A Christmas on the Coast

By Josie Mewes 

December 20, 2023
A festive view of the carousel and many beautiful lights in Mission Plaza

Something I’ve come to realize living on the coast is that Christmas in California doesn’t always feel like Christmas. With the warm weather, the bright sun, and the lack of snow, it can be hard to get into the Christmas spirit, especially once you get to the age where Santa is no longer on your mind, and Christmas time also means projects are due, teachers are ramping up on homework and presentations, and finals are stressing everyone out. But despite all this, Downtown SLO goes all out to keep the holidays cheerful in this sunny state.

Every year, Downtown SLO spares no effort in making the winter holidays as festive as possible. With lights, music, and even Santa, who can resist the holiday cheer? And the best part: everything’s in one place, Mission Plaza. During the holidays, the Plaza is decked out in lights and festive decorations, providing lots of places to take beautiful and cheerful family photos, including a 20-foot tall Christmas tree in the center of the Plaza. Every night there is a glorious light show, where all the lights throughout the Plaza sync up to the music playing. 

Santa’s House In Mission Plaza

Now, if you’ve ever been with little kids, you know that lights and decorated trees don’t tend to keep their attention very long, but don’t worry, there is also plenty for the little ones to do at the Plaza. Bring them to Santa’s House, open every day from 11 AM - 7 PM up to Christmas Eve, where they can meet Santa and tell him what they’re hoping to find under the tree on Christmas morning. It's also a great opportunity for parents to get pictures of the kids with Santa Claus. But that’s not all, right behind Santa’s House, kids of all ages can ride the lit up carousel, open the same hours as Santa’s House.  

Everyone knows that shopping during the holiday season can be stressful, but if you still need presents for people on your list, there is no need to panic because Downtown SLO has a variety of local businesses where you can find amazing, locally made gifts while also supporting the small businesses in our community. 

So, to make the holidays feel more special this year, make sure to visit Downtown SLO for some festive fun with the whole family. And don’t forget to buy your last minute presents at one of the many shops downtown and support our local businesses during the holidays.