Enjoy the Holidays With a San Diego Beach Vibe

The holiday season is upon us. And just like every year, yuletide tidings mean that San Diego takes on a special kind of magic. With our perfect weather and stunning coastal views, our sunny city knows how to celebrate the holidays with a unique beach vibe. To that end, we’ve put together a guide on how to make the most of your San Diego holiday getaway, filled with beachside festivities and enchanting events.

Whale Watching Season

December marks the beginning of San Diego’s whale-watching season, making it the perfect time to embark on the marine adventure of a lifetime. Witness magnificent gray whales as they migrate along the coast, providing a thrilling and unforgettable outing for nature lovers. Many tour operators offer whale-watching excursions from the harbor, allowing you to get up close and personal with these majestic creatures.


The Bay Parade of Lights

(Photo: @dparadeoflights)

Every year, our city’s beautiful waterfront comes alive with the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights. This resplendent regatta features boats adorned with elaborate holiday decorations, cruising along the waterfront. It’s a spectacular sight, and you can enjoy it from various viewpoints around the bay. Gather with the locals and visitors to witness the annual maritime magic.


San Diego Christmas Tree Trail

(Photo: @sandiegochristmasmarket)

For a truly unique holiday experience, make your way along the famous San Diego Christmas Tree Trail. Multiple locations throughout the city host beautifully decorated trees, each with its own theme. It’s a delightful way to explore different parts of San Diego while taking in the holiday spirit. 


Holiday Ice Skating Events

(Photo: @laurenashleymedia)

San Diego offers multiple ice skating rinks for you to get your holiday glide on. Visit Rady Children’s Ice Rink in Liberty Station, the San Diego Ice Arena, Skating by the Sea in Coronado, or the UTC Ice Skating rink for a fun, frosty, festive day out. Whether you’re a seasoned skater or a novice, these rinks offer a great way to enjoy the holiday season in a classic winter style.

San Diego Ice Arena: 3500 Sports Arena Blvd, San Diego, CA 92110 (4.9 miles)

Rady Children’s Ice Rink: 2875 Dewey Rd, San Diego, CA 92106 (7.8 miles)

UTC ICE: 4545 La Jolla Village Dr, San Diego, CA 92122 (9.2 miles)

Skating by the Sea: 1500 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118 (16 miles)


The Pacific Beach Holiday Parade and Santa Run (0.5 miles)

(Photo: @sdrunningco)

Our neighborhood of Pacific Beach brings a lively coastal vibe to the holiday season with its annual Holiday Parade and Santa Run. The parade features festive floats, local school bands, and, of course, Santa Claus himself. Following the parade, the Santa Run takes over the streets, with participants dressed as Ol’ St. Nick fun-running through the streets. It’s a jolly and heartwarming event that captures the essence of our beachside holiday spirit.

912 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109


Belmont Park’s Winter Wonder (2.1 miles)

(Photo: @belmontparksd)

San Diego’s beachfront amusement destination Belmont Park becomes a Winter Wonder during the holiday season. You can enjoy ice skating by the beach, ride the historic Giant Dipper roller coaster, and explore a holiday-themed village complete with unique shops and seasonal dining options. Belmont Park’s festive atmosphere is a perfect blend of the beach and holiday spirits every year during yuletide.

Belmont Park, 3146 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109


SeaWorld San Diego’s Christmas Celebration (3.9 miles)

(Photo: @park_journey)

SeaWorld San Diego offers a spectacular seasonal soirée that combines thrilling marine animal encounters with festive decorations and loads of live entertainment. During this annual event, guests can enjoy special holiday shows, meet Santa Claus and his reindeer, and marvel at the mesmerizing Sea of Trees — a vast ocean of 5,000 sparkling Christmas trees that light up the night with bright, festive colors.

500 SeaWorld Dr, San Diego, CA 92109


“Salute the Season” at Liberty Station (8.1 miles)

(Photo: @libertystation)

Liberty Station is one of those “only in San Diego” kinds of spots — a historic naval base turned cultural hub that’s part shopping center, part entertainment experience, and part dining destination. Their annual “Salute the Season,” is a heartwarming holiday event for the whole family. You can enjoy holiday movies under the stars, explore local artisan markets, and indulge in sweet treats. The highlight is the outdoor ice skating rink, where you can glide along under the San Diego sky, surrounded by nostalgic charm.

2820 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego, CA 92106


Surfin’ Santa at Seaport Village (10.6 miles)

(Photo: @sandiegosurfingsanta)

What’s Christmas in San Diego without a visit from Surfin’ Santa? Seaport Village hosts this iconic event, where Santa arrives in style; hanging ten on a longboard. Kids can meet Santa and take part in holiday crafts, and the whole family can enjoy the live entertainment and picturesque views of San Diego Bay. And of course, as one of San Diego’s premier shopping destinations, Seaport Village can help you cross a good number of names off of your list, too.

849 W Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101


Jungle Bells at San Diego Zoo (11.7 miles)

(Photo: @goldylox_)

The world-renowned San Diego Zoo is an exceptional place to experience the holiday spirit. During “Jungle Bells,” the zoo is transformed into a winter wonderland. You can stroll through the beautifully decorated grounds, meet Santa, and enjoy a variety of festive performances. Don’t miss the chance to see the animals at night, as they often display unique behaviors during the cooler evening hours.

2920 Zoo Dr, San Diego, CA 92101


December Nights at Balboa Park (11.8 miles)

(Photo: @foreverbalboapark)

Balboa Park — San Diego’s most beloved green space — becomes even more enchanting during the holiday season. December Nights is an annual event that transforms the park into a SoCal winter wonderland. Stroll through beautifully lit gardens, enjoy live music and dance performances, savor delicious food from around the world, and explore the park’s world-class museums, all against a backdrop of twinkling lights and holiday cheer.

1549 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101


Discover Holiday Fun at Pacific Terrace

San Diego’s beachside holiday celebrations are truly an amazing experience. The combination of coastal charm and festive spirit creates a magical atmosphere that you won’t find anywhere else. As you sketch out your itinerary for your holiday escape to San Diego, be sure to immerse yourself in these beach vibes and make the most of this enchanting season. The best way to do it? Plan a stay at Pacific Terrace Hotel! Once you take a look at our amenities, spaces and spectacular special offers, we’re sure you’ll agree: a stay with us is just the year-end gift for creating lasting memories.  


Happy holidays from Pacific Terrace!