What’s Open on Christmas Day in San Diego?
Christmas is coming! What are your plans for December 25? If you are not going out of town to visit friends or family during the break, here’s a list of what’s open on Christmas Day in San Diego. Turns out, there are plenty of FUN things to do on this special day.
You and your family can explore the Maritime Museum of San Diego, add a little LEGO magic to your day, or celebrate the holidays at Hotel del Coronado’s legendary beachfront Skating by the Sea ice rink. San Diego is the place to be at Christmas!
Holiday on the Bay
Have a nautical Christmas at the Maritime Museum of San Diego, open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. including Christmas Day. Bring the kids to explore one of the world’s finest collections of historic ships including the Star of India, the world’s oldest active ship. Get your tickets here.
Fun Tip: Experiences make great gifts like the amazing Boarded! Pirate Adventure on Dec. 30 or the 45-minute narrated History of the Bay tour on a restored 1914 Pilot boat. Get tickets here.
Holidays bring seasonal cheer to LEGOLAND California Resort
Holidays at LEGOLAND
Holidays at LEGOLAND is a great way to spend Christmas day and a wonderful new holiday family tradition with live entertainment, specialty treats, holiday Lego characters, the park’s signature 30-foot Lego Christmas tree and the park’s 60 rides, shows, attractions, including those in the new Lego Movie World land. Find tickets and reserve your FUN here.
Holiday Lights At The Zoo — Catch the return of Aurora, a magical experience with lights, 3D projections, and music. Enjoy the magic and the spirit of the holiday season with Jungle Bells at San Diego Zoo. The Zoo opens at 9 a.m. on Christmas day and Jungle Bells lights up the night until 8 p.m. Discover more here.
San Diego Zoo Safari Park
On Christmas day you can set out on safari and discover 1,800 acres of sprawling savannas teeming with wildlife as well as world-class botanical gardens—there’s no place like it on Earth. Encounter rhinos, giraffes, wildebeest, and more. Explore the Wild Holidays Schedule for more holiday cheer. The park is open until 5 p.m. on Christmas day. Find tickets here.
Enjoy holiday themed FUN at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve beginning Dec. 22 and running through Christmas Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Enjoy a scavenger hunt, a crafting table to make your own holiday cards, and a story time for your little ones. Save some time to hike a trail and then tip your toe in the Pacific Ocean at Torrey Pines State Beach.
Fun Tip: San Diego is home to numerous State Beaches. Find what’s happening at CA State Parks – San Diego Coast District for a beach near you.
Festive Holiday Cruise
Bahia Resort Hotel, Mission Bay
The stunning steamboat Bahia Belle is taking you on a Christmas day festive Holiday Cruise on Mission Bay. From gleaming Holiday decor to activities like Christmas Caroling, Christmas cookie decorating, and more, this is the perfect Holiday outing to get you in the Christmas spirit. And the best part: All proceeds will benefit the local Non-profit Mama’s Kitchen which provides meals for individuals vulnerable to malnutrition and with specific dietary needs due to critical illnesses, such as HIV, cancer, and more. Use code: JINGLE10 and save $10.
The one-hour cruise is $45 per person and is included if you have reservations for the Christmas Day Brunch at Oceana Coastal Kitchen and Dockside 1953. Book your tickets here>>
Explore the Tidepools
Low tide during winter days makes for a great opportunity to explore the tidepools at Cabrillo National Monument. On Christmas Day, low tide is at 2:39 p.m., so arrive a few hours early for the best chance to see critters out and about in the tidepools. Don’t miss the lighthouse and sweeping panoramic views of the San Diego Bay. Cabrillo is open every day of the year from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (tidepools close at 4:30 p.m.). Admission is just $20 per vehicle. Learn more and know and discover the best times to Visit the Tidepools here.
Fun Tip: Purchase an annual pass here for $35, bring it with you, and visit Cabrillo for twelve full months.
Coastal Christmas Holiday Light Spectacular
Holiday Light Show
Del Mar Fairgrounds
Explore the FUN at Coastal Christmas Holiday Light Spectacular – where the holiday spirit meets the coast! Get ready to embark on a festive journey like no other, as we transform this iconic venue into a winter wonderland by the sea. With twinkling lights, holiday cheer, and delicious snacks and drinks, Coastal Christmas promises to be your new favorite holiday tradition. Join us for the warmth of the season, the joy of community, and the beauty of the coast, all wrapped up in one enchanting festival. Book Your Ticket Now & Save with code: DelMar23.
SeaWorld San Diego Christmas Celebration
Bring your family together for the eye-catching spectacles, priceless traditions, and fun-filled surprises of SeaWorld San Diego’s Christmas Celebration. The holidays are meant to be merry and bright, and that’s exactly what you’ll find as this beloved event returns with more wondrous moments than ever. It’s also a chance to experience the wonders of SeaWorld in a spectacular new way, from thrilling rides against a sparkling backdrop to animal presentations with a festive twist. Where else can you say “Merry Christmas” to a sea otter? Find tickets here.
A Very Furry Christmas
What’s better than Christmas cookies on Christmas morning? Cookie Monster! A Very Furry Christmas at Sesame Place is a festive, family-friendly celebration featuring everyone’s favorite Sesame Street friends. The park is transformed into a winter wonderland, adorned with thousands of twinkling lights, holiday magic, and surprises. New this year, guests can enjoy a 24-foot tall Christmas Tree, photos with Santa, and extended evening hours for a more festive experience. The park is open noon – 6 p.m. on Christmas day. Find tickets here.
San Diego Coast District State Parks
Christmas at the Beach
San Diego County
San Diego boasts 70 miles of pristine sand along its stunningly beautiful coastline. Whether it’s relaxing, sunning, surfing, kayaking or body-boarding, there are some great beaches to spend your Christmas day. San Diego Coast District manages 13 parks from Carlsbad State Beach to the extreme southwest corner of the continental United States at Border Field State Park.
San Diego State Beaches
Arts District Liberty Station
Shimmering Lights & Ice
Take a twirl on the Rady Children’s ice skating rink open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (including Christmas Day / 1 – 8 p.m.) through Jan. 7. Stay past dusk when the tens of thousands of lights come alive and illuminate one of San Diego’s tallest Christmas trees.
Before and after Christmas, visit all the shops, restaurants and museums at Arts District Liberty Station including Visions Museum of Textile Art, Nautical History Gallery & Museum, and the New Americans Museum.
Christmas Brunch or Dinner in San Diego
Let one of San Diego’s fabulous restaurants pamper you with all sorts of delectable goodies on Christmas Day this year. From multi-course feasts with ocean views to Filipino, vegan, and Chinese offerings, freelance writer Mary Beth Abate from the thrillist has put together a list of San Diego’s best restaurants that will make it a holiday dinner you won’t forget. Read more here.
Christmas Day at the Movies
The presents have been opened; the eggnog has been poured; and you’re ready to relax after a busy season. This holiday, after you’ve finished your family festivities, head to a local San Diego movie theater for a flick! Here are 6 movies that will be playing in theatres on Christmas Day. Find a full list of Movie in Theaters here.
LAST CHANCE: San Diego’s historic Santee Drive-In, which opened in 1958 and is one of the few open-air drive-in movie theaters still operating in the U.S. will run its final films on December 31 before it permanently closes. Share this piece of history with your kids before its gone forever. There are only days left see a movie at the Santee Drive-in before it closes on December 31.
San Diego Zoo’s Balboa Park Miniature Train
Christmas Day train Rides
Operated by the San Diego Zoo, the Balboa Park Miniature Train takes riders on a three-minute, half-mile trip through four acres of Balboa Park. This rare, antique train is one of only 50 remaining G16 models. The Train is open from 11:00 a.m – 4:30 p.m on Christmas eve, December 24 and from 11:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m on Christmas Day, December 25.
More Christmas Day Fun in San Diego
City services remaining open Christmas Day:
- Chollas Lake (weather permitting)
- Mission Trails Regional Park
- Tecolote Canyon Natural Park
- City golf courses (holiday rates apply); Mission Bay Golf Course will close at dusk
- City skate parks and the Pacific Highlands Ranch Pump Track at 5977 Village Center Loop Road
Before and After Christmas
Museums Open on Christmas Eve
Many museums and museum stores are open on Christmas Eve, a perfect idea for out-of-town guests or last-minute shopping. Some museums will close early, so please plan ahead.
NEW! Looking for fun and family friendly things to do this week? We’ve got you covered with our guide to a Week of Holiday Fun + Last-Minute Gifts to finish off your list. Find the FUN here!
Most of the 18 wonderful museum’s at Balboa Park are open through Christmas eve and reopen the day after Christmas.
Open Christmas Eve: Fleet Science Center, Japanese Friendship Garden, Mingei International Museum, MOPA@SDMA, Museum of Us, San Diego Air & Space Museum, San Diego Automotive Museum, San Diego History Center, San Diego Model Railroad Museum, San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego Museum of Art, Timken Museum of Art, and the Veterans Museum at Balboa Park.
San Diego County
From Oceanside to Chula Vista, explore holiday FUN at museums, historic sites, parks, gardens, zoos, aquariums and more all over San Diego County up through Christmas eve.
Open Christmas Eve: Birch Aquarium, Cabrillo National Monument (open Christmas Day), Deer Park Winery & Auto Museum, Living Coast Discovery Center (New Year’s Eve event 6 – 9 p.m.), Maritime Museum of San Diego (also open on Christmas Day), MCASD La Jolla, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, San Diego Botanic Garden, San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum, Tijuana Estuary Visitors’ Center, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve & State Beach (also open on Christmas Day), Whaley House Museum, and the U.S.S. Midway Museum.
San Diego’s Direct TV Holiday Bowl
Holiday Bowl Festivities Keep the Holidays Going in San Diego! The annual college football game takes over the Petco Park and brings more fun to downtown San Diego, including the Holiday Bowl Parade.
There are many ways to tackle this festive celebration — even if you’re not watching the game. These are some of the biggest events on the roster:
- Tuesday, Dec. 26, 5-7 p.m. | The Snapdragon Bowl Bash brings a battle of the bands to the Gaslamp Quarter.
- Wednesday, Dec. 27, 10 a.m. | The San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade presented by Kaiser Permanente — billed as “America’s Largest Balloon Parade” — marches down North Harbor Drive.
- Wednesday, Dec. 27, 5 p.m. | The 2023 DIRECTV Holiday Bowl kicks off, followed by the booming 101.5 KGB Sky Show — tickets are still available.