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After-Work Entertainment to Put the Holiday Spirit in Los Angeles Business Travelers

November 28th, 2016 /

The holiday season is officially here. The local Whole Foods has been playing Christmas carols for the past two weeks, and I’ve finally sanctioned the tree-decorating and light-hanging in my own house. But much as I love this time of year, it’s not without drawbacks. Traveling for work requires you to navigate crowds of heavily laden leisure travelers flying home for the holidays—an experience that’s doubly frustrating when you’re heading away from your own family. It can really put a damper on your holiday spirit.

Last year, I ended up spending a lot of December in Los Angeles. And while it wasn’t quite the same as being back in NYC, I managed to find my own holiday cheer (and get some shopping done) in my time away.

There are plenty of fantastic, holiday-themed LA events for tourists, of course, but not all of those are conducive to a hectic work schedule. But don’t worry—below is my list of business-travel-friendly holiday options for those of us passing through who still want to enjoy a little cheer.

business travel in los angeles

Don’t miss out on holiday cheer when you’re on a business trip. See all the great local decor instead! Image by Flickr user Vadile Cotovanu (CC BY 2.0)

Get Two Turtle Doves With One Stone at The Grove, LA

Christmas shopping can be difficult and time-consuming when you’re always on the road. But it’s possible to take care of last-minute gifts (while enjoying some of the best holiday decor in the city) at The Grove, LA’s huge outdoor shopping mall. It seems counter-intuitive to head directly into the crowd, but this is actually the perfect venue for buying gifts under tight time constraints.

Parking is half the battle when you venture anywhere in a major city, and The Grove has a fantastic valet system. They’ll comp your parking if you spend over $250, and if, by some miracle, you decide not to buy anything, you can use the semi-secret validation machine inside Nordstrom, near their women’s shoe department, to score a free spot.

You can also tell cashiers, anywhere in the mall, that you’re shopping “hands-free.” Your valet spot comes with free package pickup, which means that all of your bags can be delivered to the concierge or to your car itself. Your only constraint is the size of your suitcase.

Enjoy a Unique Holiday Happy Hour—at the Zoo

Everyone who’s been through Los Angeles during the holidays has heard the LA Zoo Lights are a must—the entire place is transformed into a glittering wonderland. But the exceedingly long ticket queues are unlikely to fit with your travel schedule.

business travel in los angeles doesn't have to be lonely at christmas

See the most unique lights displays of the year at LA Zoo Lights and Marina Del Ray. Image by Flickr user dion gillard (CC BY 2.0)

Luckily, the LA Zoo offers two nights with a VIP happy hour. If you’re passing through on December 8th or 15th, you can enjoy the lights from a heated indoor lounge stocked with drinks and appetizers. I especially love finding unique venues like this when I’m going out with colleagues or clients—it’s the type of memorable event that can leave a big impression. One caveat: If you know you’ll be in town, try to book your tickets in advance since there is an admittance limit. (And at $75 apiece, consider your tickets a less-expensive alternative to buying rounds of scotch for your companions.)

Let the Christmas Lights Come to You at Marina Del Ray

You might not have the time to check out Mike Ziemkowski’s annual lights display on a drive through Sherman Oaks. But there’s nothing so relaxing after a long day of sales than letting the lights come to you.

Sound impossible? Not during the Marina Del Ray Boat Parade. If you’re in LA on December 10th, you can enjoy fireworks and a stream of decorated, animated boats (many of which have live music), starting around 6:00pm.

The trick here is knowing where to watch the show. I’d avoid Burton Chase Park at all costs since it tends to be packed. I’ve had good luck with snagging an early dinner seat at Sapori Italian Restaurant in Fisherman’s Village, instead—just ask for a table with a good view of the marina. The boats will pass right in front of you while you sip a drink and enjoy an appetizer. You can also check out Whiskey Red’s if you’re looking a more bar-like atmosphere.

enjoy your business trip to la with VIP treatment at universal studios

Disney during the holidays is magical— but I prefer to be a VIP at Universal Studios instead. Image by Flickr user Luis Brizzante (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Spend Your Time as a Hollywood VIP at Universal Studios

If you’re traveling over the weekend and have a full day to kill, you might be interested in checking out a theme park. Everybody knows that Disney is a winter wonderland during the holidays, but the crowds can be a bit overwhelming. Personally, I’d much rather get VIP treatment elsewhere—and score a discount ticket at the same time.

Universal Studios offers a fantastic VIP package during the whole month of December: you’ll receive a 6-hour guided tour of the studios and get front-of-the-line access to all rides and shows, plus a gourmet VIP lunch, free valet parking, and more. You can book your tickets through Undercover Tourist to score $20 off the gate price—or visit before December 16th to save an additional $40. This is my favorite way to stay busy during a weekend off in LA, when I might otherwise be missing my loved ones.

If you decide to take advantage of any of these events, you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say that Los Angeles might not offer snow, but it’s still magical during the holidays. For awesome off-hours entertainment and a memorable business trip, the western media capital of the United States is hard to beat. If you’re looking for additional discounts your hotel or hoping to extend the VIP treatment, you’ll also want to check out JetLux Hotels before you go—you can get luxury accommodation at a steep discount.

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