Southern California is one of the best places to visit during the winter months. Although you’re unlikely to see any real snow, there are still lots of seasonal activities and things to do in Los Angeles in the winter, from big-budget theme park attractions to low-key local fun.
We put together a list of our favorite things to do in Los Angeles in winter 2016 to help you plan the perfect wintery itinerary, so check out our list of the best holiday activities and attractions.
Save on Attraction Admission
Regular admission to a number of these attractions are included on the Go Los Angeles® Card.
Choose as you go from dozens of top attractions and save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.
Please note, some of these special Winter events may be separately ticketed and not included on the Go Los Angeles Card.
Aquarium of the Pacific
Interact with the sea life of Southern California, Baja, and beyond. Touch sharks, hand feed colorful lorikeet birds, and watch penguins play at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach.
Missing the snow this holiday season? Be sure to head to the Aquarium on weekends from December 3 through 23, 2016, and check out the snow play area set up on the front lawn! In addition to snow, the Aquarium will host the annual Holiday Treats for the Animals festival on December 3 and 4, 2016 which kicks off the Aquarium Holidays running through December 23, 2016. You’ll get to enjoy festive decorations, daily Penguin Walks, free viewings of Sleigh Ride 4D, “snowfall” in the great Hall, a special holiday menu in Cafe Scuba, and daily appearances by Santa Diver in the tank.
Getting in: Aquarium of the Pacific tickets are included with the Go Los Angeles Card and Aquarium Holidays events are included with admission, unless otherwise noted.
Universal Studios Hollywood
Winter is one of the best times to visit Universal Studios Hollywood. This time of year typically means less crowds–and shorter lines.
Weekday Universal Studios tickets are included with 3, 5, and 7-Day Go Los Angeles Cards.
From the enormous back lot, to the special effects stage, to the all new King Kong 360 3-D movie adventure, there’s lots to explore, so be sure to leave yourself plenty of time.
You’ll travel through working sets, learn all about cutting-edge movie-making technology, and get on board rides built to resemble your favorite blockbuster hits.
On select days from December 3, 2016 through January 1, 2017, Universal Studios plays host to Grinchmas, a The Grinch Who Stole Christmas themed holiday spectacular with festive decorations throughout the park, photo opportunities with The Grinch, a chance to meet Max the dog, perfomances by Who-ville Singers, story time with Cindy Lou Who, fun activities, and more.
Getting in: Universal Studios Hollywood weekday-only tickets are included with Go Los Angles Cards of 3-Days or more. Most Grinchmas events are included with admission, unless otherwise noted.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour
Want to see more behind-the-scenes Hollywood magic? Head to Warner Bros Studio for the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, complete with the chance to get on the set of hit television shows like The Big Bang Theory and The Ellen Degeneres Show.
If you’re lucky, you might even see some celebrities on set. he Warner Bros. Studio Tour also includes a 10-million item prop department, the tallest sound stage in the nation, and a ride through the back lots.
Getting in: Warner Bros. Studio Tour tickets are included with the Go Los Angeles Card.
Sony Pictures Studios Tour
Get the real experience of a working studio on a 2-hour guided tour of Sony Pictures Studios. You’ll see historic sound stages once home to the Yellow Brick Road, Emerald City, and the Spider-Man movies.
Your tour may even swing by a smash-hit game show, “Jeopardy!” or “Wheel of Fortune.”
Getting in: Sony Pictures Studios Tour tickets are included with the Go Los Angeles Card.
Be the Audience at a Live Taping
After you tour a studio, complete the LA experience by attending a live taping of one of your favorite shows.
How to get tickets to live tapings in Los Angeles: Be sure to plan well in advance and arrive early as many shows sell out fast and seats are not always guaranteed–even with a ticket.
- American Idol: click here.
- Conan: click here.
- ESPN SPORTSNATION: click here.
- Hell’s Kitchen: click here.
- Jeopardy!: click here.
- Jimmy Kimmel: click here.
- The Late Night Show with James Corden: click here.
- The Price is Right: click here.
- tosh.0: click here.
- The Voice: click here.
- Wheel of Fortune: click here.
Get Ready for the Academy Awards
With the Academy Awards approaching on February 28, 2016, there’s no better place to be than Hollywood.
Taking the stage where some of your favorite celebrities will undoubtedly be standing on the night of the Oscars is one of the best ways to gear up for the show.
With a Dolby Theater Tour, you’ll have VIP access to the famous five-level theater where the Academy Awards take place each year and where you can walk down Hollywood’s memory lane and see images of famous Oscar winners like Jack Nicholson and Grace Kelly on display.
Getting in: Dolby Theater Tour tickets are included with the Go Los Angeles Card.
Scope out the Museum Scene
LA is home to lots of fascinating, world-class museums worth exploring when it’s chilly or raining outside.
For the full Hollywood experience, movie buffs should check out the famous Hollywood Museum, to learn all about movie production, film making technology, the legacy of Tinsel Town, and more before heading to Madame Tussauds to pose for souvenir photos with their favorite celebrities.
For a more educational museum experience that you won’t find in many other cities, the Museum of Tolerance features unique exhibits that explore issues of tolerance, prejudice, discrimination, the legacy of the holocaust and contemporary human rights issues and the Japanese American Museum, located in the heart of Little Tokyo downtown, is internationally recognized for its dedication to examining America’s ethnic and cultural diversity.
Science fans will enjoy visiting the excavation site at La Brea Tar Pits and museum, one of the world’s most famous Ice Age excavation sites where you can see scientists and volunteers preparing fossils for examination or a visit to the Natural History Museum, home to real dinosaur fossils, an extensive collection of natural gems and minerals, and ancient Latin American archeological artifacts.
Six Flags Magic Mountain
Test your fear of speeds, heights, twists, and turns on the many roller coasters and thrill rides at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
Visitors will fewer lesser crowds during the winter months which means more time for testing your limits on each thrill ride.
Check out Holiday in the Park events on December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17-24, 26-31, 2016, and January 1, 2017 to see the park transformed into a winter wonderland with festive lights, fun activities, live performances, visits with Santa, and even “Santa’s Wild Sleigh Ride” Virtual Reality Coaster thrill ride.
Getting in: Six Flags Magic Mountain tickets are included on the Go Los Angeles Card. Holiday at the Park activities are included with admission, unless noted otherwise.
Knott’s Merry Farm
From November 19, 2016 through January 8, 2017, Knott’s Berry Farm becomes Knott’s Merry Farm with lots of holiday-themed fun and activities for visitors to enjoy.
Visit the park to see Merry Christmas, Snoopy! the ice show spectacular (select dates), the all-new A Peanute Guide to Christmas show at the Camp Snoopy Theatre, Christmas in Calico activities at Calico’s Town Hall, visit Santa Claus himself in his Christmas Cabin where you can get pictures taken and try one-of-a-kind seasonal treats, watch the Calico Tree Lighting Ceremony, try your hand some arts and crafts at Knott’s Christmas Crafts Village featuring a power chainsaw sculpting and glass blowing demonstrations, walk through falling snow during the nightly Snow and Glow experience, and lots more.
Getting in: Knott’s Merry Farm tickets are included on the Go Los Angeles Card. Holiday festivities are included with admission, unless otherwise noted.
Pick up Some Fresh, Local Produce
Head to the Farmer’s Market nearest you and pick up some seasonal, fresh fruits, veggies, and locally baked goods.
Watch a Winter Sunset
Vivid sunsets are commonplace during the Los Angeles winter. Take advantage of the miles of unobstructed views along the coastline for some of the best sunset viewing in the world.
Some of the best LA spots to watch the winter sunset, include: Griffith Observatory, Hermosa Beach Pier, Dockweiler State Beach (bring a camera to get a photo of the sunset over the famous shipwreck that washed up onto the shore), and Terranea Bluff Top Park.
Make a day of it and head to Santa Monica Pier for thrill rides and quintessential boardwalk fun at Pacific Park and then visit the sea life at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium before watching the sun set over it all for a postcard-worthy view.
Remember to Save on Attraction Admission
So there you have it. Our list of a few things to do in Los Angeles in the winter, including holiday events, other seasonal activities in December, and more.
Remember, many of these options are included on the Go Los Angeles Card, where you can save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.
Please note, the Winter events taking place at some of these attractions may be separately ticketed and not included with the Go Los Angeles Card.
We hope you plan to add a few of these fun options to your winter vacation itinerary