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A farm-town Christmas in Arroyo Grande.

Roll into Arroyo Grande this month and you'll see wreth-decked streetlamps along sidewalks you'd like to stroll, light-trimmed windows framing shops you'd like to explore, and the friendly smiles of folks you'd like to meet. It's Christmas in this turn-of-the-century farm town that's come a way--but not too far--from its roots as a place to deposit corn crop money, but a new plow blade, and attend the church social.

There's more than enough cheer to go around, even for strangers who just turn off U.S. 101 to stretch their legs. Better still, spend a day and a night or two, and get some gift shopping done to boot. About 18 miles south of San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande offers a good getaway from Los Angeles (185 miles south) or from Bakersfield (150 miles east); it's 250 miles from San Francisco.

Hop off the freeway eastward at the Arroyo Grande exit (Branch Street). In less than 1/4 mile on your right, stop at the chamber of commerce (open 9 to 5 weekdays) to pick up a Historic Village Area Walking Tour leaflet, to check on holiday events, and to get help with directions. Neighboring merchants have leaflets too.

Starting December 6, Santa will stroll through town on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. On Saturdays, choirs will carol in the park at Short Street and Olohan Alley. Weekdays will find carolers singing along sidewalks. From 1 to 4 on Sunday, December 7, all shops will hold open house with refreshments.

Here are suggested stops in the area. All except the inns are closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas days.

On November 30 and December 1, more than 60 artisans will gather at Corbett Canyon Vineyards, about 5 miles north of town at 2195 Corbett Canyon Road, for its annual local craftsmen's fair. Hours are 10 to 4:30.

In town, browse for ornaments, home accessories, and antiques at Amanda's Interiors, open 10 to 5:30 weekdays, in the old Methodist church at 124 Branch Street; a gift shop in the parsonage behind is open 10 to 5 daily, except 11 to 4 Sundays.

In the 1905 bank building at the corner of Branch and Bridge Street, a stairway at 100A Branch leads to The Upstairs Bank--chock-full of handmade and imported ornaments and other gift items; one room is devoted to cook books. Hours are 10 to 9 weekdays and 10 to 5 weekends in the weeks before Christmas.

Downstairs (100 Branch), stop by Burnardo'z Ice Cream Plant for a cone of homemade refreshment. The ingredients are made at the owner's Candy Kitchen and old-fashioned ice cream parlor (114 Branch), where you'll find gift boxes of assorted hand-dipped chocolates, brittles, brickles, and nut chews. Both places keep the same hours as The Upstairs Bank.

For another type of food gift, go to Chase Olive Company, about 5 miles south of town at 1129 Mesa View Road. Family-owned since 1938, it sells olive oil and 15 flavors of cured olives. Pluck a free sample from the old-fashioned barrels before you buy. Hours are 9 to 5 daily. For a gift catalog, call (805) 481-5450.

All through December, The Great American Melodrrama and Vaudeville Company, 3 miles west of town on State 1, puts on a three-part 2 1/2-hour show. It starts with a melodramatic adaptation of A Christmas Carol, followed by a zany fairy tale comedy set to classical music and a vaudeville revue. Shows are at 7 P.M. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays; at 4 and 8 Fridays; at 5 and 9 Saturdays; at 3 and 7 Sundays. Reservations are required; call 489-2499 between 10 and 6 daily. Tickets cost $6 to $9; get them at the box office at least one day before the performance (no refunds).

Arroyo Grande has three bed-and-breakfast inns; all of them will decorate to the hilt for the holidays. The 100-year-old Rose Victorian Inn (481-5566; $90 to $120 double with breakfast and dinner) will have a small decorated tree in each room and a model train set up in the dining room, pictured above. The 1850s Guest House (481-9304; $50 double with breakfast) will be festooned with greens; big New England breakfasts feature local products and recipes handed down from the owner's great-grandmother. The Village Inn (489-5926; $65 to $105 double with breakfast) is newly constructed in Victorian style.

For other lodging choices, call the chamber weekdays at 489-1488, or write to Box 146, Arroyo Grande 93420.

(For more small-town Christmases, see page 68.)
COPYRIGHT 1985 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Arroyo Grande, California
Publication:Sunset
Date:Dec 1, 1985
Words:747
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