Exploring the bright holiday lights, gliding through a winter wonderland on ice skates, or enjoying warm drinks by a fire pit are just a few of the fantastic winter activities Los Angeles. While the city itself doesn’t see much natural snowfall, you can still find plenty of icy adventures in the nearby mountains or enjoy a festive holiday atmosphere. Whether you’re eager to play in the snow or just looking for a variety of fun activities to get into the holiday mood, there are numerous winter activities Los Angeles has to offer.
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1. Go Ice Skating
Turn Los Angeles into your own winter wonderland this Christmas season by adding ice skating to your activities. The family-friendly ice rinks in L.A. offer more than just skating. You can enjoy winter-themed food and drinks, Christmas lights, and even meet Santa. While L.A. may not seem like a typical winter destination, it transforms when you skate among the Downtown skyscrapers at Pershing Square’s outdoor holiday rink. Skate rentals are part of your admission ticket, but remember that lockers and skating aids cost a little extra.
Address: Pershing Square Park532 S Olive St, Los Angeles 90013 | holidayicerinkdowntownla.com/
2. Enjoy Winter Views on a Hike
Head to the hills before the hot summer days arrive. The views are a major highlight, especially after the rainy winter season when the skies are clear and beautiful. Just remember to consider the cooler temperatures and shorter daylight hours when planning your hike.
3. Chill on The Beach
Surprisingly, winter is a great time to visit the beach. While the water may be too cold for swimming, it usually is, and you probably weren’t planning to go in the water anyway. During winter, beach city temperatures often hover around 70 degrees, which is cool enough to deter tourists but still warm enough for you to enjoy the beach in a warm sweatshirt.
4. Go For a Snowy Scene
If you’re longing for a snowy scene, consider leaving the L.A. Basin and venturing into the mountains. To see some snow, you don’t need to travel too far. After the season’s first snowfall, a short drive of an hour or two to Mountain Baldy lets you enjoy a snowy getaway, complete with a ski lift ride.
Alternatively, for a chance to make some snowballs, you can drive along the Angeles Crest Highway for about 45 minutes (weather permitting and if it’s open) just beyond Newcombs Ranch. There, you’ll usually find several spots next to hills covered in snow.
5. Go Skiing
For those willing to travel a bit further, there are nearly a dozen major ski resorts within a day’s drive from L.A. Notably, Snow Valley, Mountain High, and the adjacent slopes of Bear Mountain and Snow Summit are all reachable within a three-hour drive from most areas in L.A.
6. Go Whale Watching
Winter is the best time for whale watching, as gray whales migrate from the cold waters of Alaska to the warmer lagoons of the Baja Peninsula in Mexico. They head south between November and December, and return north from March to April. The migration patterns of these large mammals can vary, but they can be seen along California’s coast throughout the season.
You can book a whale watching tour here.
7. Sip Cocktail by The Fire
As the days shorten and the chill of the Pacific Ocean breeze sets in, seek out the warmth of fire pits and other snug spots around L.A.
Old Man Bar is a great place to stay cozy with its roaring fire and seasonal cocktails throughout autumn and winter. Tucked away at the back of Hatchet Hall in Culver City, this rustic bar is adorned with taxidermy and features a welcoming fireplace. It’s the perfect setting to unwind and enjoy drinks like the Doverhill, a mix of Old Forester rye, vermouth, amaro, and Cointreau.
Address: Hatchett Hall, 12517 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles 90066
8. Visit a Museum
Visiting L.A.’s top museums is always a good idea, especially with so many free options available. The occasional cold, rainy winter days offer a great chance to explore various exhibitions without the summer crowds. These days are ideal for enjoying some cultural experiences in a more relaxed atmosphere.
9. Visit Botanical Garden to Admire Unique Winter Colors
Take a moment to appreciate that in winter, L.A.’s landscape is filled with vibrant greens and soft floral pastels, rather than just brown and white. Los Angeles is unique in its ability to support a wide variety of plants year-round. Visiting one of the many well-maintained gardens in L.A. offers a glimpse of vegetation you won’t see on city streets. For example, the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden in Arcadia, located near the Santa Anita racetrack, is a stunning, education-focused garden with plants organized by region. However, many visitors come for the tranquility it offers. You can spend hours exploring its tropical forests, waterfalls, diverse trees, and fish.
Address: 301 N Baldwin AveLos Angeles, 91007 | https://www.arboretum.org/
10. Drink an Unique Cup Of Coffee
During the cold days, many of us rely on coffee to keep going. Whether enjoyed with a delicious pastry or on its own, good coffee is essential, not just in winter but all year round. But where to find exceptional coffee? In Pasadena’s Burlington Arcade, there’s a hidden gem: Mandarin Coffee Stand. This small café offers a unique experience with high-quality specialty coffee beans from Yunnan, China. Their signature tea and espresso drinks are inspired by various Chinese cultures. For example, they have an espresso tonic with homemade pineapple jam, reminiscent of Taiwanese pineapple cakes, and a version of Hong Kong milk tea using rooibos. Additionally, Mandarin Coffee Stand sometimes hosts pop-ups featuring Asian American bakers.
Address: 380 S Lake AvePasadena, LA 91101 | instagram.com/mandarincoffeestand/
11. Experience a Holiday Candlelight Concert
Escape the cold winter evenings and immerse yourself in some of the most beautiful settings, lit by the warm glow of hundreds of candles. The popular Candlelight series is hosting skilled musicians in these enchanting venues for the season. Surround yourself with the magic of the holidays as you listen to breathtaking performances of classic tunes spanning various genres, all in a setting of mesmerizing candlelight. This experience combines a cozy atmosphere with the timeless beauty of holiday music.
You can find a full list of candlelight concerts here.
12. Embark on a Gondola Ride in Long Beach
While a trip to Italy might not be feasible for everyone, you can still experience a Venetian-style adventure along the canals in Long Beach. What makes it truly special is the Wonderland of Lights and decorations throughout December. The water becomes a mesmerizing display of colors, reflecting the festive lights from the holiday installations along the walkways and bridges.
Address: 5437 E Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach, CA 90803 | https://gondolagetawayinc.com/
13. Take a Brief Getaway
Occasionally, a brief getaway is just what’s needed, and fortunately, we’re surrounded by stunning landscapes and gorgeous beaches ideal for a peaceful afternoon. Winter is a great time for this; there are fewer crowds, and depending on where you go, you might see snow-covered mountains. Remember to dress warmly if you’re going to the desert, as the average high temperature there barely reaches 60 degrees in winter.
Read here about the best weekend getaways for L.A.
14. Have Some Fun At Theme Park
Disneyland is often the top pick for its attractions, decorations, ambiance, and food offerings. Remember, Disneyland’s presence in Anaheim isn’t limited to just the theme park. There’s also Disney California Adventure, Disney Hotel, and Downtown Disney, where you can stroll around without any cost.
Universal Studios Hollywood tends to be a favorite among teenagers and young adults, particularly because of the World of Harry Potter attraction. Like Downtown Disney, you can also explore Universal CityWalk without any entrance fee.
15. Venture To The Big Bear Mountain Resort
Southern California offers year-round adventures, from summer surfing to winter skiing. Although skiing at the Big Bear Mountain Resort will require a bit of travel, the breathtaking scenery there is a worthy reward. For those seeking a blend of adventure and romance, consider the magical experience of night skiing down the snow-draped slopes. Stay updated on the weather and plan for an unforgettable winter weekend getaway at Big Bear.
Address: 30 Big Bear Resort Rd, Benton, KY 42025, United States | https://www.bigbearmountainresort.com/