Trees, Lights, Cookies, Holidays…Action! 2011 Los Angeles Family-Friendly Events

by Jessica on December 5, 2011

It started happening right after Thanksgiving. And now the cards are arriving, the December calendar is filling up with parties, plans are being made for a Christmas week getaway, and gift lists are in the preliminary stages. And this whole time I’m thinking: HOW IS IT THE HOLIDAYS ALREADY? Time indeed marches — or speeds — on, and if you want to get things moving in the celebration department, following is a list of a few cool activities around Los Angeles that stand out, mostly because they somehow involve food and kids. Happy Holidays!

Temporary ice skating rinks have an instant charm and novelty value in Southern California. Through January 2, 2012, the Supper & Skating package at L.A. LIVE costs $30 for adults, $20 for kids, and buys you pre-fixed, three-course dinner at either the nouveau Trader Vic’s (virgin Mai Tais?) or L.A. Market by Kerry Simon at the J.W. Marriot, along with ice skating and skate rental. This might be the perfect excuse to splurge on Chef Simon’s signature junk food platter (above), which is AWESOME for grown-ups and kids alike.
L.A. LIVE: 800 W. Olympic Blvd., Downtown.

For lots of activities around the Downtown area, check out the very useful list at the boosterish B.I.D. website, including the Grand Central Market Christmas event on Saturday, December 10th, the Music Center’s FREE holiday sing along on the 16th (reservations required) and Las Posadas at Olvera Street. Pershing Square, that most forlorn and sad of L.A. public spaces, is finally well-used when Downtown on Ice takes over and the Menorah lighting is held on December 20th.

The Queen Mary is quite a sight to behold on any given day, and yet it’ll get even more bells and whistles on the annual Christmas tree lighting party on Wednesday, December 7 at 5:30 (also Pearl Harbor Day). Pre-register here. As a general note, eating options on the ship include Sir Winston’s and the Chelsea Chowder House & Bar. Champagne Sunday Brunch in the Grand Salon sounds like retro swank fun, too.
The Queen Mary: 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach; (800) 437-2934.

For folks in the Atwater Village/Silver Lake/Glendale/Los Feliz area, this Thursday is a good time to welcome the Atwater Village Farm to the neighborhood. The market hosts a holiday social and sneak preview complete with Santa from 5 to 11 p.m., with an opportunity to take pics and sample from the long awaited shop’s sustainable offerings. Business starts in earnest on December 16th.
Atwater Village Farm: 3224 Glendale Blvd., Atwater Village; (323) 660-8888.

Watch what happens when food bloggers try to flex their own cooking muscles and bake for a good cause at the 4th Eat My Blog bakesale on Saturday, December 10th. After years of being intimidated by products that incorporate smoked salt and cured meats and other coveted ingredients, I’ll be pitching in some basic boring ol’ chocolate chip cookies. The sale is hosted at Pita Jungle in Pasadena from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Arrive early to get the best selection and beat the supportive yet competitive crowds.
Eat My Blog at Pita Jungle: 43 East Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 432-7482.

To avoid mall shopping entirely and support local talent and business, the next Artisanal LA pop-up shop is on Sunday, December 11, this time in Old Town Pasadena’s Armory Center for the Arts. I didn’t make it to Unique LA this past weekend, but based on reports from friends it sounded bigger and better than ever. Participants at Artisanal LA include a collection of local food makers, as well as growers and vendors from the Altadena Urban Farmers Market. If you’re in need of a post-shopping activity, consider a trip to Kidspace, ride on the Gold Line from the nearby Memorial Park station, meal at Pie n’ Burger, or maybe there’ll even be some snow up in the San Gabriels by the weekend.
Artisanal LA at Armory Center: 145 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena; (626) 792-5101.

Breakfast with Santa at the lovely historic Descanso Gardens is an efficient plant-a-few-trees-with-one-seed kind of deal this weekend on Saturday and Sunday. It’s not cheap, but you can eat a meal at the restaurant operated by the Patina Group, take photos with the kids and the big guy, then roam around the grounds, ride the train if it’s running, and even decorate some cookies. Two seatings at 9:30 and 11 a.m., $53 adults, $19 kids plus tax and gratuity and kids under 3 are free.
Descanso Gardens: 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge; (818) 949-4200.

And you KNOW the Original Farmers Market is down with the holiday festivities and seasonal cheer. Soaking it all in just requires dealing with the bummer stress of the Market and Grove’s traffic and parking. Visit the OFM’s website for links to more details (FYI it’s mostly PDFs), but starting on this coming Saturday, December 10 from noon to 5 is the International Winter Festival with celebrations of L.A.’s sister cities traditions. Ongoing family events are scheduled through out the week of December 17 – 24th, and in the hours before the sun goes down and it’s time for the first candle to be lit, the Market hosts a big Chanukah party (Lego Menorah building!!) on the 20th from 2:30 to 5, with a menorah lighting at 4:30.
Original Farmers Market: 6333 W. 3rd Street, Fairfax District; (323) 933-9211.

It’s crazy that I’ve never taken my boys to the Fillmore & Western Railway, and this might be the best time of year to make that trip happen. The weather is cooler, and special holiday goings on include the Christmas Tree Train running through this Sunday and the North Pole Express  until the 26th, plus Dinner with Santa on Friday, December 9th. Poke around the charmingly wacky website to see what else is the F&WR has in store this season. We won’t get our hopes up about many Chanukah happenings out there, though…
Fillmore & Western Railway: 351 Santa Clara St.,  Fillmore; (805) 524-2546.

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