Christmas in San Diego 2018 – Holiday Things to Do & Fun Seasonal Activities

A white Christmas sounds nice, but it may not necessarily be your thing. Why not opt for a temperate Christmas in a lovely city like San Diego?

San Diego has plenty of wonderful activities and seasonal events to enjoy, no matter who you’re spending the holidays with.

If you’re traveling to Southern California this holiday season, check out our list of the top things to do for Christmas in San Diego 2018.

Save on Attraction Admission for the Holidays

Regular admission to a number of these attractions is included on the Go San Diego® Card.

Choose as you go from dozens of top attractions and save up to 55% on combined admission vs. paying at the gate.

See all available San Diego passes, attractions & prices.

Please note, some of these special Christmas events may be separately ticketed and not included on the Go San Diego® Card.

Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo

December 14th, 2018 – January 6th, 2019

Image Credit San Diego Zoo by Damien Lasater

Image Credit San Diego Zoo by Damien Lasater

If you needed another reason to visit San Diego Zoo, the #1 Zoo in the World, look no further: Jungle Bells returns!

The Northern Frontier’s forest will be converted to a Holiday Forest, complete with exquisitely decorated trees and lights strung in all directions. Catch a showing of Jingle Brass, a caroling group that will wow you with their jazz-inspired takes on classic Christmas music.

In addition to festive animal feedings and talks, you’ll also get to enjoy musicians, dance performances, and a performance of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

Getting In: San Diego Zoo tickets are included with the Go San Diego Card.

Riding into the Holidays at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum

December 4th, 2018 – January 6th, 2019

San-Diego-Model-Railroad-Museum-4

The San Diego Model Railroad Museum puts on an array of different holiday celebrations, from a screening of a Christmas classic to a special display about the importance of toy trains during the season.

On December 15th, bring the kids to the museum for a showing of The Polar Express. Feel free to bring a blanket and pillow for the kids, as you’ll all be encouraged to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

For adults, they also host a fun “Ales and Rails” event on December 14th, 2018 which combines beer tasting with an ugly Christmas sweater competition.

Getting In: San Diego Model Railroad Museum tickets are included with the Go San Diego Card. Tickets to Polar Express Day & Ales and Rails are separately priced.

LEGOLAND® Holidays 

November 17th – December 31st, 2018

Photo by LEGOLAND® California

Come to LEGOLAND® California Resort to celebrate your favorite holiday with your favorite toys.

Enjoy character meet and greets at the new LEGO® Holiday Village. Meet LEGO® Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, elves, and the world’s largest LEGO® Christmas tree. It’s the perfect place to pose for your family’s holiday card.

There will also be holiday performances, shows, and even a Cookie Decorating Workshop.

Getting In: LEGOLAND® California tickets are included with the Go San Diego Card. Holiday events are included with park admission.

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration

November 17th, 2018 – January 6th, 2019

Photo by SeaWorld

For something that will make your kids’ holiday experiences truly special, head to SeaWorld San Diego.

Their Christmas Celebration is among the best and brightest in the region, offering seasonal food and drink, festive shopping, live performances, and much more!

This year, you can enjoy a brand new Nativity Show, “O Wondrous Night.” Then, meet Rudolph and friends, soak up the beauty of illuminated trees, and find that perfect gift for a loved one.

Getting In: SeaWorld San Diego tickets are included with the 3-, 5-, and 7-Day Go San Diego Cards. Holiday events are included with park admission.

December Nights at the San Diego Museum of Art

December 7th & 8th, 2018

Photo by San Diego Museum of Art

In accordance with the Balboa Park December Nights, the park’s resident art museum hosts holiday-themed celebrations as well.

On both days, the museum will be closed during normal operating hours and will open at 5PM to celebrate the long-standing tradition with special galleries, concerts, and holiday treats. Hear the La Jolla Renaissance Singers, check out the intricately designed Nativity Scene, and explore the Hibben Gallery.

Getting in: San Diego Museum of Art tickets are included with Go San Diego Card. December Nights may be separately ticketed.

Drink Play Create: Ugly Sweater Party at the New Children’s Museum

December 8th, 2018

New Childrens Museum XMAS

While it’s being held at a children’s museum, Drink Play Create is a 21+ event that locals love.

Show up decked out in your ugliest Christmas Sweater and get ready to party surrounded by festive art. Enjoy plenty of food and drink, music, and access to galleries.

If you’d prefer to involve your kids in your holiday fun, then bring them back to the museum for the Pajama Jam on December 28th.

Getting In: New Children’s Museum tickets are included with the Go San Diego Card. Ugly Sweater Party is separately ticketed and is not included with the pass.

December Nights at Balboa Park

December 7th & 8th, 2018

Photo by Balboa Park

Head to the famous park for the 41st celebration of December Nights on December 7th and 8th. It’s the largest free holiday festival in San Diego.

Enjoy gorgeous light displays, a decadently decorated Christmas Tree as the center piece, and plenty of fun-filled attractions. There will be performances, like a rendition of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, tons of local-made crafts and gifts to choose from, and plenty more to get you into the holiday spirit.

Getting in: December Nights at Balboa Park is free and open to the public.

Polar Bear Tea at the Hotel Del Coronado

December 22, 2018

Photo by Hotel del Coronado

This is a unique experience the kids will never forget. Hop aboard the ferry out to Coronado and enjoy a charming Polar Bear Tea at the historic Hotel Del Coronado.

Evoking Christmas traditions with specialty food and décor, the Polar Bear Tea is geared specifically towards kids, with festive activities and readings with Mrs. Claus.

Plus, if you bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate to a child in need, you’ll be able to go home with a polar bear plush!

Getting In: Polar Bear Tea is separately ticketed and is not included with the pass.

Remember to Save on Attraction Admission

So there’s our brief list of the top things to do in San Diego during Christmastime and the holidays.

Remember, many of these options are included on the Go San Diego® Card, which can save you up to 55% on combined admission vs. paying at the gate.

Please note, the Christmas events taking place at some of these attractions may be separately ticketed and not included with the Go San Diego Card.

We hope you’ll consider adding an idea or two from this list to your holiday itinerary!

The information contained in this post, to the best of the author's knowledge, was accurate at time of publishing. We do our best to ensure and maintain the accuracy of this information.

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