photo: John Bryant

The countdown to Christmas is on! Wondering how to spend the weekend waiting for jolly ol’ St. Nick to arrive? Read on for where to meet the Grinch, stroll through a garden twinkling with over 125,000 lights, marvel at a life-size gingerbread house and so much more!

Rancho Bernardo

Holiday Nights at Bernardo Winery
Bernardo Winery’s “Holiday Nights” is a local winter wonderland family fun event of the season! Bring the little ones to enjoy carriage rides around the vineyard and listen to strolling carolers while you sip hot mulled wine and listen to live music. There will also be arts and crafts vendors in the courtyard and the Winery Village Shops are open late for holiday shopping. Fri. & Sat. Event details.

Rancho Bernardo Inn’s December Days & Nights
This super fun event is full of festivities. Ticket price includes one photo with Santa per family and one gingerbread cookie decorating kit per kiddo, caroling, storytelling, holiday train ride and treats including burgers, hot dogs, pizza, chicken fingers, desserts and seasonal adult beverages for an additional fee. The tour de force of the event is the gigantic gingerbread house that your whole family will go gaga over. The cute casa is dripping in sweet treats and will no doubt inspire your little elves to try their hand at making their own edible masterpiece this season. Fri. & Sat. Event details.

North Park

Winnie the Pooh: A Christmas Tail
T3 Triple Threat Youth Mentors presents “Winnie-the-Pooh: A Christmas Tail.” It’s holiday time in The Hundred Acre Wood and it seems Eeyore has lost his tail again. Winnie the Pooh, Christopher Robin, Piglet and friends set out on an adventure to help find it before Christmas. Along the way our friends are reminded the importance of caring, sharing and helping others at this special time of year. Fri. Event details.

Del Mar

Hullabaloo’s Winter Solstice Sing-Along
Join Hullabaloo for a Winter Solstice Sing-along! Gather at 4 p.m. in Powerhouse Park to sing winter songs, holiday songs and a few songs about the moon, sun and stars to celebrate the official beginning of Winter. The Del Mar Foundation will provide a photo, cocoa and treats. Bring a canned food donation for the San Diego Food Bank for free admission. Fri. Event details.

Moonlight, Marshmallows & Movie Night
Bring the family for an “Elf” movie night under the stars complete with hot chocolate, nibbles and plenty of holiday cheer in Flower Hill Promenade’s East/West Courtyard! Sat. Event details.


Garden of Lights
After the sun goes down in December, the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas is transformed into a dazzling winter wonderland – Southern California Style! More than 125,000 sparkling lights illuminate the flora of this fantastic 37-acre urban oasis each evening for a magical holiday experience. Bring the family and enjoy the Garden at night as the lights illuminate several spectacular Garden areas, including the iconic Lawn Garden, Tropical Rainforest, Waterfall Deck, Undersea Succulent Garden, Eucalyptus Grove, Seeds of Wonder (children’s area) and Bamboo Garden, containing the nation’s largest collection of bamboo. Garden of Lights has events and activities that everyone in your family will enjoy. Live entertainment, hot mulled wine and beer, food trucks, marshmallow roasting, Nutcracker display and more! Numerous family-friendly activities are also part of the festivities including: Horse-drawn wagon rides (on select evenings) and snow for sledding, holiday crafts and spin art! There will also be visits with Santa from Dec. 1-23. NOTE: There is no Garden of Lights on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Additional fees apply for some of the activities. Sat. & Sun. Event details.


Holidays at LEGOLAND
This is the time of year when LEGOLAND is brimming with holiday cheer! Enjoy festive entertainment and décor. Your whole family will feel the holiday spirit when they see the 30-foot LEGO® Christmas tree trimmed with awesome LEGO ornaments as it sparkles each night with music and light. This year’s activities include a new holiday light show, LEGO® Holiday character meet and greets at the brand new Holiday Village, special holiday treats and food offerings including peppermint shakes, Nutella and peppermint crepes and Fun Town’s Holiday Market on Dec. 22 and Dec. 26-30 with limited time food offerings. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

Meet the Grinch
Want to see the big green guy for yourself? Come to The Shoppes at Carlsbad for a live “Meet and Greet” with The Grinch in person! Kids of all ages are welcome to meet the Grinch on the lower level between H&M and Macy’s Home. During this free family event, families are invited to enjoy a fun time, take pictures and mingle with the famous WHO who hates Christmas. Free holiday-themed make and take crafts also available from 1-2:30 p.m. immediately adjacent to Meet and Greet space. Sat. Event details.

––Beth Shea