Everything is ho, ho, ho, and lights aglow! Christmas carols playing everywhere you go, garlands on every lamp post, it’s truly the best time of year. And there’s nothing better than a California Christmas. From waterfront light exhibits to outdoor wonderlands, it’s impossible not to catch onto the contagious cheer at festive happenings this season. Christmas is right around the corner, so make the most of the season with merry and bright activities before the holiday arrives! Here are the top five ways to celebrate the holidays in Orange County.
Photo courtesy of Dana Point Harbor Partners.
Santa traded in his sleigh for a surfboard this year at Dana Point Harbor’s Annual light display! Nothing screams California Christmas like a surfing Santa. Head to the harbor, (you’ll know you're close when you drive past the lane of candy cane palm trees) and stroll along the water underneath the twinkle of 700,000 lights! Between the big blue whale and the iconic “Merry Kiss Me” sign, there’s so much to explore. While at the harbor, grab a cup of hot cocoa or peppermint ice cream from Coffee Importers to enjoy.
Photo courtesy of Mission San Juan Capistrano.
Chiming church bells and joyful tunes of Dickens Carolers fill the streets of San Juan Capistrano with cheerful sounds of the season. The San Juan Mission lights up with a dazzling display for holidays! Twinkling lights twirl around a 30-foot tree at the stroke of 5 p.m. and a 10-foot wreath makes for a merriest holiday photo opportunity with family and friends. Grab yourself a ticket to Capistrano Lights, which also grants admission to the historical site during the day. As the sun goes down, anticipate nightly festivities including holiday shopping, crafts for kids and a life-sized nativity scene.
Photo courtesy of Visit Newport Beach.
Roger’s Gardens transforms into Santa’s workshop straight out of any home-owner’s dream. Bring home Christmas cheer with upscale and vintage decor from the Bright and Beautiful Holiday Boutique. It’s the perfect place to stock up on hostess gifts too, as shelves are filled with sparkling treasures. You can easily spend hours admiring jeweled ornaments and timeless nutcrackers fit for any interior style. Pick up a ruby red poinsettia for the porch from the garden and make a reservation for a memorable dinner at the Farmhouse. Dickens characters entertain guests with classic carols during weekend dinner hours. Fa, la, la, la, la!
Photo courtesy of Visit Newport Beach
A Christmas tree lot like no other, the back bay lights up with over 50 LED Christmas trees every night of the season! Snuggle up and stroll along the water for views of twinkling pines floating atop the bay. It’s the perfect place to go after a dinner date in Newport at Sol Cocina, Tavern House, or the Bayside Restaurant! Newport Dunes’ has first-come first-serve public fire pits that works well for the families if you pack all the s'mores fixings. Try trading traditional Hershey’s for peppermint bark if you do so! There’s something about cozy nights spent together that make this time of year so special.
Home to the tallest Christmas tree in Orange County, holiday cheer from San Clemente Outlets can be seen from the freeway. Once you arrive, you’ll see that the whole plaza is decked out with festive galore. Find giant ornaments, Santa’s reindeer, snowfall and even Santa himself! If you have little ones, take them to a meet and greet with Santa between 12-6 pm up until the 23rd, and from 10 am - 2 pm on Christmas Eve. Plus, you can squeeze in some last minute holiday shopping from White House Black Market, the Loft and more! Happy holidays!