Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – December 6-8, 2013

North Park Toyland Parade and Festival

It’s already December! When did that happen?! Well, might as well embrace the cooler weather and dive into a ton of festive fun with these top things to do in San Diego this weekend:

38th Annual Coronado Christmas Parade & Open House

Santa Claus' festive arrival at the Coronado Ferry Landing!

Santa Claus’ festive arrival at the Coronado Ferry Landing kicks off the Coronado Christmas Parade!

Festivities kick off at the Coronado Ferry Landing as Santa arrives at 3:20 PM, with carolers and snow fun at snow mountain. Also, at the Hotel del, experience ice skating like no other – you can ice skate on the beach! Find your way to Orange Ave and select a good spot to take in the Coronado Christmas Parade.

When: December 6, 2013
Time: 3:20 to 9:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the 38th Annual Coronado Christmas Parade & Open House

Balboa Park December Nights

balboa park lily pond botanical building december nights san diego holiday celebration

The Lily Pond and Botanical Building decked out for December Nights. (Photo by Manny Cencieros)

Get into the holiday spirit with two magical nights of lights, free live entertainment, free entrance to many museums, foods from around the world, shopping and more.

Please Note: Getting to and from the park will require patience and time. Please consider carpooling and/or alternative forms of transportation.
> Read the transportation information for getting to December Nights

Where: Balboa Park – El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
When: December 6-7, 2013
Times: Friday: 3:00 to 11:00 PM. Saturday: 12:00 to 11:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about Balboa Park December Nights

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Holiday Float - San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Lights on the water at the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Put on a warm jacket, pack a few blankets along with some hot chocolate and head to San Diego Bay with more than 80 boats lavishly decorated to a new theme each year. The parade proceeds from Shelter Island past Harbor Island, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village, and the Ferry Landing in Coronado. The Parade of Lights is a festive and delightful experience for all!

Where: San Diego Bay
When: Sundays – December 8 and 15, 2013
Time: 5:30 to 8:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

2013 North Park Toyland Parade & Festival

North Park Toyland Parade and Festival

Get swept up in the holiday spirit during the North Park Toyland Parade and Festival

The historic neighborhood of North Park warmly welcomes friends and family to bundle up and delight in a joyful San Diego parade. This cheerful pageant will feel like a Winter Wonderland, as melodious marching bands, upbeat dance groups, cool vintage cars, beauty queens and city officials (and more!) warm your spirits. Santa Claus will be riding atop his merry red sleigh and bells will be ringing as loved ones snuggle up in the bright, frosty air.

Where: University Avenue between Utah and Iowa Street, San Diego, CA 92104
When: December 7, 2013
Time: 11:00 AM to 4:30 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the 2013 North Park Toyland Parade & Festival

Fort Rosecrans Goes to War! and
Cabrillo National Monument Centennial Celebration

Old Point Loma Lighthouse at the Cabrillo National Monument

Old Point Loma Lighthouse

The postponed Centennial Celebration will take place along with the annual Fort Rosecrans Goes to War! event. In addition to all the 100 birthday festivities, Fort Rosecrans will travel back in time to the 1940s with an amazing World War II Living History experience including a re-enactment of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the United State’s entry into the Second World War, plus its impact on San Diego.

Where: Cabrillo National Monument – 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr, San Diego, CA 92106 
When:
December 7-8, 2013
Time: 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM
Cost: Vehicles – $5. Walk-ins, bicyclists and motorcyclists – $3
> Find out more about Fort Rosecrans Goes to War
> Find out more about the Cabrillo National Monument Centennial Celebration

Holiday in the Village

Holiday in the Village Carolers - Top Things to Do in San Diego

Join in the festive fun with a South Bay holiday party

Get in the spirit with the second annual Holiday in the Village celebration. Festivities include Santa Claus, a North Pole-themed kid’s area, caroling, community performances, local artisans, the return of the Ugliest Sweater Contest and more.

Where: Third Avenue from E to G Street, Chula Vista, CA 91910
When: December 7, 2013
Time: 12:00 to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about Holiday in the Village

Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade

Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade

Everyone with 2 to 4 Legs will have fun at the Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade!

Can you say awwww? San Diego’s furriest festive parade returns to downtown as the Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade presented by Downtown Ace Hardware takes over the streets of the Gaslamp Quarter. Furry, featured and scaled companions will don their favorite costumes and put their best paw, wing and fin forward.

When: December 8, 2013
Time: 1:00 to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free to view. $15-$20 to participate
> Find out more about the Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade

More Top Things to Do in San Diego

> Browse the San Diego Event Calendar

Know of some other top things to do this weekend in San Diego? Let everyone know in the comments below.

Alison

A San Diego Holiday Tradition: Balboa Park December Nights

balboa park lily pond botanical building december nights san diego holiday celebration

Balboa Park December Nights is as close as San Diego gets to becoming a winter wonderland, and this year’s event promises to be bigger and better than ever. San Diego’s largest free festival, which is designed to be the city’s holiday gift to the community, is expected to draw at least 300,000 in this its 35th year.

The two-day celebration of entertainment, food and fun, takes place Friday, Dec. 6, from 3–11 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 7, from noon–11 p.m. Balboa Park is decked in twinkling lights and silvery garlands. Fanciful Christmas trees abound, and the aromas of multi-cultural holiday treats waft through the air.

balboa park lily pond botanical building december nights san diego holiday celebration

The Lily Pond and Botanical Building decked out for December Nights. (Photo by Manny Cencieros)

In the spirit of the season, participating park museums open their doors to the public free of charge from 5–9 p.m. both evenings. Many present special holiday programs. Kids will be awed by the elaborate gingerbread constructions at the Mingei International Museum and can join in holiday-inspired craft projects at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. All ages will be enthralled by the amazing handbell ringers who perform at the San Diego History Center, and don’t miss the San Diego Floral Association’s exhibit at the House of Hospitality of 30 beautifully decorated holiday trees.

balboa park organ pavilion san diego december nights holiday event

Festive performances take place on the beautiful stage of the Organ Pavilion.

Festivities are family friendly, multi-cultural and staged throughout the park.  The San Diego Civic Youth Ballet will perform excerpts from “The Nutcracker” on the Casa del Prado Stage. Steps away on the California Quadrangle near the San Diego Museum of Man, revelers can see the Santa Lucia Procession and children’s choir performances. The San Diego Civic Dance Company will present Rockettes-style routines, while a puppet version of “The Christmas Carol” will be presented at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater. African drumming and dance performances and Reggae music performances are planned at the WorldBeat Center. Dozens of singers, dancers and musicians will take to the stage at the Organ Pavilion.

Dr. Seuss' how the Grinch Stole Christmas Old Globe Theater San Diego Balboa Park December Nights holiday event

Kids can get their photo taken with the Grinch at the Old Globe.

Youngsters will have the opportunity to visit with Santa as he strolls the park, and they can pose for a photo in the Old Globe courtyard with Dr. Seuss’s Grinch who stole Christmas. Kids of all ages can join with Junior Theatre students singing holiday songs. A series of children’s holiday movies will run nonstop both evenings in the theater at the Hall of Champions. There also are plenty of carnival rides to keep the younger set entertained.

Hungry? December Nights is known for its mouth-watering range of food and drink offerings. The House of Pacific Relations International Cottages offer traditional holiday foods from a smorgasbord of nations: think empanadas, egg rolls, shepherd’s pie, pasties, pancit, samosas, plantains, pierogi, bourekas, baklava, paella, and even blueberry soup. Many museums offer tasty treats as well. You’ll find roasted chestnuts at the San Diego Art Institute, yakisoba at the Japanese Friendship Garden and hot toddies at the Hall of Champions. In addition, numerous food vendors sell an array of yummy holiday delights, from melted Swiss raclette to fresh-baked gingerbread cookies.  The 21+ set can sip a locally crafted brew at one of several beer gardens.

House of China Food International Cottages San Diego Balboa Park December Nights holiday event

Ethnic food specialties are part of the delicious fun at December Nights.

December Nights are prime time for holiday shopping.  Find great gifts at museum stores, from Spanish Village artisans and at a wide range of arts and crafts booths.  For $300 or less, buy a piece of original art right off the walls at the San Diego Art Institute. And don’t forget to buy a sprig of locally sourced mistletoe from San Diego Natural History Museum Canyoneers.

With so many attending December Nights, parking can be tougher than fitting down a chimney. Your best bet is to take public transportation or park for $5 at Petco Park or for free at City College. Free shuttles will ferry celebrants to and from 6th & Laurel from 3 p.m.–midnight on Friday and from 11:30 a.m.–midnight on Saturday.

Finally, be sure to bundle up!  While San Diego may better known for sandmen than snowmen, it can get downright chilly here on December nights.

What’s your favorite part of December Nights in Balboa Park? Let us know in the comments.

 

Suzzanne

Top Things to Do in San Diego: December 6-9, 2012

2011 Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade

If you love holiday lights, grab some hot cocoa; throw on a scarf because this is your weekend! Between Balboa Park’s December Nights to the San Diego Bay’s Parade of Lights, visitors will surely be in the holiday spirit with all these wonderful things to do!

1. Balboa Park December Nights

Balboa Park December Nights in San Diego

Balboa Park December Nights

This popular park-wide Christmas celebration features carolers, entertainment, ethnic food and crafts.

Location: Balboa Park
Dates: December 7-8, 2012
Times:
– Friday: 5:00 to 10:00 PM
– Saturday: 12:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: Free. Free admission to museums begins after 5:00 PM.
> Find out more about Balboa Park December Nights

2. Mission Bay Parade of Lights

Mission Bay Parade of Lights

Mission Bay Lights Up during the holiday season.

This popular boat parade begins at Quivira Basin. Best viewing will be from Crown Point, east side of Vacation Island or the west side of Fiesta Island. The parade ends with the lighting of the SeaWorld Skytower Tree of Lights at 9:00 PM.

> Find more Christmas light displays in San Diego

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

3. Port of San Diego Annual Boat Parade of Lights

Holiday Float - San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Lights on the water at the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

The spectacular Boat Parade of Lights feature individually holiday decorated private crafts. The parade starts at the southwest end of Shelter Island, travels past Harbor Island, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village, the Convention Center, the Coronado Ferry Landing Marketplace and ends at the Navy Carrier turning basin.

Dates: Sundays, December 9 and 16, 2012
Time: 5:30 to 7:30 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

4. Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade

2011 Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade

Everyone with 2 to 4 Legs will have fun at the Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade!

San Diego’s furriest festive parade returns to Downtown as the Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade presented by Downtown Ace Hardware takes over the streets of the Gaslamp Quarter. All pet owners and their furry, featured and scaled companions are invited to don their favorite costumes and put their best paw, wing and fin forward for this jolly promenade and pet expo.

> Discover even more Holiday Things to Do in San Diego

Date: December 9, 2012
Time: 1:00 to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free to View. $15-$20 to participate.
> Find out more about the Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade

> Browse more great things to do on the San Diego Event Calendar

Alison

Balboa Park’s December Nights – Two Nights of Holiday Magic – December 7-8, 2012

Organ Carolers - Balboa Park's December Nights
Organ Carolers - Balboa Park's December Nights

Music, food, drinks, rides and more! Find some Holiday Cheer at Balboa Park’s December Nights

Balboa Park’s December Nights – the city’s annual holiday gift to the community – promises to be bigger and better than ever this year. The 35th annual two-day celebration is the city’s largest free festival, expected to draw at least 300,000 this year.

December Nights is as close as San Diego gets to becoming a winter wonderland. Balboa Park is decked in twinkling lights and silvery garlands. Fanciful Christmas trees abound and the aromas of multi-cultural holiday treats waft through the air.

Free Entry into the Museums

For the occasion, park museums open their doors to the public, free of charge, from 5:00 until 9:00 PM both evenings. Many present special holiday programs. Kids will be awed by the elaborate gingerbread constructions at the Mingei International Museum and can join in holiday-inspired craft projects at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. All ages will be enthralled by the amazing bell ringers who perform at the San Diego History Center.

Things to Do During December Nights

Santa Lucia Procession - Balboa Park's December Nights

Enjoy a traditional Santa Lucia Procession in the California Quadrangle in front of the Museum of Man

Festivities are family friendly, multi-cultural and staged throughout the park. The San Diego Civic Youth Ballet will perform excerpts from “The Nutcracker” on the Casa del Prado Stage. Steps away, on the California Quadrangle near the San Diego Museum of Man, revelers can see the Santa Lucia Procession and children’s choir performances. Dozens of singers, dancer and musicians will take to the stage at the Organ Pavilion.

Youngsters will have the opportunity to visit with roving Santas and can pose for a photo in The Old Globe courtyard with Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! At the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater, they can see puppets come to life in an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and they can join with San Diego Junior Theatre students singing holiday songs. A series of children’s holiday movies will run nonstop both evenings in the theater at the San Diego Hall of Champions. There also are plenty of carnival rides to keep the younger set entertained.

December Nights are prime time for holiday shopping. Find great gifts at museum stores, from Spanish Village Art Center artisans and at a wide range of arts and crafts booths.

December Nights Food Options

House of China Food Prep - Balboa Park's December Nights

Sample delicious delicacies from around the world including traditional dishes from the House of China.

Hungry? December Nights is known for its mouth-watering range of food and drink offerings. The International Cottages of the House of Pacific Relations offer traditional holiday foods from a smorgasbord of nations: Think empanadas, eggrolls, aebleskiver, samosas, fried plantains, pierogi, bourekas, baklava, paella, even mashed potato stew.  Many museums offer tasty treats: Find roasted chestnuts at the San Diego Art Institute, yakisoba at the Japanese Friendship Garden, hot toddies at the Hall of Champions. In addition, numerous food vendors sell an array of yummy holiday delights – from melted Swiss raclette to fresh-baked gingerbread cookies. The 21+ set can sip a locally crafted brew at one of several beer gardens.

Getting to December Nights

Parking

With so many attending December Nights, parking can be tougher than fitting down a chimney. Shuttles are provided from PETCO Park (where parking will cost $5), the County Administration Building and several City College Parking lots offering free parking. Carpooling with all your friends is a must!

> Balboa Park’s December Nights Parking Map

Public Transportation

Since parking can be a little rough, consider saving yourself the hassle and taking public transportation. Ride the Orange or Blue Trolleys to the City College stop on 11th Avenue and then either hop on the Number 7 bus or enjoy a brisk walk up park. From Hillcrest, Uptown, Mid-City, Normal Heights, City Heights, and North Park communities take any bus to University Avenue and Park Blvd and transfer to a special Route 7 shuttle heading to Park Blvd.

Alternative Transportation

Want to relax without worrying about which stop to get off at or if you can get to the parking spot before it’s gone? Consider taking a taxi or using the posh Uber private driver service.

If you are close enough, try getting some fresh air and cycling into Balboa Park. There are plenty of bike racks throughout the park. The biggest bike racks can be found by the entrance of the San Diego ZooPlease remember to be safe and to wear a helmet and reflective vest, and to use front and rear blinking lights.

Balboa Park’s December Nights General Information

Location: Balboa Park
Dates: December 7-8, 2012
Times:
– Friday, December 7: 5:00 to 10:00 PM
– Saturday, December 8: 12:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: Free
Website: www.balboapark.org/decembernights

And be sure to bundle up. While San Diego may better known for sandmen than snowmen, it can get downright chilly here on December nights!

Suzzanne

5 to Try This Weekend in San Diego

1. Balboa Park December Nights: This annual celebration on December 2nd and 3rd is the largest free community festival in San Diego, featuring foods and crafts from around the world, music and events at Balboa Park’s divers museums.

2. La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival: On December 4, marching bands, floats, equestrians, vintage automobiles and more parade down the streets of La Jolla. The parade ends with a holiday festival featuring craft booths, carnival rides, food, entertainment and a tree lighting ceremony.

3. 36th Annual Coronado Christmas Open House & Parade: Get in the holiday spirit on December 2nd as Santa Claus will be arriving by ferry across the San Diego Bay and a Snow Mountain play area will be at the Coronado Ferry Landing. Afterwards, a colorful holiday parade and Merchants Open House takes place along Orange Avenue, followed by the traditional tree lighting of a 50-foot Christams tree and free community concert in Rotary Park.

4. Canine Cocktails: Head to the Hotel Indigo with your four-legged best friend for Canine Cocktails. Canine Cocktails happens monthly, on their Level 9 Rooftop Bar and offer Happy Hour drink specials and complimentary treats for your dog!

5. Amtrak 40th Anniversary Exhibit Train: On December 2nd and 3rd, come and experience Amtrak’s new exhibit train, which is traveling throughout the USA. The special train depicts Amtrak’s 40 year history, celebrating the past, present and future of Amtrak. Bring the kids to visit the special “Chugginton’s Depot” play area for story reading, coloring, hands on play with toy train sets and Chugginton episodes on continuous loop for viewing.

Suzzanne

25 Free Things to Do This Winter in San Diego

Balboa Park December Nights in San Diego

From traditional holiday parades and festivals to the migration of California gray whales along the Pacific coast, a visit to San Diego during the winter offers a wealth of free, fun and festive experiences.

Balboa Park December Nights in San Diego

Balboa Park December Nights

  1. Join the festivities during Balboa Park December Nights, a two-day holiday celebration of food, entertainment and fun on December 2-3. The numerous museums and cultural institutions in Balboa Park open their doors free of charge, and festivities include carolers, live music, holiday light displays, theater and dance performances.

  2. Whale Watch from the shores and cliffs of Point Loma, as California gray whales migrate south to the warm water breeding grounds off the coast of Baja, California. Spectators can catch a spectacular show during December through April when these majestic mammals pass through the waters off San Diego”s coastline.

  3. Be part of a grand Holiday Celebration on December 2 in Coronado with a festive parade along Orange Avenue, the lighting of a 75-foot Christmas tree, holiday music and a firework show over Glorietta Bay.

  4. Enjoy free organ concerts at the Spreckles Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park beginning at 2:00 pm each Sunday. The Organ Pavilion features the world”s largest outdoor pipe organ, where organists resound holiday favorites.

  5. See Old Town State Historic Park decked out for the holidays during Holiday in the Park on December 10 and enjoy holiday treats, activities and extended shopping hours, along with strolling carolers.

  6. Head over to Seaport Village for the festive <a title=”Surfin” Santa Arrival at Seaport Village” href=”http://www.sandiego.org/event/Visitors/9852″ target=”_blank”>Surfing Santa at Seaport Village event on November 26. Hang-ten with Santa and enjoy a lively parade along the Seaport Village boardwalk, music, stilt walkers, and kids” crafts.

  7. Spread some holiday cheer at the La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival on December 4 in downtown La Jolla. The event includes marching bands, floats, equestrian units, vintage automobiles and an appearance by Santa Claus.

  8. Drive to the mountain town of Julian for a warm mug of hot apple cider and a delicious slice of Julian”s legendary homemade apple pie. On Saturdays, stroll through the quaint neighborhood streets and enjoy the sounds of wandering Christmas carolers and best online casino a living nativity scene.

  9. Take a walk around Balboa Park and discover its beautiful architecture. Take advantage of the park”s variety of free offerings, including touring its spectacular gardens.

  10. Take a walk along one of San Diego”s 70 miles of beaches, all free and open to the public, and enjoy the beautiful sunsets.

  11. Visit the village of La Mesa on December 9 and 10 for Christmas in the Village. Enjoy street performers, carolers, carriage rides, entertainment for the whole family and more.

  12. Bring the family to the SoNo Park Holiday Fest on December 4 and celebrate with the restaurants and residents of South Park and North Park in a chili cook-off. Visitors can taste chili in hand-spun ceramic bowls, shop for holiday gifts from local artisans and enjoy live music, kid”s activities, gourmet food trucks, a beer garden featuring local and craft beer and more.

  13. Explore the tide pools in Point Loma, Ocean Beach and La Jolla when the tide is low to see some of the magnificent creatures of the sea.

  14. Enjoy the Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade on December 11 in downtown San Diego”s historic Gaslamp Quarter. Owners and their dressed-up pets march down the decorated streets of the neighborhood and end at a Pet Expo featuring an awards ceremony for best-dressed pups.

  15. Take a drive to the top of Mt. Soledad in La Jolla for a panoramic view of the city all spruced up in holiday decoration. Along the way, enjoy the beautifully decorated homes in this exclusive neighborhood.

  16. Drive to the 600,000-acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in San Diego”s East County to marvel at wildlife and a kaleidoscope of colorful flowers amidst the desert warmth.

  17. Gaze up at the massive balloons during the Big Bay Balloon Parade, the country”s largest balloon parade, on December 28.

  18. Enjoy the twinkling waters of San Diego Bay and more than 100 private boats decorated with holiday lights for the 40th Annual Port of San Diego Parade of Lights on December 11 and December 18.

  19. Get in the holiday spirit during Chula Vista”s 50th Annual Starlight Parade on December 3, featuring carolers, holiday cheer, floats, drill teams, marching bands, classic cars, a children”s event and visit from Santa.

  20. Experience a white Christmas in San Diego after making the scenic, one-hour drive to the top of Mount Laguna in San Diego”s rustic East County.

  21. Delight in the festive gatherings of the Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights on December 10. Over 100 brightly illuminated powerboats and sailboats parade along Mission Bay; the parade ends with a fantastic fireworks show at 9:00 pm above SeaWorld San Diego.

  22. Experience a magical evening of holiday celebrations December 3 at the California Center for the Arts Escondido during the annual Holiday Tree Lighting and Winter Wonderland. Enjoy seasonal music and Victorian carolers, a visit from Santa, free art activities and treats, a spectacular light show and real snow!

  23. Celebrate holiday cheer during Poway Winterfest on December 10. The event features a tree lighting ceremony, visits from Santa, train rides, live music, theatre performances, food, treats, crafts and more.

  24. Join the community of Carlsbad for their annual Tree Lighting Festivities, December 4 at the Village Faire Shopping Center. Enjoy children”s crafts, cookies and cider, entertainment and pictures with Santa.

  25. Rock out at the Poinsettia Bowl Gaslamp March on December 19. Held two days prior to the annual Poinsettia Bowl, bands representing the two Bowl football teams line up at opposite ends of Fifth Avenue in downtown”s Gaslamp Quarter and face-off in an old fashion battle of the bands.