16 Things To Do In California That You Have To Add To Your Winter Bucket List
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Winter might be 70-something and sunny in southern California, but that doesn’t mean we won’t take every opportunity to celebrate the Christmas cheer. We’ve found seasonal wonders all across the state that will give you those warm, fuzzy feelings. If you’re in the mood to celebrate, there are plenty of wonderful things to do in California this December.
Disneyland Festival of Holidays
Price: General admission ticket
When: November 8, 2019 - January 6, 2020
Location: Disneyland California
Why You Should Go: You can watch amazing light shows, parades, and all of your favorite costumed characters celebrate the holiday season. The entire park becomes a winter wonderland.
Newport Beach Boat Parade
Price: Free to view; $20 for Christmas boat cruise.
When: December 18 - 22; See event site for full hours
Location: 309 Palm St, Newport Beach, CA 92661
Why You Should Go: You and your friends can sip hot chocolate and watch a spectacular light display on the water.
Winter Fest OC
Price: Adult ticket prices begin at $12 per person.
When: December 19, 2019 - January 5, 2020
Location: OC Fair & Event Center, Costa Mesa, California
Why You Should Go: You can walk through the world’s largest Christmas ornament and enjoy holiday festivities in Orange County’s massive winter wonderland celebration.
Skating by the Sea
Price: $30 - $35 per person
When: November 22, 2019 - January 5, 2020
Location: Hotel Del Coronado, 1500 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118
Why You Should Go: You can go ice skating while watching the sunset. Nuff said.
Cambria German Christmas Market
Price: $10 to $25 a person
When: November 29 - December 23 from 5 pm to 9 pm
Location: Cambria Pines Lodge, 2905 Burton Dr, Cambria, CA 93428
Why You Should Go: You can experience what Germany is like in the winter. The markets are full of magical sights, goodies, and Christmas cheer.
Mission Inn Festival of Lights
Price: Free admission
When: November 29 - December 31
Location: 3649 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA 92501
Why You Should Go: You can explore an old historic hotel and downtown Riverside decked out in millions of twinkling Christmas lights. There’s fireworks, live music, rides, entertainment, Santa Clause, and so much more!
LA Zoo Lights
Price: $21.95 per adult
When: November 15, 2019 - January 5, 2020. The box office is open from 6 pm to 9 pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.
Location: 5333 Zoo Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Why You Should Go: This 60-90 minute self-guided walking tour takes you through beautiful creative light displays, and the whole zoo is alive with Christmas cheer.
Price: Free admission
When: Friday, December 6th from 3 pm to 11 pm and Saturday, December 7th from noon to 11 pm
Location: Balboa Park, San Diego, CA
Why You Should Go: You can come and enjoy San Diego’s largest Christmas festival. There are beautiful lights, delicious food, and goodies from all around the world, and plenty of places to take super-fun, Instagrammable pics.
Queen Mary Christmas
Price: Admission starts at $29 per adult
When: November 29 - January 1Location: 1126 Queens Highway Long Beach, CA 90802
Why You Should Go: You can explore a frosty North Pole village aboard a historic cruise liner, go ice skating, see Santa, and more!
Sawdust Winter Fantasy
Price: $8 per adult for admission
When: Weekends and Black Friday: November 23, 24, 29 & 30 December 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 20, 21 & 22
Location: Sawdust Art Festival, Laguna Beach, California
Why You Should Go: You can explore an adorable Christmas pop-up with over 180 artists, handmade goods, treats, and live music.
Moonlight Forest LA Arboretum
Price: $28 per adult
When: November 9, 2019 - January 12, 2020; Wednesday - Sunday 5:30 pm to 10 pm
Location: 301 N Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007
Why You Should Go: A fantasy light display transforms this garden into a magical winter wonderland.
Enchanted Forest Descanso Gardens
Price: General admission tickets start at $28 and vary by night and time.
When: 1418 Descanso Dr, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011
Location: November 17 to January 5.
Why You Should Go: You can walk through a field of technicolor tulips on a light-up pathway. The entire event looks like something out of a storybook!
Wild Lights The Living Desert
Price: $14 for general admission
When: Select nights from 6 - 9 pm (see full dates here)
Why You Should Go: You can see over 1 million twinkling lights, enjoy holiday festivities, see live animals, and more.
Christmas In The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Price: General admission
When: November 16 - January 5
Location: 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608
Why You Should Go: What’s better than exploring the magical Wizarding World than during Christmas? All of the shops and Hogwarts are covered in snow! It’s truly wonderful.
Knott’s Merry Farm
Price: Tickets start at $53 per person
When: November 22 - January 5
Location: 8039 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620
Why You Should Go: The entire park transforms into a snowy land to celebrate the holidays. Think live entertainment, a Christmas crafts village, and nightly snow in Ghost Town.
Magic of Lights
Price: $20 per car
When: November 16 - December 31
Location: Auto Club Speedway9300 Cherry Ave Fontana, CA 92335
Why You Should Go: You can take a scenic drive through tunnels of dazzling Christmas lights.