Dave

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.

Suzzanne

Top Things to Do In San Diego: September 27-30

Band Playing at Oktoberfest

Fall is my favorite season of the year. I love pumpkin patches, crisp evenings and all the fun things there is to do in San Diego. Here’s my top picks for this weekend. What will you be doing?

1. Cabrillo Festival

Cabrillo National Monument

For the 49th year, San Diego will celebrate the day in 1542 when Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo landed on the shore that is now San Diego. On September 29th and 30th, visitors can learn more about San Diego’s early history at this fun event for the whole family.

2. Oktoberfest in El Cajon

Band Playing at Oktoberfest

Lederhosen, Beer, Bratwurst and Family Fun at the Authentic Oktoberfest in El Cajon.

Head east and partake in authentic German food, beers and liquors at the annual Oktoberfest in El Cajon. Visitors will enjoy traditional folk dancing performances, games and contests, vendor and craft booths and a Kids’ Zone. The fun kicks off September 28th.

3. 40th Annual Poway Rodeo

Girls Carrying Flags on top of Horses at the Poway Rodeo

Western Fun at the Poway Rodeo

Get a taste of the western life as professional rodeo cowboys from all over the country compete at the annual Poway Rodeo. This rodeo has everything including, bareback riding, tie down roping, a clown act, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing and bull riding. Break out your dancing boots for the Rodeo Dances on both nights. Rodeo runs Friday, September 28-Saturday, September 29.

4. Annual Adams Avenue Street Fair

Normal Heights sign above the Adams Avenue Street Fair

Music, Food, Rides and More at the Adams Avenue Street Fair

Southern California’s largest free music festival features arts and crafts, carnival rides, food, circus acts and musical acts on six outdoor stages. Festivities take place September 29-30 from 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM on Saturday and 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM on Sunday.

5. Trolley Dances

Discover Unconventional Dance Spaces during the 2012 Trolley Dances. Photo by Yvonne M. Portra.

Hop on board and travel to six stops along the MTS Trolley line featuring site-specific dance. New work to be performed by 50 of San Diego’s most adventurous dancers. As an added twist, this year’s event will present WillyGood, a French circus duo. Tickets includes a free all day Trolley Pass with advance purchase.

Stephenie

5 to Try This Weekend: Free Holiday Events

Parade of Lights

  1. The 39th Annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights sets sail this Sunday from 5:30–9 p.m. More than 100 private boats covered with holiday lights and decorations will parade around San Diego Bay, followed by an extravagant firework show over the water. Great views are available on dry land from Shelter Island, Harbor Island, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village, Marina Park and Coronado’s Ferry Landing. 
  2. See Old Town State Historic Park decked out for the holidays during Holiday in the Park.  Learn how residents celebrated the holidays in the 1800s, enjoy candlelight tours, holiday singers, live performances and complimentary refreshments; Holiday in the Park takes place this Saturday from 6–8 p.m.
  3. Visit the Village of La Mesa and see it transform into a Victorian Wonderland for Christmas in the Village. Enjoy street performers, carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides, carnival rides, entertainment for the family and more; Christmas in the Village takes place from 5–10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.  
  4. Enjoy the Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade this Sunday in downtown San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter. Owners and their dressed-up pets will march down the decorated streets of the neighborhood and end at a Pet Expo featuring an awards ceremony for best-dressed pups.  The parade starts at 3 p.m. and the Pet Expo will be open from 1–5 p.m.
  5. Celebrate holiday cheer during Christmas in the Park – Poway.  The event features a tree lighting ceremony, visits from Santa, train rides, live music, theatre performances, food, treats, crafts and more. The fun takes place this Saturday from 3:30–8:30 p.m.