The 5 Best Christmas Towns in Southern California
When the holiday season rolls around, Southern California may not be the first place that comes to mind, but it’s a region that knows how to get into the festive spirit. From sunny San Diego beaches to the snowy retreats of Big Bear Lake, SoCal offers a surprising array of Christmas towns ready to delight and warm your heart. In this guide, I’ll introduce you to seven charming Christmas towns in Southern California that will put a big dose of holiday cheer in your step and make your season memorable.
Celebrate the holidays in sunny Palm Springs, where the season starts with the annual Palm Springs Aerial Tramway's tree lighting and the beloved dazzling Festival of Lights Parade on Palm Canyon Drive. Immerse yourself in the festive spirit at VillageFest, with local vendors offering tasty treats and unique gifts. Families can create lasting memories at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, where the WildLights display transforms the zoo into a mesmerizing wonderland. Palm Springs is the perfect destination for a warm and memorable holiday experience, catering to everyone's festive spirit. If you're looking for places to go for Christmas in Southern California, you can't go wrong with Palm Springs!
Big Bear Lake
The closest thing you will get to the North Pole this season in Southern California is right in Big Bear Lake, Southern California's snowy paradise. With local businesses adorned in festive decorations, the magic of the season comes to life. The festivities begin with the Tree Lighting Ceremony in The Village, featuring live music and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus for cherished family photos. The Village's twinkling lights and charmingly carved bears and woodland creatures make for a jolly good time.
Just a hop across the bridge from downtown San Diego, Coronado becomes a wonderful wintertime coastal getaway. As the season rolls in, Coronado transforms into a dazzling fantasyland, featuring charming streets dressed with twinkling Christmas trees and the Hotel del Coronado's delightful Ice Skating by the Sea. And over at Loews Coronado Bay Resort, you'll find Santa gondoliers and boats decked out in colorful holiday lights, adding to the holiday magic.
Dana Point's Holidays at the Harbor offers one of Southern California's top Christmas light displays. The harbor transforms into a sparkling dreamland with over 700,000 LED lights, including a giant Christmas whale, candy cane lanes, and the popular "Merry Kiss Me" spot. Don't miss the annual Boat Parade of Lights, where decorated boats compete for cash prizes. Santa will be there for photos, and you can shop for unique gifts at local retailers, enjoy waterfront dining, and celebrate Hanukkah with a 12-foot Menorah. It's the perfect town for holiday activities.
In true California fashiion, Laguna Beach celelbrates the holiday with an eclectic low key, beach vibe. Enjoy a variety of holiday events, offerings, and restaurants spruced up in holiday cheer. Don't miss the Sawdust Winter Fantasy Festival, featuring handcrafted gifts, live entertainment, Santa photos, winter-themed art classes, glassblowing demos, and more, offering a unique holiday experience by the sea. It's one of the best Christmas festivals in Southern California.
Have you had a chance to explore these towns? Do you think these spots are among the best Christmas towns in Southern California? Personally, I’m a big fan of the big Bear vibe – it is so magical. How about you? I’d love to hear your thoughts and any recommendations you have!
Hey Inland Empire, I’m Candice Newman! I’ve had the incredible fortune of being born and raised in this amazing community, and I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. I currently live in Alta Loma with my husband, Jonathan, our son, Trevor, and our dog, Ruger! I’m a real estate agent with a passion for finding new places to explore in the Foothill Communities. When I'm not selling homes, you can find me cheering my son on at his baseball games, exercising, spending time in our local mountains, heading to the lake, cooking, or watching the Dodgers slay the Giants (I was born and raised an Angels fan, but the Dodgers have taken over the household!). I'll never have enough Mexican food and Italian food in my life. I’m looking forward to connecting with you soon! See you around town! Candice.Newman.Realty@gmail.com | (909)367-3280 DRE: 01924842