San Diego in December: Events, Things to Do and Weather

San Diego is a tourist hotspot lying on the coastline of California. December brings about the holiday season in the US. The city is abuzz with events and parades through the month, making it a great place to enjoy the Christmas festivities. Here’s a guide on the fun activities you can partake in when you visit San Diego during the holidays.

Weather in San Diego During December

The weather in San Diego is pleasant throughout the year, and December is no different. However, December marks the beginning of the rainy season. While showers are not a frequent threat, the rain can be heavy when it does fall. The temperatures range between 50℉ and 70℉, which makes it pleasant to explore the city.

Maximum temperature: 64.7℉
Minimum temperature: 48.4℉
Rainfall: 1.53 in

Events to Attend in San Diego in December

1. Christmas

Christmas Tree at San Ysidro Mall
Christmas Tree at San Ysidro Mall (Source)
Falling on the 25th of December every year, Christmas is amongst the most important festivals for Christians across the world. The day marks the birth of Jesus Christ, and the month of December consists of numerous festivities and events celebrating the holy month of Advent. One can catch beautiful light displays, shop for gifts or just walk the streets while Christmas carols fill the atmosphere.

2. New Year’s Eve

Fireworks display to welcome the New Year
Fireworks display to welcome the New Year (Source)
New Year’s Eve falls on the 31st of December every year, marking the end of the Gregorian Calendar. Being on the Western Pacific coast, San Diego is amongst the last cities in the world to enter the New Year. One can celebrate this day at a beach party or in one of the high end nightclubs of the city. Couples can have a romantic time on a luxury cruise, while families can visit museums, with their child-friendly events ensuring the kids don’t stay up too late.

3. San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

An illuminated boat at the Parade of Lights
An illuminated boat at the Parade of Lights (Source)Caption Link
The Parade of Lights is an annual holiday tradition organized by the local boating community. The display occurs across two consecutive Sundays, where bayfront crowds are dazzled by the procession of around 80 boats. They are beautifully adorned in lights and other decor based on the theme of the event. The event is free to attend and can be viewed from Cesar Chavez Park pier or the pier at Coronado.

4. Gaslamp Pet Parade

Dogs in costume at the Gaslamp Pet Parade
Dogs in costume at the Gaslamp Pet Parade (Source)
Pet lovers must definitely not miss the Gaslamp Pet Parade, conducted in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego. One gets to witness elaborate costumes and outfits on some of America’s cutest canines, felines and even pigs as they compete for prizes in various categories. The parade is also accompanied by live music shows as well as pet presentations, making it a treat for those attending the spectacle.

5. Holiday Bowl

Holiday Bowl 2004 at the Qualcomm Stadium
Holiday Bowl 2004 at the Qualcomm Stadium (Source)
The Holiday Bowl is a postseason college football match that has been played annually since 1978. The game attracts domestic tourists extensively, who also enjoy the holiday festivities in San Diego as well. It is also accompanied by the Big Bay Balloon Parade, which is amongst the largest balloon parades in the world, while being a great place to socialize and enjoy local food trucks.

Things to Do in San Diego in December

1. Skate by the Sea at Hotel Del Coronado

Overview of the Hotel Del Coronado
Overview of the Hotel Del Coronado (Source)
San Diego’s pleasant year round weather means there is no snow during the winter months. However, the renowned ice skating rink at Hotel Del Coronado offers the most unique setting, as one can skate on ice while still enjoying a beach view! Other attractions at the venue include photo booths and a towering three storey Christmas tree that makes Christmas by the Pacific Ocean a great experience.

2. Watch the La Jolla Christmas Parade

Performers at the La Jolla Christmas Parade
Performers at the La Jolla Christmas Parade (Source)
The La Jolla Christmas Parade is an annual tradition in the neighbourhood of La Jolla. The parade involves numerous floats, equestrians, beauty queens, marching bands and fire engines walking around the streets. Car lovers will be treated to a rare and vintage car parade. The parade also has a fly-over of classic planes to entertain the crowds from up above.

3. Visit the Neighborhood Holiday Lights

Neighborhood decorated with Christmas lights
Neighborhood decorated with Christmas lights (Source)
The onset of Christmas brings about lights and other decorations in most households celebrating the festival. Tourists with an affinity to exploring the city can walk around the various neighbourhoods of San Diego and be dazzled by the colourful and unique light displays. One can visit the San Diego Temple or walk through the Christmas Park of Clairemont and be amazed by the magnificent displays that really bring about a festive mood.

4. Watch the Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade

A cartoon based balloon at the Big Bay Balloon Parade
A cartoon based balloon at the Big Bay Balloon Parade (Source)
The San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade, commonly known as the Big Bay Balloon Parade, is amongst the biggest balloon parades in the world. The parade is renowned for its enormous balloons, which depict cartoon and popular characters. Other attractions here, including drill teams and marching bands, attract crowds of upto 100,000 people every year. While access to the parade is free from the streets, grandstand viewing is around USD 25, giving you the best viewing seats in the house.

Tips for a December Holiday in San Diego

1. The weather in San Diego is pleasant around this time, but the nights can get a little chilly. It is advised to wear clothes with layers as a result. Have a jacket on hand to ensure your evenings are not ruined by the wind chills.

2. Have an umbrella in hand all the time to ensure you are not caught off-guard due to a sudden downpour. If you are looking to avoid the rain completely, tune into local weather stations for weather updates before you set out to explore the city.

3. Pick up a ‘Go San Diego Pass’ if you wish to visit multiple paid attractions during your trip. The benefits of the pass include increased savings as well as skipping lines to purchase tickets, helping you save time and visit more places. 

4. The holiday season sees a resurgence of tourists, especially from the nearby areas of California. Thus, it is advisable to book tickets and accommodation at least a month in advance to ensure you get the best deals and offers.

So if you're looking to spend Christmas exploring a new city, pack your bags and head to San Diego in December!

This post was published by Peter Nikhil David

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