The Ultimate San Diego Summer Guide 2017
Take this season to the next level with our annual roundup of the top beach barbecues, pool parties, concerts, outdoor movies, and more
We may be blessed with an enviable climate year-round, but summer is when San Diegans really get to brag. It’s the season when all our warm-weather adventures go next-level—pool parties, outdoor movies, tiki soirees, clambakes on the beach, dog surfing, and more. We’ve rounded up everything you need for the best summer ever.
Show us how you summer! Tweet, post, and tag #SDMsummer.
Starting at 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays through September, head to Dive at Harrah’s Resort SoCal to grab a drink and enjoy live entertainment and video DJing at Southern California’s only swim-up bar. There’s also a lazy river!
$10 or free with Total Rewards Card | 777 Harrah’s Rincon Way, Valley Center
Head to Hotel Palomar! The weekly party starts on Friday at Level Four and continues through the weekend with food and drink specials, live DJs and bands, and tiki-style cocktails.
Free | 1047 Fifth Avenue, Gaslamp
Party poolside during Pride weekend, July 14–16, at The Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club and Bungalows, complete with costumes, cocktails, live music, and the pool accessory du jour, fun floaties.
From $15 | 2223 El Cajon Boulevard, North Park
Listen to island beats, sip classic South Pacific–inspired cocktails, and snack on poolside bites every Saturday this summer at Hotel La Jolla.
Free | 7955 La Jolla Shores Drive, La Jolla
Two Pool House event series will lure you to the chic Pendry Hotel this summer: Rooftop Social starts nightly at 5 p.m. with food and drink specials like $1 oysters. Pool House Sundays happen weekly at 1 p.m. with delicious dining and dipping.
550 J Street, Gaslamp
USA Men’s Eagles will face Canada on July 1 in the hopes of securing their spot in the 2019 Rugby World Cup with a victory from the qualifier match.
From $51 | 5998 Alcala Park, Morena
The Old Mission Beach Athletic Club hosts the 64th Annual World Championship Over-the-Line Tournament at Fiesta Island. The event—alcohol will be on hand!—is free to enter and attend.
July 8–9 and 15–16, free to watch, BeerFest $30 | Fiesta Island, Mission Bay Park
San Diego’s pro tennis team is back to serve! They play regularly at Carlsbad’s Omni La Costa Resort, and these aren’t your grandma’s stuffy tennis matches. Expect male and female players competing together and even a DJ.
July 16–August 5, from $25 | 2100 Costa Del Mar Road, Carlsbad
Break out your beach chair and head to Oceanside to watch more than 350 bodysurfers from around the world compete for championship titles in various age divisions.
Free | Oceanside Pier, Oceanside
Batter up! Special game day promotions include BeerFest (July 14) and the Padres baseball hat giveaway (July 29).
From $15 | 100 Park Boulevard, East Village
Every two years, the top men’s national soccer teams in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean compete for the championship title, and this year Qualcomm Stadium is hosting two back-to-back games on July 9: Curacao vs. Jamaica and Mexico vs. El Salvador.
From $47 | 9449 Friars Road, Mission Valley
Dust off that fascinator—the Del Mar races are back starting July 19 with their inaugural opening day hat contest. Other themed events include the food truck festival (July 29), $1 million Pacific Classic (August 19), BBQ state championship (August 20), pizza & beer best (August 26), and Tacotopia at the track (September 3).
Admission from $6 | 2260 Jimmy Durante Boulevard, Del Mar
Not a morning runner? Then this race is for you. Gear up and head to Snooze in Hillcrest on July 13 for a 5K or 10K evening run, and after crossing the finish line you’ll receive an all-you-can-eat breakfast or dinner, two drinks, and a commemorative glass. Breakfast of champions!
$65 | 3940 Fifth Avenue, Hillcrest
All skill levels and ages can shred the gnar during one-, three-, or five-day surf camps. The school also offers private and group lessons as well as adult retreats. camps run Weekly through August 28, from $110.
4850 Cass Street, Pacific Beach
Revel in two of San Diego’s favorite things—running and craft beer. The half marathon and 5K event takes participants along the 56 Bike Path and finishes at Green Flash Brewing Co., where free craft beer awaits. Participants receive a finisher’s medal, shirt, and beer glass.
From $75 | 6550 Mira Mesa Boulevard, Sorrento Valley
If you have to work out, at least give yourself an epic view. This class overlooks the ocean from Hotel Del’s Paseo Lawn. San Diego’s top spin instructors lead the daily 50-minute classes via Beats by Dre headphones.
$10 members, $25 nonmembers | 1500 Orange Avenue, Coronado
The hotel’s annual summer wine series is back, giving attendees a chance to savor the sunset from the seaside deck.
Wednesdays through September 13, $25 | 723 Felspar Street, Pacific Beach
Another month, another opening at Liberty Station. Their new every-Thursday farmers’ market is an extension of Liberty Public Market that includes food from its vendors as well as local produce and live music.
Free | 2820 Historic Decatur Road
Executive Chef Ken Irvine prepares a three-course Bastille Day feast paired with French cocktails and Champagne to celebrate the restaurant’s 10th anniversary. Bon anniversaire and bon appétit!
$60 | 4090 Adams Avenue, Kensington
Enjoy a clambake, barbecue, and live music at this celebration on the shore at the Bahia Resort Hotel every Thursday through August 31.
$49, $26 for kids 5–12 | 998 Mission Bay Drive, Mission Bay
Taught by pasta prophet Chef Daniel Wolinsky, the hands-on class tackles classic techniques of homemade pasta and includes lunch, a glass of vino, and a take-home recipe card.
July 23 and August 26; $82 | 4055 Adams Avenue, Kensington
Spice up your Sunday brunch routine at the Andaz Hotel’s rooftop bar with live DJs, all-day menus, and summer-themed surprises every Sunday in July and August.
600 F Street, Downtown
Pick your cruise: Sights & Sips, a two-hour spin across the bay with a glass of bubbly and snacks (Fridays and Saturdays through October); Rock the Yacht, a party with a DJ (Fridays and Saturdays through September); or the Sunday Barefoot Music Cruise, with tunes by a local band (Sundays through August). Feeling fancy? Charter your own ride. Cruises meet downtown on North Harbor Drive.
On Tuesdays and Fridays, this food fest celebrates Polynesian culture with mai tais, hula dancing, and traditional island music.
$69, $32 for kids 5–12 | 3999 Mission Boulevard, Mission Beach
Dine like a champ at NTC Park in Liberty Station during San Diego Magazine’s annual fete on August 18 that brings together winners from the Best Restaurants and Best of San Diego issues. Plus local brews, wines, and spirits. It’s the best party of the year—not that we’re biased.
Gather for a sunset feast of local catch steamed, boiled, or grilled fresh on the beach in front of Hotel del Coronado—plus bocce ball and drink pairings.
July 28, August 18, and September 15, $125 | 1500 Orange Avenue, Coronado
More than $15,000 in cash prizes is on the line as the nation’s top professional BBQ Pitmasters, along with local restaurants and chefs, compete for the state championship. For $10, you can snack on four samples and cast your ballot.
August 20, free with $6 racetrack admission | 2260 Jimmy Durante Boulevard, Del Mar
Ironside Fish & Oyster’s charity-driven event celebrates its fourth anniversary this year and honors National Oyster Day by bringing together industry masters from around the country to compete in an hour-long oyster shucking competition.
August 8, $1 oysters | 1654 India Street, Little Italy
Following a day at the races, sample more than 100 craft beers, specialty brews, and top-rated favorites at the Del Mar Fairgrounds’ Seaside Stage. Can’t decide on a full-size beer? Try five tastings for $20.
August 26, free with $6 racetrack admission | 2260 Jimmy Durante Boulevard, Del Mar
Save the summer body for the weekends. On weeknights, the Little Italy restaurant breaks out its 40-pound cheese wheel for Tuesday pasta and Wednesday risotto dinners. The entrées cook in the wheel, promising a melty, creamy sauce.
Tuesdays and Thursdays, From $25 | 750 West Fir Street, Little Italy
On the third Saturday of each month, kids can meet local researchers and learn about current topics in oceanography at these events focused on science, exploration, and adventure. Included with admission (from $14).
2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla
Aspiring Picassos and Kahlos can learn and create contemporary art during weeklong themed camps that include team games and challenges, nontraditional art methods, and studies of contemporary styles.
Through August 11, from $220 | 1550 South El Camino Real, Encinitas
Kids can learn about wildlife, conservation, and science at Living Coast Discovery Center’s summer camps through hands-on arts and crafts, animal encounters, games, and exploration.
July 5–21, from $52 | 1000 Gunpowder Point Drive, Chula Vista
Paging all future Tony winners: Young theater lovers can enroll in the Playhouse’s Young Performers’ Workshop (four weeks, grades 3–12), Academy (two weeks, grades 5–12), or Conservatory (five weeks, grades 10–12) to improve onstage and production skills.
From $275 | 2910 La Jolla Village Drive, La Jolla
Focused on cultivating creativity and critical thinking, this family-owned company offers STEM day and overnight camps for kids ages 6–18 at UC San Diego, USD, and CSU San Marcos. Small, eight-person classes involve coding, engineering, game design, programming, robotics, and more that give campers hands-on, project-based learning opportunities.
Prices vary | Multiple locations
There may not be any fireworks—darn safety rules!—but on July 4, the San Marcos resort is throwing a family-friendly celebration with live music from children’s band Hullabaloo, a watermelon-eating contest, a patriotic dog show, and the annual boat parade.
$10, $5 for kids | 1025 La Bonita Drive, San Marcos
Legoland was a little surprised how many folks love water parks. Due to demand, they’ve doubled down with Surfers’ Cove, a beach-themed expansion opening in June with six new waterslides where riders can compete for times, plus new Lego models (a surfing dog) and multiple water jets. Ready, set, soak.
From $95 | One Legoland Drive, Carlsbad
The annual Labor Day fest includes a giant sandbox for kids, live entertainment, food trucks, a wine and beer garden, and a chance to vote for your favorite sculpture.
September 1-4 | Broadway Pier and Pavilion, Core-Columbia
This annual event presents a weekend full of lizards, snakes, cockroaches, and other insects—plus arts and crafts, and cooked mealworm larva tastings. Yum! Entomologists will also be on hand to offer their expertise.
July 22–23, free for members and children under 12, from $10 for nonmembers | 230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas
At Mission Bay Aquatic Center, full- and half-day camps get kids ages 6–17 wakeboarding, waterskiing, sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and learning marine science.
Weekly through August 25, from $250 | 1001 Santa Clara Point, Mission Bay
Pre-K kids and 12th graders alike can take a walk on the wild side this summer with five-day camps that feature animal encounters, behind-the-scenes visits, bus rides, games, and edible crafts.
Through August 25, from $149 | 2920 Zoo Drive, Balboa Park
The Museum of Contemporary Art’s annual program focuses on artistic expression, art appreciation, and imagination through weeklong camps for children 6–14. On this year’s agenda? Exploring public art and site-specific installations.
July 31–August 18, from $99 | 1100 Kettner Boulevard, Downtown
For more camps, view our kids guide.
The week before Comic-Con, Helen Woodward Animal Center hosts a canine spin on the event. Check out carnival games and snacks, and don’t forget to arrive dressed as a superhero duo with your pup for the PAWSplay Contest.
July 15, $10 to enter contest | 7610 Hazard Center Drive, Mission Valley
Canines and their companions can head to Landini’s Pizzeria for monthly themed yappy hours, with free doggie treats, $2 pizza slices, and drinks at happy hour prices on the first Tuesday of every month.
1827 India Street, Little Italy
Party with your pup at the annual festival in Encinitas Community Park, where you can explore dog-related vendors, rescue groups, and local artisans; and enjoy live music, food trucks, and a beer garden.
August 13, free | 425 Santa Fe Drive, Cardiff-by-the-Sea
Bring yourself and your furry friend to the monthly “yappy hour” at McP’s Irish Pub in Coronado to enjoy happy hour pricing and complimentary chips and salsa. McP’s will donate 10 percent of every tab to PAWS, a nonprofit animal welfare organization.
Last Wednesday of every month | 1107 Orange Avenue, Coronado
It may sound like a meme, but dogs on surfboards will be the cutest thing you’ll see all summer. At the annual event, dogs in various classes (from small to extra large) attempt to ride the Imperial Beach waves for the glory of a shiny medal. We think they’re in it for the belly rubs.
Free to watch, July 29
The San Diego Museum of Art’s annual outdoor series, which moved last year to the Botanical Lawn, shows an artsy movie at sundown every Monday in August. This summer, mark your calendars for, in order, Goya’s Ghosts, The Picture of Dorian Gray, How to Steal a Million, Séraphine, and Midnight in Paris. And yes, booze is allowed in Balboa Park after 8 p.m.
Free | 1450 El Prado, Balboa Park
Watch classic and current favorites on the sand of Del Beach. Warm up and cook s’mores around a private bonfire or snuggle up inside a Del Beach cabana to enjoy the show with the whole family.
$250 for the Family Movie Package | 1500 Orange Avenue, Coronado
Head to Amici Park Amphitheater for subtitled Italian flicks every Saturday night, like the 1974 comedy Pane e Cioccolato. Films begin at 8 p.m.
$5 donation | Amici Park Amphitheater, Little Italy
Bust out your lawn chairs and pack some snacks to enjoy family-friendly movies offered every Thursday night in July and August in Carlsbad Village. Free.
Corner of State Street and Grand Avenue, Carlsbad
Set up a chair and sip some craft beer as you watch a movie on the outdoor patio. All films are family friendly and begin 15 minutes after sunset.
Free | 2816 Historic Decatur Road, Liberty Station
On Saturdays through September 2, head to the main pool at Paradise Point Resort & Spa for dive-in movies, all of which are family friendly.
Free for Hotel guests, $25 for public | 1404 Vacation Road, Mission Bay
San Diego’s old school, three-screen theater operates seven days a week, giving local cinema lovers a fun and unique movie experience. Tickets allow admission for two back-to-back movies on the same screen.
Ongoing, $9 adults, $1 kids 5–9 | 2170 Coronado Avenue, Otay Mesa
Settle in for a movie at Liberty Station’s North Promenade, where this summer’s theme is “Heroes of the Arts on Film,” a collection of movies curated by Liberty Station tenants like the San Diego Comic Art Gallery and Malashock Dance. Look for The Lego Batman Movie on July 8 and Sing on August 12, plus indie documentary shorts before each film.
Free | 2848 Dewey Road, Liberty Station
It’s not just about Puesto at this downtown complex that was once home to the San Diego Police Department. Their outdoor Cinema Under the Stars events are back this summer with an “I Love SD” movie series featuring Almost Famous (July 26) and Anchorman (August 30).
Free | 789 West Harbor Drive, Seaport Village
Catch a flick at this rainproof outdoor theater, complete with a 20-foot HD screen, surround sound, blankets, space heaters, and $2 snacks. Films screen Thursday–Sunday and feature classics like Pulp Fiction (July 6–7) and Pretty Woman (August 12–13).
$16 members, $17 nonmembers | 4040 Goldfinch Street, Mission Hills
All the world’s a stage when one of San Diego’s most highbrow summer traditions returns. The Old Globe’s 2017 Shakespeare Festival will mount productions of King Richard II (through July 15), with Robert Sean Leonard in the title role, and the most famous tragedy of all time, Hamlet (August 6–September 10). Grab a blanket and enjoy some iambic pentameter under the stars in the Lowell Davies Festival Theatre. For those who prefer their performances indoors, the Globe’s summer season also includes Guys and Dolls (July 2–August 13), and Robin Hood! (July 22–August 27). That exclamation point is everything.
1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park
Experience a weekend full of folk art, food, entertainment, shopping, and San Diego’s largest authentic Mata Ortiz pottery collection at Bazaar del Mundo’s annual festival.
August 4–6, free | 4133 Taylor Street, Old Town
Put on your Wonder Woman and Superman costumes—or just head downtown for epic people-watching—during the iconic international comics and pop culture event.
July 20–23, prices vary | 111 West Harbor Drive, Downtown
Pack a picnic and a low-backed lawn chair or reserve a seat and order some wine for an outdoor musical experience at one of San Diego’s most beloved amphitheaters. The summer lineup includes The Little Mermaid (July 19–August 5) and Sunset Boulevard (August 16–September 2).
From $10 | 1200 Vale Terrace Drive, Vista
Wave that rainbow flag! The annual celebration of equality includes a block party, concert, 5K, rally, and the always-fabulous parade through Hillcrest.
July 14–16, prices vary
The Oceanside restaurant has partnered with local artist Margaret Chiaro to offer aspiring artists monthly paint-and-dine art classes on the rooftop. If you need to get the artistic juices flowing, each ticket comes with a complimentary glass of house wine or beer. $45.
211 Mission Avenue, Oceanside
Artists and attendees can enjoy this annual outdoor festival that brings together all facets of local fine art. A shaded wine and beer pavilion as well as a street food area will also be on-site.
August 12–13, free | 2751 Dewey Road, Liberty Station
San Diego’s largest underground art show features artwork from more than 50 emerging artists, body painting, live performances, booze, and a free pancake bar at 57 Degrees.
August 26, $7–$10 | 1735 Hancock Street, Middletown