Christmas Towns in California to Visit this Season
Snow in California, as Ariana Grande apparently sung, might just come true...
We say snow-less, but there are actually plenty of places in California where you can get some proper winter snow. The mountains around Lake Tahoe make for perfect skiing conditions, with views opening up to the lake on your way down from the peaks. In the big cities of Los Angeles and San Diego, locals seem to be making up for a lack of snow with an abundance of lights, competing with one another for who can make the most ostentatious and flamboyant house decorations. There are even certain streets where it seems to be a pre-requisite that you’re a big Christmas fan to live there, so you’ll enjoy taking the kids down the streets to check out the competitive lights. So, pluck up some festive cheer and pay a visit to the best Christmas towns in California, recommended by us here at Plum Guide. And you can trust our expert travel advice, we promise.
Just outside the Joshua Tree National Park, Palm Springs makes for an oasis in the desert. And what better oasis than one filled with gorgeous light displays and fun festive events? Shop for your Christmas presents in El Paseo mall, which turns jolly to the extreme. Enjoy some al fresco dining amid all the festive fervour and light displays. Wander through the town centre and pick out your favourites from the light displays gracing the frontages of the mid-century modern homes. The city arranges all sorts of fun family events, including the Santa’s Miracle on the Tarmac event in the Palm Springs Air Museum. As evening falls, celebrate the festivities with a trip to one of the most exclusive restaurants in the city, from Le Vallauris and Miro’s Restaurant to Copleys on Palm Canyon and Spencer’s Restaurant. You could also head off into the neighbouring Joshua Tree National Park, where we have an abundance of Plum Guide homes that are perfect for escaping the rest of civilisation at Christmas.
As far as Christmas towns in California go, you can't really do better than LA. The City of Angels becomes a Christmas wonderland in December. As if the city didn’t have enough lights, entire streets become illuminated with festive cheer. The iconic Christmas Tree Lane makes for the most idyllic spot - it’s presumably where Santa would stay while visiting L.A. Stroll up and down the hill, checking out the brilliant lights that depict all sorts of Christmas critters, holy ghosts and reindeer. You’ll get similarly gorgeous views at the WonderLAnd (see what they did there), the Elf on the Shelf’s Magical Holiday Journey and the South Coast Botanic Garden’s GLOW. Basically, you’ll be spoilt for Christmassy entertainment. And what better way to finish off a perfect night than with a trip to one of the city’s fanciest restaurants, such as n/naka, Raffaello Ristorante and Maccheroni Republic. Oh, and make sure to take the kids to Disneyland and Universal Studios… it’s Christmas, after all.
While this is technically a lake, it is surrounded by some of the best Christmas towns California has to offer. And it's one of the few parts of California where you can actually get a White Christmas. That’s because it’s rocky and bumpy, with great big mountains straddling the sides of Lake Tahoe. What better way to celebrate the festive season than by skiing down the slopes of the Heavenly Ski Resort by the side of the lake. Take the chair lift high into the skies for awe-inspiring views. Snap photos for Instagram to make all the suckers back home with their eggnog and Advent calendars jealous of your snowy James Bond-esque escapades. There are all sorts of jolly events around Lake Tahoe, from ice carving demonstrations to fireworks shows. Take your little ones for breakfast with Santa, rush down the slopes on his sleigh and attend the gingerbread workshops.
You may think San Diego is better known for surfing than Santa, but there’s no reason we can’t just combine the two, is there? It is undoubtedly one of the top Christmas towns in California anyway. Head to Seaport Village to see Surfin' Santa, where Father Christmas - in full costume - takes to the waves like a pro. There’s also a grand parade with impressive live performers. In San Diego Bay, you’ve got the Parade of Lights, while the Del Mar Drive-Through Holiday Lights will be an event to remember for the little ones. Go to the Polar Bear Tea Party at Hotel Del Coronado or try ice skating on the beach. Of course, there are still top attractions that are open the rest of the year too… they’re just even better now. For example, San Diego Zoo has the Jungle Bells festival from mid-December until early January. Lights and decorations adorn the zoo, the kangaroos have a jolly dance and it begins to feel a lot like Christmas.