The Best Sights for Holiday Lights

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Santa Claus is coming to town. A fun way to get into the holiday spirit is gathering the family and visiting colorful holiday lights and decoration displays in various neighborhoods. Here are my favorites in Los Angeles and nearby communities. They appear in alphabetical order:

Altadena

San Gabriel families have traditionally parked their cars and walked around the Balian House mansion to admire and appreciate thousands of lights and holiday decorations. This 3-acre property is located off Allen Ave. on Mendocino. Nearby in Altadena, between Woodbury and Altadena Drive is a tunnel of lights stretching for three blocks. Since 1920, Christmas Tree Lane has decorated 134 Italian cedar trees with over 10,000 multi-colored lights. Santa and carolers may be at the corner of Santa Rosa and Mariposa to wish visitors “Merry Christmas.”

Beverly Hills

Two Rodeo offers live music on Thurs. and Fri. evenings from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. now until Dec. 21, 2012. Stroll Via Rodeo on Saturdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. to hear Holiday Carolers sing among the twinkling lights. N. Rodeo Dr. & Dayton Way (310)247-7040.

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Disneyland/California Adventure

My favorite time to visit Disneyland is during the magical Winter season. Main Street U.S.A. is decorated for the Christmas holidays.  Sleeping Beauty’s castle is transformed with icicles and snow. It’s a Small World is decorated beautifully, as all the characters wish guests Merry Christmas in various languages. Santa is the Star with Mickey and Minnie Mouse in A Christmas Fantasy parade.

In California Adventure stroll down the festive Buena Vista Street to see a towering Christmas tree, holiday window displays, live entertainment and Santa! Cars Land is adorned with lights and sparkling decorations. To learn about hours and tickets, go to http://disneyland.disney.go.com/events/holidays/.

Long Beach

Daisy Ave. is transformed into Christmas Tree Lane with 23 lighted and decorated Christmas Tree Lane. On weekends there is musical entertainment. Daisy Ave. between Willow Street & PCH. While in Long Beach, cruise the quaint canals of Naples on a gondola to view the million dollar homes decorated for the holidays along the waterfront.

Montana Avenue

Come walk with your family on Dec. 7, 2012 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Enjoy the colorful lights between 7th and 17th Street. Stores are offering special promotions. There will be singing, music and Santa Claus. Start at Montana and 7th.

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Moorpark

Big Wave Dave’s Christmas Trees are at Underwood Family Farms. Now until December 17, fresh-cut northwest trees are available 7 days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The farm also sells mistletoe and wreaths. Underwoods Farm Center & Farm Market is open from 9a.m. to 5p.m. on weekends until December 16.  Admission to the Farm Center is $6.00/per person and children under 2 free. Tractor rides & the Animal Show are included with paid weekend admission. The Farm Center will close for the season December 17. 3370 Sunset Valley Rd. (805) 529-3690. Tree Info: (805) 218-0282 or (805) 701-1335.

Rancho Palos Verdes/Torrance

For more than 40 years, South Bay residents have enjoyed visiting the Sleepy Hallow area to see homes elaborately decorated. Many residents sit outside to wish families “happy holidays.” Some sell hot chocolate and popcorn to enhance the Christmas spirit. PCH and Robert Road. While here, stay over night at the oceanfront Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes. The Together For The Holidays package includes overnight accommodations and a $75 gift credit per night. Families are required to stay two nights. It’s available now until Jan. 1o, 2013. Use Promo Code: TOGETHER. Go to http://www.terranea.com

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San Diego

The lobby of the Hotel del Coronado Resort is decorated with the tallest Christmas tree on the island. Vintage Santas and over 100,000 lights enchant guests and visitors. If you arrive on Dec.7 you will get to see the 37th annual Coronado Christmas Parade and Open House. A 50 ft. decorated Christmas tree glimmers with lights. On Dec. 9 and 16 over 100 private boat owners decorate their boats for the holidays and sail around San Diego Bay. The parade starts at 5:30 p.m. Fireworks dazzle the sky around 9 p.m.

The Hotel del Coronado’s Executive Chef Robert Hohmann at 1500 Ocean is preparing a special winter menu at 1500 Ocean or celebrate Christmas Eve with a Victorian buffet dinner at the Hotel del Coronado’s historic Crown Room. Stay overnight with the holiday Sea & Skate package. It includes accommodations and ice-skating passes for 2 adults and 2 children. Rates start at $279 per night. To learn more about the Hotel del Coronado, call (800)Hotel-Del or http://www.hoteldel.com.

San Luis Osbispo

The Apple Farm celebrates the holidays with traditional events throughout the month until Dec. 22, 2012 . Come see all of the decorated trees, gifts and lights to fill your holiday spirit. Santa visits the Inn from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sat. Live holiday music plays at the restaurant from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Guests who purchase items  the gift shop may qualify for a complimentary ornament. The Inn is offering a holdiay package that includes a one night stay in a Specialty room with Sugar Plum turndown service, $50 dining credit for the Apple Farm restaurant, $20 shopping credit in the gift shop and a daily guest wine reception for $209 (Sun-Thur.) and $249 (Fri. and Sat.) Valid now through Jan. 3, 2013. Reserve at http://www.applefarm.com/.

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Santa Monica

Downtown Santa Monica & Third Street are transformed into Winterlit. Chanukah Menorah lighting ceremony is on Dec. 8, 11 and 12th. Holiday kids craft and gift-wrapping takes place on Dec. 22 from noon to 3 p.m. The Shore Hotel is an ideal spot to see holiday lights and décor around Santa Monica. Enjoy lunch or dinner at Blue Plate Taco. Stay overnight and receive four vouchers to the Ice Santa Monica ice-skating rink (At the corner of 5th St. and Arizona Ave.) ICE at Santa Monica is a premier outdoor ice-skating rink, just blocks from the beach. Open now until Jan. 21, 2013.  The Holidays in Santa Monica package is $380 for up to four guests in one room. 1515 Ocean Ave. (310)458-1515.

Santa Monica Place

Nightly tree performances, meeting Santa Claus, live music and dance performances take place this season. Photos with Santa are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily until Dec. 24, 2012. Santa will pose with your pet on Dec. 4 and Dec. 11 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Children can enjoy breakfast with Santa on Dec. 9 from 9:30 p.m. to 11 a.m. Mrs. Claus is offering a cookie making class and story time on Dec. 15 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 395 Santa Monica Place.

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Woodland Hills

Since 1952, residents in an eight-block community, just east of the 101 freeway and Winnetka Blvd, have decorated their homes and yards with brightly colored lights and holiday decorations. Each street once had a theme of bells, trees or candy canes; hence the neighborhood is fondly called Candy Cane Lane. Now neighbors try to outdo each other with inflatable decorations, thousands of lights, and displays of favorite cartoon characters. It’s worth a visit. Lubao Ave. and Oxnard St.

Keep the magic of the holidays alive for your family. Visit one or more of these unique sights. It’s a holiday tradition your children won’t forget.

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