Top Five Local Southern California Christmas Activities
Though many think difficult to find Christmas spirit without snow falling from the sky, sunny Southern California is abounding with enough Christmas cheer for your whole family; and we can do it in shorts. So in no particular order, I give you the top five local southern California Christmas light displays.
First up, Newport Beach’s annual boat parade. Hosted by the Commodores Club of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce, the Newport Harbor will be ablaze with boats and yachts decked out in dazzling Christmas lights and fun decorations. Great for the whole family, simply find a spot anywhere along the shore of the Newport Harbor and you can view the parade totally free of charge. Though all city parking lots will be open, it will be best to arrive earlier to find a spot before they fill up. The parade begins at 6:30 p.m. each night and lasts from December 13-17. More information is available on their website: https://www.christmasboatparade.com/
Next up, a personal favorite of mine, Naples Canals in Long Beach. All of the houses on the canals surrounding Naples Island in Long Beach come together to put up one of the best displays of Christmas and Hanukkah lights in Southern California. And the best part? It’s free. Simply find a spot to park and walk the canals. Parking can be kind of tight, but there is some available in the Mothers’ Beach lot off of Appian Way or in the marine lots east of Davis Bridge, Marine Stadium, and 54th and Bayshore. However there is more than one way to experience these lights. Grab your significant other and make a reservation for an incredibly romantic gondola ride through the canals, complete with a gondolier who you can make sing love songs in Italian for you. It is the perfect spot for your date, a cup of hot chocolate, and a beautiful display of lights. Make your reservations by calling (562) 433-9595.
Next up, if you don’t mind the drive or shelling out a few bucks, downtown Los Angeles also has a healthy dose of Christmas cheer. For only $17 a person for anyone twelve and older, downtown L.A. has a two hour long guided walking tour through all of the big buildings and attractions around downtown. From Olvera Street to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, icicle light sheets in the Old Bank District to Pershing Square, and a return via the LA Metro rail (rail fare not included), this walking tour is sure to dazzle anyone new to the city just as much as an L.A. aficionado.
To buy tickets as well as for more details, visit their website at http://www.dtlawalkingtours.com/holiday-lights. While I’m on the subject of L.A., I also want to mention the ice skating rink at Pershing Square. Though southern California is far from celebrating a white Christmas, you can still take part in some winter ice-skating fun in L.A.’s Pershing Square. Located in the heart of downtown, take an afternoon, grab a cup of coffee and ice skate next to the high rises. For only a $9 general admission fee and a $4 skate rental fee, you can take the whole family without breaking the bank. For more information, visit their website: http://holidayicerinkdowntownla.com/.
Next up, Riverside’s Festival of Lights at their famous Mission Inn. For twenty-five years this hotel has dazzled spectators with its ostentatious and fantastical Christmas display, full of millions of lights, animated figures, carolers, horse-drawn carriages rides, holiday treats, and of course, a visit from the one and only Santa Claus. The displays will be up for six weeks, beginning on November 24 and continuing until January 6. Probably the most extravagant event on this list, an evening in the a room costs around $299, but prices may vary.
Last but certainly not least, Thoroughbred St. in Rancho Cucamonga. For the staggering price of zero dollars, you can take a drive or a stroll around this residential area, full of houses decked to the halls with lights and decorations. Neighbors are usually outside and some even sell hot chocolate and churros for any visitors. Remember however, this small street is made possible simply by the goodness of those who live there, so be respectful.
So that will have to do it for this list. Remember, that these are only a few of the many things to do around Southern California this time of year. So go ahead and make some plans with your family and friends and take advantage of the holiday season while it is here. And from all of us here at Dualens, happy holidays!