La Quinta Resort & Club
It may be in Palm Springs, but this season, the iconic desert destination is transformed into a holiday village resembling the charming fictional Bedford Falls of the Christmas classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life (Fun Fact: legend has it the movie was written on property!) with festive décor and twinkling lights illuminating the resort. Learn how to prepare some of your favorite holiday dishes with holiday cooking demonstrations from Executive Chef Andrew Cooper and his team of culinary professionals every Saturday through Christmas Eve, or indulge in a seasonal spa treatment to unwind from the stresses of the holidays. Take in a holiday movie on the lawn around a fire pit, cocoa in hand, every Saturday until December 24, or stay for Christmas in the desert, with special menu offerings on Christmas Day at the resort’s signature restaurant, Morgan’s in the Desert, or the contemporary Twenty6 bistro. A Vintage Holiday Package includes daily breakfast for two, specialty cocktails from Morgan’s in the Desert, and more.
Ojai Valley Inn
A longtime favorite of Ranch & Coast’s travel editor, Elizabeth Hansen, Ojai Valley Inn has officially launched its “Serenity Season.” Don’t let the name fool you — the resort’s calendar this month is packed with ways to celebrate and enjoy this special time of year in this stunning setting just north of Los Angeles. Preorder a live, fully decorated Christmas tree to greet you in your room upon arrival. Oodles of family friendly activities await, from the simple — letters to Santa, daily s’mores, gingerbread house kits — to a custom, clue-based treasure hunt for the whole family. Breakfast with Santa and a cookie decorating workshop with Mrs. Claus await on December 17 and 18. Special menus are planned for Christmas and New Year’s Eve at the resort’s restaurants, and a special gala featuring a live band and free flowing sparkling wine to ring in the New Year.
For a private retreat or larger family gathering, the resort’s private Tuscan-inspired villa, Casa Elar, boasts 10,147 square feet with five bedroom suites, 12 fireplaces, indoor/outdoor living areas, a full kitchen, outdoor barbecue terrace, pool, and more. The villa also comes fully serviced and staffed.
Newport Beach/Newport Beach Boat Parade
From December 14 through 18, take in the beauty of the 114th annual Newport Beach Boat Parade, featuring 100 boats, yachts, kayaks, and canoes decorated in holiday finery cruising along a 14-mile parade route. Along the way, take in the beauty of the homes that line the route, known as the Ring of Lights, festively adorned with lights, decorations, and even animated themes. Sites from which to view the parade abound on land or water, but it might be hard to beat the luxury of nearby Resort at Pelican Hill as your vantage point. Go luxe reserve a villa custom-decorated for your arrival, including a six-foot Christmas tree, garland, a wreath over the fireplace, and more. Then, enjoy a classic holiday experience with the resort’s Holiday High Tea & Songs of the Season, featuring tea, champagne, and delicious treats accompanied by your favorite holiday classics.
For a decidedly upscale beach house vibe as your boat parade hub, book a stay at Lido House Newport Beach. If you can, extend your stay beyond the parade’s finale, when you’ll be able to take in Lido House’s coastal twist on the traditional holiday market, Holiday Hideaway. From December 22-30, poolside cabanas transform into mini market stalls featuring cocktails, confections, and unique gifts. Families might love evenings with “Cookies, Cider, and Cocoa for the Kids” on December 22 and 23. The two afternoons will be packed with cookie decorating, Christmas movie watching — with the requisite popcorn and cotton candy accompaniment — and even a special guest from the North Pole (reservations required).
The holidays come alive this the entire month when Temecula Valley presents “Temecula Chilled,” a packed calendar of events to embrace the season. On our radar: “The Magic of Christmas,” taking place on Sunday, December 11 under the stars at Europa Village and presented by Temecula Master Chorale with live orchestra under the direction of David Wells. The evening will feature classics including Hendel’s “Messiah” as well as classic sing-alongs of the classics and Dickens carolers. Stay at Ponte Vineyard Inn and book a country horse and carriage ride through the adjacent Ponte Winery’s vineyards for a timeless country holiday experience. Beyond wine country, Old Town Temecula gets in on the action, too. On select days through December 11, watch Ebenezer Scrooge transform from unabashed grumpy miser to warm-hearted uncle in Old Town Temecula Community Theater’s production of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Or, add some soul to your celebration at a Holiday Dance Party featuring 8-piece Motown tribute band Stonesoul at Old Town Blues Club on December 14.
Miramonte Resort & Spa
In Indian Wells, Miramonte Resort & Spa has launched its first-ever “Holiday Movies on the Lawn” series, taking place every Saturday at 7pm in December. The weekly event will include a holiday classic movie screening on the Miramonte Lawn, surrounded by cypress and olive trees with 360-degree views of the Santa Rosa Mountains. Upgrade your movie experience with festive cocktails, movie snack favorites including popcorn and candy from a concession stand, and California cuisine from Miramonte’s Citrus & Palm with service to your seat. With limited chair seating available guests are encouraged to BYOB (bring your own blanket). The final showing, which will take place on New Year’s Eve, will include a 2023 countdown, champagne toast and movie showing of New Year’s Eve – Let Love be your Resolution.