Winter in San Diego is, gasp, as much fun, if not more so than it’s warmer counterparts. From exploring tide pools at their most accessible to tasting your way through the city’s best hot chocolate, there’s so much more to San Diego than surfing (although still pretty amazing)

Sure, Dec. is filled with Santa meet and greets and dazzling light shows, but that’s just the beginning of your only-in-San Diego winter bucket list. There are plenty of things to do in San Diego to keep kiddos entertained long after the holiday rush. From exploring the best tide pools in SoCal to treating the kids to the most delicious hot chocolate in town and beach bonfires with special guests, check out our must-do list for how to have an amazing time with family, all winter long.

The Best Things to Do in San Diego in the Winter

1. Treat your little to a local field trip to the Museum of Making Music. Here you can explore instruments from the past 150 years, listen to how musical styles evolve and even try some of them out for yourself. 

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

3. Enjoy the magic of the underwater world at Birch Aquarium during Seas ‘n’ Greetings—a month-long holiday celebration featuring SEAsonal activities for the whole family from Dec. 1 to 31. Everyone will be amazed seeing how the Birch Aquarium transforms into a winter wonderland. 

4. Teach your kids how to give back to the San Diego community. Check out all the ways your family can volunteer from home all winter long.

5. Lace up your skates and go ice skating by the sea. You and your SoCal kids will get a stunning view of the Pacific as you try to master your scissors. 

where to find the best hot chocolate in San Diego

6. Thanks to early winter storms, you can take your SoCal kid to play in (real!) snow nearby.

7. Satisfy that sweet tooth craving by warming up with the best hot chocolate San Diego has to offer. PS: Don't miss Brew Coffee Spot's seasonal Gingerbread, Eggnog, and Peppermint Mocha Lattes for the grownups. 

8. Go on an art-hunt and freshen up your Instagram feed by visiting the most Instagram-able spots in San Diego.

9. Take your pint-sized sailors 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.

10. Did you know the ideal time to tidepool is now through Feb.? In addition to forgiving winter tides, we'll also see King Tides—meaning higher than normal high tides which also results in lower than normal low tides—you'll get a chance to explore tide pools in ways that are typically unaccessible during the rest of the year. Want to upgrade your tidepool experience? Book 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. Before you go, check out our full guide to the best tidepooling spots in San Diego.

11. Surprise your family with a beach bonfire. Purchase a package through the beach genie and have all the accessories delivered to the beach. Through December you can even opt to have Santa come by your beach fire and sprinkle some kringle on your party.

12. Switch up your regular routine and take your kids to a new park they've never visited. Here's a list of 7 local parks with one-of-a-kind activities you've (maybe) yet to discover.

13. Thanks to San Diego's warmer winter weather, having a family picnic is totally doable. Here are our favorite picnic spots with the most delicious nearby takeout food (so you don't have to actually pack the picnic).

14. Have you ever raced an ice trike? Now's your chance with UTC's Ice Trikes. Races are eight minutes long and include lights and music.

15. Treat your family to a memorable getaway at a nearby cozy Airbnb cabin. Here are some of the best cabins to book in SoCal for winter fun.

16. Watch San Diego’s own American League hockey team, the San Diego Gulls, skate their way to victory.

17. From Big Bear to Elfin Forest, we've outlined the best winter hikes near San Diego to explore with your family.


18. Winter usually means snow (at least for most parts of the country) and while it's rare to snow in San Diego (snow flurries were last seen in San Diego on Feb. 14, 2008 around 1,700 to 1,800 feet with the last measurable snowfall in city fell on Dec. 13, 1967), you can find the white fluffy stuff just a short drive away. So whether you're into skiing, snow tubing, sledding, or just want to throw some snowballs, you can fulfill your winter fantasies with the best places to play in the snow near San Diego

19. Speaking of wintery delights, Disney's Frozen, will be in town at the San Diego Civic Theatre, Jan. 18-29. This can't miss Broadway musical features the songs you know and love from the original Oscar-winning film, plus a dozen new numbers by the film’s songwriters.

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