The stockings were hung by the chimney with care but now they’ve been torn apart by your eager little elves as soon as the clock hit 6 a.m. The once thoughtfully wrapped gifts have been decimated with gleeful abandon before the coffee even stopped dripping. So now it’s 9 a.m. and everyone is bored. Too bad everything is closed for Christmas…or is it? Since we live in the greatest city on earth, guess what? There are a ton of things to do on this holiday. We’ve narrowed the field to our favorite 20 cool ideas so scroll down and get ready to plan part deux of Christmas day.


photo: via Jenifer Scott

Hit the Ice, Ice Baby: A few of our favorite rinks are open on Christmas Day, with special skate-able hours. Specifically, check out Pershing Square or ICE in Santa Monica where you can skate off grandma’s homemade cinnamon rolls in a winter wonderland.

Watch Some Whales: Certain types of whales begin their migration in December so what better gift could you and your family receive than catching a glimpse of one of these marvelous mammals as they glide through the Pacific? Check out these Los Angeles area whale watching options and make sure to book your Christmas day cruise ASAP!

beachphoto: Meghan Rose

Beach It: Because you can. With 80 degree temps in December, put the bubbles the kids got in their stocking to good use! Visit one of our favorite family-friendly beaches.

Snow Play!: If you grew up in another part of the country, you’ll feel more at home in mittens than swimsuits this time of year, and we know some superb places that are an easy drive from LA that has loads of snow.

Do The (SB) Zoo!: The Los Angeles Zoo may be closed on Christmas Day but the Santa Barbara Zoo is open with bells on from 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. on the 25th of December! This incredibly family-friendly outing right across from the sparkling Pacific is well worth the 2-hour drive (maybe less with traffic being notoriously light on Christmas Day) and has tons of fun local options to experience before or after visiting with the animals!


Winterfest OC: Take a short drive to OC and plunge into a full winter experience: an outdoor ice rink, a six-lane Snowflake Summit ice slide, a play park featuring real snow blown in daily for snow angels and snowman building, strolling carolers and Christmas Day visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus.


photo: via Meghan Rose

Merry Grinchmas, Ho Ho HoMeet the Grinch, Max & all of Who-ville at Universal Studios for a very merry, and not at all grouchy or Grinchy holiday. Plus, you can see some merry Minions and quaff warm Butterbeer.

Clifton’s Republic: There have been lines around the block since Clifton’s Republic’s recent remodel. Part curiosity shop, part kitschy cafeteria, all delicious: you can sneak away for a playfully fun bite that will also keep you out of the kitchen.

CHILL Out at the Queen Mary: Enter a frozen wonderland, where you must don giant parkas to keep the cold at bay. You can explore the Ice Kingdom, with over two million pounds of ice; go ice tubing; lace up ice skates; ice shuffleboard (this is a thing!) and spend the afternoon in the Holiday Village decorating gingerbread houses and visiting Santa.

photo: Monica G. via Yelp

Top of the City, Ma!: Open on Christmas, the SkySlide in Downtown LA gives you the best views of the city. Perfect if you have out-of-town family visiting for the holiday looking to soar to new heights!

See Knights or Pirates: Both Medieval Times and Pirate’s Dinner Adventure have Christmas shows, and it’s a fun way to keep the excitement buzzing on Christmas. Bonus: you won’t have to make dinner!

Observe This: While the Griffith Observatory is closed, it still makes for a gorgeous place to explore the grounds, hike up to a view of the Hollywood Sign, or down to the Ferndell trail and playground. It’s also a fabulous way to work up an appetite for Christmas dinner!

Play Tourist For A Day: If your Mother-In-Law has always wanted to know where her favorite celebrity lives (and you need to get her out of the house for a few hours to experience a little holiday peace of your own), make a reservation for everyone to take a bus tour of movie stars homes around Los Angeles! Starline Tours in Hollywood has outings operating Christmas Day so give them a call now to snag tickets.

Test Out New Wheels: If Santa left skates, skateboards, bikes, scooters, trikes, hoverboards (or anything else that moves) under the tree, they are all begging to be road tested. Bring them to one of our favorite spots that are traffic free and totally safe.

photo: White Sands National Monument via Flickr

Try Sand Sledding: Your kids might be surprised to find a new sled waiting for them Christmas morning, but it’s a perfectly apt gift when you take them to spend the afternoon at the beach sand sledding. Ah, only in LA!

Last Chance at Lights: Most places that take the time and energy to put up incredible Christmas light displays aren’t going to tear them down on Boxing Day. But those twinkling days are numbered, and Christmas Day is a perfect time to fill the (new?) thermos with cocoa and see a sparkling spectacle.

Nap! Er, Take the Kids to a Movie: Settle down in the dark while the kids throw themselves into the magic of cinema (and popcorn) with a fave flick. Family-friendly movies now in theaters include Coco, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Ferdinand, The Star, and Wonder. And you can see a Marx Brothers/W.C. Fields Double Feature at the new Beverly Theater.

“Meet” Your Favorite Celebrity: One of the most unique Hollywood establishments is Madame Tussauds wax museum and if you haven’t ever had the chance to experience this place, what better time than Christmas Day? Out of town guests will get to say they’ve been and you will get to rub shoulders (just not too hard) with some of Hollywood’s most elite figures of stage and screen!

photo: Prayitno via Flickr

Ride A Roller Coaster: Talk about excitement…Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier is open on Christmas, so you can ride the roller coaster and Ferris wheel and hit all the other rides and games to your heart’s content. That’s a thrilling way to end a magical day.

Get the Best Darn Chinese Food Outside of China: Dim Sum never closes! And we have the best examples of the cuisine in the world in Monterey Park. (Jonathan Gold says so, and we’re not going to argue with him!).

What do you do on Christmas when the gifts are unwrapped and the eggnog is all gone? Let us know in the comments below!

—Meghan Rose & Jenifer Scott