Red macarons decorated with white Christmas trees

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Enjoy some of the best of San Diego as the holidays approach!

Written by
Adam Della Rocca

Regardless of your religious affiliations, we can all agree on the fact that Christmas is a cold-weather holiday. We all go out and buy pine Christmas trees (which San Diegans struggle to keep watered enough so their pine needles last to December 26th.) Hot cocoa and mulled wine is much more enjoyable when the temps hover just above freezing than on a temperate day in the mid-60s.

Older men hired to dress as Santa get hardship pay for having to endure potential heatstroke dressed for the North Pole on a sunny SoCal day.  With few exceptions (Surfing Santa), a White Christmas is at the heart of most traditions.  

That being said, the Keating loves the Christmas spirit and after one too many eggnogs during our hotel decorating party, I decided to venture out and about our Gaslamp neighborhood to seek out more reasons to celebrate. 

The result is this year’s curated list of the 12 Days of Christmas. The Keating is all about authenticity. As the last true boutique hotel, we pride ourselves on offering an authentic, one-of-a-kind San Diego experience. On your next visit to the Keating, you can use this curated collection to explore the city with this unique independence in mind. 

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: A Dozen Drummer’s Drumming at Donut Bar!

Donut Bar | 631 B St., San Diego, CA 92101 - 10 minute walk from The Keating Hotel

Get in on the craze before it comes to your hometown! Donut Bar opened up downtown five year ago and has already opened up sister locations in Vegas, and four other locations in California and Arizona. With ten more locations soon to open up, you are going to want to be one of the first of your friends to try the Classic Homer’s Donut,a fresh yeast donut topped with pink cake batter glaze with sprinkles, or the Crème Brulee, a yeast round filled with crème brulee and topped with caramelized sugar. 

Donut Bar Chef Holding a Tray of Donuts
Chef Santiago Campa from Donut Bar San Diego


On the Eleventh Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: Eleven Pipers Piping @ Urbn Leaf

Urbn Leaf | 1028 Buenos Ave, San Diego, CA 92110 - 12 Minutes by car from The Keating Hotel

Pipes, Pens, Vapes, Flower (the cool kids way of saying marijuana in its original form), you can find them all at this boutique dispensary. There are a few dispensaries in San Diego that have popped up since the end of Prohibition at the beginning of 2019, but Urbn Leaf is a Keating Fave. Known for it’s minimalist, sleek vibe, incredibly knowledgeable and helpful staff and easy accessibility, Urbn Leaf is a great way to introduce (or reintroduce) yourself to the green scene.  

Urbn Leaf Logo


On the Tenth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: Ten Lords a Leaping at BAIT

BAIT | 920 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 - 1 minute walk from The Keating Hotel

Leap into your New Year with the coolest kicks. BAIT sells limited edition footwear and toy collectibles and all-around awesomeness. Walking into BAIT feels like you wandered into a PopArt exhibit at MOMA with price tags you can afford. With collaborations as diverse as NIKE, Felix the Cat, and Street Fighter, BAIT curates a display of apparel, footwear and collectibles that you can’t find anywhere else.

A display wall of colorful sneakers


On the Ninth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: Nine Ladies Dancing at Sidebar

Sidebar | 536 Market St, San Diego, CA 92101 - 4 minute walk from The Keating Hotel

The Gaslamp District is home to the nightclub scene in San Diego with several choices that fit the bill depending on the night you want to have, from hot and spicy at F6ix to surreal bottle-service with robots at the Vegas-style Parq Nightclub. But this list celebrates the authentic and Sidebar fits the bill. With its swanky-stylish décor offset by touches of San Diego greenery, set to the tune of groovy DJ beats, Sidebar is a club that could only be located in SoCal.

Two women toasting with champagne


On the Eighth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: Eight Maids-a-Milking @ Sugar Factory American Brasserie

Sugar Factory | 701 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101 - 1 minute walk from The Keating Hotel

The newest addition to the Gaslamp scene is the Sugar Factory, which is part of a launch of a luxury movie theater literally just steps away from the Keating. Indulge your sweet tooth with their signature Campire Spike Smores Milkshake: a chocolate & coffee ice cream with espresso, toasted marshmallow syrup, Virginia Black Whiskey, topped with an insane 7-Layer S’Mores Cookie served inside a dark chocolate covered mug with gold graham cracker cookie pieces.

Sugar Factory Logo


On the Seventh Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: Seven Swans-a-Swimming at JetPack America

JetPack America | 1010 Santa Clara Pl, San Diego, CA 92109 - 20 minute drive from The Keating Hotel

San Diego is one of only two places in the USA to try this superhero sport. Strap in and fly up to twenty feet above the water, twist and soar and then dolphin threw the surface and do it all over again. This unique experience will make you the envy of your Instagram fan base.

A man and a woman using a jet pack


On the Sixth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: Six Geese-a-Laying at The Crack Shack

Crack Shack | 2266 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101 - 30 minute walk, or 10 minute car ride from The Keating Hotel

San Diego’s Top Chef Richard Blaise created a bold new concept just up the street in Little Italy: classic comfort food with a fine dining flair served in the open atmosphere that only San Diego can get away with year-round. With Blaise’s secret spice infusing free-range, antibiotic free chickens, the menu is full of bold taste and epic creations like my favorite: The Senor Croque. This brioche bun sandwich is layered with crispy chicken, bacon, fried egg, cheddar and a miso-maple butter. With more locations opening around California, this is another one of those, Be-The-First of Your Friends, experiences.

On the Fifth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: Five Golden Rings @ San Diego Jeweler’s Exchange 

Jeweler’s Exchange861 Sixth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 - 1 minute walk from The Keating Hotel

One of San Diego’s best kept secrets is a building that takes you back in time to the days when most men first asked their girlfriend’s father for his permission before buying a ring. Make your San Diego visit even more memorable with a trip to the Jeweler’s Exchange, with eight floors of jewelry vendors offering diamonds, gemstones, and watches, in the historically registered Timkin Building.

Exterior of the Jewelry Exchange in San Diego


On the Fourth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: Four Calling Birds @ Wild Dove Boutique

Wild Dove Boutique | 740 Market St, San Diego, CA 92101 - 6 minute walk from The Keating Hotel

San Diego fashion has a contemporary, relaxed style that transitions easily from day to night. Guests of the Keating can find some ease in replicating that with the tailored collection at Wild Dove Boutique. This chic boutique in the East Village captures the essence of the SD style scene.

Wild Dove Boutique Logo


On the Third Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: Three French Hens at Le Parfait Paris

Le Parfait Paris555 G St, San Diego, CA 92101 - 3 minute walk from The Keating Hotel

Come for the macaroons and eclairs and stay for the Raclette Night! This cutesy café would be considered quotidian on the streets of Paris, but it’s this quintessential Parisian ordinariness that sets it apart from the other cafés in the Gaslamp. Espressos and lattes are served alongside French pastries in a style and decadence that makes you feel underdressed.

Keating Local Tip: Every other Wednesday, Le Parfait offers a Raclette Night. Raclette is the Alpine tradition of serving the melted cheese off the wheel with traditional fondue accompaniments like fine meats, potatoes and cornichons. Contact your Keating Concierge to see if your visit lines up with one of these unique event nights.

Chef serving melted cheese to diners


On the Second Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: Two Chocolate Turtle Doves @ Chocolate Lounge

Chocolate Lounge | 701 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 - 1 minute walk from The Keating Hotel

Imagine Charlie Bucket (from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory) grew up and became a DJ. This is where he would spin music.  The Chocolate Lounge is part of the newly opened Theater Box, offering VIP service, chocolate martinis and Lollipop Mai Tai’s. It’s indulgent, sweet, exclusive and most-of-all: unique.

On the First Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:  A Partridge in a Pear Tree at Dover Honing Co.

Dover Honing Co. | 703 Eighth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 - 10 minute walk from The Keating Hotel

Check it out, on the back wall of this retro-stylish Barber Shop – a stuffed partridge on the back wall. But that’s not the reason it makes this list of awesomely unique San Diego experiences and treats. Dover makes the grade, because San Diego has embraced the vintage barbershop scene with indulgent hour-long haircuts, hot-shaves and manversations in hip digs.

Dover Honing Co. is brought to us by Consortium Holdings, the group behind several Keating favorites such as Noble Experiment, Craft & Commerce, and Neighborhood (to name just a few). Treat yourself to one of several beers on tap before sitting back for a fresh cut. Walk out looking like you own your own corner of San Diego.  Dover is appointment only, so reach out to your Keating Concierge to book you a seat.

Counter in Dover Honig Co. in San Diego


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