Sure, Los Angeles may not get a lot of weather—but when has reality stopped the City of Angels from pretending? Sunny-side folks can now get a taste of winter at Snow Day LA, a “snow park” now open a few miles from Downtown Los Angeles.
Let It Snow!
Spread across nine acres of wooded picnic area just a snowball’s throw from Dodger’s Stadium, Snow Day LA is the brainchild of friends RJ Hurley and Joe Martin. Both grew up in snowy climates and they wanted to bring a little of that wintry fun to Southern California, that tradition all transplants miss of playing in the snow with family, going sledding and of having a cup of warm cider or hot chocolate afterward.
Consequently, the first thing you’ll see when you walk up the snaking dirt road into the park is snow. Quiet, small swirls of it, falling from snow blowers perched on light poles above. It’s not real snow (we are in a drought, after all), but mesmerized kiddos won’t notice. Especially at dusk, these swirls of white stuff look like the real thing, and kids will love standing in the middle of the snowfall feeling the “snowflakes” melt on their skin. If you look closely, you’ll see that the “snow” is made of small, sudsy bubbles that melt when they hit the ground.
To really revel in snow showers, head to the “Blizzard Zone” (located in the center of the park), where every 10 minutes the amount of snowflakes in the air quadruples for a makeshift blizzard set to music. It’s all perfect photo fodder for Facebook & Instagram, and you’ll definitely want to keep your camera phone handy.
First Things First: Hit the Slopes
If you and your snowbound brood want to get some good snow-tubing in, head for the slopes, first thing.* Snow Day has two snow tubing hills: One for little tubers; another for everyone else. Both slopes are lots of fun, so don’t be deterred by the smaller lanes. Note: Kids under 36″ have to ride the Kiddie Hill or share a tube with their parents on the big lanes; kids under 18 months aren’t allowed, even if they’re in a lap.
What’s underfoot, you might be wondering? Snow Day’s paths and tubing lanes are made of a material called PowderPak; it’s a synthetic turf carpet that makes the perfect slippery slope (it’s used at ski resorts and ski schools when there’s not enough snow to go around). And while it may not look like the winter wonderland East Coasters brag about, when you get into your inner tube and slide down the hillside, you’ll feel like you’re tubing on the real thing (minus the sub-freezing temperatures and wet, soggy pants!).
*Insider’s Tip: Get there early. Like, as soon as the gates open early (that’s 4:30 p.m. on weekends; 6:30 p.m. on weekdays). Snow tubing lines get long quickly, and if you arrive even an hour after opening, you’ll have to wait upwards of 30 minutes to experience those 5-seconds of downhill fun.
No snow day is complete without a snowball fight, so be sure to take your kids to the snow play area, a square patch of snow located in the back corner of the park. Since you can’t make snowballs with synthetic snow, this is where Snow Day LA brings out the real thing. Again, we strongly suggest getting here early if you want a good snowball fight; the snow gets icier and less malleable as the night goes on. If you’re lucky enough to get there while the snow is still soft, your LA kids will have a blast molding the snow and hurling it into the air (probably at you).
Say Hello to My Little Snowmen
You can’t make real snowmen here, but there are plenty of inflatable Frosties to go around. Every hour, a field full of them light up for a musical light show. It doesn’t look like much before sunset, but once the sky gets dark, it’s a cool sight to see. This is where your magical mama planning comes into use: as we mentioned, tubing first, early snowball fight, and then as the sun sets, your crew is ready for cocoa and a field of snowmen.
Hungry? There’s a Truck for That
Like any good LA event, Snow Day has an assortment of high-end food trucks to satisfy hungry appetites. On the night we visited, there were five trucks, offering everything from Cajun food and gourmet grilled cheeses to burgers made-to-order and Mediterranean fare. Hot chocolate and hot cider is also available for kids to warm those snowball-chilled fingers.
If all this snow makes you thirsty for grown-up beverages, head to the Blizzard Zone, where there’s a full bar ready to serve you. There’s also a VIP Lounge for the 21-and-over crowd (but our opinion is that this place is better suited for kids under 12, as grown-ups might be a bit underwhelmed, so save your date night for something else and make this outing all about the kids).
We mentioned getting here early, right? And long tube lines? And the fact that all the snow isn’t real? This is the first year of Snow Day LA, so there are a few things like that, where if your expectations aren’t set, you may be underwhelmed. Don’t come expecting to frolic in acres of pure, fluffy snow. Do come early (yes, we are hammering on that, because it’s key to your enjoyment!), wear hats and mittens, take fun pictures and get into the spirit of snow with your non-snowbunny kids. Real snow or not, your LA babies will have a BLAST. And you’ll love that no one goes home with a frozen, wet tush and the start of a seasonal flu.
Snow Day LA is open now through Dec. 23 (days vary, check the calendar for more details) from 4:30-10:30 p.m. on weekends; 6:30-10:30 p.m. on weeknights. Parking is free in Elysian Park, but space is limited (If you can Uber there, do it).
Tickets includes park admission and 8 rides on snow tubing lanes and/or snow play area visits): Children, $15; adults, $24. VIP tickets are $42 and include admission to the VIP Lounge (ages 21+), an adult penguin onesie, one drink ticket and snow tubing. Advance tickets recommended; prices are higher at the gate.
Snow Day LA
The Old Lodge (Montecillo De Leo Politi)
Stadium Way & Scott Ave.
What’s your favorite spot for snow? Tell us in the comment section below!
— Melissa Heckscher