This year, inspired by our “I Heart My City”
series on Intelligent Travel, we’re reveling in the holiday season by asking our readers to share their favorite ways to celebrate in their cities. Today’s city-lover is travel writer Meaghan Clark, who gives us a glimpse of San Diego.
What to share the things that make your city special?
We’ve put together a festively-themed fill-in-the-blank questionnaire, and we’d love to hear your responses. So cut and paste the list, fill in your answers, and e-mail us your picks at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Please include links and photos if possible). We’ll be featuring your “My City Celebrates” posts through the New Year, click here for a list of cities we’ve featured so far. Happy Holidays!
My City Celebrates: San Diego
When I need a dose of holiday cheer, I head to San Diego Bay Parade of Lights, where the quintessential features of San Diego are mixed with the holiday spirit; boats deck themselves with the colors of the season as they ride through the Embarcadero, Seaport Village, Harbor Island and Coronado.
The best place to grab a cup of cocoa is Extraordinary Desserts, where the name says it all – just don’t limit yourself to the cocoa, as specialty made cakes, brownies, cookies are excellent.
If you want to find great sledding you have to head up the mountain to Julian. The small city isn’t just famous for its apple pies; its snowy mountains are home to campsites in the summer and sled races (weather permitting) in the winter.
For a classic holiday photo op, be sure to check out the Balboa Park’s December nights, where more than 30,000 tourists come from all over to enjoy the festive lights, sounds, and spirits of the holiday season. The Spreckles Organ Pavilion teems with carolers and performance artists while the international houses feature country-specific treats, as Santa, his reindeer and all the Christmas lights fill up the 1,200 acres.
A great place to take the kids during the season is The Old Globe Theater’s production of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” an annual holiday event that doesn’t frighten the little ones as it does make them hoot and holler for the green-faced creature that everyone has come to love.
For all of your gift-giving shopping in one stop, the only place you’ll ever need to head is Fashion Valley – though a bit commercial, this Mission Valley mall has everything you and your family will need this holiday season; avoid the crowds and head there early, but if you want to sit on Santa’s lap you’ll have to join others throughout December, the mall’s busiest month.
Though San Diego is known for its fresh farmer’s markets, Ocean Beach
is known as the best around, with seasonal chestnuts roasting on open fire pits, locally handcrafted scarves to keep that ocean breeze chill off your neck and spiced juices, including the Green Machine treat that is perfect for any one of your healthy and/or vegetarian friends.
No holiday meal in San Diego is complete without a glass of the ice cold beer brewed up in Escondido. The Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens
- Nat Geo Expeditions
still manages to stay green and fresh during the wintery frost, as its gardens provide a perfect escape to the city’s hustle and bustle during the holiday season, where drinks are local and always hit the spot.
My favorite holiday tradition in my city is simply driving through some of the area’s most decorated homes, from mansions in La Jolla to schools in the East Country, where everyone gets into the holiday spirit. All while I’m snuggling warm inside my vehicle.
Locals know to avoid the throngs of tourists that inhabit the city year round and find the real magic during Little Italy’s
annual holiday celebration and tree lighting ceremony, where shops stay open late, restaurants offer special holiday fare, and carolers sing until the wee hours of the morning.
The best part about my city during the holiday season is that even without the magic of a “white Christmas”, San Diegans still know how to celebrate the season right.
Photo: Courtesy of the Old Globe Theater, by Craig Schwartz