Car shows in San Diego are a big deal. Locals and visitors love to show off what they’re driving and learn about the latest automotive trends and luxury or classic car brands.
If you’re looking for one of the bigger car shows in the city, San Diego hosts quite a few each year. If you want something more intimate to get to know some fellow car enthusiasts, San Diego has quite a few more casual car meets to choose from that happen regularly.
San Diego International Auto Show
If you’re looking for the most major car events San Diego offers, start with the San Diego International Auto Show. Car enthusiasts worldwide attend this event and see over 400 of the newest models hitting the market. Check out exotic cars, debuts from luxury car brands, and even automotive products that you may want to learn more about to improve your drives.
The event is held annually in late December or early January at the San Diego Convention Center. Buy tickets well in advance if interested, as this one sells out.
Carlsbad Cars and Coffee
If you’re seeking San Diego car meets that are a little more approachable, this casual weekly meetup is precisely as it sounds: come on by to drink coffee and talk about cars. Any makes and models are welcome, a rarity for many car shows, and this one is even dog-friendly if you have a canine who loves cars.
Meetups are held every Saturday from 7-9 am at a Carlsbad coffee shop. At this time, that’s the Starbucks at 7130 Avenida Encinas. Other than the coffee purchase, the event is free to attend.
Cruisin’ Grand Escondido
Cruisin’ Grand is a car cruise held in the summer months in downtown Escondido. Every Friday from the beginning of May through the end of September, the city welcomes classic car owners to show off their pre-1974 models. Every week has a theme, too, like Axle Draggers and Vintage Cadillacs.
That doesn’t mean your car needs to fit a given theme to participate in the cruise, although there are weekly prizes for those who do. Any participating car owners can then park along Grand Avenue and nearby side streets to enjoy the other festivities. That includes live music, snacks, and the chance to see the other participants — and their classic cars — up close.
Goodguys Meguiar’s Del Mar Nationals
This annual car show is one of San Diego’s biggest auto culture events. Come for more than 3,000 different cars and stay for the rest. Every year, expect special exhibits like the fan-favorite woodie wagon exhibit, autocross competitions, and various product vendors.
The Goodguys Meguiar’s Del Mar Nationals is hosted by The Goodguys Rod & Custom Association. Tickets are available online for pre-purchase.
Cajon Classic Cruise
Every Wednesday night in the summertime, car enthusiasts gather in downtown El Cajon for what has become the largest weekly car cruise in Southern California. If you’d like to participate, you don’t need to register your car ahead of time– as long as you bring a classic car.
Expect theme nights in addition to the classic car cruise. They’ve featured off-road vehicles, race cars, and 1980s-era cars at past events. If you’re interested in attending as a spectator, get down to Main Street El Cajon on Wednesdays from 5-8 pm starting mid-April through October.
Cars, Coffee, and Doughnuts
If you’d like a side of something sweet along with your coffee and car talk, join the like-minded folks of the Cars, Coffee, and Doughnuts auto culture club at their monthly sessions. The emphasis of this one is on cool cars and cool people, with doughnuts, of course.
They usually hold meetups on the last Sunday of every month at the Donut Touch Bakery and Cafe in Mira Mesa. All models are welcome, but themes may be focused on a particular model. Follow their Facebook page for updates. However, a cancellation can happen at the last minute.
Fast Lane Drive’s Auto Club in San Diego
At Fast Lane Drive, we know how important it is to find your people and a community that gets you. If you want to do more than attend a car show and call it a day, joining a San Diego car club may be a good fit. Fast Lane Drive is a members-only car club that combines a passion for cars with interests in networking and philanthropy.
Our San Diego chapter is our flagship car club, and we make sure to remember that as we plan upcoming car events and drives throughout Southern California. If you’re ready to join our community, register to join Fast Lane Drive today. We currently have a waitlist for new members, but if you know you’d be a good fit for a unique car club experience, we want to get to know you!