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A Spectacular Santa Barbara Christmas

October 27, 2022

Santa Barbara always gets extra festive around the holiday season with parades, live entertainment and much more. It is the ideal location to celebrate the Yuletide season with your loved ones. Right on the central coast of California between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Santa Barbara provides many opportunities for exploration while on an enchanted Christmas getaway.

We have put the following ideas together for you listing those experiences you and your family might enjoy while spending this Christmas in Santa Barbara:

Ice Skating

When you’re not outdoors relishing the sun and sand, you and your family might want to lace up some skates and take to the ice at the Ice in Paradise indoor rink in Goleta. It's a great place to take a lesson, catch a hockey game or to see a holiday ice show which is offered throughout December.

Perhaps your kids would enjoy playing some hockey on holiday.

Raise a Glass to the Winemakers

Santa Barbara County was named Wine Enthusiast’s 2021 Wine Region of the Year for sustainable winemaking as well as the high concentration of female winemakers – among other factors like the delicious, fine wines. With the busy harvest season over, many winemakers have the time to be onsite in the tasting room personally sharing the fruits of their labor with guests. So, whether you opt to go to wine country or to traverse Santa Barbara’s urban wine trail, your chances of getting to meet the makers are the highest during the winter.

Visit many of Santa Barbara County’s many wineries.

Blaze the Trails

You’ll find Santa Barbara hiking trails are less crowded in the winter. There’s no better way to greet a new day than a sunrise stroll through the coastal Douglas Preserve or taking a morning hike to Inspiration Point. Sunset is earlier in winter, so you can fit in a late afternoon sunset hike and freshen up for dinner back at your villa.

Your children will love a leisurely hike through the Douglas Preserve.


When you’re looking for the elitist shopping experiences, head to Montecito, a small town just south of Santa Barbara. It is well-known as being a shopping mecca to the ultra wealthy, many of whom are well-known celebrities. There are plenty of women's fashion boutiques in Montecito. Jenni Kayne, in the Upper Village, has styles that exude a relaxed, cool vibe. If you’re always on the lookout for a classy swimsuit, coverup or sandals, head to Malia Mills for suits designed to fit and flatter every body shape. You might also want to visit Maison K. This elegant home and gift store will have you thinking about your next redecorating project and choosing last-minute Christmas gifts. Speaking of Christmas gifts, visit Toy Crazy with your children if you want to see their eyes light up. Other shops that might interest include:

  • Wendy Foster Sportswear;
  • Cos Bar;
  • Angel;
  • Whiskey & Leather;
  • Malia Mills;
  • Mate Gallery;
  • Upstairs at Pierre Lafonde.
Children will adore rummaging around in Toy Crazy.

Villa Fely

When you’re all shopped out, you won’t have far to go when staying at Villa Fely. Located in Montecito, this elite, private residence is one of the most impressive in which to spend a luxury Santa Barbara vacation. This luxurious home spans three acres alongside 240 feet of coveted ocean frontage. Dominating some of Santa Barbara's most prestigious stretches of coastline, this home is synonymous with exclusivity and California fine living. The home’s pared-down sensibilities enhance a delectable sense of breeziness and sea swept romance. With room for up to 12 guests, Villa Fely provides the ideal space for holiday entertaining. Park-like exteriors peppered with soaring palms and lush foliage resemble an oceanfront Garden of Eden. The home includes a heated outdoor pool, tennis court, cabana, fire pit and more.

Perched between soaring mountains and the endless expanse of the Pacific, Villa Fely provides the height of luxury in which to celebrate a most festive Christmas season with loved ones.

Santa Barbara Parade of Lights

Nothing is more festive than a parade and when it’s on the water, it’s even more special. The 35th annual Santa Barbara Harbor Parade of Lights happens on Sunday, December 11. Join the locals for this holiday tradition along the coastline. The boat parade is preceded by Santa's Village activity on the City Pier in the harbor, starting around noon. At 4 p.m., dozens of stand-up paddlers and kayakers dressed in festive attire will loop Stearns Wharf spreading holiday cheer. Then, at 5:30 p.m., the annual boat parade begins as dozens of boats motor, sail and paddle along the coastline and compete to win prizes. There are plenty of great restaurants and bars on both the pier and the harbor where you can relax and enjoy the view. The evening culminates with a breathtaking fireworks display.

One of the vessels in the Santa Barbara Harbor Parade of Lights all decked out in Christmas finery.

Santa Barbara Trolley of Lights

Explore the most wondrous Christmas light displays in Santa Barbara during this jolly, open-aired trolley tour. A caravan of lighted trolleys takes groups around town after dark for a 90-minute ride. Hot cider is sipped, carols are sung, neighbors come out and say hello – it's all very festive. The open sides of the trolleys allow you to easily capture your favorite moments on camera. Trolley cars also operate during the day for classic town tours and can be chartered for private parties.

The Santa Barbara Trolley of Lights tour.

Catch a Show

Take in the Christmas Nutcracker Ballet at the Granada Theatre, Santa Barbara's impressive performing arts venue, with more than 1,500 seats, patron lounges and a custom orchestra shell. Built in 1924, the theater underwent a dramatic restoration, reopening in 2008. A colorful mural decorates the proscenium arch, seats and sightlines have been improved, and the original chandelier is sparkling again in its place of honor.

Christmas Nutcracker Ballet at the Granada Theatre.

La Arcada

The annual La Arcada Christmas Walk is one you might really enjoy with your family! Experience strolling carolers, freshly popped popcorn and a visit from Santa at this quaint, character-filled shopping venue that's as good for relaxing as it is for shopping. Marked by a chiming clock, the entrance leads to a variety of shops, restaurants and art galleries. If some of your family members don't want to browse the shops, they can admire La Arcada's landscaping, fountains and many statues. There are plenty of benches where you can all rest your legs before moving on. But make sure you see the turtle pond, especially if you have your children along. Located in the heart of downtown, this is one Christmas shopping destination you won't want to miss.

The quaint, relaxing shopping area, La Arcada.

Coronado Butterfly Preserve

This 9.3-acre preserve is a place where – from late October through early March – monarch butterflies migrate to overwinter. They hang in clumps and clusters from the branches of the eucalyptus trees, often hundreds at a time. The preserve is open every day from sunrise to sunset. Even in the off season, it’s a beautiful place to visit, also home to numerous birds and wildlife, Devereux Creek, trails, open area and outdoor gathering areas. Once you've walked through the preserve, keep right on going across the bluff for a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean. Make sure you have your camera ready for this experience!

Spend the day at the magical Coronado Butterfly Preserve.

This is just a smattering of all on offer in Santa Barbara and area during the the Yuletide season. If you are looking to spend the holidays in a sunnier, more moderate climate where you and your family are never at a loss for new experiences, Santa Barbara will meet your expectations in droves. Not only will LVH ensure you have the most elite accommodations accompanied by full services and support, but will also fashion a custom itinerary for you with wonderful and festive things to see and do. We invite you to reach out to one of our client relations professionals who will get the wheels in motion for your magical Santa Barbara Christmas vacation. Let us help you to create precious, priceless memories this Yuletide season!


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