Christmas on Coronado Island

Christmas in San Diego is altogether a different experience when compared to the “standard” American Christmas that you see on TV. No blizzards, no scraping ice off the windshield, and no temperatures below freezing at all, for that matter. It’s common to have 65 degree days in December, perfect for strolling outdoors in a light cardigan or simply a long-sleeved shirt. I have fully adjusted back to not grabbing a coat before heading out the door (so different from Kansas!)

We do have our own Christmas traditions here in San Diego, though. One of them is December Nights, a two-night long festival at Balboa Park which draws over 300,000 spectators and makes parking a nightmare. I have never been, so we tried to go this year–brought the camera and everything–then drove around nearby neighborhoods for about half an hour (trying to find parking) before giving up and moving on to plan B…

Christmas at Hotel Del Coronado

Plan B is another excellent San Diego Christmas sight to behold–the famous Hotel Del Coronado gets decked out with lights and manmade skating rink outside…

Lights and skating at Coronado

…and features a famously opulent Christmas tree in the main lobby. While we were there, a caroling group (in Victorian garb) added to the ambiance. The tree’s decorations are different every year, and this year the theme was (apparently) …pillows?

The Christmas tree at Hotel Del Coronado

Really though, I love seeing a tree packed-to-the-brim with decorations like this. My tree (which you will see Friday) isn’t nearly this full, but is special in its own way, I guess.

Fountain at Coronado

After taking a stroll around the hotel, it is nice to walk up and down Orange Avenue and check out the stores and restaurants, and to drive up and down the streets of this wealthy community and check out the Christmas lights on multi-million dollar homes. We stopped in at Bottega Italiana (1017 C Ave, 92118) and got some delicious gelato.

Gelato on Coronado Island

If you like theater, the Lamb’s Players Theatre offers up a different Festival of Christmas stage¬†production¬†every year. My parents have gone many years in a row and it has become quite a tradition. I can’t promise that it won’t be corny, but the actors and actresses are all really, really talented musicians and it is bound to be an enjoyable (and family friendly) evening.

My tips:

  • Park wherever you find a place–it isn’t a big area and everything is easily in walking distance.
  • There are lots of people trying to get a good picture of the tree. Don’t linger right up next to it! Admire from a few feet away so others can get their turn.
  • Look like you belong! Yes, tourists flock to this location but for heaven’s sakes don’t show up in board shorts or ratty clothes. This is a resort hotel– a classy establishment.
  • If you have the cash to drop, I hear that brunch at the Hotel Del is to die for!

Overall, this is a cheap wintertime date since it’s mostly driving around and sightseeing! Our only splurge was on the gelato, which wasn’t much of a splurge at all for that matter–each scoop cost less than a Starbucks drink. Seeing the lights and the ice skaters is a nice way to remind yourself that although you were wearing a tank top earlier in the day–it still is Christmastime, after all!