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Where to Get into the Holiday Spirit All Year Long in L.A.

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Okay, so all the Christmas holiday stuff is over until next year, right?


We may live in Southern California, but we can get our bells jingled anytime we want. We just have to know where to go -- and that doesn't necessarily mean braving the cold and actual snow of our mountainous areas to the north.

When the winter blues have got you down, and you've got nothing to look forward to until spring, here are some nearby places where you can get into that holiday spirit, no matter what the time of year.

Eat: Clearman's North Woods Inn
This place is amazing. With three locations -- in San Gabriel, Covina, and La Mirada -- you can have lunch or dinner in a snowy log cabin anytime you want. On the outside, there's a fake snow-capped roof evoking a woodsy lodge of days of yore. Inside, there are hand-carved meats, stained glass chandeliers, and peanut shells on the floor. Depending on which location you visit, they might ask you if you want "the salads" -- a mélange of red cabbage, blue cheese dressing, and iceberg lettuce that you mix together yourself. And yes, you do want the salads.

Sleep: Alpine Inn
If you're going to eat in a log cabin, you might as well sleep in one, too. The Alpine Inn in Anaheim is a doppelganger for the North Woods Inn, but it's under completely different ownership. Still, it evokes a time that romanticized walking in a winter wonderland -- and it's literally right outside of the entrance of Disneyland, which kind of feels like Christmas all year long anyway. Sure, you could drive back to L.A. after a full day at Disneyland and California Adventure, but if you've got an annual pass, why not crash the night in a wintry abode and then walk to the theme parks the next morning?

Shop: Almost Christmas Prop Shoppe
The great thing about living anywhere near the L.A. area is the proximity to Hollywood magic, which you can experience all year long. There's a prop shop for everything -- space travel, cadavers, and, of course, Christmas. Although we have other year-round holiday-themed stores (Christmas in Hollywood at Hollywood & Highland, Christmas Traditions in Canoga Park), if you are looking for more than just a few decorations, step into the Almost Christmas showroom which specializes in transforming any space into a winter wonderland. Maybe you can scout some decorations for your lawn next year, or maybe you can just enjoy the snowmen and the reindeer while you've got them cornered.

Drive: Christmas Tree Lane in Altadena
Although the deodar cedar trees of Santa Rosa Avenue are only lit in December and early January, this botanical landmark can be enjoyed all year. After all, it's an entire street lined with giant Christmas trees! Planted in the early 1900s and first lit in 1920, Christmas Tree Lane has become an Altadena tradition, and an illuminated spectacle that draws lots of visitors during the holiday season. When you're missing that Christmas tree smell at any other time of year, there's nothing keeping you from driving (or walking) down Santa Rosa for a little pine fix.

Snoop: The It's a Wonderful Life dance floor and swimming pool
It's probably one of the most iconic scenes from any Christmas movie ever: when Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed are dancing the Charleston at the Bedford Falls high school dance, and the gym floor suddenly opens up into a swimming pool and gobbles them up in a wet, romantic first meeting. Well, you can actually visit that very same swimming pool, which is in the Beverly Hills High School gymnasium. It may take some doing to recreate the scene from this Christmas classic, but doesn't it make you feel all warm and fuzzy just to know that it's still there (and still opens up into a pool), and that a little part of Bedford Falls is right around the corner?

Play: Skypark at Santa's Village
At one time, you could visit Santa anytime you wanted to -- at a theme park near Lake Arrowhead, in the San Bernardino Mountains. But Santa's Village has been closed since 1998, and every year, we can't see Santa and his reindeer until they arrive at the Grove. (That is, IF you can find parking.) But new owners have purchased the land that Santa's Village resides on, and they've pledged to reopen the Santa park with all of its original structures intact -- and with the addition of a zip line, hiking trails, and mountain biking. The redesign has all been very hush-hush, but they say they're going to reopen in Summer 2016 -- and no one ever thought that Santa's Village would ever reopen at all. So even if the candy canes are intermixed with action sports and outdoor adventure, at least the Good Witch's Bakery will be open all year long.

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