19 February 2018
With Christmas behind us and 2018 in full swing, it is already time to look ahead and where to spend the festivities this year. If winter sun and a healthy dose of festive spirit ticks the travel boxes for you and your family, then California might have just the ticket when it comes to Christmas. North America specialist, Georgina, tells us why.
Beat the crowds
The busiest time for California is between the summer months of June and August, so travelling outside of these times is always a sure fire way to beat the crowds. Although the weather may not be as warm, particularly in northern California, it is a great time to visit the state if you’re looking for a slightly quieter stay. I have visited San Francisco in April and November and even though these times of year aren’t in the height of peak season, I still noticed a considerable difference in crowds during my stay over the festive period. The main sightseeing areas in San Francisco such as Pier 39, the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman’s Wharf were noticeably less busy which definitely added to the experience.
Get in the festive spirit
The United States celebrate Thanksgiving at the end of November and from then on the festivities really begin. Throughout the month of December, the hotels are adorned with grand Christmas decorations and some of the biggest and best dressed Christmas trees I have ever seen. The art of gingerbread house making also seems to be very popular, with many of the hotels having huge displays in their lobby. A lot of them also offered hot chocolate, mulled cider and festive snacks in the afternoon. Definitely a way to get in the Christmas spirit!
Escape the winter chill
Although it may not be California’s hottest time of year it is still a destination to bear in mind if you are looking to get away from the chill of winter at home. Southern California definitely has something to offer if you are looking for a bit of winter sun – Palm Springs in particular would be my top destination for this! It is cold in the mornings and evenings thanks to its location in the desert however, in the daytime you can expect temperatures within the 20’s. The perfect climate to relax by the pool or to head over to Joshua Tree National Park for a bit of exploring.
Have a whale of a time
California is a good spot for whale watching year-round. Around this time of year, grey whales can be spotted during their migration from Alaska to the warmer climates of Mexico. Another bonus is that the boats have less passengers at this time of year so you are more likely to get a good viewing spot for any sightings. You can do year-round whale watching trips from both Monterey Bay and Dana Point, near Laguna Beach. Sightings of various species of dolphins are also common from the Californian coast.
Experience a Christmas boat parade
Christmas boat parades seem to be a huge deal in California. A tradition that has been continued for over 100 years which sees boat owners extravagantly decorating their vessels with Christmas decorations and lights before they are paraded around various harbours. Dana Point Harbour close to Laguna Beach and Newport Beach are just two of the many Californian harbours that take part in this tradition.