Griffith Park at Xmas by Kimberli WaackThere hasn't been a December snowfall in Los Angeles since 1947. However, I always appreciate the city around the holidays, especially since a large part of the population flocks to colder climes leaving many roads and attractions blissfully clear. Here are a few of my favorite Los Angeles Christmas pastimes.

DWP Lights Festival at Griffith Park
Every year the Department of Water and Power strings over half a mile of lights together for a virtual tour of LA attractions. Visitors can either drive through this kilowatt blitz or walk it. I recommend walking it. Starbucks frequently hands out Gingerbread latte samples, which may enrich whatever goody the flask in your pocket holds. Armed with proper refreshment, be prepared to be serenaded by carols piped over loudspeakers. I have wondered why Neil Diamond chose to put out a Christmas album and who decides to keep playing it at the festival. Music choices aside, it is still great fun to bump into other people on the path dancing, twirling and sometimes even singing along. I'm not sure what prompts such unusual displays; the lights, the music or maybe it's the embellished Gingerbread latte.

Ice Skating in Pershing Square
If you're looking for a way to burn off some the cookie calories you've been consuming, I suggest a turn around the ice rink in Pershing Square. The soundtrack there usually includes Charlie Brown's Christmas. I've been ice-skating at Rockefeller Center in New York during the Christmas season and have to tell you that Pershing Square, located in Downtown Los Angeles, holds its own. The rink feels bigger and is less crowded. I appreciate this when I inevitably attempt my double axel, quadruple klutz lutz combo before planting on the ice. It's good, painful fun, and there is something amazing about an outdoor ice rink in roughly fifty-degree weather.

The Grove
Thinking about taking a trip out to Anaheim to see Mickey Mouse, but you're not sure if you're quite up to it? I suggest a trip to the Grove right next to the famed Farmer's Market. You get to skip the high admission price, there's a much better selection of food, the Christmas tree in the center of the plaza is possibly taller than Cinderella's castle and you can even ride the trolley around. You can also finish the shopping that has been avoided for weeks. Or if you're looking for something warm to do, the movie theatre is great. There is always something nice about walking over a clean and plush red carpet when I enter a movie house. As for the soundtrack, I have seen great live caroling performances. The children's choir of kids dressed as elves and sugarplums is charming "“ and they never pipe in Neil Diamond.

Written and photographed by Kimberli Waack

These stops are great year-round too. -ITKT Editor-