Brent Bernasconi

Where to See Christmas Lights in San Diego this Holiday Season

Warm up the car, fill a thermos to the brim with hot chocolate and grab some cookies so the whole family can enjoy an evening of twinkling Christmas lights in San Diego.

> Check out the 2015 Edition

Please note, some light displays and events are weather dependent.

Here are just a few of San Diego’s Christmas Lights highlights:

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

View more than 80 decorated boats at the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights!

More than 80 lavishly decorated boats will sail over the calm waters of the Big Bay during the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights. The parade starts at Shelter Island and makes it way down to the Ferry Landing on Coronado. Make sure to arrive early at one of the viewing spots that include: Harbor Island, Shelter Island, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village and along the pathway on Coronado.

Dates: Sundays, December 14 and 21, 2014
Time: 5:30 to 7:30 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights

Mission Bay Parade of Lights

Mission Bay Lights Up during the holiday season.

Dozens of vessels will take to the waters of Mission Bay with decorations and lights aboard. Arrive early to secure a good viewing spot on Crown Point, the east side of Vacation Island or the west side of Fiesta Island.

Date: December 8, 2012
Time: 7:00 to 9:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights

Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights

Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights

Boats of all sizes get decked out with holiday lights and circle Oceanside Harbor

Fishing boats, sailboats, yachts, kayaks and dingys dressed up in holiday swag and circle the Oceanside Harbor to enchant onlookers at the harbor, restaurants and beach. Many of the boats feature people dressed up like Santa waving to the crowd. One of the best viewing spots is along the side of the Oceanside Harbor near the fishing dock and police station. From this vantage point, you can see the parade twice!

Where: Oceanside Harbor, Oceanside, CA 92054
When: December 13, 2014
Time: 7:00 to 9:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Oceanside Parade of Lights

Garden of Lights

Garden of Lights San Diego Botanic Garden - Christmas Lights

Lights, flowers and s’mores – what more could you ask for? (photo by by John Bryant)

At night, the San Diego Botanic Garden is transformed into a winter wonderland with over 100,000 lights, live music, horse drawn wagon rides, warm beverages and snow (on certain days, make sure to check in advance). Just make sure to bring a sled (no metal runners please).

Location: 230 Quail Gardens Dr, Encinitas, CA 92024
Dates: December 6-24, 2014 (Closed December 24-25)
Time: 5:00 to 9:00 PM
> Find out more about Garden of Lights

Christmas Lights at San Diego Attractions

Belardo Lights in Tierrasanta

A labor of love by two parents for their two sons with autism, the Schimka family has been lighting up Belardo Drive for the past seven years while raising money for the National Foundation for Autism Research. The display, which is synchronized to the music on 106.1 FM, has grown tremendously over the years and this year will include a new animated snowman and an improved spiral mega tree!

Location: 5306 Belardo Drive, San Diego, CA 92124
Dates: Through December 27, 2014
Time: 6:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: Free, please consider making a donation
> Find out more about Belardo Lights in Tierrasanta

Curtis Muller’s Bright Christmas

Curtis Muller puts on an incredible “symphony of light” as he likes to call it. The 15 minute shows feature lights, lasers, and fog machines synchronized to classic holiday music.

Location: 3757 South Mission Road, Fallbrook, CA 92028
Dates: December 19-23 & 25, 2014
Showtimes: 6:30 PM, 7:15 PM, 8:00 PM, 8:45 PM.
Cost: TBD
> Find out more about Curtis Muller’s Bright Christmas

Popular San Diego Neighborhoods with Christmas Lights

There are plenty of San Diego neighborhoods who collectively get into the holiday spirit with entire blocks lit up with Christmas lights. San Diego Family Magazine has collected all the locations on one printout you can download via the link below.

> Download the San Diego Family Magazine Map of Christmas Lights (PDF)

> Discover Even More Holiday Excitement in San Diego

Know of any other great Christmas lights in San Diego or have any updates to the ones listed above? Let us and others know in the comments below.

Chelsea

5 Must Do Family Friendly San Diego Holiday Activities

Garden of Lights San Diego Botanic Garden

Winter in San Diego is the place to be! With the exception of the occasional rainy day, skies are generally blue during one of the coldest times of year around the rest of the country. In fact, it’s not unusual to find yourself reading your novel on the beach as your kids play in the sand. To top it off, San Diego stops at nothing when it comes to getting into the spirit of the holidays! The entire county literally lights up and there’s plenty of activities to help make memorable moments that will last a lifetime for the whole family. Here are some of my favorite things to do in San Diego during the holidays.

Ice Skating on the Beach in Coronado

Skating by the Sea at the Hotel del Coronado

Skating by the Sea at The Del!

Okay, you may be thinking that I mentioned you would be on the beach…Well, if you head to Coronado’s Ice Rink you can enjoy the view of the ocean and test your balance skating on ice! Every year the Hotel Del Coronado opens an ice skating rink adjacent to the hotel from November to January! What better way to (ironically) spend a sunny day on the beach in San Diego!

Where: Hotel del Coronado – 1500 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118
When: Through January 4, 2015
Cost: $25
> Find out more about Skating by the Sea

Christmas Card Lane

Christmas Light Display - Rancho Penasquitos Christmas Card Lane

San Diego neighborhoods light up during the holidays.

If you love the infamous Griswold house in the “Vacation” movies from the 80’s, then you will adore Christmas Card Lane in Rancho Penasquitos! An annual tradition, the entire neighborhood gets involved in decorating the yards around themes and is a local’s favorite! The streets are lively and many visitors rent double-decker buses and limos to tour all the decorations! I recommend parking the car and walking around on foot. Many homes offer hot chocolate for a small price and popcorn. And it’s likely you will run into some carolers singing traditional songs along the way!

Where: Located in Rancho Penasquitos at Oviedo Street – off Black Mtn. Rd. includes Twin Trails, Carmel Mtn. Rd., Ellingham St., Renato St., Oviedo St., Twin Trails Dr., Barrymore St., Totherham Ave., Talca Ave., Talca Ct., Allenbrook Way, Davenport Ave., Amber Sky Ln.

San Diego Botanical Garden’s Garden of Lights

Garden of Lights San Diego Botanic Garden

Lights, flowers and s’mores – what more could you ask for? (photo by by John Bryant)

Every year this is the spot my family gets our traditional photo with Santa. Immediately after, we enjoy the incredible lush gardens that are beautifully lit up for the holidays during their annual Garden of Lights! We make sure to catch the horse-drawn carriage and sing carols as we tour the grounds. After, we order some of the food sold during the event and then roast our marshmallows while listening to the live music act of the night! And on certain nights, snow is brought in for sledding! This is truly a gorgeous event and a must-do during the holidays in San Diego!

Where: San Diego Botanic Garden – 230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas, CA 92024
When: December 6-30, 2014 (Closed December 24-25)
Time: 5:00 to 9:00 PM
Cost: $6-$14
> Find out more about the Garden of Lights

Mission Bay Boat Parade of Lights

Mission Bay Parade of Lights!

Mission Bay Parade of Lights!

Another gorgeous way to experience the best of both worlds of gorgeous winter weather and holiday spectacular is to head to the bay to enjoy the beautiful lit up boats! And believe me, competition can be fierce for who has the best display! With dozens of participants, take in the sights and the fresh San Diego air. The boat parade begins at 6:00 PM from Quivira Basin. Best viewing is from Crown Point, the east side of Vacation Island or the west side of Fiesta Island.

When: December 13, 2014
Time: 6:00 to 9:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Mission Bay Boat Parade of Lights

Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park

Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park - Top Things to Do

Discover a Holiday Wonderland in Downtown San Diego at Petco Park

This year, Petco Park will be a Holiday Wonderland full of festive cheer, lights and plenty of ways to keep the kids happy. Make your way through Santa’s Workshop and Candy Cane Lane toward what used to be a baseball field for train rides, a hill covered in snow, reindeer, music and a place for Mommy and Daddy to relax. Just make sure to bring your camera to capture all the smiles your children will be giving you!

Where: Petco Park – 100 Park Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101
When: December 5-24, 2014 (Friday-Sunday and Special Nights – December 22-24)
Time: 5:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: $10-$15
> Find out more about Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park

> More Holiday Happenings in San Diego

Robert Arends

Holiday Cheer and Lights on San Diego’s Big Bay!

San Diego Big Bay Holiday of Lights
San Diego Big Bay Holiday of Lights

From boats decorated with lights to a Big Balloon Parade, there plenty of Holiday Fun on San Diego’s Big Bay. Photo courtesy of Cook & Schmidt

For those of you making holiday plans to visit San Diego, following are a few fun and festive ways to make some merry on San Diego’s sparkling Big Bay.

43rd Annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

View more than 80 decorated boats at the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights!

View more than 80 decorated boats at the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights!

What’s better than a cool holiday boat parade? Two holiday boat parades! Yep, the 43rd Annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights takes place on two Sundays next month. More than 80 boats lavishly decorated from bow to keel with colorful twinkling lights and decorations will glide the waters of San Diego Bay.

It’s quite a spectacle and best part, it’s free! This year’s theme is “Children’s Stories” which is sure to be a hit with the kids. Check out the route map here. The procession starts at 5:30 PM, but head to the Bay early for prime viewing spots including the Embarcadero and Embarcadero Park (North & South), Seaport Village, Coronado Ferry Landing, Harbor Island and Shelter Island.

When: December 14 & 21, 2014
Time: 5:30 to 7:30 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Port of San Diego’s Big Bay Balloon Parade

San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade

Giant inflatable characters at Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade

Check out the Port of San Diego’s Big Bay Balloon Parade, “America’s Largest Balloon Parade” floating down Harbor Drive along the Embarcadero. And who knows, you might be on TV! The parade is televised nationally and on local Channel 4. You’ll see world-class marching bands, colorful floats, drill teams and of course, a procession of enormous balloons of familiar cartoon and pop culture characters. Over 100,000 spectators are expected!

The parade is part of our big annual National University Holiday Bowl festivities when the eyes of the nation are on San Diego for exciting gridiron action between two Pac-10 and Big 12 Conference teams.

Where: San Diego Embarcadero – W Cedar Street, San Diego, CA 92101
When: December 26, 2014
Time: Parade starts at 3:00 PM
Cost: Free. Grandstand Seats – $20
> Find out more about the Port of San Diego’s Big Bay Balloon Parade

Whale Watching

California gray whale breaching off the San Diego coast

California gray whale breaching off the San Diego coast

December is the launch of San Diego’s exciting whale watching season, when hundreds of majestic California gray whales are spotted of the coast making their annual migration from the Arctic to the warm lagoons of Baja California. These “peaceful giants of the sea” can be seen swimming our local waters through April. Hop aboard the HornblowerFlagship Cruises or one of the many other whale watching cruises departing daily from the Embarcadero on San Diego. The whales can also be seen from high atop Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma – bring your binoculars, though! 🙂

> Find out more about Whale Watching in San Diego

> Discover More Holiday Happenings in San Diego

Make some waves on San Diego Bay this holiday season!

Robert Arends

Merry Mission Bay for the Holidays!

Mission Bay Parade of Lights!

Mission Bay Parade of Lights!

The holidays are just around the corner and there’s no better place to be than San Diego’s sparkling Mission Bay where distinctly California festivities await!

Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights

Mission Bay Parade of Lights

Mission Bay lights up December 13 during the Parade of Lights

Everybody loves a holiday parade. But in San Diego, they don’t just happen in the streets. A unique maritime way to make some merry this holiday season is the popular Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights on December 13, featuring dozens of boats festooned with holiday lights and décor sailing around Mission Bay.

All are welcome to this free aquatic pageant which attracts tens of thousands of spectators to the shoreline.

The boat parade begins at 7:00 PM from the Quivira Basin. The best viewing spots are from Crown Point, Santa Clara Point Park (by Sail Bay), the east side of Vacation Island and west side of Fiesta Island. Check out this map of Mission Bay to scope out the area beforehand.

When: December 13, 2014
Time: 6:00 to 9:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration

Twinkling Holiday Skytower at SeaWorld

Twinkling Holiday Skytower at SeaWorld

Also on Mission Bay, SeaWorld San Diego makes a big splash with its annual Christmas Celebration, beginning this Saturday. Festivities include Christmas-themed animal shows, holiday décor throughout the park, Santa’s Cottage for the kids, the 320-ft. Skytower Christmas Tree of Lights and SnowWorld, a winter wonderland with hills of snow for kids to sled down and practice making snowballs. Yep, it snows in San Diego! (we just have to make it 😉

SnoWorld at SeaWorld!

SnowWorld at SeaWorld San Diego!

When: November 15, 2014 – January 4, 2015
Cost: Included with Admission
> Find out more about SeaWorld San Diego’s Christmas Celebration

Mission Bay Hotel Holiday Deals

After a jolly day on the bay, rest your head at one of these top 5 tropical waterfront resorts that dot the shoreline:

See you this holiday season in Mission Bay! 🙂

Robert Arends

Kids Free Deals Abound in Seaside La Jolla this October

Surf Diva Surf Lessons for Kids
La Jolla offers Kids Free offers all month long!

La Jolla offers Kids Free offers all month-long!

La Jolla, the sun-kissed “jewel” of San Diego, rolls out the red carpet for kids throughout October during Kids Free San Diego month.

Families can save a bundle with 10 terrific free kids offers around La Jolla, ranging from free meals and passes to cool museums and attractions to comp beach tours and surfing lessons.

Check these out:

Eat!

Kids love to eat and they get to eat for free (with each adult purchase) at Indulge restaurant at Embassy Suites San Diego-La Jolla, Torreyana Grille at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines (for lunch or dinner, up to 2 kids) and Humphrey’s La Jolla Grill at the Sheraton La Jolla (up to 2 kids).

Enjoy free kids meals at La Jolla Shores Hotel, located on the beach of La Jolla Shores

Enjoy free kids’ breakfast at La Jolla Shores Hotel, located right on the beach.

Kids also eat free at La Valencia Hotel, and kids 12 and younger can enjoy free breakfast at The Shores Restaurant at La Jolla Shores Hotel.

[Tweet “Save during your visit to #LaJolla this October with these amazing #KidsFreeSD offers!”]

Surf!

Surf Diva Surf Lessons for Kids

Kids hang 10 for free Surf Diva!

Wiggle your toes in the sand at La Jolla’s famous family friendly beaches and hang 10 with Surf Diva, offering kids free surfing lessons (a $71.50 value – wow!) with the purchase of an adult lesson.

Kids can hop aboard the Old Town Trolley Tours‘ new La Jolla & Mission Beach Tour for free (with the purchase of an adult ticket) or the splashy Seal Tours on San Diego Bay or narrated city tour to top tourist sites like Old Town and Coronado.

Sightsee!

Birch_Aquarium_children_viewing_fish_-Courtesy_Bir

Kids admitted free all month to the Birch Aquarium at Scripps!

Three of La Jolla’s popular attractions are free for kids, including admission to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego – La Jolla (1 child per paid adult), the La Jolla Historical Society museum at Wisteria Cottage (2 children per paid adult) and Birch Aquarium at Scripps (1 child per paid adult).

Birch Aquarium, nestled high on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, is one of my top “must-sees” with 60+ tanks of colorful marine life including coral reefs, a kelp forest (My fav! It’s like snorkeling without getting in the water 😉 ), sharks, jellyfish and three outdoor tide pools where you can touch sea anemones, starfish and more!

As you can see, there’s lots of fun for free in picture-perfect La Jolla! Bring the kids and make it a fall getaway to remember. 🙂

> Browse even more Kids Free Offers in San Diego

Robert Arends

Dr. Seuss on the Loose in La Jolla

The_Art_of_Dr_SeussThere’s a tale of a Cat, so cool in a Hat, that…did you hear…was created right here! 🙂

Yep Dr. Seuss, that master smith of rhyming words for kids, lived atop a hill called Mt. Soledad in La Jolla (north of downtown San Diego) where his fantastical world of Cat in the Hat and other memorable characters came to life for readers of all ages.

I’ve always been a big fan of Dr. Seuss whose real name BTW is Theodore (Ted) Seuss Geisel. His widow Audrey still lives in lovely seaside La Jolla.

On the heels of Dr. Seuss’ recently released new book, Horton and the Kwuggerbug and more Lost Stories, me thinks with my thinker that a fun way to tinker would be an incredibly fun linker to a few Seussian sights and events in La Jolla:

Wish Dr. Suess at Happy Birthday at UCSD

Dr. Seuss birthday celebration at Geisel Library, UCSD in La Jolla

Dr. Seuss birthday celebration at Geisel Library, UCSD in La Jolla

Every year in celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday on March 2, the aptly named Geisel Library at University of California at San Diego (UCSD) in La Jolla exhibits selections from their Dr. Seuss Collection of over 10,000 items(!), including his drawings, rough drafts, notebooks and other cool memorabilia. It’s the world’s largest repository of original works by Seuss. Last year Mrs. Geisel substantially added to the collection, donating an additional 1,500 items from his personal archive!

Look for an announcement of next year’s big b-day bash on Geisel Library’s news page after New Year’s.

7 ½ foot Cat in the Hat

Dr. Seuss and Cat in the Hat sculpture at Geisel Library, UCSD in La Jolla

Dr. Seuss and Cat in the Hat sculpture at Geisel Library, UCSD in La Jolla

In the meantime, next time you’re in La Jolla, check out the life-size bronze sculpture of Dr. Seuss and a towering 7 ½ foot Cat in the Hat in front at the library. Seuss selfies are encouraged!

Secret Art of Dr. Seuss

Secret Art of Dr. Seuss at Legends Gallery, La Jolla includes Unorthodox Taxidermy

The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss includes Unorthodox Taxidermy

In the charming Village of La Jolla, the Legends Gallery displays some wonderful imaginings in its “Secret Art of Dr. Seuss” exhibit. Visitors can view the sophisticated, technically accomplished and unrestrained side of Seuss’ talent, including lesser-known paintings, illustrations and sculptures from his Unorthodox Taxidermy collection (a fun fav!).

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! at the Old Globe

"Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" at the Old Globe in Balboa Park

“Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” at the Old Globe in Balboa Park

And though it’s not in La Jolla, I should mention the whimsical annual Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! musical that takes place each holiday season at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. It’s a magical must see for the whole family!

See you in San Diego, Dr. Seuss fans!

Brent Bernasconi

Find the Perfect Pumpkin Patch in San Diego – 2014

Fall in San Diego means warm days, cool nights, Halloween fun and, of course, pumpkin patches! Browse the list below to find the perfect pumpkin patch near you.

Bates Nut Farm Pumpkin Patch

Bates Nut Farm Pumpkin Patch

Acres of pumpkins await at Bates Nut Farm

Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center has been a Pumpkin Patch staple for as long as I can remember (the Bates family has owned the farm since 1921, and I have been going since the early 80s). Bates has plenty of pumpkins of all shapes and sizes, tractor hayrides, a straw maze, pony rides and a petting zoo. Weekends at Bates include live entertainment from 12:00 to 3:00 PM, BBQ, kettle corn, food trucks, rock climb, bounce, slide and other family friendly events.

Where: 15954 Woods Valley Road, Valley Center, CA 92082
When: September 24 – October 31, 2014
Hours: Monday-Friday: 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM. Saturday-Sunday: 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM
Cost: Free Admission. Pumpkin and activity prices vary.
> Find out more about Bate’s Nut Farm Pumpkin Patch

Boomont Park Fall Festival and Haunt

Boomont Park - Belmont Park

Pick an amazing pumpkin by the beach at Belmont Park’s Boomont Park Fall Festival and Haunt. While you’re there, bravely walk through the Boomont Manor (a kid-friendly haunted house and maze), play zombie laser tag, ride the spooky Giant Dipper and enter the costume contest on Saturdays. Don’t forget to bring the pumpkin pail for free trick-or-treating.

Where: 3146 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109
When: October 3 – November 1, 2014 (Fridays-Sundays)
Hours: Friday: 5:00 to 10:00 PM. Saturday-Sunday: 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM.
Cost: Free admission. Haunted House, rides and laser tag have separate admission costs.
> Find out more about the Boomont Park Fall Festival and Haunt

Pumpkin Express

Pumpkin Express

Your conductor is dying to take you to the Great Pumpkin’s Pumpkin Patch

Join in the fun aboard the Pumpkin Express at the historic Campo Depot and travel to the Great Pumpkin Patch. Enjoy the one hour train ride, then tour the Haunted Train, where each child gets to pick out his or her own pumpkin and decorate it inside the Display Building. Advance reservations are required and arrive at least 45 minutes before your departure time.

Where: The Pacific Southwest Railway Museum – 750 Depot Street, Campo, CA 91906
When: October 11-26, 2014 (Saturday-Sunday)
Hours: Departures at 10:00 AM, 12:15 PM and 2:30 PM
Cost: $5-$15
> Find out more about the Pumpkin Express

Farm Stand West’s Pumpkin Patch

Farm Stand West's Pumpkin Patch

Pick the perfect pumpkin straight from the field at Farm Stand West’s Pumpkin Patch

Get a true pumpkin picking experience by picking the perfect future jack-o-lantern straight from Farm Stand West’s pumpkin fields. Stop by over the weekend of October 25-26 between 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM for the Annual Farm Stand Fall Harvest Festival & Boutique. Have fun on a hayride, pick up some delicious homemade jams and farm fresh produce, and shop from local artisans.

Where: 2115 Miller Ave., Escondido, CA 92025
When: September 30 – October 31, 2013 (Closed on Mondays)
Hours: Weekdays: 12:00 to 6:00 PM. Weekends: 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
Cost: Free admission, pumpkins vary
> Find out more about Farm Stand West’s Pumpkin Patch

Julian Mining Company Pumpkin Picking Patch

Take the family on a day trip to Julian for apple pie from Mom’s and pumpkins from the Julian Mining Company. Even more fall fun awaits with Indian Camp, Tomahawk throwing and farm animals. Upgrade to the Harvest tour and enjoy a hayride, fresh apple cider and an animal corral. In for a fright? Well then ride on the kid-friendly Night Time Spooky Hayride: Tale of the Doomed Miner through the pastures and fields and includes the tale of the doomed miner (you may even see his spirit wandering with a lantern in the distance). Spooky Hayrides are offered on October 18 and 25 at 7:30 PM and 8:30 PM. Reservations for the Spooky Hayride are required.

Where: 4444 State Highway, Julian, CA 92036
When: October 4-26, 2014 (Saturday-Sunday)
Hours: Saturday: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Sunday: 12:00 to 5:00 PM.
Cost: Kids – $2, Adults – $3. Harvest Tour: Kids – $7, Adults – $9. Spooky Hayride: $15 per person
> Find out more about the Julian Mining Company Pumpkin Picking Patch

Lavender Hill Pumpkins

Lavender Hill Pumpkin Patch

Browse through a variety of pumpkins at the Lavender Hill Pumpkin Patch

Looking for a no-nonsense pumpkin picking outing? Then head to Lavendar Hill Pumpkins for a vast selection of pumpkins perfect for either carving or cooking.

Where: 1509 East Mission Road, Fallbrook, CA 92028
When: September 27 – October 31, 2014
Hours: Weekdays: 2:00 to 5:00 PM, Weekends: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Varies
> Find out more about Lavender Hill Pumpkins

Mountain Valley Ranch Pumpkin Patch

Kids with their Pumpkins at Mountain Valley Ranch

Pumpkins for everyone at Mountain Valley Ranch

Up near the small mountain town of Ramona is the Mountain Valley Ranch Pumpkin Patch. Take some time to find the perfect carving or cooking pumpkin, get lost in the gigantic corn maze, launch an ear of corn out of a cannon, pet a few farm animals and add a few pictures of the kids on antique farm equipment to the scrapbook.

Where: 842 Hwy 78, Ramona, CA 92065
When: September 27 – October 31, 2014
Hours: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Cost: Varies (Cash Only)
> Find out more about Mountain Valley Ranch Pumpkin Patch

Norris Amusements Pumpkin Patches

Tiger inflatable slide and pumpkins at Norris Amusements Pumpkin Patches

A whole day of fun at Norris Amusements Pumpkin Patches

Norris Amusements has North County and South Bay covered with locations in Chula Vista and Oceanside. Both locations offers pumpkins and fun for the little ones with bounce houses, giant slides and obstacle courses. Go on Tuesdays for Wristband Tuesday and enjoy unlimited rides for one price.

Where:
Chula Vista – 555 Broadway, Chula Vista, CA 91910
Oceanside – 2205 Vista Way, Oceanside, CA 92054
When: October 1-31, 2014
Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Friday-Saturday: 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM
Cost: Varies, Ride Wristbands: $10-$25
> Find out more about Norris Amusements Pumpkin Patches

15th Annual Oma’s Pumpkin Patch

Over in Lakeside, Oma’s Pumpkin Patch is offering fun for the whole family. The child admission includes a Jack Patch pumpkin, a bottle of water, covered hay rides, a hay bale maze, petting corral, kid-powered games, sand pile with toy trucks & tractors, and a large play area with the climbable Cottonseed Mountain.

Where: 14950 El Monte Rd, Lakeside, CA 92040
When: September 23 – November 1, 2014 (Tuesday-Saturday)
Hours: 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Cost: $8 per child with one free adult per child. Additional adults are $4. (Cash Only)
> Find out more about the 15th Annual Oma’s Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin Station

Pumpkin Tower at Pumpkin Station

Find pumpkins of all sizes at Pumpkin Station

All aboard…one of the seven convenient Pumpkin Station locations (including the two actual farms) throughout San Diego County. At the Pumpkin Stations, kids can peruse for the perfect pumpkin while enjoying the kiddie rides, slides, inflatable play centers and petting zoo. At their two farms in Rancho Bernardo and Bonita, little pumpkin carvers will find a living pumpkin patch, corn maze, farm animals and a tractor-pulled haywagon ride.

When: Vary by location
Hours: Vary by location
Cost: Free admission. Ride tickets start at $3.50 (discounted ticket packages available)
> Find out more about the Pumpkin Station

San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum Fall Family Festival

San Diego Children's Discovery Museum Fall Festival

Stop by the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum for hands-on education (don’t tell the kids), pumpkins and fun. The Fall Family Festival will feature live music by Hullabaloo, a petting zoo, pumpkin patch, food, gardening workshops to educate children and families on current environmental and conservation issues, Halloween costume exchange, and other fun fall activities!

Where: 320 North Broadway, Escondido, CA 92025
When: October 5, 2014
Hours: 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM
Cost: Members – $5, Nonmembers – $10, Kids 12 and Under – Free
> Find out more about the SDCDM Fall Family Festival

Summer Past Farms Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin Patch sign and pumpkins at Summer Farms

An picturesque pumpkin patch at Summer Farms

Head on over to Summer Past Farms Pumpkin Patch picking weekends for family fun including a jumpee, popcorn, corn-dogs and smoothies.

Where: 15602 Olde Hwy 80, Flinn Springs, CA 92021
When: October 4-26, 2013 (Saturday-Sunday)
Hours: Saturday: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM,  Sunday: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Varies
> Find out more about Summer Past Farms Pumpkin Patch

Suzie’s Farm Pumpkin Patch & Palooza

Pumpkins in a Radio Flyer at Suzie's Farm Pumpkin Palooza

Bring something to help carry home your harvest at Suzie’s Farm Pumpkin Palooza.

Make a day of it in San Diego’s South Bay with pumpkin picking at Suzie’s Farm. Bring a wheelbarrow to carry home plenty of pumpkins for carving and cooking picked right from the fields, fresh produce, jams and more. During Pumpkin Palooza, enjoy live music and plenty of delicious food. Don’t forget the camera!

Where: 2570 Sunset Avenue, San Diego, CA 92154
When: October 4-25, 2014 (Saturday) Pumpkin Palooza: October 18, 2014
Hours: 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Pumpkin Palooza – 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
Cost: Free Admission, Pumpkins Vary
> Find out more about Suzie’s Farm Pumpkin Patch
> Find out more about Suzie’s Farm Pumpkin Palooza

> Discover more to do in San Diego this Fall

Have a great time at the pumpkin patch? Notice one is missing? Could I have possibly made a mistake on the info? Let me and others know in the comments below.

Chelsea

5 Kid Friendly Restaurants in San Diego County

Pizza Port - A Kid Friendly Restaurant in San Diego
Pizza Port - A Kid Friendly Restaurant in San Diego

Places like Pizza Port are great kid friendly restaurants that also make sure Mom and Dad have a good time

For some reason (ahem), people are often surprised that my husband and I regularly eat out with our five kids, ages 10, 8, 5,  3 and 3. Yes, we know a thing or two about a restaurant that can cater to children and, well, ones that just can’t kid around (get it?). In general, San Diego is very family friendly, so it wasn’t easy to narrow down my top 5 kid friendly restaurants, but the promise for ice cream got me going (kidding… kind of). Here are five kids friendly restaurants that both the little ones and parents will enjoy!

Pizza Port

Starting in North County, the top pick for locals is Pizza Port, located in Carlsbad (options are also in Solana Beach, Ocean Beach, and Bressi Ranch). Truly delicious pizza, the kids love it, too, as they can play video games or enjoy the grub. Go early as it can be tricky to nab a table, but nothing screams a beach town visit like some seaside pepperoni pie.

Where: 571 Carlsbad Village Carlsbad, CA 92008
> Find out more about Pizza Port

Pipes Cafe

Truth be told, my family may as well start collecting our mail at this Cardiff breakfast/lunch joint. With plenty of outdoor seating, not only can you (very ) affordably feed a large family (trust me), you can also enjoy sea breezes and ocean views.  In fact, three of my kids can share the “big breakfast” and Dana, who can regularly be found behind the coffee counter, is always good for a great big hug.

Where: 121 Liverpool Dr, Cardiff By Sea, CA 92007-1823
> Find out more about Pipes Cafe

Tony’s Jacal

Hands down one of the most authentic, delicious Mexican food restaurants in town, this is a family favorite for its affordability, too. When the weather is nice, request outdoor dining or inside in the back room if you think your kids might need to be a li’l louder than usual. Though the booths inside the main dining are just as accommodating as are the coloring books and crayons that they offer to occupy the kids. Located in Solana Beach this is a San Diego must!

Where: 621 Valley Ave, Solana Beach, CA 92075
> Find out more about Tony’s Jacal

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El Camino

Located near the airport, be sure to take a few minutes before entering and get a very up close view of the planes coming in for a landing! Though not your usual “kids” establishment, my children consider this unique twist on the usual Mexican food a favorite! Go early as the later crowd tends to be more “club”, but if you can arrive by 5,  my kids love the free Mexican wrestler that comes with the children’s menu plates and the Chiclets chewing gum that accompany the bill. Also,  music plays on the dance floor prepping for the later evening crowd and my fam has been known to bust a move.  Though darker on the inside, you can request outdoor seating for an even better view of the overhead planes. And, whatever you do, don’t miss out on the churros for dessert!

Where: 2400 India St, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about El Camino

The Old Spaghetti Factory

Though it’s a chain that can be found in many cities, I had to include this pick as the downtown San Diego location was always a favorite of mine growing up. Not to mention, keeping kids happy on a vacation isn’t always easy, so a favorite stand by of past is sure to reel them back in. Catering to kids and families, it’s a sure-fire bet for fresh ingredients and old school pasta delights, including gluten-free options as well.

Where: 275 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about The Old Spaghetti Factory

> Find more Kid Friendly Restaurants in San Diego

Do you have a favorite kid friendly restaurant in San Diego? Tell us in the comments below!

Brent Bernasconi

100+ Offers During Kids Free in San Diego this October

Kids Free in San Diego This October

Kids Free in San Diego This October

Kids are free in San Diego again this year! Kids Free in October during the entire month of October, kids eat, stay and play for free throughout San Diego. Take advantage of great deals at more than 100 participating partners and get ready for the ultimate family vacation.

> Browse through the 100+ offers and plan your Kids Free in San Diego vacation

Chelsea

5 Family Friendly Hotels in San Diego

Grand del Mar Family Pool - Family Friendly Hotels

Jump into the pool for some downtime at the Grand del Mar or any of these family friendly hotels

Where you stay with your kids on vacation can make or break a trip. Comfort and kid-friendly amenities can lesson the stress of traveling with little ones, even when you will mostly be on the go exploring all there is to do and see with children. When nap time strikes or just the desire for some down time at the pool, check out these 5 Family Friendly Hotels in San Diego (in no particular order).

Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa & Marina

Very close to SeaWorld San Diego, the Mission Beach boardwalk, and Belmont Park, home to the famous Giant Dipper roller coaster, this family friendly location is central to much of San Diego! Personally, my family spent much of our time on the three water slides in the bay front pool, complete with a shallow section for kids! Opting to eat in the casual Swim and Bar Lounge, we love the views of the water and the 60-degree, 800-gallon aquarium!

For dessert, roast marshmallows in the water-front fire pits on the hotel grounds – the hotel sells s”more making kits. And of course be sure to catch a ride or two on the beach front boardwalk nearby!

Where: 1441 Quivira Road, San Diego, California, USA, 92109
> Find out more about the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa & Marina

San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina

Complete with a splash pad and 3 feet deep pool, this family friendly hotel is a great option for the downtown San Diego experience. Walk to kid-friendly Spaghetti Factory or catch the ferry over to Coronado for dinner! Don’t miss the nearby Seaport Village or the amazing New Children’s Museum, both an easy walk and fun for the whole family. And for some delicious pancakes, check out the nearby Richard Walkers as well.

Where: 333 W Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101-7700
> Find out more about the San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina

Grand del Mar

Recently named the number one hotel in the US, believe me when best online casino I tell you this is an amazing option. A little more off the beaten path, so to speak (read: you will need to drive to most activities), the resort is known for their exceptional service. With gorgeous grounds and a family pool complete with under water music (seriously), choose from tennis lessons, hiking trails or their offer to take you to the beach!

Where: 5300 Grand Del Mar Ct, San Diego, CA 92130
> Find out more about the Grand del Mar

Grande Colonial Hotel

Considering <a title=”Discover San Diego”s La Jolla” href=”http://www.sandiego.org/discover/la-jolla.aspx” target=”_blank”>La Jolla is named the Crown Jewel of San Diego, it’s a spot you will want to visit! The Grande Colonial is a favorite of mine as it’s central to everything in the downtown area. Walk to see the seals at the cove or grab your coffee from the nearby Living Room. Though the pool is on the smaller side, you will enjoy the water views. And sleeping to the natural sounds of waves crashing? Priceless.

Where: 910 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037
> Find out more about the Grande Colonial Hotel

Loews Coronado Bay Resort

From ping-pong tables to life-size chess and Connect Four at the pool, the Loews Coronado Bay Resort is one of my favorite family friendly hotels to stay with my family! Be sure to check out the easy access tunnel to the beach and even rent bikes to get there. Or take a gondola ride through the canals of the Coronado Cays. The resort also offers shuttle service into the main area of Coronado if you feel like venturing out for a meal without getting in the car. And as the day ends, grab your hot chocolates and sit on the courtyard of Cays Lounge overlooking the sunset and the bridge!

Where: 4000 Loews Coronado Bay Road, San Diego, California, 92118
> Find out more about Loews Coronado Bay Resort

> Discover more Family Friendly Hotels and Fun in San Diego