Escapes: All aboard the holiday express


Holiday train rides

Combine a trip of laser tag and mini golf at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk with a spirited train ride – or two.

At 6:30 p.m. Friday, the first of many Holiday Lights Trains departs from the amusement park. Vintage, open-air cars will be brightly lit and the sweet scent of hot apple cider will waft through the air. Carolers will sing while Santa visits the children. Imagine the Polar Express with views of ocean and sand instead of snow.

And 5 p.m. Dec. 1, the Hanukkah Train chugs through the streets, where passengers will hear traditional stories, play dreidel and enjoy kosher refreshments. Organizers are calling it the first-ever Hanukkah train, and its only one of the season (however, other Holiday Lights trips extend into December).

Both trains cost $28 for adults and $22 for children 12 and under.

For more information, visit


Thanksgiving run

What: Help raise money for the Emergency Food Bank’s nutrition programs at the Ninth Annual Run and Walk Against Hunger. Join 5,000 people on a 5K or 10K along the Stockton waterfront.

When: 8 a.m. Thursday

Where: Stockton Ports, 404 W. Fremont St., Stockton

Cost: $40 adults, $15 children 9 and under



Country Christmas Faire

What: Artisan crafts for early holiday shoppers are the focus of the event, but there will also be live entertainment, festival foods, a gingerbread house exhibit, bonfire and wagon rides through the fairgrounds.

When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 1.

Where: Nevada County Fairgrounds, 11228 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley

Cost: $4 adults, children under 12 free, parking $5



Christmas tree lighting

What: A busy day of Black Friday shopping in downtown San Francisco is festively capped by Macy’s 24th annual tree lighting ceremony in Union Square. The 80-foot Fir tree’s 21,000 twinkling lights will be switched on at 6:40 p.m.

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Where: Union Square, San Francisco

Cost: Free



Pinot for Paws

What: Enjoy some warm fuzziness of both the alcoholic and furry varieties. The local chapter of Santa Rosa-based Canine Companions for Independence is bringing puppies to J Vineyards for a fundraiser. Special flights of reserve pinot noirs will be on offer, and 25 percent of tasting fees will be donated to the guide dog nonprofit.

When: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday

Where: J Vineyards & Winery, 11447 Old Redwood Highway, Healdsburg

Cost: Free



Classical piano

What: Mack McCray, longtime faculty member of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, has recruited talent for the Classical Piano Fest for the past 32 years. This year he performs alongside Yoonie Han, an award-winning rising star from South Korea.

When: 4:30 p.m. next Sunday

Where: Douglas Beach House, 307 Mirada Road, Half Moon Bay

Cost: $35 adults, $30 for 21 and under


— Janelle Bitker