The magic of Christmas morning only lasts so long––but we know where to make the most of this merriest of days from the crack of dawn through the evening. Our gift to you: a list of 15 places that are open on Christmas Day. Whether your eager elves want to go sledding down a giant snow hill, explore nature, ice skate, set sail on a harbor cruise or gobble it up at a grand buffet, read on to see how to add even more sparkle to your holiday.

Winter Wonderland at The Grand

Pull out all the stops to make Christmas Day a truly fabulous affair by spending the afternoon at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar's Winter Wonderland at the Grand event. Your kids' dreams of getting to actually experience snow in San Diego will come true as they go sledding down a giant snow hill! They'll also marvel at the chance to take a magical spin on a Ferris wheel and a carousel, look up in awe at a glorious 25-foot tree during story time, mingle with holiday characters and roast s'mores by a campfire. You'll appreciate the time to unwind and toast the holiday in the Moët & Chandon Champagne Garden. Winter Wonderland at the Grand runs from Dec. 17-30 from 3-8 p.m. The event is open to locals and admission is free, but note that parking is $20 per car (cash only) and there's a fee for s'mores kits ($17.50) and festive food and beverage options range from $5-$20. Make sure to dress in appropriate attire to go sledding and to stay warm!

Fairmont Grand Del Mar
5300 Grand Del Mar Ct.
San Diego, CA 92130


The Tide Pools at Cabrillo National Monument

If you want to calm the crazy gift-opening energy, then drive out to the Cabrillo National Monument for serene sights and tide-pooling fun. First, the drive itself has beautiful ocean and city views. Second, explore the Visitor Center and walk the trail to see where the lighthouse keeper's family lived. Finally, spot sea urchins and starfish at the tide pools (at the bottom of the park). Your brood will come home refreshed and relaxed.

Good to Know: Check the tide chart for the lowest tide time of day.

Christmas Day Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (tide pools close at 4:30 p.m.)

Cabrillo National Monument
1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr.
San Diego, CA 92106

photo: Hotel Del Coronado

Ice Skating at Hotel Del Coronado

Even though it may be sunny on Christmas Day (in San Diego), your fam can still don those mittens and put on those scarves and ice skate (albeit seaside) at the iconic Hotel Del Coronado. What's more, when done you can roast s'mores on the beach, go for a walk and if you have a wetsuit, take a dip in the ocean. Plenty of activities and plenty of fun.

Christmas Day Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Cost: $30/person advance purchase online; $35/person day of; includes rental

Hotel Del Coronado
1500 Orange Ave.
Coronado, CA 92118

photo: Fleet Science Center

Fleet Science Center

Calling all science buffs to explore Mythbusters: The Explosive Exhibition at the Fleet Science Center on Christmas Day. From outsmarting the Big Bad Wolf to running in the rain inside the museum, your crew will be engaged by all of the curious fun. Even more, check out The Search for Alien Worlds exhibit too!

Christmas Day Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Fleet Science Center
Balboa Park
1875 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101

photo: Harumama

Just-Opened Harumama Eatery

Visit the just opened instagram-worthy Harumama in Carlsbad Village. Little eaters will delight in the character steamed buns. Even more, get festive with the snowman bun filled with butterscotch ginger pudding (yum!). They're also renown for their noodles. Then, take a stroll around the Village and return home to play with all those gifts. They have a Little Italy location too!

Harumama Eatery
Carlsbad Village
2958 Madison St.
Carlsbad, CA 92008

San Diego Zoo

After the presents are opened and your little animals are howling like wildlife, it's time to get outside and move around. We love the San Diego Zoo (it's world famous) and why not visit it on Christmas Day? You'll also be there to indulge in the Jungle Bell merriment. From twinkling lights and acrobatic trampoline elves to jazzy carols and festive food, you'll feel the joy of the holidays San Diego-style.

Christmas Day Hours: 9 a.m.-8 p.m.

The San Diego Zoo
Balboa Park
2920 Zoo Dr.
San Diego, CA 92101

photo: Flagship Cruise

Christmas Day Harbor Cruise

Grab the crew and take a cruise of the San Diego Bay while chowing down on a beautiful buffet. Moreover, glide by the USS Midway and Hotel Del Coronado, then sit down and enjoy the eats. From hand-carved New York strip loin and holiday salads to decadent desserts, you'll leave this two-hour cruise happy and full!

Hours: Christmas Day, 1-3 p.m.
Cost: $79.50/adult; $47.70/child; Under 3 years free!

990 North Harbor Dr.
San Diego, CA 92101

photo: San Diego Zoo Safari Park

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Not one, but two baby elephants are up to adorable shenanigans and now on view at San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Go see them for two tons of fun. Be sure to also visit Taj the (one-horned) rhino and then move on to growl with the Tiger Trail cats in the Sumatra rain forest. Bonus: the weather's cooler and the Park's less crowded around the holidays.

Christmas Day Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park
15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd.
San Diego, CA 92112

photo: Catamaran Hotel

Christmas Day Brunch at The Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa

Gobble it up at this Christmas Day buffet. Moreover, this one's fun for the kiddos too. From a special half-pint buffet to the Dickens-style carolers, your fam can enjoy both beautiful views and bountiful food. Not to mention the piano playing during the festivities.

Brunch Hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Cost: $60/adult; $25/kid (5-11 years); kids 5 and under free

3999 Mission Blvd.
San Diego, CA



Do you have a brick-lover in your house? LEGOLAND is a great option for Christmas Day activities. Whether you have an annual pass or just go for the day, you can walk around and have a merry old time. Plus, it could be a Christmas Day present for the whole fam. Check out our secrets to navigating this park like a pro.

Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m

Carlsbad, CA 92008

Torrey Pines Reserve

Just a short drive along the coast will lead you to this beautiful State Natural Reserve. For ease of use, the paid parking is best, or find a free spot (luck be with you!) along the coast. There are plenty of family hikes for all ages and experience levels. The simplest route to explore is the Guy Fleming Trail which is perfectly-suited for little ones.

Good to Know: It will be crowded Christmas Day, so an earlier venture out is better.

Christmas Day Hours: 7:15 a.m.-Sunset
Holiday Parking Cost: $12-$20/vehicle

12600 North Torrey Pines Rd.
La Jolla, CA 92037

photo: Cape Rey Hilton

Christmas Day Buffet at Chandler's Restaurant

Brunch is always a good idea! Chef Teri McIllwain highlights California cuisine with a locally-sourced farm-to-table flair. Not to mention, the kids' menu will be available with items like pizza and chicken nuggets. Above all, there'll be yummy desserts like chocolate peppermint bars and apple-cranberry cobbler.

Brunch Hours: 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Cost: $69/adult: $24/child (12 years and under)

Cape Rey Hilton
Chandler's Restaurant
1 Ponto Rd.
Carlsbad, CA 92011

Seaport Village

We know you're tired of shopping. However, Seaport Village is fun for the whole family. Notably, you'll find interesting shops like Captain's Cove where little mateys can scope out the treasures. Plus, who doesn't love pretzels and lemonade, a walk by the seaside, lunch at the Harbor House or a ride on the carousel? When done, walk to the Embarcadero Park and watch the amazing assortment of kites flying.

Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Seaport Village
849 West Harbor Dr.
San Diego, CA 92101

photo: Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland


Yes! Disneyland is open on Christmas Day. In fact, you may want to plan ahead on this one, it's actually one of the busiest days of the year! From the Christmas Fantasy parade to the festively frosted Mickey and Minnie cookies, you're sure to get in the holiday spirit. So, book tickets early and you'll be ready for a magical day.

Christmas Day Hours: 8 a.m.-Midnight

1313 Disneyland Dr.
Anaheim, CA 92802

photo: The Shores

The Shores Christmas Day Buffet

Head to La Jolla Shores beach and eat at The Shores restaurant's Christmas buffet (it's right on the beach!). From eggnog French toast and bourbon tangerine turkey to mac n' cheese and chicken tenders for the littles, there's plenty to choose from. After tummies are full, cruise the beach and get some energy out at the playground right by the water. Even more, if it's a nice day, dip your toes in the surf.

Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Cost: $64/adult; $38/child (6-10 years old); $5/child (5 years and under)

The Shores
8110 Camino Del Oro
La Jolla, CA 92037

––Nikki Walsh


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