Things To Do

11 ways to stay cool in San Diego

Pool House at The Pendry. (Courtesy photo)

There’s a reason it’s called sunny San Diego. As much fun it is to bask in the sun and get a glowing tan, too much exposure can be harmful. Here are 11 ways to beat the heat while still enjoying what San Diego offers. 

1. Aquatica Waterpark

This one is kind of a no-brainer; dipping into a pool can help cool down the body and Aquatica offers a variety of slide, rides, pools and rivers. If a trip to Aquatica is going to be a day-long excursion, bring snacks or purchase food inside. Cabanas and loungers are available to reserve and include WiFi access, food and beverage service and more. New to the park is the Flamingo Encounter, where guests can get up close with the birds on-site.

2052 Entertainment Circle, Chula Vista, 619.222.4732, 

2. ResortPass

For those looking for a pool with a more elevated environment, check out the San Diego hotels on ResortPass. This service lets locals and tourists experience resort amenities without coughing up the cash for a hotel room. Aside from chilling by the pools, many hotels also allow access to their fitness centers, parking lots, WiFi and dining. Guests can purchase a day pass for basic amenities or upgrade to cabana packages.


Various locations, 

Estancia La Jolla

Estancia La Jolla is one of nine resorts available on ResortPass.


3. Hit the beach

Where else would someone go on a hot day? The air is cooler by the beach and the ocean is there for one to swim and surf. There’s plenty of coastline to go around (more than 70 miles in San Diego County) so there is bound to be space to lay a towel, bring some food and jump in the water. For the surfers, Pacific Beach, Encinitas and Swami’s are popular spots. Dog parents nay worry, Coronado, Ocean Beach, Del Mar and Fiesta Island on Mission Bay allow pooches to roam free. 

Various locations


ocean beach

Cherelyn Steele of Pacific Beach does yoga stretches near the Ocean Beach Pier.

(Howard Lipin/San Diego Union-Tribune)

4. Camping

Sometimes going away from the city and getting in tune with nature can be relaxing. Although there are some spots to avoid in the summer, mainly desert terrain, San Diego does have shady camp spots and locations by the beach. Read more about San Diego camping here.   

Various locations

Burnt Rancheria Campground

The sign for the Burnt Rancheria Campground on the Sunrise Highway in the Laguna Mountains.

(Hayne Palmour IV / San Diego Union-Tribune)

5. Beyond the bay

San Diego is popular with sailors and boat enthusiasts. When the temperature increases, riding on a boat, close to the ocean breeze makes the air seem much cooler. Hornblower and Flagship offer cruises, boat tours and special events in The Big Bay. Oceanside and Mission Bay also have boating and water-sport activities. 

Various locations

Mark and Antoinette Peters and their sons Marco and Jake head onto the dock at Seaforth Boat Rentals in this 2012 photo. (Scott Allison)

6. UTC Ice Sports Center

Yes, even in the summer, you can ice skate in San Diego. UTC Ice Sports Center, located inside the Westfield UTC mall, welcomes beginners and pros for year-round skating. Rent skates there or bring your own. Admission is for three to 12 hours of skating, so you can take a break and come back later with the same ticket.


4545 La Jolla Village Dr., La Jolla, 858.452.9110,

7. iFly Indoor Skydiving

Whether jumping out of a plane is too far-fetched or it’s a baby step toward the real thing, iFly San Diego simulates outdoor skydiving in the comfort of a reliable environment. There are currently two locations (Mission Valley and Oceanside) for people to sprout their wings. A big puff of air in the wind tunnel is also a great way to stay cool.

Oceanside: 3178 Vista Way, 760.606.4359; Mission Valley: 2385 Camino Del Rio North, 619.432.4359,

London, one half of the April 2016 blind date couple, defies gravity at iFly in Mission Valley.

8. San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park is a must-see attraction and even more so on a sunny day. The park has a bountiful supply of shade, making it an ideal spot for hot days. Hang around Lost Forest and the aviaries since these spots are heavy with forestry. If you really want to beat the heat, go later in the day — during the summer season, the zoo is open until 9 p.m.

2920 Zoo Dr., Balboa Park, 619.231.1515, 

R*I*T*Z: Rendezvous In The Zoo
Guests at R*I*T*Z: Rendezvous In The Zoo were treated to tantalizing treats, cocktails and animal encounters at the San Diego Zoo on Saturday, June 16, 2018.
(Jared Gase )

9. Balboa Park Summer

Balboa Park is huge and you’ll need more than one day to explore. Similar to the zoo, Balboa Park stays open longer in the summer months. Rather than spend a day outside in the heat, it might be more enjoybale to spend some time inside an airconditioned building, learning about art and history. Some of the summer activites include special museum hours, performances at the theatres, food truck Fridays and more.  


Throughout Balboa Park,

Sculptures & Cocktails
Sculpture & Cocktails came to life on Thursday, June 29, 2017 at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park to celebrate the contemporary sculpture exhibition “What You See is What You Get” from Richard Deacon. (Jared Gase)
(Jared Gase / Jared Gase)

10.  Outdoor movies

The heat can make going outside a drag, so maybe stay inside for a bit so that later you can bust out the lawn chairs and pack snacks for a movie under the stars. Various locations screen movies in the summer (some even around pools) so it won’t be hard to find a place that’s free or at a low cost. Here is a list of locations for outdoor movies in San Diego.  

Various locations


Pull up a raft and dive in during the Pearl’s Dive-In movie night.

(K.C. Alfred)

11. Cool Zones

The city of San Diego complied a list of cool zone locations and their hours for those who need to get out of the heat. The list serves as an aid for older adults and other people who are sensitive to heat, but it’s helpful for anyone looking to find a place to cool off. 

Various locations

It’s gettin’ hot in here

Tips to stay safe in the heat

Summer essentials

San Diego-based sunnies

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