The month for holiday adventures

In the Loop


December! Each opportunity sparkles like a gift as you shake your head wondering, “Which shall I open next?” Find more tough choices in this month’s roundup of tips for trips both short and long around California.

To the northwest in Napa, the Napa Valley Wine Train’s Santa Train runs seven days a week through Friday, Dec. 28, though some blackout dates apply. Please bring a new, unwrapped toy for a local foster child. On Monday, Dec. 31, a gala New Year’s Eve of appetizers, fresh California cuisine, a rail journey through the spectacular Napa landscape and bubbly onboard, culminates at ALBA River Terrace Inn for the After Party and an overnight stay (; 800-427-4124).

Down below, the Los Angeles Philharmonic continues its Centennial Season at Walt Disney Concert Hall with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting Tchaikovsky favorites Friday-Sunday, Dec. 7-9, and the legendary Zubin Mehta at the baton for all the Brahms symphonies and all the Brahms concertos over two weekends with virtuoso soloists, Thursday-Sunday, Dec. 13-16; Thursday-Friday, Jan. 3-4; and Saturday-Sunday, Jan. 5-6 (; 323-850-2000). Also in Los Angeles, call it “spooky” meets “gingerbread and special effects” when the LA Opera presents “Hansel and Gretel” on Thursday, Dec. 6; Sunday, Dec. 9; Wednesday, Dec. 12; and Saturday, Dec. 15. Ticket prices begin at $16 (; 213-972-8001).

Shifting gears from one witch to another, “Wicked” lands on Hollywood’s Pantages stage through Sunday, Jan. 27 (; (800-982-2787). To romp with Rudolph, or at least his relatives, visit Reindeer Village and seize plenty of photo ops at the LA Zoo (/; 323-644-4200).

To the south in Riverside, the historic Mission Inn’s 26th Annual Festival of Lights celebrates the season with a free, six-week-long extravaganza featuring one of the nation’s largest holiday light collections of its kind, through Sunday, Jan. 6 (; 951-784-0300).

Looking southeast to Pasadena, kids can play in real snow during Snow Days at Kidspace Children’s Museum, Friday-Sunday, Dec. 28-30 (; 626-449-9144). Additionally for Pasadena, lock in advance arrangements to enjoy previewing float decorating Friday-Monday, Dec. 28-31, and of course the Tournament of Roses Parade on Tuesday, Jan. 1 (; 877-793-9911).

Closer to home: Across the Sierra Nevada in Bakersfield, Holiday Lights at CALM (California Living Museum) dazzle with 3 million LED lights and rides on the Candy Cane Express and on a huge merry-go-round, after dark Friday, through Saturday, Jan. 5 (; 661-872-2256).

Snow Country up north on Hwy 395: Check out conditions, tickets, packages, and deals at, 800-MAMMOTH, and through the Mammoth Lakes Visitors Bureau, 760-934-2712.

Honoring servicemen and servicewomen: Buena Park has launched a two-month program through December with exclusive deals on the area’s top attractions, , and hotels, including complimentary upgrades, free theme-park admission and discounted rates on Buena Park hotels (; 800-541-3953).

Story First Published: 2018-11-30