With the holiday season upon us and the excitement in the air, we’ve rounded up a bunch of nighttime activities for kids in San Diego who like to stay up past their bedtime and have a ball. From Christmas tree lightings and Christmas train rides to laser tag, cosmic bowling and roller skating, read on to plan a night out on the town with your kids!

Christmas Train Rides

Ride a wondrous train into the night on an enchanting Christmas train ride your kids won't soon forget. From the Polar Express to the North Pole Limited, we'll show you where to get on the right track to the best holiday ever.

Read our guide to Christmas train rides here.


Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremonies

The time is nigh to gather your little elves and go watch Christmas trees light up all over the city. These events offer so much more than a tree lighting too! Kids can see a skydiving Santa, sing with carolers, make crafts, sip cocoa and other festivities that are sure to get them into the holiday spirit.

Read our guide to Christmas tree lightings here.

See a Holiday Show

Take the fam out on the town after hours to see a festive holiday show. We've got all the details on the best shows in town this season. From Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas to Cirque Dreams Holidaze... read our guide to awesome holiday shows that will delight your clan and get tickets today.

Family Nights at the Fleet

Come for the food truck Fridays, then stay and play at the Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park this summer. Get hands-on with the Retro-Active Science exhibits, head up to Kid City and light it up with It's Electric. What's more, you can sit outside and enjoy free music performances on the Craveology patio. Check out our other STEM learning spots.

The Fleet Science Center
Balboa Park
1875 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101
Online: rhfleet.org/family-nights

Skate Night

Roll it out with the crew in the evening at Skateworld. Show your kids your favorite moves from when you were little. You'll find disco lights, great music and lots of laughs.

6907 Linda Vista Rd.
San Diego, CA 92111
Online: skateworldsandiego.com

Family Bowling Night

Whether you hit the lanes and enjoy the disco lights or you try a roll at cosmic bowling, the bowling alley at Kearney Mesa Bowl in San Diego and Bowlero in San Marcos are two fam faves for a little kid-friendly competition all while grabbing a bite to eat.

945 San Marcos Blvd.
San Marcos, CA 92069
Online: amf.com

Kearney Mesa Bowl
7585 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92111
Online: kearnymesabowl.com

photo: Belmont Park

Belmont Park

Tag you're it! Little game players love tagging each other in the foggy darkness lit up with laser lights. Parents love the laser tag at Belmont Park where the laser vest must fit comfortably to play. Even more nighttime adventure awaits at this beachside carnival. Twirl around in the new ice cream cone-themed pods on the Tilt a Whirl or defy gravity and take a dive on Zero Gravity, the new space-themed ride.

Belmont Park
3146 Mission Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92109
Online: belmontpark.com

S’mores on the Beach

No need to pack up the towels and sand toys just because the sun is setting. Instead, break out the marshmallows and skewers for s’mores beachside! Many beaches have fire pits available on a first come, first serve basis, including Coronado Beach and San Elijo State Beach in Cardiff. Fires have to be out by midnight, but the little ones will be fast asleep by then.

Coronado Beach
838 Ocean Blvd.
Coronado, CA 92118
Online: sandiego.org

San Elijo State Beach
2050 S Coast Hwy 101
Cardiff, CA 92007
Online: parks.ca.gov

Drive-in Movies

Drive-in movies aren’t just a thing of the past! Places like the Santee Drive-In and South Bay Drive-In offer current releases—several are family-friendly—from the comfort of your own car. Bring food with you or buy snacks from the concession stand. Make sure everyone takes a nap because they often show double features!

Read more about our favorite family-friendly movie theaters here.

Santee Drive-In
10990 N. Woodside Ave.
Santee, CA 92071
Online: santeedriveintheatre.com

South Bay Drive-In
2170 Coronado Ave.
San Diego, CA 92154
Online: southbaydrivein.com


What could be more magical than spending the evening gazing at stars with your little astronomers? There are plenty of opportunities for “star parties” with the San Diego Astronomy Association, which has an observation site in East County — although you’ll need your own equipment. And check out these top sites around the county, ideal for stargazing.

Click here for a list of all of our favorite spots to stargaze in San Diego.

San Diego Astronomy Association
Online: sdaa.org

photo: San Diego Zoo Safari Park

San Diego Zoo Safari Park Roar & Snore

Camping next to a rhinoceros? Brushing your teeth with a giraffe? Well, not quite, but the Safari Park does offer overnight excursions appropriate for all ages. Sleep in one of the park’s tents and enjoy after-hours tours of wildlife, camp activities, guided walks, dinner and breakfast the next morning. Who knows, you may even get to hear a lion roar, as the event title suggests!

San Diego Zoo Safari Park
15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd.
Escondido, CA 92027
Online: sdzsafaripark.org

––Michelle Franklin, Beth Shea & Nikki Walsh

featured photo: Guy Rhodes


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