Christmas in Shorts
Photo By: Outrigger Hotels & Resorts
Photo By: Hotel del Coronado
Photo By: Flickr user jeku arce
Photo By: Beverly Center
In Hawaii, Santa doesn't arrive by sleigh -- he much prefers an outrigger canoe, to say nothing of the traditional palaka costume he wears in lieu of red velvet. Each December, he alights on the shore by the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach hotel, where the public can greet his arrival and pose for pictures.
Honolulu Harbor also offers a tropical twist on a popular holiday tradition with its annual Christmas Boat Parade, viewed from the Aloha Tower Marketplace shopping and entertainment district. Boats of all sizes vie for cash prizes with elaborate themed decorations and glittering light displays.
Come December, you'd almost swear the white sands of Coronado Beach were made of something else entirely. That's where the Hotel del Coronado offers Skating by the Sea, an outdoor ice rink on the hotel lawn overlooking the majestic Pacific Ocean. With the palm trees swaying gently above as skaters trace their loops on the ice, it's one of the most fantastical Christmas scenes you'll ever lay eyes on.
Holiday weather is hit or miss here, but you can count on snow in one place every year: Fulton Street. Sponsored by Harrah's New Orleans, the "Miracle on Fulton Street" event was launched in 2007 to drum up a festive spirit in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The pedestrian plaza features a 30-foot Christmas tree, live entertainment, hot chocolate and roasted chestnuts and hourly showers of faux snow.
If you hanker to ski in 70-degree weather, the Phoenix Zoo has the next best thing: the Polar Slide. Hop aboard your inflatable raft and scream down a 200-foot track that simulates the packed snow you'd see at a real tubing run -- and be sure to stay for the evening's special feature, ZooLights. The spectacular holiday light display boasts 3.5 million individual lights in the shapes of all your favorite exotic creatures.
For more freezing fun in the Phoenix area, slide west to HomePlate for the Holidays, held in the Goodyear Ballpark, spring-training home for baseball's Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds. Each holiday season, 40 tons of man-made snow are blown onto the field so that kids can build snowmen while their parents listen to carols and shop at holiday-themed kiosks. "We divide the snow into three different areas by age, so we don't have any teenagers trampling five-year-olds," says ballpark coordinator Mark Kimball. The highlight of the evening is when Santa arrives in a horse-drawn sleigh.
It's hardly a surprise that L.A.'s signature snow-and-ice moments have to do with shopping. Get your winter fix at the upscale Beverly Center mall, where you can hop between Gucci and Fendi via the Ice Palace. Inspired by snow globes and ice sculptures, the palace's biggest dome is 22 feet high and houses a spectacular snow and light show inside.