This year, celebrate the season with a new family tradition: taking a vacation that makes the holidays feel like a vacation again. That means a holiday—whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, or New Year’s Eve—where the cooking, light-hanging, or sometimes even the package-wrapping are done for you. A holiday with enough time to build a gingerbread house (and someone else cleans up afterward), take the kids to meet Santa, and then step outside to ski—or, depending on your destination, even stroll on the beach.
Indeed, a holiday vacation to California adds some serious seasonal cheer. Choose a resort in the Sierra mountains for an instant winter wonderland as well as ski-in/ski-out access, VIP-style amenities (like spiked eggnog at turndown), or epic feasts, like the ones that have been held at The Ahwahnee Hotel since the 1920s. To enjoy a balmy winter holiday, learn to surf at Hotel del Coronado, or drink a hot cocoa and skate at its seasonal beachside ice rink. Or, head inland to Riverside and take your stand under what may be the world’s biggest mistletoe—surrounded by four million holiday lights at The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa.
Some of the annual holiday events at California hotels have been around for decades, making them family traditions in themselves. The Fairmont San Francisco has been constructing a life-size, two-story “gingerbread mansion” for over a century. (Visitors can even have a meal inside!) And with a history that also goes back more than a hundred years, The Langham Huntington, in Pasadena, offers Teddybear Teas for little ones and hosts events that include all of the many traditions celebrated during the holiday season.
But that’s just a sampling—read on to get the full range of holiday options at over a dozen California hotels.