16 things to do in San Diego this summer


To help you get a kick-start on your summer planning, here are highlights of some favorite activities taking place in San Diego County.

San Diego County Fair


“Oz-some!” is the theme for San Diego’s biggest annual event. Inspired by L. Frank Baum’s classic tale “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” this year’s San Diego County Fair will take visitors on a journey to the Emerald City and discover “there’s no place like the fair.” Channel your inner courage in the fair’s whirlwind of carnival rides; expand your brain in the creative and educational exhibits; and warm your heart making new memories with family and friends.

Details: The fair is closed June 3-4, 10-11, 17-18 and 24-25. Daily hours vary. Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd. Tickets are $14-$20; children 5 and younger are free; some concerts require a separate ticket. Parking is $17; $27 preferred parking. Box office: (858) 792-4252; 24-hour recorded information: (858) 793-5555; fairgrounds phone number: (858) 755-1161.

San Diego Greek Festival

JUNE 7-9

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, this annual block party welcomed more than 12,000 visitors last year. Organized by an army of volunteers, the two-day fête includes an authentic Greek marketplace with food, wine, beer, live music and dancing. The Kids’ Fun Zone will keep the younger set entertained for hours, and several church tours will be held throughout the day.

Details: 5 to 10 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church, 3655 Park Blvd., San Diego. Parking lot is behind the San Diego Unified School District offices near Park Boulevard and El Cajon Boulevard, with free shuttle service. Free admission 5 to 10 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. $3 after 1 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Children 12 and under, active military and first responders are free Saturday-Sunday. (619) 297-4165.

San Diego Festival of the Arts

JUNE 8-9

Since 1987, more than 150,000 San Diegans with disabilities have benefited through the financial support of the Festival of the Arts, now in its 33rd year. Along with works of painting, sculpture, photography, glass, jewelry, ceramics, wood, fiber and mixed media from nearly 200 world-renowned artists, guests will enjoy live music and entertainment, outdoor games and cuisine from San Diego’s top restaurants.

Details: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Waterfront Park, 1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego. $12 one-day pass; $16 two-day pass; free to children 12 and under and active-duty military with ID; $28 weekend package.

San Diego International Beer Festival

JUNE 14-16

Nearly 200 breweries from around the globe will be represented at California’s biggest beer festival. Beer aficionados will discover those hard-to-find specialty craft brews alongside local brewery favorites. Educational demonstrations to food pairings are all part of the three-day celebration.

Details: 1 to 4 p.m. or 5 to 8 p.m. Friday; noon to 3 p.m. or 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday; 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. $60; $115 VIP. Pricing includes fair admission. Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar.

Del Mar Summer Solstice


More than 50 of Del Mar’s most lauded restaurants, breweries and wineries will gather at Powerhouse Park for a bountiful culinary showcase. Celebrate the arrival of summer at this 21-and-older tasting affair with bites and sips from Kitchen 1540, Sweetfin Poke, Viewpoint Brewing Co, Fallbrook Winery and more.

Details: 5 to 8 p.m. $90. Powerhouse Park, 1658 Coast Blvd., Del Mar.

OB Street Fair and Chili Cook-off


More than 70,000 festivalgoers will kick off the Ocean Beach community’s 40th annual fair and festival. There will be four stages of nonstop music, vendors, artists, a children’s area, beer garden and a community mural. Put your taste buds to the test and cast your vote (along with the judges) for the best chili recipes during the cook-off. Proceeds from the cook-off help to defray the cost of the annual July Fourth fireworks off the OB pier.

Details: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., 4800 to 5000 block of Newport Avenue and surrounding streets. Free admission; small fee for chili tastings. (619) 224-4906.

San Diego Scottish Highland Games & Gathering of the Clans

JUNE 22-23

The 46th annual celebration of Scottish heritage includes competitions in bagpiping, drumming, highland dancing, athletics and sheep dog trials. There’s also live music at the beer garden, vendors and more. A Whiskey Tasting will be held at 11:30 a.m., 1, 2:30 and 4 p.m. Saturday; 1 and 3 p.m. Sunday. Cost is $15.

Details: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Brengle Terrace Park, 1200 Vale Terrace Drive, Vista. Online tickets: $5-$15.

Sun & Sea Festival

JULY 12-13

“Under the Sea” is this year’s theme for this family-oriented Imperial Beach gathering that features world-class sandcastle sculptors, community parade, pancake breakfast, live music, children’s craft activities and a Kids ‘n Kastles competition.

Details: Pier Plaza. 8 a.m. to dusk Friday; 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

San Diego Pride

JULY 12-14

The 2019 edition of the San Diego LGBTQ Festival kicks off with the Spirit of Stonewall Rally on July 12; the annual Pride 5K and Parade July 13 and the Pride Festival July 13 and 14 featuring four stages of live entertainment. Singer Melissa Etheridge is this year’s Pride Festival headliner. There’s also beverage gardens, hundreds of exhibitors, food vendors and community resources.

Details: Rally: 6 to 7 p.m. Friday at the Hillcrest Pride Flag, 1600 University Ave.,; 5K Run/Walk: 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday at University Avenue at Centre Street; Pride Parade: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Hillcrest Pride Flag, 1600 University Ave.; Pride Festival: noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday at Marston Point, Sixth Avenue and Laurel Street, Balboa Park.

World Championship Over The Line Tournament

JULY 13-14, JULY 20-21

Celebrating 66 years of softball-like competition with three-member teams, requires no ticket or entrance fee to watch the high-energy beach-game action.

Details: OTL Tournament Fields, Fiesta Island, Mission Bay Park, San Diego. 7:30 a.m. to dusk.

Del Mar horse racing


Big bets and fast horses are all part of the 2019 racing season. Dust off your wildest hat, grab your best suit and celebrate in style for the Opening Day hat contest where participants can enter to win cash prizes. There’s also Friday night concerts, family weekends and more. No races on Monday (except Labor Day) and Tuesdays.

Details: Gates open two hours before first post every day. Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar. $6 or $10 ($15 or $30 on opening day). Tickets office: (858) 792-4242.

Comic-Con International San Diego


Put on your favorite costume and join the tens of thousands of pop culture aficionados for Comic-Con International. The interactive event features meet and greets with highly acclaimed comic creators, autograph sessions, workshop panels and exclusive screenings. Along with movie star appearances, TV previews and toy shopping, you’ll find parties and event happenings throughout the Gaslamp Quarter.

Details: Badges for the event are sold out.

Chula Vista Lemon Festival

AUG. 4

South Bay’s largest festival — 50,000 visitors last year — returns for its 23rd season to celebrate Chula Vista’s heritage as the lemon capital of the world.

Details: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Third Avenue between E and G streets, downtown Chula Vista. Pucker up for the sourest activities you can imagine with 200 vendor booths selling all things lemony, unique handmade goods, live entertainment, a Kids’ Zone, lemon-themed contests, craft beer garden and of course, lemons. Free. (619) 422-1982.

Chula Vista Harborfest

AUG. 17

It’s South Bay’s summer celebration of a lifetime with three stages of live music, water activities, pet parade, classic car expo, Lucha Libre (SoCal pro wrestling), food truck alley and more. Returning this year is the Taco, Spirits and Craft Beer Revolution (separate pricing), featuring the region’s best chefs, artisanal spirits and craft beers from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Details: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Bayside Park, 999 Bayside Parkway, Chula Vista. Free admission.

San Diego Spirits Festival

Aug. 24-25

Ranked as one of the top cocktail festivals in America by Fodors Travel Guide, the 11th annual craft cocktails, culinary and culture extravaganza boasts unlimited cocktails, bartender battles, entertainment, fashion show, gourmet food trucks and more.

Details: 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday; 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday. $65 or $75; $95 or $120 VIP. Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier, 1000 N. Harbor Drive, downtown.

U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge & Dimensional Art Exposition

Aug. 31-Sept. 2

One of the top 20 “must see” seaside festivals in the world according to American Express and USA Today’s 10 Best, this Labor Day weekend tradition, featuring 12 world master sculptors from the United States and around the world, is held on a built-for-the occasion beach, with more than 300 tons of prime sand on the waterfront’s Broadway Pier.

Details: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 31 and Sept. 1; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 2. 1000 N. Harbor Drive, San Diego. Saturday-Monday early-bird online pricing through June 15 (one day admission): $10 adults; $8 seniors 62 and older; $6 children 2-12; children under 2 are free. VIP package (weekend-long admission): $30 all ages.