San Diego Winter and Fall Events You’ll Want to Explore

While it’s true that “America’s Finest City” enjoys mild weather year-round, there’s just something that’s a little bit special about the fall and winter seasons. We usually enjoy light-jacket temperatures of between 60°-70°F during December and January, so it’s the perfect time to visit if it’s snowing back home. Especially since the events calendar in the metro really starts to fill up as the beaches empty out. So if you’re on the lookout for some great San Diego winter and fall happenings, we have some excellent suggestions for where to go, and what to do. 

50th Annual Bay Parade of Lights (8 miles away)

The Bay Parade of Lights is a uniquely San Diego tradition, returning for its 50th year in 2021. Area boating enthusiasts deck out their dinghies and give their yachts a yuletide makeover, then cruise past the shore in a brilliantly beautiful show of seasonal splendor. This time-honored festival will bring more than 80 boats to the waters off of San Diego, all lavishly decorated to represent this year’s theme of “The 12 Days of Christmas.” More than 100,000 residents are expected to enjoy the brilliantly-bright parade on December 12 and 19.  A similar procession takes place on Mission Bay, the Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights, even closer to our hotel!

Photo credit: @sdparadeoflights

Enjoy Whale-Watching Season (8 miles away)

San Diego’s West Coast location means that we’re in a prime spot for whale-watching during peak migration. Every year, schools of gray whales (totalling upwards of 20,000 individual animals) make their way from the warmer waters of the southern hemisphere north for spring mating season. Several local boating companies offer spotting tours designed to get you close enough to see these majestic creatures. What better way to spend a winter vacation?

Hike at Torrey Pines (11 miles away)

Torrey Pines Reserve is one of San Diego’s most beautiful natural places, and the hiking in the preserve only gets better when the weather cools down. Expect to discover centuries-old sandstone formations sweeping elegantly across the terrain just adjacent to truly spectacular views of the water. You’ll also find one of the rarest trees in existence: the Torrey Pine — which grows only two places on the planet. The preserve is a great place to catch some fresh air, too.

12600 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, CA 92037

“How The Grinch Stole Christmas!” at the Old Globe Theatre (11 miles away)

The repertory company at The Old Globe will be bringing the Dr. Seuss holiday classic to life onstage this holiday season. This fun-for-the-whole-family show tells the story of a classic grouch whose holiday-hating heart is “three sizes too small.” Will he learn to get into the spirit thanks to an adorable coterie of townspeople who refuse to allow their yuletide to get Grinched? There’s only one way to find out: attend a performance. Shows run from November 10 – December 31 on the Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage.

1363 Old Globe Way, San Diego, CA 92101 

Ice Skating (12 miles away)

Ice Skating may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of San Diego, but it should definitely be on the list. Despite our mild weather, “America’s Finest City” has lots of places where skaters can glide gracefully over the ice. Among them: 

  • Hotel del Coronado: our friends at this Coronado Island lodge host a rink overlooking the ocean every year. (16 miles away)
  • Viejas Casino: you’ll find SoCal’s largest outdoor ice rink here every holiday season. (12 miles away)
  • Poway Community Park: Poway’s Winter Festival always features an outdoor rink ideal for a holiday skate. (23 miles away)
  • San Diego Ice Arena: this fantastic facility is open year-round, and also hosts lessons, hockey and more. (18 miles away)

Photo credit: @delcoronado

Bates Nut Farm (43 miles away)

San Diegans flock to Bates Nut Farm during the autumn months. Bates Nut Farm has been welcoming families to its pumpkin patch and nut hatch for more than 50 years. Fun fall activities here include tractor rides, a straw maze, a petting zoo, pony rides, and much more. When you stop, don’t forget to grab a wheelbarrow and load up on a cornucopia worth of fall staples like squash, pumpkins, and other seasonal produce perfect for both dining and decor.

15954 Woods Valley Road Valley Center, CA

Photo credit: @pao_laonn

Julian’s Apple Season (59 miles away)

The truly lovely city of Julian is only about an hour away from us, and there’s no place locals enjoy more during the Autumn season. That’s due to the fact that Julian is apple country! Apple-picking season typically runs from September through November here, and the city celebrates its delicious growing heritage with all kinds of events. You’ll discover pick-your-own orchards, apple cider stands, hayrides, hoedowns, festivals and much more when you visit.

Let Us be Your Holiday Home Away From Home

Planning a holiday trip to San Diego? We’d love to host your holiday adventure. Our beachfront hotel is just steps from the Pacific, with rooms that overlook the water from a private balcony. Take a dip in our hot tub, enjoy a complimentary poolside beverage, or even avail yourself of our on-site massage services while here. Take a look at our Special Offers page, select the travel deal that’s right for you, and have a holly jolly time in sunny San Diego!