We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Assistance with LA itinerary in December

Level Contributor
317 posts
38 reviews
Save Topic
Assistance with LA itinerary in December

We are a family of four (Couple and 2 kids 8 & 5) visiting LA from the 22nd December to the 6th January. We have booked a rental for the whole period. Can anyone please assist or suggest the best places to go. We are planning our xmas and new year over there and are trying to visit the following places.

We wish to experience LA and have booked the first 4 days to stay at the Westin Bonaventure. Also what do we do on xmas day and New Years Eve/day

We are hoping to visit the orange county, Disney, Universal, Knots berry and some wild west town (Someone mentioned this, cant remember what its called) Would it be better to stay at a hotel round there and what area would be best to stay over there.Santa Monica, Orange County, or where. Also does anything happen for new years eve, is it bad good idea to visit during new years eve. We are also hoping to get to the beach.

We are also planning to drive to Las Vegas & stay for 2 days (I know a lot of people don't like the idea of kids visiting Vegas, but we went in June and know its okay and clean during the day.

Then back to Vegas for flight back to England. Suggestions would be helpful.

By the way, we don't mind staying at different hotels, we enjoy our holiday more this way. Thanks

Level Contributor
125 posts
Save Reply
1. Re: Assistance with LA itinerary in December

Rose Parade! Pasadena is THE place to be for New Year's.

If you really want to experience it, you can camp out on Colorado Blvd on New Years Eve. I loved doing it as a kid, and my daughter and her friends lookd forward to it each year when they were kids. Don't expect to get any sleep though!

Or you can buy tickets for bleacher seats for the parade. Since you are visiting from overseas, and probably won't have access to sleeping bags, that might be the best way for you to do the parade.

Level Contributor
317 posts
38 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Assistance with LA itinerary in December

Oooh Sounds exciting already. Where in Los Angeles does this takes place, or which area. thanks

Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
28,002 posts
5,925 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Assistance with LA itinerary in December

Sounds like a fun trip....and I'd book lodging for the entire trip in advance as LA is a very popular area. The theme parks like Disneyland are open Christmas day. In regards to some special Christmas things to do in the area:

1) Christmas Pageant at Crystal Cathedral (Anaheim)


2) See the light show at Griffith Park


(Note: A fun day would be going to the Western Museum; the LA zoo; and then seeing the Light Festival when it gets dark at night as all are in the same area.)

3) Las Posadas (a Mexican festival) on Olvera Street in Los Angeles is a fun way to do Christmas eve if you want to do something different from the norm.


4) Definitely one evening drive through Hastings Ranch and see the Christmas Decorations:


5) The Saddle Peak Lodge in Calabassas (short drive from LA) usaully has a nice Christmas eve dinner for the family.

They have their Thanksgiving menu posted now, and usually have nice Christmas Eve dinner.


6) Given the family, I'd suggest First Night in Fullerton in New Years Eve. We've also enjoyed New Years eve on Queen Mary but more couples oriented.


Fullerton is very close to Anaheim.

7) Of course, check out the Rose Parade activities. Even if you don't go to the Rose Parade and Bowl game, you can see the floats a few days before and after the parade at various locations around the Los Angeles area. For more information, see:


Note that the parade this year is on January 2 as Pasadena never holds the parade on a Sunday (which is January 1) this year.

8) In terms of lodging, I would stay for part of it in the Anaheim area for the Disney, Universal, Knotts Berry Farm,

Mideval Times (your family will like this), Movieland Wax Museum piece. Its also a great location to drive from Anaheim to Newport Beach, Dana Point, and Huntington Beach.

Several peoples favorites to stay at are: Candy Cane Inn, Sheraton-Anaheim, or at one of the Disney hotels. Book soon as lodging around the park area can be difficult to reserve given the holidays.

Just some suggestions for now.....enjoy planning your trip.

Newbury Park...
Level Contributor
3,358 posts
30 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Assistance with LA itinerary in December

The Santa Monica Pier is always fun, as is renting roller blades or bicycles and heading down to Venice beach.

Heading south, Long Beach Aquarium is very nice, my kids really enjoy it. The Queen Mary is right there as well. You can also head over to Catalina Island.

Heading north, whale watching from Ventura is a fun way to spend part of the day. Continue up the coast to Santa Barbara, nice zoo, beach, art walk along the beach on Sundays.

Griffith Park is fun, they have train town and on Sundays the Live Steamers run, mini trains that you can ride, lots of fun. The park is also fun to drive through, have a picnic, check out the Hollywood sign and views of the city.

Take in a movie at El Capitan Theatre.

Olvera Street, downtown is interesting and fun.

Last year they had a huge block party downtown on New Years (not sure how kids friendly though).

Calico is a ghost town - but it is a bit of a drive.

Big Bear is fun to go up to for a couple of days and go sledding or skiing.

The Rose Parade is great! If you don't get to the Rose Parade, you can go and view the floats the day after.

My kids (7&3) love Vegas by the way. They really enjoyed the Bellagio water show, the M&M store, New York, New York, Lion Habitat & Rainforest Cafe at MGM, PF Changs for lunch, Gondola rides at the Venetian, etc.... There are obviously many places for adults only, but lots of fun for kids too.

Newbury Park...
Level Contributor
3,358 posts
30 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Assistance with LA itinerary in December

Oops, forgot to mention - the Rose Parade is on the 2nd this year. It is never held on a Sunday (they made a deal with the big man, to never rain on the parade and in return they would never have the parade on Sunday :)). Also the game isn't until the 4th this year as it is the championship game.

San Luis Obispo...
Level Contributor
222 posts
44 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Assistance with LA itinerary in December

Barring any rain, the weather really should be pretty nice while you're here. The Bonaventure is a nice hotel located in downtown. There has been an ice-skating rink set up downtown in past years, also there is usually one set up at City Walk, where Universal is located.

I would probably suggest staying in Santa Monica for a few nights as well. It's a great area with the Pier, beach for renting roller blades or walking - 3rd street promenade for shopping, restaurants and entertainers roaming the pedestrian-only walking area.

If you're going to do Disneyland, we've had friends say it was fairly empty Christmas Eve day and Christmas day. Otherwise it can be pretty crowded but definitely take advantage of the 'fast pass' for certain rides.

I would suggest planning your day adventures close to where you'll be staying - there's a lot of driving in LA. For instance when you're staying downtown, it's easy to hop on the freeway to get to Disneyland, Pasadena, even Universal.

You may want to rent a car that has the GPS - very helpful.

sounds like a great trip!

Pasadena, CA
Level Contributor
472 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Assistance with LA itinerary in December

Here's the link for the Rose Parade activities: www.tournamentofroses.com. If you decide not to spend overnight on Colorado Blvd., I strongly suggest you get bleacher seats for the parade. However, pick these carefully, as some bleachers are wedged between buildings, so you literally only see the parade as it passes by in front. The best (and most expensive) seats are on the south side of Colorado Blvd. near the intersection of Orange Grove Blvd., or on the east side of Orange Grove at that same intersection. This is where all the TV cameras set up to view the parade and they are on the south and east sides of the intersection. When the floats do anything special, like spray water, they aim for the camera side. Also, this is the sunny side of the street.

If you decide not to get tickets, the further east you go along Colorado Blvd. the easier it is to get a spot on the curb (or "kerb" as you would spell it). It really is a glorious site. You'll never see parade floats like the Rose Parade, because the rules require that all the floats be completely covered in natural materials, like seeds, grasses and flowers, and they all have a required percentage of roses. It's worth it for the aroma alone.

Pasadena is very easy to get to from downtown, as you can hop on the Gold Line at Union Station. The MTA runs extra trains for the parade. Old Town Pasadena is worth seeing anyway after the parade is over. Its a very hopping area most evenings, especially on the weekend.

On Christmas Eve, if you're downtown you might want to visit the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels for midnight mass.

Dinner on Christmas Day should be no problem. Unlike London, restaurants are open, even ones that aren't Indian or Chinese. Also, believe it or not, Christmas has become a big day to premier new movies, because in order to qualify for the Oscars a movie must be open for one week in the previous year, so Christmas Day to New Year's Eve has become a big week to roll out Oscar-contenders. Aside from restaurants and movies don't expect anything else to be open on Christmas Day. A few more things are open on New Year's Day, especially in Pasadena.

All the shops will be open on the 26th for the after-Christmas sales, and will open no later than 8:00 a.m., some as early as 6:00 a.m. -- completely uncivilized.

Have a great trip.

Teaneck, NJ
Destination Expert
for New Jersey
Level Contributor
11,325 posts
29 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Assistance with LA itinerary in December

You may also want to check out the Family Travel section for LA at tripadvisor.com/Travel-g32655-s401/Los-Angel…

Level Contributor
1,435 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Assistance with LA itinerary in December

Legoland has a "Kid's New Year's Eve" celebration with fireworks at 6 pm. With kids 8 and 5 Legoland would be a hit anyways.

Disneyland is mobbed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Why are you driving to Vegas twice? Why not spend your last two days there and avoid so much driving?

Level Contributor
1,388 posts
8 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Assistance with LA itinerary in December

Thanks everyone but this was a 2005 topic, not 2006.....no need to respond further.