Christmas 2020: What’s open and closed in L.A.
Southern California has never seen a Christmas like this. With COVID-19 infections rampant here and elsewhere in the state, far fewer families traveling and no room at any inn for nonessential vacationers (by governor’s order), millions of us will look to our own households, backyards, neighborhoods and parks to connect, renew, mourn and be grateful.
Maybe this is the year you play an early round of golf instead of tearing into gifts under the tree. The Wilson and Harding golf courses in Griffith Park are open Christmas Day for those who want to play 18 holes. It costs $17 to $28 per person, depending on what time you go (mornings are more expensive). The Roosevelt Golf Course, 9 holes, also is open, charging $13 to $20.50 per person. Make a reservation at golf.lacity.org.
Or you can take a horseback ride or hike on the trails in Griffith Park, provided people stay with their household members, wear masks and socially distance from others. L.A. city pickleball, tennis, paddle tennis and other sports sites will be open on Christmas too. Check laparks.org for rules, permits and reservations.
With many botanic gardens closed for the holidays, think about visiting the historic Langham Huntington in Pasadena. The grounds are beautiful, and the hotel’s restored wooden bridge, with facsimiles of the original oil paintings, has told the story of California’s early days for 90 years.
The hotel calls it a “living storybook.” The 1932 original was removed for restoration in 2013 and replaced with a copy that can better withstand the weather. It’s free and open to the public.
Still miss choral caroling and L.A.'s annual holiday events? You’ll have to go online. L.A.'s annual Pershing Square concert will be live-streamed starting at 8 p.m. Friday. Cliff Beach’s Funky Christmas is billed as a “hybrid of soul, traditional R&B, funk and neo-soul.” It’s free and can be live-streamed on several platforms, including 885fm.org.
Many choruses are keeping music going with free online concerts. The Los Angeles Master Chorale has some wonderful shows, including “Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal” and a duet of “Sure on This Shining Night.” You get good Zoom views of the singers too, some wearing tuxedos and gowns. Flip over to Angeles Chorale for a beautiful candlelight version of “Silent Night.” If you like what you hear at any chorus website, think about making a donation too.
The L.A. County Holiday Celebration won’t miss its 61st year, with performers fanning out around the county to be part of the show. Dance numbers include performances by Ballet Folklorico, the Korean Dance Academy and Infinite Flow; the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, Jessica Fichot and Lorenzo Johnson & Praizum are some of the musical guests. You can stream online at musiccenter.org or watch on PBS SoCal from 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday; the celebration will also air from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday on PBS SoCal, and on Friday from noon to 3 p.m. on KCET-TV and 8 to 11 p.m. on PBS SoCal2.
Here’s a roundup of what’s open and what isn’t for Christmas Day in L.A. County, including hikes, horseback rides, beaches and gardens.
L.A. County rules permit these places (mostly outdoors) to be open: beaches, most piers, skate parks, playgrounds, community gardens, drive-in theaters, golf courses, outdoors places of worship, hotels, batting cages, go-karts, miniature golf courses, tennis, bocce and pickleball courts, outdoor pools, shooting and archery ranges.
Under L.A. County and state restrictions, these options (indoors and outdoors) are off the table: restaurant dining rooms and patios (takeout is OK); arcades; bowling alleys; overnight stays in campgrounds, RV parks and cabin rentals; movie theaters; bars and distilleries (except for retail sales); nightclubs; live performance theaters and concert venues; museum, gallery and aquarium interiors; stadiums and arenas; theme/amusement/water parks; and basketball and volleyball courts.
The Venice Beach and Cabrillo piers remain closed. The Venice Beach Boardwalk and Ocean Front Walk are open only to workers and people who are picking up takeout food or making curbside pickups.
Face coverings and distancing in public are mandatory; public health officials urge all to wash their hands often.
Parks, trails and playgrounds
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•Angeles National Forest, except for areas burned in the Bobcat fire. California 2, Angeles Crest Highway, is closed at Red Box/Mt. Wilson Road until further notice.
•San Bernardino National Forest, except for the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area, because of recent wildfires.
•Federal and state parklands in the Santa Monica Mountains, though some picnic tables and water fountains may not be available.
•Griffith Park. Miles of hiking trails and acres of grass. Some Griffith Park features remain closed, including Griffith Observatory and Travel Town. But the park pony ride is open, available for children ages 1 to 14.
•Elysian Park in L.A. (Most L.A. area parks remain open.)
•Franklin Canyon Park in Beverly Hills. (But picnic tables and drinking fountains are not available.)
•Hollywood’s popular Runyon Canyon Park is open sunrise to sunset, with limits. Visitors may complete a one-way loop on the West Trail; the East Trail is closed.
Many of us will spend the holiday season the same way we’ve spent most of 2020: at home. Here are some ideas to make it special while staying safe.
Botanic gardens and zoo
•Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge is closed Dec. 25. On other days, reservations are required (except for members); tickets cost $15. Info: Descanso Gardens
•The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanic Gardens in San Marino is closed Dec. 24 and 25. If you want to visit at other times, you must make a reservation (even members). Tickets cost $25 to $29 for adults; open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Info: The Huntington
•The Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden in Arcadia is closed Dec. 25. On other days, reservations are required; tickets cost $15 each. Members show their card and get in free. Info: The Arboretum
•The Sherman Library & Gardens in Corona del Mar are closed Dec. 25. Reservations are required if you want to visit on other days from 10:30 to 5 p.m.; tickets cost $5. Info: Sherman Library & Gardens
•South Coast Botanic Garden on the Palos Verdes Peninsula is closed Dec. 25. It’s open every other day of the year. Reservations are required; tickets cost $15 each. Members show their card and get in free. Info: South Coast Botanic Garden
•The California Botanic Garden in Claremont is closed Dec. 25. Otherwise, garden hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Sundays; tickets/reservations cost $10. Info: California Botanic Garden
•The Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens in Griffith Park is closed until further notice as part of the governor’s regional stay home order. Info: L.A. Zoo
•Beverly Center, Los Angeles
•Citadel Outlets, Commerce
•Del Amo Fashion Center, Torrance
•Fashion Island, Newport Beach (some businesses might be open; check individually)
•Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica
•Westfield Century City, West L.A.
•The Grove in L.A.
•The Americana at Brand in Glendale
Skiing and snowboarding
You can’t spend the night (leisure stays are banned under a governor’s order) but several nearby ski resorts are open for day-trippers who have reserved lift tickets. Note: You can’t just show up; advance reservations are mandatory, and demand for Christmas Day might be stiff.
Among the nearby resorts:
Other outdoor options
•Forest Lawn Glendale, a cemetery that dates to 1906 and includes graves of many entertainment figures, will have its grounds open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 25.
•Sunset Ranch Hollywood, which offers horseback tours of the upper reaches of Griffith Park near the Hollywood sign, will be open on Christmas (and New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day). Prices for one-hour and two-hour riding tours, typically six riders per guide, are $50-$95 per person.
•Though the Santa Monica Pier is open, its Pacific Park amusement rides, Ferris wheel and merry-go-round remain closed.
•Pop-up ice rinks are canceled this year. The Holiday Ice Rink at Pershing Square in downtown L.A., Ice in Santa Monica and other rinks aren’t open.
• Santa Anita Park racetrack in Arcadia is closed through Dec. 25. It has races scheduled for Dec. 26, according to its website.Open
Many reservation casino resorts, exercising tribal sovereignty, are open throughout California with a variety of pandemic health measures in place. Among them:
•Agua Caliente Casinos in Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage and Cathedral City, Riverside County.
•Pechanga, Riverside County
•Morongo, San Bernardino County
•San Manuel, San Bernardino County. (San Manuel’s Bear Springs Hotel is now open only to critical infrastructure workers.)
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