This upcoming winter break is the first break at my son’s school in over a year that we do not have travel plans. After our India trip and a very busy fall, we have decided to stay put and spend our break exploring areas of LA that we never have time for. Although I would venture to guess that I will somehow sneak in at least a short 2 day trip somewhere! Regardless, these are the things on our to do list. What’s on yours?
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Play in Snow
Just because we live in LA doesn’t mean that our kids shouldn’t get to experience the wonderfulness of building snowmen and throwing snowballs! We are lucky enough to have friends who host an amazing snow party at their house every year, but for everyone else, there are lots of great options for snow play in LA. Our pick would be the Kids Space Museum in Pasadena. If you feel like getting out of town for the day, make a trip to Mt. Baldy’s snow tubing hill. It’s only 90 minutes from LA and with timed tubing tickets it’s an easy trip to make.
Visit a Museum
LA has an abundance of museums geared specifically to kids or with awesome kid friendly amenities. However, the one at the top of our list for this break is the new Discovery Cube Museum at the Hansen Dam Recreation area. It is an amazing day out for the kids. It feels like a cross between the Exploratorium in San Francisco and the California Science Center. We can’t wait to check out the new Curious George exhibit.
There is also the Mummies exhibit at the Natural History Museum that is calling out to us for a visit. Don’t forget the California Science Museum where you could easily spend day with the awesome exhibits and a 3D movie thrown in for fun!
Get Out in Nature
Anyone who reads our blog knows how obsessed my son is with the outdoors. We are always looking for something new to do. We have several outdoor adventures on our to do list. With the recent rain, I can’t think of anything else other than waterfall hikes! Switzer Falls and Sturtevant Falls are on the top of our list. We have also been looking at the Muth Interpretive Center in Newport Beach, which looks like a fun day out. Last year we spent New Year’s Day at the tide pools in Malibu, but the Abalone Tide Pools are also super fun.
Watts Towers is one of our favorite places for art inspiration. If that isn’t up your alley, get in line for a visit to LA’s hottest new art museum The Broad. Go early to get timed tickets for the Infinity Mirrored Room. If you aren’t up for these, head down to the LACMA and get your child’s free admission NEXGEN pass which allows you to go for free too! Try to beg your way in for the Rain Room which is super amazing and totally sold out!
This is one of our favorite winter activities. The best time to do it is early in the season when the berms are still large and you get a nice rush racing down the hill! Our favorite beaches to go to are Zuma and Venice. Read about our sledding adventures from last year.
Take a Train Adventure
My son likes train rides regardless of where they go. Two close and fun options for day trip train adventures are to Santa Barbara or San Juan Capistrano. The Amtrak Pacific Surfliners stops in Santa Barbara, where you can then easily grab a bus over to the quaint Santa Barbara Zoo or just wander around downtown or play at the beach. The Santa Barbara MTD Shuttle runs from Stearns Wharf (See this map) to the zoo and it only cost a quarter. If you go to the zoo, don’t forget to get your hands slobbery wet by feeding the giraffes!
If you head down south to San Juan Capistrano, you can enjoy the day pottering around the small town square and the mission. MetroLink has $10 weekend day pass tickets on Saturday and Sunday, which makes this a great budget friendly day trip.
See Holiday Lights
LA is not like where I grew up, where all of the houses were lit up with crazy decorations. Here we have to make an effort to seek out the best and brightest neighborhoods. LA Zoo Lights is a fun option if you don’t want to drive out to the suburbs. But if driving and free are more your style, spend an evening in one of LA’s fantastically decorated neighborhoods. Our pick this year is Santa Clarita. We have tried several other neighborhoods and want something new this year. Torrance is also on our list, possibly after the tide pools if we make it there before the new year.
See the Nutcracker
I hate to admit it, but I have never seen a Nutcracker. Gasp! My son on the other hand loves music, live performance and dance, so I don’t think we will manage many years without him making this a holiday tradition. But for this year, we will settle for the Bob Baker Marionettes Nutcracker show. We love the marionettes and this might be a good introduction to the Nutcracker!
Tournament of Roses Parade Floats
Living here we have the awesome advantage of being able to view the Rose Bowl floats while they are under construction as well as for a few days following the parade. So in my view, there is almost no need to sit out in the early morning cold watching as each float takes ages to pass when you can see them at your own pace up close and personal. We did this last year and it was really amazing to see the detail that goes into the floats as well as get a sneak peak into the mechanics of them as well. I highly recommend it if you haven’t done it before.
I did not grow up ice skating, so it’s not part of my image of winter, but my son is mesmerized by the idea of ice skating in downtown LA. So thats what we will do. Apparently the Pershing Square rink only allows the child “helpers” out on the ice for the first session of the day which is at 10:00 a.m. Don’t expect to see me out there wobbling around though! For a more child friendly rink, check out the Ice Rink in Burbank.
Take a Trip
We love to take spur of the moment day trips and over night trips. We love the desert and could easily pop over to Joshua Tree for a day of hiking. Or to Idylwild, Big Bear, San Diego or Ventura. But what I really want to do is a day trip to the sound bath at Integretron. I think this is the perfect way to start the new year – cleansing the body through sound!
Tis the season to give back. There are many ways to do this on your own or through an organization. You can make and hand out gift packages to homeless (rain ponchos would be useful this week!), adopt a family or participate in a gift giving event. It is not always easy to find volunteer activities that young kids can get hands on with, but the Christmas event held by One Voice is the perfect holiday volunteer for all ages. See our experience from last year to get a better idea of what the day is like. We will be there again this year excited to help out as much as we can.
Chill out at home
Even though we love to get out and about, my son also really likes afternoons to chill at home cooking, doing crafts or constructing things out of all of our Amazon boxes! His favorite indoor activity lately has been to do “experiments” with kitchen ingredients. He likes to sample the spices and mix them up to create his own concoctions. We will also follow some real recipes to make our holiday cookie plates for the postman, neighbors and our local fire station.
Whew! As daunting as a 2 week school break feels, time will go so quickly. Enjoy the break and get out there and enjoy everything this city has to offer.
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