Santa Barbara Zoo
Sled at the Santa Barbara Zoo, at least for a day, on Sunday, Dec. 8. It's the Snow Leopard Festival. The good news? SoCal has a flurry of chilly to-dos, all season long.
Flurry-filled winter and sunny Southern California? They're an unusual pairing, at first glance, what with our occasional 80-degree December days and near-constant sunshine, even during the colder months.
But we're the land of "you can drive from the beach to the mountains in two hours," of course, meaning snowballs are within reach of our suntan lotion-covered hands. And figure, too, that Hollywood is here, which also means some seminal snow films -- hi, "It's a Wonderful Life" -- were born in LA.
So, where do you go when you want a dose of chilly go-out high jinks, winter-style? Why, you strap on the blades and glide for...
Local Ice Rinks: ICE at Santa Monica -- you're pirouetting just blocks from the beach -- or Downtown on Ice, which is plunk in the middle of Pershing Square. And the Woodland Hills seasonal ice rink is keeping it going the longest. Look for things to stay cold through Feb. 17, 2014.
Real Snow: You can make for the mountains -- Idyllwild, Julian, Big Bear, Lake Arrowhead, holler -- for your family's annual snowball fight, or you can make for Santa Barbara Zoo on Sunday, Dec. 8. The annual Snow Leopard Fest meows that day, and the treat for us humans? Eighty tons of snow to enjoy.
Skiing: Real, flake-deep slope-y snow, made for schussing? It's all in a day's drive. Yosemite's Badger Pass makes a mid-December debut, as does the closed-for-a-year June Mountain. And Mammoth? That opened early, in the beginning of November.
Faux Snow: In recent years it has been hard to not walk into a sudden shower of soapy faux snow. But that's one of the charms of magic-making Los Angeles, right? The Grove and Disneyland both have the nightly snow showers going, as does El Capitan in Hollywood. Actually, those showers arrive with every showing of "Frozen," and, yep, there's on-stage ice carving, too.
Vodka Bar: Revelers 21 and over can bundle up and enter the Silo Freezer, for a shot or three of premium vodka. "Freezer" is not just a catchy handle; it's 28 degrees in there, so, yeah, think parka, not backless dress. Find it downtown at Silo.