Consumer Lookout

Want to get away this holiday? Here’s a peek at what out-of-town areas have to offer:
Northern Calif.

ANNUAL HOLIDAY LIGHTS PARADE
comes to downtown Fort Bragg on December 1. Santa arrives at the Guest House Museum on Main Street at 5 p.m. where cookies, candies and cider will be served. At 6 p.m., the lighting of the City’s Christmas Tree takes place with carolers and other singing groups on hand to celebrate. At 7 p.m., a 90-minute Fort Bragg Kiwanis Club-organized parade of floats, cars and people – all lit with holiday lights – will move through downtown.

"Four years ago, we had no Santa, no Christmas tree and no parade," recalls Mary Knoerdel, one of the event organizers. "But several members of the business community got together and resurrected this city tradition. Now it's a great family event and a wonderful way for the city to begin celebrating the holiday season."

No charge to attend events. Call 707-961-6300 for more information.

On December 5 – 7, it’s the CANDLELIGHT INN TOUR in Mendocino.

Tour the Inns of Little River and Albion (Wednesday, December 5), the Inns of Mendocino (Thursday, December 6), and the Inns of Fort Bragg (Friday, December 7), 5 - 8 pm each evening. Inns will display the entries of the Cowlick’s Ice Cream Parlor Gingerbread House Building Contest. Light refreshments included at each inn.

Cost is $20 for all 3 nights. Historic Inns on the Candlelight Inn Tour in Mendocino : Alegria Inn, Brewery Gulch Inn, MacCallum House, Mendocino Hotel, Stanford Inn, Headlands Inn, and Hill House Inn. Those South of Mendocino include: Albion River Inn, Little River Inn, Auberge Mendocino, Stevenswood Lodge, Heritage House, and Fensalden. Fort Bragg offers several historic stops: the Weller House, The Old Coast Hotel and The Country Inn. These and many more lodging establishments await you on the Candlelight Inn Tour. Look up this activity and more on www.mendocinofun.com/coastal-christmas .

Central Calif.

HOLIDAY CASTLES, COWBOYS, & CRAFTS

Ready for Christmas? Folks in San Luis Obispo County are. All through December is CHRISTMAS AT HEARST CASTLE®. Beginning Saturday, December 1, visitors on the Experience Tour will be able to enjoy Hearst Castle all decked out in lavish Christmas decorations. The Assembly Room, The Refectory and The Morning Room will be adorned with hand-made garlands, brilliant red poinsettias, and two 18-foot Christmas trees fully decorated with lights and traditional ornaments. Experience Tour prices are $20 for adults and $10 for youth (ages 6 to 17). Reservations are highly recommended for this very popular tour. (800) 444-4445. ww.HearstCastle.com .

Then on December 2, come to the ANNUAL COWBOY CHRISTMAS, TEMPLETON. From 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 2, Templeton will celebrate a Cowboy Christmas in Templeton Community Park. Guests will enjoy a visit from Santa Claus, who arrives by stagecoach, real snow for the kids, hayrides, pony rides, art and craft booths, refreshments, and country and Christmas music. (805) 434-1789. www.templetonchamber.com .

Days later on December 8 , its time for VINE STREET VICTORIAN SHOWCASE, PASO ROBLES. Fourteen blocks of Vine Street in Paso Robles will be closed to traffic on Saturday, December 8 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. for the annual Vine Street Victorian Showcase. Along Vine Street, Victorian homes will be decked out in their holiday finest. Entertaining visitors will be storytellers, musicians, Scrooge, Santa Claus, Grinch, carolers, dancers, and performing troupes. (805) 238-4103. www.PasoRoblesDowntown.org .

Don’t forget to come on December 14 for the DOWNTOWN WINTER WONDERLAND STREET FAIRE, ATASCADERO. Palma and Entrada Avenues in downtown Atascadero will be transformed into a Winter Wonderland Street Faire on Friday, December 14 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Attractions during the evening include a huge pile of SNOW for the children, a toboggan run, two snow play areas, strolling entertainers, Santa Claus, Elks Club Holiday Train, bounce houses, and plenty of refreshments. Businesses along the two streets will be open during the festivities, too. (805) 462-0177. www.AtascaderoMainStreet.org .

CHILDREN’S HOLIDAY BOUTIQUE at the Charles Paddock Zoo, Atascadero, gives little kids a chance to shop. From the first of December through December twenty-fourth, children who visit the zoo with their families can do their holiday shopping at a special place within the Gift Shop. All gifts are under $5.00, and the Gift Shop will do the wrapping. Hours are daily from 10:30 am to 3:00 pm. NO ADULTS ALLOWED within the special holiday gift area – just children. For more information on the CHILDREN’S HOLIDAY BOUTIQUE, call the Gift Shop at 805-461-7602.

Southern Calif.

ANNUAL PALM SPRINGS WALK OF THE INNS

For the twelveth year in Palm Springs, California historic inns will be a part of a multi-block downtown open house. Framed by the streets of Belardo and San Jacinto to the north and south and Tahquitz and Baristo to the east and west, the holiday-themed event is scheduled for Thursday, December 6 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. At lest one dozen inns are expected to participate.

The tour is self-guided and participants can begin at any of the hotels or at the Palm Springs Art Museum or Spencer’s Restaurant. Maps are distributed at each of the participating hotels and each will have a Toys For Tots drop-off box. It is recommended that participants begin the tour at the Art Museum for ease of parking. The Museum will provide complimentary admission. Thursday evenings in Palm Springs is also the night of VillageFest, where Palm Canyon Drive is closed to vehicular traffic and arts & crafts and food booths run the length of the street.

Participating hotels include Casa Cody, The Chase Hotel, Korakia, Pensione, Orbit In, and many more. The boutique inns of Palm Springs are an eclectic group of small properties from three to 50 rooms, most of architectural significance from the early adobes of the 20s to the Mid Century Modern architecture for which Palm Springs is world-renowned. Call 800-927-7256 or log onto www.palm-springs.org .

Outside Calif.

GOURMET SPECIALS AT WILLOWS INN, WASHINGTON

With the WINTER GOURMET SPECIAL at the Willows Inn (www.willowsinn.com) on Washington's Lummi Island, guests can enjoy evening dinner on a Thursday or Sunday and stay overnight in the main house for just $99. The Willows Inn also features a number of Winter Winemaker/Chef Dinners between December and April, featuring some of the best chefs and winemakers in the Pacific Northwest.

The Willows Inn is an historic bed and breakfast retreat that is easily accessible by a six-minute ferry ride from Bellingham, Wash. The inn's organic fine dining is consistent with the Slow Food movement, making the Willows Inn one of the most sought-after bed and breakfasts in the San Juan Islands. To make reservations, call 888.294.2620 or e-mail innkeeper@willows-inn.com.

For more information on these and other members of Unique Inns, visit www.uniqueinns.com .

CELEB SKIING IN PARK CITY, UTAH

As always, Deer Valley Resort will kick off its winter ski season with the excitement of a celebrity ski race. This year’s event, Deer Valley CELEBRITY SKIFEST , will take place December 8 and 9. The invitational ski event pairs former Olympic ski legends with television and film celebrities for a weekend of skiing, live music and fundraising for the environmental group Waterkeeper Alliance, an international coalition of citizen advocates who patrol and protect their local waterbodies, fighting for clean water and strong communities.

The Deer Valley Celebrity Skifest will include giant slalom races on both Saturday, December 8 and Sunday, December 9 on Deer Valley’s Birdseye run. The competition will be televised by CBS on Sunday, December 16, at 5 p.m. (EST) following NFL Football. A Pro-Am race will be held Saturday, December 8 at 1 p.m., with the final race taking place on Sunday, December 9 at noon. The public are invited to watch both races which take place on the Birdseye ski run located mid-mountain at Silver Lake.

Some of the best-known legends of U. S. skiing will compete in this year’s event, including Steve Mahre, Tommy Moe and Deer Valley’s own Ambassador of Skiing Heidi Voelker. Celebrities scheduled to attend at this time include: Buzz Aldrin, Carlos Bernard, Larry David, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Susie Essman, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Chris Kennedy, Kerry Kennedy, Maxwell Kennedy, Rory Kennedy, Sheila Kennedy and Patrick Warburton.

Site of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games slalom, aerial and mogul events, other upcoming events at Deer Valley Resort this winter include the 2008 Visa Freestyle International FIS World Cup, February 1 and 2, 2008. The world’s best freestyle aerial, mogul and ski cross competitors will show off their moves amidst extracurricular events like fireworks and live entertainment.

Call 800-424-DEER (3337) or 435-645-6522; or view the Resort Web site at www.deervalley.com .

 

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