The holiday trees have been decorated, the ice skating rink has opened just steps from PCH, and the mid-day sun is shining brightly above the bustling shores of Santa Monica Beach.
You could say we are celebrating the season in true Angeleno fashion.
For guests looking to join us, the Winter Warmth package at Shutters on the Beach sets the holiday tone with a plush UGG blanket, a bottle of sparkling wine, and your choice of rooms—like a beachfront hideaway overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean.
During your stay, you may have a hard time stepping away from the aforementioned beach day, but if you do, here is an array of family-friendly holiday festivals and activities to celebrate the season like a true LA local.
Think of it as the joyous tradition of ice-skating without the bitter chill of winter. The 8,000-square-foot outdoor rink in Santa Monica offers families and couples a classic holiday experience with lessons for beginners and ice skates to rent through January 16. The rink is also convenient to downtown attractions (located on the corner of 5th Street and Arizona Avenue), so holiday shopping before or after skating is a must.
Families in particular will enjoy strolling through the whimsical light display at Descanso Gardens in LA. Enchanted: Forest of Light transforms the botanic gardens with eight illuminated installations. From a luminescent forest to free-standing, interactive works of art, the walk-through is the perfect way to kindle holiday spirit through January 8.
The Los Angeles Zoo is likewise a wonderful attraction for families during the holidays. The animal enclosures and various landscapes have been decked in lights through January 8, and there are spectacular installations like the disco ball forest, a tunnel of light, and a number of animated animal statues and twinkling LA landmarks.
Santa’s live reindeer are in attendance too, along with two baby reindeer. You can meet them after taking photos with Father Christmas himself, nightly at the zoo through December 23.
For a classic holiday tradition, rediscover the wonder of The Nutcracker with the L.A. Ballet. The beloved story follows Clara and the Nutcracker as they battle the Mouse King and travel to the Land of Sweets. It will be performed in various venues throughout the city, from Westwood to Redondo Beach, with the final performance happening on Christmas Eve.
In west LA, Celebrate the Season at The Grove sets the scene for a spectacular holiday with musical entertainment, Santa’s Cottage, and a 100-foot white fir Christmas tree, which is adorned with more than 15,000 glimmering lights and 10,000 ornaments.
But even in Southern California, the season would not be complete without some festive snowfall. Luckily for families and friends, The Grove brings the wintery spectacle—literal snowflakes floating from above—to LA nightly at 7 and 8 pm.