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San Diego Holiday Guide 2018

Spiked eggnog, decadent desserts, ugly sweater parties, craft workshops, toy drives and more—‘tis the season to get festive


Miracle holiday pop-up at Polite Provisions | Photo: Arlene Ibarra



Breakfast Republic

They’re getting into the holiday spirit with food and drink specials like a cranberry mint mimosa as well as their candy cane mocha, and holiday gnocchi.

Date: Through December
Price: Varies
Various Locations


Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa

Dine on a private pier, the perfect vantage point for the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights. At the hotel’s holiday edition of the Lunar Feast dinner series, you’ll get a dinner buffet by chefs Michael Poompan and Aaron Obregon, a welcome cocktail, and more.

Date: December 9
Time: 5–8 p.m.
Price: Adults $70, children $35
2000 2nd Street, Coronado


Devil’s Dozen

This holiday edition of Kettner Exchange’s ongoing dinner series, held at its upstairs sister eatery Devil’s Dozen, will include a five-course meal of raclette fondue, prime rib, and more with wine pairings, plus the restaurant’s signature eggnog. 

Date: December 19
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Price: Starting from $95 
2001 Kettner Boulevard, Little Italy


El Jardín

Want to let someone else do the cooking? All this month you can order chef Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins’ holiday tamales, made with ethically sourced corn from family farms in Mexico and filled with beef, chicken, vegetarian, or a sweet offering. Orders (minimum half-dozen of one kind for $24) must be placed by Wednesday each week for pick-up that Friday between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. To order, guests call the restaurant (619-795-2322) or email tamales@eljardinrestaurantbar.com.

Date: Through December
2885 Perry Road, Liberty Station


Extraordinary Desserts

Indulge in a carrot cake crème brulee, black velvet cake, lemon praline, trifle, and bûche de noel.

Date: December 21–24
Price: Varies
1430 Union Street, Little Italy; 2929 Fifth Avenue, Hillcrest


Fairmont Grand Del Mar

The Grand Del Mar’s restaurants—Amaya, the Clubhouse Grill, and the award-winning Addison—are serving both three- and seven-course meals, as well as buffets, and à la carte options.

Date: December 24–25
Time: Varies
Price: Varies
5300 Grand Del Mar Court, Del Mar


Fig Tree Café

Stop by for their holiday-inspired eggnog French toast paired with drink specials such as their cranberry mimosa flight. Perk up with their Nutella Me Ain’t So Latte.

Date: Through December
Price: Varies
Various Locations



Enjoy the Instagrammable character steamed buns shaped like Hello Kitty and other animals made fresh daily as well as a seasonal snowman bun filled with butterscotch ginger pudding.

Date: Through December
Price: Two buns for $7.95
1901 Columbia Street, Little Italy; 2958 Madison Street, Carlsbad


Hornblower Cruises & Events

During Hornblower’s Christmas Eve and Christmas day dining cruises, look for holiday carolers, Santa on Christmas day, and a traditional holiday buffet.

Date: December 24–25
Time: Varies
Price: Brunch starting at $69, dinner starting at $99
1800 North Harbor Drive, Marina


Hotel Del Coronado

Feast on a classic buffet with all the trimmings in the ornate ballroom or iconic Crown Room. They’re also serving a four-course dinner on Christmas Eve.

Date: December 25
Price: $140 for adults; $50 for children 6–10; complimentary for children under 5


La Jolla Santa Pub Crawl

This inaugural holiday-themed bar crawl starts at George’s at the Cove before hitting three other bars. The event is free but the organizers ask that you bring an unwrapped toy to Hennessey's (the last stop on the crawl) that will be donated to Rady’s Children’s Hospital.

Date: December 15
Time: 6 p.m.
La Jolla


The Marine Room

Only in December, the oceanfront restaurant serves up lunch, and this month you can also dine during the final High Tide Breakfast of 2018 (December 8, 9, 22, and 23).

Date: Varies
Price: Varies
2000 Spindrift Drive, La Jolla


Music at the Museum

333 Pacific is partnering with the Oceanside Museum of Art for this 10-year anniversary celebration and fundraiser for the museum. The event will feature a wine-paired dinner, an ugly sweater contest, and a concert with local blues favorite Sarah Rogo.

Date: December 12
Time: 5-8 p.m.
Price: Varies
704 Pier View Way, Oceanside



The Little Italy restaurant will be open Christmas Eve until 8:30 p.m., and Café Zucchero, located inside the restaurant, will be open Christmas Day from 8–11 a.m. for dessert pick-up only (try the fig pignoli!). Get your holiday orders in before December 20 with same day pick-up available for whatever’s in stock.

Date: Through December
Price: 1.25lb box of assorted cookies for $15
1735 India Street, Little Italy


Spill the Beans

At this downtown bagel and coffee shop, sip on peppermint-bark mocha, egg nog latte, or gingerbread chai or try one of their apple cinnamon-flavored bagels and gingerbread butter cream cheese.

Date: Through December
Price: Varies
555 Market Street, Gaslamp Quarter



Just in time for the cooler weather, Tajima is serving a Holiday Ramen with egg noodles in a rich shoyu-tonkotsu broth, topped with duck meat and a citron-pepper sauce.

Date: Through December
Price: $15
Various Locations




619 Spirits Distillery & Tasting Room

The new North Park spot features award-winning vodkas, plus a full food and cocktail menu and seasonal boozy milkshakes. The tasting room will be celebrating the “12 Days of Christmas” with free Christmas movies playing on select nights, gingerbread house building and ornament decorating.

Date: Through December 25
3015 Lincoln Avenue, North Park


Bub’s @ the Beach

Celebrate with a holiday mule, concocted from blue Red Bull, Crown Apple, and a splash of ginger beer, finished with fresh lime, bitters, and a blueberry candy cane.

Date: Through December
Price: $7
1030 Garnet Avenue, Pacific Beach


Communal Coffee

Meet Santa, while sipping on hot cocoa, espresso drinks, and holiday-themed beverages at the café’s North Park location

Date: December 15
Time: 9 a.m.­–2 p.m.
Price: Varies
2335 University Avenue, North Park


Dr. Seuss Holiday Takeover at Craft & Commerce

The Little Italy restaurant-bar has transformed into a Whoville Winter Wonderland, a nod to the fictional town made famous in Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Bartenders have created a special menu that inspired by the story, with drinks like Silent Night, Mole Night; Santa’s Snack with cinnamon and whole milk; and more. And if you tuck into their inside tiki bar False Idol, you’ll find it converted into the Grinch’s lair.

Price: Varies
675 West Beech Street, Little Italy


The Duck Dive

This PB beach lounge and eatery will be showing How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Home Alone 2, and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Snack on complimentary popcorn and $5 Build-Your-Own-Mules during the flick.

Date: December 10 & 17
Time: 8 p.m.
Price: No cover
4650 Mission Boulevard, Pacific Beach


Farmer & the Seahorse and Green Acre Campus Pointe

Toast the season with a limited-time cocktail at these UTC restaurants, where Beverage Director Chris Simmons has created a sparkling wine-based cocktail with cinnamon and house-infused Malahat spiced rum shaken with Bailoni apricot liqueur and Spanish Cava sparkling wine.

Date: Through December 25
Price: $12
10996 Torreyana Road, Torrey Pines & 10300 Campus Point Drive, Torrey Pines


Harrah’s Resort Southern California

Prefer gifts that have ABV content? At Harrah’s, Spiked has a White Christmas Martini topped off with a peppermint candy rim. You’ll taste a splash of apple brandy and Buffalo Trace Bourbon in the Apple Cinnamon Old-Fashioned, garnished with a cinnamon stick and dehydrated apple slice.

Date: Through December
Price: Varies
777 Harrah’s Rincon Way, Funner


Hornblower Cruises & Events

Join morning radio hosts Tati and Frankie plus multiple DJs for an ugly sweater party on water. The cruise includes a holiday cocktail, appetizers, and a cash bar with drink specials on beer, wine, and cocktails.

Date: December 22
Time: 6­–9 p.m.
Price: $40
970 North Harbor Drive, Marina



Enjoy holiday-centric libations like the Alpine Hunt Club, crafted with Future gin, muddled spruce tips, Averna amaro, Madagascar vanilla liqueur, and lemon.

Date: Through December
Price: $13
4622 Park Boulevard, University Heights


Nolita Hall

The Little Italy restaurant-bar has brought back movie night every Tuesday until Christmas. Look for The Nightmare Before Christmas on December 11, Christmas Vacation on December 18, and Elf on December 23.

Time: 9–11 p.m.
2305 India Street, Little Italy


Park 101

‘Tis the season to imbibe in festive holiday cocktails and cozy up with our favorite Christmas films. This Carlsbad restaurant-bar will be screening Elf, Polar Express, Muppet Christmas Carol, and Jim Carrey’s Christmas Carol. Those old enough can sip on their December cocktails, Wreck the Halls and Down the Chimney.

Date: December 12, 19, & 26
Time: 6 p.m.
Price: Free
3040 Carlsbad Boulevard, Carlsbad


Polite Provisions

For the second year, the Normal Heights bar is joining nearly 90 other venues around the world with their holiday pop-up, Miracle. Expect holiday-themed cocktails, lights, and décor—lots of it.

Date: Through December 24
Price: Varies
4696 30th Street, Normal Heights


Taste ‘n’ Tinis in Hillcrest

Take in Hillcrest’s holiday decorations while embarking on a self-guided tour filled with holiday martinis, decadent desserts, and boutique shopping.

Date: December 13
Price: Starting at $25
Various Locations


The Westgate

Tuck into a classic tea in the hotel’s Bordeaux tea room, with housemade petit fours and canapés, holiday décor, and more. Plus, there’s a kids’ menu that spans peanut butter and jelly on brioche and chocolate chip scones.

Date: December 7–9, 14–16, & 21–23
Price: $50 for adults; $35 for children 4–12; and complimentary for kids 3 & under 
(tax + gratuity additional)


You & Yours Distilling Co.

The East Village distillery has debuted a holiday cocktail menu with the Cindy Lou Who, Slay Ride for Two (to share), Miracle on 15th Street, and Ginter Wonderland—all made with seasonal ingredients like persimmon, black vanilla tea, cranberry, peppermint, chai, and cinnamon sugar.

Date: Through December
Price: $12-$25 per drink


Giving Back


Belmont Park

They’re helping spread holiday cheer by hosting a Toy Drive for the Salvation Army. Donate one unwrapped new toy ($5 minimum) and in return you’ll receive a free ride.

Date: Through December 16
3146 Mission Boulevard, Mission Beach


GBOD Hospitality Group

GBOD is hosting holiday toy drives at several of its restaurants. New and lightly used toys will be collected for the San Diego Center for Children and can be donated at Meze Greek Fusion, Monkey King, or El Chingon.

Date: Through December 20
Various Locations


Veterinary Specialty Hospital

During the holiday season many families throughout San Diego have a difficult time feeding their family, let alone their furry companions. For the seventh year, they’re asking San Diegans to help by donating pet food to their annual Holiday Pet Food Drive. All dog and cat food items will be donated to the San Diego Food Bank to be distributed within the community.

Date: Through January 4
10435 Sorrento Valley Road, Sorrento Valley & 2055 Montiel Road, San Marcos


Festivals, Shows & More


Belmont Park

Snap a photo with Santa at this beachfront amusement park before hitting up the coaster or arcade.

Date: Saturdays through December 22
Time: 1–4 p.m.
Price: Free

3146 Mission Boulevard, Mission Beach


California Ballet Company’s The Nutcracker

See the holiday classic at the Civic Theatre with accompanying music from the San Diego Symphony.

Date: December 14­–23
Price: Starting from $25

1100 Third Avenue, Downtown


City Ballet’s The Nutcracker

Head to Spreckels Theater for City Ballet’s rendition of the ballet favorite, accompanied by The City Ballet Orchestra.

Date: December 8–24
121 Broadway, Downtown


December Nights

The 41st annual spectacle is back at Balboa Park with string lights galore, food vendors, carolers, an Instagrammable Christmas tree, and more. Parking can be an issue, so make sure to check their website for tips.

Date: December 7–8
Balboa Park


Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas

This Old Globe staple is back for its 20th year with the classic tale of the iconic character and the Who community. Look for a show on December 9 geared towards children on the autism spectrum.

Date: Through December 24
Price: Varies
1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park


East Village Holiday Market & Tree Lighting Ceremony

At this free event, shop for holiday gifts, sip hot beverages, meet Santa Claus, and cement the memory at a photo booth.

Date: December 9
Time: 3–8 p.m.
1301 Market Street, East Village


Fairmont Grand Del Mar

The hotel’s Winter Wonderland at The Grand has sledding, Ferris wheel rides, a carousel, storytelling with Santa, fireside s’mores, and holiday refreshments in the Moet & Chandon champagne garden. Select nights include “Drive-In” Holiday Movie Nights and a pajama party movie night.

Date: December 17–30

Time: 3–8 p.m.
Price: Varies
5300 Grand Del Mar Court, Del Mar


Maker’s Arcade

This annual shopping event brings together indie brands, craft workshops, snacks, and cocktails, and live music.

Date: December 8
Time: 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
1000 North Harbor Drive, Marina


Mavericks Beach Club

This PB party spot will be kicking off the holiday season with their inaugural Mavericks Winter Formal. The festive event will feature tray-passed appetizers, drink specials, live music, a build-your-own spiked cocoa station, and more. Formal attire is a must.

Date: December 10
Time: 7 p.m.–2 a.m.
Price: $10
860 Garnet Avenue, Pacific Beach


Pacific Beach Shore Club

You spend Christmas morning in your pajamas, so why not stay in them through the night? Here, you’re encouraged to come decked out in onesies to receive half-off drinks at the Fifth Annual Onesie Party.

Date: December 25
Time: 5 p.m.
Price: No cover
4343 Ocean Boulevard, Pacific Beach


Pigment Holiday Wreath Workshop

Learn how to make festive holiday décor at the popular North Park boutique. On December 19, they’ll host a holiday cocktails workshop at their new Liberty Station location.

Date: December 15 (holiday wreaths); December 19 (holiday cocktails)
Price: $65 (holiday wreaths); $35 (holiday cocktails)
3801 30th Street, North Park; 2885 Perry Road, Liberty Station


Queen Bee Market

Still hunting for gifts? Head to this annual marketplace, this year at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, where local vendors will be selling clothing, vintage items, stationery, décor, and more.

Date: December 14 & 15
Time: 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
2260 Jimmy Durante Boulevard, Del Mar


Skating by the Sea

Ice skate the SoCal way—with palm trees, the beach, and the Hotel del Coronado surrounding you—at the property’s annual event, with proceeds benefitting Make-A-Wish San Diego.

Date: Through January 6
Price: $30–­$35
1500 Orange Avenue, Coronado


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