Update – The Padres Have Made Changes
Thankfully the Padres are listening to the early criticisms of the Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park and are making some changes.
To deal with the crowds, the Padres have expanded into the Park at the Park area with a “Frozen” fun zone, Snow Queen and Snow Princess photo op, snow globe photo op (moved from the field), a Polar Plunge (no idea what that is) and face painters.
On the field, they have added a Merry Maze and a Carousel.
Sadly, the photo with Santa and the train still cost $25 and $5 respectively.
Walking Through a Winter Wonderland
The sound of Christmas music, “snow,” lighted trees and bunnies (yes bunnies) welcome you as you enter the Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park. Continue up the stairs for Santa’s Workshop and more.
Santa’s Workshop & Candyland
Make your way up to the main concourse level for more lights at Santa’s Workshop. Next up is Candyland stuffed with oversized candies, ginormous candy canes, and the smell of bubble gum wafting through the air.
Photo Op at the Christmas Morning House
Finally, you will end up at the Christmas Morning House complete with decorated exterior and in the perfect holiday interior including a roaring “fire,” a Christmas Tree, wrapped presents and comfy seating (provided by Jeromes). This is a great spot to stop and take a family holiday photo.
After you spend a few minutes trying to coax a smile instead of a silly face out of your child(ren), head on down to the field for main attractions.
Fun On the Field
Snow, Santa, the Polar Express, Reindeer and more await just past the expensive baseball seats.
Make a beeline straight for the snow mountain since the line can get long as both young and old eagerly await to slide down on an inner tube. After you arrive back at the “foothills” of the mountain, make sure to craft the perfect snowball and “gently” toss it at your best friend…or worst enemy!
The Upsell – Santa and the Polar Express
The upside to the Santa at Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park is the amazing backdrop. You can easily get a photo with Santa the whole family. While you will walk away with a print, the downside is the high $25 cost. I don’t know what the average rate is for a Santa photo, but I do know you can find photo ops for much less at other places in San Diego.
Right next to Santa are the two “Polar Express” trains that chug around the baseball diamond with a few trees and lights in the middle. If you are willing to pay the $5 per person charge, hop into the train with the actual cabins on the right.
Reindeer, A Snow Globe and A Cocktail Lounge
In addition to the snow mountain and trains are a few live reindeer, a photo op snow globe (which is hard to photograph), holiday themed characters and a cocktail lounge for mom and dad meant for parental relaxation as the kids run back into the snow mountain line for the 5th time.
With all that Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park has to offer, visitors can easily have a wonderful night of festive fun. Just be prepared for the upsell costs and know that many of the activities are geared toward kids 4, if not 8, and older (in my opinion). My 1 year old enjoyed the lights and the train but not much else.
So if you are looking for a new Christmas tradition, check out the Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park.
Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park Details
Where: 100 Park Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92101
When: Friday-Saturday, 5-24 December 2014 (Special Days – December 22-24)
Time: 5:00 to 10:00 PM
Admission – $10-$15
Photo with Santa – $25
Train Ride – $5
> Find out more about Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park
Even with the amazing goal and first touch by Julian Green, Belgium defeated the US 2-1 in overtime. I sulked out of Petco Park and headed back to my office dispirited and very badly sunburnt.
However, the loss cannot take away the amazing experience of walking in the American Outlaws San Diego’s energetic March to the Match and watching the game with thousands of enthusiastic fans all donning red, white and blue.
I am looking forward to Russia in 2018!
Scenes from the March to the Match
Photos Copyright Brent Bernasconi 2014
Tucked away in San Diego’s South Bay, the Living Coast Discovery Center (formerly the Chula Vista Nature Center) provides an up close view of the flora and fauna found in the San Diego Bay along with nature trails to the bay itself.
Since I had never been before, I decided the time had come to explore the Discovery Center. My wife and I packed up the diaper bag, put the little one into his car seat and drove south to to learn all about San Diego Bay.
Getting to the Discovery Center
Cars are not allowed to drive up to the Living Coast Discovery Center because it sits in the middle of a nature preserve. In the parking lot right off the freeway, we unloaded the car and walked on over to the free shuttle stop. The shuttle makes regular loops from the Center to the parking lot and to the Bayfront/E Street Trolley Station. If you take the trolley, you need to request the shuttle at the Visitor Center.
From Bay to Land
Before we even made it into the Center, a few endangered Eastern Pacific Green Sea Turtles greeted us at the outdoor Turtle Lagoon. Luckily, we visited during the early afternoon and caught the daily 1:30 PM feeding.
Once inside, we had to say hello to Nemos and Dorys swimming in the tank right next to the entrance. (Is this a requirement of aquariums these days?)
Just past Nemo are tanks full of fish found in the bay including the hypnotic black jellies. As we moved down the hallway, we saw creatures native to the marsh areas and land crawlers including slithery snakes and a turtle that can snap a piece of wood in half with his beak.
Make sure to look up at the seagulls soaring below the rafters before you head outside.
Rays, Sharks, Eagles and More
After exiting through the rear door of the Center, we made a left toward the Shark and Ray Experience. If you are up for it, step up to the touch pool and feel the soft velvety skin of a ray (make sure to wash your hands afterward).
We passed on the touching the rays since we had an infant and walked down the ramp to a peek into the 21,000 gallon pool that houses four types of local sharks: leopard sharks, grey smoothhound sharks, horn sharks, and swell sharks. We lucked out again and caught the 2:00 PM weekend feeding. Weekday feedings are offered at 11:00 AM.
Opposite the Shark and Ray Experience are the aviaries full of local birds including shorebirds, eagles, hawks, owls, osprey, and even the Turkey Vulture. Feedings are daily at 2:30 PM. We quickly made our way through the aviary area since we really wanted to hike the bay trail and didn’t know how much time the little one would give us.
Trails to the Bay
We ended our visit to the Living Coast Discovery Center with an easy hike down to San Diego Bay. The trailhead starts across the street and slightly to the south of the main entrance. Along the trail we read the information panels that chronicled the area’s gunpowder history and transformation into an ecological reserve.
About halfway through the trek, the trail splits into three sections all leading to different parts of the bay. We took the trailhead on the far right. We sat on the bench at the end of the trail and enjoyed the amazing view of Downtown San Diego and the Coronado Bay Bridge.
Thirty some odd minutes later, we started to get chilly (it was January and next to the water) and decided to head back to the car. The shuttle picked us up in front of the Center and swiftly returned us to the parking lot so we could head home.
I really look forward to taking the little one back to the Living Coast Discovery Center when he is bigger so he can run from exhibit to exhibit learning something new about San Diego Bay’s wildlife.
Living Coast Discover Center Info
Where: 1000 Gunpowder Point Dr, Chula Vista, CA 91910
Hours: Daily: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Cost: $9-$14 (2014 prices)
> Find out more about the Living Coast Discovery Center