Fun Things To Do In
Some Famous Favorites!
SeaWorld San Diego
Catch Shamu in "Believe," the most ambitious killer whale show in the park's history.
San Diego Zoo
Don't miss the zoo's newest and most ambitious exhibit: Monkey Trails and Forest Tales.
San Diego Wild Animal Park
Take a guided tour through remote Africa and Asia and see exotic animals in their large, expansive habitats.
25 Free Holiday Activities in San Diego!
1. Annual December Nights
Join the festivities at Balboa Park for the Annual December Nights, a
two-day holiday celebration of food, entertainment and fun on December
1 and 2. The sights, sounds and smells of the holiday season fill the
air as more than 80 museums and cultural institutions open their doors
free of charge. Festivities include carolers, bands, light displays,
and theater and dance performances.
2. 70 miles of beaches
Take a walk along one of San Diego’s 70 miles of beaches, all
free and open to the public. Collect seashells for decorating special
holiday gifts or just enjoy the magnificent Pacific Ocean and the gift
of a clearer mind, lighter heart and stronger holiday spirit.
3. Poinsettia Festival
Visit Encinitas, the poinsettia capital of the world, during the Annual
Street Faire and Poinsettia Festival featuring arts, crafts,
children’s rides, food, and music on November 19.
4. Balboa Park
Take a walk around Balboa Park and discover its beautiful architecture.
Take advantage of the park’s variety of free offerings including
select museum admission on Tuesdays, tours of the park and spectacular
gardens. Be sure not to miss the “Whoville” decorations in
the plaza outside the Old Globe Theatre – they’ll be up
November 11 through December 24 to coincide with the theatre’s
production of “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole
5. Annual Mother Goose Parade
Witness a tradition that began as a gift to the children of San Diego
in 1947 –- the Annual Mother Goose Parade in East County on
November 19. One of the biggest parades of its kind in the country and
the largest single-day event in San Diego, the parade featuring floats,
clowns, bands, and equestrians prancing down Main Street in El Cajon.
6. Whale Watching
Whale watch from the shores and cliffs of Point Loma, as California
gray whales migrate south to the warm breeding grounds off the coast of
Baja, California. Spectators can catch a spectacular show mid-December
through mid-March when the whales pass through the waters off San
7. Deck The Palms
Hang ten with a surfing Santa on December 3 during Seaport
Village’s Deck The Palms celebration. The downtown bayside
shopping center will be transformed into into a warm-weather wonderland
with decorated palm trees, an award-winning sand sculptor creating
life-sized “sandmen” and bands playing live rock and
Calypso holiday music.
8. Coronado Christmas Open House and Parade
Play in real snow on Snow Mountain at the Coronado Ferry Landing and
watch Santa arrive by ferry on December 1 to kick off the Coronado
Christmas Open House and Parade. A tree lighting ceremony and free
community concert will follow the parade.
9. Tijuana, Mexico
Cross the border into colorful and exciting Tijuana, Mexico, discover
the friendliness of the locals and browse the variety of shops offering
unique holiday gifts.
10. Spreckels Organ Pavilion
Enjoy free organ concerts at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa
Park beginning at 2 p.m. each Sunday. The Organ Pavilion features the
world’s largest outdoor pipe organ, a San Diego landmark for 85
years, where organists resound holiday favorites, waltzes and show
tunes from the organ’s monstrous 32-foot lead alloy pipes.
11. Annual Starlight Yule Parade
Attend the Annual Starlight Yule Parade on December 3, Chula
Vista’s festive nighttime parade, and check out the floats, drill
teams, marching bands, and classic cars. Festivities begin in the
afternoon with a children’s featuring live entertainment,
pictures with Santa, and the annual Chula Vista tree lighting ceremony.
12. Holiday Light Displays
Take a drive and see spectacular holiday light displays in some of San
Diego’s most festive neighborhoods, including the following:
Pepperwood Drive and numerous surrounding streets in El Cajon; Oviedo
Street and surrounding streets near Carmel Mountain Road in Rancho
Penasquitos; and Garrison Street near Chatsworth Boulevard in Point
13. Snorkeling in La Jolla
Take advantage of the mild winter weather and go scuba diving or
snorkeling off San Diego’s shores to see spectacular creatures of
the sea. La Jolla Cove offers some of the clearest waters on the
California coast, as well as miles of protected underwater preserves to
14. La Jolla Christmas Parade
Spread some holiday cheer at the La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday
Festival on December 3 in downtown La Jolla. The event includes
marching bands, floats, equestrian units, vintage automobiles and Santa
15. Mount Laguna
Experience a white Christmas in San Diego when you make the scenic,
one-hour drive to the top of Mount Laguna and sled down mountain
slopes, build snowmen and have snowball fights (weather conditions
Drive to the mountain town of Julian for a warm mug of hot apple cider
and a delicious piece of Julian’s legendary homemade apple pie
before making your way back to San Diego’s mild temperatures and
17. Timken Museum of Art
Marvel at European Old Masters, Russian icons, American works, and
beautiful tapestries on display at the Timken Museum of Art in Balboa
Park. Artworks in the collection range from 13th-century altarpieces to
18th-century portraits to 19th-century still lifes from masters that
include Rembrandt and Rubens. Admission to the Timken Museum of Art is
Explore the tidepools in Point Loma when the tide is low to see some of
the magnificent creatures of the sea. Point Loma tidepools are located
just south of the tip of Cabrillo Point.
19. Mt. Soledad
Take a drive to the top of Mt. Soledad in La Jolla for a panoramic view
of the city, all spruced up in holiday finery. Along the way, take a
peek at the beautifully decorated homes in this exclusive community.
20. Annual Oceanside Harbor Christmas Boat Parade of Lights
Watch the season sail by at the Annual Oceanside Harbor Christmas Boat
Parade of Lights on December 9. The popular parade circles the harbor
and features a wide variety of boats, brightly decorated for the
21. Holiday Jazz & Blues Festival
Head to the Gaslamp Quarter for the Holiday Jazz & Blues Festival
presented by the Black Historical Society of San Diego on December 16.
The annual festival features jazz, blues, Christmas music, choirs,
carolers and delicious treats.
22. U.S. Olympic Training Center
Relive Olympic triumphs with a visit to the U.S. Olympic Training
Center in Chula Vista for a free tour of the 150-acre facility,
including its training fields and tracks, athlete dorms and the Otay
Lake Reservoir. Tours are offered daily, starting at the Copley Visitor
23. 35th Annual Port of San Diego Parade of Lights
Watch the twinkling waters of San Diego Bay for the spectacular parade
of individually decorated private craft at the 35th Annual Port of San
Diego Parade of Lights on December 10 and 17. Great views are available
on dry land from Shelter Island, Harbor Island, the Embarcadero,
Seaport Village, Marina Park, and Coronado’s Ferry Landing
24. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Drive to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, one of the richest and
seemingly boundless living museums in the country, and enjoy outdoor
beauty, wildlife and a kaleidoscope of colorful flowers. Anza-Borrego
is located just two hours from San Diego via Highway 78 and Interstate
25. Big Bay Balloon Parade
Gaze up at the massive balloons during the Big Bay Balloon Parade, the
country's largest balloon parade, on December 28. Floats, balloons and
marching bands are just some of the offerings in this colorful holiday
parade along the Bay in downtown San Diego.