09 Dec 18
Santa Cruz Sentinel
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Thanksgiving and the winter holidays bring houseguest season. You’ve prepared your home for coziness and celebrations. Now it’s time to show those loved ones from near and far why we love the Bay Area so much.
Here are 12 places to send those houseguests frolicking, from three one-of-a-kind museums to two interactive sweet-tooth experiences. And not a single partridge in a pear tree.
Munro at Montalvo: Stories in Light
Put simply, British artist Bruce Munro is to light bulbs what Christo was to fabric fences. But we think electrical masterpieces are way more awesome than acres of orange fabric. The Montalvo Arts Center has scored Munro’s first West Coast exhibition, and it’s one inspired by the “Chronicles of Narnia.” His “Stories in Light” show will illuminate Montalvo’s 175 acres in Saratoga through March 2019. You can view it on your own, join Family Night activities or dine in the 1912 villa before exploring.
Details: Exhibition prices start at $20; dates and times vary. 15400 Montalvo Road, Saratoga; www.montalvoarts.org
Rosie the Riveter Historical Park
Grab a crimson bandana and head for the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)
Take your red polka-dot bandana and head to Richmond! Plenty of U.S. museums explore America’s war history through the military lens. But this gem on the East Bay waterfront delves into what was happening on the home front during World War II, particularly the role-changing efforts of “Rosie the Riveter,” the women who kept the factories humming. Learn about victory gardens and rationing campaigns, too. (And if you don’t have a Rosie bandana, you can buy one in the gift shop.) Nearby is the SS Red Oak Victory, a ship-turned-museum.
Details: Open daily (except holidays) at 1414 S. Harbour Way, Richmond. Check www.rosietheriveter.org for special events with WWII docents. The Red Oak Victory is at 1337 Canal Blvd.; www.redoakvictory.us
Museum of Ice Cream
Half a million visitors from 65 countries agree: San Francisco’s Museum of Ice Cream is a must-experience. Your houseguests will love eating ice cream, wading in a pool of rainbow sprinkles, climbing a pink rock-candy wall and playing ring-toss with whipped cream cans. And that’s just the first scoop of what awaits them at this internationally lauded theme parklike exhibit, which has found its permanent home in San Francisco. Best part? The museum has new installations planned for 2019, so you can take your guests twice.
Details: Purchase tickets ($38) at www.museumoficecream.com. Find the museum at 1 Grant Ave., San Francisco.
Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum
You don’t have to be a Laurel and Hardy film buff to appreciate the treasures inside this East Bay museum. Beyond the vintage posters and artifacts, you’ll find a plethora of information on all facets of silent filmmaking, from planning and production to editing and presentation. View a flick made in Niles by Charlie Chaplin and Broncho Billy Anderson, catch a weekend silent-film screening and tour the Edison Theatre, circa 1913, including the original tin-lined projection booth. Did we mention Niles is a mecca for antiquing, too?
Vintage movie cameras, projectors and other artifacts of the silent-film era are on display in Niles.
Details: $7 suggested donation. Open weekends at 37417 Niles Blvd., Fremont; http://nilesfilmmuseum.org
Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum
Home to the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in western North America, this museum features a peek inside daily life, marriage, religion and after-life rituals of the Egyptians, from the Neolithic period to today. Learn about pyramids and temples, see rare mummified animals and a composite replica of a Middle Kingdom monarch’s tomb. Don’t miss the Alchemy Exhibit, the first of its kind in the U.S., which features the seven stages of the alchemical process, a meditation chamber and a full-size reproduction of an alchemist’s workshop.
Details: $9. Open Wednesday-Sunday at 1660 Park Ave., San Jose; https://egyptianmuseum.org
Livermore wine country
The Livermore Wine Trolley takes guests on sipping jaunts every weekend.
How would you like to zip through wine country, going from tasting room to tasting room, instead of sitting in an endless line of traffic? You can — in Livermore’s wine country. And chances are high that your out-of-state relatives don’t even know about this laid-back valley, which offers a rich grape-growing history that dates back to the 1880s. Today it’s home to about 50 wineries — and wine trolley tours. The back roads and rolling hills provide lovely views between sips, and downtown’s First Street is lined with restaurants. For a fun break, head to Campo di Bocce for a spirited game of bocce. You can arrange to have a glass of sauvignon blanc sitting courtside for you.
Details: Check the website of the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association, www.lvwine.org, for tasting room hours. Find Campo di Bocce details at www.campodibocce.com and wine trolley information at https://livermorewinetrolley.com
Computer History Museum
Calling all nerds! You may think your guests are visiting Silicon Valley for your holiday stuffing, but we know better. They’re here to see the evolution of computing, from the abacus to the smartphone in a one-of-a-kind 25,000-square-foot exhibition featuring 19 galleries, 1,100 objects and an array of multimedia experiences. Fly through World of Warcraft’s Azeroth. Speed-text to victory in “Make Software: Change the World” and travel back in time to 1959 in a re-creation of a working business computer center in the IBM 1401 Demo Lab. You can even play a round of Pong.
Details: $6-$17.50. Open Wednesday-Sunday at 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View; www.computerhistory.org
Midcentury modern in Oakland
OK, the “World of Charles and Ray Eames” exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California really should be titled “They Invented Cool.” You may not know the names of Charles and Ray Eames, but you’ll recognize their chair and other contributions to the midcentury-modern worlds of architecture, furniture, fashion and film. This married couple (Ray was a she, a Sacramento native) has been hailed as two of the 20th century’s most influential designers, and this exhibit offers a fascinating romp through their world. You’ll never look at furniture the same way again. The exhibit runs through Feb. 17, 2019.
Details: Tickets, $19.95 general, $14.95 senior/student. Open Wednesday-Sunday at 1000 Oak St., Oakland; www.museumca.org
There is so much to do at Fisherman’s Wharf, your guests won’t know where to start. Here are two under-the-radar options at Pier 39: Take a dizzying stroll through the arched doorways and colorful columns of the zany Magowan’s Infinite Hall of Mirrors ($5; Building O, Level 2) without getting turned around, then re-create your first piano recital — or “Chopsticks,” we won’t judge — on the three-octave musical stairs designed by Remo Saraceni. Each stair has a motion sensor that corresponds to a piano note. When you cross the motion-sensor beam, it plays the note.
Details: Most attractions open at 10 a.m. daily. Located at Beach Street and The Embarcadero in San Francisco; www.pier39.com
Sweet candy swings, candy displays and a giant marshmallow swimming pool make Candytopia irresistible. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group)
This interactive candy exhibit, located across the street from the Museum of Ice Cream, features a dozen rooms filled with massive sculptures, portraits and paintings made entirely out of jelly beans, gummy bears, licorice, gum drops, rock candy and other nostalgic sweets. The best part? Each piece is covered in shellac to preserve and protect it, so you and the kids are welcome to touch everything. And dive into a vat of 250,000 foam marshmallows. ‘Gram much?
Details: $26-$34. Through Jan. 6 at 767 Market St., San Francisco; www.candytopia.com
Ruth Bancroft Garden & Nursery
Renowned California gardener Ruth Bancroft, an early proponent of drought-tolerant plants, left a 3.5-acre legacy when she died last year. She had filled her family’s former orchard in the heart of Walnut Creek with rare and beautiful succulents and cacti – the world’s largest such collection. Every season brings new blooms, so fall and winter are terrific times to visit. Consider this a refreshing break for your guests – and they might even find enough inspiration to head home and transform their garden.
Details: Admission, $8-$10. The garden is open Tuesday-Sunday (closed holidays and the day after Thanksgiving) at 1552 Bancroft Road, Walnut Creek; www.ruthbancroftgarden.org
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Finally, if your crowd is a little bah-humbug when it comes to holiday traditions, we’ve got an idea. How about riding the Looff Carousel, playing skee-ball and eating corn dogs on Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s? The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is one of the few Northern California attractions open on holidays, although the Giant Dipper coaster often takes the day off. But the Casino Arcade and Neptune’s Kingdom are always open, and – weather permitting – some Boardwalk rides will be, too. If your house guests are visiting from a landlocked state, a trip to the ocean may be the best holiday present of all.
Details: Boardwalk admission is free; rides, games extra. 400 Beach St., Santa Cruz; www.beachboardwalk.com
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