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Christmas at the Beach

December may not be the month when a beach vacation is top-of-mind, particularly to the presumably cold Pacific coastline, but I am here to tell you it is one of the absolute best times to visit!  With overall demand being low, hotel rates are also at their lowest of the year.  Shops and restaurants are less busy, allowing you to book a table at that hot spot you’ve heard so much about.  Sans high-season crowds, the beach offers ample space to set up your blanket and chairs and, here’s the biggest secret of all… the temperature still might reach 80 degrees by mid-afternoon.  No joke!  Having visited Southern California over Christmas for more than 10 years, I just love sharing this little nugget of information.  While there are certainly the cold and cozy days where bundling up is a must, and evenings do lean toward the chilly side, many days in December will offer beach-worthy warmth and all-day sunshine.  My husband and kids almost always end up actually playing in the ocean on at least one of the days during our visit.

While Huntington Beach was our go-to destination for many years, and we still enjoy a few hours and a few meals up that way during each visit (more about those later), Laguna Beach has absolutely captured our hearts.  Traveling with young children can often be stressful and we were thrilled to find that Laguna Beach House truly offers all the comforts of home, complete with milk and cookies served in the Lobby each evening. Another major perk about staying at Laguna Beach House is the ability to park your car and not even look at it again for several days.  Absolutely everything in Laguna Beach is walkable.  After years of staying at various hotels around Orange County, driving to play at the beach for a few hours, driving back to take naps and then out again somewhere for dinner, we learned that you really haven’t vacationed until you’ve done it with “no car required.”  We’ve gained hours and hours in each of our vacations simply by not having to drive unless we really want to!

That said, each time we visit SoCal, there are a few spots that make driving worthwhile once or twice during our stay.  One of our favorites is Sugar Shack.  Located right on Main Street in Huntington Beach, Sugar Shack offers sidewalk seating that is perfect for people-watching and soaking up the California sunshine.  There is also a back patio with additional seating, but the ambiance is nowhere near as cool.  A local favorite for weekend breakfasts, the wait for either section can often be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, with a sign-up sheet hanging on the front of the building as the only way to stake your claim to a highly coveted table.  But, it is worth the wait.  Jot your name down, head across the street to Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to grab a latte and walk around a bit while you wait. But, don’t forget to check back often so as not to lose your place on the list!

With another visit on the books for this Christmas week, I look forward to having more tips and memories to share soon!

~ Emily

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