Home for the Holidays: Fun Things to Do Around L.A. in December

    Home for the Holidays: Fun Things to Do Around L.A. in December
    Last updated: March, 2019

    Southern California is one of the best places to visit during the winter months. With daytime temperatures in the upper 70s, winter will be the last thing on your mind at this time of year. Outside may not feel like Christmas, but the Entertainment Capital of the World always puts on its Christmas attire and is ready to celebrate the Season. With its many options of entertainment, Los Angeles is surely the place to be for the Holidays. So if you are in town, here are some fun things to do in Los Angeles in December:

    L.A. Auto Show

    One of my favorite things to do in Los Angeles in December is attending the L.A. Auto Show. The Los Angeles Auto Show is an annual event that takes place at the Los Angeles Convention Center in early December. The event is open to the public for ten days each year, filling 760,000 square feet (71,000 m2) of exhibit space. Whether you love admiring the newest makes and models, or are simply looking to upgrade your ride, this is the place for you! LA Auto Show is so perfectly designed and organized that it promises to capture the interest of every visitor.  Even of those who believe they are not-so-much-into-cars (like me). And indeed, I was completely taken by the multitude of cars, the variety of models, and makes, some of which were so fancy and luxurious. It’s amazing how much progress the automotive industry has made in such a short time.

    You can test drives new models, admire exotic cars, custom automobiles, motorcycles, and bikes. You can easily spend a day at this show and still miss seeing some models or makes. Tickets for the show start at $12 for adults and $5 for children.


    L.A. Christmas Concerts at Walt Disney Concert Hall

    Another fun thing to do in Los Angeles in December is attend one of the many outstanding Christmas Concerts. Among the most beloved musical events in December are the numerous Christmas Concerts at Walt Disney Concert Hall. From internationally acclaimed groups like the Canadian Brass, or Chanticleer, to local celebrities like the LA Master Chorale, or the A Philharmonic Orchestra, you will be delighted with the most outstanding music. And if you have never visited Walt Disney Concert Hall –a truly architectural marvel– now is the best time to test its perfect acoustics. 

    Choir singing at Walt Disney Hall
    Los Angeles Master Chorale Christmas Concert at Walt Disney Hall


    Enchanted Forest of Light at Descanso Gardens

    If you visited Los Angeles but have never heard of the beautiful Descanso Gardens in La Cañada-Flintridge don’t feel bad. Many Angelenos didn’t hear about it either, although it’s one of Southern California most beautiful gardens. In a way that’s understandable, since getting there from Downtown L.A. requires driving through a confusing combination of freeways. But if you happen to be in town in December, Descanso is really worth the drive. Every evening starting November 19  and running through January 7, Descanso lights up its lush landscape with a beautiful holiday light display called Enchanted Forest of Light. The light show features several interactive displays which let you manipulate lights and sounds in the garden.

    Timed entries run from 5-10 p.m. each evening. Tickets are $28/person and kids under 2 are free. Tip: if you are planning to visit Descanso Gardens for this popular show buy your tickets way ahead of time. The event is usually sold out by the beginning of December.


    Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade and Ring of Lights

    Christmas parades are always fun to watch. They kick off the holiday season and put everybody in a festive, holiday mood. How about a parade that instead of floats on the street has boats on the water and fireworks? Every year for 5 days in December Newport Bay is richly illuminated with millions of lights and hundreds of themed estates. The town puts on an elaborate Christmas light displays of bayfront estates and one of the largest decorated boat parades in the country. Hundreds of decorated ships of all sizes compete for top awards in different categories. 

    View of a boat decorated with lights floating on the water
    Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

    The 109 year old tradition is watched by over 1.5 million people each year and is one of the largest boat parades you will likely ever see. Millions of holiday lights are a part of the Newport Beach Boat Parade and Ring Of Lights decorations making Newport Bay a “must see” for the holiday season. So if you plan to visit Los Angeles in December, make a note about this parade as well.


    Surf and Ski in the Same Day in L.A.

    Angelenos already know that one of the fun things to do around Los Angeles in December is ski in the morning and surf in the afternoon. Or the other way around. Not many cities in the world can brag about this. We used to do it every year on Christmas day, when we first moved to Los Angeles. We preferred skiing early in the morning and watching the sunset on the beach in Malibu. 

    skiers in Big Bear
    December skiing in Big Bear, California

    The closest ski resort from Downtown L.A. is Mount Baldy, an easy 55 minute drive (46.9 mi) via CA-60 E, but there is also Big Bear, a much bigger resort in the San Bernardino Mountains, about 2.5 hours from Los Angeles. 

    sunny beach in L.A. in December
    December on the beaches in L.A.

    The closest beach from Downtown L.A. is Malibu, a straight 42 minute drive (32.8 mi) on I-10 W and CA-1 N. Although the water is too cold for swimming in December, the air temperature is always pleasant for sunbathing.