Small Events with Big Charm: Holiday Activities for Kids

Garden of Lights San Diego Botanic Garden

San Diego’s big attractions go all-out for the holidays, but not all families that want to the hustle and bustle of large events. Families looking for a more intimate holiday experience can enjoy some equally charming activities happening all around town.

Garden of Lights at San Diego Botanic Garden

Garden of Lights San Diego Botanic Garden

Lights, flowers and s’mores – what more could you ask for? (photo by by John Bryant)

Garden of Lights transforms the San Diego Botanic Garden into a dazzling winter wonderland filled with more than 100,000 sparkling lights illuminating the garden for a magical holiday experience that includes snow sledding (bring your own!), live music that includes mariachis and traditional Christmas carolers and get this – even a team of blonde Belgian draft horses ready to take your tykes on a wild wagon ride they won’t soon forget.

The event is a shutterbug’s dream, with Santa Claus posing for pics with young and old in a brightly lit gazebo and a vibrant, festively decorated “Poinsettia Garden” that will certainly make your snapshots sparkle. The social set will appreciate the warm and cozy campfire setup that provides s’mores and marshmallow roasting opportunities; supplies will be available for purchase, including cocoa, hot mulled wine and standard coffee drinks.

There will also be a variety of special holiday crafts that children can take home, a nutcracker exhibit displaying a collection of more 50 nutcrackers and a unique display of gourd figures featuring characters from the original Alice in Wonderland book.

Where:  230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas CA 92024
When:  December 7 – 23, 2013 and December 26 – 30, 2013
Time:  5 – 9 p.m.
Cost:  Adult $14; Child (3-12) $6; Seniors, Military & Students $10; Kids under 3 free
>Find out more about the Garden of Lights

Frosty Farm at Helen Woodward Animal Center

Frosty Farm at Helen Woodward Animal Center San Diego

It doesn’t get much cuter than the Frosty Farm (photo courtesy Helen Woodward Animal Center)

There’s nothing cuter than miniature horses dressed as reindeer, and kids who love animals will agree as they revel in Frosty Farm’s festive four-legged frenzy that takes place at the Helen Woodward Animal Center. The event features hands-on interaction with sheep, bunnies, guinea pigs and reptiles. In addition, kids can frolic in falling snow, navigate a Magical Ice Palace Maze, build a gingerbread house and receive a special gift from Santa.

Where:  Helen Woodward Animal Center 6461 El Apajo Road, Rancho Santa Fe CA 92067
When:  December 7-8 & December 14-15
Time:  10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Cost:  $20 Child; $9 Adult (registration required at animalcenter.org/education)
>Find out more about the Frosty Farm

Christmas in the Park at Old Poway Park

Christmas in the Park at Old Poway Park San Diego

Santa welcomes guests to Old Poway Park.

Families looking for a holiday festival that captures that small town charm will want to head to Old Poway Park in the City of Poway. The festival embraces the historic park’s turn-of-the-century heritage with a community Christmas tree lighting, horse drawn hayrides, a live petting zoo, square dancing, children’s theater and piano player sing-a-longs that the whole family will enjoy.

Even Santa and Mrs. Claus add to the nostalgia of these old-fashion traditions when they make a surprise visit rolling into the festival riding on a 1907 Baldwin steam locomotive. Families will also be able to ride the antique train during the festival.

Where:  Old Poway Park, 14134 Midland Rd, Poway CA 92064
When:  December 14, 2013
Time:  3:30pm – 8:30pm
Cost:  Free
>Find out more about Christmas in the Park

Do you know of any fun holiday activities for kids happening around town? Share it with us in the comments below.

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Dave

About Dave

I soak up news like a sponge - which is why I've spent years working on the business side of news media here in San Diego. I'm also a big supporter of local businesses - big and small and working to improve the overall quality of life for San Diego when it comes to economic and environmental issues.

How would you describe your ideal San Diego Day?

Rally friends for a morning surf at Black's or Seaside Reef followed by lunch at Board & Brew for their Baja chicken sandwich. Cheer on my daughter at an afternoon soccer game. Load up on goodies from the Solana Beach or Leucadia Farmers Market. Stop by El Nopalito market for some carne asada to throw on the grill for a sunset BBQ at home with family and friends. Finish the evening enjoying live music at the Belly Up where my name just happens to appear on the guest list!

What's your favorite San Diego outdoor activity?

Surfing - a no-brainer. Black's, Del Mar, Cardiff Reef and Oceanside in the summer. Riding my trusty vintage Schwinn along Coast Hwy 101 is a distant second.

Do you prefer burgers and beer or linguini and red wine?

Fish tacos with ice cold Mexican beer - I'll take a Pacifico with lime and Brigantine fish taco over just about anything.

Latest music purchases for my iPod/MP3 player?

I love old school hip hop but I've become a Pandora victim. Definitely Outkast Radio when I'm at the gym, something mellow like Carla Bruni when I'm home making dinner.

Follow me on Twitter @26DelMar

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