Escapes: Free ice skating in Walnut Creek


Ice skating

Skate into the holiday season during the Children’s Winter Festival, which celebrates the opening of Walnut Creek’s downtown ice rink.

A whopping 8,000 square feet of ice makes up the outdoor rink, situated in Civic Park. The festival takes place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, when families can glide – or slip, fall and laugh – for free. There will also be live performances on the ice, refreshments, face painting, balloon artists and other entertainment.

For skaters who can’t make it to the party, the ice rink stays open until Jan. 12. More information:


Barbie world

What: At the 11th annual Altered Barbie show, artists warp Barbie and Ken dolls – symbols of modern-day consumerist ideals – into pieces of cultural critique. A party closes the exhibit.

When: 1-8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, closing reception 4-10 p.m. Nov. 17

Where: Shotwell 50 Inc., 50 Shotwell St., San Francisco

Cost: Free



Mushroom walk

What: Pack a lunch and head off on a fungi identification walk – and tasting – with David Arora, author of “Mushrooms Demystified.”

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Studio 391, 39102 Ocean Drive, Gualala

Cost: $100



Food innovation challenge

What: How can you solve world hunger? Students in grades seven through 11 are welcome to put their ideas to the test at this workshop hosted by InventionX, an education program focused on science, technology, engineering and math. Lunch is provided.

When: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday

Where: Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus, Building 1, 1065 La Avenida St., Mountain View

Cost: $10 per student, accompanying parents free



Nature sketch

What: Bring a pad, pencil and creativity for a leisurely, 2-mile hike through the oak-covered grassland of Rockville Trails. Watercolor pallets optional.

When: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday

Where: Suisun Valley Court, Fairfield

Cost: Free, advanced registration required

Information: (707) 745-1913,


Holiday market

What: The third annual art market brings an array of unique, hand-made goods – including shadow boxes, jewelry, dolls and terrariums – to a Victorian salon. Don’t forget the complimentary tea.

When: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Nov. 17

Where: The Historic Reed House, 328 North Sixth St., San Jose

Cost: Free


— Janelle Bitker