San Diego Winter Activities

As winter falls, the majority of the U.S. faces cloudy days and chilly temperatures. However, San Diego remains a haven of mild temperatures and inviting sunshine. While the city may not be blanketed in snow, there’s no shortage of festive and heartwarming activities to embrace the season. If you’re looking for some great ways to enjoy the coming months, we’ll explore a variety of winter activities that will help you warm up to a San Diego winter.

Whale Watching

San Diego’s winter months mark the beginning of one of nature’s most spectacular displays – the annual migration of gray whales. So there’s no better time to embark on a thrilling whale-watching adventure, and witness these magnificent creatures as they journey along the coast. Numerous tour operators offer excursions, providing up-close and personal encounters with these gentle giants of the sea. Bundle up, breathe in the crisp sea air, and marvel at the awe-inspiring sight of whales breaching against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean.

Hiking in Torrey Pines Reserve

For those seeking more outdoor adventures, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve offers a breathtaking backdrop for winter hikes. The milder temperatures make it an ideal time to explore the reserve’s trails, which offer panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the unique Torrey Pine trees. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just looking for a leisurely stroll, Torrey Pines provides a serene escape to nature within the heart of the city.

Balboa Park’s December Nights

Experience the magic of the season at this beloved San Diego tradition. The park comes alive with festive lights, holiday decorations, and an array of entertainment for the whole family. Stroll through the park’s museums and cultural institutions, enjoy live performances, and indulge in seasonal treats. Balboa Park’s December Nights is a joyful celebration that captures the essence of the holidays against the backdrop of the park’s stunning architecture.

Shopping at Liberty Station

(Photo: @libertystation)

For a unique shopping experience, head to Liberty Station — a historic naval training center turned into a vibrant arts and culture district. Explore the boutiques, galleries, and specialty shops that line the streets of this waterfront community. From handmade crafts to one-of-a-kind artworks, Liberty Station offers a diverse range of shopping opportunities, making it the perfect place to find thoughtful and distinctive gifts for your loved ones.

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

(Photo: @sdparadeoflights)

Immerse yourself in the holiday spirit by attending the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights (December 17). Witness a spectacular display of decorated boats as they cruise along the waterfront, transforming the bay into a twinkling winter wonderland. Find a cozy spot along the route or opt for a boat tour to enjoy this maritime spectacle up close. The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights is a festive tradition that captures the magic of the season against the backdrop of the stunning city skyline.

Ice Skating

Outdoor ice skating in Southern California? Absolutely! Embrace the winter months with a bit of ice skating at San Diego’s various rinks. Whether you choose the San Diego Ice Arena, Rady Children’s Ice Rink, or the Westfield UTC Ice Rink, gliding across the ice is a delightful way to celebrate the season. Lace up, feel the crisp air on your face, and enjoy the festive atmosphere of these seasonal skating rinks.

Visiting Area Museums 

Escape any occasional chill by delving into San Diego’s rich cultural offerings. Explore the Museum of Us to discover fascinating exhibits that delve into the human experience. Dive into the wonders of the natural world at the San Diego Natural History Museum or reach for the stars at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. For the scientifically curious, the Fleet Science Center offers interactive exhibits that captivate visitors of all ages.

Checking Out Local Lights Displays

San Diego’s winter nights come alive with enchanting light displays all over the city and beyond. Lightscape at the San Diego Botanic Garden transforms the garden into a luminous wonderland, while Snow N’ Glow at Del Mar Fairgrounds offers a festive spectacle with snowfall and holiday activities. The Enchanted Village at Noah Homes provides a heartwarming display of lights that not only captures the spirit of community and the magic of the holidays, but also benefits local charities that help adults with cognitive challenges.

Plan Your Winter Stay at Days

(Photo: @daysinnhc)

San Diego in winter isn’t just a season; it’s an invitation to experience the city’s unique blend of outdoor adventures, cultural richness, and festive spirit. And Days Inn San Diego Hotel Circle is the ideal spot to stay to experience it all! Our guests can enjoy competitive rates, guest-first amenities, and comfy accommodations all winter long. Take a look at our exclusive offers to reserve the San Diego travel deal that’s right for your wintertime escape.