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It may not snow on the California coast, but that doesn’t mean the holiday season is any less festive. From the northern shores to the beach towns by the Mexico border, the locals are getting ready for a season of wonder. And while you’ve most likely heard about our amazing holiday boat parades and other big festivities, there are several events and holiday happenings that tend to stay off the radar. But they’re just as fun as their larger counterparts.

Inns of Distinction Tour, Carmel


The Inns of Distinction Tour is offered by Carmel Heritage Society. You’ll get to explore some of the town’s most beautiful inns, wineries and restaurants, all of them decorated for the holidays. Tickets can be purchased before the event day for a discount.

Seaside’s Winter Wonderland & Tree Lighting


Head to Seaside’s City Hall in December to see the beautiful tree lighting ceremony, which is free to the public. You can also enjoy ice skating, crafts, hay rides, a petting zoo and a special visit from Santa.

Wonderland Pancakes with Santa, Laguna Beach


In December, Harvest Restaurant at The Ranch at Laguna Beach is host an annual Wonderland Pancakes with Santa event. Santa will be around for family photos, and the breakfast buffet includes a pancake bar with every topping imaginable, holiday music, ornament decorating, and even a pie eating contest.

Tea with Santa at the Pelican Hill Resort, Newport Beach


The Pelican Hill Resort’s tea service on Friday, Saturday and Sunday will include a very special guest through Christmas Day—Santa Claus. The Yuletide Tea is held every weekend from 2-5 PM with contemporary blends, sweet small bites, and tea-based cocktails and sparkling wine for the adults.

Queen Mary Holiday Dining, Long Beach

The Queen Mary Historic Ship Tour

The Queen Mary will serve Christmas dinner typically on both December 24 and December 25. The ship is a beautiful sight any time of year, but the iconic Long Beach legend looks especially amazing right now.

Santa By the Sea in Del Mar Village


Del Mar Village is a charming spot to watch, eat and stay, and early in December, they host a free holiday event. Your little ones can write letters to Santa, get free photos with Santa, enjoy live Christmas caroling and see the beautiful tree lighting at 5 PM.

Outdoor ice skating in San Diego

944883_10153358577473932_3570390596779347223_nPhoto Hotel del Coronado / via Instagram user @hollysinsboldly

Have you ever skated on an ice rink while watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean? Skating by the Sea at Hotel del Coronado offers a chance to do just that. You can also skate at Fantasy on Ice at Liberty Station, with proceeds benefitting Rady Children’s Hospital.