When is it not hot in Death Valley? That would be about now and for the next few months, when temperatures are mild.
That window is your chance to tour Death Valley, but the catch is you've got to be in Las Vegas to do it. Really, wouldn't you rather see Zabriskie Point than lose another $100 at the blackjack table?
The Vegas adventure and eco-touring company www.tourguy.com is discounting its daylong Death Valley tours to $179 per adult and $159 for children 12 and younger.
The tour features stops at Rhyolite, an Old West ghost town; Furnace Creek Museum and Visitor Center; Artists' Palette, formed during a volcanic period; Zabriskie Point, an overlook at the edge of the appropriately named Funeral Mountains; Badwater, the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere (282 feet below sea level); Devil's Golf Course, a sprawling salt pan; and Hell's Gate, a panoramic vista point.
Tours will be offered Mondays and Wednesdays from now till "Indefinitely," said www.travelguy.com CEO James Hoke. "There are thrill-seekers who think it's an adventure to be in Death Valley in the summer, when it's 120."
Pickup at your hotel is at 7 a.m., with dropoff at 5:30 p.m. The tour includes lunch and snacks. For more information: (888) 801-1575, www.tourguy.com.
Travel + Leisure magazine asked its readers to rank their 35 favorite American cities in 66 categories (www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2012).
The results, listed alphabetically:
Anchorage, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix-Scottsdale, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Fe, Seattle.
Austin, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Atlanta; Charleston; Memphis; Miami; Nashville; New Orleans; Orlando; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Savannah.
Baltimore; Boston; New York City; Philadelphia; Portland, Maine; Providence; Washington, D.C.
Giant rummage sale
Here's a reason for a day trip to the East Bay: The 54th annual White Elephant Sale will be stomping through Oakland on March 2 and 3, but now's the time to plan for the Jan. 27 preview rummage sale, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
On offer will be a wide range of quality used vintage clothing, jewelry, collectibles, tools, furniture, sporting goods, books and much more.
The sale will be in a 96,000- square-foot warehouse at 333 Lancaster Ave. on the Oakland Estuary. Tickets are $15 in advance online, $20 at the door.
For more information: (510) 536-6800, www.whiteelephantsale.org.
Lift ticket fundraiser
A number of downhill and cross country ski resorts will honor discounted lift tickets and trail passes as part of a fundraiser to support the Excellence in Education Foundation. It provides enhanced educational opportunities to local Lake Tahoe-Truckee area students.
Skiing for Schools lift tickets will accepted at these resorts. For more information, updates and where to buy tickets: (530) 550-7984 or go to www.exined.org.
Upcoming Skiing for Schools days include:
Sugar Bowl: $35 lift tickets valid any one day from Dec. 15-21.
Royal Gorge: $15 trail pass valid any one day from Dec. 17-23.
Northstar California: $40 lift ticket valid any one day from Jan. 611.
Tahoe Donner Cross Country: $15 trail pass valid any one day Jan. 6-11.
Homewood Mountain Resort: $35 lift ticket valid any one day from Jan. 13-18.
Tahoe Donner Ski Area: $25 lift ticket valid any one day from Jan. 27-Feb. 1.
Tahoe Cross Country: $15 trail pass valid any one day Jan. 27-Feb. 1.
Resort at Squaw Creek: $15 trail pass valid any one day from Feb. 3-9.
Sugar Bowl: $35 lift ticket valid any one day from March 23-29.
Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows: $35 lift ticket valid any one day at either resort from April 7 to the end of the ski season.