5 Holiday Activities in San Diego


Photo property of Marv Sloben

The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Kristin Bergmann, Opinions Editor

Christmas is less than four weeks away – about time for some holiday fun! The mild climate here in San Diego with a daily average of 7 hours of sunshine in December can make it hard to get in a Christmas mood. Luckily, America’s Finest City offers a variety of holiday activities that will get you in a holly jolly mood in no time. “Expert” tip: do the activities at night when it’s cold outside for some extra holiday spirit.

1. Ice Skating Rink at Liberty Station

The Rady Children’s Ice Skating Rink comes back every year to bring joy to kids and adults alike. Admission for the rink is $17 for adults and $15 for children, skates rental included. If you prefer solid, non-icy ground under your feet, you can just watch people make their rounds on the ice while listening to cheery holiday music. The rink might be the highlight, but Liberty Station offers much more. Restaurants, shops, hot chocolate, and holiday lights – the perfect place for a pre-Christmas stroll.

2. Lightscape at San Diego Botanical Garden

The Botanical Garden in Encinitas features over 1 million Christmas lights spread across a 1 mile trail. The atmosphere is truly magical and very romantic – perfect for a date night with your significant other. Or you can grab your family or friends, bring a thermos full of hot chocolate (or punch or apple cider) and go for a stroll! Only downside: this attraction is pretty pricey. Admission is $29 per person and parking is an additional $10 per vehicle if purchased in advance and $20 if purchased on-site.

3. Belmont Park Winter Wonder

Belmont Park is famous for its beachside rides and fun atmosphere year round. However, during the holiday season it’s especially fun. Belmont Park turns into a winter wonderland with holiday sculptures, live music, festive attractions, hot cocoa, seasonal treats and much more. While kids explore the rides and fun activities like face painting and watching Buddy the Elf make balloons, adults can enjoy the festive vibes right by the beach. And did I mention the 1 million holiday lights? Admission is free.

4. Holidays by the Bay – Seaport Village

Like every year, Seaport Village is hosting Holidays by the Bay this year. Holiday decor, live music, Christmas lights, photos with Santa – and a menorah lighting in celebration of Hanukkah (December 19). All the vibes for children and adults alike! Admission is free.

Mark your calendars: the Parade of Lights returns for the 52nd consecutive year on December 11 and December 18 from 5 to 8 pm. The parade is put on by the boating community of San Diego and features around 80 boats decorated with festive holiday lights. The parade starts at Shelter Island and passes multiple viewpoints on its route, ending at the Ferry Landing on Coronado Island. Spectators can watch the parade for free from any of the 6 viewpoints.

5. Petco Park Holiday Market

The Holiday Market in Gallagher Square brings European winter vibes to California. Gift shops from local vendors, light displays, European-themed foods and drinks, and much more! The 30 foot Christmas tree doesn’t just look amazing, but is also a great photo op. Come hungry, because you GOTTA try the German sausages, the Crepes, and the roasted nuts. Admission varies from $16 to $18 for adults and $12 to $14 for children, depending on the time slot booked.