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Fave 5 ~ Week of December 2nd

So it begins! We hit December 1st, and San Diego is off with a bang on the holiday happenings and as usual, there is no shortage of festive fun to be had! This week we are highlighting some of our favorite Christmas family traditions, all which happen to be FREE. These traditions also tend to be traditions for thousands of other San Diegans, so yes, you can expect traffic delays and overcrowded sidewalks. However, there is a reason that they are so popular, so as long as you go early, pack wisely, and bring your patience, your family is sure to have a jolly good time!

Thursday, December 5th,

Hullabaloo for the Holidays

OK so this might be a “1st annual tradition” event, but let me tell you…Del Mar Highlands is insanely festive this time of year, and when you add a holiday Hullabaloo jam sesh in the mix, oh boy oh boy! If you have littles 5 and under, bring them down for a free, fun sing along jam session at the pop jet fountain (located in the heart of the center on the main floor) to get into the holiday spirit. There might even be a special appearance by SANTA, and if you pair your outing with a frozen yogurt treat and a movie date to see Disney’s new Frozen II, you’re sure to become the coolest mom in town!


Friday, December 6th

Coronado Holiday Parade 

Photo cred to the Coronado Chamber of Commerce

Truly one of our favorite holiday parades! Pro-tip…arrive early and head over to the Rotary Plaza at 5pm for Christmas carols and the tree lighting before the parade kicks off at 6pm. This hometown parade is a true holiday tradition and thousands line the street each year to kick off the holiday season in style!


Friday, December 6th & Saturday, December 7th 

Balboa Park’s December Nights

Chelsea & her mom tribe at December Nights in 2015!

Alright, we admit that you don’t need us to tell you about December Nights. It’s easily one of the nation’s most popular holiday festivals. But in case you decide to brave the chaos this year, here is what you should know…

The event runs for 2 days, December 6 (3pm – 11pm) and 7 (12pm – 11pm). You can expect food from all over the world, musical performances and dance, holiday festivities and spirits, plus fun-filled activities and attractions throughout the entire park. You can also expect minimal parking opportunities, so ride sharing or using the shuttle will be your best bet. Both sides of Sixth Ave. near the Laurel Street Bridge are dedicated drop-off and pick-up locations if you choose to ride share. Free shuttles are also provided to help you avoid the traffic going to and from the event.

Saturday, December 7th

Little Italy Tree Lighting & Christmas Village

Photo cred to Gates Photography & Little Italy SD

Families, friends and neighbors are invited to kick off the holiday season with festive fun in San Diego’s Little Italy at the 21st Annual Little Italy Tree Lighting and Christmas Village on Saturday, December 7 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. This year, the Little Italy neighborhood will make exciting enhancements to the event with the reveal of a new custom Christmas tree, located in the center of Piazza Basilone. Guests will experience a magical evening filled with festive decor, seasonal vendors, a tree lighting ceremony in the Piazza della Famiglia with a live Christmas tree over 25-feet tall, live music and entertainment, horse-drawn carriage rides, holiday treats, a surprise visit from Santa and more!

Sunday, December 8th –

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Photo cred to San Diego Bay Parade of Lights FB Page

The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights is a time-honored holiday tradition with more than 80 boats lavishly decorated sailing by the shores for all to see. This dazzling parade takes place on two weekends (beginning at 5pm on December 8th & 15th), and will start at Shelter Island and proceed past Harbor Island, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village, the Pier at Cesar Chavez Park, and finally end at the Ferry Landing in Coronado. The parade takes about an hour to pass any given point and there are many comfortable waterfront viewpoints along the route. In its 48th year, this annual tradition has become a popular event, bringing in about 100,000 spectators, but if you pair the event with an early family dinner, or perhaps a festive pedicab ride to your viewpoint, you’ll be sure to love this iconic event just as much as everyone else does!

Make Sure This Is on Your List When Family Visits This Season!

‘Tis the season for family travel, and we are beyond lucky to call San Diego, a place where many only dream to visit, our home! California conjures up images of brilliant sunshine, pristine beaches and cultural diversity, which is why it’s at the top of the list of the most visited states. Chances are, you’ll have friends or family visiting you this holiday season, and we want you to be prepared to show them a good time in America’s Finest City. In San Diego County, it’s even possible to start your day skiing before finishing it with a session of surfing at sunset! With so many options for families, it can be difficult to narrow down a list of things to do with your out-of-town-guests. But one thing that should be at the top of your list, is to experience California’s great grey whale migration aboard the world famous America!  This San Diego Sightseeing Tour is the perfect blend of excitement, relaxation, education, and adventure that your whole family will love! 


Photo by @dolphindromedom

Every year, thousands of Pacific gray whales make the journey from Alaska down to Mexico to birth calves in their ancestral breeding grounds. The round-trip distance of 12,000 miles makes it the longest regular migration on the planet, and California has a front-row seat to the voyage. If you’re interested in getting up close to the action, you’re in luck because the best time for whale watching in San Diego is coming up!


Sailing aboard the America is the best hands-on experience where you can see whales first hand and learn why we should preserve the oceans, our planet, and all the magnificent animals that call Earth home.




Next Level Sailing operates whale watching tours on the America, which without exaggeration, “is the world’s most famous racing yacht. It is also one of the most beautiful yachts in the world. The reason is simple: The original America put yachting on the map. It is why the most famous trophy in sailing is called The America’s Cup.” The original ship was destroyed during World War II, but this near-perfect replica of the 139 foot yacht spares no prestige.






Good to Know: The team at Next Level Sailing is so confident in their ability to provide the best whale watching in San Diego that they offer the only “no sickness guarantee” in the world! In the off-chance that you do get sick, they will even compensate you with a gift card! Their new location on Shelter Island offers ample FREE parking, so you wont rack up a bunch of extra charges during your voyage. The crew will offer complimentary water, soda, chips, and granola bars, but you are also allowed to bring your own food and beverages (alcohol included! Just no red wine). Comfortable shoes and layers will be your best friend, and don’t forget your sunscreen and binos!

**Also be sure to check their Sunday specials, where most dates offer a free child ticket with Adult ticket purchase (a $48 savings!!).



This is a sponsored post by Next Level Sailing. Although we were paid to share this information, all opinions are our own. 

Fave 5 ~ Week of November 18th

I try very hard not to jump straight from Halloween to Christmas. But this week’s Fave 5 focuses on Christmas events because, if you want to participate in some of San Diego’s more popular holiday events, you’ll need to get your tickets before they are sold out.

Here are five holiday happenings that we’ve loved over the years …

North Pole Limited

Holiday weekends beginning November 29th 

Pacific Southwest Railroad Museum in Campo

I see lots of San Diego families traveling great distances to enjoy a live “Polar Express” experience, and I often wonder if they realize that the super fun North Pole Limited train takes off from nearby Campo throughout the season. This has been a favorite of ours for many years. Arrive before your train departs to stroll through the hobo camp next to the depot to hear tales from railroading’s past.

Visiting with Santa aboard The North Pole Express

Once onboard, Santa’s elves lead guests in singing favorite Christmas carols, they read Polar Express, pass out cookies and hot chocolate and, before you know it, the North Pole Limited has arrived at Santa’s Workshop to pick up Santa and Mrs. Claus. Each guest gets to sit with Santa on the way back to the depot. Don’t forget to come dressed PJs if you’re taking the night train!

Some dates for the North Pole Express are already sold out. For the full schedule and to purchase tickets, visit psrm.org/npl/.

Noel Noel

December 14th, 15th, 20th, 21st & 22nd

San Diego Symphony, Downtown

photo credit: San Diego Symphony

The San Diego Symphony’s annual “Noel Noel” holiday concert will put your whole family in a festive mood. The show features some of the season’s favorite songs as well as magical new holiday music that everyone will love. Noel Noel is performed several times over two weekends, and there is a special family daytime concert on December 15th.  Get more information and purchase tickets at SanDiegoSymphony.org.

Mom’s Guide Tip: The famous Donut Bar is just across the street from Copley Symphony Hall and is often open before and after a performance. They serve awesome, mega-sized donuts and amazing craft beers. 😉 



Traditions of Christmas Remixed

December 13, 14, 15, 20, 21 & 22nd

Lincoln Performing Arts Center, 4777 Imperial Ave

Ok so we haven’t seen this version of Traditions of Christmas yet, but we have seen the original and were so sad when it went dark for two years to be “remixed.”  With lots of dancing and singing to favorite holiday songs, the original version of this Christmas musical extravaganza has been seen by over 250,000 patrons. I just know that the new LED scenic designs, lighting, new songs and dance numbers are going to get everyone into the holiday spirit – even the Grinch! For tickets visit CYTSanDiego.org/shows.


Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Select dates now through December 29th

The Old Globe Theater, Balboa Park 

Photo Credit: Old Globe

This is one show we try to do every single year because it is so fun, so happy and imparts a wonderful message about Christmas being a whole lot more than shopping and gifts. Uber talented children and adults in whimsical costume perform day and evening shows throughout the holiday season, including a special sensory-friendly performance on December 14th. For tickets and more information, visit TheOldGlobe.org.

Mom’s Guide tip: Arrive early to take pictures in front of the Christmas tree. There’s a nice snack bar serving hot chocolate and other kid-friendly goodies as well as cocktails and light meals. 


Bethlehem Story

December 5, 6, 7 & 8

Faith Chapel in Spring Valley

Here’s another San Diego favorite that has changed since we last visited. For many years Fatih Chapel’s Bethlehem Story was interactive with visitors walking the streets and bazaars of Bethlehem on the night Jesus was born. Last year the show was changed to a stage performance, and the free tickets were distributed before I could snag 4. If you’re looking for events that really express the reason for the season, Bethlehem Story is a must. As told in the Gospel of Luke, encounter Mary and Joseph as they travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem, witness the announcement of the birth of the Christ child, learn of the great census and visit with citizens of Bethlehem as they experience the extraordinary event that changed the world forever, the birth of the Messiah.

Tickets are FREE. Get yours here.

We know you’re also looking for fun things to do this week, so check out our online calendar to help plan your week  as well  special seasonal activities!

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