How to celebrate Christmas — and the Dodgers’ World Series win — at the same time

In an illustration, a skier and a snowboarder float above a resort ski lift line.
Blue dye in the snow marks “social distancing” in a lift line, as seen in November at Mammoth Mountain.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times; photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

By Rachel Schnalzer
Design and illustrations by Jade Cuevas

Good morning, fellow adventurers. There’s no point in sugarcoating it: Travel opportunities look grim these days. We’re a long way off from plane trips abroad, and overnight travel remains a risk. That leaves us with day trips and outdoor destinations, but even ski slopes and other fresh-air locations may face closure as COVID-19 numbers surge.

In this edition, I’ll offer a few travel ideas — as well as tips for navigating this year’s ski and snowboard season. You must avoid gatherings to comply with Los Angeles County’s current stay-at-home order. If you encounter a group of people while on a short day trip or around town, head the other way.


⚾ Celebrate the holidays and the Dodgers’ World Series win at the same time

Need a jolt of holiday spirit? Still celebrating the Dodgers’ World Series victory? Boy, does Times listings coordinator Matt Cooper have a recommendation for you.

The Dodgers’ drive-through Holiday Festival features faux snow, a light show and LED video displays in honor of the team’s championship this year — as well as COVID-19 rules and precautions. The festival, which costs $55 per car, is open nightly through Dec. 24. Get your tickets in advance.

Illustration of a baseball bat wrapped in holiday lights.
Thanks to the Dodgers’ drive-through Holiday Festival, Angelenos have a way to celebrate both the holiday season and a World Series victory.
(Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

🏂 Hoping to ski or snowboard this season? Here’s what to know

Attention all snow seekers: California is on the brink of a wider coronavirus stay-at-home order as hospitals treat record numbers of COVID-19 patients. If you want to be safe, it might make sense to postpone skiing until next year.

But if you absolutely must hit the slopes this winter, here are a few things you should know, Times travel writer Christopher Reynolds reports:

  • Consider skiing on a weekday — you’ll be around fewer people.
  • Pre-book your lift tickets. Many resorts, such as Mammoth Mountain, are not selling walk-up lift tickets this season.
  • Order takeout meals instead of ordering inside ski lodges — some resorts have decided not to offer indoor dining this year.
  • Be flexible. As different counties in California tighten their pandemic restrictions, you might need to postpone your trip.
A solo snowboarder, seen from below, rides a chair lift wearing a face covering, snowboard dangling from one foot.
A solo snowboarder wearing a face covering rides a chair lift at Mammoth Mountain in November.
(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

🐱 Meet furry friends in Santa Barbara

Day trips to Santa Barbara usually consist of walks on State Street and drinks in the Funk Zone — but that was before the pandemic. Now, travelers and day-trippers are finding activities that limit their contact with others as they enjoy the Central Coast city.

This fall, Los Angeles Times contributor Terry Gardner discovered Cat Therapy, a rescue where visitors can play with cats for an hour. It seems like an ideal place for any animal lover who has had the urge to adopt during the pandemic but isn’t quite sure if it’s the right choice in the long term. “There’s no pressure to adopt at this no-kill shelter,” Gardner explains, “and you help socialize the rescued felines.”

The cat lounge offers private visits for $50 to $60 for two people. Guests are required to wear a mask and gloves when interacting with the kitties. Bear in mind: This business was open as of Dec. 2 but may be subject to increased COVID-19 restrictions.

Cats walk on short shelves that extend from a wall; lettering spells out "Paws-itive."
Inside Cat Therapy in Santa Barbara.
(Terry Gardner; photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

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🌸 A holiday gift idea, from one of L.A.’s residential gems

Flamingo Estate, an L.A. home known for its dreamy gardens, isn’t open to the public. But products from the plant-lover’s paradise are on sale in a pop-up shop in Culver City just in time for the holidays.

Times contributor Erin Zelle reports that the Harvest Shop at the Platform shopping center offers candles, soaps and even chocolate from the estate. The shop is open through Dec. 31, noon to 6 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays and noon to 8 p.m. Fridays-Sundays. After shopping, enjoy the sunset at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, a little more than a mile away.

Need more present ideas? Check out our holiday gift guide for people who love the outdoors.

Plants grow in front of a glass storefront.
Flamingo Estate’s Harvest Shop pop-up at Platform in Culver City.
(Christian Hogstedt; photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

📰 What I’m reading

    • Miss traveling? These 28 panoramic photos taken across the U.S. by Times travel writer Christopher Reynolds might help soothe your wanderlust.
    A GIF shows scenes from locales including a baseball stadium, a beach, a mountain lake and desert rocks.
    Enjoy a soothing scroll through breathtaking panoramas by Christopher Reynolds.
    (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)
    • We’re not doing much traveling abroad this year. But it doesn’t hurt to dream about holiday trips. Caitlin Morton and Rachel Chang compiled a list of the “30 Best Places to Spend Christmas” in Conde Nast Traveler. Next year, maybe I’ll find myself on a Northern Lights safari in Inari, Finland.
    • A seven-mile-long underwater sculpture park is coming to Miami Beach, Eben Diskin reports in the Matador Network. Diskin explains how the project, named ReefLine, is intended to raise awareness about rising sea levels and coral reef damage.
    • A national park in Rwanda is back from the brink. Amy Yee, writing in Atlas Obscura, describes how the “smart park,” which uses a telecommunications network called LoRaWAN to track animals, may be a boon for both wildlife and tourism.
    • The Whale Trail extends 1,500 miles from Southern California to British Columbia. Erin Williams, reporting in the Washington Post, explains how the trail’s stops are “ideal vantages for learning about whales, dolphins and other marine mammals.”

    💻 Can’t adventure IRL? Here’s one way to expand your horizons

    Many public celebrations of Hanukkah (such as menorah lightings) have been canceled this year, Times senior features writer Adam Tschorn reports. But there are plenty of virtual activities you can enjoy safely from your home.

    For example, you can learn to make Hanukkah treats influenced by author and chef Amelia Saltsman’s Romanian and Iraqi roots. On Dec. 13, she’ll host two cooking classes as part of the Skirball Cultural Center’s holiday programming. The class costs $15 per household; if you’re interested in participating, register on or by Dec. 9 at 6 p.m.

    An illustration shows a menorah surrounded by computer cursors
    (Ross May / Los Angeles Times; Getty Images)

    📸 Favorite photo

    🎸 Road song

    “Hang onto your hopes my friend, that’s an easy thing to say. But if your hopes should pass away, simply pretend that you can build them again.”


    Now that we’re three days into December, I must share one of my all-time favorite seasonal songs: “Hazy Shade of Winter” by the Bangles. Zero shade on Paul Simon, who wrote the original, but the Bangles’ version is a better track to belt on the road.

    Blue sky and clouds are the backdrop to the words "And the sky is a hazy shade of winter."
    Want to jam into the holiday spirit? We suggest blasting the Bangles’ cover of “Hazy Shade of Winter” on your next car ride.
    (Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)