10 Best Holiday Attractions in San Diego

Don't shovel snow, come to San Diego! It may come as no surprise that December in San Diego is quite pleasant with the sun typically shining through slightly-crisp air. People still go to the beach and wear shorts while local attractions spread holiday cheer with special decor and events.

Combining the best of both worlds, we actually can ice skate just steps away from the beach. Hotel Del Coronado's Skating by the Sea is an experience that can't be had in many other places around the world. Cap the experience off by visiting their famous Christmas tree or dining at one of the hotel's many top-notch restaurants.

The San Diego Zoo turns into a winter wonderland during Jungle Bells, a three week holiday event starting on December 14, 2018. With a nightly tree lighting ceremony, opportunities to greet Santa and even a spot of man-made snow, this family event is incredibly popular.

Or, take part in Holiday Bowl festivities including the famous Big Bay Balloon parade where gigantic balloons float in the sky in celebration of the famous football game. It is America's largest balloon parade, after all.

If your travels bring you to San Diego during the holidays or if you live here and are looking for things to do, definitely have a look at this list.



The Gaslamp Pet Parade steps off promptly at 2:00 p.m. from under the iconic Gaslamp Archway. It continues up Fifth Avenue takes a left at E street and down Fourth Avenue ending at MLK Promenade Park for the Pet Expo, free and open to the public...  Read More

Old Globe Theatre


Located in the city's lovely Balboa Park and reported to be the oldest professional theater in the state, this venue is made in the image of Shakespeare's Globe Theater and includes 581 seats. Season after season the Old Globe delights patrons...  Read More



The Holiday Bowl is a post-season NCAA college football game featuring top teams from the Pac 12 and Big 12 that has been played at SDCCU Stadium since 1978. As this bowl game is a big draw for tourists, there are other activities related to the...  Read More



When you purchase a home in certain neighborhoods, there is an unwritten rule that holiday decorations are a must. And, we're not talking a strand of lights here and there. It means going all out with elaborate displays intended to be enjoyed by...  Read More



The parade and holiday festival draws over 25,000 people a year to downtown La Jolla. This year's parade is shaping up to be the best ever with over 100 entries, including beauty queens in vintage vehicles, a dozen bands, 60 equestrians and...  Read More



Boats of all shapes and sizes cruise the bay totally decked out in elaborate holiday lights and other decor. Over 80 boats participate in this annual event sponsored by the Port of San Diego, which is held over two consecutive Sundays in...  Read More



This amazing parade occurs in downtown San Diego as a part of the Holiday Bowl festivities. Over 100,000 spectators gather to watch world-class marching bands, magnificent floats, entertaining drill teams, and a procession of enormous balloons...  Read More



Located in the Central area of San Diego, Balboa Park draws crowds to its December celebration that features lights, carolers, bands food from around the globe, music, theatrical performances, dancing, and vendors selling handmade crafts. You...  Read More

San Diego Zoo
Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona


A trip to San Diego isn't complete without a visit to the world-famous San Diego Zoo. During the holidays is a particularly festive time to go. The annual Jungle Bells event offers holiday-themed animal experiences, holiday-themed entertainment,...  Read More



The Hotel Del Coronado presents a full line-up of holiday activities including Skating by the Sea, the renowned ice-skating rink overlooking the Pacific Ocean. This spectacular rink is located on the Windsor Lawn, and features stunning views of...  Read More


Meet Katie Dillon

Katie Dillon originally moved to the seaside community of La Jolla to attend UC San Diego. When the opportunity presented itself, she and her husband set off for a 7 year stint overseas as...  More About Katie