Best Things to Do in the South Bay This December

Looking to fill a couple hours of your day while in the South Bay? With so many offerings in the area, we’ve curated the top events this month including holiday lights, New Year celebrations, and caviar! Less researching and more having fun. (And getting into the holiday spirit!) Enjoy!

Featured Photo: Kristi Yamaguchi Downtown Ice, by D. Garcia
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Photo: Courtesy of Sunnyvale Ice Rink

The Winter Ice Rink

THRU January 2, 2022

Of course an ice rink in the heart of Silicon Valley combines skating and tech in events such as Robots on Ice, but other events like Learn to Curl helps expand the sport of ice skating beyond its user base.

More info: holidayicerink.com

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Holiday Lights 2021

December 2 - 26

The Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds Foundation and the Agricultural History Project light things up Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in December with a unique drive-through experience at the Fairgrounds. Anticipate massive twinkling of big Christmas trees, Santa, reindeer, snowmen, a lighted tunnel and more magical moments, filling up a half mile of holiday miracles all told. 

More info: fairgrounds-foundation.org

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Photo: Greg Ramar

Kristi Yamaguchi Downtown Ice

THRU January 9, 2022

Celebrate the season by skating around a shaped ice rink and a 32 palm tree track, or join for one of the special events such as the Silent Skate on December 16.

More info: bayareaiceskating.com

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Photo: Artem Nazarov Photography

Junior Museum and Zoo

December 1 – 30

A new museum in Palo Alto — opened November 12 — invites children to intimately mingle and interact with raptors, giant turtles and other animals in a more natural habitat.

More info: cityofpaloalto.org

Photo: Courtesy of Palo Alto Art Center Foundation

Holiday Sale

December 4

If handmade gifts from local artisans are your jam, the Art Center Studio Holiday Sale wants to be the toast with jewelry, functional and fine art ceramics, paintings, prints and more.

More info: paacf.org

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Photo: Courtesy of Neiman Marcus

Breakfast with Santa

December 11

Savor a plate of eggs Benedict and hash browns with the jolly guy in the red suit before he heads back to the workshop for some finishing touches on this year’s gifts. 

More info: neimanmarcus.com

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Jingle Bell Rock Fun Run and 5K

December 12

A classic motivational device drops right between Thanksgiving and holiday smorgasbords to come: This is a chance to work off the gravy and earn the waves of it on the way. A lot of fun elements work their way into the Santa Cruz staple event — beyond the West Cliff Drive views — from the ugly sweater contest to the Salvation Army Toy Drive to the best decorated stroller showdown.

More info: runsignup.com

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Lyrics Born — Bay Area Hip-Hop Legend

December 17

For some, Christmas music is a most uplifting sound. For others, the most moving hip-hop in a crowded California landscape for the art form comes from the flow and flavor of Lyrics Born, who Moe’s Alley is appropriately labeling a Bay Area hip-hop legend ahead of this uncommon appearance. Santa Cruz native voice Alwa Gordon joins the show.

More info: moesalley.com

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Photo: Guests aboard a Chardonnay cruise, courtesy of Kasia Pawlowska

Chardonnay Sailing Cruise

December 18 - 30

The stately Chardonnay sailboats push away from both sides of the bay, and do so regularly. The pre-NYE options include an affordable “BYO Special Charter,” popular pizza-and-beer expeditions and various sunset floats, offering a fun and different way to see off an eventful year and sail into a new one.

More info: chardonnay.com

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Thievery Corporation: The Outernational Tour

December 19

They’ve played some of the biggest stages out there, but one like The Catalyst’s in Santa Cruz — with tons of great viewing angles and dancing energy but not too many people as far as capacity — represents a great place to take in their unique cocktail of electronic music as it weaves in acid jazz, Brazilian music, reggae, Indian classical, Middle Eastern tunes, hip hop, bossa nova and more.

More info: thieverycorporation.com

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Photo: Courtesy of AMCC

A Magical Cirque Christmas

December 30

Postmodern Jukebox vocalist Therese Curatolo, sings holiday classics, and comedic magician Lucy Darling adds an air of mystery to the aerial acrobatics of Cirque du Soleil artists in a holiday-themed show.

More info: broadwaysanjose.com

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Photo: Courtesy of Ryo Chiba

New Year’s Eve Out in Santa Cruz

December 31

The options are seemingly endless. They include Surf City’s best wine bar/restaurant, legendary properties and arguably the seminal craft beer bottle/tap house by the bay, all doing special dinners, performances or both. So a toast is in order. HNY, y’all. It’s been another doozie. 

More info: santacruz.org

Looking for more things to do in the area?

Visit our What to Do in Northern California page!

You so deserve a vacation. 

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