If you’re stuck in SoCal and feel left out of the winter fun, don’t worry, even if you live in a desert, you don’t have to miss out entirely on seasonal cheer. No winter wonderland in sight? San Diego still has a bunch of options for enjoying the holiday spirit.
With Christmas only a few weeks away, it’s time to spend December gallivanting around town, enjoying the festivities. San Diego has a lot to offer, from ice skating and ballet to light festivals and parades, when it comes to winter date ideas that are perfect for the holiday season. So, keep reading for a list of our top five festive winter date ideas in San Diego.
Ice skating at Liberty Station
After the pandemic shut down this San Diego holiday tradition last year, Rady Children’s Ice Rink has returned to Liberty Station. If you’ve ever visited Liberty Station for an art crawl or brunch, you’ll know it’s the perfect spot for a date. The ice rink that comes around every Yuletide season makes it ideal for a romantic outing and one of our favorite SoCal winter date ideas. Walk down the green path lined with shops and restaurants to find the charming rink surrounded by palm trees decked out in holiday lights.
Set aside your surfboard for the day and rent a pair of skates. Bring your significant other to stumble along to Christmas carols and the “Frozen” soundtrack. Ice skating in sunny San Diego often means you can glide around in a T-shirt and maybe even a pair of shorts.
Proceeds from the ice rink support the Thriving After Cancer program at Rady Children’s Hospital’s Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.
Seaside ice skating at the Hotel del Coronado
If you’d prefer a more romantic ice skating experience, head over the bridge to Coronado Island. Carve up the rink while you watch a beach sunset at the Hotel del Coronado. Then, pretend that you’re Marilyn Monroe and make an attempt at Grace next to the historic Victorian structure with its castle-like towers and iconic red roof.
Reserve a lounge spot to watch the waves and enjoy some adult beverages. Tickets cost US$30 per person online and US$35 per person at the ice rink.
Balboa Park December Nights
Anyone up for a free festival at Balboa Park? December Nights is the grandest community festival in San Diego, and you can join in on the fun free of charge. Balboa Park also has a multitude of other activities beyond December Nights. Come after dark and take advantage of complimentary admission to the park’s various museums. Wondering what happened to Christmas on the Prado? They simply renamed it December Nights (much to the disapproval of San Diegans).
Foodies can’t miss this event. Unfortunately, the ongoing pandemic means its traditional format won’t return this year. Instead, with a gathering of more than 20 food trucks from various cultural cuisines serving popular menu items, the event will be a drive-thru located in the Inspiration Point parking lot.
Golden State Ballet will present “The Nutcracker” at the San Diego Civic Theatre this year. Jared Nelson’s wistful choreography brings Tchaikovsky’s timeless music to life along with breathtaking costumes, enchanting sets and the world-renowned San Diego Symphony. So, if you’re unfamiliar with the story of “The Nutcracker,” it’s time to introduce you to this essential Christmas event.
Imagine the warm strings of the orchestra buzzing in chaos as they prepare to begin the whimsical overture. The curtain opens to reveal a holiday party, with adults and children in antique formal attire. What begins as an ordinary festive night turns mysterious when the grandmother clock strikes eight, and Drosselmeyer, the magician and toymaker, appears. He presents toys to all the children. He gives the eponymous toy, a nutcracker, to little Clara, or in some versions, Marie.
After a night of holiday fun and mystery, the story turns treacherous when the clock strikes midnight, and a horde of large mice led by their king emerge. A battle commences between the toy soldiers, led by the nutcracker and the mice. Clara has her heroic moment when she distracts the Mouse King by throwing her slipper at him, which allows the nutcracker to stab him. Their victory then leads them on a magical journey into the Land of the Sweets.
You can’t celebrate Christmas without a romantic night at the ballet, no matter how ludicrous the plot of “The Nutcracker” may seem on paper.
Little Italy tree lighting and Christmas village
If you and your significant other crave a small, local tree lighting, Little Italy’s holiday traditions won’t disappoint. This historic neighborhood transforms into a winter wonderland strewed with lights up and down the streets and 10-feet-tall nutcrackers. Families and friends swarm the two Christmas trees with the famous tree lighting ceremony at Piazza Della Famiglia and enjoy seasonal vendors to the tune of live music. Don’t forget to bring small bills to tip the buskers.
You can also head over to the Little Italy Christmas Village, located on India Street between W. Cedar and W. Grape Streets. From stocking stuffers to Italian treats, you’ll adore the local artisans that flock to this block to showcase their goods. It’s a cute winter date idea that also supports small businesses during the holidays.
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