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  • Writer's pictureWanderlust Mike

Enjoying Christmas in Southern California

We begin our Christmas holiday season at home in Los Angeles. Some of our perennial favorites to get us in the spirit include the annual light displays on the grounds of the L.A. County Arboretum in Arcadia and the L. A. Zoo Lights.

In our neighborhood South Bay area of Los Angeles we enjoy shops adorned in holiday spirit along the Redondo Beach Riviera and in Manhattan Beach. Every year before Thanksgiving, the city of Manhattan Beach holds an annual holiday lighting of Manhattan Beach Pier with festive displays, choirs, strolling carolers, live reindeer, and even a visit by Santa Claus! The Torrance neighborhood holiday lights display is also a nice place to stroll around and enjoy the beautiful homes and yards decorated in lights. And South Coast Botanic Garden is occasionally all aglow as well!

manhattan beach pier holiday sunset
Manhattan Beach Pier holiday lighting

Attending the elaborate and lavish holiday displays at The Grove in downtown Los Angeles is always a treat! These displays include a life-sized gingerbread house where you can get your photo taken with Santa Claus, an operating street trolley, beautiful mosaic mirrored stars and light posts, Santa and his sleigh flying high above a water fountain, and a 110 foot tall Christmas tree! 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica is also beautiful this time of year, with an avenue of lights and Christmas icons displayed on the ferris wheel down on Santa Monica Pier. And you can enjoy outdoor ice skating in downtown Los Angeles at L.A. Live!

The Grove - downtown LA

3rd street promenade santa monica christmas
3rd Street Promenade - Santa Monica

In San Diego, we found the spirit of the holidays at the Hotel del Coronado, which is beautifully decorated inside and outside for the holiday season! The shops at Seaport Village are also festive this time of year. Nightlife at the Gaslamp Quarter in downtown is accentuated by holiday lights and decorations. Additional holiday destinations in San Diego include Balboa Park with its museums and restaurants, and Old Town with its festive Mexican holiday flair! And special thanks to Jubilee & Co for the picnic footage in our YouTube video!

See my San Diego, CA travel blog entry for more information

christmas hotel del coronado
Hotel Del Coronado - San Diego

Big Bear, California, is our holiday alpine escape. Approximately 2 hours East of Los Angeles, and at a base elevation of 6,700 feet, it rests high in the San Bernardino mountains. Snow tubing at Big Bear Snow Play and a horse-drawn carriage ride with Big Bear Carriages are some of the highlights when we visit. We also love the shops and restaurants at Big Bear Lake Village. And for skiers, Big Bear Mountain Resort includes Bear Mountain and Snow Summit ski resorts.

big bear snow play
Snow Play - Big Bear, CA

All of our Southern California amusement parks are decorated for the holidays, and include live holiday entertainment such as shows and parades! Our favorites here in the Los Angeles area include Disneyland with their holiday parade, Knott's Berry Farm with Snoopy on ice, and Universal Studios Hollywood where the Grinch and Whoville make an appearance. And in San Diego, Legoland and Sea World are festive during the holidays as well.

sleeping beautys castle holiday
Sleeping Beauty's Castle - Disneyland

Knott's Merry Farm - "Home for the Holidays"

meet the grinch
Meet the Grinch - Universal Studios Hollywood

We always enjoy time spent in our home state of California. From sunny beaches, to majestic redwoods, to snow-capped mountains, our beloved state has it all! Southern California has many options to get you in the festive holiday mood. We invite you to come take a look for yourself!

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