Best Winter Ever: 13 Things to Do in San Diego to Celebrate Winter in 2015

Ever wish you could live in the land of endless summer? Well you can. Or, at least you can visit it. Here in San Diego, we celebrate sunshine and perfect summer-like temperatures year round.


To celebrate this summer-like winter season, here are our top thirteen recommended activities:


1) Lounge at the Beach

If you’re coming in from the frigid winters of the north, celebrate the warmth! We recommend starting anywhere along the 70 miles of coastline San Diego enjoys. Plop down for an hour, an afternoon, or even the entire day! You’re on paradise time now.


As you move from the beach, check out all the great tourist hotspots. Start with the main street in each of our neighborhoods. We’ve got Calhoun Street in Old Town, Garnet Ave. in Pacific Beach, Newport Ave. in Ocean Beach, and Market Street in Gaslamp.


While you’re out and about, walk around in shorts and flip-flops just because you can.

2) Go Surfing

Quintessential SoCal living happens year round down here. Surfers don’t slow down as the months slip by, so why should you? Sport a wetsuit to stay toasty in the chilly Pacific and you’ll be good to go.


Never been? Then seize this trip as the opportunity to let surfing change your life. We host regular lessons free for our guests. Otherwise, there are countless quality teachers by the beach. Check out our guide to the best beaches to learn surfing.


3) Balboa Park December Nights


With 37 years under their belt, Balboa has this celebration down pat. December Nights brings a variety of dance performances, delicious eats, and top-of-the-line musical performances to audiences of all ages.


Oh, and some serious holiday cheer.


Even some of the museums get in on the fun with free admission during the evening. So if you are still setting your 2015 trip dates, plan to be in town December 4th-5th for this magical event.


Our favorite part…this event is completely free. You can’t beat that price point.


4) Jungle Bells at the Zoo

Rocking around the Christmas tree at home seems a little bland compared to rocking around the trees at the animal kingdom. Every year the San Diego Zoo ramps up the festive energy for a splendid holiday season.


Not only do you enjoy colorful arrays of decorations, they bring out special mini concerts and presentations to celebrate.


5) Cabrillo National Monument


If this if your first time visiting America’s finest city, take advantage of the best vantage place in the entire region: Cabrillo National Monument.


This national monument sits at the southern tip of Point Loma. From here you’ll feel as if you have the world at your fingertips. To the west you’ll enjoy endless Pacific Ocean, showcasing the occasional whale sauntering by. Directly below the point, you have the San Diego Bay. On a typical day, the bay will be speckled with sailboats, yachts, and catamarans navigating the open waters. Not to mention the jaw-dropping views of the San Diego skyline.


To the north, you’ll enjoy over 70 miles of coastline. To the south, you’ll see well into the heart of Mexico.


In addition to the sweeping views, Cabrillo National Monument offers great historical value through their video presentations and access to the famous lighthouse.


6) S’mores at the Hotel Del


Star gazing. Bon fires. S’mores. Pretty much this is the making of a romantic evening. Or, a great way to bond with a group of friends. It all comes down to who you are traveling with. No matter your group size, this activity is fun for everyone! After all, who doesn’t like s’mores?


The Hotel Del makes the entire process a breeze. Reserve your spot ahead of time. Then on your date, walk down to the beach and prepare to be pampered. They will start and tend to your fire. They also supply all the goodies! Each fire station will get a basket of deluxe chocolates, tasty marshmallows, and graham crackers.


Traveling solo? Don’t worry. One night at International Traveler’s House and you’ll have more friends than you can count.


7) Ice Skating Outdoors (at the beach)


This one continues to blow our minds. Not only can you ice skate outdoors in San Diego’s 70-degree weather, you can do it at the beach! The Hotel Del in Coronado constructs their famous ice skating rink yearly to the delight of both locals and tourists alike. You can even get a cup of hot cocoa. At this point, it’s more for sentimental reasons than warmth.


Regardless of defying all sense of reality, this is a must hit activity.


Beach not your style? While we are a little confused at your selection of San Diego for a vacation spot, Horton Plaza in Gaslamp has you covered with their outdoor skating rink. Meanwhile, we’ll be at the beach. Ice Skating. Because this is how San Diego rolls.




8) Whale Watching Season

You aren’t the only one slipping away to the majestic San Diego this winter. The gray whales make sure to swim by on their annual trek to the Baja Straight. It’s perfect for the winter vacationer or snowbird fleeing to warmer beaches.


Basically, you have two options for enjoying these grandiose creatures: by land or sea. If seasickness strikes every time you think of heading out on the ocean blue, head up to Point Loma National Park.


As we mentioned, this is the best vantage point in all of San Diego. You’re not only going to see whales off in the distance, you’re also going to see Tijuana, Coronado, the San Diego skyline, and the seemingly never ending stretch of beach up the coast.


9) Surfing Santa at Seaport Village


This isn’t any old Santa. This surfing Santa sports his Hawaiian attire and wins awards. Seriously! Surfing Santa has been referenced as one of the ten best Santa sightings in the US.


We’re not sure if it’s the stylish clothing or the stunning harbor backdrop, but this event is always a crowd pleaser.


10) Enjoy the Decorated Crystal Pier


While stunning on its own, Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach takes on a new life each December. When walking out to the end of the pier, take time to pause and enjoy the decorated wreaths adorning the siding. The large Christmas tree at the end of the pier will capture you heart.


But the best part comes after the sun slips below the horizon.


Once dark, the entire pier lights up! The enchanting Christmas lights swooping down the length of the pier light up the night, glistening in the water below.


11) Holiday Parades


If you’ve only enjoyed the holiday season in the land of winter, this may seem a bit odd. But for those of us constantly immersed in the glorious sunshine, holiday parades in the winter are part of the norm.


Every year several neighborhoods in San Diego come together to enjoy a myriad of horses, vintage cars, and floats parade down the street while listening to rocking holiday music.


As November winds down, check out the Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, Coronado, and Gaslamp districts’ websites to see when their holiday parade will commence.


12) Annual Port of San Diego Parade of Lights at the Bay


San Diego, California

San Diego, California

Not only do we have endless sunshine, we have two stunning bodies of water bordering us: the bay and the Pacific Ocean. While the Pacific Ocean poses challenges for larger scale celebrations, the bay is an open canvas.


Which means it’s time to have a little fun.


Enter the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights. As we mentioned, the San Diego community is all about celebrating their parades. The seafarer’s community decided to join in. This floating parade brings together a variety of decorated boats, from yachts to rowing crews to utility boats embellished with colorful lights and ornaments. The route follows the north side of Coronado Island, starting at Shelter Island and finishing up by the Coronado Bridge.


13) Pacific Beach Santa Run


Why visit Santa when you can be Santa? Relatively new to the holiday lineup, Pacific Beach now hosts an annual Santa Run. Early admission includes a Santa suit and hat, just in case you left yours at home.


This course nestled into the heart of PB stretches down Garnet Ave. Making sure everyone is included, they have four different heats: fun run, Santa’s helper for runners and their furry companions, Santa’s elves for kids, and then the competitive Speedy Santa wave.


{Insert photo of the run, including dogs in the run- furry reference}


Where to Stay on Your Winter Adventure


If you are looking to make the most of your wintertime San Diego getaway, then one of International Traveler’s House properties is the way to go. We go beyond suggesting activities and facilitate daily adventure, for free!


On a tight budget? Even better. Take advantage of our free meals twice a day. You’re going to wake up to the delicious smell of a home-cooked breakfast and enjoy a scrumptious dinner before exploring the town after dark.


We have a lot of properties. What can we say? People love our brand! If you are unsure which ITH property is right for you, check out our ultimate property guide.


If you’re sold on the idea of adventure and ready to do travel differently, book today!