The Best Things to Do in LA on a Rainy Day: Sports & Recreation

LeBron James dunks on Paul George at Arena
LeBron James dunks on Paul George at Arena | Photo: ESPN

Los Angeles is a paradise for sports fans and players alike, with myriad options for both watching and participating in all manner of athletic activities. And you can still satiate your sports habit during inclement weather, with countless indoor options as a spectator or participant, from glitzy pro leagues and heated indoor pools to strenuous simulated rock climbing and even rustic axe throwing. Read on for indoor sports and recreation finds across Los Angeles to enjoy this winter – and beyond.

LeBron James dunks on Paul George at Arena
LeBron James dunks on Paul George at Arena | Photo: ESPN

Home to the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Kings and Los Angeles Sparks, Arena (previously STAPLES Center) is your winter haven for top-flight pro sports. Opened in 1999 and celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2024, the 20,000-capacity landmark is the cornerstone of the L.A. LIVE entertainment complex of restaurants, bars, movie theaters, and music venues - ideal for a family-friendly day in Downtown LA. The 950,000 square-foot arena offers an array of food and beverage outlets, from pretzels to sushi, craft beer to premium cocktails along with a merch store and diverse kiosks.

UCLA Pauley Pavilion
Pauley Pavilion at UCLA | Photo: UCLA Men's Basketball, Facebook
USC Galen Center Baseline View
Galen Center at USC | Photo: USC Athletics

NCAA Basketball

One of the country’s basketball capitals, Los Angeles hosts everything from pickup games in Venice Beach to star-studded NBA extravaganzas at Arena (see above). LA is heaven for fans of college hoops, most notably 11-time NCAA National Champions UCLA Bruins and their crosstown rivals USC Trojans, along with Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State Long Beach, and Cal State Northridge (all in the Big West conference), and Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine (both West Coast conference). Experience March Madness in person at Arena this year, when Pepperdine University hosts the 2024 West Regional of the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Championship.

Corbin Bowl in Tarzana
Photo: Corbin Bowl

Corbin Bowl

For the more leisurely but supremely social sport of bowling, the Corbin Bowl in Tarzana delivers an experience that is classic LA through and through. A San Fernando Valley favorite since 1959, replete with wonderfully throwback neon signage and a story that includes appearances in everything from Quincy to Moonlighting, there’s a multi-generational feel at the Corbin that gets beamed into the here-and-now with regular all-ages rock concerts. Offering league play, parties, and tournaments, the 26 well-maintained bowling lanes are augmented with an arcade, bar, and café, making for a vibrant winter excursion, no matter the weather.

Skating lesson at LA Kings Valley Ice Center
Photo: LA Kings Valley Ice Center

Ice Skating

Enjoy ice sports without having to brave the elements at one of LA’s many indoor ice arenas. The LA Kings Valley Ice Center in Panorama City lives up to its name with skating and hockey options to suit all ages and standards, while the revitalized LA Kings Ice at Pickwick Gardens in Burbank likewise offers similar services, despite the recent closure of the Gardens’ Pickwick Bowl and Banquets. The historic Skating Edge Ice Arena in Harbor City, where five-time World Champion Michelle Kwan got her start, hosts public skating sessions, ice dance, hockey, broomball, parties, classes and more. Up in Santa Clarita, the newly redesigned and renovated Cube Ice and Entertainment Center (formerly Ice Station Valencia) boasts 93,000 square feet of ice across three sheets, hosting skating, hockey, curling, and special events, plus an on-site restaurant and bar.

Swimmer at the Los Angeles Athletic Club
Photo: Los Angeles Athletic Club
Echo Park Indoor Pool
Echo Park Indoor Pool | Photo: Department of Recreation and Parks

Indoor Pools

While Los Angeles is known for sparkling surf, pristine pools, and weather that means you can make the most of them, winter is the time to enjoy heated indoor pools. At Downtown LA’s Los Angeles Athletic Club, the gorgeous, historic 25-yard pool is kept at a balmy 82-83 degree Fahrenheit (and a couple of degrees warmer on weekends, when there are children’s programs). Also in DTLA, the luxurious Biltmore Los Angeles features a large and usually quiet indoor pool that has an air of retro glamor with its wooden loungers, brass railings, and candy-striped columns. At just $4 for adults and a buck for kids and seniors, the 25x40-yard Echo Park Indoor Pool is the place for affordable family fun and exercise, with year-round passes that work out even cheaper.

Lumber Jack's Axe Throwing in Northridge
Photo: Lumber Jack's Axe Throwing

Explore your inner Paul Bunyan with axe throwing, a sport that’s been steadily gathering mainstream popularity over the past 20 years. There’s no need to head into the woods to try this traditional woodsman skill - Lumber Jack’s Axe Throwing in Northridge offers 1-hour classes, parties, and corporate events. Reservations are recommended but walk-ins are also welcome, while food and drinks mean you can make a night of it. Fun and safe, with genial instructors guiding guests through axe-throwing technique and games, Lumber Jack’s delivers a rustic experience even when it’s too wet to be out in the wilds.

Pacific Martial Arts karate kick
Photo: Pacific Martial Arts, Facebook

Martial Arts

Winter is a prime time to get out of the rain and onto the mat with some healthy and empowering martial arts classes. For a low-risk dip into authentic karate-do, jiu-jitsu, or kobudō, Pacific Martial Arts in Glassell Park is offering $19 trial lessons catering to every age from toddlers and up. Zenki Dojo offers private and small-group classes (no walk-ins) in all disciplines at its airy two-story Los Feliz facility, as well as a Russian-style sauna, dual-tub ice plunge, sports massage and more. In Mid-City, Moorimgoong is a traditional dojang (martial arts academy) that, along with adult and teen programs, offers bully prevention and child development classes. On the Westside, the 4,500 square-foot Jun Chong Tae Kwon Do, which just celebrated 50 years in SoCal, is open 7 days a week for taekwondo and hapkido classes starting as young as age 3½.

Prince Tribute Skate Night at Moonlight Rollerway
Prince Tribute Skate Night | Photo: Moonlight Rollerway, Facebook

Moonlight Rollerway

When rain rules out outdoor roller skating, Glendale’s throwback indoor Moonlight Rollerway still has you covered (literally!). Opened as Harry’s Roller Rink in 1956, Moonlight still has its original maple skating floor, a meticulous work of tongue-and-groove art. Current owner Dominic Cangelosi became an employee in the 1960s and still plays Moonlight’s old-school organ. Seen in TV shows, movies, and music videos, this kitschy LA treasure hosts parties and groups, as well as themed nights focused on everything from disco vibes to Prince. With a snack bar and pro shop, you can make a winter’s night of it at the Moonlight.

Rock Climbing

Los Angeles County is spoiled with iconic rock climbing spots, from Malibu’s Point Dume cliffs to the otherworldly conglomerate domes of Texas Canyon, near Santa Clarita. But outdoor walls should never be attempted when wet, so LA also offers indoor rock climbing gyms to keep your skills sharp and muscles strong until things dry out. With locations in Lincoln Heights and Echo Park, Stronghold Climbing Gym offers ever-changing bouldering and rope climbing opportunities, as well as classes and private training. As its name implies, LA Boulders is a bouldering-only gym that hosts a famously vibrant community of veterans and newbies on its 17-foot walls. In West LA, Rockreation hosts classes that can be great prep for outdoor climbs or just a workout in themselves, while its elite Lead Climbing course will challenge even hardcore fanatics.

Fencing at Swordplay LA
Photo: Swordplay LA

Swordplay LA

Whether you want to be a competitive fencer, enhance your acting career with film fighting skills, or connect with a community of like-minded historical martial artists, Swordplay LA is the place. Catering to all ages and an array of practitioners – athletes, stunt performers, filmmakers – the mission at Swordplay LA is empowerment through the art of combat. Programs include competitive fencing, stunt fighting, and speed, agility, and strength training. Swordplay LA even offers Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) classes and a Lightsaber Combat Club, including opportunities to compete in both in-house and local tournaments.

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