Between the resurgence of the Covid pandemic, natural disasters in some of our favorite vacation destinations, and the uncertainty of airline schedules, it’s not easy to plan getaways these days. That goes double during the end of the year when traveling to celebrate the holidays can really be risky and anxiety-producing.
Luckily, there are some San Diego and SoCal venues and events worth experiencing, don’t require way-ahead reservations, and may be staged outdoors.
Put these happenings on your possible-things-to-see-and-do list:
- Encinitas – More than one million holiday lights come to life after dark with color, imagination and sound during Lightscape at San Diego Botanic Garden. The show that runs from Nov. 18 through Jan. 1. The traveling exhibition, which has wowed visitors in London, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, includes a one-mile walking trail that features a tunnel, a fire garden, lantern trees, sculptures and more. There will be hot chocolate and food stations along the trail. Reservations are necessary.
- Southern California – Where once there was just Halloween, there now is a season, and Southern California theme parks are capitalizing on the growing popularity of this holiday.
- Sesame Street San Diego in Chula Vista (formerly a waterpark) is staging the Count’s Halloween Spooktacular, featuring favorite Sesame Place friends dressed in costume, Halloween-themed floats, trick-or-treating and a scavenger hunt. Runs Sept. 17 through Oct. 31.
- Legoland California Resort in Carlsbad offers Brick-or-Treat every Saturday night from Sept. 17 through Oct. 29. Come in your best costume for the Monster Party, commune with Lego characters, enjoy the treat stations, and see an all-new show and 4D movie.
- Big Bear Lake – The San Bernardino Mountains town of Big Bear Lake will host two events come autumn. One is a tradition; the other new. Oktoberfest, which celebrates 50 years and runs from Sept. 10 to Nov. 5, will feature Bavarian oom-pah-pah music, German food and beer, and contests and other events for all ages. Free admission for first responders on selected weekends.
Highlander Adventure – If you like distance-hiking in a mountain setting, check out this event to run Sept. 27 to Oct. 2 in and around Big Bear Lake. Participants can choose from three levels: a five-day, 60-mile course; a three-day, 30-mile course; and a weekend, 15-mile course. Participants will hike portions of the Pacific Crest Trail, and organizers provide camping food, which is distributed at checkpoints.
Also at the checkpoints: activities like lectures, yoga classes, book presentations. A non-competitive event, Highlander was founded in Croatia in 2017 by three friends who had a passion for long-distance hiking. Highlander has since spread to 15 countries, including Morocco, Slovenia and the United Arab Emirates. Big Bear Lake is the first location in the United States to host the event.
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