Outdoor winter activities

Bundle Up For Outdoor Winter Activities in San Diego

In San Diego, we’re lucky to have mild winters that don’t keep us cooped up inside. As long as you’re bundled up, winter can be just as good a time to get outdoors and enjoy fresh air, sunlight, and cooler temperatures. Grab a coat, hat, scarf, mittens, and your favorite warm beverage! Keep reading for some ideas for outdoor winter activities that will help you and your family make the most of winter together.


Whale Watching

In the winter, gray whales pass by San Diego’s coastline on their migration from Alaska to Mexico. Sign up for a whale-watching excursion to see these majestic creatures on the water. You may also see dolphins, sea lions, and sea birds! Be sure to bring a heavy jacket and some blankets—you’ll probably experience chilly winds on the boat.


Ice Skating

San Diego may not be cold enough to have lakes that freeze over, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy ice skating! Many of the city’s outdoor ice rinks close soon after the holiday season, but the Viejas Ice Rink (Southern California’s largest outdoor rink!) stays open through January 8, 2023, weather permitting. They are even open from 5-8 pm on Christmas Day!

Viejas has something for everyone. Kids will love an afternoon of ice skating, while parents and grandparents can spend some time at the slot machines and outlet shops.


Get Active

If you’re feeling chilly, get moving to warm up with these outdoor winter activities! Staying active is essential, especially during the winter months. Take a hike at Torrey Pines State Reserve, where you can learn about local foliage while admiring sweeping ocean views. Torrey Pines is open daily from 7:15 am to sunset. They offer Mindful Walks at 8:00 am on the first and third Sunday of every month.

You can also opt for a bike ride on the Silver Strand, a bike path along the water between Imperial Beach and Coronado.

For the athletic and adventurous, sign up to participate in the Carlsbad Marathon – or attend as a spectator!


Check Out the Wildlife

Anyone who cares about animals and wildlife should check out San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, which offers year-round outdoor activities, including hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. You can also participate in their wildlife observation and photography programs.


Go to the Beach

Winter is one of the best times to go to the beach in San Diego! The air is crisp, the sun is shining, and there are fewer crowds during the colder months. See a stunning sunset at Sunset Cliffs or bring a picnic to Mission Beach. Don’t forget to take a thermos full of hot chocolate! 



San Diego is home to year-round celebrations, festivals, and special events. At San Diego Brew Fest, 70 breweries will come together to offer more than 200 beers, food trucks, live music, and outdoor games. You can celebrate the season at Holidays at LEGOLAND, the magic of winter at Poway Winter Festival, and don’t forget about the Lunar New Year! 


Take a Day Trip to Julian

Plan a short trip to Julian for a fun winter escape. It’s only about an hour away, but you’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time. This quaint little town has lower temperatures and a lot to do. Stroll through shops, have a slice of their famous apple pie, and warm up with a cup of apple cider. You can also tour a gold mine, pan for gold, or go for a hike. 


Snow Day

Even though San Diego doesn’t get snow, we only have to drive about an hour to find some, and what could be more fun for outdoor winter activities? Places like Julian, Mt. Laguna, and Palomar Mountain are perfect for playing in the snow. Go sledding, make a snowman, and have a friendly snowball fight. Wear water-resistant pants, jackets, and shoes to stay dry and reduce your chances of catching a cold. Don’t forget the sunscreen! Even when it’s cold, you can get sunburn from the sun’s reflection on the snow.


While cold weather alone can’t make you sick, studies have shown that colder temperatures can weaken your defenses against colds. If you’re feeling under the weather this winter, find a Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups doctor, or take a look at these tips to learn how to stay healthy during winter.


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