Los Angeles

The Most Festive Things to do in LA This Holiday Season

Celebrate the end of the longest year ever.

Grand Park
Grand Park
Grand Park

There’s never been a year that we’ve all collectively wanted to end as much as 2020, but we finally made it. Unless you’re The Grinch, the holidays always carry some magic-even in LA, where the only snow you’ll see is on TV.  And though we’ll be spending another month wishing we could be out partying with our friends, at least winter is the best time to stay warm and cozy inside. Or go to a drive-thru light show. Or do virtual pub trivia. You get the idea: here are the most festive things to do in LA this holiday season.

Knock out your holiday shopping while supporting Little Tokyo

Throughout December
Little Tokyo
We’ve probably all given Jeff Bezos enough of our money this year, so instead of trolling Amazon day and night for deals, take a stroll through a local neighborhood and support the small businesses you find; Little Tokyo is a great place for it. With options like ceremonial grade matcha from Midori Matcha, pro-level Japanese knives from Anzen Hardware, and the unbeatable pastry boxes from Yamazaki Bakery, you’ll be doing some good all around.
Cost: Varies
How to order: Contact specific businesses for more information.

Here & Now
Here & Now
Here & Now

Celebrate with Here & Now’s Blitzen at home

Throughout December
Arts District
There are few bars in LA that do it up for Christmas in a more magical way than Here & Now, and this year you can bring some of that magic home with you. The hidden-in-plain-sight Arts District cocktail spot (which also boasts one of the city’s best and most slept-on burgers) will be firing up its annual “Blitzen” event via the internet this year, so you can get your themed cocktails going from the couch. You’ll want to invest in some kitschy drinkware for this one.
Cost: Varies
How to order: Pickup or delivery through the bar.

@flouringla
@flouringla
@flouringla

Sweeten up your pop-up game with Flouring LA

December 5, 12, and 19
DTLA
If you want to drown the end of your year in holiday-themed cinna-donuts and gingerbread cake bars, we get it. The good news is, on Saturdays throughout December, you can support a local WOC-owned bakeshop while doing just that. Flouring LA will be popping up at Hotel Figueroa, and trust us, you’ll want to pre-order one of their eight-piece $44 holiday boxes with gingerbread cake bars, peppermint meringue topped brownies, cinna-sugar donuts, and Belgian sea salt chocolate chip cookies.
Cost: $44 per holiday box
How to order: Pre-orders can be placed by emailing [email protected] and pickup is every Saturday from 1–3 pm.
 

Pull up to a Chanukah Car Menorah Parade 

December 13 
Beverly Hills
Save your steps and gas up your engine to celebrate light, unity, and liberty with the JEM Community Center of Beverly Hills’ Chanukah Car Parade and Grand Menorah Lighting which, given the neighborhood, will likely double as a luxury car show. Family-fun festivities start at the community center on Santa Monica Blvd and will include free Chanukah donuts and menorahs, music, and more.
Cost: Free
How to book: Register online or by calling (310) 772-0000. 
 

Don (the top half of) your red suit for the virtual Santa Monica Pub Crawl

December 19
Your House 
No matter what you think of pub crawls, there’s no denying that it hardly feels like winter in LA without the Santa Monica Pub Crawl. Though a virtual version won’t have the same energy (at least, not with that attitude), you can simulate the experience pretty well with takeout discounts at participating spots and a virtual bingo party. Oh, and 15 extra bucks gets you four cocktails plus chips and dip from Lanea, so you’ll be doing that.
Cost: $20–$55
How to book: Purchase tickets on the Santa Monica Pub Crawl website.

 

Ballet Folklorico de Los Angeles
Ballet Folklorico de Los Angeles
Ballet Folklorico de Los Angeles

Set the mood with the LA County Holiday Celebration Live Stream

December 24
Your house
The signature Christmas Eve celebration normally hosted at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion will be live streamed this year, which means it’s the perfect Christmas Eve show to put on in the background of your celebrations. Twenty-two performers will be spreading the cheer during the free show, and it’s A+ family time to counteract the booze-soaked debauchery you’ll be filling the rest of your season with.
Cost: Free
How to watch: Watch the broadcast on PBS SoCal 1 or stream online on the Music Center’s website from 3-6pm PST on December 24.
 

Keep celebrating our chip at the Dodgers Holiday Festival

Through December 24
Dodger Stadium
It’s the first Dodgers championship in 32 years, and we’ve all been robbed of proper celebrations. If you want to head to Dodger Stadium for something besides a COVID test, this drive-thru experience is a great way to (safely) immerse yourself in Dodger festivities-we’re talking lights, LED and interactive displays, fake snow, and more.
Cost: Tickets start at $55
How to book: Purchase tickets through the Dodgers website

Bid 2020 good riddance on New Years Eve

December 31
Your House
You probably can’t wait to say goodbye to this rotten year. We don’t blame ya. It will be hard to go party-less, but if you want something more interesting than watching the ball drop in Times Square, Grand Park’s annual celebration will be live streamed via Fuse TV. Keep an eye on their page as more info surfaces. At least you won’t have to worry about getting an Uber this year!
Cost: Free
How to watch: Check local TV listings.

Christmas in Color
Christmas in Color
Christmas in Color

Stay dry at Raging Waters

Through January 3
San Dimas
At long last: a way to experience Raging Waters without getting that nasty titular raging water all over you. With over a million different lights, their socially safe “Christmas in Color” animated light show will most certainly be a spectacle. Christmas overload is never a bad thing.
Cost: $35
How to book: Purchase tickets on Christmas in Color’s website.
 

Have a less heart-pounding Six Flags experience at their Holiday Drive-Thru

Through January 3
Valencia
The Christmas-lights-in-a-theme-park situation doesn’t stop at Raging Waters-Six Flags is also putting on an impressive, albeit tamer experience. Millions of lights and holiday music set the stage for this event, and though you won’t be screaming for your life on a roller coaster, it’s still a pretty magical way to spend an evening.
Cost: $25–$35
How to book: Purchase tickets on Six Flag’s website.
 

Light it up at Night of Lights

Through January 10
Costa Mesa
Another light show? Yeah, it’s that kind of year. The OC Fair & Events Center is behind this one, with a full mile of lights and music. You’ll be able to add your favorite fairground food to the celebrations here too, so that means you can chomp down on some cookies, tamales, or chicken tenders while you take it all in.
Cost: $39–$59

HAPPY PLACE
HAPPY PLACE
HAPPY PLACE

Find your happy place at the Happy Place Drive-Thru

Through January 10
Century City
If you’ve been to the Happy Place before and you’re tired of all that lame walking, they’ve got just the thing for you. The immersive experience that you’ve seen in the background of hundreds of Instagram photos has returned in the form of, you guessed it, a drive-thru. It might be harder for you to get a selfie for the ‘gram this time, but we have no doubt you and your influencer heart will figure it out.
Cost: $50
How to book: Purchase tickets on the Happy Place’s website.

South Coast Botanic Garden
South Coast Botanic Garden
South Coast Botanic Garden

Glow up at the South Coast Botanic Garden

Through January 10
Palos Verdes
LA’s signature light shows, like all outdoor events, have taken a pretty substantial hit this year. Thankfully there’s still an outdoor stroll you can take, and it’s down in Palos Verdes at the South Coast Botanic Garden. GLOW will hit you in all the right light-loving places, with thousands of lights coming together to create an ocean-themed winter experience. The soundtrack is curated, the lights are bright, and the air is fresh-so grab a ticket (and a mask).
Cost: $35
How to book: Purchase tickets on South Coast Botanic Garden’s website.Sign up here for our daily LA email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun Los Angeles has to offer.

Wilder Shaw misses bars so much he would even go to the nightmare that is SantaCon if he could. Check out his festivities on Instagram and Twitter.

Los Angeles

How to Spend a Weekend in Topanga Canyon

Nature and the arts collide in this beloved canyon community.

Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images
Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images
Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images

Situated in the Santa Monica Mountains and known for its vibrant creative community, Topanga is one of Los Angeles’s most prized destinations for art and outdoor enthusiasts alike. And while LA boasts its own sprawling landscape of fun to tap into, you’d be remiss to miss a chance to explore this tucked-away collection of state parks, and cafes, and restaurants-especially when it all rests just 20 minutes away from the city. From a quaint caf√© with dazzling canyon views to a world-renowned, open-air theatre, here are the best ways to pass some time in Topanga now.

Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray
Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray
Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray

Friday

Book dinner at Inn of the Seventh Ray
Owner Lucille Yaney opened this iconic restaurant in 1975 after spotting the property on a drive through the canyon with her late husband Ralph, and it’s safe to say she had a good eye. The land perfectly fits into Yaney’s vision of a romantic, alfresco dining space with tables tucked into cozy nooks and gazebos, all beneath canapes and fairy lights. Today, Yaney co-owns the venue with executive chef consultant Brad Miller. Together, they continue to fulfil the restaurant’s original mission to serve pure, natural foods reflective of the season’s best. That approach appears in dishes like 8-Hour Black Vinegar Braised Short Rib with creamy rosemary polenta, duck bacon Brussels sprouts, and caramelized onion and fig jam; Roasted Mushroom Toast with oyster mushrooms and sherry tarragon cream; and Beets & Whipped Black Pepper Creme Fraiche. Consider the carbs here. Pastas and sauces are made in-house and from scratch, as is the bread (available regular or gluten-free), an order of which you won’t want to miss. Check out the wine list, too, which offers a robust organic and biodynamic selection that has helped the restaurant garner some impressive accolades in recent years.

Check into Topanga Canyon Inn
In addition to plenty of excellent Airbnbs available to rent in the Canyon, there’s Topanga Canyon Inn, a charming bed and breakfast comprised of two Mediterranean-style buildings-Casa Blanca and Casa Rosa-both built by the owners. Guests can enjoy bespoke design details in each room, along with gorgeous mountain views from their own private balcony. Come morning, join other travellers for breakfast, served daily at Casa Rosa.

Saturday

Get coffee at Café on 27
Ready your camera for a coffee date at this AM eatery and caf√©, where ample (and busy) outdoor seating offers some of the Canyon’s best views. A full breakfast and lunch menu is available (complete with hearty orders like eggs Benedicts, soups, and club sandwiches), but for lighter morning fare, spring for a pastry and any of their specialty drinks, such as the turmeric latte or Moroccan mocha.

Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock
Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock
Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock

Hike Topanga State Park
Spanning 11,000 acres and 36 miles of trails, Topanga State Park is the largest state park within the Santa Monica Mountains and one of the world’s largest parks within city limits. Visitors can access the grounds via more than 60 entrances. Once on the trails, enjoy sweeping vistas while exploring the region’s range of plants, habitats, and wildlife, including several resident bird species.

Grab lunch at Topanga Living Café
Guided by their Topanga upbringing and need for a community gathering spot with great eats, sibling team Agustina Ferguson and Bayu Suryawan opened this daytime eatery in 2016. Ever since, locals and visitors have found refuge in the caf√©’s warm, airy space and nourishing, hyper-fresh fare-all California-inspired with global influences. Check it out in plates like the Island Style, a breakfast salad with Balinese corn fritters, a poached egg, and house-made chilli jam, or the tacos (Baja Fish or Baja Shrimp, Carne Asada, or Kabocha Squash), made-to-order and served on handmade tortillas. If you’re seeking something shareable, try the Farmers Market Crudite, a seemingly humble order whose bright beet hummus reminds us that eating your vegetables is, indeed, very cool. And take a drink to-go. The team here takes great pride in their coffee (organic espresso, courtesy of their iconic pink La Marzocco machine) and a lineup of made-to-order smoothies, juices, and teas. Shop your way through town
Visitors can stroll through the town centre’s most popular shops for various fun finds, including Moona Star, Pebbles, and Topanga Homegrown. Be sure to stock up on specialty, local snacks at Canyon Gourmet and satiate your sweet tooth while you’re at it. The organic soft-serve there is a must. Pro tip: Top it with any of their artisanal syrups for a winning combo, namely, the vanilla with cardamom.

Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum

Catch a show at The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
This beloved open-air theatre has hosted productions for decades and is recognized worldwide for its Shakespeare interpretations. In addition to its annual summer season, which includes works like Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the venue hosts concerts, rehearsals, and classes throughout the year for budding actors and playwrights of all ages.

Snag a slice at Endless Colour
This family-run pizza joint specializes in from-scratch pies with clever topping combinations (think purple potatoes, fontina, and truffle oil in the Purple Molly Potato or spinach, leeks, and goat cheese in the Super Greens). Bring some friends, order a pie or two, and check out the drinks list, which includes offbeat options like orange wines and hard kombucha.

Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery
Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery
Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery

Sunday

Check out The Canyon Bakery’s “Sunday Funday”
Situated on the grounds of the aforementioned Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, this bakery specializes in naturally leavened breads, pastries, cakes, and cookies using locally sourced, whole grain flours. There’s a takeout window on Sundays, from 9:30 am until the bakery sells out. A strong following lines up for favourites, such as whole grain croissants and gluten-free pizza, so be sure to arrive early to get your fill.

Try tacos to-go at La Chingona
On your way out of town, grab some tacos at La Chingona, where a team puts forth fresh, organic, gluten- and dairy-free tacos. Orders range to include options like grass-fed beef (carne asada), shrimp (wild-caught), and soy chorizo and can be fashioned into plates beyond tacos, too (think tostadas, salads, and bowls). Open only on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays; this taco stand sees good demand. Plan accordingly, pending your travels, especially to savour an order or two of the churros.

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Nicole Schnitzler is a contributor for Thrillist.

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