From November 23 through January 6, inside California’s Great America theme park will be transformed into a Global Winter Wonderland complete with twinkling displays of rainbow Christmas trees, snowmen, and Santa Town. A highlight of the seasonal event, the Holiday Lantern Festival sets the night aglow with eco-friendly LED and fluorescent lanterns, some of which stand more than 50 feet tall. Joining the lanterns—which have graced international sites including the Statue of Liberty, the London Bridge, and an Egyptian pyramid—are laser light shows, martial-arts displays, and acrobatic performances, all of which enhance the festive atmosphere of the holiday celebration.
At 2,600 feet up in the Santa Cruz Mountains, one might expect to find sprawling views of the ocean and surrounding forest and not flourishing vineyards. Yet there are more than 70 wineries dappling the hills at various altitudes, privy to the dewy, cooling breezes of the sea and the richness of the rocky soil. The San Francisco Chronicle speaks to their scattered presence, deeming them "less a cohesive wine region than a patchwork of vineyards." Still, this characteristic isolation has resulted in "a perfect laboratory for winemaking not held hostage to fashion"—no one style dominates in this rustic setting.
Pinot noirs and chardonnays populate the western front, and the east yields cabernets, merlots, and zinfandels. The majority of the vineyards are small and family owned—a fact reflected in their meticulously bottled libations and the matching sweaters of their holiday photos—but though they exist in chosen hermitage, many of them welcome visitors to their scenic sites. They host weddings, festivals, and open events such as Pathway to Pinot Paradise, a self-guided tour of the pinot noir hotspots.
If you?ve ever wanted to go back in time, but didn?t have access to a wormhole, Valhalla Renaissance Faire is your next best bet. This annual festival showcases a reimagined Renaissance, complete with Queen Elizabeth I and her court, Master Shakespeare, princesses, fairies, a hard-hitting armored joust, and a town full of colorful characters. To experience every nook and cranny of this vast fair, guests can eat ye olde turkey legs and shop for leather wears and carved tankards. Live shows take place on three stages and feature the Naughty Minstrels, Captain Jack, and the Universe According to Galileo. And no visit to Elizabethan England is complete without seeing the queen, who may also make the occasional appearance to knight a brave warrior or banish a dragon from the realm.
Sandy Raulston and Ted Birbilis have lived in the world of art and antiques together for almost three decades. They've sold pieces in old farmhouses and and participated in The Los Angeles Modernism Show. They're particularly skilled with antiques, classifying and valuing entire collections in one easy sweep, and they now preside over the LA Living: Modern to Classic Antiques Show.
At that show, a range of aesthetic movements are represented, from industrialism to folk art. The designers themselves are just as varied, ranging from pop artists to Native American craftsmen. Oil paintings, of colorful landscapes and sepia country churches, hang above a tangle of art in every medium imaginable. There are carved canes, colorful instruments, vases, and furniture, glossy wooden masks and vintage-looking lamps, all curated by Sandy and Ted.
Though the Lumière brothers and Thomas Edison are often credited with groundbreaking discoveries that paved the way for modern cinema, history sometimes leaves out a key player: photographer Eadweard Muybridge. Commissioned to find out whether horses lifted all four legs off the ground while galloping, Muybridge invented a device called the zoopraxiscope to display his photographed findings. His first zoopraxiscope screening was held in Palo Alto in 1879, making the city the birthplace of film. To honor Muybridge’s work, as well as the technological innovations bubbling throughout Silicon Valley, the Palo Alto International Film Festival was born in 2011. It focuses not only on new technology, but on breakthroughs in artistic expression, screening a collection of films from around the world. They range from major Hollywood releases, such as 2012’s Looper, to independent works, such as George Lucas’s home videos of himself practicing light-saber moves in his garage. Outside the theater, visitors can mingle at an array of talks, film workshops, and parties.
Pro Tip: Bring your friends, bring the kids, bring your appetite for good food, music, brews, and bring sunblock
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Parking: Parking lot
Most Popular Attraction/Offering: Classic cars, crafts, Microbrews, Music,
Recommended Age Group: All Ages
Newark's sixth annual SummerFest assembles the best pieces of previous seasons into a single incredible street festival. The prime attraction continues to be a full, two-day line-up of live musicians with craft brewers in surrounding stalls pouring their creations. The marketplace features more than a few brews, though. Artists and crafters peddle their wares, and local community service organizations put together exhibits where guests can learn about their missions. As always, auto enthusiasts can find a selection of classic cars on display, metallic muscle carefully restored and preserved. Kids, on the other hand, can find entertainment suiting their tastes in the KidZone play area, which features inflatable playsets.