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San Diego Summer Activities | San Diego Summer Kick Off

On the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend the air in San Diego starts to hum with the excitment of what the upcoming months will bring: summer vacation season is officially here! It's time for glorious weather, a ton of fun outdoor attractions and lots of great excuses to visit San Diego. If you're planning a summer vacation in San Diego, these great Summer Kick Off tips should help make sure you have the best weekend - and entire summer - possible.

Summer is quite possibly the best time of year to enjoy America's Finest City. You might say San Diego and summer are made for each other. With perfect weather, stunning beaches and a huge variety of awesome San Diego summer activities - many of which are free - who would want to go anywhere else?

Of course, at a certain point you might start to wonder, "If there are so many awesome activities in San Diego this summer, how do I decide what to do?"

Don't despair, on SanDiego.com we have great information on all of the different summer favorites including attractions, hotels and free things to do. And as part of this San Diego Summer Kick Off I've compiled the best of the best on our Summer in San Diego page and here in this blog. Instead of searching all over the Internet for the best San Diego summer events and activities, you can find everything you need to know right here.

San Diego is full of awesome hotels for any occasion but when it comes to be summertime, staying at a San Diego hotel in the perfect location can be key to enjoying a great vacation. These hotels are also mini-paradises for those San Diego locals looking for a stay-cation escape.

  • Manchester Grand Hyatt: When it comes to swanky hotels for summer fun in San Diego, Manchester Grand Hyatt has it in the bag. This hotel is not only on the water with gorgeous views of the San Diego Bay, but it's also in Downtown San Diego. The locals reading this blog are already nodding in agreement that this is a great location for a summer hotel in San Diego, but for all you vacationers out there I'll break it down: just steps from the Manchester Grand Hyatt you'll find the great shopping and dining of Seaport Village, the fun of baseball season with the Padres at Petco Park and the epic nightlife of the Gaslamp Quarter. All in all, it's a pretty sweet place to stay.
  • Oceanside Marina Suites: If you are considering heading up to North County San Diego this summer there is no better hotel than Oceanside Marina Suites. This hotel is located on a private peninsula in Oceanside Harbor and is surrounded by water on three sides - talk about a gorgeous place to rest your head! Enjoy the luxury of one or two bedroom suites with full kitchens so that you really don't need to leave your room if you don't want. If you are a social butterfly and would prefer to eat out, there are lots of great fine dining restaurants nearby.
  • L'Auberge Del Mar: Del Mar is a beautiful little town on the coast north of San Diego proper. L'Auberge Del Mar is perhaps the most famous hotel in the area, and for good reason! Known for its luxury surroundings, perfect location across the street from Del Mar boutiques and gorgeous views of the ocean, L'Auberge Del Mar is a wonderful place to spend a summer in San Diego. Whatever you do, make sure you check out their fine dining restaurant Kitchen 1540 for a delicious meal that you won't soon forget. 
  • Paradise Point Resort and Spa: If you agree that views of the ocean are dandy but you'd rather get your toes wet, Paradise Point Resort and Spa San Diego is a luxurious and perfect choice of San Diego hotels. Paradise Point San Diego is a resort hotel on its own island in the middle of Mission Bay San Diego. This not only means an entire mile of gorgeous white sandy beaches encircling the hotel, but also that Paradise Point has a ton of fun summer things to do in San Diego including jet skiing, sailing, surfing and biking!

There are lots of other hotels in San Diego that are perfect for summer fun and you can often find great promotions and deals that make your next San Diego vacation affordable! The above choices are some of our favorite highlights, but check out the rest of SanDiego.com for details and reviews of great hotels near your favorite San Diego attractions and neighborhoods.

Of course, even if you find the absolutely perfect San Diego hotels for your stay, when you come to San Diego in the summer there is no way you'll want to be inside the whole vacation, and that's where San Diego activities come in. Starting from San Diego Memorial Day and going all the way to Labor Day, these activities in San Diego are some of the best in the world to enjoy the season of sun.

  • Hornblower Cruises: Summer in San Diego is all about getting out on the water and with Hornblower Cruises you can do it in the utmost style. Take a cruise around the San Diego Harbor and enjoy brunch, dinner or lovely sunset cocktails.
  • Gondola Rides: The Gondola Company in San Diego takes all of the romance and magic of Venice and brings it to Coronado Bay in San Diego. Enjoy a charming ride on a gondola with amazing Italian singing and a perfect view for ambience.
  • Seaport Village: Seaport Village is fun year round but in the summer this place truly comes alive. With 14 acres of great shopping and restaurants, Seaport Village really makes a visit there a must with fun artists such as face painters, balloon sculptors and caricaturists. My favorite reason to come here, though, is the free live music every day from 12pm-4pm in the food court and Sundays from 1pm-4pm at the East Plaza Gazebo.
  • SeaWorld San Diego: A trip to SeaWorld is always a blast with all of the funny and awe-inspiring animal shows and exhibits, but Summer in San Diego isn't complete without riding their awesome water rides. The combination of fun animals to see plus great theme park rides makes SeaWorld San Diego a good bet for fun in the sun.
  • San Diego Zoo Safari Park: The Safari Park, formerly known as the Wild Animal Park, is a great San Diego summer destination. Unlike many other attractions with animal exhibits the Safari Park is an open space where different species are able to roam about and interact. For an extra fun time I love to take one of their tours and enjoy the park from a whole new perspective. The breeze created on the zip line tour is perfect on a hot summer day!

San Diego is full of awesome attractions and activities but enjoying all of them can add up quickly. That's why the best way to enjoy San Diego this summer is interspersing great (though expensive) San Diego activities with seasonal free activities in San Diego. Here are some of my favorite free things to do in San Diego this summer!

  • Ray at Night Art Walk: On the second Saturday of each month the Ray at Night Art Walk takes place on Ray Street in North Park, San Diego. This event is great because locals and visitors alike can come out and create a sense of community while supporting local artists. Over 30 different galleries and businesses open their doors for the Ray at Night Art Walk and let the public in to appreciate art without a fee.
  • Summer Organ Festival: Spreckels Organ Pavilion at Balboa Park holds free organ concerts each Sunday with performances from a variety of different artists. Whether you go to the park specifically to enjoy these free San Diego summer concerts or you are just on a stroll through the area and happen to enjoy the melodic strains, this festival is a great way to enjoy San Diego this summer.
  • Stars in the Park: At dusk on the first Wednesday every month the Fleet Science Center holds a "Sky Tonight" planetarium show in its Space Theater and then sets up telescopes by the big fountain in Balboa Park for free public viewing. This fun star gazing event is a great San Diego summer activity for the whole family.
  • New Children's Museum: Thanks to Target, the second Sunday of each month heralds free entry into the New Children's Museum. This awesome museum has cool things to do for kids of all ages, including the Teen Studio for teenagers. Though this museum is geared toward kids, adults with kids will not be bored as they get to watch kids have fun with great interactive exhibits.

As you can see, there is no limit to the amazing summer activities in San Diego. Browse around the rest of SanDiego.com to find out more about fun San Diego things to do, beaches to visit and hotels to book. The best time of year to visit San Diego is the summer so if you are a lucky local or a visitor planning a trip here, be sure to make the most of all these awesome things to do in San Diego this summer!

(Revised by Hanna Rahimi Thurs, June 7th, 2012)