Must-Do Things on a Christmas Trip to California

Christmas is just around the corner, and so is the truck-full of plans that you’ve made to spend the holidays with friends, family, and the people you hold closest to you.

Some people look forward to the countless dinners and gift-opening sessions, while others make elaborate family travel plans to make Christmas time so much more special—and to show their families how loved and cherished they are.

And that’s what Christmas is all about, isn’t it? A time to celebrate, rejoice, and be happy. So let go of all the stress that’s been holding you down, take a break, and spread some smiles. Do something fun with your family. Like a trip to California!

We know that as a place with more palm trees than snow, California might not seem like the perfect frame for a stereotypical Christmas, but it has a lot of hidden gems to offer.

Gems like extravagant Christmas parades that are made of boats and tractors, completely over-the-top Christmas light displays, and fully decorated historic properties. These are all common occurrences in California during the holiday season.

Let’s look at what your options are.

Attend The Newport Beach Parade

It’s safe to assume that we’ve all been to Christmas parades. Yes?

Now imagine just about any old Christmas parade and replace everything with extravagantly decorated boats, and you have California’s favorite floating Christmas Parades.

One of the best places to watch these parades is at Newport Beach. The four-day event is one of the best of its kind, and participants prepare for weeks ahead of time, designing their boats and yachts.

christmas tree

Visit Winter Wonderland at Chill, Queen Mary

What better place to spend an icy cold Christmas in than in a real-life winter wonderland?

Chill is located right next to Queen Mary, Long Beach, and is a family winter wonderland that features new themes each year.

With activities such as ice skating, tubing and gingerbread decorating, among many others, the place has some of the most fairytale-esque views in the region.

During Christmas, the entire place is lit up and decorated with lights to celebrate the holiday spirit.

Don’t Miss Out On The Live Concert

A little bit of music, your loved ones around you, and Christmas spirit—it’s all you need to bring out the best of the holiday season.

If you’re considering a trip to California for Christmas, you wouldn’t want to miss out on some wholesome numbers by Chanticleer, an acapella singing group. They’re a San Francisco favorite, and perform a variety of musical tunes, including Gregorian chants.

Another popular performance location for Chanticleer is the Disney Concert Hall, where they entertain an audience that numbers in the thousands every holiday season.

If you’re looking for a truly unique musical experience, we highly recommend stepping it up and going to the Moaning Caverns in the Sierra Foothills. The natural acoustics make Christmas carols sound all the more rich and lively.

See Holiday Light Displays

One of the things that make California one of the most special places to spend Christmas in are the exuberant light displays.

The most popular ones include LA Zoo Lights, Santa Barbara Trolley’s lights tour and San Diego Botanic Garden—planning ahead is highly recommended as the displays sell out really fast—by October most years!

But even if you’re late, there are many other options, including the drive thru Fantasy of Lights in Vasona Park, in Silicon Valley.

Another good option is the Huntington Harbor Cruise of Lights that needs you to get on a boat to cruise the waterways, past wildly lit houses that are decorated enough to put Las Vegas to shame.

Two more local favorites are the Mission Inn Festival of lights and the Enchanted Forest of Light near Pasadena, at the very edge of Los Angeles.

If you still can’t find a light display to suit your fancy, we recommend you turn to the California Christmas Lights website to browse hundreds of options to choose from.


Visit Disneyland

Have you ever wanted to go to Disneyland?

If you’ve never been, one of the best times to go is the holiday season. With the whole park going all out with Christmas decorations, there’s so much more on offer.

The Haunted Mansion goes through an elaborate Nightmare Before Christmas transformation, and the small world gets decked out in Christmas decorations. But one of most scenic views at Disneyland is the main street, with the gigantic Christmas tree and its decorative lights.

Another place to top our list of Disneyland places to visit on your Christmas trip to California is Cinderella’s Castle. The Jewel castle that’s standing right in the middle of the park is one of the most ethereal places on the premises, with the decorations and light displays happening twice per night.

Check Out Universal Studios, Hollywood

As one of the most popular attractions in California, Universal Studios is a place that people go to check it off their bucket lists because of the super incredible rides, and a whole range of thrilling activities.

Come Christmas, though, it becomes a center point for Christmas celebrations and attractions in California. From the Who-bilation Tree lighting show that lasts only 5 minutes—enough to make an unforgettable impression—to a spectacular light show at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios makes for a Christmas visit that’s well worth the expense.


Go On A Wine Country Vacation In Sonoma Valley

Lastly, one of the best ways to spend the holiday season in California is to go on a wine country vacation in Sonoma Valley.

What better way to tell your family you love them than with a luxury vacation to one of the best locations in the area, some chilled wine, and fun activities?

If you’re looking for a more laid back, relaxing vacation where everything will be taken care of for you, may we suggest a couple of weeks at one of our luxury vacation houses at The Wine Stay.

At The Wine Stay, our guests are able to spend their holidays with their friends and family, in a serene and peaceful environment, away from the chaos of the world.

All our guests are treated to gourmet meals by a private 5-star gourmet chef, have the luxury to visit any place they want with a designated driver, and rejuvenate with professional private massages and yoga classes.

If you’ve decided to celebrate Christmas with The Wine Stay, check out our awesome vacation home rentals Healdsburg, Sonoma County, CA! We also provide our guests with sommelier guided wine tours that include 3–4 wineries, and other activities like hot air balloon rides and kayaking in the Russian river.

Get in touch with us for more information about our vacation homes.