Splurging on Santa – Los Angeles StyleDecember 25, 2011 No Comments
The holiday season brings many indulgences. Rich foods, presents for the kids, decorations for your home, maybe even a special family vacation. Now your children may be clamoring for a visit to the North Pole, but that’s probably not going to be your destination of choice if you do choose to travel this holiday season.
And yet, if you kids are clamoring to see Santa, you may want to comply. So here are some seasonally sweet Santa splurges that won’t have you packing the parka and renting a snow mobile in Antarctica.
The Grove Shopping Arcade
If you live in, are already visiting, or planning a holiday trip to Southern California, you’ll find some grand Santa-centric events waiting for you. In November, early in the holiday season, the Grove shopping arcade in West Hollywood is ablaze with holiday splendor. The tree lighting event features Santa, fireworks, and well known musical performers. Each year the event seems to get bigger and better – and more crowded, so arrive early. The massive one hundred and five foot tree this year is part of an on-going goal to rival Rockefeller Center, and with pop acts like Sean Kingston and Cobie Caillat singing Christmas songs, faux snow fall, Christmas lights, massive quantities of bubbles, and access to upscale chain stores and dining opportunities – the Grove is a great place to start celebrating.
And after the fireworks? Head up to the roof, let the garage traffic clear out, and look at the great view of Hollywood, downtown, and on a clear night, even Santa Monica. The view of the sparkling city expanse is great from here – your kids will think the entire city is strung with holiday lights.
Even if you miss the tree lighting itself, you should still stop by the Grove for a look at that mammoth tree and its fifteen thousand lights. There’s a “magical snowfall” twice every evening from mid November to New Year’s Eve. And there are carolers and other musical performers all evening long too. What about Santa? He has an igloo shaped cottage and a photo package.
While you’re at the Grove, stroll out of the open air mall and into Farmer’s Market. Have some French Toast or pancakes at LA staple Dupar’s Diner or just browse the fruits, veggies, fresh made peanut butter and decadent chocolate toffee at the stands in the market place. You’re sure to find some stocking stuff goodies from marzipan to unique key chains.
Beach Cities During Christmas
More fireworks are found above the Manhattan Beach Pier just south of the airport, two Sunday’s before Christmas. This annual event starts out with Santa, trucked in snow, and a two hour sing along with local musicians on stage. Arrive early to get your copy of the lyrics to holiday classics. Families set up blankets on the beach and lawn chairs on the streets, which are closed to traffic for this event. This year marked the centennial of the city of Manhattan Beach and the fireworks were particularly spectacular.
You’ll also find Santa enthroned at Torrance, CA’s just-past-Thanksgiving Festival of the Trees. Here you can have lunch with Santa for a nominal charge, or you can just stroll through the thirty whimsically, thematically decorated trees and pose for a traditional Santa photo on Santa’s throne. Elves will offer up the candy canes. There’s also handmade crafts and candies for sale, and cookie decorating for the little ones.
Santa in Beverly Hills
You’ll find a completely different Santa amid the Gucci in Beverly Hills. Constructed at the corner of Wilshire and Rodeo, you’ll find the Two Rodeo shopping area, an illusion of an Old European street right out of Disneyland. Paved with cobblestones and featuring Italianate architecture, gleaming with marble and the jewels in the windows of Tiffany and Cartier, you can pose for pictures by the fountains and steps, take advantage of the free valet parking beneath the faux village street, and see a very sparkling Santa. Holiday displays in shop windows and Christmas lights in the trees and strung along the plaza add to the spirit of the season, with clusters of poinsettias and red ribbons spilling from Two Rodeo out along the length of Rodeo Drive’s three upscale shopping blocks.
In the evening, enjoy fake snow falls and shiny lighting effects include a Swarovski crystal helix with LED lights flashing holiday Twitter messages. If you elect to actually shop instead of browse, a receipt for a purchase or restaurant meal on Rodeo is redeemable for a free carriage ride up and down the drive. Santa is present every Friday in December perched on a crystal covered throne at Two Rodeo. What else would you expect of a Beverly Hills Santa?
Child friendly food here that won’t break the bank? Try the Il Fornaio chain for crispy pizza or Nate and Al’s Deli for sandwiches.