Traditions on a Budget: 5 Free or Low-Cost Holiday Traditions to Start This Year


Family traditions can be part of what makes the holidays so special. There are so many wonderful holiday offerings, especially in America’s finest city. But not all of the them are affordable for everyone. This is where my list comes in. I have complied a go-to list of low or no-cost holiday activities for you and your family to enjoy.

The Santa Express

Every year the Balboa Park Miniature Railroad gets all dressed up for the holidays. It becomes the Santa Express, complete with hundreds of sparkling lights. There is a possibility that this year the decorations may be limited to just the station but it doesn’t make the ride any less special for you and your kiddos. Tickets are just $3 for ages one and older. Children under one are free. Kids five and younger must ride with an adult. The operating hours vary by day and can be checked here


Boat Parade of Lights

On December 8th and December 15th, you can pull up a spot along the San Diego Bay to watch the boat parade of lights. The parade is quite a sight. Tons of boats all decorated for the holiday season in true San Diego fashion. To plan accordingly the parade route and schedule can be found here. One tip to keep the cost for this event low is to take the trolley down to the embarcadero, parking can get pretty pricey in downtown on the weekend. Also, make sure to dress warm as the bayfront can get quite chilly, even if it is San Diego.

Baking Cookies

Baking and the holidays go hand in hand. Whether it’s gingerbread, sugar, or peppermint cookies; baking is a great way to create special holiday memories as a family. Plus, when you’re done you will have delicious cookies to enjoy together. It’s a holiday tradition that will warm both your heart and your home. If you’re on the search for recipes a quick google search yields almost endless options.

Neighborhood Lights

Several neighborhoods throughout the city set up their own version of “Candy Cane Lane.” All the houses in these neighborhoods are dressed to the nines for the holiday season. Some houses will even sync their light displays to a local radio station. You can choose to drive through while the heater blasts in your car or bundle up for a walk around the neighborhood. Seeing your little one’s faces light up as they take in the scene is truly magical. Here is an article outlining some of the more prominent of these “Candy Cane Lanes”


Old Poway Park Christmas

For those in North County looking for some holiday fun, Christmas in the Park will be held on December 14th from 3:30-8:30 in the evening. This free event has it all. There will be everything from caroling to horse-drawn hay rides to holiday crafts. And of course, Santa himself will be stopping in for a visit. Check here for complete details on this special holiday events.

So whether you’re starting new traditions or partaking in old classics, make sure to be present and enjoy every moment with your family. Create memories that will last not only for the rest of your lifetime, but for the rest of your children’s lifetimes. Happy Holidays from my family to yours.



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