The Best Activities in LA to Help You Pretend It's Actually Winter

Published On 12/20/2016 Published On 12/20/2016
Miracle on Santa Fe at Westbound
Miracle on Santa Fe at Westbound | Courtesy of Westbound

For transplants especially, the winter blues are different in LA -- since there’s no snow, the blues can come from a lack of holiday cheer and winter vibe rather than actual gray skies. But there are plenty of places in LA to feel wintery -- which is why you should hit all the spots below if you’re feeling homesick:  

Courtesy of Westbound

Miracle on Santa Fe at Westbound

Downtown LA
The best new bar in LA has upped their train-themed ante with Miracle on Santa Fe, a seasonal popup running until New Year's Day that transforms the bar into a whimsical winter wonderland. Expect tinsel, twinkly lights, kitschy ornaments, and garlands, fresh falling snow, and a 2ft-tall menorah, as well as nightly events and Sunday roasts.

Milk Jar Cookies

Milk Jar

Milk Jar’s cookies are thick, rich, and the perfect balance of crispy and chewy -- and to celebrate the holidays season, the Miracle Mile shop has been decked out with lights, red bows, and wreaths, plus they’ve introduced a peppermint bark cookie that’ll make you wish you could enjoy it by a fire. But what you can do is wash it down with a nearly milkshake-thick glass of eggnog. Bingo.

The Queen Mary's CHILL

Chill at the Queen Mary

Long Beach
This annual winter wonderland-y event at the Queen Mary runs until January 8th and features a full-on skate rink, as well as ice tubing, gingerbread house decorating, and, for some reason, an Alice in Wonderland-themed interactive experience.

Holiday Ice Rink at Pershing Square

This outdoor skating rink is right Downtown, and open until January 16th; various days include skating lessons and DJs, so check the calendar before heading over.

The Wellesbourne

The Wellesbourne

West LA
This gorgeous West LA bar is a favorite anytime of the year, but is especially charming in the winter months thanks to its massive fireplace flanked by leather lounge chairs -- the perfect place to sip a brandy (or, let’s be honest, a craft beer) and be glad that the worst you’re walking outside to is rain and not a blizzard.

Ice at Santa Monica

The Westside’s annual outdoor skating rink also is open until January 16th, and has amenities like rentable cabanas and skating coaches who are former Olympians available for private lessons.


Rodeo Drive

Beverly Hills
LA’s glitziest neighborhood always dolls itself up for the holidays, with Christmas lights, festive store displays, and a life-size snowglobe perfect for trolling for Instagram likes from your East Coast friends who are actually freezing their asses off instead of pretending like they are.

Flickr/Loren Javier

The Grove

During the Holiday season, The Grove has one of the tallest lit-up Christmas trees outside of Rockefeller Center, roasted chestnuts carts (a personal favorite), enough twinkly lights to light a small city, and nightly “snow” showers at 7 and 8pm to momentarily coat the streets with a sheen of white (but, like, soap bubble white, not freezing rain white) magic.

Norton's Winter Wonderland | David Miller/Thrillist

Christmas Lights

All over the city
Got the night free? Take yourself on a tour of these DIY Xmas lights and feel all warm and cozy from the spirit of the season. And also because, at least compared to East Coasters, you’re actually pretty warm and cozy yourself.

Mountain High

OK, if you're an avid skier you may be a little disappointed by the lifts on these slopes in the San Gabriel Mountains -- but if you just want a quick fix and to be back to LA in time for dinner, it's worth heading here for some snow action: It's only a little over an hour out of LA, day tix are $69, and there are tubing parks as well to feel a little bit of that East Coast weather (and then get the hell out of it.)

Danny Jensen/Thrillist

Santa's Village

Big Bear
This beloved, kitschy theme park about two hours outside of LA has been closed for decades but has reopened this year and hasn't lost any of its seasonal charm. You can hop on the Polar Express Train, visit a gingerbread house, and have an overall I'm-A-Kid-In-A-Candy-Store time (and that's all before you even end up in the Kandy Store).

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Laurel House is an international Dating Coach, born and bred West Angeleno, and Dating Coach on the new reality show on E!, Famously Single; Follow her on twitter @DatingLaurel or visit her website to learn how you can work with her.



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