Whether you’re making your Instagram feed festive for the holidays or need a perfect shot with the whole family (or even just the dog!) for this year’s New Year’s card, these are some of the many quintessential SoCal Christmas backdrops sans snow you’ll find in Long Beach this season.
Trees in the Bay
Since 1949, every holiday season the lights of Long Beach’s iconic Trees in the Bay have reflected off the water throughout Alamitos Bay, Colorado Lagoon, El Dorado Park West, Heartwell Park, Rainbow Harbor, Spinnaker Bay and beyond. Each picture-perfect 16-foot-tall “tree” – simple wooden pyramids wrapped in Christmas lights – is a signature Christmas tradition found only in Long Beach.
Terrace Theater Plaza
Every year, cars slow down on Ocean Boulevard as they pass by the spectacle of lights at the Terrace Theater Plaza (300 E. Ocean Blvd.), where Long Beach’s tallest Christmas tree is surrounded by larger-than-life holiday displays. There are more than 150,000 twinkling lights to be seen, making for many sparkling photo opportunities.
Miracle at The Ordinarie
It’s the time of year when the decor and cocktails look and taste like Christmas at The Ordinarie, 210 The Promenade North, a popular Long Beach bar and restaurant that fully transforms into “Miracle at The Ordinarie” each winter. Reservations are strongly encouraged if you’d like to enjoy a “Christmapolitan” or other holiday spirits, some poured over real snowballs and others served in mugs shaped like Santa’s belly. Afterwards, take a walk around The Promenade and Pine Avenue, which glisten with their own yuletide cheer.
Looking for the sweetest holiday photo? Focus on two serious gingerbread villages crafted by local artist Isaac Salgado and members of the Willmore City Heritage Association. This year’s frosted builds, with a ton of repurposed Halloween candy, are on display at The Bembridge House and Modica’s Deli, 455 E. Ocean Blvd. Each edible village requires at least 100 pounds of powdered sugar to complete.
The Bembridge House
Besides the gingerbread at the Queen Anne Victorian Bembridge House, 953 Park Circle, the historic home built in 1906 is bedecked with yuletide tradition for the holidays by volunteers with Long Beach Heritage and various neighborhood groups, who also create Hanukkah and Kwanzaa displays. The house sits across from Drake Park, where real snow is hauled in for the annual Winter in Willmore event on December 18. The Bembridge House looks spectacular inside and out, with guided tours of the home and gardens available for those looking to snap shots of a true Victorian Christmas.
Take a gondola or Duffy boat ride through the Christmas wonderland of the Naples Island canals. With glittering lights on homes reflected on the water, and even an annual Naples Boat Parade on December. 18, Naples residents annually compete to have the best electric meter-spinning displays, turning the neighborhood into a collection of Griswold-inspired houses that may require sunglasses for direct viewing.
2nd & PCH
There’s a giant Christmas tree dazzling with silver and blue oversized ornaments and enormous ribbon-topped packages at 2ND & PCH. The eye-catchingly decorated center, which opened in late 2019 and is still new to many holiday shoppers, is a good place to snap a photo while also crossing off all the must-get gifts for your nice list.
In Long Beach’s Wrigley Neighborhood, the medians of Daisy Lane turn the street into a picturesque Christmas Tree Lane. The nativity scene and “Christmas Village” in the grassy medians have been a tradition for 67 years, with a Daisy Lane Parade that runs from Wardlow Road to Pacific Coast Highway on Dec. 11.