Nature and simple pleasures are the focus of Garden of Lights, as are all things at the San Diego Botanic Garden. I was expecting twinkling lights, holiday treats, live music, and maybe a craft project or two…which is exactly what I found. But somehow, it exceeded my expectations.
Over 100,000 lights make San Diego Botanic Garden sparkle during the holidays
Each December over 100,000 lights make the already beautiful San Diego Botanic Garden sparkle. What is it about a bunch of Christmas lights that get us so excited? It’s the 21st century, yet there is something undeniably magical about seeing a bunch of lights strung up for the holidays. As a San Diego Botanic Garden member, I’ve visited these grounds more times than I can count but the garden had a special feel during our recent first Garden of Lights visit.
Keep warm by roasting marshmallows at Garden of Lights
Our first stop? The Coffee Hut for cozy servings of hot cider. Also available for purchase: hot cocoa, coffee, and other beverages and snacks like the cold apple juice and bag of Cheetos my three-year-old requested. (I obliged, it is the holidays after all!)
If you’re looking for something more substantial, you can buy fast Mexican food from El Pollo Loco at the Lawn House Garden. If you’d like an adult beverage, the Lawn House is the place to be. Go here to purchase little cups of mulled wine. I’d never had mulled wine before and gave it a shot; it was okay but tasted medicinal after my cinnamon-laced apple cider. There are tables surrounded with heat lamps in this area as well.
For the best treat of all, look for the firepit to roast marshmallows on the Main Gazebo Lawn. For $3 you can purchase s’mores packs with graham crackers and chocolate but the marshmallows are free. There’s something so neighborly and warm about gathering around a roaring fire to toast up some sugary white puffs.
The River Rim Children’s Choir sang Christmas carols the night of our visit
While spinning your marshmallow on a wooden skewer, you will be serenaded by the sounds of some live holiday music. Each night a different group performs, offering up holiday Cuban, Klezmer, Celtic music, and more.
What Christmastime event would be complete without a visit from Santa Claus? Photos with the jolly old elf (on the Main Gazebo Lawn) are just $3 apiece at this event.
My daughter crafting a puppy ornament
At no extra charge, sweet volunteers patiently assist children in making crafts like puppy or kitty ornaments and candycane pencils in the Ecke Building. It costs an extra buck to make a spin-art, if you’re so inclined.
Over 50 Nutcrackers on display
While kids create their crafts, parents can take a peek at a collection of over 50 Nutcrackers on display in the Ecke Building. (Simple pleasures, people!)
Kids from SoCal and beyond get a kick out of sledding on real snow at this San Diego event
The piece de resistence for beach-going San Diegans like my children is the SNOW in the Eucalyptus Grove. There’s a wee area where kids can waddle around and lob snowballs at their parents. If you’ve got gloves or mittens, bring ‘em! While the air temperature may not be too cold, the snow will chill children’s hands. There’s even a small hill for sledding, a joyous treat for us Southern California folks!
There is nothing over-the-top at Garden of Lights. It’s pure, simple holiday fun. And I purely, simply love it.
Garden of Lights at San Diego Botanic Garden admission: members $6; non-members: adults $12; seniors, active military, and students $8. All children ages 3-12, $4. Most activities are free, besides those for which a cost is listed above.
What is your favorite simple holiday event? Let us know in the comments!
A Note from The Travel Mama: My family and I are annual members of the San Diego Botanic Garden but we received complimentary media passes to experience the Garden of Lights.