The 12 Best Winter Activities in Los Angeles

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Los Angeles may be best known for its beaches and year-round summer-esque sunshine, but some of Los Angeles’ best winter activities for kids are the most fun for everyone

Los Angeles winters aren’t as snow-laden as say, Chicago, but the weather outside is debatably frightful (at least for us locals). The good news is, Angelenos don’t hunker down at home—we hit the town! From uncovering nearby winter wonderlands and festive holiday markets, to outdoor ice skating rinks and cozy fire pits for s’mores making are just some of the things to do in LA come winter. So grab your coat and scarf, and check out these nearby winter activities and see if you can check off all of these winter activities for Los Angeles in the winter.

Things to Do in the Winter Idea #1: Play in Snow (Yes! It's Possible)

Despite the lack of snow during Los Angeles winters, we’re lucky to be close to lots of snow-worthy mountain ranges. Bundle up the kids and take advantage of (a natural) winter’s bounty at our local alpine wonderlands that are just a hop, skip and a quick car ride away. Snow tubing? Check. Sledding? Check. Is everybody happy? Check check.

Beginner-level hills are found at most resorts, and more experienced skiers will indeed find runs to challenge them. Many resorts also offer other winter activities like tubing. And while everyone hopes for a winter storm, the resorts can also take matters into their own hands if the snowfall isn't cooperating. Whether you’re looking for a place to teach your kids how to ski or to test your own snow-based skills, you’ll find it within an easy drive of DTLA.

Looking for snow that won't melt under the California sun? Take the family and frolic in a flurry of (homemade) snow at WinterFest OC, the Southland's largest winter festival, held at the OC Fair & Event Center from Nov. 25 through the 1st of January. Try some fun no-ice sock skating, go ice-fishing and decorate snowflakes at the Winter Frolic. No meltdowns are allowed at Kidspace in Pasadena where it's snow fun from November 18 through January 8th.

Outdoor Winter Idea #2: Ice Skate under the Stars

If you're looking for a unique and engaging way to enjoy the winter season in town, look no further than ice skating. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned pro, there's sure to be an ice skating rink nearby

Skate and chill where the sand meets the snow. The 3rd annual Ice Rink at the Paséa Hotel & Spa returns this year November 25 - December 31 with oceanfront ice skating, reserved fire pit experiences and festive theme nights (think Mariah Carey Tributes and Santa Ho Ho Hoedown). Hang with the cool kids at the 8,000-square-foot ice rink on the corner of Fifth Street and Arizona in Santa Monica. Literally know as ICE, this skating rink brings a winter wonderland to the westside's coastal communities. LA Live hosts the annual L.A. Kings ice skating rink where you'll get to slide across the ice and prance around the sparkly Christmas tree as an LED light show flashes across the huge screens around the plaza. There's snow time like the present to go because all the ice will melt by the first or second week of January.

Outdoor Winter Activity Idea #3: Go Sand Sledding

Sand berm sledding is the perfect winter activity when you can’t make it into the mountains. Sand berms are man-made sand hills built up by the city to protect the beaches from eroding from winter storms and rough surf. They are a popular spot for sand sledding in Los Angeles and a beloved activity for those who live near the ocean. Sand berms provide a great way to enjoy the beach during the winter when the weather is typically too cold or windy to enjoy otherwise. There's nothing quite like racing down a sand berm on a sled, feeling the wind in your face and the sand flying up behind you.

Winter Activity Idea #4: See the LA Skyline (without the Smog)

LA is never so clear as after a good winter-y rain. These are the best observation decks and lookouts in LA offering sweeping views of the city. Get a snowflakes-eye-view of LA from iconic landmarks rich in history offering panorama's of the Hollywood sign, the Pacific Ocean and even all the way to Catalina Island. Sometimes you'll find it's less crowded and ultra peaceful to bundle up and check out your world from high above it all. 

Nik Owens via Unsplash

Winter Bucket List Idea #5: Try New Restaurants with the Kids

For those who are always DTE (down to eat), LA has some of the best ways to stay out of the kitchen.

Families can celebrate one of the Eight Nights at Birdie G's with a Hanukkah-themed dinner series. Chefs from across the country will prepare some innovative à la carte specials that embody the holiday, along with some classic Jewish dishes, like potato latkes.

For one of the best South Asian-inspired pizza pies you'll ever have, try Pijja Palace (Pijja is Hindi for "pizza") in Silver Lake. Covered in one of the delicious sauces of Northern Makhini, Peri Peri Vindaloo or White Korma and chock full of delectable toppings, it'll be hard to eat just one.

  • Pretend you’re a pilot or a medieval knight. Why not make dinner even more fun and hit up one of these theme-based restaurants you can only find in LA?
  • Embrace the doughnut and discover why this round-shaped sweet has become the unofficial dessert for LA (for kids and adults). Sidecar Doughnuts’ malasada-style raised doughnut filled with a homemade pumpkin-chai mousse and rolled in chai spiced sugar is the bomb! But hurry, it’s only available on Mon. and only through Dec. before they swap it out for a new, seasonal flavor.
  • If bagels are more your thing, plan a breakfast nosh at one of LA’s noteworthy Jewish Delis.
  • Stop by one of these family-friendly LA breweries for a little corn hole, ping-pong and kid-friendly dining options.

The whole family can enjoy these breweries; it's not just for mom and pop date nights. C'mon, who said having kids meant you had to stop having fun!

Winter Activities for Kids Idea #6: Hit those Southern California Theme Parks

Winter time offers the perfect temps to experience all the coolest theme parks that Southern California has to offer. Not only are there amazing holiday celebrations with winter wonderland-inspired décor, you'll have fun experiencing holiday-themed shows and maybe even meeting Santa Claus himself! After everyone heads back to school in the new year, these incredible amusement parks continue to be a great way to create lasting memories with family and friends.

  • Winter season brings "Knott's Merry Farm", happening now through Jan. 8th and enjoy Knott's Berry Farm's delicious jellies and jams all year long.
  • It's always a magical time of year at Disneyland! Check out the "Holidays at the Disneyland Resorts" and then go back again all winter long for more family-fun-filled wintery celebrations throughout Disneyland and California Adventure.
  • The Awesomest Celebration of the Season is at Universal Studios. Experience Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter or spend the holidays with the Grinch, Max, and Who-ville at the Who-tacular Grinchmas celebration. There's always movie magic happening at Universal Studios though, and you could be the star!
  • Six Flags Magic Mountain's "Holiday in the Park" is select evenings now-Jan. 1. Experience dazzling lights, sleigh rides, Santa's village and snowy nights. Come back January, February, March and more with your significant other for the best date nights and roller coasters around.

Fun Winter Activitities Idea #7: See Live Theater

Experience laughter, thrills and genuine emotions at some of Los Angeles' best community and family-friendly theaters. The La Mirada Theatre has so many great, fun-filled, family-friendly shows based on your kid's most beloved literature. In Feb., don't miss Grace For President and The Lightning Thief, and in Mar. be sure to see Twinkle Time, the bilingual "Lady Gaga for Kids."

Outdoor Winter Activity Idea #8: Take a Winter Hike

Sunny and mid-70s? Get outdoors and see if you can check-off our favorite hiking spots in LA to go with babies, toddler and big kids. A local favorite? After a hike at Ferndell, stroll with the fam to The Trails Cafe for various baked goods, pies, coffee, quiche, and sandwiches.

Winter Bucket List Idea #9: Ride the Rails

Trains run all year long and make for a great winter activity. Here are the best spots to ride the rails around LA.

Explore some of Southern California's hidden gems, such as the city of Claremont. This charming and quaint little village is just an hour away from LA, off the metrolink line, and full of family-friendly things to do including shopping, museums, botanical gardens and the some of the best eateries and dessert shops.

Winter Bucket List Idea #10: Make Winter Travel Plans 

There are many possibilities for fun and adventure, from the snow-capped mountains to the city's twinkling lights. Vacation ideas abound, whether skiing, snowboarding, ice skating or sledding. And, of course, no winter vacation would be complete without a few festive holiday experiences thrown in for good measure. Whether you're looking for gifts and fun or simply a way to escape the cold, winter travel has something for everyone.

  • Skypark Santa's Village is an adventure-based family-friendly activity park in the San Bernardino Mountains. The alpine forest setting provides the perfect backdrop for a day of fun and excitement. With plenty of activities to choose from, there is something for everyone at Skypark Santa's Village. From zip lining and rock climbing to hiking and biking, there is no shortage of ways to explore the great outdoors. 
  • Just two hours from LA, Solvang's Danish-style month-long holiday celebration, Julefest, is about to begin and runs from Nov. 27-Jan. 1. Discover Danish culture and Danish pastries like Aebleskivers—dough cooked in hot oil and shaped like a ball, traditionally sprinkled in powdered sugar with a drizzling of raspberry sauce. This quaint village oozes hygge—coziness—all winter long, so make sure you check out the Elverhoj Museum of History and Art and then head over to Ostrichland, USA, for some aviary appreciation.
  • If you're heading to LEGOLAND this winter, stay at one of the nearby resorts like the Sheraton Carlsbad or The Cassara offering movie nights. Of course, a day trip to the Carlsbad Flower Fields when they open Mar. 1st is a great way to get excited about the upcoming spring season.
  • Finally make plan for a girl's weekend getaway: Find out why we love Ojai, Los Alamos, Santa Barbara and Santa Monica for fun winter escapes.
  • Of course, Palm Springs with kids is always a good idea—especially in the winter.

Winter Bucket List Idea #11: Explore LA Like A Local

  • Situated in the heart of Los Angeles, SoFi Stadium is the city's premier sports and entertainment destination. Home to both the Chargers and the Rams, the stadium is a state-of-the-art facility that features both an indoor and outdoor experience for fans. With a capacity of over 70,000, SoFi Stadium is one of the largest stadiums in the NFL and provides a unique experience for all who attend. It also hosts various other events, including concerts and conventions. Take a tour of SoFi with the family, or better yet, cheer on your favorite LA team!
  • The LA Conservancy Historic Downtown Walks explore the history and heart of the amazing city through its architecture. The past is blended with the modern, giving visitors a unique perspective of the city. These walks are a great way to learn about the city and its people.
  • A visit to 123 FARM, a lavender farm, is a fun way to spend time with family. From now to Jan. 8, you can experience Christmas Nights, where one million lights are on display. Horse-drawn carriage tours, s'mores pits, Santa, hot cocoa, gingerbread and a holiday maze to get you in the yuletide spirit. Year-round you can enjoy festivals like the sheep-shearing festival, the sourdough bread festival or Lavender Nights with live music and lavender cocktails. A truly unique experience to see in Southern California.
  • There's no place like Hollywood, especially when it's Academy Awards season. Win the lottery for a bleacher seat to see all the arrivals in their glam. It's the perfect way to catch a glimpse of your favorite movie star.
  • One of the country's top running events takes place in LA on Mar. 19, starting at Dodger Stadium and ending at the Santa Monica Pier. The LA Marathon is a must-see event, that is, unless you're planning to run it; then it's a must-do!

Winter Bucket List Idea #12: Only-in-LA Events 

The holidays in Los Angeles are a truly magical time. The city comes alive with lights and decorations and plenty of festive activities and events for the whole family to enjoy. One of the most popular things to do during the holidays is to see lights! Families also love seeing the many decorated boats ping the city's waterways. It's a great way to see the sights and get into the holiday spirit!

  • Rose Bowl Stadium Holiday Tours are Dec. 28, at 10:30 a.m. & 12:30 p.m. Get a peek behind the scenes of America’s Stadium and the host of the Rose Bowl Game. Learn all about the flower-filled celebration that's more than a century old.
  • Jan.-Apr., is the best time to see whales in Southern California. The gray whale is a particularly impressive sight, weighing up to 40 tons, these giants travel from Alaska to Baja, in preparation to give birth to 2000-pound babies.

 

 

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