So the relatives are coming for the holidays. You love to have them, but don’t always know what to do with them. Here are a few ideas for simple adventures in and around Los Angeles, after everyone has tired of playing Crazy Eights and sitting in front of the TV.
Holiday Light Displays
Here’s fun to be had for free and from the comfort of your car. The city of Los Angeles never looks more glamorous than during the holidays and all you have to do is cruise the city streets from Santa Monica eastward to catch a variety of light displays. Beverly Hills is a great place to do a drive-through light tour. Head down Wilshire Blvd. around Rodeo Drive to see the city shimmer and twinkle with lights and ornaments strung on trees and across the boulevard. Look to your left and right at the beautifully decorated store windows and look up toward the stars to see Santa and his sleigh flying high. Beverlyhills.org
You’ll find a fabulous neighborhood light display that’s worth the drive to Torrance, in the South Bay area of Los Angeles. Blocks and blocks of neighbors participate by decorating their yards and homes with lights, sound and moving displays, the likes of which you’ve never seen.There are even hot chocolate and popcorn sales along the way. Take a slow drive or walk through these festive streets. Enter off of Pacific Coast Highway at Calle Mayor to begin your journey.
Downtown Los Angeles
Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral is worth a visit any time, but particularly during the holidays, when the outdoor plaza is alive with decorations, music and other special happenings. Step inside to pause and reflect on your blessings this season, and enjoy the simple but beautiful holiday decorations.
If you’re in the mood for exercise, the plaza at L.A. Live has been transformed into a skating rink for the month of December. The ice rink, sponsored by the L.A. Kings and Coca-Cola, is open in the afternoons and evenings and includes skate rental. If ice skating works up the relatives’ appetites, take them to Phillipe the Original for a French-dip sandwich and some pie. Phillipe’s, a downtown landmark with communal tables and sawdust on the floor, is in Chinatown and blocks away from Olvera Street , if your group still has energy left for sightseeing.
Shopping in Pasadena
Old Town Pasadena, with its charming, retro store fronts and beautiful nearby Craftsman homes, is a great place to take the relatives for some last-minute shopping outside of the typical mall setting. Along Colorado Blvd., you’ll find unique shops and restaurants alongside upscale, retail chains to interest everybody in your party. Don’t forget to stop in for a look at Stat’s Floral on Raymond Avenue. This Southern California landmark is a winter wonderland of Christmas displays and decorations. This is the best place in the city to buy garland, ornaments and every kind of Christmas decoration imaginable. Finish your day at Mi Piace on Colorado Blvd. for an authentic Italian lunch or dinner. Oldtownpasadena.com
The Wayfarers Chapel, Rancho Palos Verdes
In the true spirit of the season, here’s another beautiful place of worship to visit. Situated on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Wayfarers Chapel is a glass-walled church designed by Lloyd Wright, Frank Lloyd Wright’s son. While the church is a work of art, the surrounding gardens and grounds are a peaceful oasis framed by beautiful ocean views. The church is decorated for Christmas and hosts Christmas concerts and special candlelight services. Wayfarerschapel.org