The Holiday Experience at Terranea

Words don’t do it justice

There may not be snow on L.A.’s palm trees over the holidays, but there are plenty of ways to get into the spirit of the season. Experience them all at Terranea Resort, a Southern California destination that has family-friendly luxury wrapped up with a bow.

The 102-acre oceanfront paradise is just minutes from L.A. yet it feels a world away with its expansive view across the Pacific, inviting Mediterranean architecture, and a catalogue of amenities that offer equal parts fun and relaxation.

Terranea shows off classic California elegance at its best with a mix of outdoor gardens, private terraces, and inviting courtyards that take full advantage of its coastal location, as well as a host of modern, expansive guest rooms—everything from suites to bungalows, villas to casitas.

Families gravitate toward the 140-foot waterslide and splash pad while an adults-only pool and spa overlooking the ocean provide a chance to restore and refresh. When it comes to dining, it’s all about choice, with eight restaurants and 24-hour room service.

In addition to its year-round amenities, the resort goes all out to create holiday traditions that bring back guests again and again. It starts with the Thanksgiving Grand Ballroom buffet and continues to the grand finale, the New Year’s Eve countdown celebration.

The Tree Lighting Ceremony on December 3 at 5 p.m., complimentary with a toy donation to Toys for Tots, is a perennial favorite with lively entertainment and crafts, as well as dinner at catalina kitchen, where DT Prime Kitchen’s signature steak night buffet will be served ($65 adults, $29 kids 4-10).

The special meals keep coming. Celebrate Hanukkah at catalina kitchen and make a toast to Christmas with a tasting menu at mar’sel. Casually dine at Nelson’s, perched on a bluff overlooking the ocean, or head to sea beans, the resort’s café, which even offers turkey takeout.

The Tide Pool Kids Club offers classic experiences for kids, including the chance to fill out postcards to send to Santa at the North Pole and a sign-up for nighttime Elf Tuck-ins that include a stocking ($35 per child). There are also more novel offerings, such as the Turkey Day Trail Walk, the Winter Solstice Hike, and a Private Falconry Experience (available Friday through Sunday mornings, $125/hour/person).

The fun continues on New Year’s Eve with “A Night in New Orleans” dinner celebration featuring live jazz at mar’sel. Guests choose from a first seating at 5 p.m. for a three-course tasting menu ($145) or a second seating at 7:30 p.m. for a five-course menu ($225), in which Chef Andrew Vaughan draws from his New Orleans’ roots (kids 5-10, $65 for either). Wine pairings and vintage Champagne offerings are available, and everyone receives a parting gift.

As a one-of-a-kind destination in L.A., Terranea brings a touch of the season’s magical spirit to the Pacific Coast by offering traditions that can become a part of everyone’s holidays.