California Fun Activities – December 2017

candy canes christmasTake a look at the many California fun activities. Discover holiday activities for the entire family as well as exciting wine events throughout California.

Celebrate the holidays at Yosemite National Park for a unique Christmas. Shop for unique artwork made by craftspeople and artists. Sample wine and beer in a festive, Christmas setting. Experience an old fashioned Christmas. Bring you children to meet Santa Claus ride a Christmas Train, or watch a festive lighted boat parade. There are so many fun things happening this month.

Check out the California Fun Activities that you do not want to miss this month. Make your reservations soon. Many of these events are quite popular and will sell out. Click on the link at top of each listing to learn more.

Merry Christmas from Cheers-2-Wine!

Christmas Toast

We wish you and your families a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year. We are thankful for the many visitors to our website. We appreciate all of the interactions and support we receive throughout the year.

December Events

Christmas Tree
December 1-2: Balboa Park December Nights
2017 marks the 40th year for December Nights. It’s a popular holiday tradition that offers fun for the entire family. Balboa Park will be all decked out with festive lighting and holiday decorations. A wide variety of activities are planned throughout the park.

Complimentary admission to Balboa Park museums, food from around the globe, unique gift shopping, live entertainment, and holiday music are just a few of the attractions to enjoy. Balboa Park is definitely the place to go in San Diego for California Fun Activities.

DunbarDecember 1-3: Holiday Festival of Wines
Visit the historic town of Murphys in Calaveras County during their Open House weekend. The celebration will include parade, music, and holiday activities. More than 20 Calaveras wineries will be welcoming you into their wine tasting rooms for special tastings, gift buying deals, and exciting wine and food pairings. Information about Calaveras Wineries.

Red Wine CandlesDecember 2: Ventura Winter Wine Walk
This event includes a street fair in downtown Ventura. Browse handmade arts and crafts. Enjoy live entertainment. Sample beer and wine at 60 different tasting locations. Delicious food will be available for purchase. Enjoy festive holiday decorations and an evening snowfall.

old fashioned christmas carolers
Fridays in December: Cornish Christmas
The streets of downtown Grass Valley are closed to traffic as this historic community celebrates its Cornish heritage. The sights and sounds of an old fashioned Christmas fill the air: Christmas carolers, jugglers, musicians, cloggers, and, of course, Santa Claus. Handmade arts and crafts from local artisans will be for sale along with delicious food and drinks. Sample wine from local wineries.

Santa on a Tractor December 2: 22nd Annual Calistoga Lighted Tractor Parade
The Tractor Parade is a holiday tradition that celebrates the agricultural heritage of this small Napa Valley town. Vintage tractors and modern tractions along with antique trucks and other farm equipment will be adorned with holiday lights. They will parade down the main street of town to kick off the Christmas season. Bring your children as Santa is sure to make an appearance. The Calistoga Christmas Faire takes place on the same day at the Napa County Fairgrounds. Head over there for holiday activities, unique shopping, and delicious food and treats.

If you decide to visit some of the area wineries, check out the Guide to Calistoga Wineries

SantaDecember 2: Breakfast With Santa – Ironstone Vineyards Calaveras County
Enjoy a breakfast buffet, create holiday crafts, and have your picture taken with Santa on December 3rd. Ironstone Vineyards is located near Murphys in the beautiful foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Be sure to visit the wine tasting room as well as the Ironstone Heritage Museum, which is home to a 44 pound crystalline gold leaf specimen; the largest in the world!

Santa BearDecember 2: Taste of the Mountains
Taste wine from the boutique wineries of the Santa Cruz Mountains at this annual event in downtown Menlo Park. Purchase a wristband that entitles you to sample wine throughout the afternoon. Experience shopping at the unique upscale boutiques and dine at gourmet restaurants. Join in the tree lighting ceremony. Make reservations to enjoy breakfast with Santa.

Christmas wine December 2-3: Holidays in the Vineyards – Livermore
Join Livermore wineries on December 2nd and 3rd for holiday fun. Wine tasting rooms will be all decked out for the holidays with special wine offerings, arts and crafts, holiday music, and a variety of holiday fun activities. Tasting fees will be charged by individual wineries. It’s a festive time to visit the Livermore Wine Country!

Christmas Lights December 9: Lighted Boat Parade
The Lighted Boat Parade takes place at the Petaluma River Turning Basin, which is in downtown historic Petaluma. This charming town is an hour’s drive north of San Francisco and is surrounded by incredible Sonoma County Wineries. Come watch the popular event or register to participate yourself. Boats range from stately yachts to kayaks or stand-up paddle boards. All are decorated for Christmas.

SolvangDecember 9-10: 2017 Solvang Julefest Holiday Wine & Beer Walk
Get in the holiday spirit in the Danish village of Solvang. Solvang is located in the Santa Ynez Wine Country; 35 miles north of Santa Barbara.

A ticket to this two-day event allows you to sample wine and beer all weekend at tasting rooms and wine bars. Stroll through Solvang exploring the unique shops. Treat yourself to Danish pastries at one of the world famous bakeries in the village. Dine at gourmet restaurants. It’s a weekend of fun!

Yosemite National ParkDecember 12-25: The Bracebridge Dinner at Yosemite National Park
The dining room at the Alwanhee Hotel is transformed into an Old-English-era hall to celebrate Christmas on selected December dates. These seven course dinners have been a Yosemite tradition since 1927. More than 100 cast members participate to create an unforgettable evening.

Click on the link to see which dates have openings. Dinner and lodging packages are available. Make reservations soon!

merry christmas santaNapa Valley Santa Train. The Napa Valley Wine Train will be hosting Santa Trains throughout the month of December. This family fun includes music, games and entertainment on the 90 minute train ride. Enjoy hot chocolate and freshly baked cookies. It’s a magical Christmas experience. These train excursions book up quickly so make your reservations soon.

Train excursions are available throughout California. Most offer special Santa Trains or Polar Express trips during December. Check out Other Train Rides Here

Santa Old FashionedCountry Christmas
Experience a Country Christmas in the historic town of Julian. This charming town is known for having the best apple pies. There are many wineries in the area and some have tasting rooms in the downtown. There are a variety of bed and breakfast inns and unique specialty shops to browse.

The downtown transforms itself each December into an old fashioned Christmas. Events include history re-enactments, costumed carolers, a living nativity scene, carriage rides, home tours, Christmas Teas, and performances of “The Christmas Carol” by local children. Julian is in eastern San Diego County. There are many choices in Julian for California Fun Activities in December.

If you have attended any of these California Fun Activities, please leave a comment below. If you know of an event not listed, we’d really love to hear from you about that activity as well.

November 2017 – Wine Country Events Not to Be Missed

November 2017 - Events in the California Wine Country November 2017 is going to be a busy month. There are many California Wine Country events that you do not want to miss. Exciting things are happening throughout the state; from San Diego to Mendocino.

Run through the wine county. Attend special wine and beer tastings. Eat mushroom ice cream and learn more about mushrooms at a Mushroom Festival. Mingle with celebrity chefs and winemakers. Visit the beautiful Yosemite National Park.

November 2017 – Upcoming Events

MushroomsNovember 3-12: Mushroom, Wine, & Beer Festival – Mendocino County
Once the rains begin, more than 3,000 different varieties of mushrooms grow abundantly in Mendocino County. It’s a time of celebration. Enjoy special meals that include mushrooms. Treat yourself to mushroom ice cream made with fresh local ice cream. Taste wine and beer, attend workshops, cooking classes, and winemaker dinners.

Participate in guided mushroom foraging. Other activities include riding the Skunk Train, horseback riding, live music, and canoeing. Check out Mendocino Wineries before you go.

Paso Robles Downtown
November 3-5: Passport Weekend in Downtown Paso Robles Go wine tasting in downtown Paso Robles. Enjoy incredible wines, snacks, and live entertainment. Explore the shops, restaurants, and art galleries of this historic downtown. More than 10 wineries now have tasting rooms downtown; so there will be plenty of wine to taste.

Wine Glass VineyardNovember 4: Howell Mountain Harvest Celebration – Napa Valley
34 Howell Mountain wineries will be pouring their wines at the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater. Enjoy world-class wines, gourmet food, and a live auction at this annual event in Yountville. Most of these wineries are not generally open to the public. This is an opportunity to taste wines that you may not have tasted anywhere else.

Clear Lake WineriesNovember 5: Vine to Wine Run – Lake County
Enter to run in the 5K or 10K runs. Entry fee includes a long sleeve tech shirt, a logo wine glass with a 5 ounce wine pour, and a boxed California wine country lunch. Spots are limited; so register early. This event will take place at Cache Creek Winery in Clearlake Oaks. While in the area, take time to visit some of the other Lake County Wineries

Yosemite National Park - Half Dome Nov.5-Dec.1: The Grand Grape Celebration – Yosemite National Park The Grand Grape Celebration is an annual event that takes place in Yosemite National Park. It’s an elegant event in a truly breathtaking location. Participants attend a vintners reception, four wine tasting session, and a 5-course winemaker dinner prepared by The Majestic Yosemite Hotel’s culinary team.

This weekend-long event is happening all five weekends in November. A variety of packages are available that include lodging. A great opportunity to combine a Yosemite getaway from unforgettable wine experiences!

Lioness Cellars TemeculaNovember 12: People’s Choice Blind Tasting & Awards – Temecula
Sample some of Temecula’s best wines. You won’t know the identity of the wines you are tasting until they are revealed later. Rates each wine as you taste. Votes will be tabulated and awards will be given to those wines receiving the most votes. An evening of fun at Leoness Cellars.

San Diego, CaliforniaNovember 12-19: San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival
This is one of the largest food and wine festivals in the United States. Taste world-class wines. Enjoy a variety of culinary experiences with celebrity chefs. Explore the beautiful city of San Diego. Play a round of golf. Enjoy gourmet food. Attend food and wine seminars and participate in special wine tastings.

Santa Cruz MountainsNovember 18: Passport Day – Santa Cruz
More than 50 wineries open their tasting rooms for this quarterly event. Most wineries that are generally closed to the public will be open on Passport Day. This is a great day to head to the participating Santa Cruz Wineries for a fun day of wine tasting.

Bring your camera; this is a beautiful area. On a clear day you will even be able to the Pacific Ocean off in the distance. While in the area, think about checking out Big Basin Redwoods State Park This state park is the place to go for hiking or camping in this area. Visit here in November 2017 or any time of the year!

Hanna Winery - Alexander Valley November 24: Alexander Valley Holiday Open House – Hwy. 128 near Healdsburg Six wineries in the Alexander Valley will be hosting special wine tastings, food and wine pairings, festive fare, and shopping for unique wine country gifts. Participating wineries are Alexander Valley Vineyards, deLormier, HANNA Winery, Medlock Ames, Soda Rock Winery, and White Oak Vineyards. It’s a Black Friday event to start the holiday season!

If you have attended any of these November 2017 Wine Country Events, please leave a comment below. We would love to hear about your experience.

Avila Beach – Fun Things to Do in This Beach Town

Avila Beach - San Luis Obispo CountyAvila Beach is a small seaside village overlooking San Luis Obispo Bay. It is an unincorporated community located south of San Luis Obispo. Enjoy stunning ocean scenery and the charms of a small beach town.

The temperature is typically 10 to 15 degrees warmer than other area beaches. Thousands of local and migratory birds are found here. Avila Beach is a bird sanctuary. A variety of marine life lives in these waters, so keep your eyes open!

#1 – Go Wine Tasting

Alapay Winery Six wineries have wine tasting rooms in the downtown area. It’s easy to park your car and walk from one tasting room to the other. Alapay Cellars, Croma Vera, and Sinor La Vllee are all on 1st Street. Peloton Cellars and Morovino are both on Front Street facing the bay. Avila Wine Company is on San Miguel Street.

Kelsey See Canyon WineryIf you feel like driving to more wineries, there are many more world class wineries to visit in the area. Learn more about San Luis Obispo Wineries. A little further north, check out the outstanding wineries in Paso Robles

#2 – Explore the Bob Jones Trail

San Luis Creek - Bob Jones Trail
Walk, bike, or even skate on the scenic The Bob Jones Trail. This paved trail meanders along the San Luis Creek through a lovely wooded area, past a golf course and fields, and crosses a bridge before ending at Avila Beach.

It’s a flat, shady trail with benches and picnic tables along the way. Bring your binoculars as you will be sure to see a variety of birds. You might even spot a deer or two.

Avila Beach Sea BirdsOnce you are at the San Luis Bay there will be plenty of sea lions and marine birds to observe. Otters are commonly seen. It’s not unusual to spot a gray whale. The trailhead and parking lot is on Ontario Road just off of Highway 101. Bikes can be rented at Avila Hot Springs, which is nearby.

The trail is approximately 5 miles roundtrip. Dogs are allowed on leash. If you wish to start at Avila Beach and take the trail east, bike rentals are available at Wally’s Bike in downtown Avila Beach. Electric bikes can be rented at Perego also in downtown Avila Beach.

#3 – Dine at Mersea’s on the Harford Pier

Mersea's Avila Beach Drive onto the pier a mile or so west of the downtown area to enjoy a meal at Mersea’s. This casual restaurant/bar is located at the end of pier. Dine inside or outside surrounded by the San Luis Bay. It’s a great spot to relax and watch the local marine life. Hear barking seals and watch hundreds of birds. Sometimes otters, playful dolphins, or even a whale is spotted here.

Friendly servers and very good food. The menu focuses on fresh seafood, salads, sandwiches, and clam chowder, My wife and I shared the Nachos. They were delicious. Mersea’s is a must stop whenever we are in the area.
Mersea’s Website

#4 – Soak in a Tub of Hot Mineral Water at Sycamore Mineral Springs

Sycamore Mineral SpringsSycamore Mineral Springs is a longtime favorite retreat. They offer gorgeous accommodations with a private hot tub filled with mineral water on the balcony outside each room. If you aren’t staying at the resort, hillside hot tubs tucked away in the trees are available by the hour.

There’s an extraordinary full service spa and a gourmet restaurant as well. Yoga, pilates, and Tah Chi classes are available daily. A creek runs through the proper and it’s a wooded, peaceful setting.
More Information

#5 – Browse the Shops in Downtown Avila Beach

Downtown Avila BeachFront Street runs along the beach and is a good place to start. Forgot to pack something you need for a day at the beach? The Sea Barn is sure to have it. Hula Hut sells freshly made fudge, ice cream, and deli food. Del Sol sells color changing clothing and accessories. There’s more. Wander through the charming downtown and see what you can find.

#6 – Play a Round of Golf at Avila Beach Golf Resort

Avila Beach GolfThe Avila Beach Golf Resort has an 18 hole championship golf course. I didn’t have a chance to golf this par 71 course, but did take a look. The course is nestled in the hills surrounding the bay. It’s a beautiful setting with fresh ocean breezes. It’s close to the ocean, but with no ocean views. The front nine is situated on hilly terrain with small, often-elevated, smooth greens within oak-lined valleys. The back nine transverses a tidal estuary, with several forced carries over the water and multi-level greens to test your will and your skill.

#7 – Spend a Day at the Beach

Avila Beach - the beachAvila Beach is located in the downtown area. Simply relax on the beach. If you want more action, consider body boarding or surfing. Rentals are available during the summer months at the rental stand under the Avila Beach Pier, which runs through the middle of the beach. Body boards, wet suits, surfboards, chairs, and umbrellas can all be rented.

#8 – Go Kayaking or Paddle boarding

kayakingLessons, equipment rentals, and guided tours are all available at Avila Beach Paddlesports. All ability levels from beginner to expert can be accommodated here. Visit the historic San Luis Lighthouse, which is only accessible by kayak or paddle board.

Get up close to the many marine animals that live in these waters. Sea otters, seals, sea lions, sea stars, and numerous birds are routinely seen. Sometimes you might be lucky to catch sight of a playful dolphin or humpback whale. Reservations are required and can be made online.

#9 – Visit the Central Coast Aquarium

Central Coast AquariumVisit the Central Coast Aquarium> This is a very small aquarium that’s located right on the main street in town. Learn about local sea life through hand-on experiences. There’s a touch tank of small sharks. Watch the octopus feeding. Expect to see sea stars, lobster, flounders, horse shoe crab, and sea urchins. There are special activities for young children. There’s a children’s playground next door. This aquarium is just steps from Avila Beach and the boardwalk.

Directions to Avila Beach From Highway 101

Avila Beach Sign - California Avila Beach is approximately 10 miles south of San Luis Obispo. Take Highway 101 exit at at Avila Beach Drive and head west. Follow this road into Avila Beach.

Have you been to Avila Beach? If you have, please share your thoughts about this beach town with us. There’s a comment section below.

September 2017 – Fun Things to Do in the Wine Country

September Events You Don’t Want to Miss

September 2017 Fun Things to Do in the Wine Country
September 2017 – Mark your calendar now. There are many fun things to do in the Wine Country that will be happening soon. Make plans soon as many of these events do sell out.

Experience wine, food, music, and art. Kayak down the Russian River in Sonoma County. Watch a turkey race. Observe and learn how wines are harvested. Visit a reptile exhibit. Attend a small town barbecue. It’s all happening September 2017!

Millbrae Art & Wine Festival
September 3-4: The Last Blast of Summer

Celebrate the end of summer with the spirit and flavor of the Big Easy. Experience two days of music and wine at the 47th Annual Millbrae Art & Wine Festival. Browses the booths of high quality original works of art.
Check out the classic cars on display. This will be a weekend of Mardi Gras-style fun!

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
September 4-6: Sonoma Wine Country Weekend
Head to Sonoma State University for this annual event. Wineries from throughout Sonoma County will be pouring wine. Local chefs will be preparing food paired with wine.

Enjoy live music as well as winemaker lunches, dinners, and barbecues. Sign up for seminars and demonstrations. The Sonoma Wine Country Weekend promises to be a full of wine, food, and fun.

Pinot Noir GrapesSeptember 8-9: Winesong Weekend
Escape to scenic Mendocino for two days of fun. On Friday guys will gather at the Little River Inn overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Sample Pinot Noir from over 30 wineries. Meet the winemakers and sample culinary delights paired with the wines. On Saturday the celebration moves to the Mendocino Botanical Gardens. Stroll through the gorgeous gardens sipping on wine and beer. Sample food from regional chefs. Enjoy live music, auctions, and fabulous art.

Calistoga wineries September 9: Calistoga Wine Experience
Join in the fun at Pioneer Park in Calistoga. 40 Calistoga wineries will be pour wine along with gourmet bites from local chefs. It’s a chance to mingle with the winemakers and winery owners. Enjoy live music as well.

Find out why Calistoga was recently voted “One of the Top !0 Wine Destinations in the World” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

Red Wine in Glasse4s
September 10: Taste of Downtown Livermore

Participate in a culinary stroll through downtown Livermore. Restaurants will be offering tastes of their delicious culinary creations. Shops are hosting wine and beer tastings. There will be live entertainment as well. This is a great time to explore the charming city of Livermore.

Capitola, CaliforniaSeptember 10-11: Capitola Art & Wine Festival
Visit the quaint village of Capitola overlooking Monterey Bay. Sip wine from over 22 Santa Cruz wineries. Browse the works of more than 160 fine artists. Enjoy live music and other performances. Try gourmet food from local restaurants. It’s still summer at this delightful little beach town!

Canoe Down the Russian River September 10-11: Russian River Jazz Festival
The focus at the Russian River Jazz Festival is on the music. There will be two stages of music. You can also taste local wines, dine on world class cuisine, and purchase art, apparel, and unique gifts from vendors. Experience the Russian River up close by taking a canoe, kayak or paddle boat ride. Camping is even available complete with BBQ area and laundry facilities. This is the perfect time to spend some time on the river.

September 14-17: Lodi Grape Festivalgrapevine
The Grape Festival is a long time Lodi tradition. It’s four days of continuous fun for the whole family. Enjoy live music and wine tasting. More unusual is their reptile exhibit, comedy circus show turkey races, BMX Bicycle Show, and live stingray experience. There will also be displays of quilts, art, photography, and floriculture.

Grape HarvestSeptember 16-18: Sonoma Valley Crush – Sonoma
Get involved in the 2017 Sonoma Valley Crush. Learn how grapes are harvested. Sample grapes in the vineyard. Tour a crush pad. Taste fermenting wine. 12 participating wineries will be teaching you the processes behind wine making. Enjoy wine tasting in the beautiful Sonoma Valley.

jazz September 16-18: Monterey Jazz Festival
Over 500 artists will be performing at this year’s festival. It’s considered by many to be the best jazz festival in the world. Enjoy the gorgeous grounds of the Monterey County Fairgrounds where there will be eight stages of live jazz. Experience the Jazz Festival – September 2017.

goat September 17-18: Santa Clara Art & Wine Festival
The 36th Annual Santa Clara Art & Wine Festival is sure to be a weekend of full of fun for the entire family. Taste wine and craft beer. Enjoy live entertainment on three stages. Visit arts and crafts booth. Carnival rides, a petting zoo, and games for children will be located in the Kids Kingdom area.

Casa Dumetz WinesSeptember 23-25: Los Alamos Old Days – North of Santa Barbara
This celebration honors the small town’s western heritage. Events include a 5 K Run/Walk, parade, car show, chili cook off, and silent auction. There’s a BBQ and live music as well. Los Alamos is a charming little town north of Santa Barbara. There are a few wineries with tasting rooms downtown, antique shops, and a fabulous place to stay and dine.
Learn more about Los Alamos.

Newport Beach, CaliforniaSeptember 29-October 2: Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival
Experience a variety of one-of-a-kind dinners by celebrity chefs in September 2017. Taste food from 40 top restaurants. Sip wine, spirits, and craft beer. Attend cooking demonstrations, tasting panels, and fascinating workshops.

Enjoy the beautiful area of Newport Beach and go wine tasting at Orange County Wineries.

If you attend any of the September 2017 Events listed here, please let us know in the comment section below what you thought. Our visitors will benefit from your experience.