5 Tips To Help You Beat The Traffic At December Nights
It’s no secret that the holiday spectacular of December Nights at Balboa Park attracts huge crowds of merry seekers every year and this year’s event, held on December 2 and 3, promises to be as popular as ever. For those who brave the gridlock and luck into finding a parking spot, their efforts are rewarded with a spectacular display of holiday lights, live music and festive treats from around the world.
But with an expected crowd of more than 350,000 people, this family-friendly event is so notorious for snarling traffic that many San Diegans actively avoid the area despite the promise of a healthy dose of holiday cheer. Chances are that you or someone you know has experienced the traffic nightmare of bumper-to-bumper cars as far as the eye can see on the 163 only to simply give up and return home.
In order to make your December Nights experience more enjoyable, we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you get to Balboa Park and enjoy the festivities without losing your mind.
With both sides of Sixth Avenue adjacent to the Laurel Street Bridge being used for Rideshare pick-ups and drop-offs, you can easily utilize this handy service to avoid the stress of hunting for parking. You may still be stuck in traffic en route to Balboa Park, but at least you can sit back and relax while your driver navigates the crazy streets. Plus, hitching a ride means you’ll be able to indulge in a few alcoholic beverages without worrying about how to get home safely.
Take Public Transit
The Metropolitan Transit System will provide nearby service to December Nights via MTS Trolley to 5th and C for service on Routes 3 or 120 to Laurel Street or various MTS bus services to Park and University Avenue. Routes 7 and 215 will bypass Park Blvd during the event, therefore, MTS will not provide direct bus service along Park Blvd from City College to Hillcrest. For more information, visit www.sdmts.com
Take a Free Shuttle
Hop aboard the free shuttle downtown at Ash Street between 5th and 6th Avenue for a more peaceful journey to Balboa Park. The shuttle runs from 3 pm to 11 pm on Friday and 11 am to 11 pm on Saturday. The last shuttle from downtown to Balboa Park departs at 9:30 pm both nights.
Even if you don’t live downtown, you may want to consider driving and parking at one of the many lots in the area or take the trolley to 5th and C Street and walk two blocks north to the shuttle stop. Downtown will likely be less congested than the neighborhoods surrounding Balboa Park.
Go for a Walk
If you’re lucky enough to live nearby, simply walk to December Nights. Neighborhoods such as Hillcrest, North Park, Little Italy and East Village are all easily walkable. Not only will you avoid the hassle of driving and parking, but you’ll help ease some of the congestion on the busy streets and you may see some early Christmas decorations along the neighborhood streets too. Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes!
If You Drive Yourself, Be Patient and Arrive Early
If you choose to drive yourself directly to December Nights, expect delays and be patient while hunting for a parking spot. While there is limited free parking at the San Diego Zoo and City College, these lots fill up quickly. Paid parking can be found at the Inspiration Point lot for $30, Natural History Museum or South Carousel lots for $45 and various Ace parking lots for $15. You can find disabled parking at the Fleet Science Center and Federal lots.
Remember, the earlier you arrive, the better luck you’ll likely have both in navigating the streets and snagging a spot.
Consider Leaving Early
Yes, there is always more fun to be had, but remember, all of that traffic coming into Balboa Park will turn into traffic leaving Balboa Park!
Consider leaving a little early to beat the crowds so you don’t have to try to manage them when you’re exhausted (anyone that’s ever stayed at Disney Land just a little too long and then took over an hour just to find their car while carrying a grumpy, exhausted kid knows exactly what we’re talking about!).
See You There!
We hope these tips will help you embrace the holiday spirit amid the hustle and bustle of getting to December Nights.
December Nights is free, and is open from 3 pm to 11 pm on December 2nd and 11 am to 11 pm on December 3rd.
For more information, visit the city’s December Nights website.
See you there!