It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Decorate the tree with ornaments, hang the wreath, and dangle some mistletoe above your door. Most importantly, take a festive day trip with your loved ones. This Christmas, consider taking a trip with your friends and family to one of these three jubilant coastal cities in Orange County!
If you’re in Huntington Beach, you won’t want to miss the Surf City Marketplace taking place from December 19 to 20! Located Downtown from 11 AM to 4 PM, this array of unique and local vendors is the perfect place to do some holiday shopping with your loved ones. Once the sun sets and the ambiance of the city nightlife breaks loose, check out Surf City Nights Farmers Market, which happens every Tuesday on the first three blocks of a closed-to-traffic Main Street. Beginning from 5 PM, local farmers and artisans set up shops offering seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as fresh-cut flowers, local honey, gourmet salt, baked goods, and anything else you can think of. At merchant booths, you’ll be able to browse original artworks, glass and ceramics, handmade candles, clothing, handcrafted wood trinkets, and other Huntington Beach native collectibles.
After shopping with the Huntington Beach locals, visit the Downtown Holiday Tree and get into the Christmas spirit! Gander at the tree, take a few Instagram photos, and enjoy the scenery of this jolly, once-a-year sight! Lighting up Main Street, the Holiday Tree is a beautiful backdrop to your 2021 family Christmas picture.
Finally, conclude your Christmas day trip by the beach by heading over to the Paséa Hotel and Spa Oceanfront Ice Rink. From November 25th until January 2nd of 2022, you can experience a secluded ice-skating adventure complete with holiday cocktails and bites, themed skate nights, evenings honoring first responders, luxury fire pit amenities, group skate sessions, performances, and so much more. Tickets are available for $30, and you can plan your visit around the Oceanfront Ice Rink’s themed calendar, jam-packed with different events for each day of the month. Get the full Huntington Beach Christmas experience and stop by the Oceanfront Ice Rink to skate where the sand meets the snow!
The country’s longest and oldest boat parade, the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, will be hosting its 113th rendition of the annual event from December 15th to the 19th. One of the most highly anticipated holiday events in the state, the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade of Lights, is every local boat owner’s chance to let their vessel shine (literally!). Hundreds of various ships come together at the parade, where proud owners bedazzle their ships with festive holiday lights and steer through Newport Harbor. Beginning at 6:30 PM each day of the event, parade participants will sail their decorated vessel starting and ending at Lido Isle. To top it off, paraders also compete their decorated ships to earn top awards in over half a dozen categories. The Newport Beach Christmas Parade is a spectacle gathering over 1.5 million watchers each holiday season, making it one of the must-see events of Christmastime!
If you’re in a holiday shopping mood, Fashion Island’s annual holiday tree is sure to pique your interest. The iconic 90-foot white fir tree, decorated with 19,000 lights and ornaments, is on display every night, beginning from November 19th up until the new year. Guests are invited to take in the lively atmosphere of the beautiful decor in the heart of one of Orange County’s largest outdoor shopping and entertainment complexes, all while capturing their new favorite holiday photos!
Lastly, take advantage of the allure of a coastal Christmas by attending the 31st annual Lighting of the Bay at Newport Dunes. At the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort and Marina, you and your loved ones will be able to experience a breathtaking view accompanied by cocktails and food from Moe B’s Munchies beachfront grill on Fridays and Saturdays. The event will take place from November 26th to January 1st, from sunset to 11:30 PM. Watch as more than 50 festive, floating holiday lights illuminate the Back Bay and roast s’mores around the fires as you and your family immerse yourself in the enchantment of the holiday spirit.
Revel in the holiday festivities as Laguna Beach has no shortage of Christmas-themed events for you to enjoy. For five weekends, beginning November 20th till December 19th, the Sawdust Winter Fantasy Art Festival will be running from 10 AM to 7 PM. Here, guests can shop handcrafted art, snap photos with Santa, take winter-themed art classes, and experience a Sawdust holiday with three entertainment stages coupled with live performances. The Art Festival also offers other theatrical amenities such as glassblowing, a petting zoo, puppet shows, falling snow, carolers, and more! To make this the complete Winter Fantasy, the Festival includes seven outdoor cafes and saloons onsite so you can enjoy a day filled with art, music, and holiday cheer! Admission tickets start at $10 for adults, $7 for seniors ages 65 and up, and $5 for children ages six to twelve.
Next, drop by the Promenade on Forest for a Laguna Beach shopping, dining, and art adventure! Outdoor dining, display, and art performance area on Forest Avenue, the Promenade operates from 9 AM to 10 PM daily through January 2021. With retail decks and temporary art installations, the Promenade offers a pedestrian-only experience while supporting local businesses by expanding customer seating and merchandise display areas. At the Promenade, you’ll be able to write letters to Santa and delight in the live Christmas tree, where residents are given the option to add an ornament to the community tree. Not only that, but the Promenade also presents a tree lighting ceremony on December 3rd and a Santa Parade featuring Santa in the Marine Safety Jeep and a Trolley with the Mayor and carolers. Don’t miss out on this extraordinary Christmastime experience with you and your family!
Last but certainly not least, check out the Families Together of Orange County’s Annual Christmas Together Toy Drive. A tradition for the communities of Orange County, the Christmas Together Toy Drive includes carnival rides and games, raffles, entertainment, pictures with Santa, and a variety of holiday meals, all for free! At the annual toy giveaway event, thousands of toys are given away to underprivileged children in the community with the support of local organizations, volunteers, and donations. To support the largest toy giveaway in Orange County, Families Together of Orange County accepts toy donations year-round, and donations to help put together the event, such as food, rides, games, and entertainment, are always appreciated. If you would like to donate monetarily, all monetary donations go directly into putting the event together. The toy drive will occur at the Anaheim Honda Center on December 18th, from 8 AM to 5 PM. Keep in mind that quantity is limited, and visitors must register for the event!
Thank you for reading our top day trip picks for the 2021 holiday season! If you enjoyed this specially curated Orange County travel guide, sign up for the Limon newsletter to get future blog posts sent straight to your inbox! Check out the Limon website, and visit our Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and TikTok pages for more day trip inspiration, as well as Limon updates!