New Yorkers may mark the start of the holiday season with the lighting of the tree at Rockefeller Center and Washingtonians may feel the same about the lighting of the White House Christmas tree. But in greater Los Angeles, holiday cheer-seekers head east -- to the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside.
Inn owner Duane Roberts illuminates his landmark hotel with more than 3.5 million lights and stages a free Festival of Lights show, replete with an elaborately decorated Christmas tree, Dickens carolers, horse-drawn carriages and more than 400 animated characters dressed in 17th Century costumes. There's even free hot cocoa, eggnog and holiday sweets. (No, there's no snow, but truth is most of us moved here because we weren't that attached to it in the first place.)