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Christmas in LA.......what to do???

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Christmas in LA.......what to do???

We're planning a week long vacation in LA for Christmas this year and we're wondering what exactly we can do and where we can eat on Christmas Day. We're a family of 4 with 2 boys (ages 7 and 5). We celebrate Christmas and it's a huge event for us, but we want to celebrate in a warmer climate this year........we live in Chicago. We considered Disneyland, but based on what we've heard about the crowds we'll probably wait until a couple days after Christmas for that. We're staying in Hollywood. We don't want to drive more than an hour away or else the boys will be worn out before we even get started. As far as restaurants, we would love a nice steakhouse, seafood, or Chinese restaurant. Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated! Thanks in advance.

Thousand Oaks...
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1. Re: Christmas in LA.......what to do???

First, a couple questions....

Where will you be staying? LA is huge. Disneyland is not even in the city of LA nor the county of LA....it's about an hour south of LA in Orange County.

Will you be renting a car?

Dr. Z

Corona del Mar, CA
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2. Re: Christmas in LA.......what to do???

On crowds and Disneyland, I would not wait. There is not a huge difference in crowds the 25th compared to say the 27th.

How many total nights will you be in the LA area?

With boys 5 & 7, I'd spend at least three nights in Anaheim for Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure. Here is the Anaheim Forum.

tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g29092-i65-Anaheim…

If you can stay in Anaheim the days before Christmas, the crowds should be a bit less.

My family used to grill on the beach Christmas Day just because we could :)

Santa Monica...
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3. Re: Christmas in LA.......what to do???

What is your budget for restaurants - like the steakhouse you seek? I ask, because the best steakhouses are easily $100/person, but you can find a good steak at any of the Hillstone restaurants, but that might not appeal to you...

Where, exactly, are you staying?

Go to the Grove for their Christmas decor

Edited: 08 September 2013, 23:45
Santa Monica, CA
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4. Re: Christmas in LA.......what to do???

If it were me (and it is, only we are going to the Caribbean island of St. Croix), I'd rent a condo or house and cook Christmas dinner at "home." You might consider staying at the Loew's Hotel in Santa Monica. They do a nice brunch, there's a pool with ocean views, plus the beach and pier as your backyard.

If we're in town, we go to Christmas brunch. Most are at hotel restaurants, but some stand-alone restaurants will have a brunch, too. It may be easier to wait on that for 6 weeks before the holiday as most restaurants haven't announced those plans quite yet.

Are you here for New Years day? If so, you must go to the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena.

I agree with Scott, it isn't going to matter when you go to Disneyland, it will be crowded that week. With all the visitors plus those attached to the parade, everything is busy between Christmas and New Years Day.

Ditto The Grove. I like to visit it the evening of December 23rd (closes early on the 24th). Very festive, great music, carolers wander through the adjacent Farmers Market (http://www.farmersmarketla.com/), ride the trolley through the Grove (free, short, but children enjoy it).

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5. Re: Christmas in LA.......what to do???

@ Dr. Z: We're staying in a condo near Wilshire and LaBrea, on the Miracle Mile, between Beverly Hills and Hollywood (that's how it was described to me). We are renting a car. I know Disneyland is in Anaheim, which is why we plan to spend the last chunk of days there. Thanks!

Edited: 09 September 2013, 01:42
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6. Re: Christmas in LA.......what to do???

@ scottca: Thanks for that advice. We're arriving on the 22nd, so we'll consider heading straight to Anaheim instead of waiting. We'll be there a goal of 7 nights. Cooking out on the beach sounds like a great idea as well. Thanks!

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7. Re: Christmas in LA.......what to do???

@ yogachik: Thanks for The Grove recommendation. Our budget for dinner can range from $75-$100 per person. Flemings and Capital Grille are restaurants we enjoy. We're staying near Wilshire and LaBrea, between Beverly Hills and Hollywood.

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8. Re: Christmas in LA.......what to do???

@ ddffpp: thanks for your awesome recommendations. We won't be in LA for New Years Day, but I've heard the parade is great! I'm definitely going to look into the restaurant brunch as well. Thanks again.

Rancho Santa...
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9. Re: Christmas in LA.......what to do???

Here are my suggestions for your family. These are given as the father of two boys who are now seven.

1) Bob Baker Marionette Theater -- Just west of downtown.

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g32655-d33…

2) Vista Hermosa Park -- Very close to the BB Marionette Theater. My kids love it and is still a stop whenever we are in town. (We used to live in downtown.)

yelp.com/biz/vista-hermosa-natural-park-los-…

3) Outdoor ice skating -- There's been a real boom in this activity. It all started downtown about 15 years ago. I really like the atmosphere at the Pershing Square location, particularly for little one. The LA Live rink is quite large now. But, the attendant lights are Vegas-esque. There's probably other rinks closer to your location. But, if you're downtown one day, consider stopping here.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g32655-i61-k327817…

4) Olvera Street has a posada every night leading up to the Christmas holiday. Philippe's is close by and an excellent family friendly restaurant. My kids love it.

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g32655-d20…

tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g32655-d3647…

5) Cathedral of Our Laky of the Angels -- If you're looking for some Christmas mood, check out the Cathedral downtown. The public plaza is very nice and there's a playground with a cafe. Watch their website to see if they have any special Christmas concerts.

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g32655-d25…

6) Disney Concert Hall -- This is a block away from the Cathedral. Check their calendar. They have a special concert series for children. Maybe there will be a performance which is convenient for your trip.

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g32655-d25…

7) Natural History Museum -- There's a new dinosaur exhibit! Say no more.

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g32655-d10…

8) California Science Center -- Right next door to the Natural History Museum is this venue. Great for your boys. Gorgeous rose garden out front. Check out the nifty parking structure and IMAX theater.

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g32655-d10…

9) Central Library -- This is one the city's most beloved buildings. We used to go here all the time. The Children's Library inside is great. But, the building and surrounding grounds are special. There are a couple of great little galleries inside.

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g32655-d14…

10) Getty Center -- This is a great venue for families. Go the first morning you're in town. Have lunch on the patio. Boys can have fun exploring the grounds.

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g32655-d14…

11) Griffith Observatory -- Iconic location which will seem faintly familiar to you. I like to enter via the entrance off of Los Feliz and Western. There's a planetarium which I've never bothered with. But, the views are memorable. Dusk is good. There's a nice set of walk-ways called the Fern Dell at the entrance I mentioned. Boys will like exploring there. If you're ambitious, you can hike up to the Observatory from the northern end of the Fern Dell.

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g32655-d11…

12) Autry Museum -- Lots of cowboy stuff here.

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g32655-d15…

13) Skirball Center -- The Noah's Arc exhibit may appeal to your boys and family.

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g32655-d12…

14) Coldwater Canyon Park -- Great park for gentle hiking and picnicing. Consider stopping here as part of a drive along Mulholland Blvd between the 101 and the 405.

yelp.com/biz/coldwater-canyon-park-beverly-h…

15) Point Dume -- A nice drive, say Christmas morning, is to take PCH out to Point Dume. You can hike up (short and steep) from the beach. There's a lovely viewpoint of Santa Monica Bay and the Pacific Ocean. You can then take some stairs down to the secluded beach. Just be sure to hold onto your boys hands and stay on the trails.

yelp.com/biz/point-dume-state-beach-malibu

16) Reagan Library -- Might be too far for your boys. Very impressive and American.

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g33093-d14…

17) Santa Monica Pier -- Gentle amusement park by the sea. The children of visiting friends often say they prefer it to Disneyland. Skip Venice Beach. Too much druggie action going on. Santa Monica itself is very pedestrian friendly.

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g33052-d10…

18) Petersen Car Museum -- Great place for boys who like cars. Very close to your condo.

tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g32655-d1169…

This should give you some ideas. When you arrive, head to The Grove/Farmer's Market for dinner. The food court area at the market is excellent for families. As others have noted, they go all out for Christmas.

HTH

Santa Monica...
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10. Re: Christmas in LA.......what to do???

Hitch, this post is worthy of a sticky/top question/FAQ! I hope you saved it to post for future family questions.