Robert Arends

5 to Try: Holiday Happenings in San Diego’s East County

SoCal's largest ice skating rink at Viejas Outlet Center!

SoCal’s largest ice skating rink at Viejas Outlet Center!

“Oh the weather outside is frightful…” everywhere else but here, in sunny San Diego! With temps in the high 60s, winter is a wonderful time of year to check out the city sights, as well as activities in our East County region where ’tis the season to see charming foothill, mountain and desert communities decked in holiday splendor.

Following are 5 Holiday Festivities to Try – sure to have families humming “fa la la la la” all season long:

1. Christmas in the Village

La Mesa Christmas in the Village

It’s a winter wonderland at La Mesa Christmas in the Village

The delightful downtown of La Mesa transforms into an old-fashioned Christmas in the Village. There’s fun for the whole family: horse-drawn carriages, Santa Claus, carolers, carnival rides, live music stages and an outdoor market to shop for one-of-a-kind gifts.

Where: La Mesa Blvd & Spring Street, La Mesa, CA 91941
When: December 13-14, 2013
Time: 5:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about La Mesa’s Christmas in the Village

2. Annual Christmas Caroling Sing Along

Holiday Fun at Mt. Helix Annual Christmas Caroling in San Diego's East County

Join Santa’s Elves for a night of holiday merriment and Christmas caroling

Just up the hill on La Mesa’s majestic Mt. Helix – featuring spectacular 360 degree views of San Diego – the Annual Christmas Caroling Sing Along. Join Santa Claus, a choir of carolers and concert bands in musical merriment. There will also be free baked goods, hot drinks, and a raffle for prizes.

Where: 4901 Mt. Helix Drive, La Mesa, California 91941
When: December 15, 2013
Time: 6:30 to 8:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about Mt. Helix’s Annual Christmas Caroling Sing Along

3. Handel’s Messiah

In the historic Gold Rush mountain town of Julian, enjoy a rousing rendition of Handel’s Messiah by the Julian Community Choir in the Town Hall. While you’re there, be sure to sample Julian’s famous apple pies with a cup of hot cocoa. Our local U-T San Diego paper recently touted their top Julian pie shop picks.

Where: Julian Town Hall – 2129 Main Street, Julian, CA 92036
When: December 15, 2013
Time: Starts at 7:00 PM
> Find more events in Julian

4. Ice Skating

Viejas Outlet Center Ice Skating

Viejas Ice Skating Rink

Grab your scarf and mittens and head to Viejas Outlet Center in Alpine to practice figure 8s on the largest outdoor ice skating rink in Southern California!

Where: 5005 Willows Rd Suite 229, Alpine, CA 91901
When: Through January 5, 2014
Time:
– Monday-Friday: 5:00 to 10:00 PM
– Saturday-Sunday: 12:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: $12-$14
> Find out more about the Viejas Outlet Center Ice Rink

5. Barona’s North Pole Gingerbread Village

Barona's North Pole Gingerbread Village

Barona’s North Pole Gingerbread Village

Look but don’t eat the incredible Barona’s North Pole Gingerbread Village at Barona Casino in Lakeside. This 50-foot culinary wonder – which took 900 hours to create! – features a snow-covered village complete with Santa’s workshop, an elf tavern and train station made entirely of gingerbread! It’s located at the entrance to the bustling Season’s Fresh Buffet and will be on display through Dec. 30. Yum! 😉

Where: 1932 Wildcat Canyon Rd, Lakeside, CA 92040
When: Through December 30, 2013

> Discover more holiday cheer in San Diego

Ho ho ho from East County!

Brent Bernasconi

Ice Skating This Winter Under the San Diego Stars

While lights wrapped around palm trees are much more common than snowmen with carrots for noses, San Diego gets into the winter spirit with a twist. Just throw on a pair of jeans and grab a light jacket before you and your loved one(s) head out for some outdoor ice skating under the warm San Diego sky.

Skating by the Sea – Coronado

Ice Skating by the Pacific Ocean at the Hotel Del Coronado

Skating by the Sea at the Del!

Imagine hearing the ocean waves crashing against the pristine white sand while you glide over the ice enjoying the winter sunshine…wait…why imagine when you can actually experience it during the Hotel del Coronado‘s Skating by the Sea? The oceanfront Windsor Lawn is transformed into a spectacular ice rink overlooking the Pacific Ocean creating a picturesque holiday in San Diego.

A portion of the skating proceeds will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of San Diego.

Location: Hotel del Coronado, 1500 Orange Avenue, Coronado, CA, 92118 (map)
Dates: November 21, 2012 – January 5, 2013
Times:
– Daily – 2:00 to 5:00 PM and 6:00 to 9:00 PM
– Matinee – 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM (Weekend and Holidays – November 21 – December 14, January 2-5 and Daily – December 15 – January 1)
Cost: Kids – $20; Adults – $25. Matinee Child -$15; Matinee Adult – $20
> Pre-purchase Skating by the Sea Tickets
> Save Time and Print out the Ice Skating Waiver (PDF)

Sycuan’s Fantasy on Ice – Gaslamp Quarter

Ice Skating in Horton Plaza - Sycuan's Fantasy on Ice

Ice skate in the heart of San Diego at Sycuan’s Fantasy on Ice.

Located in the center of Downtown San Diego, Sycuan’s Fantasy on Ice in the Gaslamp Quarter is a great place for a day or night out in San Diego. Stop by one of the many surrounding restaurants for a quick bite or sip on a warm drink from a cafe and then burn off those calories with a few laps around the ice rink. Stop by with that special someone on the weekend for one of the romantic night sessions complete with mood lighting and music while you skate.

A portion of the skating proceeds will benefit the Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego.

Location: Horton Plaza, 225 Broadway Circle, San Diego, CA 92101 (map)
Dates: November 15, 2012 – January 6, 2013 (Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Days)
Times:
– Monday-Thursday – 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM
– Friday-Sunday – 10:00 AM to 7:30 PM and 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM (Night Session)
– Christmas Eve and New Years Eve – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Children (Under 12) – $12; Adults – $14; Season Pass – $35
> Pre-purchase Sycuan’s Fantasy on Ice Tickets

Ice Skating at Viejas – East County

Ice Skaters at the Viejas Outlet Center in San Diego's East County

There’s plenty of room at the largest outdoor skating rink in Southern California.

San Diego’s East County is known for its wide open spaces, so that’s why Viejas Outlet Center decided to go big and build the largest outdoor ice skating rink in Southern California. Gather up the whole family and some friends to enjoy a day of shopping, hot chocolate and, of course, ice skating under the stars!

Location: Viejas Outlet Center, 5000 Willow Road, Alpine, CA 91901 (map)
Dates: November 16, 2012 – January 6, 2013
Times: Click here for daily times
Cost: Children (12 and under) – $10; Adults – $12; Groups of 10 or more $2 off each person
> Save Time and Print out the Ice Skating Waiver (PDF)

Ice Skating Year Round

For those looking for some ice skating fun year-round in San Diego, check out the San Diego Ice Arena (North County Inland), Kroc Center Ice Arena (San Diego), Iceoplex Escondido (North County Inland) and the UTC Ice Sports Center (La Jolla).

What are you waiting for, get out there and skate like Brian Boitano would!

Know of any other outdoor ice skating opportunities in San Diego this winter? Let us and others know in the comments below.