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Staying classy for the start of summer in San Diego

Just because San Diego is known for year-round sunny weather doesn’t mean you should ignore the summer solstice. In fact, the longest day of the year is the best excuse to get out there and revel in the Southern California sunshine. With an expected 14 hours, 18 minutes, and 27 seconds of daylight, the first day of summer on June 21 offers you the chance to get out and about in San Diego, embrace the salty air on your skin, scream on twisty thrill rides, and sip on tasty craft beers. Here are some activities we recommend.


Cowles Mountain. Get a head-start on the longest day of the year and embark on a sunrise hike up the 1,591-foot Cowles Mountain. Because the peak is one of the highest points in San Diego, it offers expansive views of the entire city. The sun will rise at 5:41 a.m., so set your alarm early to make the 1.5-mile trek up. Pack some water and don’t forget your camera to capture shots of the colorful San Diego skyline.


The Cottage La Jolla. Reserve a table on The Cottage's patio for breakfast. This charming dining spot, reminiscent of a beach bungalow, is the prime place to welcome the onset of summer. Sit outside under the shady umbrellas and sip on freshly squeezed juice while you admire the oceanfront views. For something sweet, treat your taste buds to the stuffed French toast filled with strawberry compote and mascarpone cheese. For something savory, go for the crab cake Benedict.


La Jolla Cove. If you’re feeling especially adventursome after breakfast, grab your snorkel gear and swim with the sharks in La Jolla Cove. The shallow waters around this coastline are teeming with leopard sharks every June. Though these sleek, brown-spotted fish may look menacing, they’re only harmless bottom-feeders. 

San Diego County Fair. This classic county fair, held at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, brings together Ferris wheel rides, haunted mansions, piglet races, and more. Squeeze your whole family into a photo booth, rock out at the concerts, and choose your favorite farm animal contestants at this month-long fair. The fair is perhaps best known for its wacky cuisine. From the ever-popular deep-fried cookie dough to this year’s debut of the triple-decker Krispy Kreme cheeseburger, you’ll be thankful you went on that early morning mountain hike! On June 21, the gates are open from 10 a.m.-midnight.


San Diego International Beer Festival. San Diego is an established Mecca for craft beer, and its International Beer Festival entices the palates of brew novices and hops connoisseurs alike. This year's tasting event was expected to feature more than 400 beers from some of the latest and greatest breweries around. Because this 3-day beer event is located on the Del Mar Fairgrounds, your San Diego County Fair ticket will get you in; you only need to purchase a festival ticket if you’re sampling the suds and skipping the rides. 

Viewfinder Tip: On June 21, the San Diego Padres will take on the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m., local time.


Ironside Fish & Oyster. For dinner, march your sea legs over to the Ironside Fish & Oyster in Little Italy. Confidently boasting, “Ironside ain’t nothin’ to shuck with,” this in-your-face oyster bar and restaurant serves up decadent seafood selections and a host of craft cocktails unlike any others in the city. 

Extraordinary Desserts. Satisfy your sweet tooth at this modern sweet shop, located on Union Street within walking distance of Ironside Fish & Oyster (see above). The store is perhaps best-known for its passion fruit ricotta and Gianduia, but other items, including the pineapple white chocolate macadamia nut cookie and the truffle Framboise chocolate bar, are worth trying, too.

Pacific Beach. Just before sunset, hop on a beach cruiser and bike along the Pacific Beach boardwalk. Watch as the surfers catch their last rides in the remaining sunlight or throw down a beach blanket for a front-row view of the oncoming dusk. To catch the solstice sun sinking into the ocean horizon in all its glory, plan on reaching Crystal Pier just before 8 p.m.

What are your top picks for summer activities in San Diego?

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