San Diego Christmas is a magical time in America’s Finest City. You wouldn’t think so since we don’t have a cold climate but we go all out for Christmas and I am here for it! Below I’m sharing the best holiday activities to check out in December to put you in the holiday spirit!
San Diego Christmas Activities
Hotel Del Coronado
The Ultimate Christmas decor award goes to the Hotel Del Coronado. The Del is the most magical this time of year. With multiple Christmas trees, an ice skating rink on the beach, a holiday food truck, and new this year a light show orchestrated to music. The show is completely free and happens every day from 5 pm – 9 pm (every 30 minutes) and is located next to the Crown Room. For more information head to the Hotel Del Coronado website.
- Ice Skating costs $35 pp
- Holiday food truck items range between $16-$30
- You can rent a fireplace around the rink but it’s a $150 minimum food + drink purchase
Liberty Station Christmas
With a Christmas Tree standing at 88 feet tall another great holiday activity is a day/evening in Liberty Station. Not only that, but they have an array of cuisines at the Liberty Station Public Market, a large ice skating rink, and holiday lights scattered about. Don’t forget to check out Pigment for the cutest holiday gifts!
- Rady’s Ice skating Rink is $15 per person
- directly supports Rady’s Children hospital when purcahsing a ticket. Yay for giving back!
- The Nutcracker is December 11th this year
One Paseo Del Mar
One Paseo is a great place to celebrate the holidays. Not only do they have tons of shopping and restaurants. But they also have a large Christmas tree, a festive Studebaker littered with Christmas decor, and their very own December Nights. You can find out more information here.
- Holiday Cinema December 11th
- December Nights happens every Friday + Saturday until 12/24
- enjoy snow cascading from the rooftops, and surprise guests
Holiday Market at Petco Park
A brand new Christmas Activity this year is the Holiday Market at Petco Park. This event is held every day from now until 12/24 and features food and shopping stalls reminiscent of a European Christmas market, a carousel, beautiful light displays, photo opportunities with Santa, and so much more! To buy your tickets head here
- Tickets are $10 per child and $16 per adult
- Carosuel is $3
- You need to book your time slot in advance
- Live music on select nights only
Seaport Village Surfin Santa
Seaport Village is a hidden gem for holiday activities. Every year they have a Surfin Santa event where Santa himself surfs into the seaport and parades down. Now, this already happened this year but don’t let it sway you from visiting Seaport Village this holiday. There are tons of light displays (including a light tunnel orchestrated to music), a Christmas tree made out of buoys, and a vintage Carousel for kids. Find out more information here.
San Diego Botanic Wonderland
An annual winter event at the San Diego Botanical Garden located in Encinitas. Stroll through the outdoor gardens that are lit up with holiday lights. Also enjoy fake snow, carolers, kettle corn, and a few outdoor fireplaces you can gather around. The indoor conservatory was my favorite part it had beautiful displays of poinsettias that are perfect for photo opportunities. Finally, they are open from December 4th-December 30th. Advance ticketing is required make sure to book a time slot!
December Nights Balboa Park
Normally December Nights is my favorite of all the holiday activities in San Diego but the past two years it has been a drive-thru experience that has taken the magic out of it. It normally is the first weekend of December and Balboa Park has tons of unique food vendors, the museums are free to everyone, and live entertainment. Hoping that in 2022 this event will be back to normal!
Snow and Glow Holiday Festival
Located at the Del Mar Fairgrounds this festival is great for kids! It has three major attractions: the snow tubing hill, 1 million festive lights walkthrough, and a drive-thru car experience. You can also rent a private igloo with smores, food, and drinks for the entire family. Check out this site for more information
- Tickets are $35 to experience everything
- $18 for the walk throuigh light expereience
- $45 for the car drive-thru
Jungle Bells San Diego Zoo
Annually the San Diego Zoo is transformed into a winter wonderland during the holidays. It’s a great experience for any age as the zoo is lit up with holiday lights and decorations, live music, and special food and drinks. You can also take a ride on The Polar Express (4D experience). This year it’s happening from December 10th-January 2nd and you can find more information here.
The Grinch at The Old Globe Theatre
Did you know that Dr. Suess lived in San Diego? That is why The Grinch at the Old Globe Theatre is iconic in San Diego. It has to be the most popular holiday activity. Showings start in early November and go through the end of December. You most definitely need to book these in advance as they are known to sell out fast!
San Diego Bay Parade of Lights
Every year during December the San Diego boating community goes all out with their parade of lights. Over 80 boats parade throughout the San Diego bay decked out in Christmas lights. It’s a completely free event and beings at 5 pm each evening it’s held (for 2021 it’s December 12th and 19th). Finally, the parade starts from Shelter Island and goes to Harbor Island.
San Diego Christmas Bars
These bars listed below go all out for Christmas with decorations and special holiday drinks for the season:
- False Idol in Little Italy
- Nightmare before Christmas theme – get the hot buttered rum
- Miracle on 30th Street Polite Provisions
- Kindred in South Park
Neighborhoods with the Best Christmas Lights
There are tons of neighborhoods that are decked out in Christmas lights and decorations that make for a great weekend activity. Below are the top neighborhoods to check out when visiting during Christmas:
- Merritage Court in Scripps Ranch (pictured above)
- Candy Cane Lane in Poway (Hickory St – pictured above)
- Christmas Circle in Chula Vista
- Christmas Card Lane Rancho Penasquitos
- Carlsbad Christmas House
- Luminaria South Park
- Jingle Bell Hill in El Cajon (Pepper Drive)
- Starlight Circle in Santee
- Garrison Street Lights in Point Loma
Well, there ya have it, folks. That about covers it for San Diego Christmas activities. Which ones are you going to check off your list this year? If you have any questions feel free to leave them below. For more of my San Diego guides head here. Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!
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