December brings holiday opportunity

In the Loop

By DONNA MCCROHAN ROSENTHAL

December means family, festivities, and so much fun that you’ll need all of January to catch your breath and recover, as you will see in this month’s roundup of tips for short hops and longer trips around California.

To the northwest, Santa Rosa’s Charles M. Schultz Museum “mixes one part blockhead and two parts mud pies” with “Mud Pies and Jelly Beans: The Flavor of Peanuts,” the history of food appearing through the years in the beloved comic strip (www.shultzmuseum.org; 707-579-4452). In Oakland, Oakland Zoo launches the eight-passenger Urban Gondola and Hilltop Restaurant. The two add up to end-to-end experiences and soaring views (www.oaklandzoo.org; 510-632-9525).

To the southwest, rub elbows with iconic Empire characters at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History on Sunday, Dec. 3, free with paid admission. Pose for photos in the Museum’s Coggeshall Bowl with special visitors, big and small, from a galaxy far, far away. As an extra holiday gift, the museum has reduced admission by 50 percent and throws in a free planetarium show through Sunday, Dec. 31 (sbnature.org; 805-682-4711).

Down below, the L.A. Phil celebrates at Walt Disney Concert Hall with two Holiday Sing-A-Longs on Saturday, Dec. 16, and two “White Christmas” Sing-A-Longs on Saturday, Dec. 23 (LAPhil.com /DeckTheHall; 323-850-2000). Also in L.A. marvel at the California Science Center’s gigantic IMAX screen and the wonders it reveals: “Amazon Adventure 3D,” “Hurricane 3D,” and “Hubble 3D” (californiasciencecenter.org/imax; 323-SCIENCE).

Over the Dec. 9-10 weekend, the biennial Echo Park Craft Fair at Mack Sennett Studios spills over with creations by more than 120 artists (echoparkcraftfair.com) while the Renegade Craft Fair has fabulous finds aplenty at Los Angeles State Historic Park (www.renegadecraft. com).

In Long Beach, Wednesday, Dec. 13 through Sunday, Jan. 7, the Queen Mary offers CHILL, featuring the United States’ first-ever Ice Adventure Park complete with ice bumper cars, ice shuffleboard, a zip line, a tribute to cultural traditions from around the world and a global sampling of food (www.queenmary.com/events/chill-2017-2018; 877-342-0738).

To the south, on a nautical note, glittering boat parades include Oceanside on Saturday, Dec. 9; Mission Bay, Dec. 9; and Port of San Diego Sundays Dec. 10 and 17 (details on each are at www.sandiego. org/explore/events/).

For the great granddaddy of dazzling spectacles – recently named “The Best Public Lights Display in the Nation” by USA Today – Riverside’s Mission Inn Hotel & Spa has already begun its six-week-long extravaganza of 200 animated figures, five million lights and fireworks contributing to the magic (www.missioninn.com; 951-784-0300).

To the south Big Bear presents an old-fashioned Yuletide gathering with strolling musicians, Dickensian carolers, children’s choirs and Santa Claus through Christmas Eve and more (www.bigbear.com/things-to-do/special-events/; 1-800-424-4232).

Closer to home across the Sierra Nevada: “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” enchants at the Tehachapi Community Theatre, Friday-Sunday December 1, 2, 3, 8, 9 and 10 (tctonstage.com; 661-822-4037).

Story First Published: 2017-12-01