Tips to Stay Healthy in San Diego Microclimates

San Diego is best known for its gorgeous coastline. But it actually has four very distinct microclimates – coastal, inland valleys, mountains and desert. And they’re all within about an hour’s drive from one another!

We have the details of each of San Diego’s diverse microclimates and how you can stay healthy and energized in each of them.


Out of San Diego’s four microclimates, the coastal climate is the most stable and mild. We can thank this microclimate for San Diego’s reputation of having the “perfect weather.”

Still, there are some actions you can take to stay healthy, even in the world’s best climate:

  • Wear sunscreen daily – This applies to all four San Diego microclimates. However, the pleasant coastal temps and marine layer can fool you into thinking that you don’t need SPF. But harmful UV rays are always present. Make sunscreen a daily, consistent habit.
  • Stock up on fresh produce – Because the coastal microclimate is so mild, the region is loaded with a wide variety of in-season produce all year round. Take advantage of this incredible benefit to your health by making fresh fruits and vegetables the foundation of your daily meals.
  • Consider rash guard gear when going in the ocean – That sparkling blue Pacific Ocean is deceptively cold most of the year. If you want to jump in, keep yourself and the kids properly insulated in rash guard athletic tops that are perfect to wear in and out of the water.
  • Use a dehumidifier as needed – The ocean air has many great health benefits. But it’s also heavy with moisture, which can accelerate the growth of mold and dust mites. Use a dehumidifier in areas of your house where humidity tends to collect.

Inland Valleys

San Diego’s inland valley microclimate includes areas like Ramona, Escondido, Poway and Santee. There’s more variation in temperature between day and night than the coastal microclimate. Summers get very hot, and winters may see occasional frost.

Consider these tips for staying healthy inland:

  • Plan your workouts in advance – Unlike the coastal area where you can pretty much hit the outdoors for your workout whenever, you’ll need to plan ahead when you’re inland. In the summer, avoid exercising outdoors between 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., and check the weather daily to be aware of extreme heat advisories.
  • Keep layers handy in your car – Inland nights cool down a lot – and can do so rapidly. Make sure you keep sweaters or jackets in the car for everyone in the family when you’re out and about after dark.
  • Do regular landscaping – Allergies can flare up wherever you live. But since the inland valleys get more rain than the coast or desert, pollen-rich plants and fauna grow rapidly here. Regular landscaping can help reduce allergy symptoms.
  • Treat your pets for fleas and ticks – Fleas and ticks love “Goldilocks” climates – ones that aren’t too hot or cold. This makes the inland area the perfect place for fleas to multiply in huge numbers. Be sure to comb and treat your pets for fleas and ticks on a regular basis, which keeps everyone in your household healthy.


The San Diego mountain region gets about three times the precipitation of the coastal area. Rainfall happens year-round, and winters can be cold with snow. High winds are common and can be dangerous during Santa Ana conditions.

Some great ways to stay healthy in the mountain microclimate are:

  • Have a four-season wardrobe – The mountain microclimate is the only area in San Diego that experiences weather patterns close to the traditional four seasons of the year. Have appropriate clothes for winter, spring, summer and fall. Nights are always cool regardless of the season, so a jacket is a must.
  • Wear higher SPF sunscreen – Thin mountain air lets in more UV radiation, making you more susceptible to sunburn. Choose an SPF of at least 50, but preferably higher. Wear UV-protected sunglasses whenever you’re outside.
  • Prepare for altitude adjustment – Even though oxygen levels are still within the normal range in the San Diego mountain region, you still may experience shortness of breath. Don’t plan on any vigorous exercise until you’ve fully adjusted to the altitude difference – which can be anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months.
  • Drink plenty of fluids – Dehydration in the mountain microclimate is a real threat. Mountain air is dry, and breathing is fast at higher elevation. This results in lots of fluid being lost in the lungs, even if you’re not perspiring. Drink enough water to keep your urine almost clear.


Like most arid desert climates, in San Diego’s desert microclimate, you can expect extremes – very hot summers and colder winter nights.

Staying healthy in the dry, hot desert means paying close attention to hydration on multiple levels:

  • Stay hydrated – You may need to drink up to one-and-a-half times the recommended daily amount of water here to stay properly hydrated. During the summer, that number jumps to double. Drink lots of water, and limit all alcoholic and sugary beverages.
  • Keep your skin moisturized and balanced – Your skin is over 50% water. Without humidity, it will start to dry out. This can cause tightness around the joints, painful cracking of the skin and chapped lips. It can also cause acne and eczema flare-ups. Use a high-quality, dermatologist-recommended moisturizer on your face and body at least twice a day.
  • Use humidifiers indoors – The upper part of your respiratory system, including your throat and nose, is lined with membranes that capture dirt, viruses, and bacteria. When these membranes dry out, they can’t capture these particles efficiently. Keeping the right amount of moisture in the air can reduce your risk of illness.
  • Wear long, loose layers outside – In the desert microclimate, long-sleeved and loose clothes made of linen or lightweight cotton are your best friends. Not only do they shade your skin from harmful UV rays, they also help your skin retain more water and moisture leading to reduced dehydration.

For all the best tips and advice on healthy living throughout San Diego County, check out all of Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups’ great articles.

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