Best Holiday LA Spots
Credit: Astra Lumina

7 Places I Would Take My Frenemy vs. My Bestie This December in LA

Our Playful Guide Will Tell You Where to Go (and Where Not to Go) This Holiday Season

Los Angeles during the holidays is a city full of dualities—hideouts you adore, roadways you despise, a town where every ornament-lit corner tells a story of love or loathe. From the bustling streets that test your patience to serene spots that soothe the soul, LA in December is a land of stark contrasts. There’s also a silver lining: the bustle of Tinseltown provides the perfect landscape where you can pamper your bestie or placate a frenemy. Whether you’re planning a mischievous outing or a heartwarming experience, our playful guide unveils the perfect destinations for every holiday mood. Join us on this journey through LA’s most loved and loathed locations, tailored for those in your glow or those simply in tow.  

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1 | Traffic Torture vs. Nature’s Nurture

Take Your Frenemy Here: A Scenic Rush Hour Drive Down the 10 to the 405

Credit: Alexander Ramirez

Experience LA’s infamous traffic on the 10 to 405, a true test of patience with endless brake lights and honking horns. Wave to passersby with a grip on the wheel that demands respect and a grimace that sets the mood. It’s the perfect setting for passive-aggressive small talk or an impeccably awkward silence. 

Location: Interstate 10 to 405 Freeway

 

Take Your Bestie Here: Hike Franklin Canyon Park

Credit: Franklin Canyon Park

Nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains, Franklin Canyon Park is a far cry from the freeway and an idyllic escape for a serene hike. This tranquil retreat offers picturesque views and peaceful moments, ideal for creating memories away from the city’s clamor. Play a game and pick out the spots that have been featured in films, all while taking in the gorgeous LA skyline. 

Location: Beverly Hills

 

2 | Star Struck Stumbles vs. Frogtown Fun

Take Your Frenemy Here: Hollywood Walk of Fame

Navigate through the maze of tourists and street performers at the Walk of Fame. Elbow your way to the forever-crowded star of Marilyn Monroe, or insist on spotting all three stars belonging to Frank Sinatra. Better yet, make sure to get a photo with a costumed character along the way. It’s a chaotic mix of glamor and frenzy, perfect for overwhelming someone with Hollywood’s less-than-starry reality.

Location: Hollywood

 

Take Your Bestie Here: Explore Frogtown

A little northeast of DTLA, along the Los Angeles River, resides a charming neighborhood called Frogtown. Grab a coffee at one of their quaint cafes, and spend a day getting to know the local art community. Here you’ll find endless galleries, studios and public art installations that lend to a unique cultural vibrancy. This lesser-known neighborhood offers a leisurely exploration away from the city’s hustle.

Location: Elysian Valley

 

3 | The Grove vs. Parking Garage at The Grove

Take Your Frenemy Here: The Grove Parking Garage

Credit: Kris Cros

Consider yourself warned: The Grove parking garage transforms into a nightmare during the holidays. Drive a couple dozen laps around the garage and snicker as your frenemy gets frustrated. You won’t find a spot…we promise.

Location: Midtown

Take Your Bestie Here: The Grove

Credit: Stewart and Connie Photography

While the parking garage may be a zoo, The Grove is easily one of the most festive places to shop this holiday season. With stores like Alo Yoga, Diptyque, Le Labo, Vince and Ray-Ban and restaurants like Blue Ribbon Sushi, ALMA, La Piazza and Sprinkles, there’s no better place to shop, dine and revel in the season’s festivities. Take pics in front of the giant decorated Christmas tree, and be sure to check the center’s events calendar for fun holiday activations.

Location: Midtown

 

4 | Hot Dog Hangups vs. Holiday Happiness

Take Your Frenemy Here: Wait in Line at Pink’s

Test your frenemy’s patience with the infamous wait at Pink’s Hot Dogs. With an average wait time of an hour, this cult shop serves up dogs that require a fork and knife to consume. If you’re feeling especially cruel, make certain to visit at peak time on a weekend. It’s a subtle endurance test wrapped up in the guise of an LA culinary experience.

Location: La Brea

 

Take Your Bestie Here: Holiday Road

Credit: Holiday Road

Grab your friend and head to King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas to immerse yourselves in the magical journey of Holiday Road. This enchanted walking trail is full of festive lights and holiday scenes that will elevate your holiday spirit. Sip on a warm beverage while you find the perfect photo op at the newly installed lantern art activations. Or share some laughs while you watch select scenes from “Candy Cane Lane,” a holiday comedy adventure that marks the first MGM Amazon Studios collaboration with Holiday Road.

Location: Calabasas

 

5 | Waxy Wonders vs. Swiss Bliss

Take Your Frenemy Here: Madame Tussauds Wax Museum

Best Holiday LA Spots
Credit: Madame Tussauds Hollywood

Manifest your own red carpet experience at the infamous Madame Tussauds on Hollywood Blvd. Surround yourself with lifelike wax figures of celebrities and pop culture icons. Why not make a scene? Try your best moonwalk with Michael Jackson or high kick with Beyoncé—or maybe even your best impression of Donald Trump. It’s a wonderfully weird way to spend an afternoon, ideal for bemusing someone you’re not too fond of.

Location: Hollywood

 

Take Your Bestie Here: Swiss Chalet at Fairmont Century Plaza

Transport you and your chum to the Alps to enjoy a Swiss-inspired meal at the Fairmont Century Plaza. This après-ski dining experience brings Switzerland to LA, offering winter delicacies like schnitzel, spaetzle and, of course, Glühwein. Book a whimsical Swiss Chalet, and prepare to fondue—a dessert version comes with the meal, or you can enhance the experience with the classic cheese variety. It’s a charming spot for a romantic evening or a warm gathering.

Location: Century City

 

6 | Parking Pains vs. Culinary Gains

Take Your Frenemy Here: Parking at Crypto.com Arena/LA Kings Holiday Ice

Credit: Crypto.com Arena

Challenge your frenemy with costly parking and crowds at the LA Kings Holiday Ice. With 3,300 parking spaces available at Crypto.com alone, finding a space might not be the challenge—it’s crawling through traffic to get there! Beyond the initial chaos, you can lace up and take to the ice on Peacock Place, which comes with its own hurdles. This is a festive foray that’s more about navigating crowds than enjoying holiday cheer.

Location: Downtown LA

 

Take Your Bestie Here: Dinner at Donna’s

If a red sauce restaurant is your thing, then dinner at Donna’s is perfect for you and your boo. Located in Echo Park, Donna’s offers a culinary adventure in a relaxed setting. The vibe is convivial, like walking into the home of a grandmother who loves to cook. Start with a negroni or spritz, then share a bottle of wine over some classic Italian fare—think veal piccata, chicken marsala and spaghetti and meatballs. This joint is perfect for a memorable dinner with someone you truly appreciate.

Location: Echo Park

 

7 | Crowd Craze vs. Starry Gaze

Take Your Frenemy Here: L.A. Zoo Lights

Best Holiday LA Spots
Credit: L.A. Zoo Lights

If you have a frenemy who hates crowds and children, then L.A. Zoo Lights is the perfect place to take them this December. This zoo quite literally becomes a zoo, attracting tourists from near and far. Sure, the lights and displays are cool (this year’s theme is Animal Aglow), but navigating the crowds will surely get old fast. 

Location: Universal City

 

Take Your Bestie Here: Astra Lumina

Best Holiday LA Spots
Credit: Astra Lumina

Also based on lights, yet with a celestial theme, Astra Lumina offers an otherworldly experience of cosmic wonders. This immersive nightwalk surrounds you with light, projection and sound, an astral ode to the stars above. Located at South Coast Botanic Garden, you’ll walk through the garden’s expansive trails, made special for this unique event. It’s a mesmerizing adventure that’s anything but mainstream.

Location: South Bay

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This article is brought to you by one of the many talented writers associated with Locale Magazine! We are a group of locals (whether born and raised or transplanted) who love this county we now call home!

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