Content provided by
Just because we’ve traded snow for sand and sweaters for flip-flops doesn’t mean San Diego doesn’t know how to do the holidays right. We still enjoy traditional holiday happenings, but with a sunny San Diego twist. Here’s our picks of where to play and stay this winter in America’s Finest City.
Skating by the Sea
From November 22 through January 5, the iconic Hotel del Coronado transforms into a winter wonderland complete with a beachfront outdoor ice rink. Lace up your skates and give it a whirl. Enjoy bites and libations from the rinkside Frostbite lounge, serving an exciting array of warming favorites.
Where to stay: Hotel del Coronado. Look for seasonal rate specials and treat yourself to even more fun in the sun.
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club Bing Crosby Season
Play the ponies through December 1 at Del Mar Racetrack’s fall season, named for its famous cofounder. Cash out your winnings, then grab a racing-themed cocktail at Jimmy O’s.
Where to stay: Hilton San Diego/Del Mar. Take advantage of the hotel’s free transportation and explore Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.
Little Italy Tree Lighting and Christmas Village
Head to San Diego’s lively Little Italy neighborhood December 7 for the unveiling of a dazzling 25-foot-tall Christmas tree, carriage rides, live entertainment, and even a visit from Santa.
Where to stay: Carté Hotel San Diego Downtown. The brand-new luxury accommodations are set in Little Italy. Stop in to Above Ash for rooftop cocktails and bites.
San Diego Bay Parade of Lights
The local boating community will come together to celebrate the holidays by decking out their sailboats, schooners, and catamarans December 8 and 15.
Where to stay: Hilton San Diego Airport/Harbor Island. Avoid the crowds and watch from the best seat in the house—your private balcony.
The San Diego Botanic Garden’s holiday festival features family-friendly entertainment, food, and of course tons of local and exotic plants. Kids can meet Santa and a snow princess and play in the jungle-themed Hamilton Children’s Garden.
Where to stay: Cape Rey Carlsbad Beach, a Hilton Resort and Spa. The hotel hosts a family-friendly countdown to Christmas that features activities like arts and crafts, cookie decorating, and holiday movie nights.
Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade
On December 26, gigantic balloons will take over downtown San Diego. The popular parade is usually held the morning of the big Pac-12 vs. Big Ten game, but this year’s will be held the day before.
Where to stay: Hotel Circle. This area just a short drive from both events has plenty of overnight options, including the family-friendly Homewood Suites and the chic Hilton San Diego Mission Valley.
Big Night San Diego
The 21-and-over crowd can ring in the new year in style at the elegant Hilton San Diego Bayfront. Tickets are all-inclusive and cover live music on eight dance floors, food, and cocktails.
Where to stay: Hilton San Diego Bayfront. The waterfront hotel offers discounted room rates for the event’s attendees.