Car-obsessed kiddos will squeal with delight when they see what kinds of vehicles show up at these car events around town. From summer cruise lines to the annual auto show and weekly cars & coffee meet-ups hosted by local museums (may we suggest a donut or two along the way?), you’ll see all kinds of exotics, hot rods, classic cars, muscle cars and everyday cars just waiting for you to lay your eyes on. One of our favorite, free things to do in San Diego, bring your car questions because every car owner is happy to talk shop and tell you all about their engines and builds.
Summer Auto Events around San Diego
You know it’s summer-summer-summer time when the cruise lines roll out. Here are two always jumping and always rocking a good time to watch these beauties cruise on by. Both have different car groups each week so check their calendar to find one you’re most interested in.
Parenting Pro Tip: Plan ahead by mapping out which restaurants line the streets, so you’ll know where to grab a seat and order up.
Cajon Classic Cruise draws thousands of car-fanatics to see the best classic cars cruising down Main St. Grab a table at one of the restaurants along the way and enjoy a fun family weekday outing. These are every Wed. from 5-8 p.m. between Apr.–Oct.
Magnolia + Main St.
Cruisin’ Grand in Escondido is an event that locals look forward to every summer. With live DJ’s, kettle corn and patio restaurants open, catch the cruise line as the “best of pre-1974 hotrods” cruise down Grand Ave. These are every Fri. night from 4-9 p.m. between May–Sept.
W Grand Ave. + Broadway
Weekly Auto Events around San Diego
These are some of the more active Cars & Coffee Meet-Up groups because they meet up weekly. The best thing about these groups is that the cars tend to be different each week because you never know who will show up. One eye-catching favorite is the Rancho Santa Fe Cars & Coffee because they’re strictly known for some of the “world’s finest cars,” think Lamborghini, Aston Martin and McLaren.
RANCHO SANTA FE Cars & Coffee:
They welcome the “world’s finest cars”, so you’ll see lots of exotics and super cars here. This group usually has a cruise that leaves around 9:30/10am. When: Every Sat. from 8-10 a.m.
6004 Paseo Delicias
Rancho Santa Fe
BONITA Cars, Coffee & Donuts:
You'll find the classics here with hot rods, low riders, timeless antiques, muscle cars and everything in between. When: Every Sat. from 7-9 a.m.
Bonita Donuts/VONS Parking Lot
4414 Bonita Rd.
ESCONDIDO Cars & Coffee:
You never know who will show up to this one because all makes and models of cars, trucks and bikes are welcome. When: Every Sun. from 8-11 a.m.
Kit Carson Park
3333 Bear Valley Pkwy.
Monthly Auto Events around San Diego
Cars & Coffee Meet-Ups are a chill laid-back way to get your car fix without too much effort. These meet-ups usually have free coffee, or have coffee shops nearby for you to patron, and some even have donuts for free or purchase. Car owners will meet up with all kinds of cars and park them in a mutual location for others to gawk at. They’ll usually be near their car so you can ask them all kinds of questions about their rides.
Insider Tip: Get there on time because you might miss them if they have cruises planned right after.
San Diego Automotive Museum has a Cars & Coffee event outside in front of the museum. Those who show up will get a discount into the museum good for that day only. When: Every 3rd Sun. from 7:30-9:30 a.m.
2080 Pan American Plaza
Cars & Coffee welcomes all types of cars, motorcycles and off-road vehicles. Coffee is on your own, but there are several nearby. When: Every 3rd Sun. from 7-9 a.m.
La Mesa Village
8323 La Mesa Blvd.
Cars, Coffee-N-Doughnuts is open to all makes, models and enthusiasts and is even kids, dog and family friendly. And yes, they usually have donuts there so show up before they all disappear. When: Last Sun. each month from 7-9:30 a.m.
6755 Mira Mesa Blvd.
Annual Auto Events around San Diego
Put these on your calendar for this year or next because they come back every year. Some require advanced tickets for purchase, while others help raise money for charities and some are free. Either way plan ahead for a racing good time.
DECEMBER & JANUARY:
At the San Diego International Auto Show you can climb in and out of all the latest models, see the newest technology and electric innovations and get a sneak peak of new reveals coming out later in the year. Next year it’s on Dec. 30 – Jan. 2, 2022. Tickets required.
San Diego Convention Center
111 W Harbor Dr.,
APRIL & OCTOBER:
Meguiar’s Nationals is a well-known national car show that takes place twice a year at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. This will be enjoyed by fans of hot rods, old trucks, muscles and classic cars, but make sure you stay for the competitions featuring dragsters and burn outs. There will be a kid’s zone with free crafts, games and prizes. This year it’s on Apr. 1-3, 2022 and Sept. 30–Oct. 2, 2022. Tickets required.
Del Mar Fairgrounds
2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd.
The Annual Memorial Weekend Car Show is an annual fundraiser that benefits local Fallbrook non-profits for youth and military. This will feature all vehicles made before 1997 with awards, vendors, swap meet, breakfast, live DJ and raffles. This year it’s on May 29, 2022 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Bates Nut Farm
15954 Woods Valley Rd.
Main Street America Car Show will hold their charity benefit featuring all makes and models with “Best Of” prizes awarded. This is a fundraiser for the San Diego Center for the Blind. This year it’s on Aug. 13, 2022 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Embarcadero Marina Park North, Seaport Village
400 Kettner Blvd.
The Greatest Show on Turf is part of Clairemont Family Days. You’ll find all kinds of makes, models and years of cars, trucks and motorcycles. Pair these together with great music, rides for kids, games, raffles, food and everyone will have a great time. This year it’s on Sept. 10, 2022 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
South Clairemont Recreation Center
3605 Clairemont Dr.