The presents have been unwrapped and brunch has been enjoyed, but if you’re looking for merry ways to spend the rest of the day, we’ve got you covered with our list of 20 jolly things to do on Christmas Day. From sledding down a giant snow hill and skating by the sea to dining with Santa himself or cruising the harbor, scroll down for all the details.

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. Kids will marvel at the chance to take a magical spin on a Ferris wheel and a skate outdoors, 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 Nov. 30 to Jan. 1. 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 food and activities.

Event details.

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

Breakfast With Santa

What could be more fun than breakfast with Santa on Christmas Day? Just be ready with a camera (or smartphone) to take great pics of your little elves. Head to the Acqua California Bistro at the Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa where you can have a magical brunch with Mr. Claus.

Event details.

Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa
1775 East Mission Bay Dr.
San Diego, CA 92109

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.)

Read about our 8 favorite places to go tidepooling in San Diego.

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 finished, 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.-11 p.m.
Cost: $30/person advance purchase online; $35/person day of (includes rental)

Hotel Del Coronado
1500 Orange Ave.
Coronado, CA 92118
Event details.

Winter Paradice at Fleet Science Center

Calling all to winter fun with the Skate, Create and Celebrate at the Fleet Science Center on Christmas Day. From a synthetic ice rink and a giant ball pit to getting crafty as Studio X, your crew will be engaged by all of the curious fun. 

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

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

Catch a Family Flick

Whether you have a Frozen II fan or you're interested in Jumanji, The Next Level, or the newest Star Wars film, there are plenty of good flicks out on Christmas Day. Check out our favorite family-friendly movie theaters and get your tickets. 

photo: Harumama Eatery

Dine at Harumama Eatery

Visit the 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 Bells 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.

Event details.

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

photo: Christmas Day Harbor Cruise

Christmas Day Dining Cruise

Grab the crew and take a cruise around 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: $84.50/adult; $50.70/child; Under 3 years free!

990 North Harbor Dr.
San Diego, CA 92101

Go Italian!

Have a pizza lunch or dinner! Blade 1936 in Oceanside will be serving up Italian cuisine and winter specials from noon-10 p.m. on
Christmas Day. You’ll find Napoli style wood-fired pizzas, innovative desserts, and a kid's menu. Another option is to order holiday treats from Nonna and Zucchero in Little Italy. They will be making special holiday cookies and cannoli kits that make a perfect holiday dessert.

Blade 1936
401 Seagaze Dr.
Oceanside, CA 92054

Nonna + Cafe Zucchero
1735 India St.
San Diego, CA 92101

Take a Drive to Julian

Cool-weather on Christmas Day? You may even find snow if you’re lucky. So don some warm clothes and head up the mountain to Julian. If you have a toboggan or sled, it would be smart to bring it along. Check the weather first to make sure you're headed for snow.

Julian, CA 92036

photo: San Diego Zoo Safari Park

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Go see the two new platypuses that just arrived at Walkabout Australia! Additionally, 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 Resort Hotel & Spa

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 a live guitarist, your fam can enjoy both beautiful views and bountiful food. 

Brunch Hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Cost: $62/adult; $25/kid (5-11 years); kids under 5 free

3999 Mission Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92109

photo: LEGOLAND®


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
Event details.

Stroll Torrey Pines State Natural 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.

Shops and Carousel are open 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Restaurants vary case by case.

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

photo: 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

Read our guide to celebrating the holidays at Disneyland here.

1313 Disneyland Dr.
Anaheim, CA 92802

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: $68/adult; $39/child (6-10 years old); 5 years and under free

The Shores
8110 Camino Del Oro
La Jolla, CA 92037

photo: Beth Shea

Head to La Jolla Shores

Take a walk, stroll the town. Although few eateries are open that day, you can still walk along the coast. It’s a good chance the weather will be mild, so get exercise. Grab a stroller and head from the bluffs over to the Children’s pool to watch the sea lions. Find an open coffee shop and grab a hot cocoa. Enjoy the day, then go home and play!

La Jolla, CA 92037

––Nikki Walsh

featured image: Jonas Tana via Flickr


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