1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas – A wonderful, whimsical musical based upon the classic Dr. Seuss book, now showing through Dec. 29 at The Old Globe theatre in Balboa Park. Outside the theatre, you can visit Whoville, as the outdoor plaza is transformed into the story’s town, and is free for all to visit. theoldglobe.org.
2. Outdoor ice skating – While most San Diegans think it’s “freezing” when the temperatures hit the 60s, it’s fun to bundle up and go outdoor ice skating. There are a number of venues where you can skate your figure 8’s, such as beachfront at the Hotel del Coronado, by the bay at the Hilton Bayfront, in the courtyard of Liberty Station, and at the county’s largest outdoor rink at the Viejas Casino.
hoteldel.com, libertystation.com, Hilton.com, Viejas.com.
3. Garden of Lights – After the sun goes down at the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas, the gardens are transformed into a dazzling winter wonderland with over 125,000 sparkling lights. The lights are on now through Dec. 30, except for Dec. 24 and 25. sdbgarden.org.
4. Victorian Christmas Tea – Take a drive to Julian and enjoy a Victorian Christmas Tea at the Julian Tea Cottage. Offered daily through Dec. 23 (closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays), sit down to a special set menu of finger sandwiches, savories, tea breads, scones, and seasonal desserts. Plus of course, tea. $29.95 for adults, $12.95 for children, reservations required. juliantea.com.
5. San Diego Parade of Lights – If you missed the first night, it’s okay because the annual tradition repeats on Sunday, Dec. 16. Starting at 5 p.m., the San Diego Parade of Lights starts at Shelter Island and travels along the bayfront and ends at the Ferry Landing in Coronado. This year’s theme is “A Tropical Island Christmas.” Watch along the bay or take your own boat and watch from the waters. sdparadeoflights.org.
6. Polar Express Family Day – The San Diego Model Railroad Museum will host Polar Express Family Days on Dec. 15 and 16, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For the regular cost of admission, you and your family can experience a day full of holiday spirit. And through Jan. 6, the museum will exhibit how toy trains became a holiday tradition in America. sdmrm.org.
7. Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade – We love our pets, and we love our parades. Together you can deck those paws with bells so jolly and jingle all the way through the Gaslamp Quarter. The parade starts at 2 p.m., with a Holiday Pet Market from noon to 5 p.m., with a costume contest and live music. gaslamp.org.
8. Holiday wine trail – The Ramona Valley Vineyard Association presents a wine trail with 18 participating wineries. During the weekend of Dec. 15 and 16, you can get a wine trail passport for $10, and discounted tastings of six tastings for $6. Wine trail visitors get a keepsake wine glass, and will enjoy holiday-themed events, shopping, music and more. ramonavalleyvineyards.com.
9. Jingle Roast – Cozy up to a private beach fireside s’mores party with hot dogs and Santa hats. The Jingle Roast events continue to make holiday family traditions beachfront at the Hotel del Coronado. Cost is $125/hour with options to add menu items. Reservations required. HotelDel.com.
10. San Diego Santa Run – Pacific Beach will become the site of a pack of hundreds of Santas running down the streets. The Santa Run 5K starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15. Runners receive an official Santa suit, sunglasses and a drink ticket. Later that afternoon, the 39th annual Pacific Beach Holiday Parade starts at 1 p.m. sandiegosantarun.com.
11. Old Town Las Posadas – The Old Town tradition continues for the 68th year on Saturday, Dec. 15. At 5 p.m., the traditional Las Posadas procession will begin, which is based on the story of Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter in Bethlehem. Following the procession there will be a piñata for children. The day’s festivities will wrap up with a campfire and s’mores in the Plaza. parks.ca.gov.
12. Seas ‘n’ Greetings – Throughout the month of December, Birch Aquarium is transformed into a holiday wonderland full of SEAsonal activities for the entire family. There will be special appearances by Scuba Santa, crafts, activities and live holiday music on weekends. Check the website for full schedule. aquarium.ucsd.edu.
After all the holiday fun, cozy up by the fire and have a hot drink. And so many to warm up to in La Jolla – Pannikin Coffee & Tea with a good book, Galaxy Taco and their candlelit fireplace, and the Lodge at Torrey Pines coziness. Happy holidays!