Baby, it’s cool-ish outside! You know the signs of a San Diego winter when ice skating appears at the beach, Santa surfs into Seaport Village and you can drive (nearby) to find snow. We’ve put together an easy go-to guide of 75 things to do (with littles in tow) in San Diego this winter.

ice_skate_coronago_cc_sdkirk_via_ccPhoto: SD Kirk

1. Get into the spirit by giving back. Here are five easy ways to lend a hand around San Diego. 

2. & 3. Discover masterpieces made with millions of Lego® bricks at the avant garde Art of the Brick Reuben H. Fleet Science Center exhibit.  Then, while you’re there and the sun is shining, explore more of Balboa Park for free.

4. Score unique toys with the littles in tow when you shop (till your drop) at these neighborhood stores. Psst! Some have a tot play area.


5. Bundle up in scarves, coats and mittens and find snow near San Diego.

6. Fill your bellies to sustain your throughout winter with fresh produce. Don’t know where to start? Check out our list of our favorite area CSAs to sign up for now. 

7. Eat, drink and delight in the season at a holiday tree lighting event.

8. Seek out hidden San Diego’s Japanese Friendship Garden and experience the lights at the starlight stroll.

9. Let your little bunnies run, hop, and jump at the Encinitas Cotton Wood Park.

10. Grab sturdy shoes (and yes, sunblock also) the extreme low tides made by winter moons make it a terrific time to tidepool.

btidepoolPhoto: Nikki Walsh

11. When the rain comes head for indoor fun at these jangling arcade spots.

12. Too much house time? Let your little acrobats scramble, swing and slide at these innovative indoor play spaces.

13. Everyone deserves holiday treats no matter what diet you follow. Visit these bakeries for sweets and treats that are all gluten-free. 

14. Get inspired to slice the ice, watch a San Diego Gulls hockey game.

15. Too much merrymaking? Ground with these easy family hikes and sweat off those holiday eats.

16. Stop and smell the roses at one of these grand garden centers kids love to dig into.

17. Family in town? Have a cheesy pizza party at one of these Italian restaurants.

18. Spare no expense your little strikers will find this activity right up their bowling alley.

19. Fly into the historical air and space museum that’s perfect for future pilots.

20. Need a breather? Enjoy a craft brew while the kids have fun.

21. & 22 Discover dinosaurs at the San Diego Natural History Museum.  Shh! Go for free on the first Tuesday of the month. Then, wrap up your holiday shopping at a cool museum gift shops.

23. Take the night off from cooking and take-out your meal instead!

holidayparade_cc_portofsandiegoPhoto: Port of San Diego

24. Satisfy your little engineer when you ride the Coaster to Carlsbad.

25. Let the kiddos run in the sand and get their feet wet at a local beach.

26. See the seasons changing and embrace the small-town charm of Julian.

27. Inspire creativity in little minds when crafting at the new Mint Studio in Carmel Mountain Ranch.

28. Touch, pat and toddle around goats and sheep (all before naptime) at a petting zoo.

29. Visit the San Diego Zoo they’re open at night for Jungle Bells.

30. Head indoors for a story time not at a library. Discover where else to get your reading on here.

31. Chances are it’s going to be warm enough this winter to pack a picnic.

32. Give a little “toot-toot” to holiday free time and take a train ride.

33. We all need to do our holiday shopping, why not go to a tot-loving shopping center?

34. When your family is in town (and you’re too tired to cook) hit up our recommended eateries.

35. Ready to recharge after all that gift-giving? Plan a staycation at the local Great Wolf Lodge.

36. Let little merrymakers go up and down on these merry-go-rounds.

nikki_walshPhoto: Nikki Walsh

37. Swim in a heated pool then, drop off the kids at Kidtopia when you staycation at the Omni La Costa Resort.

38. Head out of the house and into Pretend City in Irvine for a little change of scenery.

39. Shop local for new mom gifts at these earth-friendly baby boutiques.

40. If your Elf on the Shelf is looking a little ho-hum, spiffy him up with these great ideas. 

41. Tired of the mall? Take Santa pics at these ho-ho happenings.

42. Give your kiddo a brand-new ‘do for your holiday photos with a trip to a local hair salon that caters to ids.

43. If you start feeling frazzled, rely on mom-approved hacks and shortcuts to get you through the holidays like a boss.

44. Home for the holidays? Start your own family traditions.

45. School’s out! But you can discover history at Old Town San Diego.

46. Explore this charming town rich in Native American history and where the swallows sing.

47. Little groms can warm-up and drop-in at one of these cool skateparks.

48. Dreading entertaining? Here are 3-ingredient appetizers you can throw together in a flash.

49. Go farm fresh and pick out your tree at a Christmas tree farms.

50. Enjoy a family date night at the Garden of Lights at San Diego Botanical Garden. Make S’mores, warm your hands by the fire and take a horse wagon ride to view the festive lights.

garden-of-lights-by-john-bryantPhoto: John Bryant

51. Fore! Even littles can score a long drive at a short course made for mini-golfers.

52. Or forego the greens and go for the astroturf at these fun mini golf places.

53. Popcorn? Check. Take even the littlest viewer to this movie theater in Carmel Mountain.

54. Get toasty at these sweet San Diego hot chocolate spots we’ve whipped up.

55. Gear up for all the toys and presents you know will pour into your house this season with toy storage solutions that actually work. 

56. Touch some sea critters at this South Bay Discovery Center.

57.  Warm up that winter’s chill in Palm Springs.

58. & 59. Spice up playtime when you visit the Kid Ventures, Liberty Station. Then, stay for the new foodie eatery the Liberty Public Market.

60. A sunny day? Interact with art outside at these free creative places.

61. Think smaller, explore the Children’s Discovery Museum in Escondido.

62. Or play with the big boys and let them express their inner artist at the New Children’s Museum downtown.

63. Roll with it! Fresh air and family fun awaits you at theses biking spots.

64. Does the chaotic holidays have you yearning for some mom inspo? Meet 14 power moms who call San Diego home. 

65. & 66. Snap a pic with Surfin’ Santa at Seaport Village (Nov. 26) then crossover to The Headquarters and shop at Gepetto’s Toy Store, then grab a fresh gelato and sit on the outside couches to eat.

theheadquarterssandiego_cc_nikki_walshPhoto: Nikki Walsh

67. China, Brazil, Italy, Australia: find places to get global in San Diego.

68. Spend a sea day at the USS Midway Museum. Excellent for little engineer’s who channel all things transportation.

69. Ready, set, go to an indoor sports center to drive, skate or climb the afternoon away.

70. When you’re tired of cooking try Taco Tuesday at these favorite hot spots.

71. Have a few hours before naptime? See seahorses at the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla.

72. Peer at peacocks while your tots burn pint-sized energy at the Leo Carillo Ranch.

73. Breathe deeply and get your family Zen on at a family yoga studio.

74. Visit this neighborhood known for its Firetruck Museum and farmer’s market.

75. Does the fam (plus Fido) have a case of stir-crazies? Head out to a dog-friendly spot.

What are your favorite winter activities? Add to our list in the comments below.

—Nikki Walsh