Ice Skating, S’mores & More: The 7 Most Wintery Things to Do in LA

Check out holiday lights

A winter season without holiday light displays is like Santa without his hat: much less magical. Thankfully, Angelenos have plenty of opportunities to bring the whole family along to winter wonderlands across LA—and make December a little extra lit (sorry, couldn’t resist). Channel your inner child with light installations along Rodeo Drive, “California Christmas” at The Grove, neighborhood traditions at Woodland Hills’ Candy Cane Lane, jaw-dropping designs at L.A. Zoo Lights, and Enchanted: Forest of Light at the Descanso Gardens.

Dress up like Santa

Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas! If you’re over the age of 21 and have been looking for an excuse to get drunk in a cozy onesie or traverse LA in a Santa suit, then come one, come all to Santacon. A holiday celebration, bar crawl, and costume party all in one, Santacon is held annually in most major cities from New York to San Francisco; this year’s LA event will be held on December 9, and will utilize both the metro and buses to go between stops.

Drink hot chocolate

Ordering hot chocolate and sitting in front of the air conditioning unit basically counts as winter in LA, right? With lavender hot chocolate on the menu at Cafe Demitasse, frozen hot chocolate at ChocoVivo, and Oaxacan hot chocolate at Guelaguetza, the answer is a resounding yes. Just don’t go outside or check the weather report until you’ve reached the bottom of the cup.

Ice skate outside

Rockefeller Center may be a six-hour flight (and a long, long wait in line) from LA, but pop-up rinks in Downtown Santa Monica and Pershing Square give Angelenos a chance to hit the ice outside all season long. The Pershing Square Holiday Ice Skating Rink and Ice at Santa Monica are both open daily through January 15; 60-minute skate sessions cost $9 and rentals cost $4 per person at the rink in Pershing Square, while skate rentals and all-day admission cost $15 per person in Santa Monica. Both offer skate lessons, group event spaces, and resources for all levels of skaters, including beginners and children.

Make s’mores

This winter, meet Gotta Have S’more, the Baldwin Hills-based shop dedicated to perfecting the art of making s’mores. Owner Annalisa Johnson sells her hand-crafted s’mores direct via phone and online; for delivery through UberEats, Postmates, GrubHub, and Eat24; and at Southern California stores, including Conservatory in Culver City, The Nosh in Beverly Hills, and The Oaks in Hollywood. Five flavors—milk chocolate, dark chocolate, cookies and cream, peanut butter cup, and salted caramel—are available regularly, in addition to special flavors that rotate monthly. Missing the thrill of DIY and the smell of bonfire smoke in your hair for a week? Take s’mores into (and all over) your own hands at LA-area beaches equipped with fire pits, including at Malibu’s Leo Carrillo State Park, Playa Del Rey’s Dockweiler State Beach, and Camarillo’s Point Mugu State Park.

Take in holiday performances

Radio City Music Hall isn’t the only venue that hosts holiday performances—and in LA, the winter season means taking in shows, concerts, and ballets at beloved spots, including The Wiltern, Royce Hall, and The Forum. This year, take a quick trip to the North Pole with a ticket to The Nutcracker, the L.A. County Holiday Celebration at The Music Center, or the Redondo Beach Pier holiday concert—no passport required.

Throw a snowball

I see you, East Coast transplants—after years of shoveling driveways and perfecting the snowman-building game, it can be hard to adjust to making sand angels instead of snow angels. Luckily, you’re never more than a few hours’ drive (at most) from snowballs, skiing, and sledding—and with Snow Day LA’s tubing and synthetic snow, fresh powder is close as Elysian Park. But those looking for an adventure (or some time away from the 405) should head out of the city— Mt. Baldy is just about an hour’s drive East and boasts a scenic lift and mountaintop restaurant and bar. For those looking to hit the slopes, Mountain High (1.5-hour drive) and Big Bear (two-hour drive) both offer full-service ski resorts.

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