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2015 Holiday Boat Parade Guide

The Getty Yacht docks at Burton Chace Park, giving guests a front row spot to see the Marina Del Rey Holiday Boat Parade (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

The Getty Yacht docks at Burton Chace Park, giving guests a front row spot to see the Marina Del Rey Holiday Boat Parade (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

December is barely here, yet boaters in Santa Barbara and up and down the coast are already decking their bows with colorful Christmas lights! Attending a boat parade is a fun (and often free) way to celebrate the holidays in true California style.

Santa Barbara’s Parade of Lights takes place on Sunday, December 6th at 5:30 PM. Claim your spot somewhere between the City Pier and Stearn’s Wharf to see the colorful watercraft of all sizes glide along the water. Be sure to stay til the end for the fireworks show. And, get there early and head to the City Pier (near the Maritime Museum) to see revelers playing in tons of snow and enjoying other kid-friendly activities.

Just up the coast, Morro Bay in San Luis Obispo is holding its Lighted Boat Parade on Saturday, December 5th at 6:30pm.

The Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade is on Saturday, December 12th. I’ll be your host at Burton Chace Park, offering colorful commentary at the passing boats. It’s always fun and, if there’s a lull in the parade, we’ll recruit some kids to lead us in a round of Christmas Carols.

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'Santa's Helpers' assist boat parade announcers Lisa & Mickey Lazslo with holiday carol singalongs at Burton Chace Park, Marina del Rey.

‘Santa’s Helpers’ assist boat parade announcers Lisa & Mickey Lazslo with holiday carol singalongs at Burton Chace Park, Marina del Rey.

Colorful fireworks will light up the Marina del Rey harbor at 5:55 PM, and the parade starts at 6 PM. The theme this year is “Adventures on the Sea,” and “Brady Bunch” mom, Florence Henderson, will serve as grand marshal.  You should find free parking in the L.A. County lots (Burton Chace Park is located at the end of Mindanao in Marina del Rey).

Redondo Beach and the community of Naples are also holding their parades on December 12th. Redondo Beach’s parade isn’t as elaborate as Marina del Rey’s, but it will still be plenty of fun. If you are in the South Bay, Click here to check out some of the prime viewing spots. The Naples Holiday Boat Parade in Long Beach starts at 7pm, but nearby streets close at 5pm, so plan to arrive early.

Also Read: Santa Barbara’s “Merry” Season

Dana Point‘s parade expands to two weekends this year, Fri/Sat Dec 11, 12, 18 & 19th. And, the Ventura Harbor Parade of Lights and fireworks show takes place December 18-19th. Ventura Harbor Village is ground zero for all the Santa Fun.

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The Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade is the grand daddy of Southern California boat parades, running for five nights, December 16-20th. Calling itself ‘the nation’s longest running lighted boat parade,’ some boaters spend $50,000 decorating their yachts and watercraft, vying for bragging rights and some wonderful prizes.  This parade has been going on for more than 100 years and the harbor is expected to be wall-to-wall boats again this year. I don’t know how the captains manage to keep from bumping into each other!

If you plan ahead, you might still be able to get a reservation at a waterside restaurant with a view. But, it can be just as much fun to watch the parade outdoors, it’s free and what a fun family Christmas activity!

Traffic411 Insider’s Tip: Dress warmly – it might feel cooler than the temperature outside sitting waterside to view the parade.

Enjoy this photo gallery of the 2013 Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade, photos by Ken Pfeiffer Photography

Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade 2013

It's a holiday tradition that I've had the honor of hosting for more than a decade, the Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade. For the first time, my co-host Mickey Czegledy and I broadcast from Fisherman's Village. Thanks to Ken Pfeiffer for sharing these beautiful photos.

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Colorful boats sparkle in the harbor next to Fisherman's Village, all decked out for the 51st Annual Holiday Boat Parade. (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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(Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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Lisa Osborne & Mickey Czegledy announcing the boats in the 51st Annual Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade. This is the first year we were at Fisherman's Village. Normally we announce the parade from Burton Chace Park. (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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(Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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The Killer Shrimp (restaurant) boat (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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(Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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(Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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Santa Monica Wind Jammers Yacht Club is usually a big winner at the parade. (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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Our friend Donna Leeds joins me and Mickey at the VIP party at Del Rey Yacht Club. It was fun to see this year's grand marshals, L.A. Lakers president Jeannie Buss and NBA Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson.
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That's a Wrap!! Thanks for the property managers at Fisherman's Village for hosting us while we announced the Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade. (l-r Debbie Talbot with LA County Beaches & Harbors, Lisa Osborne, Mickey Czegledy, former MDR Holiday Boat Parade president Diane Barretti (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

 

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So Cal Boat Parade of Lights

HP5A4347It’s a California holiday tradition. Rain or shine, colorful boat parades will be lighting up harbors up and down the coast almost until Santa comes down the chimney.

Most of the parades take place this weekend. So, bundle up and watch twinkling lights glowing off the water, as festively decorated boats and yachts decked out with Christmas trees, candy canes and even a Singing Santa or two make our coastline extra merry.

Parades in Dana Point and Ventura Harbor run tonight and tomorrow night ( Fri-Sat Dec. 12-13 2014). Marina del Rey and Redondo Beach host their parades Saturday night (Dec. 13). I am your friendly announcer in Burton Chace Park, in Marina del Rey (to get there, take Mindanao until it ends in the Marina).  Parking is free in the County lots, so plan to arrive early to get a spot (well before 5pm). Fireworks kick off the Marina del Rey Christmas Boat Parade at 5:55pm.

'Santa's Helpers' assist boat parade announcers  Lisa & Mickey Lazslo with holiday carol singalongs at Burton Chace Park, Marina del Rey.

‘Santa’s Helpers’ assist boat parade announcers Lisa & Mickey Lazslo with holiday carol singalongs at Burton Chace Park, Marina del Rey.

Sunday in Santa Barbara, it’s an all afternoon affair – Santa’s Village on Stearns Wharf will keep kids of all ages busy until colorful vessels parade along the breakwater.

Starting on Tuesday, December 17th, head to Orange County for the granddaddy of Southern California boat parades. Hundreds of boats and yachts are expected to participate in the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, which runs for five nights. This parade has been going on for more than 100 years. See Newport Harbor packed with watercraft, from kayaking Santa to dancing elves. Boat owners go all out for this parade, it’s not uncommon to see $70,000 worth of decorations lighting up each boat!

Saturday, December 21st, is the Naples Holiday Boat Parade in Long Beach. The parade starts at 6pm, but nearby streets close at 5pm, so plan to arrive early.

If you plan ahead, you might still be able to get a reservation at a waterside restaurant with a view. But, it can be just as much fun to watch the parade outdoors, it’s free and what a fun family Christmas activity!

Click here for details on the Christmas Boat Parades across the Southland.

Traffic411 Insider’s Tip: Dress warmly – it might feel cooler than the temperature outside sitting waterside to view the parade.

 

 

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Santa Monica Daycations

A great thing about living in Southern California is you don’t have to travel far to at least FEEL like you are on vacation, even if it’s only for a few hours.

Palisades Park Santa Monica

Palisades Park is a beautiful place to talk or relax, taking in gorgeous views of the Santa Monica Bay.

Santa Monica is a favorite quick getaway for me.   Walking in Palisades Park with it’s beautiful green grass, palm trees and well-manicured rose garden is a gorgeous sight to take in plus it’s atop a bluff that overlooks the beautiful Santa Monica coastline.  And, with temperatures rarely getting out of the 70s, Santa Monica comfortable place to relax and cool off year-round.

From Palisades Park, you can see the Santa Monica Pier with its solar powered Ferris wheel.  This is the spot where a Los Angeles police detective recently broke the Guinness World Record for the longest Ferris Wheel ride (he went round and round for 25.5 hours!  At least he had a close up ocean view from the pier).

Related: Carnival By the Sea Pacific Park, Santa Monica

Santa Monica Pier Ferris Wheel, Guinness World Record Location

From Palisades Park, you can see the Santa Monica Pier, where a man recently broke the record for longest Ferris wheel ride.

The Third Street Promenade is only two short blocks away.  There are several blocks of unique of boutiques and restaurants for browsing, shopping and dining, including a Barnes & Noble book store.  Cupcake lovers will want to visit Yummy Cupcakes, one of my guilty pleasures :), across the street from the Promenade on Wilshire at Third Street.

Also See: Parking in Santa Monica

If you’re looking for a more car-accessible shopping district, Montana Avenue is only a short drive away (Montana Avenue crosses Ocean at Palisades Park).  So, hop in your car or catch the Big Blue Bus up Montana to 14th Street.  Coffee & tea lovers have their choice of  Starbucks, Peets or  Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf all within two blocks.  Pick up some groceries or takeout deli dishes at Whole Foods Market.  Blue Plate offers fresh & healthy comfort food in a casual atmosphere. For something a little more upscale, try R+D Kitchen.  For a little pampering at a bargain price, drop by Montana Nails for a pedicure.

Pacific Coast Highway is just down the California Incline from Santa Monica’s Palisades Park.

Related:  Malibu Drive: PCH Oxnard – Santa Monica

So, hit the road to celebrate summer.  And check in often, Traffic411 is updated regularly with all kinds of vacation and staycation ideas to inspire you to hit the road to explore the beauty of Southern California.  Be sure to bookmark these real time traffic maps, and check in from your smartphone.  Traffic411’s real time traffic maps will route you around traffic tie ups in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and Ventura County 24/7.


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Cliffside Respite: Wayfarers Chapel

The architecture of Wayfarers Chapel in Rancho Palos Verdes showcases the church's gorgeous cliffside setting (Photo Traffic411/Ken Pfeiffer)

The architecture of Wayfarers Chapel in Rancho Palos Verdes showcases the church’s gorgeous cliffside setting (Photo Traffic411/Ken Pfeiffer)

You might feel as if you are in Big Sur along the Northern California coast when you visit Wayfarers Chapel in Rancho Palos Verdes. The glass church perched atop a seaside cliff is surrounded by tall pine trees and other trees, lush plants and colorful flowers while offering gorgeous views of the Los Angeles coastline with Catalina Island in the distance.

Designed to blend in with nature, the architecture of Wayfarers Chapel makes the most of this pristine setting.

The glass church is a popular wedding location, and it seems to be welcoming to everyone, although the ‘official’ religion that worships here is the Swedenborgian Church. According to it’s website, the Chapel also serves as a memorial to Emanuel Swedenborg, 18th century scientist, philosopher and theologian.

Open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, Wayfarers Chapel (5755 Palos Verdes Drive South, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA) is located across the road near the lavish Terranea Resort and Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles (see related Traffic411 post “So Cal Resortist“). Stop in for a quick visit to experience the serenity and peace of this very special place.

Wayfarers Chapel: Cliffside Retreat Rancho Palos Verdes

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The architecture of Wayfarers Chapel in Rancho Palos Verdes showcases the church's gorgeous cliff side setting. You'll feel like you're in Big Sur when you walk the grounds of this Christian church, located near Terranea Resort and Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles. (Photo Traffic411/Ken Pfeiffer)
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The architecture of Wayfarers Chapel in Rancho Palos Verdes showcases the church's gorgeous cliff side setting. You'll feel like you're in Big Sur when you walk the grounds of this Christian church, located near Terranea Resort and Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles. (Photo Traffic411/Ken Pfeiffer)
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The architecture of Wayfarers Chapel in Rancho Palos Verdes showcases the church's gorgeous cliff side setting. You'll feel like you're in Big Sur when you walk the grounds of this Christian church, located near Terranea Resort and Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles. (Photo Traffic411/Ken Pfeiffer)
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The beach at Rancho Palos Verdes near Wayfarers Chapel. (Photo Traffic411/Ken Pfeiffer)

Distance from LAX: 26 miles (35 minutes)

Traffic411 Insiders Tip:  While you’re here, explore the walking trails near Trump National Golf Club, experience the ‘California Casual’ vibe of the world-class Terranea Resort. The Port of Los Angeles and San Pedro lighthouses are also nearby.

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So Cal Resortist: Live like a Billionaire

Hit the beach at Terranea Resort in Los Angeles.  You don't need to be a guest to explore the grounds at this seaside luxury resort. There are also plenty of trails in the area for hikers to explore (Photo Traffic411/Pfeiffer)

Hit the beach at Terranea Resort in Los Angeles. You don’t need to be a guest to explore the grounds at this seaside luxury resort. There are also plenty of trails in the area for hikers to explore (Photo Traffic411/Pfeiffer)

The Terranea Resort and Trump National Golf Course in Rancho Palos Verdes sit atop gorgeous stretch of cliffside coastline. These world-class properties are not far from the bustling Port of Los Angeles but, when you’re there, you’ll feel like you’re a world away.

Terranea is a luxury oceanfront resort built on the property that was once Marineland (you’ll remember this if you grew up in Los Angeles!).  You don’t need to book a room to enjoy the property.  Visit for the day to explore the grounds, or enjoy breakfast, brunch, lunch or happy hour at Nelson’s, an upscale sports bar with plenty of outdoor seating. You’ll feel like you’re in Hawaii, or on vacation.  For a more formal dining experience, check out the Sunday brunch at Terranea, it looks exquisite!

Terranea is a beautiful property with walking paths, a small private beach, and great photo ops. Parking is plentiful ($10-ish to valet or self park) and you can hop a ride on a golf cart to get to Nelson’s, or enjoy the walk.

Terranea Resort - Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles

The Terranea Resort and Trump National Golf Course in Rancho Palos Verdes sit atop gorgeous stretch of cliffside coastline. These world-class properties are not far from the bustling Port of Los Angeles, but it seems like they are a world away.

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A splashing fountain in the driveway of the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes welcomes guests to this world class luxuryresort. (Photo Traffic411/Pfeiffer)
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A rusted pipe along the Rancho Palos Verdes coast at the Terranea Resort. (Photo Traffic411/Pfeiffer)
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Explore the sandy beach, or kayak, at Terranea Resort in Los Angeles. (Photo Traffic411/Pfeiffer)
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Terranea Resort sits on the former site of Marineland, offering walking paths and gorgeous views of Rancho Palos Verdes, just north of the bustling Port of Los Angeles. (Photo Traffic411/Pfeiffer)
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There are plenty of great photo ops at Terranea Resort Los Angeles. (Photo Traffic411/Pfeiffer)
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Down the street from Terranea, the public park adjacent to Trump National Golf Club offers a large lawn and ocean views. (Photo Traffic411/Pfeiffer)
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The fountain on the course at Trump National Golf Club. (Photo Traffic411/Pfeiffer)
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The public park next to Trump National Golf Club offers picnic tables with an ocean view. (Photo Traffic411/Pfeiffer)
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The fountain outside the entrance to Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles (Photo Traffic411/Pfeiffer)
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An elegant fireplace warms up the lobby of Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles (Photo Traffic411/Pfeiffer)

Just down the street from Terranea is Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles. You don’t need to be a golfer to enjoy yourself here. In order to build this luxury golf resort, Mr. Trump had to provide beach access and a public park, so you’ll find walking paths and trails that lead on a bluff along the coast. There’s (free) parking in the beach access lot, which is an easy walk to the Trump property. Grab a burger or snack at the golf canteen at Trump or bring your own food and enjoy dining on a picnic table with a million dollar view!

The more adventurous hiker will enjoy exploring the hiking trails on both sides of the street along this resort area of Rancho Palos Verdes. There is a lot to see, and plenty of reasons to return.  Terranea and Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles are easy half day trips for cruise ship passengers passing through the Port of Los Angeles.

Traffic411 Insider Tip: You can easily visit both of these places in a day. Dine al fresco at Nelson’s at Terranea, or bring your own lunch to enjoy on a cliffside picnic table at the public park next to Trump National Golf Club.

Distance from LAX: 18 miles


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Cruise ship passengers at the Port of Los Angeles can easily explore Terranea Resort or Trump National Golf Club are an easy 25 minute drive from the Port of Los Angeles.


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Hollywood Jam

Getting around Hollywood  this weekend will be a challenge with preparations underway for the 86th Academy Awards (Photo: Funk Brothers Hollywood Star Ceremony Lisa Osborne/Traffic411)

Getting around Hollywood this weekend will be a challenge with preparations underway for the 86th Academy Awards (Photo: Funk Brothers Hollywood Star Ceremony Lisa Osborne/Traffic411)

With preparations underway for Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony, getting around Hollywood is going to be a pain. Hollywood Boulevard between Highland and Orange has been closed all week, as the Dolby Theater (former Kodak Theater) gets ready for Oscar.

If you’re heading into Hollywood from the 101 Freeway, avoid the Highland Ave exit. Use Cahuenga, Vine or Gower instead.  If you are taking the canyon roads to travel between Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley, Coldwater Canyon or (to the west), Benedict Canyon or Beverly Glen will be a better bet than Laurel Canyon.  Clean up following the Academy Awards on Sunday, March 2, will last another day or so. By Wednesday March 5, traffic in Hollywood should be back to normal.

Ever wonder what it’s like to be on the Red Carpet at a Hollywood Awards Show?  Click here to listen to my podcast with celebrity photographer Lee Roth!

(Photo: RothStock Media/HollyNet.com)

(Photo: RothStock Media/HollyNet.com)

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L.A.’s Spiritual Oasis

The Self Realization Fellowship in Pacific Palisades is a relaxing place to visit, walk, or sit in quiet meditation. (Photo Traffic411/Ken Pfeiffer)

The Self Realization Fellowship in Pacific Palisades is a relaxing place to visit, walk, or sit in quiet meditation. (Photo Traffic411/Ken Pfeiffer)

A short walk from the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, you’ll find the peaceful grounds of the Self Realization Fellowship in Pacific Palisades.

An oasis in the city, this is a beautiful place to come to relax and unwind. Take a leisurely walk around the lake, or sit quietly on one of the many stone benches nestled next to foliage and fountains.

The Self Realization Fellowship is a non-profit spiritual organization  founded in 1920 by Paramahansa Yogananda. It offers meditation classes, retreats and worship services.  People of all faiths are welcome to visit the grounds. Admission is free, donations are appreciated.

The first time you visit, you might be surprised to see this beautiful, peaceful oasis so close to busy Pacific Coast Highway.  The grounds are not visible from Sunset Boulevard, so you could drive right by without knowing it’s here.  Once you find it, you might want to visit regularly to relax and recharge.

Traffic411 Insider’s Tip: Park on Palisades Drive, and walk to the beach (near Gladstone’s Malibu) before or after you visit. There are also good restaurants in the shopping center on Palisades Drive.

Distance from LAX: 16 miles


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So Cal Parade of Lights

Celebrate the holidays California style at one of the many boat parades, from Newport Beach to Santa Barbara (Photo Traffic411).

Celebrate the holidays California style at one of the many boat parades, from Newport Beach to Santa Barbara (Photo Traffic411).

Celebrate the holidays California-style at one of the many colorful boat parades lighting up local harbors up and down the coast.  For more than 100 years, boaters have been decking their hulls (and bows and sterns) with colorful lights and fanciful decorations to dazzle viewers.  Spectators can enjoy the parade from the shore, a boat or inside one of the many bars or restaurants along the parade route.

So, bundle up and head for the coast as boaters compete for prizes and bragging rights. Whether you enjoy the parade from a harbor restaurant, on the shore or on a boat, bundle up and take in this Southern California holiday tradition.

  • Sunday, December 9th Santa Barbara Christmas Boat Parade: City Pier transforms into Santa’s Village winter wonderland. The Jolly Old Guy will feel right at home, he’s bringing 10 tons of snow for both the naughty and nice kids to enjoy. The parade begins at 5:30pm, followed by a fireworks display. This year’s theme is “Starry, Starry Night,” and with cold temperatures in So Cal, you should be able to see plenty of stars in the sky as well.
  • December 14th Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade: A fireworks display at 5:55pm kicks off this parade of lights. I am the ‘play by play’ announcer at this parade, announcing this year from Fisherman’s Village. This year’s theme is “Holiday Magic.”  L.A. Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and NBA coach Phil Jackson are this year’s grand marshals.

Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade 2013

It's a holiday tradition that I've had the honor of hosting for more than a decade, the Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade. For the first time, my co-host Mickey Czegledy and I broadcast from Fisherman's Village. Thanks to Ken Pfeiffer for sharing these beautiful photos.

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Colorful boats sparkle in the harbor next to Fisherman's Village, all decked out for the 51st Annual Holiday Boat Parade. (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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(Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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Lisa Osborne & Mickey Czegledy announcing the boats in the 51st Annual Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade. This is the first year we were at Fisherman's Village. Normally we announce the parade from Burton Chace Park. (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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(Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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The Killer Shrimp (restaurant) boat (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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(Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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(Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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Santa Monica Wind Jammers Yacht Club is usually a big winner at the parade. (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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Our friend Donna Leeds joins me and Mickey at the VIP party at Del Rey Yacht Club. It was fun to see this year's grand marshals, L.A. Lakers president Jeannie Buss and NBA Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson.
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That's a Wrap!! Thanks for the property managers at Fisherman's Village for hosting us while we announced the Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade. (l-r Debbie Talbot with LA County Beaches & Harbors, Lisa Osborne, Mickey Czegledy, former MDR Holiday Boat Parade president Diane Barretti (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

  • December 14th Channel Islands Harbor (Ventura County): Snow and an appearance by Mr & Mrs Santa Claus are part of a day of fun that starts at noon. The “Jingle Bell Rock” themed parade lights up the harbor at 7pm.
  • December 20-21st: Ventura Harbor’s parade lights up the harbor for two nights and features a fireworks display. This year’s theme is “Seaside Tinsel Town.”
  • December 18-22  Newport Harbor Christmas Boat Parade “Rockin Around the Christmas Tree: In it’s 105th year, this parade is the granddaddy of them all, claiming it attracts more than 1 million viewers. Some boaters in this parade spend $70,000 or more (seriously!) decking their hulls for this five night extravaganza. I’ve been on the water during this parade, and the harbor is wall to wall boats of all sizes, you might even see a daring Santa or two on a stand up paddleboard! Check out these photos of winners from last year’s event!

 Traffic411 Insider Tip:  Dress warmly, in layers.  Even if temperatures don’t seem too cold, sitting along the water can feel cold and damp. If you are sensitive to cold, find a place indoors to view the parade (dinner reservations are a good idea to ensure the best spot).

I host the Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade. Beach Volleyball superstar Kerri Walsh     Jennings (right) was grand marshal of the 2012 parade.

I host the Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade. Beach Volleyball superstar Kerri Walsh Jennings (right) was grand marshal of the 2012 parade.

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El Matador Beach: Picture Perfect!

El Matador State Beach in Malibu features some of the most scenic coastline in California (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

El Matador State Beach in Malibu features some of the most scenic coastline in California (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

Are you looking for a great photo op that will make you the envy of your friends & family (especially those who live where it’s snowy & cold)? Look no further than El Matador State Beach in Malibu.

Tall rocks form archways in the shallow waters west of Zuma Beach. Sea birds perch on branches of wind blown cypress trees atop the craggy coastline.  El Matador’s pristine beauty and golden light is a favorite location of photographers (nature and portrait) and artists who want to capture the remote beauty of this stretch of California coastline.

Related: Hike Solstice Canyon Malibu

There’s a small parking lot above the beach (or parking on Pacific Coast Highway) with a stairway that leads down to the sand.  You will probably find a little more privacy if you visit on a weekday. There are no restaurants or shops at El Matador, making this possibly one of California’s best kept secrets.

El Matador State Beach

Picture Perfect! El Matador State Beach in Malibu may be one of California's best kept secrets! Enjoy these gorgeous photos by Ken Pfeiffer.

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View of El Matador State Beach in Malibu from the parking lot above (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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Stone arch at El Matador State Beach, Malibu, CA (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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A view of the Malibu coastline from El Matador State Beach, Malibu, CA (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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El Matador State Beach, Malibu, CA (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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El Matador State Beach, Malibu, CA (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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Traffic411's Lisa Osborne poses at El Matador State Beach, Malibu, CA (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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El Matador State Beach, Malibu, CA (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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El Matador State Beach, Malibu, CA (Photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

From Santa Monica, this beach is on the far end of Malibu. If you want to explore sea stars (starfish) and other sea life while you’re here, visit nearby Leo Carrillo State Beach at low tide. Tide pools are home to a lot of sea creatures.

Traffic411 Insider’s Tip: The daily parking fee ($8) will give you access to some other state beaches & parks, including the prime-tide-pool-viewing spot Leo Carrillo State Beach.

Distance from LAX: 33 miles (55 minutes)


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Free L.A.: Griffith Observatory

The copper dome roof at the Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411).

The copper dome roof at the Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411).

 

Did you know that California’s atmosphere is perfect for star watching? That’s just one of the fascinating facts you’ll learn when you visit Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.

Before blast off, Apollo Astronauts came to this L.A. landmark to learn about the stars and space. Griffith Observatory is a fun place to spend a few hours, or the day. Bring a blanket and lounge on the front lawn.

The iconic Hollywood Sign can be seen in the distance through the arch at Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles. (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

The iconic Hollywood Sign can be seen in the distance through the arch at Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles. (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

Admission to the exhibits is free and, for a few bucks, you can see a show at the Samuel Oschin Planetarium. Public star parties are held each month, so check the calendar. You’ll learn a lot about the Observatory and it’s history by viewing the (free) movie in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon theater.

Parking is limited at Griffith Observatory. It was a beautiful clear day in Los Angeles when I visited, so we literally parked one mile away! It’s a nice walk if you’re up for it, just wear comfortable shoes.  If you don’t want to walk, visit on a weekday, or take a bus – click this link – and scroll down to ‘other transportation’ for details. It’s closed Mondays.

Griffith Observatory, which opened in 1935, underwent a massive renovation in 2002. It reopened in 2006 and is truly one of LA’s most spectacular landmarks. If you grew up in So Cal, you probably visited the Observatory on a school field trip, but it’s well worth the trip to see it today.  Visit on a clear day and enjoy views of Los Angeles from Mount Wilson to the Pacific Ocean.

Traffic411 Insider Tip: Griffith Observatory is located in Griffith Park, which is massive. Bring the address so you can find the observatory, if you enter the park off of the Ventura (134) freeway, it’s not easy to find.

Distance from LAX: 27 miles

Free Los Angeles: Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory is among the most recognizable Los Angeles landmarks. With free admission, it's a great way to learn about the planets,our solar system and beyond. Bring a picnic and enjoy an afternoon or sunset on the front lawn. The public is invited to free 'star parties,' held each month for stargazing through telescopes.

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The Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, gorgeous architecture - and, because of it's sturdy construction, it's one of the safest places to be during an earthquake! (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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The iconic Hollywood Sign can be seen in the distance through the arch at Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles. (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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The Astronomers Monument pays homage to six of the greatest astronomers, at Griffith Observatory Los Angeles. (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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"Rebel Without a Cause" starring James Dean is one of many movies filmed at Griffith Observatory Los Angeles. (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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Griffith Observatory is a fun place to learn about the moon, planets, our solar system and beyond! (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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The Foucault amazes visitors to Griffith Observatory Los Angeles (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411).
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There are many new exhibits to see since the Griffith Observatory was remodeled in 2002. (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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The roof at Griffith Observatory offers a great photo op for you and the iconic Hollywood Sign (photo of Lisa Osborne by Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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Visit Griffith Observatory on a clear day to enjoy stunning views of Downtown Los Angeles and (looking in another direction) the Pacific Ocean. (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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The copper dome roof at the Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)


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