If you’re dreaming of some sun and fun during the winter months, then perhaps you’ve considered an escape to Los Angeles. With our guide to what to do in the City of Angels in winter, you can be sure to have a relaxing and adventurous trip. Yes, the city is full of attractions tied to the movie industry and other amusements, but you can also get a taste of the great outdoors, entertain the kids, and learn about history in between celebrity sightings.
Shorter days mean you have more hours of darkness to see the stars and landmarks at this observatory on the hill called Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park. You can look through the telescopes and see other exhibits and occasional live shows but be sure to get in line well before the cut off time of 9:30 pm. Before going to the observatory, why not take a hike in Griffith Park to see the sunset?
La Brea Tar Pits
A bit educational, a bit of an oddity, the La Brea Tar Pits are an interesting addition to any visit to Los Angeles. The cooler winter months are a great time to visit these pits of natural asphalt that have sat in the midst of what is now Los Angeles for tens of thousands of years. The site and museum sit in Hancock Park, and you can see specimens of animals that have died there, including mammoths. There are ongoing excavations, so the pits and accompanying museum are a great spot to visit with kids.
If you came to Los Angeles in the winter, chances are your thoughts are on the beach. The good news is that the weather can be comfortable enough to walk along the beach, but the bad news is that the water is nowhere near warm enough to jump in. Luckily, there’s still plenty to see and do in Venice. Stroll along the Venice Boardwalk and enjoy the artistic vibe, and then check out the muscle heads pumping iron at the iconic outdoor gym. And if that’s not enough, the canals of Venice, lined by a mix of quirky and modern houses, are also a nice place to stroll.
Drive along the famed Pacific Coast Highway to the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of L.A. to get to the Getty Villa. In addition to being a treat for the eyes, the villa is part of the J. Paul Getty Museum that sits on a large campus. You can see antiquities in the villa and adjacent gallery. Even the villa itself is a masterpiece based on Roman architecture, with lush gardens. The best part is admission to the Getty Villa is free, although you do need a timed ticket to get in.
Runyon Canyon Park/Mulholland Drive
Located on the edge of the Hollywood Hills, Runyon Canyon Park is an urban hiking spot worth visiting just for the views of L.A. The plus of going in the winter months is more tolerable temperatures and perhaps a few fewer people on the trails. While you’re in the area, you can drive along Mulholland Drive that runs along the top of the Hollywood Hills and is full of film and music history and celebrity homes. In addition, you get to see some great scenery and perhaps catch a glimpse of a palatial house through the gates.
If you have kids traveling with on your winter escape to Los Angeles, it’s likely Disneyland has entered the conversation. Located in the suburb of Anaheim, Disneyland is a must-see destination for children and children at heart. The good news is that the crowds are thinner in the winter months, so you’ll have more room to roam the park. And at only about a 40-minute drive from downtown Los Angeles, it’s a doable destination for a day trip.