We’re counting down the 12 Days of Christmas with 12 giveaways celebrating the surf, city and everything in between! Win a stay at the best local hotels, discover San Diego’s watering holes or explore dining and shopping by participating in daily contests! Check our Facebook page daily, entries from December 12-23, 2015 will be considered through 11:59 PM and a winner will be announced the next day.
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 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!
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
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!
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.
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!
La Jolla for the holidays! Festive entrance to The Lodge at Torrey Pines
Happy Holidays from La Jolla, one of San Diego’s most magical winter getaways. Sparkling beaches, warm sun shiny days and a welcoming Village vibe await holiday visitors to this enticing seaside enclave.
Make some merry memories at the La Jolla Christmas Parade!
Festivities kick off this Sunday during the popular annual La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival. This year’s theme is “Spirit of Christmas – Peace on Earth.” Parade begins at 1:30 PM along Girard Ave. and Prospect Street. There will be marching bands, vintage cars, equestrians and floats. Arrive early for prime viewing spots.
Afterward, head to the La Jolla Recreation Center (615 Prospect Street) for a fun festival featuring local businesses like Birch Aquarium and Surf Diva, photos with Santa Claus, a live entertainment stage and Christmas tree lighting at 5:00 PM.
Did you know: One of the parade sponsors is Audrey Geisel and the Dr. Seuss Fund. Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, was one of La Jolla’s most famous residents!
La Valencia Hotel’s 14 ft. Christmas Tree in La Sala Lounge
Shop for everyone on your holiday list – and yourself! – at the shops in La Jolla Village, particularly along Prospect St. and Girard Ave. The La Jolla Festival of Lights is sure to bring a twinkle to your eye as storefronts and hotels glow with colorful lights, Christmas trees, menorahs and other eye-catching holiday décor.
This Friday, the Allied Artists Association of San Diego (aaaSD) presents an Art Reception and Holiday Shopping Bazaar at the La Jolla Community Center; a great chance to meet and mingle with local artists and shop for one-of-kind handmade holiday gifts including crafts, glass creations and paintings.
North Park and South Park are two of San Diego’s hottest up-and-coming neighborhoods. Both locals and visitors flock to 30th Street, the neighborhoods’ main thoroughfare, for the newest and best restaurants, shops, bars and breweries. But when you’re done eating and shopping, set aside some time to explore the arts, because these neighborhoods are bustling with creative energy.
Discover the Arts and Culture of North Park and South Park
North Park and South Park are home to some of San Diego’s most creative and unusual art galleries. Whether you want to take home an original piece of art or just spend your time browsing the unique works, there are many galleries worth a visit.
Left Hand Black in South Park doubles as a tattoo parlor, but the local art on display is a great reason to stop in, even if you’re not looking to get inked.
Protea Gallery in North Park not only exhibits art by local and international artists, it also sells the flowers from which the gallery takes its name.
The streets or North Park and South Park are full of public and graffiti art, so take a stroll in the great outdoor gallery that is San Diego! Don’t miss the mural by Shepard Fairey at the intersection of 30th St. & Ivy or the multiple murals by local artists on the laundromat at the 30th St. & Redwood.
With art everywhere, North Park’s streets are like an outdoor gallery
In addition to the galleries, music and theater venues open year-round, North Park and South Park offer seasonal events brimming with arts and culture.
The quarterly South Park Walkabout is when the neighborhood’s shops, restaurants and galleries offer extended hours, food and drinks, and the event often includes live musical or dance performances scattered throughout the streets.
Ray at Night is all about celebrating the arts. On the second Saturday of every month, North Park’s galleries get wild and crazy with demos, music, performance art, and much more.
The annual North Park Festival of the Arts is the biggest of the neighborhood’s celebrations, with thousands of visitors gathering to buy locally made goods, hear live music, and drink craft beer every May.
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!
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.
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.
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 Hornblower, Flagship 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! 🙂
When the night falls, San Diego’s fun side comes to life!
When you think of San Diego the first thing that probably comes to mind is our great weather and the beach, and yes, we are blessed with those two things. But San Diego is the kind of city that also knows how party, because once the sun sets on the beautiful Pacific Ocean, San Diego’s playful side comes to life!
In the past couple of months San Diego’s night scene has expanded with the addition of new alluring nightspots and it’s expected to grow even more with the opening of much anticipated new nightclubs that will spice up San Diego’s after dark entertainment.
It would be a sin not to party at AD – Courtesy of Elizabeth Daniels of Elizabeth Daniels Photography
AD Club opened its doors in August 2014 and since then has been offering a full nightclub experience with craft cocktails, synchronized areal theatrics, the latest in music, eleven bottle service booths and a small bites menu. The 4,000 square-foot space is decorated with traditional cathedral and religious elements that give the venue a unique bold and daring design. For those who worship food, exclusive dining “pop-ups” events are hosted with popular chefs who create special prix-fix menus for the occasion. AD Club is a creation of Coronado, CA entrepreneur Bayless Cobb and E.A. Anthony.
Formerly On Broadway, Parq is San Diego’s newest nightclub where patrons can enjoy of areal performers, VIP tables, a 10 ft. tall robot named Roca Tron and the latest laser technology. The interior décor is designed to submerge you in a mysterious forest with over-the-top features. Tuesday through Saturday from 5:00 to 10:00 PM, Parq doubles as a restaurant, offering a sophisticated menu created by Executive Chef Errol D. LeBlanc II.
Hakkasan Group, known for its popular nightclub and dining destinations, has selected San Diego as the second location of their new nightlife concept, Omnia. Opening spring 2015, the new nightclub plans to make a grand entrance in San Diego shortly following the debut of the brand’s flagship location at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas (formerly PURE). The renowned hospitality company promises to deliver state-of-the-art technology, DJ’s, live performances and an unforgettable experience for locals and visitors.
One of the newest projects of Tosh Berman of EDL Management Group will arrive to San Diego next year. An exact date has not yet been disclosed, all we have is a name, CAKE. There isn’t much information in regards to the décor or what we can expect, but if we take a look at the recently inaugurated CAKE in Scottsdale, we can envision a boutique nightlife venue with designs inspired on 17th century European landscapes.
Attention 21+ monsters, zombies, super heroes, police officers, nurses and everything in between! Halloween is upon us and is time to leave the trick-or-treating to the kids. This Halloween leave your lair to roam the streets and clubs of San Diego and have a ball at the wickedest Halloween parties in town. Remember that you must be 21+ and have a valid photo ID to enter any of these events.
San Diego Monster Bash
8 blocks of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter are transformed into one massively hellish party!
Haunt the streets of the Gaslamp Quarter and East Village of Downtown San Diego as 8 blocks are transformed into one big Halloween bash with five stages featuring live music and over 20 DJ’s. If you think your costumes is amazing, then you must enter the Monster Bash costume competition which awards a $5,000 cash prize! A free Designated Driver shuttle services is available from Monster Bash to anywhere in San Diego County.
Where: Downtown San Diego at 7th Avenue between Market and J Streets and on Island Avenue between 6th and 8th Avenues. When: Friday, October 31, 2014 Time: 6:00 PM to 12:00 AM Cost: $35.00 – $95.00 >Find out more about San Diego Monster Bash
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San Diego Zombie Crawl
Party all night with the undead during the San Diego Zombie Crawl
Join hundreds of ghouls and goblins in downtown San Diego for SDZC, a crawl through 20 nightclubs and bars starting at AD Nightclub, the Gaslamp’s newest nightclub. The crawl will also make stops at Stingaree, F6ix, Bailiwick, Side Bar, Vin de Syrah, Werewolf and more.
Have a hair-rising night at Hard Rock Hotel’s Haunted Halloween Carnival which is planning their biggest celebration featuring three floors with five different venues and the performance of over 20 DJ’s. Single tickets can be bought online or you can book the Halloween Room Package which includes two tickets and accommodations.
Drag yourself to Balboa Park where the dead will rise. Evol at The Prado will showcase three dance floors packed with zombies boogying at the beats of Finnebassen, My Favorite Robot, MANIK, Nitin, Ardalan, Halo, Mike Lion and more. This year’s theme, you guessed it, zombies.
Sail away along with over 1000 ghosts and ghouls raised from the dead on board ‘The Inspiration’ yacht. The three-hour long Halloween party cruise will be transformed into a haunting Titanic ship showcasing three party decks with four DJ’s. Wearing a costume is strictly enforced, mask are strongly encouraged but not required.
Kids have a ton of fun with hands-on arts and culture throughout San Diego!
There’s so much to do and explore in San Diego with kids and the arts are no exception. In fact, a little learning without the kids even realizing it makes enjoying the mastery all the more fun. From jewels to hands on projects, music and more, here are five ways to add some culture to your visit that will be fun for the whole family.
Lux Art Institute
Ready to show the kids artists at work? Then you won’t want to miss this destination! Meet internationally recognized artists as they create their pieces and observe their process first hand. From “Family Fridays” to “Open House,” this museum located in North County San Diego also allows you to take a tour of the exhibits and finish with a hands-on project.
And because diamonds are a girl’s best friend, take some time to explore some of the most gorgeous jewels in the world! Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is the world’s leading organization for education on jewels. Watch presentations in cutting, collecting and more. Take a tour and enjoy exhibits, such as a parrot comprised of 1,100 gems, including rubies, sapphires, tsavorites and black and colorless diamonds!
Just down the street from the Gem Institute, enjoy some hands on music discovery! Walk through and see old and new instruments alike. Exhibits highlight popular music during the different eras and include audio and video clips. Enjoy hands on drumming, keyboards and more in the interactive area – a true treat for the kids!
Located in downtown San Diego, get ready for art geared toward the kids! From hands on exhibits (think: painting a real car!) to enjoying the specifically designed tactile art encouraging children to explore, this museum is a whole lot of fun for the whole family. Exhibits change but one thing stays the same: the fun times exploring!
It’s not unusual to enjoy a day at the beach and find yourself exiting through an art exhibit! Art walks are common in San Diego and often set up near the water. Strolling through the boardwalk after a day at the beach is a great way to expose the kids to new art. Choose from Seaport Village near downtown where artists often display, Carlsbad Village Drive every fourth Thursday, the annual Leucadia Art Walk with a Kids Zone, the annual North Pacific Beach and more. Or join the ArtWalk San Diego’s kid’s walk at their two annual events in Little Italy (April) and NTC Liberty Station (August).
Looking for a spa getaway? San Diego is a top destination, according to Travel + Leisure!
The votes are in, and when it comes to great weather and top notch spas, San Diego can’t be beat! So say the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine, and we in San Diego couldn’t agree more.
The national travel magazine just released the results of its 2014 “America’s Favorite Cities” survey, and those who have been to San Diego won’t be surprised to see that the city ranked high for beach getaways, relaxing weekends, and athletic and attractive residents.
You can see the full results of the survey at Travelandleisure.com. In addition to being the #1 city for weather and spas, here’s how San Diego stacked up in a few key categories:
Have you heard? It’s Kids Free month in San Diego! Nope, that doesn’t mean San Diego is free from kids. But rather, just about everything for a kid’s visit (with their family) to San Diego is Free – as in free admission to all the major attractions, museums and so much more.
Kids Free month deals abound in Mission Bay!
One area that was made for play is Mission Bay, a 4,600-acre aquatic wonderland of beaches, walking/bicycling trails, family-friendly resorts, water activities and famous attractions like SeaWorld.
Following are some of the coolest free offerings I scoped out around Mission Bay:
SeaWorld San Diego
Kids can enjoy the Dolphin Interaction Program at SeaWorld for free!
SeaWorld San Diego offers kids 3-9 years old free admission (1 child per paid adult), free Dine With Shamu (1 child per paid adult) and free Dolphin and Beluga Interaction Programs (1 child 10-13 years old per paid adult).
Free kids rides on the Giant Dipper roller coaster by Mission Bay!
At nearby Belmont Park, home of the thrilling Giant Dipper roller coaster, kids can enjoy unlimited free rides and laser tag (1 child per paid adult). They also ride for free (1 child per 2 paid riders) on FlowRider or FlowBarrel.
Paradise Point Resort
The tropical Paradise Point Resort offers kids free bike rentals to cruise the bayside plus free kayak and standup paddleboard rentals.