One of the best things about living in Los Angeles is that there is always something fun to do year-round. Are you planning a trip to the area for the holidays? Maybe you are a local looking for a new thing to do this season. There truly is something fun to do for everyone. I was so excited to get to discuss what to do for Christmas in Los Angeles with LifeHacksLA on the LA Dreaming Podcast.

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You can follow Stefan at LifeHacksLA on Instagram. Be sure to check out his LAHackers Club as well as the LifeHacksLA podcast. You can find the LAHacker Journal on Amazon which would make a great stocking stuffer.

Things to for Christmas Time in Los Angeles

At the moment you can listen to the podcast through Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, or Podbean.

Christmas Lights in Los Angeles

where to view christmas lights in los angeles
The Naples Canals in Long Beach are a spectacular place to see Christmas lights. In this area, you can see stunning homes year-round but the holiday season is when this spot is truly brought to life. One thing that makes this spot extra cool is that in addition to walking around to see the lights you can also see them from the water via a rental boat or a gondola ride. Other favorite spots include Candy Cane Lane and so many others which you can see in this post on where to see Christmas Lights in LA.

Christmas Lights in Orange County

dana point harbor

I love going to the Dana Point Harbor for dinner and then taking a stroll to see the lights. Parking is free so even if you don’t come here to eat, the lights are nice to see. This is just one of many great places to see Christmas Lights in Orange County

Enjoy the Holiday Experiences at the LA Gardens


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The various gardens in the Los Angeles area have really stepped up their game for the holiday season. You can experience Descanso Gardens, the LA Arboretum, South Coast Botanic Garden, and the Sherman Garden in Newport Beach all offer fabulous experiences. The LA Zoo is another spot that offers a different experience this time of year. Take advantage of these unique but fun things to do for Christmas in Los Angeles and experience these amazing places in a completely different way.

Boat Parades in Marina Del Rey & Newport Beach


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The Marina Del Rey boat parade is celebrating its 59th year. The theme for 2021 is “Joy on the water”. On 12/11 around 5:55 pm, the parade will kick off with fireworks. The parade experience should last through 8 pm.

The theme for the Newport Beach Boat Parade for 2021 is “Jingle on the waves”. It is the 113th parade which is filled with yachts, boats, kayaks, and canoes. This year’s parade will be held Wednesday through Sunday, December 15-19, 2021

Mission Inn in Riverside

Festival of Lights

Festival of Lights at The Mission Inn has been on my to-do list for the last few years. I was finally able to see the lights in person and I was amazed! Be sure to arrive early. Groups are let in to see the light display one at a time. The great part about that is that you and your group can get a picture under the archway without anyone else in the background. It takes patience to get in but the lights are truly worth it. The hotel itself is worth checking out even when it isn’t decorated so the gorgeous decorations are icing on the cake.

Holidays at the Theme Parks


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All of the SoCal theme parks offer unique experiences for the holiday season. Grinchmas at Universal Studios has always been a fun experience. The Disneyland Resort and Knott’s Berry Farm are really wonderful spots to visit this time of year. If you want to get to experience Disneyland or Knott’s Merry Farm for free I highly recommend entering to win tickets through Kost 103.5 and 104.3 MyFM.

I have attended the Kost Holiday party at Disneyland which was a blast as well as Knott’s Merry Farm with MyFM. These experiences not only get you into the theme parks for free, minus parking, but you are there with so many fewer people it can feel like you have the place to yourself. On my last visit to the MyFM holiday party at Knott’s my friend and I even won tickets to a Jonas Brothers concert.

Outdoor Ice Skating Los Angeles Experiences

outdoor ice skating los angeles

The LA Kings Holiday Rink is returning to LA Live on 11/26. I am really looking forward to the ice skating rink that will pop up at Dodger Stadium. If you want an ice skating near the beach experience you can head to the Paseo Hotel in Huntington Beach or San Diego.

Skating by the Sea at Hotel Del Coronado in Coronado, California is a fun thing to do. How many times can you go ice skating at the beach? This beautiful hotel is full of history and beautiful Christmas decorations. If you are planning on going to San Diego make sure to plan on stopping by Hotel Del this holiday season.

Jingle Ball & Jingle Ball Village

Every December the Jingle Ball takes place in Los Angeles. The concert is a great chance to see several popular singers in one night. Whether you have tickets to the concert or not you can attend the Jingle Ball Village. In addition to seeing mini-performances by some of the singers, you have a chance to win some great prizes. The last time I went I walked away with a bag full of swag and free tickets to see the LA Zoo Lights. Please note that the village has not been confirmed yet to return for 2021.

Shopping Centers

the grove christmas tree lighting

We are so blessed to have so many fabulous shopping centers that really enhance your holiday experience. Make sure to stop by at least one of these malls this season. The Grove, Rodeo Drive, Westfield Century City, and the Americana at Brand.

Christmas Trains

The Holiday Light Festival is returning to Griffith Park. The one-mile train ride will showcase the beautiful lights.

  • November 26, 2021 — January 7, 2022  | $5 per person, all ages.
  • Monday-Thursday: 5-8pm; Friday-Sunday: 5-9pm

If rain is in the forecast, please check Facebook or Instagram for weather updates.

The Irvine Park Railroad is also back this holiday season. Tickets have sold out but according to their Instagram, they expect more tickets to open up.

Christmas Movies


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We have so many wonderful Outdoor Movie Screenings in LA and thanks to our fabulous weather we can still enjoy them during the holiday season. One of my favorite Christmas experiences in LA so far was when I got to see a screening of White Christmas at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in DTLA. That is not happening this year but Yuletide Cinema with Streetfood Cinema is returning which is always a hit. You get to enjoy Christmas movies while being surrounded by the beautiful homes of Heritage Square.

Pop up Christmas Bars

Tinseltown and Blitzen’s by Here and Now are two pop-up holiday bar experiences that look like they will be spectacular to see. Santa Baby that I mentioned in the episode is sadly not returning this year but if you happen to be going to Chicago you can check it out there.

Hollywood Christmas Parade

hollywood christmas parade

The Hollywood Christmas Parade takes every year following Thanksgiving. This is a great chance to see celebrities and get into the Christmas spirit. Tickets can be purchased for grandstand seating which includes viewing the musical performances. You can view the parade for free from various locations.

Rose Parade

The Rose Parade takes place every New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California. You can purchase seats in the grandstands or wake up early and try to get a front-row seat on the sides of the parade route. Every float is made of flowers and is really something special to see in person.

El Capitan Theatre

el capitan theatre disney

El Capitan has not announced its schedule beyond 12/5 but they love hosting Holiday-themed events. Seeing a movie in this beautiful and historic is a must-do. They always add something special to a screening experience like making it snow during Let It Go when Frozen was playing.

Looking for a gift idea for someone living in Los Angeles? Be sure to check out this guide here.

About The Author

Michelle Ares is the founder and creative director of LA Dreaming. I have a passion for Southern California and love sharing my adventures and experiences with you. I love to travel, find new places to check out, and watch movies. You can follow me on Instagram @la.dreaming

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