I have found that many people do not know about San Diego besides the postcard-perfect images of beaches. I am so excited to share this fun list of things to do in San Diego in the Spring from a local perspective.
Guest post by Marinella: See bio at bottom
Here is a list of 10 things that you can do in San Diego in the Spring-like a local. I mention a few hikes, which are perfect because the weather isn’t too hot nor is it too cold, from a local perspective. However, if you are from a lot colder climate, San Diego weather will be a nice vacation during the winter and spring!
Due to the lovely weather in San Diego, it rarely rains and when it does it rarely pours. Don’t be afraid of the saying April Showers in San Diego!
1. POTATO CHIP ROCK
This is one of the more touristy places that locals go to that isn’t the beach especially in the spring. Now, with Instagram, it has gotten quite popular. Before social media kicked off, when I was in high school, not many people knew about this hike. Even me!
As a local. I have actually haven’t had the opportunity to do it, but it is on my bucket list! The problem is, I now live in Montreal, so opportunities to hike it are limited. However, it is called Potato Chip Rock because at the top of this hike is a rock that juts out and it is so thin, it looks like a potato chip.
There is a warning because so many people have now gone on top of it, it is getting weaker and might break. Be sure to visit it soon! I have also been told that there is a line for photos so be sure to hike earlier in the day to get ahead of the crowds.
2. Iron Mountain Trailhead
If you are still looking to do some hiking or other things to do in the spring and Potato Chip Rock wasn’t enough or too many people, Iron Mountain Trailhead offers some nice desert views.
This trailhead starts outside Poway on the way to Santee off the route 67. This is one of the oldest highways in San Diego and also one of the more dangerous ones so please do be careful driving its curvy road.
It is a beginner to intermediate type trail, but there are some other trails that sprout from the main route. This park is free along with parking!
3. Rancho Bernardo Winery
This Winery is definitely a local spot for things to do in the spring. Rancho Bernardo is a suburb of San Diego. It is about 30-40 minute drive from downtown or the beaches, but it gives you a sense of what life is like on a day to day basis for local San Diegans.
Although this place is mainly a winery, it appears more like a ranch. It has wide-open spaces and a little “village” with restaurants, cafes, places to try wine, places to buy chocolate and fudge, and other fun souvenirs. You can even have a wine and chocolate pairing!
They rent out some wine rooms for events. I actually had my 18th birthday and high school graduation celebrated here. Which, was a bit annoying as I was not 21 and could not drink, but my older relatives loved it!
4. Lake: Santee or Poway
While you are in the area of Rancho Bernardo, be sure to check out the man-made lake in Poway, the neighboring suburb. There are a few hikes around the lake and you can even rent a small boat to go on the lake and fish.
There are a lot of green areas for kids to run around and have a picnic. Santee lake, a suburb more South of Poway and Rancho Bernardo, has a nice lake as well with a running and biking path for those looking to get some exercise in.
5. See Blink 182’s High School
Not far from Poway lake is a high school: Poway High School. It is known more by locals as the high school that kick-started Blink 182’s career as the founders went here as well as Rancho Bernardo. They started their band during the Battle of the Bands, which is still held annually.
This isn’t really a touristy thing to see; however, a Spanish friend of mine did make it a point to see the high school when he visited San Diego as he was and still is a huge fan of Blink 182. Another friend of mine from New York wanted to see this high school mainly to see how a school looks in Southern California. For her, schools were all indoors and you didn’t go outside unless to leave.
However, schools in Southern California are outdoors meaning you have to go outside to get to your next class and you eat lunch outside. If you find yourself with one of the rare days of slight rain and don’t have an urge to hike, take a drive around this suburb and this high school.
6. Mission Trails
These trails are near Santee and again, are more inland than the beaches, but it offers some bicycle routes and hiking routes. It really gives you some more desert scenery when just a few feet away from this park are gas stations and grocery stores unlike Iron Mountain Trailhead, which is more in the “wild.” This park and parking are free, so don’t be shy to check it out when you visit in the Spring!
Want to see beautiful flowers in bloom! Read this post for more info.
If you are doing the tourist thing and visiting the beaches, be sure to check out this local spot. Many tourists know the famous burger joint called In-N-Out, which I highly recommend. but Hodad’s is also a family burger business!
Make sure to get there semi-early because there will be a line, mainly because the place is small! The wait is well worth it as the food is delicious- huge portions! – and the decorations add to the amazing atmosphere. The walls are covered with license plates and there is part of a VW van that serves as a table for two. They also offer free stickers, just ask a waiter or at the counter when you pay.
8. Different Asian Cuisine in Mira Mesa
Most of California is home to a variety of different cultures and languages. Mira Mesa, another suburb of San Diego is home to so many. If you are looking to get an Asian experience, come to Mira Mesa! One particular grocery store is called Seafood City and next door is Red Ribbon.
These stores mainly sell Filipino food, but you will be able to find other nationalities. So, if you are tired of the hamburgers around San Diego, try some of these different foods and drinks! In Seafood City, there are a few vendors in the market that sell fresh hot food, ready to eat and there are even some chairs and tables like a food court. It is a big place!
9. North Park Bars
While I was growing up this area of town wasn’t well known. The Gas Lamp Quarter just got refreshed, making it the new happening spot for locals and tourists; however, now, North Park is giving the Gas Lamp a run for its money with new bars, cafes, and restaurants.
Most of the hipster places and craft beer spots are located here for all young people. There is better parking than downtown, but be careful anyways on parking as it isn’t 100% free all the time!
10. WALK AROUND FASHION VALLEY MALL
Going to the mall is a very local thing to do! Growing up and even as adults, there are not that many places that are free to hang out in with plenty of parking. The beaches are free, but parking is horrendous. Plus, during the summers, malls offer air conditioning.
Fashion Valley is special in that it is outdoors. It is similar to an outlet mall, but the stores here are not outlets, but regular brands. The shoppers tend to be of the higher classes so it is a great opportunity for people watching and to observe the latest fashions. For Spring, the weather will be beautiful to lounge around on the outdoor benches.
FINAL THOUGHTS FROM A SAN DIEGO LOCAL ON WHAT TO DO IN SAN DIEGO IN THE SPRING
10 THINGS TO DO IN SAN DIEGO IN THE SPRING LIKE A LOCAL
What are your thoughts on San Diego? Think you want to visit San Diego in the spring? Are you interested in trying these lesser-known spots? Some locals might not even know these spots! Be sure to ask your local San Diegan friends about these spots and get their opinion! Springtime is definitely a lovely time to visit San Diego and as a tourist or a non-local, the weather will be beautiful!
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Marinella’s Bio: This article was contributed by Marinella Yule from myopenpassport.net travel blog where she discusses her world travel from teaching English in Prague to riding her bicycle across North America to learning her third language. In addition to working in English, she also works in Spanish through her company, marinellayule.com. Be sure to follow her on social media: Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube.