San Diego

Weekend roundup

December 9-12


Botanic Wonderland

Dec. 10-30. The 37-acre San Diego Botanic Garden transforms into a sparkling holiday oasis filled with family-friendly attractions. The garden’s glass conservatory will be decked out in festive decorations; along with a 1-mile pathway of holiday lights through the property. The fun also includes photos with Santa; hands-on kids’ activities, including writing letters to Santa; strolling carolers; and food and drink vendors on the gazebo lawn. 5:30-9 p.m. (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). See website for required reservations and ticket pricing. 300 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas, 760.436.3036.

San Diego Zoo’s “Jungle Bells Aurora”

Dec. 10-Jan 2. Take a walk on the wild side at San Diego Zoo, which will be aglow with decorations, music, entertainers, specialty food items, kids’ activities and the return of “Aurora”—a magical experience filled with lights and 3D projections. Entertainment includes the Jingle Brass musical ensemble; the Toy Shop Hop acrobatic elves; “Celebration of Lights” at the Front Street Toog Tree; The Tinseltones a cappella group; Christmas storytelling; photos ops at Santa’s Factory; and much more. See website for hours and admission info. 2920 Zoo Drive, Balboa Park, 619.231.1515.

Holiday on Adams Avenue

Dec. 12. Who says it never snows in central San Diego? Make Sunday a snow day with the return of this annual all-ages celebration at Kensington Park. The park’s main field will be converted into a winter wonderland of actual snow for the afternoon. In between snowman-building and snowball fights, guests can enjoy complimentary peppermint ice cream from Moosie’s Ice Cream and hot cocoa from Ponce’s Mexican Restaurant. And be on the lookout for Saint Nick. Noon-3 p.m. (or until the snow melts). Free entry. 4121 Adams Ave., Kensington. More Info

Holiday Market at Petco Park

Through Dec. 24. Petco Park’s Gallagher Square has morphed into an over-the-top holiday haven brimming with festive light displays, decorations, holiday characters, European-inspired artisanal shops, vendors offering seasonal treats and drinks, visits with Santa, an old-fashioned carousel, live entertainment on the Sycuan Stage, and a 30-foot-tall Christmas tree. Shop for one-of a kind ornaments, decorations and gifts; watch performers dance live inside large glass spheres; and let the kiddoes write and send letters to Santa via a designated North Pole mailbox. 4-9:30 p.m. $10-$14. 840 K St., East Village. Tickets

“Snow N Glow” Holiday Festival

Through Jan. 2. The Del Mar Fairgrounds doubles as one of the more thrilling winter wonderlands you’ll find this year. Churning out fresh snow Friday through Sunday (sourced from 50-plus tons of ice!), the festival comprises snow-tubing down a 20-foot snow slide; strolling through 1 million twinkling holiday lights; private igloo rentals where guests can roast marshmallows and sip hot coca fireside; and a 1.5-mile “Holidays in Your Car” drive-thru experience. Open select dates 4-10 p.m. See website for details and pricing. 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar. Tickets

Food + Drink

Breakfast with Surfin’ Santa at Seaport Village

Dec. 11. Start your Saturday right with breakfast with Seaport Village’s beloved Surfin’ Santa and a side of San Diego Bay views. The experience includes a full breakfast, beverages (including spiked libations for adults), kids activities, holiday goodie bags and photos with Santa. Menu items include your choice of avocado toast, a breakfast sandwich, chicken biscuit or a kids’ meal; a side of breakfast potatoes or fruit; and drinks such as apple cider, hot chocolate, a bloody mary or mimosa. 9-11 a.m. $25 per person. 849 W. Harbor Drive, downtown.

Holiday Lunch at Fort Oak

Through Dec. 17. The Mission Hills hot spot and Michelin Plate honoree has rolled out a special lunch service to get you in the holiday spirit. Chef Brad Wise’s menu includes seafood plates and towers, including rockfish ceviche and ahi tartare; shareable plates such as hearth-roasted carrots, coppa ham and white-truffle pasta; and entrees ranging from hearth-grilled branzino to a traditional cotechino sausage roll. Pair your meal with a fun holiday cocktail such as The Nutcracker or Sleigh Ride. W-F 11 a.m.-2 p.m. 1011 Fort Stockton Drive, Mission Hills, 619.722.3398.


Now Open. Channeling a whimsical, “Old Paris” vibe, Wormwood is San Diego’s first dedicated absinthe bar and restaurant. The 1,700-square-foot space (formerly occupied by Jaynes Gastropub) features an indoor bar and a secret-garden-style courtyard offering ample outdoor dining. The menu spotlights more than 30 absinthes, sourced mainly from Europe, New York and Louisiana, and served in slow-drip fountains with a sugar cube; absinthe-focused cocktails; and modern French cuisine, such as roasted bone marrow topped with wagyu tartare. W-Su beginning at 5 p.m. 4677 30th St., North Park, 619.915.6706.

Arts + Culture

A North Star Christmas 

Dec. 10. Get your dose of theatrical holiday cheer at this one-night-only performance at the historic Point Loma Assembly auditorium, presented by Point Loma Playhouse. Written by the artistic team at the Theater for Young Professionals (TYP) and Kerry Meads from Lamb’s Players Theatre, A North Star Christmas is an original, family-friendly holiday musical featuring 16 TYP members. The plot: It’s two days before Christmas, and the North Star mall is packed. When employees discover that Santa is missing, chaos and hilarity ensue. 7 p.m. $15 per person. 3035 Talbot St., Point Loma, 619.800.5497. Tickets

“Noel Noel” at The Rady Shell

Dec. 10-12. As part of its holiday programming at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, San Diego Symphony presents the return of its beloved annual holiday concert: “Noel Noel.” The San Diego Master Chorale and San Diego Children’s Choir join the symphony for a family-friendly evening under the stars—performing holiday classics across three shows this weekend, with Ted Sperling conducting. Guests can also enjoy festive food and beverages available for purchase onsite. (Bundle up!) 5 p.m. Tickets start at $25. 222 Marina Park Way, downtown, 619.235.0804.

Photo credits: Fort Oak by Devin Castañeda. The Rady Shell by Jenna Selby. All other images are courtesy of the venues and businesses featured.

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