Things to do this spring in San Diego

Flowers, gardens, baseball, petal-themed pop-ups, outdoor concerts, and more — oh, this season is going to be good.

SD Alcazar Garden Balboa Park 2023

A walk in Alcazar Garden in Balboa Park is a true springtime treat.

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

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Today is the first day of spring and we’ve got a little pep in our step thinking of the seasonal traditions we get to enjoy in San Diego.

From flower fields and gardens to whale watching and watching the Padres at Petco Park, plant yourself here and make those springtime plans.

Zoro Garden Balboa Park

This lil’ visitor exploring the Zoro Garden at Balboa Park gives us butterflies. | Photo via @dreasroom

The gardens at Balboa Park

San Diegans enjoy Balboa Park’s infinite beauty year-round, but this time of year, the landmark’s 19 gardens have a way of truly springing to life. Flutter through a butterfly garden at the sunken grotto known as Zoro Garden (Fun fact: This site used to be a nudist colony during 1935 California-Pacific Exposition, so there’s that), take a peaceful stroll along Alcazar Garden (and look up, because the view of the California Tower from this spot is breathtaking), or check out 36 species of drought-tolerant plants at the California Native Plant Garden.

SD Flower Fields Carlsbad

Each spring, the hills are alive in Carlsbad.

Photo via Marcie Gonzalez + The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch

The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch

A North County springtime staple, The Flower Fields is open through Sunday, May 14. Nearly 55 acres of Giant Tecolote Ranunculus flowers are the stars of the colorful show, and a day trip to this attraction could include bloom-filled selfies, a tractor wagon ride, a sweet pea maze, artist gardens, aviaries, a playground for the little ones, and much more.

SD Butterfly Farms Encinitas 2022

The vivarium at Butterfly Farms in Encinitas is magical.

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

Butterfly Farms

The Encinitas butterfly education, conservation, and research facility opens for its 2023 season April 15-November 15. Visit the vivarium to see butterflies fluttering daily, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. (admission is $6); sunny, warm days work best for sightings. Give yourself time to peruse the plant nursery, too.

SD Art Alive 2022 San Diego Museum of Art

Flowers imitate art at the annual springtime event, Art Alive.

Art Alive

For 40+ years, the San Diego Museum of Art has hosted this unique springtime fundraiser showcasing ~100 floral interpretations of works of art from its permanent collection. This year, the 3-day event runs from Fri., March 31-Sun., April 2.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Around this time of year, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park typically becomes the stage for Mother Nature’s big show known as the Desert Bloom. Against the arid backdrop, wildflowers blossom to create an epic sight. Of course, the phenomenon depends on many factors, so before trekking to the desert, we recommend keeping tabs on conditions via the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association, the Anza-Borrego Foundation, or by calling the park’s Wildflower Hotline at (760) 767-4684.

Legacy Whale Watch san diego

A sighting in the sea. | Photo via @legacywhalewatch

Whale watching (yes, even in the spring)

Whale watching in San Diego has become a year-round activity but through April, you can catch the tail-end of the migration period for gray whales — who are known to pass through San Diego’s coastline en route to the warm waters of Baja California.

Many local companies offer tours in search of these gentle giants, including:

Petco Park san diego

Petco Park in all its gorgeous glory. | Photo via @sddiscover

Padres baseball

Spring in “Slam Diego” means the return of the Padres to downtown’s Petco Park — and the hype from last year’s historic season is real.

Padres Opening Day 2023 is Thursday, March 30, when the Padres host the Colorado Rockies.

Home game series in April + May:

  • Padres vs. Diamondbacks: Monday, April 3 + Tuesday, April 4
  • Padres vs. Brewers: Thursday, April 13-Sunday, April 16
  • Padres vs. Braves: Monday, April 17-Wednesday, April 19
  • Padres vs. Giants: Saturday, April 29 + Sunday, April 30
  • Padres vs. Reds: Monday, May 1-Wednesday, May 3
  • Padres vs. Dodgers: Friday, May 5-Sunday, May 7
  • Padres vs. Royals: Monday, May 15-Wednesday, May 17
  • Padres vs. Red Sox: Friday, May 19-Sunday, May 21

Check out the team’s full 2023 schedule.

San Diego's Rady Shell concert venue in summer of 2022.

Oh, we’re so ready to relive this magic this summer.

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

Outdoor concerts

As it warms up, enjoy music al fresco at local venues like Humphreys Concerts by the bay or CalCoast Credit Union Open Air Theatre. The Rady Shell is also offering a solid spring lineup leading up to the bayfront venue’s summer concert season.

SD Top of the Hyatt Grand Garden 2023

The spring-themed cocktails at the Grand Garden at the Top of the Hyatt.

Photo via Top of the Hyatt

Petal-themed pop-ups

Last holiday season, the Top of the Hyatt transformed itself into a twinkling, festive pop-up bar. This season, it has blossomed into a spring pop-up — the Over the Top Grand Garden — running Thursday, March 30-Tuesday May 23. The lounge on the 40th story of the Manchester Grand Hyatt will feature big botanical displays, seasonal-themed cocktails like the “Strawberry Fields” and “La Primavera,” and shareable spring treats.

SD Estencia La Jolla in Bloom

The Greenfinch Bar at Estencia La Jolla Hotel & Spa has blossomed into a springtime dream.

Photo via Shannon Wilson / SLOANE PHOTO

Meanwhile, over at Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa, the Greenfinch Bar has been transformed into a floral-themed space offering food and drinks inspired by springtime. Check out the “Estancia in Bloom” menu featuring cocktails like the “Lyptus Spritz” (eucalyptus syrup, prosecco, and rosemary sprig), or snacks like the “Truffle Pommes Frites” with roasted lemon garlic aioli.

Psst...this list isn’t meant to be comprehensive, so if we missed a springtime tradition that you love in San Diego, please share it with us.

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