We’ve got plenty of ways to keep your kiddos entertained this winter, in SoCal style. From ice skating with an ocean view and watching Santa scuba dive to seeing the first-ever, life-size and drivable LEGO® Bugatti Chiro or visiting platypuses in the only zoo outside Australia, read on for how to have your best family winter ever!

1. Visit the "merriest place on earth" to celebrate the holiday season (it's just a short drive from San Diego)! Disneyland is full of festive sweet treats and amazing spectacles like the Believe... in Holiday Magic fireworks show that will make your spirit bright.

2. Hop on Old Town Trolley's Holiday Lights & Sights tour to ride a wave of cheer in American's Finest City. 

3. Skate by the sea or under a starry sky at San Diego's best ice rinks this holiday season.

4. Enjoy an enchanting Teddy Bear Tea at The Westgate Hotel, where you'll meet Santa himself.

5. Burn off some energy by letting little groms warm-up and drop-in at one of these cool skateparks.

6. Go see Scuba Santa during special dive shows at Birch Aquarium's Seas 'n' Greetings event.

7. Or take your little sailors to go all in on a whale watching excursion to spy gray whales as they pass San Diego on their annual 10,000-mile round-trip journey from the Bering Sea to the lagoons of Baja California.

8. Sip mimosas at Bernardo Winery as your kids enjoy breakfast with Santa.

9.  Gather up your family and friends and go spend an evening at the all new Botanic Wonderland held in the Garden's brand new Dickinson Family Education Conservatory.

10. Check out our list of 100 things to do in San Diego with kids to quash the "I'm bored" blues.

photo: City of Poway

11. Behold A Magical Cirque Christmas where you'll see spell-binding performers and breathtaking cirque artists from all corners of the world.

12. If your SoCal kid is craving snow play, we know just where to go to find fresh powder.

13. Don't miss Poway's Winter Festival where kids can build a snowman, sled down a snow hill, roast marshmallows by the campfire, or taking a spin around a synthetic skate rink. They also have festival time dedicated for the special needs community.

14. Marvel over the enormous balloons at America's largest balloon parade, the Holiday Bowl Parade.

15. Take your cartoon-loving kiddos to see PJ Masks Live! The audience interaction and toe taping tunes will have little ones out of their seats and dancing in the aisles.

photo: Sandy Huffaker/LEGOLAND

16. In addition to celebrating the holidays at LEGOLAND, you can also see the spectacular, first-ever, life-size and drivable LEGO® Bugatti Chiro! It’s built with more than one million LEGO® Technic elements, features more than 2,000 LEGO electric motors and more than 4,000 LEGO Technic gears, and is a one-of-a-kind replica of the world’s fastest production car. See it for a limited time before it zooms away on Feb. 2nd.

17. Satisfy that sweet tooth craving by warming up with a fresh mugful of hot chocolate. Here are our fave spots to order up the yummy drink.

18. Unwind with the family and savor the 12 Beers of Christmas at a local brewery, and check out all these other beer joints where you can order a pint with kids in tow.

19. Delight in the whimsical work of Dr. Seuss at the Merry Grinchmas exhibit on display for a limited run. Go on a Sat. or Sun. from 2-3 p.m. during the show's run, when kids are invited to attend readings from Dr. Seuss’s best-known children’s books while enjoying hot chocolate and cookies

20. Your tastebuds are in for a treat at Balboa Park's Holiday Food Truck festival. Here you'll get to nosh on gourmet food from over a dozen of San Diego’s top food trucks, along with enjoying free live entertainment and fun activities for families.

21. Stroll through the San Diego Zoo Safari Park to see all of the amazing animals, including two platypuses that recently arrived to the Safari Park’s Walkabout Australia. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is currently the only zoo outside of Australia to house platypuses—and this is the first time in more than 50 years that platypuses have been cared for outside of Australia.

22. Celebrate Noon Years Eve (and still get the kids to bed on time) at Green Flash Brewing Company, where there will be games, crafts, a dessert bar, face-painting, giveaways and a celebratory countdown at noon, complete with a balloon drop and dance party!

23. Go on a tidepooling adventure with trained naturalists who will show you how to tread lightly during your visit and help you discover the wonderful world of tide pools.

24. All aboard! Get out of town for the day (or just feel like you did) on one of these local day trip train rides your kids will love.

25. Take advantage of less busy schedules and more downtime over the holiday break by bonding as a family at one of our favorite spots to have a family date.

26. Take your little snow angles to glide down some bunny hills at one of the 7 best winter ski week getaways near San Diego.

27. Head to Belmont Park's Winter Wonder holiday spectacular to ride the attractions and be dazzled by a variety of oversized holiday sculptures, featuring ‘Surfing Santa’, a ‘Merry Kiss Me’ romance candy cane archway, beach-style ‘Starfish Santas’ and other festive sculptures by the beach

28. Spend a sea day at the USS Midway Museum. Excellent for little engineers who channel all things transportation.

29. Switch up your routine and take your kids to a new park or playground they've never visited. Here's a list of the best playgrounds all over the city.

30. Give your wallet a break from all that holiday spending and explore and have a blast in San Diego without spending a dime!


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––Beth Shea