Los Angeles’s icy surprise
The retired RMS Queen Mary ocean liner in Long Beach provides the backdrop for a huge 6,500sqft ice skating rink, open until 6 January. (Caroline Pardilla)
For a city used to fairly warm days in December, an outdoor ice skating rink seems highly unlikely. Yet in Los Angeles — where movie magic originated — several rinks open during the holiday season, with new ones popping up for the first time this year in the neighbourhoods of Culver City and Beverly Hills.
But in addition to merely skating, the following three options feature a few other quirky ways to celebrate the holiday season, whether by taking in a concert, ice tubing or sipping on hot cocktails.
Chill at W Los Angeles Westwood
Regardless of the weather, fake snow is scheduled to fall every hour at this 1,600sqft outdoor ice skating rink built on top of the swanky hotel’s pool area. Post skate, guests cosy up in the poolside Ice Bar for specialty cocktails like the “Chill Pick Me Up”, made with Jameson Irish whisky, Kahlua and hot coffee, or comfort food including sherry braised dates and clams baked with chorizo and mescal butter. On weekends from 11 am to 1 pm, kids can decorate gingerbread cookies.
Admission is $10 and includes skate rental and cookie decorating. Opening hours are Monday to Friday, 3 pm to 10 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 10 am to 10 pm. Open until 2 January.
Downtown on Ice
This downtown LA ice rink nestled among the skyscrapers in front of the historic Biltmore hotel is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. The 4,500sqft rink is a popular choice, thanks to free rink-side events such as lunchtime and weekend concerts, a farmers market every Wednesday, championship skating exhibitions and broomball games — think hockey except sneakers replace the ice skates and brooms the sticks.
Admission to the rink is $6, skate rental $2. Opening hours are Monday to Thursday, 12 pm to 10 pm; Friday to Sunday, 10 am to 10 pm. Open until 21 January.
Queen Mary’s Chill at The Ice Kingdom
The retired RMS Queen Mary ocean liner, one of Long Beach’s most popular tourist attractions, provides the backdrop for this huge 6,500sqft ice skating rink and the nearby Ice Kingdom, an indoor exhibition featuring massive ice sculptures such as a 130ft-tall replica of the Queen Mary, an icy Santa’s Toyland and a walk-through fairytale castle. Other wintry activities include ice tubing down a two-storey-high, 100ft-long ice tube and strolling through the Holiday Village, where visitors can decorate gingerbread houses, listen to carollers, explore a Candy Lane-themed maze and visit with Santa.
Ice skating admission is $9.95, skate rental $2.95; admission to the Ice Kingdom is $24.95/$19.95 for adults/children; ice tubing is $12.95. Opening hours are Sunday to Thursday, 10 am to 9 pm, Friday and Saturday, 10 am to 10 pm. Open until 6 January.
Caroline Pardilla is the Los Angeles Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes Carolineoncrack.com.