Christmas in San Diego: What to Do

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When you think of Christmas, you probably picture snow-covered pine trees, a crackling fire, and brisk winter air. Fun Christmas activities might include ice skating, sledding, skiing and/or snowboarding, and perhaps even a sleigh ride.  As I grew up in a small ski town, this is certainly what I picture when I think of Christmas. Needless to say, most of these activities are unavailable in actual San Diego city limits – although we might consider the 60-degree nights “brisk winter air.” Fortunately, San Diego offers a wide array of Christmas activities to put you in the Christmas spirit; some of which are unique to San Diego! Read on to know what the “must-do’s” in San Diego for Christmas are.

Christmas Lights

I will admit that there is something special about looking at Christmas lights when they are glistening in the snow. Though this is impossible in San Diego, there are some absolutely fantastic places to see Christmas lights. Point Loma has some great Christmas displays on Garrison Street – get out of your car and view the amazing window displays (these are also done well for Halloween!) If you’re down south near Chula Vista, check out Whitney St./Mankato (Christmas Circle). If you’re up north, go to Hickory Court, Hickory Street in Poway (Candy Cane Lane). We have been to all of these and more, and they are definitely worth the visit. Don’t forget to blast the Christmas music and bring along some hot cocoa!

Some people even set up a photo opportunity outside their house - complete with Santa Hats!

Some people even set up a photo opportunity outside their house – complete with Santa Hats!

 

Garrison Street in Point Loma

Garrison Street in Point Loma

Christmas Lights

Boat Light Parades

You have a few options here: The downtown light parade or the Mission Bay light parade. This is a great San Diego tradition; people light up their boats and sail around the bay, lights twinkling against the water. I think the downtown light parade is a bit better, but it is also less accessible to watch. Mission Bay is so large that it is easy to watch this parade from many different locations.

boat parade  San Diego boat parade

Plays / Inside Entertainment

Go see The Grinch at The Old Globe. This is a San Diego tradition, and they do a great job portraying the classic Christmas story. Kids will love it! There are also multiple showings of The Nutcracker around San Diego, all with top-notch dancers.

Outside of The Grinch at The Old Globe

Outside of The Grinch at The Old Globe

December Nights in Balboa Park

December Nights is another San Diego Christmas classic. Beautiful Balboa Park is lit up all over and hundreds of booths line the area for you to get all sorts of food/drink. Many museums are free these nights, and there are multiple places that offer different types of entertainment all day! We love going to the Organ pavilion and viewing the Live Christmas Tree – they make it sparkle and light up in all sorts of exciting ways and at times it opens up to display scenes from the Christmas Story. Parking is tricky here – I would definitely recommend taking a bus to the park which are available for December Nights from a few locations.

December nights

 

My first year of college at December Nights

My first year of college at December Nights

Ice Skating

Believe it or not, you can ice skate in San Diego. Take advantage of being in San Diego and ice skate on the beach! Coronado island offers a small skating rink with a beautiful view of the ocean and the money is donated to charity. The ice may be a bit slushy, but you can’t beat the fun of the location! Horton Plaza in Downtown San Diego also has an outdoor ice rink more reminiscent of Times Square in New York.

Ice skating on the beach at Coronado

Ice skating on the beach at Coronado

This is only a small sampling of all the things there are to do in San Diego for Christmas! Each part of San Diego usually throws a tree lighting parade which can be tons of fun. Also, most of the malls are decorated for Christmas and will have fireplaces, live music and carriage rides. Have a merry Christmas!

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