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Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park Brightens San Diego

With the baseball season over with, the Padres are bringing festive cheer to Downtown San Diego by transforming a baseball stadium into the Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park.

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

Walking Through a Winter Wonderland - Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park

Take a walk through at Winter Wonderland at Petco Park

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

Candyland - Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park

Make sure to stop and smell the candy canes…no seriously, take a sniff as you walk through 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

Christmas Morning House - Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park

Just walk right up to the front door and let yourself in for a Christmas Morning photo op

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

The Field - Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park

Snow, trains and Santa await you on the field of Petco Park

Snow, Santa, the Polar Express, Reindeer and more await just past the expensive baseball seats.

Snow Mountain

Sled Rides Down Snow Mountain - Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park

Make the Snow Mountain your first stop when you reach the field.

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

Polar Express - Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park

For $5 a person, you can take a ride around the baseball diamond on 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

Santa's Reindeer - Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park

A few of Santa’s Reindeer have stopped by Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park for a break

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

USAvBEL World Cup March to the Match in San Diego

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

#AOSD - American Outlaws San Diego March to the Match

#AOSD is the San Diego Chapter of the American Outlaws and they brought plenty energy and enthusiasm to the USAvBEL March to the Match during the World Cup

Fans of All Ages - American Outlaws San Diego March to the Match

Fans of all ages showed up to support the USNMT and show the world how San Diego is a soccer (football) city!

Waving the Red, White and Blue - - American Outlaws San Diego March to the Match

The crowd marched its way through the Gaslamp Quarter toward Petco Park proudly showing off their support of the USNMT and the Red, White and Blue

Waiting Outside Petco Park - American Outlaws San Diego March to the Match

The crowd cheered, jumped and kept everyone excited as we all waited outside Petco Park for the gates to open

Sea of Red, White and Blue - American Outlaws San Diego March to the Match

Petco Park’s Park at the Park filled with a sea of Red White and Blue fans excited to cheer on the USNMT

Cheer Leader - American Outlaws San Diego March to the Match

He kept the crowd pumped up and chanting through the high and low times of the game and until the bitter, bitter end

Photos Copyright Brent Bernasconi 2014

Living Coast Discovery Center – San Diego’s Hidden Nature Center

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

The Center - Living Coast Discovery Center

The Center starts with creatures from the bay, moves into the marshes and ends on 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

Touching Pool - Living Coast Discovery Center

Step up to the touching pool to feel the velvety skin of one of the rays

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

Trail to the Bay - Living Coast Discovery Center

Explore the area’s gunpowder history while hiking to beautiful views of the San Diego 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

More Photos of the Living Coast Discovery Center