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, San Diego has something for everyone. Not only are many of the most popular attractions still open, but many of them will host special seasonal events throughout the holiday season! 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 including...

  • Jungle Bells at San Diego Zoo
  • SeaWorld
  • December Nights
  • And more!

Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo

December, through to January each year

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 transform into 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 in the Go San Diego pass.

San Diego Model Railroad Museum

Early December through early January; Exact dates TBD

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 select dates, bring the kids to the museum for a showing of The Polar Express. Bring a blanket and pillow for the kids, then sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. For adults, they also host a fun “Ales and Rails” event, which combines beer tasting with an ugly Christmas sweater competition. Dates for the rest of their Christmas events are announced annually, so keep checking the San Diego Model Railroad Museum website for updates. Getting in: San Diego Model Railroad Museum tickets are included in the Go San Diego pass.

LEGOLAND® Holidays 

November - December

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 more. Marvel at the world's largest LEGO® Christmas tree, bedecked with over 400 LEGO ornaments and more than 11,000 LED lights. 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. LEGOLAND Holidays will take place between November and December. Getting in: LEGOLAND California tickets are included in the Go San Diego pass.

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration

Mid-November through early January;

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. Visitors will also be delighted to meet Rudolph and friends, soak up the beauty of illuminated trees, and find that perfect gift for a loved one. Each year brings a new Nativity show with a unique theme and special one-off events and performances. SeaWorld San Diego's Christmas Celebration will take place from November to December. Getting in: SeaWorld San Diego tickets are included in the Go San Diego pass.

December Nights at the San Diego Museum of Art


Photo by San Diego Museum of Art
Following the Balboa Park December Nights, the park's resident art museum hosts holiday-themed celebrations as well. The San Diego Museum of Art weaves the best and brightest of the holidays in with their impressive artistic offerings. For both days, the museum will close during normal operating hours and will open at 5 PM 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. If you're looking to make an entire day of exploring Balboa Park, be sure to check out other top local museums and attractions during Balboa Park December Nights. More on that below! Getting in: San Diego Museum of Art tickets are included in the Go San Diego pass. 

December Nights at Balboa Park


Photo by Balboa Park
Head to the famous park for the 42nd celebration of December Nights, held every year on the first Friday & Saturday of December. It's the largest free holiday festival in San Diego. Enjoy gorgeous light displays, a decadently decorated Christmas Tree as the centerpiece, and plenty of fun-filled attractions. There will be performances, like a rendition of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 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

Pre Christmas in December

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. The Polar Bear Tea is especially for 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! Looking to explore more of this historic little island? Check out the Coronado Museum of History and Art to learn more about the heritage and culture of this standout vacation spot in San Diego. Getting in: Polar Bear Tea at the Hotel Del Coronado is not included with the Go San Diego pass and tickets must be purchased separately.

Save on Holiday 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® pass, 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 Go San Diego. We hope you’ll consider adding an idea or two from this list to your holiday itinerary. Happy Holidays from Go City!