Candice

Destination San Diego Episode 6 – Behind San Diego’s Icons

San Diego is known for a lot of things, from Top Gun to Shamu! On this edition of Destination San Diego, you’ll get a peek behind the scenes at some of the region’s most well known icons, like the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and the annual Comic-Con International convention. SeaWorld’s Stranded Animal Coordinator, Jody Westberg, shares a behind-the-scenes tour of the Animal Care Center along with her favorite spots outside the park to catch a glimpse of San Diego’s wildlife. Plus, you’ll also discover a few lesser-known secrets, like the best places to get delicious, authentic Asian food in San Diego’s north side, the history of the University of San Diego, and San Diego’s apple country in the mountain town of Julian.

What’s In This Episode of Destination San Diego

> Watch all the Destination San Diego Episodes

Candice

Destination San Diego Episode 2: Hidden Gems in San Diego’s North County

In this episode of Destination San Diego, we’ll explore the diverse terrain and miles of open spaces in San Diego’s Northeast region – an exceptional place to hike or bike, play a round of golf or spend an afternoon at a local winery. We’ll dig into the unexpected history of Ramona and explore the storied past of the Old Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside. Plus, PGA-certified teaching professional and mom, Tina Mickelson, talks about her family’s favorite places to play and what makes golf different in San Diego. Finally, we’ll reveal a hidden, magical garden in Escondido.

What’s In This Episode of Destination San Diego

> Watch all the Destination San Diego Episodes

Brent Bernasconi

Enter the Retreat to San Diego Sweepstakes

Retreat to San Diego Sweepstakes

Retreat to San Diego Sweepstakes

Pack your bags & prepare yourself for a San Diego retreat! Find out why San Diego’s North County Inland is a real treasure by entering our sweepstakes for a chance to win domestic roundtrip airfare and a complete two-night trip through 11:00 PM on September 30th, 2015! Wake up to views of the rolling hills at the Hilton Garden Inn Rancho Bernardo, explore over 2,600 wild animal species aboard a safari adventure at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and toast to a San Diego retreat this fall with a wine tasting experience at Bernardo Winery, Southern California’s oldest operating winery!

> Enter the Retreat to San Diego Sweepstakes

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – March 18-23, 2014

San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering EXPO Day

First, check out San Diego’s Guides to the Good Stuff for new ideas. Then browse this list of top things to do and make your plans to visit San Diego this weekend.

San Diego Latino Film Festival

San Diego Latino Film Festival - Top Things to Do in San Diego

Over 160 films and videos from across Latin America and the United States will be screened at theaters throughout the county. Directors, actors, and audience members from around the globe will descend on San Diego for the festival. A number of showcases help guide attendees through the diverse array of films being shown, for example CineGay shows gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender films, while Documania shows documentaries.

When: Through March 23, 2014
Cost: $9-$200
> Find out more about the San Diego Latino Film Festival

San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering EXPO Day

San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering EXPO Day

Get hands on with science at this free family day at Petco Park

Participate in hands-on activities, meet real scientists and engineers and learn how their discoveries and research affect our daily lives. The Festival is a unique opportunity to reach students of all ages and backgrounds, inspiring the next generation of innovators.

Where: Petco Park – 100 Park Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92101
When: March 22, 2014
Time: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering EXPO Day

Mission Beach Centennial Monument Dedication & Walk

Mission Beach Centennial Monument Dedication & Resident Walk

Kick-off the year-long Mission Beach Centennial celebration with a monument/plaque dedication commemorating the 100 years of this popular beachfront community. The walk will begin at either end of Mission Beach meeting on the boardwalk where residents will stroll to the southwest corner of Belmont Park where the monument/plaque will be placed.

Where: End of each court on Ocean Front Walk
When: March 22, 2014
Time: 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Mission Beach Centennial Monument Dedication & Walk

TRANSANNUAL: Normal Actions for Normal Heights

TRANSANNUAL: Normal Actions for Normal Heights

TRANSANNUAL will begin with empty sidewalks, and end with the memory of the experience. The Participating Artists and Assistant Collaborators will be creating/dissolving, installing/de-installing, and performing for the entire duration. There will be no Event Schedule, Map, or Information about the Artworks. Outside of the date, timeframe, and general area, the public will only be given this Conceptual Framework and some enigmatic clues.

Where: Adams Avenue from 32nd St. to 34th St., San Diego, CA 92116
When: March 22, 2014
Time: 4:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about TRANSANNUAL: Normal Actions for Normal Heights

NWEAMO – Play, Players, Playing & Playfulness

NWEAMO Festival - Play, Players, Playing & Playfulness

We are hardwired to play. All mammals and birds play. Play binds us with other fellow creatures in an exuberant celebration of life. Play is essential for our survival, our health, and our well-being. It is one of the seven primary process emotions, so distinct and primeval that the brain circuit of play lights up the fMRI like a constellation in the night sky. When we play, we laugh: dogs laugh, monkeys laugh, rats laugh, parrots laugh (and dance). We need to laugh and play as much as possible.

When: March 22-23, 2014
Cost: $20-$45
> Find out more about NWEAMO – Play, Players, Playing & Playfulness

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.

Candice

Golf for Beginners: Maderas Golf Academy

In San Diego, there are a few sports everyone should try. Surfing is one, and after living in San Diego for many years, I finally tried getting up on a board last year. Golf is another – after all, San Diego is home to more than 90 golf courses. When Maderas Golf Club was recently named one of the top 100 best public courses in the U.S. by GolfDigest, I knew it was time to give it a shot…even if my shot ended up in the sand.

Welcome to Maderas Golf Club.

Welcome to Maderas Golf Club.

Located in the rolling desert hills of Poway in San Diego’s North County, Maderas feels a world away from the city streets of downtown San Diego but can be reached in an easy 30-minute drive. Upon arriving to the green oasis spotted with golden lillies and sparkling fountains, I was greeted by Chris Mayson, Director of Instruction for the Maderas Golf Academy. Since Chris also happens to be the director of the USA Junior National Golf Team and was an accomplished NCAA golfer, I knew I’d be learning from the best…but it would take the best to get this klutzy kid to make it through even one hole.

Chris Mayson explains the different clubs to the beginning student.

Chris Mayson explains the different clubs to the beginning student.

Fortunately for beginners like me, Chris’s instruction was thorough, patient and kind. His enthusiasm for teaching didn’t even wain when I explained that I’d never so much as picked up a golf club before! We began by heading out to the range for a few practice shots. After explaining and demonstrating the proper grip of the club and mechanics of the swing, it was time to give it a try. WHIFF!! (That would be the sound of my club swinging right past the ball without making contact.)

But it wasn’t long before I was making progress. On the second shot, my club made contact, and the ball hopped down the range. Within the first 15 minutes, I managed to get one or two shots out to about 120 feet!

The scenery of Maderas Golf Club.

The scenery of Maderas Golf Club.

After trying out the different types of clubs and building up some confidence on the range, it was time to try the course. As we set off in a cart down the course designed by Johnny Miller and Robert Muir Graves, I could see why GolfDigest would rate Maderas so highly. Each prestine hole surround by flower beds, creeks, trees and rocky cliffs called out to be played on. Teeing off for the first time was a challenge; Chris reminded me that beginning golfers often have a hard time getting lift, so he reminded me to focus on hitting the tee underneatch rather than the ball.

Ok, so exactly a flawless first attempt.

Ok, so exactly a flawless first attempt.

On a hole with a par 3, I managed a respectable 7, though I think Chris shaved off a few shots and permitted me a few more “do-overs” than most golfers would be allowed. But when I sank the final putt, I understood why Maderas embraces the slogan “Golf is its own reward.” Golfers of all skills levels would do well to spend an afternoon at the Maderas Golf Club, and beginners, rest assured that if they can teach me, they can teach anyone!

Do you have a favorite San Diego golf course? Share it in the comments below!

Denise

5 Great Family Friendly Biking Trails in San Diego

Family Friendly Biking on Coronado
Family Friendly Biking on Coronado

There’s almost nothing like feeling the sunshine and a cool breeze while pedaling along these family friendly biking trails in San Diego

Riding a bike is one of those great activities that transcends age – it’s for the young and young at heart – plus, they say once you’ve learned how to do it, you’ll never forget. Add that to San Diego’s year-round sunshine and biking rises to the top of the must-do activity list for outdoor family fun when exploring the best scenic terrain San Diego has to offer.

Here are a few family friendly biking trails you can choose, and cruise, for the ultimate San Diego family adventure.

Mission Bay Park

Besides incredible views of San Diego’s gorgeous shoreline, Mission Bay Park is an epicenter for biking enthusiasts of every age. There’s a wide paved path covering about 4 miles and Fiesta Island is nearby if you want to extend the ride another 2 to 5 miles depending on the path you choose. There are also other challenging options for advanced riders.

Mission Beach Boardwalk

This is the quintessential San Diego beach biking experience. Along the 3-mile oceanfront boardwalk, you’ll find funky surf shops, cool places to eat and the iconic Belmont Park amusement park. It can get crowded, however, making it tricky navigating around joggers and walkers, especially if you have little bikers in tow. If you’re bringing the family, the best time to ride is on a weekday or early morning.

Coronado

Coronado is home to one of the most beautiful beaches in the U.S., if not the world. There are about 30 miles of dedicated bike, blading and running paths with awesome views around town and the beach. You can bike the island via Coronado’s beachfront boardwalk, ride under the Coronado Bridge, pedal to the world-famous Hotel Del Coronado or venture down the Silver Strand.

Lake Miramar

Lake Miramar is an absolute treasure for families. You’ll find great picnic areas, and bikers share a 5-mile paved path around the lake with walkers, joggers and nature lovers watching assorted ducks, geese and critters who also call the lake home. For more experienced bikers, the area offers unpaved and rugged trails as well.

Santee Lakes

A beautiful 194-acre park surrounds seven scenic lakes providing instant relaxation and more than 5 miles of trails for biking. This is a natural environment perfect for families and the locals refer to it as one of “the best backyards in San Diego!”

> Enjoy Even more Family Friendly Biking in San Diego

Please remember to ride safe and obey all the San Diego traffic and safety laws.

Tell us about your favorite family friendly biking trail in San Diego.

Sandra

Clothing for Men – Find Him the Perfect Outfit in San Diego

Mister B - Clothing for Men

Men and shopping? You bet! And San Diego is just the place to find that perfect ensemble to fit any occasion. As a personal wardrobe stylist I feel that clothing for men is less complicated than for women. San Diego’s local boutiques have embraced this concept making it easy to find anything from Casual-Chic to unique Work-Wear to Date-Night styles for men.

Find Great Clothing for Men at these Stores

Chillers Showroom

Chillers Showroom - Shopping Guide for Men

Chillers Showroom

Some of my recommended boutiques for Casual-Chic for men are Chillers Showroom. This spacious Pacific Beach boutique has some great options for casual button-down shirts, jeans and thermal hoodies. I also love that you can create your own custom t-shirt screen-printed right on site utilizing some of their fantastic Chillers artwork!

Location: 4667 Cass Street, San Diego, CA 92109 (map)
Website: www.chillersshowroom.com

Fowlers

Fowlers

Fowlers

Fowlers, located in Solana Beach, is the perfect place to locate laid-back looks. Shop for the perfect Beach-Chic shorts or jeans, a stylish watch or maybe an awesome pair of sunglasses!

Location: 731 South Highway 101, Suite 1A3, Solana Beach, CA 92075 (map)
Website: www.fowlers.bigcartel.com

HIS

HIS - Clothing for Men

HIS – Clothing for Men

HIS is in the Design District called Cedros. I love their relaxed yet cool inventory of everyday styles for men. They carry unique brands and have a talent for offering just a step up from an everyday surfer-style look.

Location: 143 South Cedros Avenue, Suite K, Solana Beach, CA 92075 (map)
Website: www.hismensstore.com

Mister B

Mister B - Clothing for Men

Mister B – Clothing for Men

When it comes to work-wear options or dinner-date looks, I recommend shopping at Mister B. This store offers fine men’s clothing with great European brands. Their suits, sport coats and shoes are to die for. If you’re looking for sophistication, this is the perfect place to shop.

Location: 162 S. Rancho Santa Fe Road, Encinitas, CA 92024 (map)
Website: www.misterbclothing.com

Matti D

Matti D

Matti D

A great place to shop for date-night looks is the fab store called, Matti D. Whether you are searching for the latest pair of jeans or some unique outerwear this boutique carries it all. I love their selection of scarves and cashmere sweaters too.

Location: 2689 Via De La Valle, Del Mar, CA 92014 (map)
Website: www.matti-d.com

Mint

Mint Shoes

Mint Shoes

When it comes to completing men’s style, cool shoes are a must! I love the shoe boutique called Mint. This boutique carries hard to find retro brands and the latest urban-chic styles for casual shoes and boots.

Location: 525 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103 (map)
Website: www.mintshoes.com

Stile Italiano

Stile Italiano

Stile Italiano

If Italian quality and “dolce vita” style is for you then Stile Italiano is the place! This boutique is reasonably priced with imported unique fashions for men. The owner comes from Italy and has a long family history in fashion and design. I love their wallets, jackets and one-of-a-kind shoes. They even carry some great artwork to purchase!

Location: 142 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103 (map)
Website: www.stileitaliano.us

> Browse more Shopping Ideas in San Diego

Know of any other great clothing for men stores in San Diego? Let us and others know in the comments below.

Martin

Hikes with a View – Get Outdoors and See San Diego

Hiking trough La Jolla's Torrey Pines State Park

San Diego’s diverse terrain offers plenty of wonderful and challenging hiking trails. These trails listed below offer something event better, rewarding hikes with a view.

Cowles Mountain

360 Panorama of Cowles Mountain

360 Panorama of Cowles Mountain. Via Wikipedia

There is no place in the San Diego city limits with a better 360-degree view. Where else can you, on a clear, sunny day, see the Cuyamaca Mountains to the east, Tijuana to the south, the Pacific Ocean to the west, including the outline of San Clemente Island and Catalina Island? You feel like you can reach out and touch Downtown, Point Loma and the Coronado Islands. It’s that spectacular!

There are two ways to attack Cowles (pronounced like kohl’s) Mountain, and know this: at just over three miles roundtrip (1.5 uphill for a 950-foot elevation gain), it is a workout. The staging and parking area off Navajo Road and Golfcrest Drive gets the most traffic and can be a parade of all sizes, shapes and forms on weekends. But the fire road off Cowles Mountain Boulevard and Boulder Lake is the best way to go if you want a more secluded hike. Rather than the sharp switchbacks on the south side (Golfcrest) the fire road offers a steady, winding climb to the top. At 1,593 feet, it’s the highest point in the city and the rising jewel of the Mission Trails Regional Park.

Warning: Always be aware that rattlers could be on the trail, especially the lesser-used fire road, at any point.

For more information on Cowles Mountain, check the Mission Trails Regional Park website, www.mtrp.org.

Shelter Island Shoreline Park

Shelter Island Shoreline Park

Enjoy views of the bay along Shelter Island Shoreline Park

For a more relaxing hike that at times will flood the senses with Naval warships, sailboats, fishing boats and craft of every kind, try a walk along Shelter Island. The pier, launch ramp and promenade combine to create the mile-long Shelter Island Shoreline Park. It spans the length of the bay along Shelter Island and is a great place to relax, hike or even ride a bike.

Park near the Shelter Island Pier and start there with a walk out onto the pier. There’s good fishing there, too, if that’s a diversion you choose to do. From the pier, you can see the incredible San Diego skyline to the east. This walk is good any time of day or night. At Christmas time you can time it for the Parade of Lights, when the local sport fishing captains decorate their boats with holiday lights and sail along the Island.

As you walk east of the pier, stop along the launch ramp area to see boats of all sizes launching or coming back from fishing or boating trips. The Outboard Boating Club is there at the launch ramp. If someone is outside, ask them about that club’s storied history of power boating and commodores.

Los Peñasquitos Canyon

Los Peñasquitos Canyon Waterfall

Explore San Diego’s inland areas with a hike to Los Peñasquitos Canyon’s tranquil waterfall.

Head inland to hike one of the city’s more interesting and scenic canyons, the Los Peñasquitos Canyon hike. It’s about six miles roundtrip to the waterfall and is both family- and dog-friendly. This trail is frequented by mountain bikers, too, so beware of that. You have the option of staying on the main trail or taking a one-track side trail that eventually will hook up to the main trail. Los Peñasquitos Canyon is well worth the trip if you want to really get a look at an undeveloped canyon in the heart of the city.

Park at the junction of Mercy and Black Mountain Road, where parking is $3, or park in the back of Canyonside Community Park for free.

The Beach Trail at Torrey Pines State Park Reserve

Hiking trough La Jolla's Torrey Pines State Park

Enjoy ocean views on a hike through Torrey Pines

The Beach Trail at Torrey Pines State Park Reserve is an incredible hike that starts in the parking lot of the Torrey Pines Golf Course and then weaves along the old highway (built-in 1910 and paved in 1915) that once connected San Diego to Los Angeles. You can also park in the reserve at the top for a fee, but the best way it to get a spot in the golf course parking lot and go north to the old road. You’ll see signs identifying all the trails. There are several options, but the Beach Trail will take you down to the water’s edge for some great beach hikes north (including the area’s nude beach, Black’s) and south. Along the way there are views from Red Butte, Razor Point and Yucca Point. Check them out and look out into the Pacific for breaching, spouting or porpoising whales or surfing dolphins.

Other Great San Diego Hikes with a View

The Calm Waters of Lake Murray

Enjoy a leisurely hike next to the calm waters of Lake Murray

Lake Murray and Lake Miramar both have trails that rim their shorelines offering great lake views and good workouts.

Lake Miramar’s trail (really a perimeter road that is used by cars, bikes, rollerbladers and families with strollers, so beware) goes all the way around the lake, crossing the reservoir for a 5-mile hike. Miramar is in the Scripps Ranch area of the city. It’s off Scripps Ranch Drive (92131)

Lake Murray’s trail ends at the dam, so you have to double back for the 5-mile trek. Murray is at the base of Cowles Mountain in the La Mesa/San Carlos area. It can be accessed off Lake Murray Boulevard (5549 Kiowa Drive, La Mesa, CA, 91942).

There’s good parking at both lakes, especially during the week. On weekends, it’s pretty crowded, so get there early.

Suzzanne

Top Things to Do in San Diego: November 29 – December 2, 2012

North Park Toyland Parade and Festival

The holiday season is officially upon us! If you are avoiding the stores (or even better…done with your shopping), get out and enjoy one of these San Diego events and things to do this weekend.

1. NCAA® 2012 Women’s College Cup

NCAA 2012 Women's College Cup

Catch the excitement of the NCAA 2012 Women’s College Cup for its first visit to San Diego

For the first time ever, the University of San Diego will be hosting the NCAA College Cup, the women’s Division I soccer national championship on November 30 & December 2, 2012 at Torero Stadium. Penn State, Florida State, North Carolina and Stanford will make their way to San Diego to play for the national championship.

Location: Torero Stadium, 5998 Alcala Park, San Diego, CA 92110 (map)
Dates: November 20 and December 2, 2012
Cost: $40 for all three games. Parking is free
> Find out more about the NCAA 2012 Women’s College Cup

2. LEGO Train City Exhibit

LEGO Train City Exhibit - San Diego Model Railroad Museum

All aboard the train to LEGO City at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum

If you have kids of a certain age, visiting this exhibit at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum is a must. The exhibit features LEGO trains, trestles, transportation, skyscrapers, canyons, mountains, an ocean boardwalk and town buildings. Little ones can also enjoy playful learning in a LEGO Brick City zone filled with interactive, creative and educational activities.

Location: 1649 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101 (map)
Dates: November 20, 2012 – January 18, 2013
Time: 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM (Closed on Mondays)
Cost: Included with admission. Adults – $8, Seniors – $6, Children 14 and under – Free
> Find out more about the San Diego Model Railroad Museum’s LEGO Train City Exhibit

3. Holiday Lights at the Del Mar Fairgrounds

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObT5PiEu2Fk]

Enjoy the largest animated drive-through light show on the U.S. West Coast with more than 400 brilliant holiday light displays. Themed for the holiday season, the Holiday of Lights is a spectacular drive-through light show with crowd-pleasing, family oriented displays organized into themes, which include: Candy Cane Lane, Toyland, San Diego County Fair, Treasures by the Lake, Del Mar Racetrack, the Twelve Days of Christmas and Elves at Play.

> Find more Christmas light displays in San Diego

Location: Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Boulevard, Del Mar, CA 92014 (map)
Dates: November 22, 2012 – January 1, 2013
Times: Sunday-Thursday: 5:30 to 10:00 PM. Friday-Saturday: 5:30 to 10:30 PM
Cost: $15 per car, up to 5 people. $20 per vehicle, 6 or more people. $50 per bus. $10 per person for the Holiday Hayride
> Find out more about Holiday Lights at the Del Mar Fairgrounds

4. North Park Toyland Parade and Festival

North Park Toyland Parade and Festival

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

Celebrating its 49th year, the North Park Toyland Parade and festival includes vintage cars, marching bands, dance groups, beauty queens and city officials. Keep your eye out for Santa Claus and his sleigh, as he jingles all the way down the parade route.

> Discover even more Holiday Things to Do in San Diego

Location: Click here for the parade route
Date: December 1, 2012
Time: Parade starts at 11:00 AM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the North Park Toyland Parade and Festival

5. SoNo Park Holiday Fest & Chilipalooza

SoNo Park Holiday Fest & Chilipalooza Collage

Chili, Shopping, Chili, Beer and Wine, Chili and Family Fun at the SoNo Park Holiday Fest & Chilipalooza. Did we mention there will be chili?

For the past 3 years, the two neighborhoods of South Park and North Park come together for the SoNo Park Holiday Fest & Chilipalooza. This family friendly festival offers a kids zone, shopping from local artisans, music, local craft beer and, of course, chili made by local restaurants and residents. Stop by to taste some chili and vote for your favorite in the “People’s Choice Award.”

Location: 32nd Street and Thorn, San Diego, CA 92104 (map)
Date: December 2, 2012
Time: 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Festival is Free. $20 for a ceramic chili bowl, 5 restaurant tastings and unlimited community tastings
> Find out more about SoNo Park Holiday Fest & Chilipalooza

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

Know of any other great events going on in San Diego this weekend? Let us and others know about them in the comments below.

Brent Bernasconi

Christmas Light Displays – Where to See Them in San Diego – Updated with More Lights

Mission Bay Parade of Lights

> Check out the 2015 List of Christmas Lights in San Diego

Start the car, fill up a thermos of hot chocolate and grab some cookies so the whole family can enjoy an evening of twinkling christmas light displays in San Diego.

Please note, some light displays are weather dependent.

Here are just a few highlights:

Holiday of Lights

With more than 400 twinkling light displays, the Holiday of Lights is the largest animated drive-through light show on the west coast! For a more “traditional” experience, park the car and take one of the Holiday Hayrides complete with holiday music, carolers, fire pits for roasting marshmallows, hot chocolate or cider, a great big Christmas cookie, and plenty of hay.

Location: Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Boulevard, Del Mar, CA 92014 (map)
Dates: November 22, 2012 – January 1, 2013
Times:
– Sunday-Thursday: 5:30 to 10:00 PM
– Friday-Saturday: 5:30 to 10:30 PM
Cost:
– $15 per car, up to 5 people
– $20 per vehicle, 6 or more people
– $50 per bus
– $10 per person for the Holiday Hayride
> Get Holiday Hayride Tickets
> Save $2 per Car (PDF)

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

Over 80 lavishly decorated boats will sail over the calm waters of the Big Bay during the 41st Annual 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 9 and 16, 2012
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

Over 100 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. Once comfortably seated, enjoy the parade, the finale of fireworks, and the lighting of the SeaWorld Skytower Tree.

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

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 89.7 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 (map)
Dates: 
November 24 – December 26, 2012
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's Bright Christmas Light Display

Curtis Muller knows how to light up the holiday nights

Curtis Muller may only be in his early 20s, but he 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 (map)
Dates: December 20, 21, 22, 23 and 25
Time: 5:00 to 9:00 PM
Cost: $3 per person
> Find out more about Curtis Muller’s Bright Christmas

Garden of Lights

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 (map)
Dates: December 12-23, 2012 (Closed December 24-25)
Time: 5:00 to 9:00 PM
> Find out more about Garden of Lights

Popular San Diego Neighborhoods’ Christmas Light Displays

Christmas Light Display - Rancho Penasquitos Christmas Card Lane

San Diego neighborhoods light up during the holidays

There are also plenty of San Diego neighborhoods who collectively get into the holiday spirit with entire blocks lit up with lights. Below are a few of the more popular neighborhoods that have had diplays in the past:

  • Chula Vista’s Christmas Circle
    Located along the loop of  Whitney Street and Mankato Street in San Diego’s South Bay, this neighborhood display usually runs from 5:00 to 10:00 PM through December 26.
  • Rancho Penasquitos’ Christmas Card Lane
    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.
  • La Mesa’s Jingle Bell Hill
    Also known as Pepper Drive lights, Jingle Bell Hill is located on Solomon Avenue and Pegeen Place.
  • Garrison Street in Point Loma
    Start at Garrison Street and Chatsworth Boulevard and take your time enjoying the display.
  • Poway’s Candy Cane Lane
    Make your way down Poway’s Candy Cane Lane (more like a cul-de-sac) by starting at Hickory Street and Saddlewood Drive.

> Discover even more holiday excitement in San Diego

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