California, the land of surf and sun, also has the best cozy Christmas getaways! Whether you’re into snowboarding, Dickens carolers at historical landmarks or a gourmet Christmas dinner with a perfectly paired wine, you’ll find it right here, in the Golden State. We’ve listed the best winter getaways below. So, check it out, find one that suits you and pack your bags for an adventure!
Best Cozy Getaways in California
1. California Christmas Getaway: Fort Bragg
Although Fort Bragg is now a tourist hotspot, initially, the US founded it in 1857 as a military garrison. A few years later, it became an official California city. Eventually, in 1957, the US designated Fort Bragg as a California Historical Landmark.
Today, tourists flock to this Northern California location due to the great views and mild weather. They’re also pulled in by 3 main points of interest. First, the California Coastal Trail: This beach trail opened in 2015 and runs along a mile of restored coastal bluff. The trail is level and paved, making it a nice, easy walk along the coast. Secondly, Glass Beach: This beach, formerly a garbage dump, is a natural wonder. Apparently, the dump’s discarded glass trash was exposed for years to crashing ocean waves, which transformed them into rounded pieces of “sea glass”. As a result, sea glass blankets the beach rendering a magical sight. Finally, Point Cabrillo Light Station: This lighthouse station is an active navigation aid with 3 restored Lightkeeper homes, plus restored Blacksmith & Carpentry Shop.
Christmas Events in the Fort Bragg Area:
- An Old-Time Coastal Christmas – A combination of several events, including a seasonal model train show and Christmas at the Ford House.
- Mendocino Coastal Botanical Gardens Festival of Lights November 26 – December 19. Tickets available online. This event usually sells out.
2. California Christmas Getaway: Sausalito
Sausalito, located an hour outside San Francisco, could be the backdrop for your next getaway. This picture-perfect city features clusters of homes nestled into the seaside, not to mention the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. In addition, an adorable house boat community floats happily a couple of miles from downtown. Some of the houseboats are architect-designed and occasionally exhibited in major periodicals. Beyond all of that, art galleries, local shops and hidden walkways are waiting for discovery.
Feel the holiday vibe in Sausalito:
- Gingerbread House Tour– throughout the entire month of December, visit houses throughout the town all decked-out gingerbread style!
- Annual Boat Parade and Fireworks – Watch the harbor come alive at the annual holiday boat parade on December 11th, 2021.
3. California Christmas Getaway: St. Helena
If its great wine that makes you feel warm and cozy, then the city of St. Helena is for you. Shop the quaint downtown streets lit up for the holidays, attend a tree lighting or a hayride. Just make sure to schedule a tasting from your favorite st. Helena winery, such as Duck Horn Winery, Charles Krug Winery, Trinchero Family Estates and Beringer Vineyards.
St. Helena Holiday Festivities:
- Meet Santa at the Chamber of Commerce
- Winery holiday events
- Gingerbread Ranch Decorating – LMR Winery on December 5th
4. California Christmas Getaway: Yosemite Village
For those who like to celebrate with an adrenaline rush, Yosemite Valley offers extreme adventure. Yosemite is located in Mariposa County by the Sierra Nevada. It features Majestic cliffs and sequoia trees, coupled with a wonderland of winter activities to create a spectacular getaway. Various lodges offer holiday events, both for children and adults.
Enjoy these winter activities :
- Christmas Tree Lighting at various Yosemite lodges
5. California Christmas Getaway: Carmel
In the event that you need to rev-up your holiday spirit, its time for a trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea. Carmel is located on the coast in Monterey County, approximately 120 miles south of San Franciso. Not only is Carmel one of the most adorably quaint towns, its also one of the most pet-friendly. In fact, guests can visit a dog-friendly beach and take their furry friend to many restaurants, in addition to staying at pet-friendly bed-and-breakfasts, hotels and inns.
Holiday events in Carmel:
- Carmel Holiday Tree Lighting – December 3rd at Devendorf Park
- Carmel’s Mission San Carlos – Walk the beautiful mission grounds or attend Mass at this historical landmark.
6. California Christmas Getaway: Cambria
Just between San Francisco and Los Angeles sits the city of Cambria, which is famous for its natural beauty with rocky cliffs, clear beaches and Monterey Pines. However, during the holiday season, Cambria’s fame rests in the Cambria Christmas market. This special Yuletide event ignites Christmas spirit even in the Grinchiest people.
Holiday Events in Cambria:
- Cambria Christmas Market – Let the 2 MILLION twinkling lights instantly spark your inner Cris Kringle! Enjoy German foods, holiday drinks and shops for handcrafted items.
- Hearst Castle Christmas – Visit the castle while it is decorated for Christmas, just like W.R. Hearst enjoyed it 100 years ago!
7. California Christmas Getaway: City of Orange
The city of Orange is located in Orange County (of course). Orange’s charm greatly lies in its wealth of historical buildings, a feature rare for Orange County. These structures, many from pre-1920, still stand today. Although other cities in the area demolished their historical structures, the US listed Old Towne Orange on the National Register of Historic Places, ensuring they would be preserved. Orange County’s oldest active bank and oldest operating soda fountain both stand under this protection.
Visit the City of Orange to celebrate the holidays by:
- 27th Annual Tree lighting Ceremony and Candlelight Choir Procession – December 5th at the Old Towne Orange Plaza
8. California Christmas Getaway: Julian
For farm-country charm, look no further than Julian. This Christmas-loving town is conveniently located just an hour from San Diego. While originally known as a gold-mining town, Julian is now known as the bed-and-breakfast capital of Southern California. In addition to country charm, Julian offers plenty of activities. So, hikers gather in Spring and Summer to explore trails full of natural beauty. During Fall, Apple lovers flock to Julian to pick fruit. Winter brings holiday enthusiasts to celebrate the blessed season; but, remember to bundle-up! Snowfall and chilly weather mark this mountain town’s winter season.
Holiday Events in Julian:
- Country Tree LIghting Festivities – an old-town country Christmas!
- Hayride – Take a hayride in the crisp country air!
9. California Christmas Getaway – Little Italy, San Diego
Last but not least, Little Italy is an adorable neighborhood in San Diego that runs along PCH from Laurel Street to Ash Street. Peppered with bistros, boutiques and brewpubs, Little Italy brings a homey, neighborhood feel to city living. In addition, many of the points of interest are located right on the coast or have water views. Christmastime makes this neighborhood even more special.
Holiday Events in Little Italy, San Diego
- Aurora at Piazza Basilone – A faux stained-glass 25 foot tree built to symbolize the neighborhood’s founding members. Debuted in 2019 at the piazza.
- Piazza Della Famiglia Tree – The lighting of this 30 foot tree signals the beginning of the Christmas season. Festivities begin December 4th.
- Christmas Village – Shop for one-of-a-kind gifts for everyone on your list!
So, get out and experience the holiday season at one of these magnificent spots. There is something for everyone during this holiday season. Go find yours!