Your kids are excited to be out of school for winter break. You? Not so much. I get it. After all, my boys have three weeks’ worth of vacation coming. Eventually, all that excitement about winter break fades and the bickering and complaining kicks in.
Our solution is to keep some semblance of structure during all that time off from school. I created this list of things to do with kids in Los Angeles over winter break to help us not just “get through” the next few weeks, but actually enjoy ourselves.
Before you start making a to-do list out of the suggestions below, get out your family calendar. Block off the days and times you already have commitments – things like holiday parties, winter camps, dentist appointments and haircuts. Then ask your kids if they have anything special they want to do. Provided you can make those things happen, block that time off your calendar, too. Now take a look at the time you have left. Here are a few ways you might want to spend it:
Enjoy seasonal activities while they last.
Much of the holiday fun in Los Angeles continues into the New Year. Here’s what’s happening for families over winter break:
- Neighborhood Christmas lights displays: many of the popular displays remain up through Jan. 1
- Downtown LA Holiday Lights Walking Tour: through Dec. 30
- LA Zoo Lights: through Jan. 3
- View Rose Parade floats up close after the parade on Jan. 1, 2 & 3
- CHILL at the Queen Mary: through Jan. 10
- Holiday Ice Rink in Pershing Square: through Jan. 18
- ICE at Santa Monica (outdoor ice skating rink): through Jan. 18
Take advantage of your annual passes.
Finances are usually a little tighter during the holidays, making it the perfect time to use any of those annual passes you bought earlier this year. Head to a museum, aquarium, zoo or children’s museum for free. Here are a few special exhibits to consider during winter break:
- Snow Days at Kidspace Children’s Museum: Dec. 26 to 30
- The Science of Gingerbread at the Discovery Cube Los Angeles: through Jan. 3
- Reindeer Romp at the Los Angeles Zoo: through Jan. 3
- The Mummies exhibit at the Natural History Museum: through Jan. 10
- The Journey to Space exhibit at the California Science Center is now open
Head to the beach.
Beaches are a lot less crowded during winter. Bring a jacket – and maybe a kite – and take advantage of having the place practically to yourselves. Check out my list of the best beaches in Los Angeles to figure out which is best for your family. Wondering what to do while you’re there? Why not:
- Go sand sledding: The sand berms are usually up throughout winter. Our best picks are Venice (for the littles) and Zuma (for the older kids).
- Check out tide pools. Winter is the time to head to the tide pools. We like El Matador State Beach in Malibu and Abalone Cove in Rancho Palos Verdes.
- Have a bonfire. There’s just one spot in LA where you can do so legally – at Dockweiler State Beach near LAX.
Go for a hike.
Winter’s moderate temperatures make for great hiking. Choose one of our favorite Los Angeles winter hiking spots or head to an old family favorite. Remember to bring snacks and wear layers.
If you’re reluctant to get outside in L.A.’s colder weather, get some inspiration with these outdoor play activities for California “cold weather” from my partner Michele at Fun Orange County Parks.
Whatever you decide to do, leave time in your schedule for you and your kids to do absolutely nothing. You deserve it!
If you need more ideas for winter break family fun, try these: