Escapes: Hit the Elkus ranch near Half Moon Bay


Life on a ranch

Hikes, garden work and chores – everyday life on a ranch. For a single day, youngsters can get this experience while making new friends and, of course, having fun. Tucked away in the hills just 5 miles south of Half Moon Bay, the Elkus Ranch Environmental Education Center acts as an outdoor classroom for the area’s youth. As a University of California extension and a nonprofit, the ranch boasts impressive programs geared toward teaching children about their relationship with the environment – environmental science, California history, animal care and agriculture are among the topics. To embrace ranch activities, register for a Winter Discovery Day Camp. They’re being offered Thursday, Friday and Jan. 3, and run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Children ages 6 to 11 are eligible, and each day costs $60. Learn more about the program and the UC Elkus Ranch at


Pottery galore

What: The 43rd annual, monthlong holiday Open House at the Berkeley Potters Guild comes to an end Christmas Eve. Stroll through studios of earthy vases, whimsical teapots and contemporary wall pieces while enjoying free apple cider and mulled wine.

When: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. today through Tuesday

Where: Berkeley Potters Guild, 731 Jones St., Berkeley

Cost: Free



Chinese acrobatics

What: Prepare to be awed as some of China’s most talented tumblers, contortionists, jugglers, cyclists and gymnasts as they strut their stuff. The Peking Acrobats, known for agility and precision, will be accompanied by live music.

When: 8 p.m. daily through Dec. 30 (except Saturday)

Where: Grand Theatre at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino, 2500 E. Second St., Reno, Nev.

Cost: $10-$20



Drawing for ‘Peanuts’

What: Fans of Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” comic strip should be regulars at his eponymous museum, which offers classes for both children and adults throughout the year, though there are more than usual during the holiday stretch. Learn to draw fantasy creatures, build futuristic sculptures, paint realistic portraits or even develop your own mini-mystery comic.

When: Class times vary; regular museum hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays

Where: Charles M Schulz Museum, 2301 Hardies Lane, Santa Rosa

Cost: $10 adults, $5 youths for museum entrance; $25-$32 for classes



Skating by the bay

What: Monterey’s seasonal ice-skating rink juxtaposes festive, icy recreation with a blue, scenic coastline. The wonderland’s final day is

Jan. 1.

When: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon-8 p.m. Sunday

Where: Custom House Plaza, Monterey

Cost: $12 adults, $10 children 12 and under, $3 skate rental fee


— Janelle Bitker