San Diego natives have special traditions in December: taking frost-bitten relatives to the beach, visiting the snow atop Mount Laguna, and marveling at the profusion of wildflowers blooming in Anza-Borrego. But San Diego really goes all out for the December holidays with marine life, zoo life, carnivals, balloons, and even ice skating all putting their Christmas on! In the next few weeks, caregivers, home care aides and loved ones can have breakfast with Santa and Shamu, get jolly at the Zoo, and gawk at the largest balloon parade in the country! Take that, Macy’s! And most miraculous of all, ice skating in Coronado, Rancho Santa Fe, Alpine, and Point Loma! It’s the most festive time of the year!

Here’s just a short list of the holiday delights on offer:

  • SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration through January 6

    • Where & What: SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration offers something for everyone: an all-new Live Nativity Musical, Santa’s Christmas Village where you can meet Santa, Mrs. Claus and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. All the shows have some holiday zazzle, and you can even have breakfast with Orcas and Santa! (Probably not fish.)
    • Tickets: Cost is included with admission.
    • When: November 18 – Friday January 6 during regular hours
    • More info
  • Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo through Jan 1

    • Where & What: The zoo puts on its holiday finery, with the trolley, light sculptures and North-Pole-themed entertainment in the mix. Plus, photos with Santa and snow flurries!
    • Tickets: Cost to enter is included with zoo admission
    • When: December 8 – January 1
    • More info
  • Global Winter Wonderland through Jan 7
    • Where & What: New to San Diego, the Global Winter Wonderland takes over the newly-named SDCCU Stadium in Mission Valley. This holiday carnival has the biggest exhibit of traditional Chinese lanterns outside of China, plus carnival rides, games, international food and shopping. Don’t miss the Cirque du Soleil-style Chinese acrobatics show!
    • Tickets: General admission is $22 for adults and $19 for children. Rides and other attractions are extra
    • When: November 19 – January 7, every day from 4:30 p.m–10:00 p.m
    • More info
  • San Diego’s Outdoor Ice Skating Rinks: don’t pretend this isn’t amazing! We had a heat wave early this month, and people are ice skating!
    • Hotel Del Coronado’s Skating by the Sea
      • Where: Skating by the Sea at the Hotel Del is San Diego’s only beach-front skating rink
      • When: November 23 – January 1. Times vary each day so plan ahead
      • Tickets: Cost: $30 per person with free skate rentals
      • More info
    • Viejas Ice Rink
      • Where: Did you know that the Viejas Outlets’ outdoor rink is the largest in California? It’s bigger than Rockefeller Center’s rink?!
      • When: through January 28, 5:00 p.m.—10:00 p.m.
      • Tickets: $14—$16, less $2 if you bring your own skate
      • More info
    • Rady Children’s Ice Rink
      • Where: The Rady Children’s Ice Rink is at Liberty Station.
      • When: November 25—January 7 (except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day), 10am–10pm
      • Tickets: $10–$1
      • More info
    • Inn at Rancho Santa Fe
      • Where: For the first time ever, the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe will has a skating rink
      • When: December 1 – January 1, M–F 3:30 p.m.–9:00 p.m. and weekends noon–9:00 p.m.
      • Tickets: Cost: Wristbands are purchased on-site
      • More info
    • Holiday Bowl Big Bay Balloon Parade
      • Where: Floats, balloons and marching bands strut their stuff along San Diego Bay downtown
      • Tickets: Grandstand tickets are $22.
      • When: December 28 at 10:00 am
      • More info

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