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Pine Valley Camp Christmas San Diego Guide (2024)

Pine Valley Camp Christmas San Diego Guide (2024)


Enjoy the spirit of Christmas in the mountains at this annual family-family event! Pine Valley Camp Christmas is a festive outdoor celebration, offering fun activities, dining, and entertainment, throughout the holiday season. Find out everything you need to know about this San Diego area experience.

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My family and I received complimentary admission, dining and activities to experience Pine Valley Christmas in 2023. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

What is Pine Valley Camp Christmas?

Pine Valley Camp Christmas is an annual event filled with holiday spirit and fun for the entire family. Highlights include a colorful dancing water show, winter hayrides, live entertainment and synchronized light show, all held under the towering trees of Pine Valley. This event is held on select nights in November and December.

This review shares tips I experienced after our first visit. I suspect that after the fun time we had making holiday memories together, my children will want to make Pine Valley Camp Christmas a new tradition!

Lights and Sounds of the Season

Where is Pine Valley Camp Christmas?

Pine Valley Camp Christmas 8668 Pine Creek Rd, Pine Valley CA 91962

Pine Valley is located in east San Diego county, about an hour drive from downtown. This annual event is held at the Pine Valley Bible Conference Center. These sprawling facilities hold year-round Bible camps for youth and study groups.

When is Pine Valley Camp Christmas Held?

  • November 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26
  • December 1, 2, 3, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 22
  • Hours are between 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm.

Entry Cost to Pine Valley Camp Christmas

Tickets can be purchased online or at the booth onsite. There is a savings of $2 per ticket when purchased ahead of time on the website. Parking is $10 per vehicle (up to 15 passengers).

  • Adults (16+) – $15 per person pre-purchased online, $17 at the booth
  • Children (5-15) – $10 per person pre-purchased online, $12 at the booth
  • Discounts – There is a $2 ticket discount for military families, paid for in-person at the booth. Children 4 and under have free admission.

Planning Your Visit

Arrive Early to Maximize Time

Traffic can be tricky driving to Pine Valley. The I8 freeway has road construction that narrows down to one lane in some places. This can cause massive driving delays at times.

Once off the freeway, it’s a fairly short drive to the Camp, on a two-lane winding road. Work in extra time into your drive to ensure you arrive to the event safely.

Review Activities

There are multiple activities at this event, held at different times and locations throughout the night. It’s fairly easy to navigate. Refer to the guide map you’ll receive when entering the camp.

Dress Appropriately

Don’t let the Southern California location fool you – Pine Valley is at a 4000 ft elevation, which makes for very cold nights.

Warm clothing is a must. It is highly recommended to bring thick winter jackets, long pants, gloves, scarves, and knit beanies. Thermal pants and tops under clothing are a good idea on particularly icy evenings!

It had rained the day before our visit. This resulted in patches of mud around the site. The puddles could be avoided but the dirt pathways cannot. Be aware that your shoes will get messy.

Pine Valley Camp Christmas Activities

Camp Christmas Cash – There are multiple opportunities to win “Christmas Cash”. Each card is worth $1.00 off a purchase at several dining locations at the event. (Guests may redeem up to two cards). I will note which activities participate in this, below.

What’s Included and What Has Additional Fees

Included in the cost of the event:

Lights and Sounds of the Season – Stand among the tall trees as thousands of lights dance to festive Christmas music. Four different programmed shows each night, held at 6:00, 7:00, 8:00, and 8:55 pm.

H2O on the Glow – Dancing Water Show – Computerized lights on a row of dancing fountains, accompanied by musical sounds of the holidays. Four different performances each night, at 6:30, 7:30, 8:30, and 8:55 pm. There is ample bench seating to view this presentation.

Bow and Arrow Arcade – Shoot soft tipped arrows through the bullseyes. My family loved testing their archery skills and scored twice! Win Christmas Cash.

Winter Wonderland Hayride – Take a joyous 20-minute ride through the decorated outdoor trail. This is a free activity, but each guest must have a ticket to ride. Pick up the ticket for your chosen time as soon as possible, as the time slots do fill up.

Bounce Houses – Multiple jump houses in Candy Cane Corner, a covered tent with tarp flooring.

Pine Valley Train Depot – Just for the kids, these hand-powered push cars take kids through a festive array of holiday inflatables. My kids spent a good amount of time circling the track on this self-powered Camp Christmas train!

Game Room – Warm up in inside, playing air hockey, ping pong, pool, and foosball.

Festive Photo Booth – Just inside the entrance, don’t skip this cute opportunity to grab a family photo! This photo opp includes fun props to pose with. Guests can scan the QR code to save the image.

Additional fee for these activities:

Laser Tagcost of $10 per player – This activity happens even 30 minutes at 6:00, 6:30, 7:00, 7:30, 8:00, and 8:30 pm. My children really loved this activity, as did my husband!

Face Painting – Small designs are free, large designs are $5.

Tree Top Climbing Wall$5 per climb – Make a perilous climb to the top of a log! Win Christmas Cash.

Look for Hidden Gems

Some of the activities are spread out or tucked away, making them easy to miss. Make sure to refer to the map, so you don’t forget to visit.

Photo-Op Spots – Slow down between activities to take a few photos at the various photo ops. These spots are well lit, allowing you to capture the memories.

Sappy the Talking Christmas Tree – This funny-voiced “talking tree” chats with children and guests.

Live Holiday Show – Tucked inside the Snowflake Village tent, check out the family themed entertainment. Bench seating for guests, with shows held at 6:15 and 8:15 pm.

S’mores Galore – Purchase a s’mores kit to enjoy a sweet evening treat around the bonfire. A s’mores 2-pack costs $4.00 and a 4-pack is $7.00. The shop to purchase is within the Snowflake Village tent.

On-Site Dining at Pine Valley Camp Christmas

There are several dining options at Pine Valley Camp Christmas, including Rick’s Bar-B-Q and Summit Grill Snack Bar. But I highly recommend you have dinner at the Alpine Peak Buffet.

With all the delicious all-you-can-eat food here, it can be all too easy to have a leisurely meal. We found ourselves lingering, going back for, “Just one more bowl”, because the selections were really very good!

There are 8 different soups on the self-service buffet line, as well as salad greens and all the salad bar toppings you can think of. Don’t forget the fresh cornbread muffins or cheesy bread!

Our motto for the night became, “You can’t have 5 bowls of soup and still do it all!” Definitely enjoy your meal, but keep track of the time to ensure you’ll be able to see and do everything in your plan for the night.

Cost of Alpine Peak Buffet: Children 4 and under free, 5 to 15 are $11.00, 16 and older are $14.00, drinks included. Additional drinks are $3.00.

Pine Valley Camp Christmas Sweet Treats and Snacks

There are multiple spots in which to find desserts and snacks to round out the evening.

Camp Christmas Sugar Shack – Step inside for fresh cotton candy, hot popcorn, barrels of candies and baked goods. There’s also an adorable photo op inside with a decorated hearth and Christmas tree.

Altitude Cafe Coffee Shop – Get your coffee fix with freshly made brews. The Altitude Coffee Shop is located up the stairs, inside the main building.

Snowflake Village – Soft pretzels, churros, and other snacks are found inside this tented area.

Hot Cocoa and Hot Apple Cider Bar – Walk up and order a warm cup at this outdoor location.

Who is Pine Valley Camp Christmas Best For?

There are activities for every age, with bounce houses for young children and laser tag for older kids. That said, I’d say the ideal age range would be 3-12 years old. My 12 year old enjoyed Pine Valley Camp Christmas, but I suspect older teenagers would be bored.

Is This a Religious Event?

Despite the Pine Valley Camp Christmas event being held on the Bible conference grounds, this is not a religious activity. That said, Jesus is not completely avoided. Upon exiting, guests walk along a path that features Biblical quotes and a Nativity.

Photo op inside the Camp Christmas Sugar Shack

Make It An Overnight Stay

Pine Valley is about an hour drive from downtown San Diego. With the Pine Valley Christmas Camp event ending at 9 pm, this can be a long drive back.

Consider extending your mountain getaway with an overnight stay. These are a few options for accommodations in the area:

Pine Valley Vacation Home – Choose a spot within short driving distance. This beautiful vacation home rental is perfect for families that want full amenities, like a kitchen and backyard space.

Julian Lodge – Located within the town of Julian, about 40 minutes drive from Pine Valley. This walkable location is ideal for exploring all that Julian offers, including quaint boutique shops, dining, gold mine, and apple picking.

Ayres Lodge in Alpine – Just 25 minutes drive west, this hotel offers family-friendly accommodations, including a swimming pool.

Looking for more things to do in San Diego?

From the San Diego Zoo to the mountain trails, these are the top 50 things to do in San Diego with kids.

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