Los Angeles

Christmas Weekend: Best Activities for LA Kids Dec 23-25

Happy Holidays, folks! We're smack dab in the middle of a festivity frenzy, with Christmas and Kwanzaa coming on strong. (Those of us who are been-there, dreidel'd-that, done with Hanukkah can turn our attention to the Baby New Year's impending arrival. And Star Wars.)

This weekend offers the last chance to put the finishing touches on Christmas, before the big guy comes down the chimney late Sunday night. Across Southern California, lights are twinklingnuts are cracking,  and reindeer are romping, as moms and dads scramble to buy last minute gifts (while finding time for a seasonal spectacle or two).

And then comes Christmas. No doubt many of you plan to spend Christmas Day at home with friends and family. For those of you looking for activities outside the home, good news: we're here to help. First up, we offer 15 Things To Do on Christmas. And if your kitchen closes on Christmas Day, we present a list of restaurants that are open. Christmas is the gift that keeps on giving, and after the presents are all exchanged we can still enjoy the gift of other people being gone. (Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the freeways much more bearable.) For holiday cheer that continues on into next week, might we suggest some of LA's finest Christmas light displays, or some in Orange County (and, if you're willing to spend a little, some holiday light displays are worth the ticket price). 

Olvera Street: a Day Trip to Mexico in the Heart of Downtown LA

Although young compared to some East Coast cities, Los Angeles has a rich, culturally diverse history worth exploring with the whole family—and a festive place to start is Downtown on Olvera Street. The city's most famous Mexican marketplace is at the heart of historical LA and hosts some of the region's oldest traditions at annual events like Las Posadas at Christmastime, Los Novenarios for Día de los Muertos, and LA's birthday celebration each summer. The colorful pedestrian zone is an ideal place to kick off an afternoon of fun, shopping, good food, and just a little learning.

An Explosive Nutcracker To Wow Even Kids Who Think They Hate Ballet

The Nutcracker is a Christmas tradition—and like many holiday standards, it may seem to be one that can't stand up to an age of video games, iPads, and superhero movies. But the Long Beach Ballet, whose production is up until December 24 at the Long Beach Convention Center, has enough pomp, glitz, glamour, wildlife, and explosions—yes, actual explosions—to wow even the most tough-to-please kids (or jaded grown-ups).

Michelangelo at the Mall: the Sistine Chapel Is in the Valley this Month

One of Rome's greatest draws is close to home this month, particularly if you live in the Valley. The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, one of the Vatican’s great wonders and Michelangelo's most famous work, can be enjoyed up close—in between shopping at The Gap and skating on the pop-up ice rink. While tourists who have saved all their lives for this moment are shepherded through the Vatican in a mob for a brief glimpse of the famous Creation of Adam, Angelenos can take a gander at a leisurely pace, feasting their eyes on a traveling exhibit that's as close as the mall.

What's Open on Christmas Day in LA: 15 Fun Things To Do

Not everyone spends Christmas Day opening presents and singing Christmas carols. If Christmas at your house feels much like any other day but without as much to do—or if your family are just really fast unwrappers—Mommy Poppins has you covered with everything from whales to festivals, and someplace to eat at the end of the day. Ready for 15 suggestions of things to do and places to go on Christmas Day that have (mostly) nothing to do with chestnuts or open fire?

Don’t Visit Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii without Reading This

Aulani Resort in Hawaii is a unique property in the Disney family, offering an absolutely luxurious resort vacation with enough family fun that parents can enjoy without feeling like they are vacationing in Romper Room. The property is designed with a big “H” and a small “d” to put the emphasis on being an authentically inspired Hawaiian experience with a touch of Disney magic. This balance is just another example of how well Disney knows how to please families.

Aulani is a wonderful resort by any standards. With upscale, but family friendly accommodations, a world-class spa, and plenty of activities, we spent an entire week there and never ran out of things to do. In fact, the resort has so much going on that it’s worth doing some planning before you start packing in order to make sure you get the most out of your stay. We sussed out all the ins and outs of the resort to provide you with what you need to know to get the most out of your Disney Aulani vacation, reduce stress, and even save some money.

CHILL at the Queen Mary: The Icy Holiday Tradition Is All New

Forget everything you think you know about CHILL, The Queen Mary's annual festival of ice in Long Beach. The shipside holiday extravaganza has been around for five years now, but has had a revamp this season that makes it completely unlike previous iterations. Whether or not you have visited in the past, you'll want to bundle up your warm blooded kids and take them down to CHILL Ice Adventure Park for a day's worth of ice themed activities, and a night's worth of lights and libation.

Public Holiday Light Displays Worth Paying To See this Christmas

An after-dinner drive to take in one of LA's classic neighborhood holiday light displays is a treat we all can and probably should indulge in. It's an easy, cheap way to get in the Christmas spirit (or just enjoy someone else's). Of course, counting on other people to decorate their lawns is only so reliable. To be sure of a full evening of light and good cheer, sometimes it's worth splurging on a pay-to-play light display. Several local destinations indulge us in our desire to see grand scale holiday lights, from Zoo Lights to walks in the woods. The bigger the group you can round up, the more festive—but also the more expensive it can get. It helps to know which of LA's big public light shows are worth the ticket price this holiday season.

The Cronut Arrives in LA—and Your Kids Are Gonna Want One

It’s no coincidence that a French pastry chef came up with what has become an enduring pastry trend. In 2013, Dominique Ansel created the cronut, a pastry that puts a twist on the American donut by combining a donut and croissant in a pastry filled with a slow-cooked jam and creamy ganache. The creation took New York by storm—and has finally hit the LA food scene.

Weekend Fun for LA Kids: Hanukkah, CHILL, and Beauty and the Panto

Ho, ho, ho, it's Hanukkah! All across the Southland, kids are lighting their menorahs, spinning their dreidels, and feasting on latkes (and maybe opening a present or eight).

And that chill you feel? It's CHILL, of course, the wintry annual fest at the feet of the Queen Mary in Long Beach. This year, it transforms into an ice adventure park, with ice skating track, ice bumper cars, ice tricycles, a zip line, ice shuffleboard, a two-story, 100-foot-long ice tubing slide, and many more festive winter activities.

Of course, snow is no big deal in Los Angeles. It's pretty much everywhere you look. (Bring mittens.)

(And not to panic you or anything, but this weekend is the last weekend before next weekend. And next weekend is the weekend that includes Christmas Eve, so whatever you had in mind before then, whether it's earning nice points or cross-checking your list with Santa's, you'd best get a move on.)

P.S.  Best way to earn nice points? Take your kid to some of the events on our calendar. Keep reading for a few of the top things on our list.....

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