A holiday ornament with a star hangs on a Christmas tree

Palisades Village: A Holiday Playground by the Pacific

While the rigmarole of the holidays can prove stressful for some, those celebrating on the Pacific coast enjoy a laidback take on the festive season. Along with regionally inspired events and activities, visitors will find the newly unveiled shopping center and wonderland of Palisades Village just a 20-minute drive down the PCH from Malibu Beach Inn.

Widely acclaimed since its recent debut in September, the 125,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor shopping village and walkable community is home to a movie theater, community space, and grocery store, as well as a collection of seasonally inspired restaurants and chic shops.

Palisades Village shopping center near Malibu, California.

Photo: Caruso 

In an inaugural tree lighting ceremony on November 25, the new month-long tradition of holiday festivities at Palisades Village kicked off with an evening of crafts, treats, and entertainment, including a performance from Disney’s DCapella and a grand arrival from Santa himself.

But if you missed the man in red on opening night — don’t fret — he set up shop at Santa’s Cottage and remains available to field wishlists and take photos until his big night on Christmas Eve. In an effort to make the magic accessible to all, American Sign Language master Mrs. Claus will join her husband on December 11 to help translate for visitors who are hearing-impaired.

Adding to the ever-popular Santa centerpiece, those who step into the world of Palisades Village will have plenty of opportunities to get into the holiday spirit with loved ones. Other activities on tap for the season include Thursday evening wine tastings hosted by the Malibu-based Vintage Grocers and Saturday afternoon workshops provided by Porsche, where guests of all ages can get behind the wheel of a driving simulator and participate in holiday crafts and games.

Wine bottles at Vintage Grocers in Pacific Palisades, California

Photo: Dustin Downing, courtesy of Vintage Grocers

Although visitors won’t have trouble finding a festive engagement to enjoy on any given night, Saturdays offer the most variety. On December 8, young ones can participate in the Kids Cookies + Mylk masterclass, a vegan and paleo cookie workshop put on by Sweet Laurel, and on December 15, families are invited to try their hand at making a complimentary wreath from fresh florals and foraged materials during the Holiday Wreath Workshop at Vince.

With the exception of the 5,000-square-foot brick-and-mortar Amazon Books store anchoring the shopping center on Sunset Boulevard and Swarthmore Avenue (as well as a few other chainlets with California roots), the designers of Palisades Village envisioned a place where local, family-owned businesses could thrive and thus nurture the surrounding community.

Attracting a diverse and colorful roster of independent boutiques, this vision has become a quick reality in the short time the village has been open for business, and just in time for the season of giving. After the recent wildfire, affected residents were offered half-price prescription lenses from eyewear boutique Village Optic, as well as complimentary meals from Porta Via Palisades, the sister restaurant of the acclaimed Porta Via Beverly Hills.

A holiday wreath

Among the myriad shops represented in Palisades Village, holiday shoppers can find mindful and bespoke gifts for everyone on their list (and get that warm and fuzzy feeling while doing it). All purchases made at The Little Market — a lifestyle boutique and non-profit offering handmade, fair-trade goods like jewelry, bags, home décor, and baby clothes — support the company’s mission to preserve the work of female artisans around the world. Other specialty stores include the Hollywood-based barber and grooming shop Gornik & Drucker, and fashion-forward boutiques like Anine Bing, Cynthia Rowley, and Jennifer Meyer.

Having fun can make you hungry, so it’s a good thing Palisades Village has no shortage of options, from early morning eats to late-night bites.

To the delight of smoothie aficionados, Palisades Village is home to the newest location of SunLife Organics, serving up healthy and delicious concoctions with ingredients considered quintessentially California. Those looking to satisfy their sweet tooth will discover fresh holiday flavors at McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, such as “Egg Nog,” “Cardamom and Ginger Snaps,” and “Reindeer Tracks” — a creation consisting of dark chocolate ice cream embedded with peppermint pieces and chewy chocolate cookies.

Palisades Village shopping center in Pacific Palisades, California.

Photo: Caruso

To track down classic American comfort food (along with craft cocktails, beer, and wine) head to Hank’s, a breakfast-to-dinner neighborhood joint known for its wild mushroom burgers, fried chicken, and hot, savory bowls of matzo ball soup.

For international fare, try the exquisite nigiri, sashimi, and chef-crafted maki rolls at Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill, or indulge in European-style seasonal dishes from The Draycott — before taking a relaxing ride on their Bloody Mary trolley. Make sure to catch a delectably festive buffet brunch with Santa, who will be the guest-of-honor at The Draycott on December 8 and again on December 15.

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