Auberge Del Mar Resort & Spa, La Costa Resort & Spa, Hotel Del Coronado, Rancho Bernardo Inn Resort & Spa, and Park Hyatt Aviara. If you want to really do it right, book a weekend at each of these hotels this summer. Discover more San Diego hotels.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my San Diego lifestyle. But sometimes, nothing is better than leaving it behind in pursuit of a new zip code. A little change is healthy, right? Much like yourself, I don’t have nearly enough vacation days allotted per year, which means I need to get creative with my short 'n' sweet weekend getaways. Luckily, America’s Finest City just happens to be directly next to a few other fine vacation destinations, including Catalina, Palm Springs, Los Angeles, and Newport Beach. These idyllic towns are just a quick cruise or drive away, and it’s about time you take advantage of that. Discover more San Diego travel ideas.
That’s just the beginning! Keep up to speed on more summer fun in our San Diego lifestyle blog!
For San Diego lifestyle tips in real-time, follow Editor Michelle Guerin on Twitter - @MichelleScene.