(credit: St. Regis Monarch Beach)

Southern California may not have much snow between Thanksgiving and New Years but there is no shortage of holiday spirit. Local hotels and resorts dress up and put on their finest to celebrate the holiday season. Listen to the carolers, build a gingerbread house, make an ornament, ice skate by the sea, surf in your Santa suit and see it snow – it’s all here at nearby Southern California hotels and resorts and many of the activities are open to the public.

(credit: La Quinta Resort & Club)

La Quinta Resort & Club

49-499 Eisenhower Drive
La Quinta, CA 92253
(800) 598-3828

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is the theme for the holiday celebration at La Quinta where Frank Capra wrote the holiday classic in his favorite casita – don’t be surprised if you hear familiar bells ringing. Other festivities include holiday cooking demonstrations for adults and kids, holiday movies, chestnut roasting and a special breakfast with Santa. Don’t forget to look for the resident road runner – he’s not camera shy!

(credit: Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel)

The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

One Ritz-Carlton Drive
Dana Point, CA 92618
(949) 240-2000

An annual community tree lighting kicks off the holiday celebration at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel followed by a surfing Santa competition. The annual gingerbread spectacular is a must-see with over a thousand hours spent creating this year’s FantaSeaLand-themed holiday gingerbread display. The teddy bear tea is always popular and this year even the dogs get a special “Howl-iday” celebration of their own.

(credit: Hotel del Coronado)

Hotel del Coronado

1500 Orange Way
Coronado, CA 92118
(800) 468-3533

The Del is an iconic Southern California resort located on Coronado Island in San Diego. The resort offers a multitude of holiday activities including a Victorian tea, a theater production of “An American Christmas,” family holiday bike tours around Coronado Island, elf tuck-ins for the little ones and Skating by the Sea – an outdoor ice skating rink overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

(credit: St. Regis Monarch Beach)

St. Regis Monarch Beach

One Monarch Beach Resort
Dana Point, CA 92629
(949) 234-3200

The St. Regis Monarch Beach begins the holiday celebration with a community tree lighting ceremony and sand sculpture dedication. Santa makes visits to the resort during the month of December and on weekends families can get creative and maybe a bit sticky at the Gingerbread House Academy. Traditional holiday afternoon tea service is available for adults and kids.

(credit: The Grand Del Mar)

The Grand Del Mar

5300 Grand Del Mar Court
San Diego, CA 92130
(858) 314-1988

There’s no snow but the Jingle Bell Pony Rides at The Grand Del Mar’s equestrian center will put any little elf in the holiday mood. Chestnut roasting and holiday afternoon tea take place throughout the holiday season with a special Nutcracker holiday tea on Dec. 22 and 23. Guests of the resort can enjoy story time with Santa and a “Miracle on 34th Street” movie pajama party.

(credit: Terranea Resort)

Terranea Resort

6610 Palos Verdes Drive South
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
(310) 265-2800

The month of December is full of holiday happenings for families. In the Little Elf’s Workshop kids get creative and make homemade gifts with recycled materials. They can listen to holiday stories by the fire and get a good night tuck-in from Santa’s helpers complete with a sweet treat. Santa is also cooking up a festive breakfast for families and there are many other culinary treats for the big kids.

(credit: Montage Laguna Beach)

Montage Laguna Beach

30801 South Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(866) 933-6438

Foodies take note because whether you want to feast or are interested in learning how to make your own holiday treats and libations the Montage Laguna Beach has everyone’s tastes covered during the holidays. No hot-buttered rum or limoncello for the kids but they’ll gladly choose Santa Claus tuck-ins and stocking deliveries during their stay.

Kristi Marcelle is a travel writer and regular contributor at Ciao Bambino. She loves planning travel adventures with her family, a good glass of wine at the whining hour and the Green Bay Packers. Follow her on Twitter @kristimarcelle.