What better time than now to take in some of San Diego’s most beautiful sights and sounds? We’ve put together a list of ten options for the holiday week while friends and family are in town; we wanted to offer a few alternatives to the typical holiday stuff around town, so a few even involve getting out of town to go play in the snow and getting out on the water. Check out our top Christmas week activities in San Diego! For a complete list of all December happenings, check out our top ten for the whole month here.
1. Go Whale Watching Along the Coast
Partake in one of San Diego’s favorite attractions and go whale watching this year with the ocean experts at Birch Aquarium at Scripps. Witness the longest mammal migration in the world, when approximately 20,000 gray whales pass San Diego on their annual 10,000-mile round-trip journey from the Bering Sea to the lagoons of Baja California (December through April). Tours start December 19 and are from 9:30am – 1:15pm or 1:30pm – 5pm daily. aquarium.ucsd.edu.
2. Play in the Snow at Laguna Mountain
Sitting at the highest elevation in all of San Diego County (almost 6,000 feet above sea level), Mt. Laguna receives the highest recorded snowfall each year – which makes for some great winter recreation activities for locals. After a big storm, visitors can enjoy sledding, snow play, and cross-country skiing on the mountain. The best spot to begin your adventure is the Laguna Mountain Lodge, where they’ll have the most up-to-date info regarding weather and the best spots to go sledding. Chains may be required if you want to get up on the Sunrise Highway or anywhere near the top of Mount Laguna.
3. Ice Skate Outdoors
San Diego is home to two festive holiday ice skating rinks this year: “Fantasy on Ice” at Liberty Station and, of course, Skating by the Sea at the always-beautiful Hotel Del Coronado. Enjoy a skating session with the family during the rinks’ normal operating hours (special holiday hours may apply). hoteldel.com & fantasyonicesd.com.
4. Visit a Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park
Explore a spectacular holiday wonderland full of fun for the entire family at Petco Park; walk through magical lighting displays themed around some of the holiday’s most iconic scenes, ride the polar express, check out a 40′ tree, and take a picture with Santa. sandiego.padres.mlb.com
5. Tour San Diego’s Best Holiday Lights
San Diego has some pretty awesome (and extravagant) holiday light displays, ranging from movie scene character cutouts to dazzling synchronized spectacles. We rounded up our 21 favorite spots in the city, from Point Loma to Carlsbad. Pack up the kids and some hot chocolate and make an evening out of it!
6. Check Out LegoLand Holiday Snow Days & Winter Nights
Build a snowman with LEGO accessories and throw real snowballs; witness the lighting of a more than 30-foot tall LEGO Christmas Tree and enjoy live entertainment from the Brickettes all at LEGOLand! The action continues when the sun goes down with Winter Nights – extended park hours until 7pm and shows, music, and nightly fireworks over Miniland USA. Visit their website for holiday hours and ticket information. california.legoland.com
7. Go on a Christmas Day Brunch Cruise
The Hornblower is featuring a two-hour yacht cruise embarking at 11am on Christmas Day, and it’s sure to make for some stunning views of downtown and the Pacific. Enjoy bottomless champagne and sparkling cider, a full brunch buffet featuring traditional holiday dishes, and a decadent dessert buffet all while sailing through the beautiful San Diego Bay. Santa will even be available to pose for pictures! www.hornblower.com.
8. Enjoy Christmas Tea at the Westgate Hotel
Experience a magical Christmas-themed afternoon tea at the Westgate Hotel this year. Indulge in a delightful array of teas, holiday beverages, and petit-fours as well as house-made canapes all while a harpist strums in the background. Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of December (except Christmas Day) from 2:30 to 5pm in the Bordeaux Tea Room. $45 per adult and $30 per child. westgatehotel.com
Festivities for the 2015 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl kick off at 6:00 PM on December 21 in downtown San Diego’s Historic Gaslamp Quarter at the Carrier Johnson + Culture Gaslamp March. Marching bands and spirit squads from participating universities will parade from each end of 5th Avenue performing holiday classics, and meeting up at Market Street for a heart-pounding Battle of the Bands! Afterwards, bands will continue on with their parade of holiday favorites. The official Poinsettia Bowl will be played on Dec 23 at Qualcomm. **The Holiday Bowl will be on December 30 at Qualcomm** www.sandiegobowlgames.com
10. Run the San Diego Holiday Half Marathon
On December 27, The San Diego Holiday Half Marathon will rip through the city! It’s a quick 13.1 mile course that starts in front of the Doubletree Golf Resort then travels south along the 56 bike path and finishes at the beautiful Torrey Pines State Beach. This popular winter half has been a sellout event every year, so get your tickets now before it’s too late. sandiegoholidayhalf.com.
[images: sandiegomagazine.com, behindthethrills.com, twitter.com/westgatehotel]
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