A San Diego Christmas
Celebrate Christmas like a San Diegan as you take in a carol performance, explore local missions and enjoy a traditional Christmas brunch at architecturally sublime Hotel Del Coronado.
Rating (4.8)
Program No. 20420RJ
8 days
Starts at
Print All
Map details are not available for this location.
View Map
Expand All
8 days
7 nights
17 meals
7 B 1BR 4 L 5 D
Getting There
See travel details and required documents
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
San Diego, California
The US Grant Hotel

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar Private Meeting Room to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and other important information. If your arrival is delayed, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have.This program will be led by the Group Leader, who will lead all field trips and deliver educational content unless specified otherwise. All transportation will be provided via private motorcoach. At the hotel, we will have a private meeting room that will serve as our space for lectures and meeting points. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Please be aware that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Meet fellow participants for a brief welcome gathering in a private room accompanied by wine and snacks. Discover niches, artwork and learn about the enthralling history of your hotel on a walking visit led by a US Grant staff member.

Dinner: The welcome dinner is in the hotel elegant dining room, served plated from a limited menu. A non alcoholic drink is included. Additonal beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the evening is at leisure continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

San Diego Mission, Presidio Park, Old Town, Gaslamp Quarter
San Diego, California
The US Grant Hotel

Activity note: Walking up to 1.5 miles on paved and cobblestone streets.

Breakfast: In a private section of the hotel’s restaurant, enjoy a buffet including eggs, yogurt, oatmeal, sweet rolls, and fresh fruit, plus coffee, tea, orange juice, water.

Morning: We will be joined by a local historian from the San Diego Historical Society for an introduction to San Diego’s history. This morning’s lecture will set the stage for our day’s field trips. We then set out on our historical journey to the sites where the city was founded beginning with San Diego de Alcala Mission. With our Group Leader, we will explore the property and visit the on-site museum. Established by the Franciscan missionary Father Junipero Serra in 1769, San Diego de Alcala was the first of 21 California Missions. We will then ride to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, with a stop at the top of Presidio Hill for views of San Diego and the Pacific Ocean on the way. As the site of the original fortifications, residents chose to live in the Presidio for protection from potential Native American attacks but moved to the base of the hill as time passed.

Lunch: At a lively restaurant in Old Town, enjoy a plated meal offering traditional Mexican cuisine such as tacos and enchiladas with an American twist, plus iced tea, water; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Follow our expert Group Leader on a stroll through Old Town, the original site of San Diego where the population grew until Mexico granted it the status of “pueblo” or chartered town. Visit some of the most important historical buildings from that era including the stately Casa Estudillo located on the main plaza, Sibley Stables which house a collection of stagecoaches, the rustic jail and San Diego’s first schoolhouse. Old Town San Diego remained the heart of the city until the 1860’s when Alonzo Horton promoted development closer to the shore, the location that became the current downtown. Returning to downtown via coach, join an expert-led walk to become acquainted with the Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego’s downtown since 1860. Declared a National Historic District, it is now filled with restaurants, night clubs, theaters, galleries and gas lamps! The visit includes the Gaslamp Quarter Museum located in one of the area's first houses and the adjacent historical Horton Grand Hotel. Tales of haunted houses and spicy stories enrich the field trip.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like, providing you the opportunity to take advantage of the hotel's location at the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter which boasts a wide array of great restaurant options. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure. You might like to attend a performance from current offerings, enjoy Happy Hour at the hotel, or just relax.

Balboa Park Museums, San Diego Zoo
San Diego, California
The US Grant Hotel

Activity note: Walking approximately 1/2 mile in Balboa Park. Additional walking at museums and the zoo based on personal preference.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: With our historian, learn about the development of Balboa Park and the amusing tales behind the Panama- California Exposition before heading out to explore the park. Built to host the 1915 Exposition, Balboa Park today is America’s largest urban cultural park. Exotic vegetation, 15 museums, theaters, art centers, exquisite Moorish architecture and a world famous zoo fill its 1,200 acres. With our Group Leader, get to know El Prado, the heart of the park. The remainder of the morning is at leisure to explore one of the many museums on your own.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the park and its activities at your own pace. You may choose a relaxed meal in a lovely garden restaurant or a sandwich on the go in between museum visits.

Afternoon: Located within Balboa Park, we will visit the San Diego Zoo, which is regarded as one of the best zoos in the word. Ride to the front gate of the park to join the narrated hop-on hop-off zoo bus for an overview. Continue to explore on your own either on foot or taking advantage of the included skyfari and hop-on-hop-off bus. We will then gather by the big Christmas tree, where bell ringers and caroling enliven the tree-lighting ceremony. After the event, we depart the zoo for dinner in the Gaslamp Quarters.

Dinner: Enjoy the harbor lights while savoring a plated meal from a limited selection, plus iced tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure to remain in the Gaslamp to enjoy the nightlife atmosphere or return to the hotel.

San Diego Growth/La Jolla/Aquarium & Northern Pacific Coast
San Diego, California
The US Grant Hotel

Activity note: Walking up to 1/2 mile on paved, smooth sidewalks with slight inclines in La Jolla. At the aquarium, standing for up to 1 hour with periods of slow walking.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: In the final lecture from our historian, we will discuss the establishment of the US Navy and its importance in the growth of San Diego. We will then set out and drive along the scenic Pacific Coast north of downtown, past Mission Bay and popular Pacific Beach, to reach the sophisticated exclusive La Jolla community where we will visit the world renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Birch Aquarium. At the aquarium, our expert-led visit includes a lecture presented by a staff member of the education department as well as an exploration with commentary of the many exhibits, featuring more than 60 environments.

Lunch: Under the shade of endemic Torrey Pines, enjoy a soup and half sandwich at the Birch Aquarium Café, plus a cookie, small juice, and bottled water; additional non-alcoholic beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: At the end of our field trip, we will ride to town and set out for a walk with our Group Leader along the famous La Jolla coves that will take us to nearby Seal Beach, protected by cliffs and part of a marine reserve. Our walk will conclude at the business street for time at leisure to enjoy the cafés, boutiques, and galleries. Our afternoon comes to a close with a drive to the top of Mount Soledad, a War Memorial, for a magnificent 360 degree view of San Diego and a pristine opportunity to watch the sunset. Drive down the hill again to one of the several small restaurant areas around La Jolla, where we will eat dinner.

Dinner: A plated dinner with limited choices is served in a private section of the restaurant. A non alcoholic drink is included. Additonal beverages are available for purchase

Evening: On the return drive to the hotel, continue in the Christmas spirit with a visit to a beautifully lit neighborhood referred to as “Clairmont Christmas Park.” We will explore this neighborhood from the comfort of our coach with commentary.

Mexican-American Community, Cabrillo Monument, Waterfront
San Diego, California
The US Grant Hotel

Activity note: Walking up to 1.5 miles on paved, smooth sidewalks with slight inclines.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: To gain a deeper insight into the large Hispanic community in the city, an instructor on Chicano Studies will discuss Mexican-American culture, its history and lifestyle. We will ride to the dramatic tip of Point Loma peninsula to the Cabrillo National Monument, named in honor of the famed explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo who landed on this point in 1542. Our knowledgeable Group Leader will lead our visit to the historic museum and the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, one of the original eight lighthouses on the West Coast, restored and refurnished to reflect what life was like in the 1800s. In Barrio Logan, the Hispanic Quarter, gather at the Community Center for a Mexican “Posada”, a Christmas celebration that includes songs, simple re-enactments, a piñata and a traditional meal. To get in the Christmas spirit of giving, needy children of the “barrio” with their parents are invited to share in the lunch and in the fun, singing and breaking the piñata together with Scholars.

Lunch: At the Chicano Community Center, we will enjoy a traditional “Posada” plated meal consisting of “tamales,” “chiles rellenos” (stuffed peppers), beans, rice, and more all prepared by a Mexican cook, plus the hot “champurrado” (chocolate-based beverage), soft drinks, water.

Afternoon: Across from the Community Center is Chicano Park, home to the largest collection of outdoor murals in the United States. Painted on the pillars and the supports of the San Diego - Coronado bridge by local Mexican- American (Chicano) artists, the colorful art work reflects the cultural heritage of the Chicano community in which the park is located. Walk through the park with your Group Leader who will interpret the most representative murals. The return drive to the hotel coasts the waterfront, passing by the San Diego Convention Center, a huge construction recreating a sailing ship. Before returning to the hotel, we will make a brief stop at the Seaport Village for some time to explore on our own. This pleasant area boasts a number of restaurants and shops with a scenic park surrounded by water on three sides. With our Group Leader, depart the hotel by foot and make way to Horton Plaza, to explore the hidden surprises of the plaza as an architecturally unique gathering.

Dinner: At a lively Italian restaurant, enjoy a family style 3-course meal, plus unlimited coffee, tea, soft drinks, and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Stay in the Gaslamp on your own or walk back to the hotel with your Group Leader.

Little Italy, Harbor Cruise, Maritime Museum, Chris Frolics.
San Diego, California
The US Grant Hotel

Activity note: Minimum walking. Standing mostly for up to one hour at the Maritime Museum, getting on and off a boat.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will gather for an amusing discussion with our Group Leader on Christmas traditions around the world and through the ages. Then depart for Little Italy, a neighborhood established by Italian fishermen who began an important tuna fishing industry in San Diego. With our Group Leader, we will stroll along the main street before enjoying some time to explore on your own. You may want to take advantage of the many coffee shops to enjoy a cup of true espresso, or a gelato! At the San Diego Harbor, embark on a narrated harbor cruise. View the spectacular city skyline in addition to sailing next to elegant hillside communities, marinas, the Naval Shipyards and the Naval Air and Submarine Stations.

Lunch: In a semi-private area of the ship boat, a buffet is served for the group including cold cuts with garnishes and desserts, plus a soda bar, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Take a cheerful stroll along the boardwalk decorated with amusing art work to reach the Maritime Museum and enjoy an exploration led by a museum docent. Since 1948, the San Diego Maritime Museum has displayed the largest collection of historic sea vessels in the United States including the landmark ship Star of India, which has sailed regularly since its launching in 1863. Our field trip ends with our return to the hotel and time to freshen up and prepare for an evening of festivities. Begin to celebrate Christmas Eve in a private hotel room with a private caroling party led by a lively entertaining quartet of gifted singers dressed in lavish costumes, all while enjoying wine and juices.

Dinner: In the hotel’s elegant dining room, enjoy a special plated 4-course tasting menu accompanied by wine; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure, perhaps to celebrate on your own at the hotel's classic bar.

Coronado Island, Hotel Del Brunch, Happy Hour
San Diego, California
The US Grant Hotel

Activity note: Walking up to 1/2 mile, with opportunities to stroll along the stunning beach on your own.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: This morning is an opportunity to rest, relax, and sleep in before our late morning departure for Coronado. Located across the bay from San Diego, Coronado is a semi-island connected to the mainland by the “Silver Strand” and to downtown San Diego by way of the curved, slim, elegant San Diego-Coronado Bridge. Characterized by fabulous views, palm-lined avenues, a fine wide beach, the famous Hotel Del Coronado — popularly known as Hotel Del — an American fairytale castle. We will explore the island with our Group Leader by motorcoach and on foot. Our first stop is at the Ferry Landing plaza facing the beautiful San Diego skyline. We’ll drive across the island along fashionable Orange Avenue to reach the Hotel Del. Boasting a history filled with famous celebrities, the lavish wooden Victorian hotel is the last of its kind still standing on the West Coast. With our Group Leader through a short historical walk to learn about the many events that earned the hotel its fame.

Brunch: In the celebrated historic Victorian Crown Room of the Hotel Del, delight on a grand festive Christmas brunch, featuring many stations that offer all you could ever desire.

Afternoon: Enjoy time to explore the hotel on your own and immerse yourself in the ambiance of this iconic building. Wander amongst its many halls, the gardens, or along the spectacular white sand beach. Return to San Diego at sunset when the skyscrapers come alive reflecting their glow on the calm waters of the bay, a perfect ending to a San Diego holiday. Upon our return to the hotel, we will gather one last time in the private room for farewells and a toast to the program while enjoying snacks, juices, and wine.

Dinner: If you’re still hungry from the happy hour, this meal is on your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure.

Program Concludes
San Diego, California

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!

Click here to provide website feedback
Website Feedback