Holiday Travel

The Best Christmas Hotels in Southern California 2024

Breakfast with Santa, extravagant gingerbread displays and live entertainment await

Call us crazy, but we love hitting the road during the holiday season to help get into that holiday spirit. Christmas is such a magical time of year, so why not plan a trip this holiday season to one of the best Christmas hotels in Southern California that go “all-out” with decorations and special events for the holidays!?

Sound delightful? Well high-five, because you landed in the right place!

This article will help you discover 5 amazing kid-friendly hotels in Southern California that really go the extra mile during the Christmas season, including things like

  • cookie decorating
  • story time with Santa
  • incredible gingerbread displays
  • Christmas crafts
  • sledding on “real” snow
  • and much more!

Hot tip: Christmas time in Southern California is quite warm by the standards of most of the country, where you can expect temperatures between 55 to 75 degrees all month long. We also only average 1-2 days of rain all month, so you can expect a high likelihood of sunshine and weather that requires only a light jacket or sweatshirt (if any)! No, you will not find a white winter wonderland, but you will likely experience comfortable weather for most outdoor activities.

Christmas at Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel

Ritz Carlton Laguna Gingerbread Display
The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

Christmas at Westgate Hotel, San Diego

Westgate San Diego Hotel Christmas cocktail
The Westgate Hotel, San Diego

Christmas at Westin Carlsbad

Westin Carlsbad Resort Patio lights
The Westin Carlsbad Resort & Spa

Christmas at Del Coronado

The Hotel Del Coronado

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Best Christmas hotels in Southern California

Pendry San Diego

5-star hotel | 550 J St, San Diego, CA 92101

Pendry San Diego Hotel
Photo courtesy of Pendry San Diego

Christmas Delights!

Gingerbread cookie decorating at Pendry San Diego
Doesn’t that just look like so much fun for the whole family!? Yum!

Here’s why you will love it


Pendry San Diego, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, is perfect for those families looking for a cool city kind of Christmas getaway. Located, in heart of the urban and historical Gaslamp Quarter in Downtown San Diego, the Pendry is nestled among high-rise buildings just steps away from city attractions. However, during the holidays you may not want to venture far from the hotel, because the Pendry pulls out all the stops including a Neiman Marcus Holiday Dream Suite. When you book this beautifully decorated festive suite, you will be greeted with fresh cookies from Neiman Marcus and have all your shopping and gift wrapping needs met by a shopping concierge

Lobby of Pendry San Diego with Christmas Decor
Classy Christmas decor adorns the lobby and public spaces at Pendry

If your family is like mine, then the first thing you will love is Nason’s Beer Hall. It is a family-friendly on-site gastro-pub that pays homage to the Nason & Co. Farmer’s Market that once held the space in the 1900s. During the Christmas season, Nason’s goes all out for the holidays with over the top decor and Christmas lights. Even sweeter for the kids is the Pancakes and Pajama Brunch with Santa where kids will receive a complimentary pair of holiday pajamas from P.J Salvage while they enjoy breakfast and take photos with Santa!

Mission Inn Hotel & Spa

4-star hotel |  3649 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA 92501

Photo courtesy of Mission Inn Hotel & Spa

Christmas Delights!

Mission Inn goes over the top with Christmas-themed events and decor

Here’s why you will love it

The Mission Inn spares no expense when it comes to holiday decorations. Every corner of the hotel is adorned with holiday finery, including Christmas trees, wreaths, and other seasonal decor, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere.

The Festival of Lights at the Mission Inn is a world-renowned holiday event that features millions of twinkling lights, animated displays, and festive decorations throughout the hotel’s grounds. Families can stroll through the beautifully illuminated streets and courtyards, creating a magical and immersive holiday experience. There is live music with Grammy award-winning artists, festive treats, photo-opportunities and much more.

During the holiday season, kids are given the royal treatment with festive Christmas packages that includes an overnight stay complete with a filled holiday stocking, milk, Casey’s cupcakes, Christmas stories, gifts, carolers and more!

The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

5-star hotel | One Ritz Carlton Dr, Dana Point, CA 92629

Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel
Photo courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

Christmas Delights!

Ritz Carlton gingerbread display
Can you believe this is made from candy and baked treats!?

Here’s why you will love it

Surf’s up for this beachy Orange County Christmas escape at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel. Yes, you can still hit the beach during the holiday season with your family (if you don’t mind a little cold) and what better way to kick off this sunny season with a little Surfing Santa competition! At the end of November, The Ritz-Carlton hosts a surfing and stand-up paddle boarding competition for men, women and children dressed like Santa or other Christmas characters. It is fun to compete and fun to watch. However, the holiday fun doesn’t stop there!

Decorated to the nines, you won’t want to miss the tree lighting ceremony complete with live entertainment and a visit from Santa himself. Throughout the season you will enjoy festive holiday meals, cockatils and even Holiday Tea with an ocean view! Your kids will love cozy holiday story time, gingerbread house and cookie decorating and gazing upon the Gingerbread Extravaganza in the lobby which features a giant 24-foot gingerbread scene in the festive lobby! Every year features a different theme, so you will want to keep coming back year after year.

The Westgate Hotel, San Diego

4-star hotel | 1055 2nd Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

Westgate Christmas Lobby decor
Photo courtesy of The Westgate Hotel, San Diego

Christmas Delights!

Teddy bear Tea time at Westgate San Diego
Wouldn’t your kids just LOVE Teddy Bear Tea Time!?

Here’s why you will love it

Located on the edge of Gaslamp Quarter in Downtown San Diego, you and your family will feel like you stepped into the Palace of Versailles. Built in 1970 as a re-creation of the famed palace, the Westgate Hotel drips in European elegance. During the holidays, the hotel drips Christmas cheer with their festive decor and family fun activities.

Around the holidays it is all about the indulgences. Enjoy festive and fun themed afternoon teas, like the Westgate Christmas Teas and Teddy Bears Teas. Both feature fun holiday beverages, but the Teddy Bear Teas include special one-on-one time with Santa and a keepsake teddy bear. In addition to the holiday tea services, there is a fun Breakfast with Santa where the family can enjoy a delicious holiday buffet with some very special company from Mr. and Mrs. Claus. The restaurants are also serving up a delicious Christmas buffet and Christmas dinner.

The Westin Carlsbad Resort & Spa

4-star hotel | 5480 Grand Pacific Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92008

Westin Carlsbad Resort and Spa
Photo courtesy of The Westin Carlsbad Resort & Spa

Christmas Delights!

Westin Carlsbad Resort lobby

Here’s why you will love it

Set in the quaint beach community of Carlsbad, just north of San Diego, is the lovely Westin Carlsbad Resort & Spa where all year long you can enjoy pristine beaches and nearby attractions. They even have a private entrance into LEGOLAND! During the holidays this laid back breezy coastal resort comes alive with Christmas festivities at the Family Friendly Holiday Nights.

For three Thursdays in December the Westin Carlsbad Resort & Spa holds exciting holiday themed events for the whole family to enjoy. There are fun rides like the Holly Trolley, train rides ferries wheel and even sledding on “real” snow. You and your kids can take fun photos in a giant snow globe and with Santa Claus. There are Christmas crafts, fair games and even live entertainment. It is a truly magical evening for celebrating this magical season.

The Hotel Del Coronado

4-star hotel | 1500 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118

Christmas at Hotel Del Coronado
Photo courtesy of The Hotel Del Coronado

Christmas Delights!

Here’s why you will love it

The Hotel del Coronado, affectionately known as “The Del,” is a quintessential Southern California beachfront resort that transforms into a winter wonderland during the Christmas season. Guests can expect a delightful blend of tradition and enchantment as the hotel embraces the holiday spirit. The hotel’s lobby and common areas are beautifully adorned with festive decorations, including Christmas trees, wreaths, and twinkling lights, creating a warm and welcoming ambiance.

One of the standout features is the life-sized gingerbread house that graces the lobby, a remarkable sight that’s perfect for family photos. Nearby, you’ll find the ice-skating rink on the oceanfront Windsor Lawn. Skating by the sea is a unique and magical experience, offering a perfect view of the Pacific Ocean and adding a touch of wintry wonder to this coastal paradise.

The Hotel Del Coronado also offers holiday dining experiences at its restaurants, featuring special menus and seasonal treats. Families can enjoy brunches, dinners, and even a Santa Brunch, where children have the chance to meet Santa and share their Christmas wishes.

For the little ones, Mrs. Claus makes special appearances for storytime sessions, captivating children with heartwarming holiday tales. The hotel frequently hosts beachfront holiday concerts, allowing guests to enjoy live music and caroling while taking in the breathtaking ocean views.

Additional activities for children often include cookie decorating and holiday craft workshops, adding to the festive spirit. The hotel’s shops offer a range of holiday gifts and souvenirs, allowing guests to find unique and festive items for their loved ones.

The Hotel del Coronado is known for its annual lighting of the Christmas tree, a special event featuring live entertainment and the illumination of the grand tree, marking the official start of the holiday season. The festivities at The Del provide an ideal setting for families to celebrate the holidays with joy, warmth, and the beauty of the Pacific coast. Please check with the hotel for the most up-to-date information on their Christmas offerings.

The Terranea Resort

4-star hotel | 100 Terranea Way, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275-1013

Photo courtesy of The Terranea Resort

Christmas Delights!

Here’s why you will love it

Terranea Resort, situated in the stunning coastal location of Rancho Palos Verdes, California, offers a charming and festive atmosphere during the Christmas season. The resort comes alive with holiday decor, including beautifully adorned Christmas trees, wreaths, and other festive ornaments that create a warm and inviting ambiance. You’ll find seasonal decorations throughout the property, from the lobby to the outdoor areas.

One of the highlights is the annual gingerbread village display, featuring intricate and delightful gingerbread creations that showcase the creative talents of the resort’s culinary team. This display is often a treat for both adults and children, and it’s an excellent spot for holiday photos.

The resort often features outdoor holiday lighting displays, adding to the festive spirit. Enjoy illuminated pathways and courtyards that make evening strolls truly magical. Families visiting the resort can typically find a range of holiday activities for children, such as cookie decorating, holiday craft workshops, and perhaps even a visit from Santa Claus himself.

Terranea Resort offers special holiday dining experiences, including festive menus at its restaurants. Guests can indulge in holiday-themed dishes and treats while taking in breathtaking ocean views. During the holiday season, Terranea often hosts live entertainment, including carolers and musical performances, creating a joyful and festive atmosphere.

That’s A Wrap!

You know what they say – Tis’ the season to be merry! And what could be merrier than spending time with your family in one of the best Christmas hotels in Southern California during the holidays? I hope this list has you just bursting with Christmas cheer and inspires you to make some incredible memories with your kids.

To make the most of your holiday vacation explore more California travel with exciting things to do, places to stay, cool family-friendly restaurants.

For more cool family hotels in more cool cities, explore my favorite family hotels from around the world and start packing.

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Luxurious Christmas hotels for families in Southern California


I am a busy mama with 3 delicious babies and a serious itch for travel and writing (when I am not bartending, that is)! After graduating from Cal State San Marcos with a B.A. in Communications, I decided to start a family and pursue a career in freelance writing. I created HotMamaTravel as an outlet to do what I love while sharing useful travel tips and inspiration with others. Our mission is to show parents how to master travel with kids, while keeping your Saturday-night selves. We call it "Family travel...with a twist".

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