Cinco De Mayo In San Diego

A chilled, teal-green Margarita that tastes like sunshine. Sombreros and lively people dancing. You, your friends and family—as well as the rest of the state—locked in merriment. 

Cinco de Mayo is a celebration that brings incredible food, even better drinks, and the most memorable of moments to share with loved ones. 

If you’re not in the heart of Mexico City, then the second-best place (hardly second, for your information) to celebrate this wonderful holiday is just slightly north of the border, in the city of San Diego. So, for all you tequila-drinkin’, party-goin’ folks out there—get ready. We’re going to show you how it’s done. San Diego tours during Cinco de Mayo can be a festive and fun experience perfect for couples and friends. 

Read on for things to do in San Diego for Cinco de Mayo. 

Sunset Margarita Cruise, Hornblower

Photo Courtesy: Hornblower Cruises

Why settle for land when there’s the Pacific Ocean? You know what else touches the Pacific? Mexico. That’s the kind of connection you need on this incredible day of celebration. 

For the entire month, Hornblower is going to be hosting Cinco de Mayo San Diego inspired cruises that will feature food of the occasion, memorable (at least the first few) drinks, specialty Mexican beer, and the gorgeous vantage point of the San Diego Bay.

  • The Party Lovin’ Sailor – Enjoy Cinco de Mayo like a tequila pirate, drinking margaritas, dancing to the rhythm of Mexican music, and eating all the tacos you can stomach. If you want to do something different this year, we can’t recommend Hornblower and their cruises enough. The non-stop music and live entertainment make this one of the best places for a Cinco De Mayo San Diego celebration. 

Without a doubt, this is one of the most unique Cinco De Mayo events in San Diego. Can’t come to San Diego during the Cinco De Mayo celebrations? We have the Tequila, Tacos, and Tombstones Tour every month. This tequila tour takes visitors through historic Old Town with the same emphasis on delicious Mexican food and festive mariachi music. 

How Hard Will I Fiesta? 

While the sunset cruise does not shy away from being lively, it does have a calmer ambiance than, say, a crowded bar. This might be the perfect option for a couple of budding lovers or a family that wants to enjoy Cinco De Mayo a bit differently this year. 

Old Town Fiesta, The Tradition

Photo Courtesy: Old Town San Diego

Looking for an authentic and traditional way to spend Cinco De Mayo? How about celebrating it more than once? On May 2nd and 3rd, this free festival features mariachi bands, nonstop music, Lucha Libre wrestling, and its own car show. Libre wrestling is typically celebrated with live mariachi music and a plethora of outdoor food trucks. Old Town San Diego is the perfect place for an all-day celebration. 

  • The Diehard Cinco De Mayo-er – This isn’t about the clichés. It’s not about the entry fee, nor the DJ or marked up guacamole. This festival is about celebrating the roots of Mexican culture, commemorating Mexico’s victory in the 19th century. This is a festival about roots, where Old Town suddenly shapeshifts into Mexico itself. This is a festival about you, partaking in a culture rich in dance, art, and love. To top off the fun, enjoy the best margaritas in Old Town here

You really can’t go wrong with the Old Town Cinco de Mayo Fiesta, if only for the energetic environment you’ll be submerged in.

How Hard Will I Fiesta? 

Prepare yourself for a full day of excitement, stimulation, and bustling energy. There will be tons of people at this historic event! If a grand event is what you’re looking for, you’ve found it. 

Balboa Park Celebration

Did you know that, while Cinco De Mayo is constantly mistaken for a celebration of Mexican independence, it was actually popularized in the US by Latino communities that wanted to pay homage to their roots? If you attend Balboa Park’s Cinco de Mayo celebration, you’ll be paying homage too. 

From a horseback procession, local ballet Folklorico groups, the best food trucks San Diego has to offer, musical entertainment provided by City Heights Mariachi, local artists, and Mexican fashion, this will be one of the most memorable holidays you ever experience. 

  • The Great Lover of Art and Connection – If there’s one word to describe this event, it’s community. With activities for children, arts and crafts vendors, and tons of families, this is a quintessential Cinco De Mayo celebration. 

How Hard Will I Fiesta?

This won’t be as much of a party as it will be a gathering. If you’re looking to take tequila shots and chug margaritas, there are other places that’ll complement that endeavor. If you’re looking to fiesta in a wholesome, community-driven event, you’ll never party harder. 

The Folklorico Competition, Fiesta De Reyes

                            Photo Courtesy: Old Town San Diego

Have you ever heard of Folklorico? Inspired by the flow of ballet, Folklorico is a traditional dance originating in Latin America. On both May 4th and 5th, in Old Town, this festival features an eclectic, breathtaking, and jovial dance competition that is free to the public. Judges fly in from Mexico and the dancers are supported by accompanying live bands—which keep playing well into the night once the competitors have finished. 

  • The Dancer & Margarita – Submerge yourself in the local folk culture and embrace the movements of the past. Here, you’ll experience the incredible ambiance of Latin American culture amidst great cuisine, drinks, and activities. This family-friendly atmosphere caters to all crowds and there are tons to do if you’re planning on bringing the youngsters with you. 

How Hard Will I Fiesta?

Harder than you have in your entire life. This incredible event is going to inspire you to dance, drink, and laugh. By starting your Cinco de Mayo at the Folklorico competition, the possibilities are endless. 

Death by Tequila, A Culinary Experience

Photo Courtesy: Death by Tequila

So, you don’t really care to be in large crowds. Nor to be somewhere wild and noisy. No, what you want is to focus on the finer things, to enjoy Cinco de Mayo for exactly the reasons you believe it should be enjoyed: the food and the drinks. And what better way to celebrate this incredible holiday than going to an establishment called Death by Tequila? 

Located in the heart of downtown Encinitas, Death By Tequila will be serving from their “Smugglers List” of fine mezcal—a quality that is unparalleled in San Diego. They’ll also be adding to their already delicious menu, focusing on the food of the occasion! 

  • The Ultimate Foodie – Come to this establishment and taste some of the best Mexican cuisine in California. Additionally, being that it’s Cinco de Mayo, there is no better place for tequila consumption. 

How Hard Will I Fiesta?

That, dear Reader, is entirely up to you. Here, you can create your own experience. Order a Sprite and focus on the food or lean into their name and buy a bottle of mezcal. Remember the experience… or don’t. 

Happy Cinco, Stay Safe! 

Whether you’re the party-lovin’ sailor, the diehard Cinco de Mayo-er, the great lover of art and connection, the dancer and margarita, or the ultimate foodie, there is something going on that is sure to be a night to remember. 

Despite what you decide to do, we want to encourage you to stay safe, drink water, and be careful on the roads. 

Apart from that, we hope you dance the night through, eat more tacos than you thought was possible, bond with your community, and enjoy the atmosphere of this wonderful celebration. 


History. Cinco de Mayo.