11 Things To Do For The Holidays That Are Uniquely San DiegoChristmas The holiday season in San Diego isn't your typical winter wonderland, but there's plenty of festive fun to be had!
While the holiday season in San Diego may not be your typical winter wonderland, there’s plenty of festive fun to be had in our little slice of paradise. Embrace the opportunity to enjoy these must-do San Diego holiday experiences.
Ice Skating on the Beach at the Hotel del Coronado
Every year, an ice rink pops up just steps from the Pacific Ocean at the Hotel del Coronado. You can literally glide across the ice and then walk across the sand and dip your toes in the water afterwards. Thanks to the mild weather, you may even be able to leave your jackets and scarves at home, which you definitely can’t say at most ice skating rinks. Skating by the Sea opens on Thanksgiving and continues daily through New Year’s Day. The cost is $30 per person and includes skate rental.
December Nights at Balboa Park
Perhaps the daytime highs may still be a bit warm but nightfall ushers in cooler temps this time of year that may almost feel seasonal. Enjoy the chill and head to Balboa Park’s December Nights on December 1 and 2 to witness a dazzling display of holiday lights and complimentary admission to the museums from 5 to 9 PM. Just get their early and be prepared for the crowds. The free event is expected to draw more than 350,000 people over the two days!
Parade of Lights on the San Diego Bay
When you have a body of water as beautiful as the San Diego Bay on your doorstep, you have to incorporate it into your holiday tradition. For 46 years, the waterfront has hosted the Parade of Lights with viewing locations at Seaport Village, the Embarcadero and Coronado Ferry Landing, among others. Watch as hundreds of boats light up the bay with their creative displays of holiday lights highlighting this year’s theme, Arrrgh! A Pirate’s Christmas, on December 10 and 17.
Surfin’ Santa at Seaport Village
Santa skips his traditional red suit in favor of board shorts and a Hawaiian shirt when he visits sunny San Diego. Stop by Seaport Village for a unique California spin on a photo with the jolly old elf himself as he catches a wave. Surfin’ Santa arrives by boat, not sleigh, at 1 PM on November 25 and will pose for free photos until 5 PM.
Holiday Pet Parade in the Gaslamp District
It’s not just humans who get into the holidays spirit in San Diego. As a super pet friendly city, our canine companions and an assortment of other furry, feathered and scaly friends join the festivities with the annual holiday pet parade in the Gaslamp on December 10. Animals of all shapes and sizes show off their finest holiday fashions as they march through the downtown streets. If you’d like to participate with your pet, it’s just $15 for registration if you sign up in advance!
Snow Day San Diego
Obviously, the chance of San Diego seeing snowfall is very slim but thanks to marvels of modern technology, we can create a winter wonderland using fake snow. This “snowy” playground is located just 20 minutes from downtown at Rohr Park in Bonita and offers the chance to go tubing or ice skating in San Diego, visit a 12 foot tall gingerbread house and take a photo inside a giant snowglobe. Tickets are available for December 22-30 (but not the 24th) and prices range from $12 for admission only with no activities to $49 for the VIP experience.
Global Winter Wonderland
Travel the world without leaving San Diego by visiting the Global Winter Wonderland at SDCCU Stadium. With lighted holiday displays showcasing landmarks from around the world, an array of international cuisine and a carnival of rides, there’s so much to see and do! Plus, there’s the entertainment of the Circus of Lights acrobats and performers, photos with Santa and the opportunity to get some of your shopping done at the holiday market. The event opens on November 19 and continues through January 7 on weekends and select weekdays. Be sure to consult their calendar before planning your trip.
See the Christmas Lights in San Diego Neighborhoods
Sure, you can see holiday lights in neighborhoods all over the country but San Diego is home to a few must-see streets of colorful displays. Where to see the best Christmas lights in San Diego? Some of the hot spots that locals love include Candy Cane Lane in Poway, Christmas Card Lane in Rancho Penasquitos and Garrison Street in Point Loma.
Get a Picture With Santa on Crystal Pier
Crystal Pier is one of those iconic San Diego locations that just oozes life on the beach…which naturally makes it the perfect place for a picture with the jolly old elf if you want to rub in how cool it is to live in San Diego! Mark your calendar for December 2nd from 2-5pm to get your pictures with Santa Claus on Crystal Pier!
Sleigh Rides & Sledding at San Diego Botanic Gardens
After the sun goes down, the San Diego Botanic Garden is transformed into a dazzling winter wonderland, with over 125,000 sparkling lights illuminating the Garden for a magical holiday experience!
Festive holiday activities abound including SNOW (on select evenings), horse-drawn wagon rides (also on select evenings), holiday crafts, marshmallow roasting, visits with Santa, hot mulled wine and refreshments.
Make Your Plans!
You know the holiday season is going to fly by in the blink of an eye, so be sure to put these San Diego holiday must-do’s on your calendar now!
See you there!