Saturday, December 11, 2010

Holidays at the Mission Inn

Last year, we went to the Mission Inn (Riverside, CA) and had a blast! The lights were spectacular, the atmosphere was festive, and everything went completely perfect.  We had so much fun and everything was semi-spontaneous.  There were no lines, we found parking right away, the crowds were manageable, as everyone was just... perfect.

So...we kinda thought we'd make it a family tradition. You know... carriage ride around the block, hot fresh donuts, lights, carolers, watching the ice-skaters eat it in the Plaza... nothing totally organized...

Our Carriage Horse - Merlin
And so, we went this year. Last night, in fact.  Only, this year, we looked for parking for 30 minutes... no biggie.  We waited in a short line for the carriage ride, only to find out that we had to walk to the end of the block to get tickets first (last year, an attendant was at the front of the line and took payments). Ok, still no biggie...

Merlin had a "hoof"-icure - check out the glitter on his hooves!
But then, we walked down towards the Inn, we passed a bunch of people standing still on the sidewalk, walking towards the entrance. (The entrance is usually REALLY magnificent with TONS AND TONS of lights and little elves and nutcrackers, and just... well... the whole shabang!) Whelpers, the valet parking dude turned us away and told us we had to go to the opposite end and wait... you know... where ALL those other people were just standing on the sidewalk. Ew... Ugh... *Sigh*

On our way over to the line, my hubs heard a quickie way to get in.  It made sense, so Off! we. went. To the side entrance. YES! The line was much shorter and only took a few minutes. Woohoo! and we were in!

And so... we walked through the small garden to get to the front-ish entry way, only to find out... Ugh!  We had to go through the lobby and could not venture to the front of the hotel, unless... we were patrons of the hotel, valet or dining establishments within the hotel. Seriously? (The front entrance is the grandest of them all!)

Ok, so the lobby is pretty great, too... right? uh... They changed it. Last year (and YES! I'm comparing everything to last year!), there were SO many photo opps! The tree is extravagant. It still is. But... they have it roped off now, and you can't take the awesome family photo there anymore. The stairs with the lavish garland? Uh, no... garland and lights are still there, but heh! so it that security guard that won't let anyone up unless they have a key card... not even at the bottom of the steps to get the classic Christmas-time photo. By the hearth? Uh... nope! Roped off with a sign "For Registered Guests Only." and so on, and so on...

So, basically... we just were able to do a walk-through. But that's ok. The lights outside and around the Mission Inn are still remarkable. And yes! They still are. Even though, they didn't put up A LOT that have been up in years prior.

After touring the Inn (although briefly), we walked around the Plaza. Now, don't laugh, because well... we in Southern California don't get that much cold weather and get to experience that outdoorsy ice-skating, and HECK! I'd never ice skate anyway, because well... I'd just fall too much and probably blow out my knee again... but, Main Street in Riverside (kitty/catty-corner from the Mission Inn) has an outdoor skating rink. And we love to go watch. It's fun, it's festive, and it's a barrel of laughs! People eat it (the ice, that is...) all of the time, and they bounce back up and skate to do it some more. Only, this year... (yes, I said it again!), with our little heat wave (it should be hitting 80 degrees Fahrenheit this weekend), they had to put up cones, as the middle of the rink was m.e.l.t.i.n.g... You know, like Frosty? And it was still fun.

For some odd ball reason, my hubs decided NOT to do the fresh donuts (the little fried ones with the powdered sugar on them... oh yum!) and opted to stop at a regular donut store on the way to look at houses. Ok, so we can change the tradition we started a little... afterall, the City of Riverside sure did.

We looked at wondrous shops filled with Christmas treasures and drooled over what we couldn't have (because they really were expensive... at least to me... right now... in my financial state...). Then the shops started to close. It was only 9pm! (If I had a shop located there, you can bet to all getouts that I'd keep it open later during this busy time. Business is business, right? And people were SPENDING!)

Marissa - calling to the horse
Stacy & Rey, taking in the night of splendor
We walked back to the car and began driving towards "the Woods" streets (all the streets are named after some kind of tree). Only to see... lots of lights turned off already. Bummer. Oh well. We saw some great stuff, and it just didn't last as long as we'd hoped, but hey! we still got to see a lot of wonderful things and experience a great time, in our new tradition.

The California Tower (WOW!)

*If you'd like to see the Mission Inn and the Festival of Lights, check out their website at: And Have a Happy Holiday Season!!!

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Thanks for sharing the luv! Feel free to look around to other posts. I so appreciate you stopping by and commenting. Love to know you were here! Have a happy day!