Skip to main content
CaliforniaNorth AmericaTravel TipsUnited States

A Holiday Gift Guide for California Dreaming

By November 30, 2016November 24th, 2018No Comments

As Christmas draws near, it’s time to shop! Department stores with holiday garlands, twinkling lights and cheerful Christmas music have their own appeal, but tracking down one-of-a-kind gifts for your favorite traveler isn’t always easy at the mall.

While California isn’t the only destination travelers flock to, it’s one of the U.S.’s most popular winter getaways. For many, it’s an escape to warmer weather, epic views, endless sunshine and an incredible amount of unique activities. As a longtime West Coast girl, I can vouch for the magic of California—both during the winter and all year long.

A Holiday Gift Guide for California Dreaming

Whether you know someone who is planning a trip to the Golden State or someone who simply wishes they were, this holiday gift guide for California dreaming is sure to inspire.

RAEN Maude Sunglasses

A trip to California isn’t complete without a stellar pair of sunglasses. Oceanside-based RAEN Optics creates unique handmade sunglasses in timeless styles, but their Maude sunglasses are especially adorable. These lightweight feminine glasses have a slight cat-eye and come in neutral black as well as brindle tortoise and, my personal favorite, chateau. Maintain your sense of style while keeping harmful rays out of your eyes—whether you’re in California or halfway around the world.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 70

Fujifilm Instax Mini 70

A camera is always the perfect gift for a traveler and Fujifilm’s latest instant camera is no exception. In our digital age, it’s refreshing to have printed photos—especially those that don’t require a trip to a photo processing center. This makes it even easier to share your photos with friends during your travels. The camera also features some special settings, like automatic exposure control with built-in shutter speed adjustment as well as modes for macro shots, landscapes and selfies (complete with a mirror!).

Compartes Gourmet Holiday Truffles

Handcrafting small-batch chocolates in Los Angeles for over 60 years, you’ll be hard-pressed to find California chocolates that are more impressive than Compartes’ holiday truffles. Their 20-piece holiday collection is filled with luscious flavors of the season, including gingerbread, eggnog and apple pie. Aside from the flavor, the candies are also covered in colorful holiday patterns. While you never know which you might get, boxes contain a mixture of penguins, polar bears, Christmas trees, plaid designs and more.

Busy Girl Bangle

Busy Girl Bangle

Amidst the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, it’s no secret that fashion is everything. But with the hustle and bustle of big city living, it’s sometimes difficult to bridge the gap between practical and beautiful. The Busy Girl Bangle solves this perfectly. The bracelets—which come in gold, silver and rose gold—have a built-in divot that holds a hair tie. It’s the perfect way to hide your hair band while still having access to it during even the most luxurious of occasions.

North Face Router Transit Backpack

City travelers will love North Face’s Router Transit Backpack just as much as hikers, campers and outdoor explorers. The unisex bag is larger than many North Face backpacks, but it is still small enough for shorter weekend trips or use as a carry-on bag. There is a padded laptop sleeve as well as fleece-lined pockets that are great for stowing breakables like smaller electronics or sunglasses.

Outdoor Tech Buckshot 2.0 Wireless Speaker

Outdoor Tech Buckshot 2.0

As far as bluetooth speakers go, this is the only one you’ll ever need. Made with waterproof and dustproof materials, this Bluetooth-compatible speaker can go anywhere you go. The compact size makes it especially easy to bring along on your travels, but don’t be fooled: the Buckshot 2.0 has a huge sound. On top of the speaker, it also has a microphone, both of which can be used to also make phone calls or ask Siri questions. There are three different ways to mount it, including the built-in heavy-duty clip and a rubber grip that makes it the absolute best way to listen to music while bike riding, either on mountain trails or city streets.

Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks Guide

Nature lovers that have been California Dreaming need to start planning a trip to Yosemite National Park, one of the state’s most stunning areas. Nearby Sequoia and Kings Canyon parks are similarly captivating—and all three are included in this Lonely Planet National Parks Guide. Filled with insider tips, sample itineraries, maps of hiking trails, campsite reviews and information on local history and geology, it’s the perfect tool to help you create your own itinerary for a thrilling trip to the Sierra Nevada range.

1More Over-Ear Headphones


We all love the crashing sounds of the waves along the California coastline, but sometimes in the chaos of the city we want to drown all the noise out. Having a stylish and sleek pair of high-tech headphones can often do the trick. I personally avoid earbuds because they tend to come out of my ears easily or get tangled, so over-ear headphones are my favorite. They often produce a richer, fuller sound too. The 1More over-ear headphones come in cherry red or blue (with bluetooth compatibility) and have the backing of Grammy award-winning sound engineers who’ve worked on it’s best assets. Flexible, comfortable and great for  every-day use is what makes these headphones shine brighter than the Cali sun.

Rutherford Ranch Wine Club

Napa Valley is an oasis for wine lovers, but you can get the area’s delicious wines without even traveling to California. The Rutherford Ranch Wine Club sends out shipments to your specifications: red wines like Pinot Noirs, Cabernet Sauvignons and red blends; white wines like Sauvignon Blancs, Chardonnays, white blends, and rosés; or a combination of both reds and whites. And it gets even better—when a member visits the Napa Valley winery, they’ll enjoy complimentary tastings, an exclusive tasting lounge and discounts on wine purchases.

Paddywax Ocean Tide + Sea Salt Candle

Paddywax Ocean Tide + Sea Salt Candle

Those who can’t make it to California can at least enjoy the smell of it with Paddywax’s Ocean Tide + Sea Salt candle. One whiff of the soy wax will transport you to Orange County’s coastline, offering a seaside atmosphere in your own home. The slight hint of sea salt only adds to that feeling. The aqua glass of the jar fits the ocean theme as well and, although this candle wasn’t crafted in California, it is certainly reminiscent of it.

Ringly Smart Ring

Just like the Busy Girl Bangle, Ringly’s smart rings are perfect for those visiting Los Angeles. Keep up appearances with this flashy piece of jewelry that doubles as a notification ring and activity tracker. In addition to tallying steps taken and calories burned, these smart rings sync with over 100 different apps, including both wellness and messaging apps. Vibration patterns and colored lights can be customized depending on the type of notification. During your next night on the town, don’t worry about pulling your phone out; your ring will alert you when you are getting messages and no one around you will know.

Olloclip 4-in-1 Lens

Olloclip for iPad

iPhone photography has become all the rage. And why shouldn’t it be? While DSLRs have long been the preferred way to take stunning travel shots, images taken on iPhones are now similar in quality—and so much easier to take. Rather than transporting large lenses and camera bodies, get Olloclip’s mini 4-in-1 lenses that attach right to your cell phone. Available for mobile Apple devices and the Samsung Galaxy, it’s easier than ever to take wide angle, fish eye or macro photos on your phone.

Olloclip Examples

Images taken with Olloclip lenses (left: fisheye; right: macro 10x)

Wavestorm Classic Longboard

A trip to California isn’t complete without a surf lesson. Offer your favorite traveler a head start with the Wavestorm Classic Longboard. While these surfboards aren’t top-of-the-line, they are the ideal boards for beginners—perfect for those that don’t live near the coast and will get limited use out of them. The textured pad on the board adds an extra element that can be beneficial to beginners as well. Because they are made of foam, these longboards are lightweight and easy to transport. Wavestorm is also based in California, with their headquarters in Irvine.

Airportag California Throw Pillow

Airportag California Throw Pillow

Travelers from all over will love Airportag’s products, designed featuring world-famous airport codes. This California Throw Pillow features the IATA codes from airports throughout the state, organized within California’s outline. The pillow is fully customizable; shoppers can choose the background color, the color of the states and the color of the writing. Airportag also luggage tags, passport covers, posters, blankets, mugs, tote bags, t-shirts and more—all adorned with airport codes or travel-related quotes.

Traveler’s Company Traveler’s Notebook Starter Kit

Though Traveler’s Company crafts their notebooks in Tokyo, they are a great gift for travelers who frequent any destination—especially California. With so much to see throughout the state, you’ll want your own notebook to dedicate to your travels. These Traveler’s Notebook Starter Kits come with a removable leather cover, making it easy to buy refill notebooks for each destination you travel to. Additional zipper cases and pockets can also be inserted to customize it further. Purchase a starter kit for upcoming California trips—store your notes, doodles, admission tickets and photos inside. Simply purchase a new notebook refill before setting off on your next adventure.

What other items should be included on our holiday gift guide? Let us know what other gifts you’re enjoying this season in the comments below!

Ashley Ryan

Author Ashley Ryan

Ashley Ryan is a southern California native with a background in journalism and anthropology. She loves learning about other cultures and combines her passions for traveling, writing and photography in her professional work. To learn more or get in touch, visit

More posts by Ashley Ryan

Leave a Reply