The Best of San Diego Holiday Activities

‘Tis the season to be jolly! But what if you just moved to San Diego and don’t know the many holiday activities happening throughout the county? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

As San Diego natives, we scoped out the best of the best to get you in the spirit. Enjoy our list of 16 Holiday Activities that would be perfect to enjoy with a friend. These are great chances to channel your inner child and remember what the holidays are truly about – enjoying one another’s company.

  1. Ocean Beach Holiday Parade

For almost 40 years, Ocean Beach has celebrated this time-honored tradition with its own quirks that only OB can have. Enjoy the sights of the SD Roller Derby Dolls clad in colorful costumes, VW Beetles and classic cars all making their way down Newport Ave.

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Image via Ocean Beach Mainstreet Association

Stay after to enjoy the OB Nightlife, home of the dive bars, and many delicious restaurants. Costumes and merriment encouraged!

Date: Saturday, December 1st
Time: 5:05 PM
Location: Newport Ave
Price: Free

  1. South Park Tree Lighting and Walkabout

Grab a friend and stroll through South Park. If you haven’t been to this adorable, up-and-coming neighborhood yet, now is the time! With live music, free holiday treats, and of course, the tree lighting, there is something to please everyone who attends.

Date: Saturday, December 1st
Time: 5:30 PM
Location: Grape Street Square
Price: Free

  1. Garden of Lights

The San Diego Botanical Gardens boats of their immaculate gardens and 4 miles of trails. Now just imagine how they deck the halls for the holidays! Each day offers unique food trucks and live music to enjoy the spirit of the season. With so many options, it may be difficult to choose only one!

Afterwards, Solterra Winery & Kitchen is a short 8-minute drive from the gardens. Get 50% off wine flights on the Frendli app!

Dates: December 1st – 23rd
Time: 5:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Location: San Diego Botanical Gardens
Price: Adults $18

  1. Skating by the Sea

If you dream of skating Rockefeller Center, imagine skating on the sand with the iconic Hotel del Coronado and the ocean as your backdrop! At Skating by the Sea, make that dream a reality! Whether you’ve lived in San Diego for two months or two years, Coronado island is a dream land where both locals and tourists alike can bask in the island’s beauty.

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Image via Hotel del Coronado

Don’t forget to check out the sand castle sculpture located on the beach in front of the hotel.

Dates: December 1st – January 1st
Time: varies by day
Location: Hotel del Coronado
Price: $30/online or $35/day of

  1. La Jolla Holiday Parade

Sundays are for parades, holiday festivities and photos with Santa, well at least Sunday, December 2nd is in La Jolla! Grab a friend and float on air with visions of parade floats coming down the road. Plus, the entertainment stage on Wall Street will be sure to get you in the holiday spirit. To stay in spirit, we recommend taking a rideshare to this joyous occasion as parking will be packed.

Looking for something to do in the evening? Check out The Comedy Palace for a lively meal featuring stand up comedy! They’re giving Frendli users discounts on tickets—check them out in the Deals section of the Frendli app.

Date: Sunday, December 2nd
Time: 10:30 AM – 1 PM
Location: Girard Avenue
Price: Free

  1. Liberty Station Menorah Lighting

The first of 8 crazy nights! The Chabad Centers of Pacific Beach and Downtown invite you to celebrate the beginning of Hanukkah with a traditional Menorah Lighting. There will be live music and entertainment throughout the evening.

This celebration is located next to the Rady Children Hospital Ice Rink, enjoy skating at Liberty Station after the lighting.

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Image via Liberty Station

Date: Monday, December 3rd
Time: 5 PM – 9 PM
Location: Central Promenade at Liberty Station
Price: Free

  1. NuMoods Holiday Jazz

Jazz up your Thursday night at NuMoods Holiday Jazz Event. Genres range from classical jazz to fun, from hip hop to neo-soul. Do you play an instrument!? Even better! To participate simply bring your instrument to the venue and sign up to play. This is a great opportunity to meet up with a fellow music lover or attend solo and meet new ones there.

While you’re downtown, be sure to stop by The Local on 4th Avenue. We’re offering 50% off resident beer flights (yum!) when you sign up Frendli.

Date: Thursday, December 6th
Time: 6 PM – 9 PM
Location: Quartyard
Price: Free

  1. December Nights

If you haven’t been to a December Nights event before, mark your calendar because this event is not to be missed! Enjoy the beauty of the park featuring beautiful light displays, bands, dancers and choirs at every turn. This is a wonderful place to bring your new friend who just moved here to enjoy San Diego’s oldest park.

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Image via Balboa Park

Dates and Times: Friday, December 7th from 3 PM – 11 PM
and Saturday, December 8th from 12 PM – 11 PM
Location: Balboa Park
Price: Free

  1. Hanukkah in Balboa Park

Celebrate Hanukkah at December Nights! The House of Israel at Balboa Park will be serving up delicious, traditional latkes and sofganiyot. You can learn more about Israel’s rich history and culture while enjoying international entertainment.

Dates and Times: Friday, December 7th from 5 PM – 11 PM
and Saturday, December 8th from 12 PM – 9 PM
Location: House of Israel, Balboa Park
Price: Free

  1. Oceanside Parade of Lights

“Bring a blanket, some hot chocolate and pick a comfortable spot to watch this year’s Parade of Lights celebration in the quaint Oceanside Harbor.” Visit Oceanside knows their stuff! Head up to North County to watch one of the unique experiences San Diegans get to enjoy: a holiday boat parade! Boats of all sizes will be decked out in holiday décor to celebrate the season. See how many Santa Claus’s you can spot.

Arrive to Oceanside early and enjoy a great discount with your friends at Gianni’s Pizza! Frendli has an exclusive discount for our users in the Deal section of the app!

Date: Saturday, December 8th
Time: 7 PM – 9 PM
Location: Oceanside Harbor
Price: Free

  1. San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

If live near the City of San Diego, there’s still a boat parade for you! There are 6 different spots to watch the event, check the schedule to see which time and location works best for you. And don’t forget to arrive early so you can get the best views of these decked out boats making their route through the San Diego harbor.

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Image via San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

With two weeks to choose from, make it a day and enjoy a San Diego Speed Boat Adventure tour before the Bay Parade of Lights. If you wanna stay on land, check out Pedego Electric Bike Rental for a cruise around the area. To get the best deals on these classic San Diego activities, first download Frendli and check out our Deals section!

Dates: Sunday, December 9th and Sunday, December 16th
Time: 5 PM – 7 PM
Location: Various Locations
Price: Free

  1. Los Posadas

Enjoy a traditional Christmas celebration kindly hosted by Fiesta de Reyes. There will be crafts, storytelling, and choir performances. At 5 PM there will be a procession depicting the story of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. Afterwards, enjoy s’mores and hot chocolate around the bonfire.

Date: Saturday, December 15th
Time: 12 PM – 4 PM, Procession begins at 5 PM
Location: Old Town San Diego
Price: Free

  1. Jungle Bells

Lions, tigers and polar bears!? Oh my! It must be Jungle Bells! The San Diego Zoo is world renowned, see why for yourself. Jungle Bells offers a great chance to experience the zoo in the spirit of the holidays. From twinkling lights to Dr. Doolittle performing “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” Jungle Bells is a great place to bring your animal loving friends!

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Image via San Diego Zoo

Dates: Friday, December 14th – Sunday, January 6th
Time: 9 AM – 8 PM
Location: San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park
Price: Adult Tickets start at $54

  1. Holiday Movies on the Beach

What better way to get in the Christmas spirit then grabbing a friend and watching a holiday movie… on the beach! Hotel del Coronado has two weekends and two classic Christmas movies to enjoy. Bring a snuggly blanket and a sweater to enjoy watching your favorite films under the stars.

We recommend arriving to Coronado early and biking around the iconic island. Pedego Electric Bike Rental is located on 1st Street and offers easy to use bicycles. Don’t forget, Frendli discounts will give you the best bang for your buck!

Dates: Saturday, December 15th and Saturday, December 22nd
Time: Doors open at 6 PM
Location: Hotel del Coronado
Price: $20

  1. Gaslamp Pet Parade

“Pet owners and their furry, feathered, and scaled companions are invited to don their favorite costumes for this jolly promenade.” Animal lovers rejoice for this is the holiday event for you! What better way to celebrate man’s best friend than at the Gaslamp Pet Parade! Bring your pet and a friend or meet someone new when you get there. Conversation starters galore – simply point out all the great animals you see!

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Image via WASIO Photography

Date: Sunday, December 16th
Time: 12 PM – 5 PM
Location: 401 K Street
Price: FREE for spectators

  1. San Diego International Auto Show

Even though Christmas will be over, the fun doesn’t have to stop! Grab a buddy and head down to the San Diego Convention Center for their Annual International Auto Show. Drool over the lines of luxury cars and check out new models before anyone else.

Keep the fun rollin and enjoy the sights of downtown San Diego with Yellow Bike Media at the Convention Center. Grab your pedicab at a discounted rate when you sign up for Frendli via the Deals section!

Dates and Times: Thursday, December 27th - Saturday, December 29th from 10 AM - 9 PM
and Sunday, December 30th from 10 AM - 7 PM
Location: San Diego Convention Center
Price: $15

Get Frendli to meet new people to attend these fun-filled, holiday events and check out even more amazing discounts on food, drinks, and activities in San Diego County!