Some years the best Christmas present is a restaurant open on Christmas Day. We know at least 20 Los Angeles restaurants that open their doors to make Christmas Day more merry. Whether you spend the remainder of the holiday opening gifts or exploring LA's fun things to do on Christmas Day, why not pile the family and out-of-town guests into a car and give yourself the gift of dining out? After so much holiday preparation, you deserve it!
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Snow in LA? Why not! Living near the beach doesn't mean sand sledding is our only winter sport. A short drive up into the mountains allows our SoCal kids the magical mixture of snow, cold air, velocity, and cocoa that makes snow sledding and tubing endlessly enticing. Skiing is great, but there's nothing quite like good, old-fashioned sledding. Most of the locations below are open for business by Thanksgiving weekend for winter adventures.
Cutting your own Christmas tree can be a great holiday tradition. I remember the hip-deep snows of my childhood in New England, building snowmen until my fingers froze and drying my hand-knit mittens by the fire. Fast forward to my boys’ winters in LA, and I wonder: What will they remember? Sand sledding at the beach and wearing shorts on Christmas day? Will they never make snow angels in their best friend’s backyard?
Thankfully, one winter tradition we can still carry on here in the Southland is cutting our own Christmas tree. If you’re willing to cross county lines, you, too, can experience this classic holiday outing. If living Christmas trees aren’t your thing, and you want something other than a pre-cut or artificial tree, get ready to set hacksaw to tree trunk, watch the tree fall gently to the ground, and smell the sap on your hands as you sing carols on the car ride home. We have compiled a list of area tree farms to help you get started.
Volunteering during the holidays not only helps your community, but helps kids learn the value of giving back. Sharing traditions with our children is what the holidays are about—baking pies, lighting candles, singing songs—and volunteering to help those in need is another tradition we can offer our kids. In fact, dishing up food or singing Christmas carols may be the best gift of all, setting up our kids for a life of sharing and empathy. That's a gift we give to them and to the world they inherit.
We've collected a list of websites and resources to help you find volunteer opportunities that match your family’s interests and abilities. Also, check our calendar for more upcoming charitable events.
Want a dance class for your kid? You live in the right city. Whether you want your kid to learn to be just a little more coordinated, or you dream of the "World of Dance" competition track, Los Angeles has incredible recreational and professional training for your tiny dancer. Get your ballet shoes on and "chasse" through these dance studio options.
Find more great class ideas in our Los Angeles Classes and Enrichment Guide.
Beach is what SoCal is all about, but with so much sea and sand around it can actually be hard to choose which is the best spot to stake the family beach umbrella. In the years when sand-filled diapers and tired little legs feel challenging, you want to be sure you've chosen a beach that will pay off with those great summer memories. You could head for a beach with a playground (we know some good ones), but for just enjoying the wonderful Pacific Ocean with easy parking, bathrooms, snacks, or other amenities, we love to return to the dozen beaches below. Gather the shovels, sandwiches, and sunscreen, and go west, young families!
Kids dig water, and the younger we start them in it, the earlier they build the skills needed to swim confidently and safely. Mommy and Me – or Daddy and Me – classes are a fun and bonding introduction to a lifelong love of swimming. We know some great private swim classes for LA kids, but the group lessons below are all about getting in the pool alongside your baby or toddler. Dive into our extensive list of area Mommy or Daddy and Me classes.
We landlubbers love our fireworks, don't we? Well, if you think the view from the shore is stunning, try witnessing the pyrotechnics spectacle from a boat. That's a holiday memory your kiddos won't soon forget. Several small cruise boats and ships set sail this Independence Day, with 2-3 hour tours to delight you and your first mates. Snuggle on deck under a blanket and watch the sky come alive as the water sparkles below. Read on to find a boat leaving a port near you.