December 2019: 10 Family-Friendly Activities in San Diego

December is typically the busiest, and most exciting, month of the year. The holiday spirit shows up through our baking, decorating, gifting and – most of all – quality time spent with family and friends.

There are dozens of incredible festive family events throughout San Diego County in December. But here are our top 10 picks for must-see family-friendly activities this holiday season!

  1. Balboa Park December Nights

    When: December 6, 3pm-11pm & December 7, noon-11pm
    Where:1549 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
    Cost: Free
    For over 40 years, San Diego families have eagerly awaited December Nights – arguably the most popular holiday celebration in San Diego County. Enjoy the mild San Diego weather in December by heading to Balboa Park to enjoy a spectacular array of entertainment including puppetry, dance and live music; food and drink; tons of colorful light displays; and free admission to all the museums, open ‘til late.

  2. La Mesa’s Holiday In The Village

    When: December 13, 4-9pm & December 14, 10am-9pm
    Where: La Mesa Village, University & La Mesa Blvd
    Cost: Free
    Make a festive trip to La Mesa Village! Downtown La Mesa comes alive with holiday cheer with snow, live entertainment stages, Santa’s Village, inflatable carnival games, a train ride, tasty treats and Main Street shopping for everyone on your list!

  3. Jungle Bells at San Diego Zoo

    When: December 13 – January 5
    Where: 2920 Zoo Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
    Cost: Tickets start at $46 for children / $56 for adults
    Lions, tigers and bears – under glittering holiday lights – oh, my! Holiday merry-making goes wild at the San Diego Zoo during Jungle Bells, when the zoo stays open until 9 p.m. to display its twinkling winter wonderland of bright lights and festive holiday action.

  4. San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

    When: December 8 & 15, starting at 5pm
    Where: Along the bay from Shelter Island to Ferry Landing on Coronado
    Cost: Free
    Another beloved holiday tradition, the Parade of Lights makes quite a festive impression as it sails across San Diego Bay. The route begins at Shelter Island and ends at the Coronado Ferry Landing, giving spectators lots of fantastic opportunities to view the breathtaking boat procession. Plan your family’s very own fun, stress-free trip to the parade!

  5. California Ballet’s The Nutcracker

    When: December 13 – 24
    Where: Civic Theatre, 1100 Third Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
    Cost: $25-$95 , Children 12 & under receive up to a 25% discount
    This beautiful holiday dance tradition has captivated audiences across the world since its first performance in Russia over 125 years ago. The California Ballet gives San Diego families the chance to partake in it at the Civic Theatre. There are also 2 “family-friendly” performances for little ones under 4 years old.

  6. Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade

    When:  December 15, 12pm-5pm
    Where: 401 K Street, San Diego, CA 92101
    Cost: Free
    Not feeling in the holiday spirit just yet? A parade of dogs, cats, bunnies and even birds decked out in holiday costumes will thoroughly change that! Your whole family will ooh, ahh and giggle at the adorable pets in this year’s Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade. You can even register your own furry family member to participate!

  7. Old Town Trolley’s Holiday Lights & Sights Tour

    When: December 5 – 23 & 26 – 30
    Where: Old Town Market – 4010 Twiggs Street.
    Cost: $15 for kids ages 3-12, free for 2 and under.  $25 for adults
    Just as the name suggests, your family can check out the very best holiday lights and sights around San Diego on a jolly trolley tour! Enjoy sing-a-long caroling and learn fun holiday facts as your conductor takes you through festive streets of Old Town, the Embarcadero, Balboa Park, Garrison “Christmas Lights” Street and more.

  8. Liberty Station’s Salute to the Season

    When: Throughout December
    Where: Liberty Station, 2455 Cushing Rd, San Diego, 92106
    Cost: Cost varies depending on activity; see website for details
    Salute the holiday season with numerous festive events happening throughout December in Liberty Station. Kids will love the Nutcracker Tea Party with the San Diego Ballet as well as getting their picture snapped with Santa. And the whole family can enjoy skating in the Rady Children’s Ice Rink, shopping the Friday Night Holiday Extravaganza and joining in the Hanukkah Celebration & Menorah Lighting.

  9. Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade

    When: December 26, 3pm
    Where: Downtown San Diego’s bayside streets
    Cost: Free
    Looking for a fun, free way for the family to start ringing in 2020? America’s largest balloon parade takes over the bayside streets of downtown with world-class marching bands, drill teams and, of course, enormous balloon floats! Grandstand seats are available for purchase for those who want an extra-special view.

  10. Wacky Wonderland Holiday Festival & Charity DriveWhen: December 8, 11am-2pm
    Where: San Diego Center for Children, 3002 Armstrong Street, San Diego, CA 92111
    Cost: Free admission, please bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate
    Take the kids to this charity fundraiser and enjoy photos with Santa, jumpers, trackless train rides, carnival games, holiday crafts,  and a Holiday Sweater Contest! Donations benefit children and families served by San Diego Center for Children.

Check out all of Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups’ articles for the best quality, family-friendly holiday fun throughout San Diego.

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