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22 Things to Do in May in San Diego

Wine showcases, neighborhood fairs, taco festivals, and more to do this month

By Kai Oliver-Kurtin

Things to Do in May in San Diego - Gator by the Bay

Gator by the Bay takes place on May 5-8 at Spanish Landing Park

May 1-2

San Diego Book Crawl

Show support for the city’s 11 participating independent bookstores. Readers who spend at least $5 at each stop will get their Book Crawl Passport stamped for their chance to win prizes.

Various Venues

May 1

Fiesta Old Town Cinco de Mayo

Join the annual celebration! There’s music, dance, Mexican food, margaritas—a few of our favorite things to celebrate the holiday that is not actually Mexico’s Independence Day.

Old Town

May 5

Welcome to Night Vale

Head to The Observatory North Park for a live recording of this farcical podcast about the eerie and odd happenings of a small desert town.

Observatory North Park

May 5-8

Gator By the Bay

Gator by the Bay brings the best of Louisiana music and cuisine (blues, zydeco, jazz, rockabilly) to San Diego. There are more than 100 performances to check out, free dance lessons, and 10,000 pounds of crawfish flown in fresh from the Bayou State.

Spanish Landing Park

May 7


Named one of the best plays of the year by The Boston Globe, Melinda Lopez’s stirring, one-woman performance (through June 12) uses levity to express a daughter’s challenging times with her ailing mother.

The Old Globe

Things to Do in San Diego in May - World of Orchids

Things to Do in San Diego in May – World of Orchids

San Diego Botanic Garden

World of Orchids

See the San Diego Botanic Garden in full bloom. Kicking off Mother’s Day weekend, the second annual event will include locally bred orchid hybrids and rare orchids artistically displayed. The garden’s artist-in-residence, René van Rems, will create a new floral display each week of the five-week run (through June 12).

San Diego Botanic Garden

May 7-8

Don Quixote

Catch City Ballet’s season closer. The three-part ballet retells the epic Spanish story with choreography from City Ballet co-director Elizabeth Wistrich.

California Center for the Arts, Escondido

May 8

things to do in San Diego in May - Nick Brandt

things to do in San Diego in May – Nick Brandt

Nick Brandt

This Empty World

The Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park will display the works of Nick Brandt, an English photographer whose experimental work focuses on man’s destruction of the natural world. The exhibit is a collection of large-scale photographs capturing what life would look like after overdevelopment takes its toll (through October 2).

Museum of Photographic Arts

May 11-28


Moonlight Amphitheater’s annual Broadway’s Best Under the Stars summer season kicks off with the Tony Award–winning musical Memphis, which follows a radio DJ and a club singer on their complicated love story and quest for fame.

Moonlight Amphitheater

May 13-14

Aging Musician

The San Diego Opera will present the West Coast opera premiere of Aging Musician at Balboa Theatre. The show combines opera, theater, and puppetry to tell the story of an eccentric clockmaker.

Balboa Theatre

May 14

D6 Neighborhood Fair

The fair returns after a three-year hiatus. It’s a celebration of the food, music, dance, and culture of the seven neighborhoods that make up San Diego’s District 6 (D6), which includes Kearny Mesa, Sorrento Valley, Mira Mesa, and Scripps Ranch.

Mira Mesa Community Park

Things to do in San Diego in May - Taco Fest

Things to do in San Diego in May – Taco Fest

SoCal Taco Fest

Celebrate San Diego’s taco scene, as some of the best local spots will be serving up classic and modern takes on everyone’s favorite Mexican staple while live music, lucha libre, and chihuahua competitions headline the entertainment.

Waterfront Park

May 17-22

Come From Away

Helmed by Tony-winning director (and La Jolla Playhouse alum) Christopher Ashley, this musical is inspired by the true story of 7,000 passengers who were stranded in Newfoundland after 9/11 and the unlikely camaraderie they found with the locals.

Civic Theatre

May 20-21

California Wine Festival

Taste varietals from local and statewide makers, including Cuvaison from Napa Valley, Adobe Road from Sonoma, and Temecula’s Wilson Creek.

Park Hyatt Aviara

May 20-22

The San Diego International ShortsFest

Short films, big impact. ShortsFest returns to Del Mar with films from a variety of genres (animation, documentary, indie) that all aim to showcase the art of cinema in 30 minutes or less.

Del Mar

May 21

San Diego Century Bicycle Tour

Riders of all levels can choose their own adventure, selecting a 33-, 67-, or 102.5-mile journey. The ride starts in Cardiff, then breaks out into three routes

exploring some of North County’s most beautiful paths.

North County

May 21-22

Fiesta del Sol

Solana Beach’s annual music festival returns to Fletcher Cove. On the main stage are the winners from the festival’s Battle of the Bands, The Good Pour and April and the Funk Junkies.

Fletcher Cove

North Park Music Fest

Combining the best of North Park’s many entertainment offerings, the festival returns for its 25th anniversary. Hear performances by local bands such as Tulengua, Little Hurricane, Wavves, and more, while also enjoying cocktails, craft beer, gourmet snow cones, and a cheese bar (life is good).

North Park

May 26-29


Malashock Dance’s Horizons is an outdoor performance premiering at Liberty Station. Island Moving Company from Rhode Island and Tristian Griffin Dance Company from Missouri perform choreography from artistic director John


Liberty Station

May 27

Expedition Baja

The San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park opens a new permanent exhibit, which highlights the biodiversity and conservation efforts of Baja California through immersive imagery and scientific collections on display.

San Diego Natural History Museum

May 29

Vista Strawberry Festival

Strawberry season is in full bloom. Make the rounds in downtown Vista for food, drink, and entertainment booths with berry-inspired offerings that celebrate the city’s many strawberry fields.

Downtown Vista

May 30

Things to do in San Diego in May - Hadestown

Things to do in San Diego in May – Hadestown

T. Charles Erickson


Take a trip to the underworld in this Tony and Grammy Award–winning musical. The show intertwines two Greek myths (Orpheus and Eurydice, Hades and Persephone) and won Best Musical at the 2019 Tony Awards.

Civic Theatre (through June 5)

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