It's the most wonderful time of the year and our community calendar is packed with festive events for everyone! If you're looking to get more into the holiday spirit this year, look no further than our guide. Mendocino County LOVES the holidays and the December calendar is chocked full of fun events. Take a look at which ones we're most excited about:
The Magical Christmas Train (throughout December)
Natalie's favorite Christmas movie is The Polar Express and this magical ride through the majestic redwoods is a real-life version of that! Although the Skunk Train runs regularly, it gets a festive makeover this time of year. You can bring the whole family (even your dog!) and ride along for festive treats, reindeer games, Christmas singalongs, and a special visit from Santa himself! Plus, pajama-wearing is encouraged! The trains depart from both Willits and Fort Bragg.
Mixology Class at The Heritage House (every Thursday)
While we're total wineos, we do enjoy a classic cocktail from time-to-time. This mixology class, which runs every Thursday of the month, is the perfect date night or girls-night-out activity on the Mendocino Coast. Don't drink? Learn how to make a mocktail instead. By the end, you'll be ready to mix up drinks for your holiday guests! Classes begin at 3:30 PM at The Heritage House.
Ukiah on Ice (throughout December)
Every year, School Street gets the Elsa treatment with an ice rink your kids will love! Grab local coffee and hot chocolate at Black Oak before heading over and make sure to wear your coziest Christmas sweater. Cost is $10 per day and includes skates.
Mendocino Ballet's 'The Nutcracker' (throughout December)
Everyone knows this classic, two-act tale about a girl who befriends a nutcracker that comes to life on Christmas Eve and battles the evil Mouse King! The talented, young ballerinas and ballet dancers of our local company perform the classic every year and tickets are selling out fast. Bring your kids to experience the enchanting tale and finish with a trip to the Sugar Plum Fairy's realm (a.k.a. The Nook on School Street).
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens Festival of Lights (weekends 'til Dec. 22nd)
We love the botanical gardens year-round, but this is a special time of year for visitors, as the gardens transform into a twinkling wonderland! Open Friday, Saturday and Sundays now until December 22nd, tickets are $10 for adults and children age 16 and under are free! Doors open at 5 PM, so you can grab a hot drink at nearby Mara's Coffee House before they close.
Jan Hoyman Studio Holiday Open House 12/7
We've been coming to Jan Hoyman's Holiday Open House since we were kids and loved helping our mom pick out beautiful pottery for our home and for loved ones. Whether you're looking for classic patterns or more festive ones, there's something for everyone here. It's a great way to shop local and mingle with other fans of Jan's work. The open house begins at 9 AM and goes until 4 PM, so you have plenty of time to pick out special pieces!
Ukiah Parade of Lights 12/7
The annual Ukiah Parade of Lights kicks off at 6 PM tomorrow and travels from Low Gap Road to Alex Thomas Plaza where Santa will light the Christmas Tree. If you have young kids, this will be a seasonal highlight for them!
Point Arena Lighthouse Full Cold Moon Night Tour 12/11
Enjoy a glass of champagne as you are taken on a tour of the tallest lighthouse on the West Coast. You'll learn what it was like to be a lighthouse keeper and marvel at the panoramic view of sea and coastline from the top of the tower. Fingers crossed that the weather allows the expected full moon to be visible!
Hopland Hike & Wreath Making 12/14
Lovers of nature, rejoice! Get outdoors for a refreshing morning hike and enjoy the red berries of the madrones and clumps of mistletoe. There's a chance you may even get to meet newborn lambs! Stay after the hike for hot apple cider and the chance to make your own seasonal wreath, made from the locally sourced foliage. Cost is $25 per person and the hike begins at 10 AM at the Hopland Research and Extension Center.
Christmas Trivia Night at The Fog Eater Cafe 12/16
Come test your holiday smarts with a festive trivia night at Mendocino's cozy vegetarian cafe. $5 per person, which goes to the prizes. Event begins at 7 PM.
Last-minute shopping? Do it locally!
Our favorite stores have perfect gifts for your loved ones. By no means does this list cover all the fantastic stores in Mendocino County, but these are some that come to mind and cover all the bases!
As you mark your calendar for these upcoming events and do your holiday shopping, don't forget to give back this season, too! Local drop-off locations for Toys for Tots in Ukiah are the Mendocino County Farm Bureau and Rainbow Ag.