Where to Find Instagram-Worthy San Diego Holiday Photos

San Diego is a beautiful place to visit at all times of the year, but there’s something extra-special about the yuletide season. The nights are longer, the weather is milder, and everyone you meet is filled with even more good cheer than usual. Even though we’re not surrounded by snow, there’s still plenty of ways to capture the holiday spirit here in town. Check out our list of the most festive San Diego holiday photo ops to look forward to this season. 

Holiday Lights Displays

(Photo: @alohaaiya)

Jack Frost may not be nipping at your nose here in Southern California, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know how to decorate for the holidays! There are countless locations all across town where you can snap festive displays of seasonal cheer. From downtown to east county, theme parks to green spaces, up the coast to down the bay, there’s no end of spots to get merry and bright. Here are some of the most popular.  


Seasonal Speakeasy Stops

(Photo: @thegrassskirtsd)

San Diego’s surreptitious sipping spots are a blast to visit whenever you find yourself in town, but the holidays are a particularly good time to hunt them down. Not only are many offering special seasonal drink menus, but their already photogenic environments are decked out in festive finery that makes for even sweeter snaps. Not sure where to start? Check out this list of area pubs with a penchant for getting festive at the holidays.  


Ice Skating Rinks

(Photo: @the_rinkssd)

Although beautiful beaches and warm sunshine may be the first images that spring to mind when you think about San Diego, our fair city has a surprisingly active ice skating scene during the holiday season. So if you’re interested in taking some skating snaps surrounded by palm trees (for a uniquely tropical holiday IG shot your east coast followers won’t have), head out to the rinks at Hotel del Coronado, Viejas Casino, Poway Community Park, San Diego Ice Arena, or the Ice Rink at Rady Children’s Hospital


Liberty Station (2.5 miles)

(Photo: @libertystation)

Liberty Station is a place where locals and visitors can convene to meet, shop, dine, and enjoy entertainment. It’s really a “town square” of sorts for the city, drawing millions of visitors every year. And it truly comes alive during the holidays. Liberty Station’s “Salute the Season” celebration offers visitors a wide range of events and occasions where they can mix and mingle and grab some yuletide snapshots — including the annual tree lighting, Nutcracker Tea Service with the San Diego Ballet, the Hanukkah Menorah celebration and much more.  


Seaport Village (5.3 miles)

(Photo: @seaport_village)

The oceanfront enclave of Seaport Village has everything you need for your holidays, with special events, gifts and more. Visitors always enjoy crossing names off of their holiday shopping lists as they stroll the Village’s sunny, open-air thoroughfares. Specialty shops offer seasonal items ideally-suited for home décor and gifts. Plus, Seaport Village is a great place to sit with a meal or beverage, and check out the Bay Parade of Lights!

849 W Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101


Belmont Park (6.2 miles)

(Photo: @belmontparksd)

San Diego’s favorite boardwalk theme park always goes all-out with holiday cheer. Every holiday, Belmont is filled with activities, midway games, and other fun distractions that can easily fill a day’s worth of sun-filled fun. Don’t miss the tiki mini-golf, climbing wall, roller coasters, or sky ropes course! Of course, the extra festive décor during the holidays always makes for some family-friendly photos. Surfin’ Santa always comes by for photos, and the carousel will be decked out in festive finery. So stop in, have fun, and grab some shots!


Holiday Market at Petco Park (6.4 miles)

(Photo: @evajoe)

The home of the San Diego Padres doesn’t close up shop just because it’s the off-season. Petco Park turns into a mandatory local holiday stop during the most wonderful time of the year. 2022’s Holiday Market will be the third annual iteration of the year-end festival, featuring lights, artisan vendors, food, fun, holiday music and much more. Stop in for festive photos from December 1–23, and bring your shopping list! Get tickets here.


Have a Happy Holidays at Island Palms    

There’s no better spot for your holiday stay than Best Western Plus Island Palms. Take a look at our Special Offers page to choose the holiday travel deal that’s right for you, and we’ll gladly host your seasonal adventures!