The scents of cinnamon and peppermint float through the air, pine trees are adorned with shiny bulbs and sparkling lights, and the world is full of joy during the holiday season. But with last-minute gifts to buy, presents to wrap, and family coming over to the house, this exciting time of year can also feel stressful. Add entertaining the whole family to your list, and the ordeal can send you into a panic attack—but these free activities in San Diego and beyond can ease your worries so you can get back to leisurely sipping hot cocoa.
Do You Hear What I Hear
Before you start searching for “free things to do near me”, add Spreckels Organ Pavilion to your to-do list. Located in Balboa Park, the Spreckels Organ is the world’s largest outdoor musical instrument and is a must-see landmark. Make your way over on Sundays at 2 p.m. to hear the incredible cacophony created by the organ’s 5,019 pipes.
While you’re in Balboa Park, walk over to the plaza by The Old Globe theatre to see a display inspired by Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Must Be Santa
When it comes to San Diego’s free activities for kids, it doesn’t get any better than Santa’s Workshop at Seaport Village, open through December 24. Head to the Seaport Creations Station to make ornaments and color festive pictures. After having some fun by the ocean, take the kids to meet Santa and purchase some last-minute photos for your holiday cards.
Light The Candles
As the last event of Liberty Station’s Salute the Season lineup, the Hanukkah and Menorah Lighting is absolutely worth witnessing. Bring the family between 5 and 9 p.m. on December 22 to enjoy an evening of music and surprises.
For even more free things to do in California, check out Hotel del Coronado’s lobby Christmas tree; visit Santa at Julian Town Hall (and splurge with a slice of the town’s renowned apple pie); spend some time whale-watching at the beach; drive to the mountains to build a snowman; watch the Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade; or go on a Christmas-light cruise around your neighborhood.
What free places do you like to take your family to around the holidays? Let us know in the comments below.