Robert Arends

Holiday Cheer, Santa, Snow and more in Coronado!

Ho ho ho from Coronado! Just a bridge or convenient ferryboat ride away from downtown San Diego…

This weekend, the island kicks off its holiday fun with Santa Claus” arrival by ferryboat, snow for the kids to play in (yep!) and a good ol” fashioned parade down Orange Avenue.

Here”s a quick look at the day”s stocking full of fun, festive, free activities:

38th Annual Coronado Christmas Parade & Open House

Santa Claus

Santa Claus” festive arrival at the Coronado Ferry Landing!

3:20 PM: Santa Claus and his elves arrive by ferry-boat at the Coronado Ferry Landing.
3:00 to 7:00 PM: Snow Mountain at the Coronado Ferry Landing for sledding and making snowballs and snowmen! There will also be carolers, live entertainment, hot cocoa and photos with Santa.

Snow Mountain fun at the Coronado Ferry Landing!

Snow Mountain fun at the Coronado Ferry Landing!

5:00 to 9:00 PM: Merchants online casino Open House along Orange Ave. to find the perfect one-of-a-kind gift for everyone on your shopping list; there”s also free metered parking!
6:00 to 7:00 PM: Christmas Parade down Orange Ave. with floats, marching bands and Santa on a fire truck.
7:00 PM: Christmas Tree Lighting in Rotary Park with Santa Claus.

Skating by the Sea

Skating by the Sea at the Hotel del Coronado

Skating by the Sea at The Del!

Throughout the month there”s also Skating by the Sea at the Hotel del Coronado, just steps from Coronado Beach – so wonderfully surreal and magical! 😉

> Find out more about Skating by the Sea at the Hotel del Coronado

Festival of Christmas – “Catch a Falling Star”

Lamb”s Players Theatre presents its spectacular annual Festival of Christmas show through December 29 (I guarantee you”ll be humming Christmas carols long after the show is over!).

> Find out more about Festival of Christmas – “Catch a Falling Star”

“Buon Natale” Gondola Cruises

Singing Santa gondolier at Loews Coronado Bay Resort!

Singing Santa gondolier at Loews Coronado Bay Resort!

And at Loews Coronado Bay Resort, “Buon Natale” gondola cruises with a caroling Santa gondolier (cool!) take to the bay December 20-23. Also throughout December, The Gondola Company offers gondola rides to view dozens of boats and yachts in the Coronado Cays decorated with colorful holiday lights.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the Crown City”s First Annual “Mistletoe Magic” shopping night on December 11, 5:00 to 8:00 PM, with strolling carolers, visits with Santa, store specials and prize drawings along Orange Ave.

> Check out the new Coronado Holiday Guide PDF

Happy holidays from the sparkling warm sands of Coronado! 🙂

Robert Arends

Coronado for the Holidays – There’s Nothing Else Like It!

You’ve got sunny skies, the sparkling sands of Coronado Beach, a big yuletide community celebration (next Friday, December 7th) with Santa’s arrival to the island by ferryboat, Snow Mountain and a colorful parade down Orange Ave., the spectacularly surreal ice Skating by the Sea at the Hotel del Coronado, caroling gondoliers and so much more!

Yours truly put together a video of Coronado’s best, most fun  and festive holiday activities. I hope you enjoy it:

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

Wishing you and your friends and family a most magical holiday season!

See you in Coronado for the Holidays, Ho ho ho! 🙂

> Discover more of Coronado

> Escape to San Diego for the Holidays

Robert Arends

A Sparkling Coronado Christmas Celebration – December 7, 2012!

Seagulls sing, are you listening?
On the beach, sand is glistening
A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight
Walking in Coronado’s winter wonderland!

Charming Coronado, located a bridge away from downtown San Diego, is gearing up for its big island-wide holiday bash, the 37th Annual Coronado Christmas Parade & Open House, on Friday, December 7. The “Crown City” has a stocking full of fun & festive activities that are sure to delight visitors of all ages.

Coronado Christmas Parade & Open House’s Free Festivities

3:30 PM – Santa Claus’ Arrival

Santa Claus’ festive arrival at the Coronado Ferry Landing!

Don’t miss Santa’s arrival by ferry boat at the Coronado Ferry Landing (fantastic photo opp!). Afterward, meet Santa and his elves, and tell jolly ol’ St. Nick everything you wish for!

3:00 to 8:00 PM – Snow Mountain

Children playing on Snow Mountain at the Coronado Ferry Landing

Let it snow! At the Coronado Ferry Landing shops.

No need to head out to the mountains when there’s snow at the Coronado Ferry Landing for sledding, making snow balls and snowmen (yes Virginia, there IS snow in San Diego!)

5:00 to 9:00 PM – Merchants Open House

The Merchants Open House features unique boutique shops and galleries for one-of-kind gifts for everyone on your shopping list!

6:00 to 7:00 PM – Christmas Parade

A Norman Rockwell-esque Christmas Parade down Orange Avenue, featuring floats, classic cars, marching bands and Santa Claus on a fire truck!

7:00 PM – Lighting of a 50-foot Christmas Tree in Rotary Park

More Coronado Christmas and Holiday Fun

Coronado Holiday Guide is chock full of fun holiday events and shopping ideas!

Hot off the presses is the new Coronado Holiday Guide which you can download off the Chamber of Commerce’s homepage or pick up at the Coronado Visitor Center (1100 Orange Avenue).

Skating by the Sea

Skating by the Sea Aerial - Hotel del Coronado

Magical Skating by the Sea at the Hotel del Coronado!

In addition to Coronado’s popular Christmas spectacular, visitors are invited to skate figure eights at the beachside ice Skating by the Sea at the Hotel del Coronado (open through January 5). A portion of the proceeds benefit Make-a-Wish Foundation! (Click here for more outdoor ice skating opportunities in San Diego)

Buon Natale Gondola Cruises

The Gondola Company’s Buon Natale gondola ride at Loews Coronado Bay Resort!

At Loews Coronado Bay Resort, check out The Gondola Company’s seasonal Buon Natale gondola cruise, featuring a Santa gondolier serenading guests with Christmas carols through waterways of the Coronado Cays. Oh what fun! 😉

Festival of Christmas – Christmas on my Mind

Festival of Christmas - Christmas on my Mind - Lamb's Players Theatre

A group of travelers snuck in a snowstorm create a holiday celebration during the Lamb’s Players Theatre Festival of Christmas.

And a magical escape to Coronado this winter wouldn’t be complete without enjoying Lamb’s Players Theatre‘s annual Festival of Christmas show on their resident stage (1142 Orange Ave.), November 30 through December 30. Every year my family and I attend this joyful musical and I guarantee it’ll have you humming “jingle all the way” through New Year’s! 🙂

> Discover more holiday fun in San Diego

See you in sparkling Coronado!

Robert Arends

5 to Try: Sparkling East County Holiday Delights!

Skiers at the Viejas Outdoor Skating Rink
Skiers at the Viejas Outdoor Skating Rink in San Diego's East County

SoCal’s largest outdoor ice skating rink at Viejas!

OK, I know it’s only a few days after Halloween and Thanksgiving is still a few weeks away, but the winter holidays will be here before you know it!

So gather up the family, grab your gift list, Santa hat and mittens (yep, there’s a 55 degree chill her in the air at night – brrrr! 😉 ) and join me on a jolly jaunt to San Diego’s charming East County communities. They really know how to make some merry.

Following are 5 to Try East County Holiday Delights:

1. 66th Annual Mother Goose Parade

Goose Float at the Mother Goose Parade in San Diego's East County

El Cajon’s Mother Goose Parade!

The colorful Mother Goose Parade in El Cajon is San Diego’s traditional holiday kick-off, featuring thousands of spectators, colorful floats, marching bands, equestrians and celebrity appearances – fun for the whole family!

Location: Begin at Magnolia and Main, head down Main St. to N. Second Street, turn North then end at Madison.
Date: November 18, 2012
Time: 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, Parade starts at 10:00 AM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the 66th Annual Mother Goose Parade

2. Julian’s Country Christmas Celebration & Tree Lighting

Julian Country Christmas & Tree Lighting.

The historic, Norman Rockwell-esque mountain town of Julian kicks off the holidays with a Country Christmas celebration & Tree Lighting, complete with costumed carolers, Santa Claus and, of course, their famous apple pies and piping hot apple cider!

Location: Julian’s Pioneer Park (map)
Date: November 24, 2012
Time: Starts at 4:00 PM. Lighting around 6:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about Julian’s Country Christmas Celebration & Tree Lighting

3. Santa Train North Pole Limited

Santa on the North Pole Limited

Make tracks for the Santa Train North Pole Limited!

All aboard the Santa Train North Pole Limited, a Christmas vintage train ride through our rustic backcountry, departing from the Campo Depot. The adventure features Santa and his elves, cookies and hot cocoa, plus a reading of the famous holiday story, The Polar Express. Reserve seats now for this sell-out holiday favorite!

Location: State Highway 94 & Forrest Gate Road, Campo, CA (map)
Dates: Fridays and Saturdays, November 23 – December 22
Times: Trains at 5:00 PM and 7:00 PM (depending on the date)
Cost: $20-$50, Toddlers under 2 are free
> Find out more about Santa Train North Pole Limited

4. Ice Skating at the Viejas Outlet Center

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.

The Peanuts Christmas special always comes to mind at the Viejas Outlet Center, home of the largest outdoor ice skating rink in Southern California!

Location: 5005 Willows Rd Suite 229, Alpine, CA 91901 (map)
Dates: November 16 – January 6, 2012
Time: TBD
Cost: TBD
> Find out more about Ice Skating at the Viejas Outlet Center 

5. Alpine Village Christmas Parade of Lights & Snow Festival

Santa Claus at the Alpine Christmas Parade!

The quaint town of Alpine kicks off the season with its Alpine Village Christmas Parade of Lights & Snow Festival, featuring a parade, Santa and his elves, caroling and a big snow mountain for sledding. Snow in San Diego… who knew?!

Location: 1347 Tavern Road, Alpine, CA (map)
Date: December 7, 2012
Time: Starts at 6:30 PM
> Find out more about the Alpine Village Christmas Parade of Lights & Festival

A hearty happy (early) “Ho ho ho” from San Diego! 🙂 Know of any other great East County Holiday events? Let us and other’s know in the comments below.

Robert Arends

Make some Merry in San Diego’s East County

Mt. Laguna - Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

If you’re looking for a few off-the-beaten-path adventures this holiday season, look no further than San Diego’s East County. With some serious holiday cheer in the forecast, plus snow levels dropping between 4 to 5,000 feet the next couple of days, parts of the County are beginning to look like a winter wonderland.

Following are my Top 3 picks of places to make some merry – and even snow angels! – this week:

Julian - a winter wonderland!

  1. Grab a sled, saucer, toboggan or boogie board (So SoCal) and trek up to our historic mountain town of Julian to go sledding on the hillsides, followed by a piping hot cup of apple cider – a local specialty! Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, located south of town, and Mt. Laguna Recreation Area are two other choice spots to “chill” when it snows in San Diego’s higher elevations.
  2. Remember that Peanuts’ Christmas TV special with Snoopy’s doghouse decked out in a festive explosion of colored lights and decorations? Well, multiply that by 100 and you have Jim Fairchild’s holly jolly house in La Mesa (8045 Stadler Street). Thousands of twinkling lights and inflatable Santas, snowmen and other winter characters fill every nook and cranny of the yard, including his prized light-up Grinch. If you’re looking for the gift of Christmas cheer, look no further than here!
  3. Looking ahead to New Year’s – and for those who may have missed last weekend’s spectacular lunar eclipse – the clear desert skies over Borrego Springs Resort will soon beckon star gazers and revelers alike. Make your reservation for the resort’s New Year’s Eve Dinner & Celebration, which includes a lavish buffet of prime rib and Cornish game hen, dancing starting at 8:00 pm and a champagne toast at midnight. Cost, $59.95 per person. $299 per couple includes a deluxe guestroom. Insider tip: after midnight, head outside to the golf course to marvel at the Milky Way in all its splendor – a memorable & magical way to welcome the New Year!
Aki

Attraction Action: San Diego Snow Days!

The two years I spent in Toronto affirmed my desire to live in a warm climate. True, Toronto is a lovely city, but the winters were long and brutal. I remember being snowed in, literally, where 2/3 of our house got buried and we couldn’t get out! On a few occasions, I had to cross-country ski to school. Winters spent in New York didn’t help my loathing for snowy winters either. Walking on slippery slush mixed with salt and dirt, the cumbersome layers of clothing, numbed fingers and icy toes made for hassle and discomfort during the cold months, which is why I love the year-round temperate climate of Southern California.

Having lived in San Diego for a decade now, however, I do miss the snow. My daughter has yet to experience the exhilaration of a sleigh ride, the joy of making a snow man or the thrill of a good snowball fight. Luckily, there are two San Diego attractions that answered my yearning for wintery goodness. Both Legoland and SeaWorld accomplished what nature could not: to let it snow in San Diego! Looks like we can have our snow balls, and eat them too.

Holiday Snow Days at LEGOLAND

The weather forecasts unprecedented snowfall in Carlsbad everyday, now through January 2 during LEGOLAND’s Holiday Snow Days. Visit the festive winter wonderland in Holiday Fun Town with plenty of LEGO accessories to adorn your snowman, or aim your snowball at a LEGO target. At the center of Holiday Fun Town is the 30 foot giant LEGO Christmas tree made of more than 245,000 forest green DUPLO® bricks.

If you’re looking for unique photo-ops with Santa, be sure to watch for the new life-sized LEGO Minifigure Santa as he strolls throughout Holiday Fun Town with his helpers. Or pose with the life-sized LEGO Santa, perched on his sleigh and two reindeer, of course, all made entirely out of LEGO bricks. And be sure to visit SEA LIFE™ Carlsbad Aquarium to see the underwater LEGO Christmas tree ‘planted’ at the bottom of the impressive 200,000 gallon ocean display, the Lost City of Atlantis. Other SEA LIFE holiday features include a Daily Dive Shows and crafting events.

SnowWorld at SeaWorld

SeaWorld San Diego celebrates the season with a number of Holiday themed shows and attractions. Located in Arctic Plaza, SnowWorld comprises 6,500 square feet of fresh snow made each day, where kids and families can enjoy all the delights of snowy fun. From snow angels, snow balls to snowmen, there’s plenty of frost and flakes to go around, but be sure to get there before the exhibit closes on January 1. While you’re there, don’t miss all the new shows including Shamu’s Christmas, the Christmas Tails pet show, Clyde and Seamore’s Night Before Christmas and the Polar Express 4-D experience.

Yearning for snow in San Diego too? We’re giving away two (2) sets of four (4) SEALIFE HOPPER PASSES good for entry into LEGOLAND and SEA LIFE, good for use through 12/31/2012. Leave a comment on this blog post by noon P.S.T. on Friday December 9, 2011 for a chance to win!

Robert Arends

‘Tis the season: Holiday Festivities in East County!

SoCal's largest ice skating rink at Viejas Outlet Center

San Diego’s bucolic East County always beckons me this time of year. I don’t know if it’s the crispness in the air, change of color in the leaves or subtle scent of pine trees as you drive out into the backcountry that’s so enticing, but it’s absolutely wonderful and welcoming! It’s where locals and visitors alike go to experience winter in San Diego. And yes, we even get snow on occasion in the higher elevations. Our historic mountain town of Julian is particularly nice – like a Norman Rockwell painting come to life when the first snow falls.

With Thanksgiving and the official launch of the holiday season just around the corner, following are some fun and festive activities for folks to enjoy in East County:

El Cajon's Mother Goose Parade!

  • Make some merry at the 65th Annual Mother Goose Parade on Nov. 20. This very popular, local holiday tradition is the largest parade in San Diego County and largest of its type west of the Mississippi, attracting thousands of spectators to the streets of El Cajon. The free fete features marching bands, colorful floats, equestrians and this year’s Grand Marshal, Taylor Guitars.

    Carriage ride through Julian.

  • There’s nothing more charming than a good ol’ fashioned Christmas celebration. Jingle up to Julian on Nov. 26 for the Julian Country Christmas & Tree Lighting, featuring strolling carolers, horse-drawn carriages, the scent of freshly-baked apple pies (yum!) and Santa Claus’ arrival aboard a bright red fire engine for the tree lighting.
  • The delightful downtown of La Mesa is transformed into a Victorian wonderland on Dec. 9 & 10 during their family-friendly Christmas in the Village, featuring horse-drawn carriages, strolling minstrels, carolers, an outdoor market with gift ideas galore and jolly ol’ Saint Nick.

    Ice skating at Viejas Outlet Center

  • The quaint town of Alpine joins in the festivities on Dec. 9 with its 16th Annual Alpine Village Christmas Parade of Lights & Snow Festival, complete with a snow hill for sledding! Just down the road, Viejas Outlet Center (awesome holiday shopping deals!) is home to the largest outdoor ice-skating rink in Southern California – open now through New Year’s.

    Santa on the North Pole Limited train in Campo.

  • All aboard… the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum’s 8th Annual North Pole Limited! This popular Christmas vintage train ride through the backcountry to the “North Pole” takes place on Nov. 25-26, Dec. 2-3, 9-10 and 16-17.The one-hour adventure begins at the Campo Depot and features an on-board reading of a famous Christmas train story (hint: see photo above 😉 ), hot cocoa, holiday cookies and an appearance by Santa Claus and his elves. Reservations are required; sure to sell out! 

    Wintertime in Julian.

     Happy Holidays from East County!