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Holiday guests? From Salt Lake City to Santa Fe, here are the West's 100 best ways to entertain them

They can be as much fun as the fanfare of fa la las in "Deck the Halls" - and as daunting as hitting that high note on "O Holy Night." We speak of the annual migration of holiday guests from their hearth to yours. Sure, it's a wonderful thing to have all the cousins and nieces gathered around the tree, camped out on the convertible sofa, and giving you advice on the proper way to carve a turkey. But at some point, even the most generous and organized hosts may find themselves wondering how best to entertain a house full of guests.

We are here to help.

On these pages you'll find the 100 best things to do with your guests this month, in and around 10 of the West's largest cities. Some of the outings embrace the seasonal spirit. Others help you flee it, if that's the kind of mood you're in after the fourth trek to the mall. Each outing is terrifically enjoyable, and each costs less than $100 for two.

Follow us in merry measure, while we steer you to the best December bets around the West.

Salt Lake City

1 Into the Gateway. Utah Jazz fans heading to the Delta Center know to stop at Squatters Pub Brewery for a pregame burger and glass of Holiday Nut Brown Ale.

Salt Lake City's first brew pub is on the eastern edge of the reviving Gateway neighborhood. Three blocks south of the Delta Center, the once-gritty warehouse district is trying to go upscale with restaurants, galleries, and stores.

The still-emerging shopping scene justifies a walk down Pierpont Avenue and back up 200 South (both between 300 West and 400 West), but dining is the draw. Lakota Restaurant & Bar, a "private club" that charges drop-ins a $5 membership fee, is good for a pre- or postgame libation. And Tony Caputo's Market & Deli remains one of the city's best delis. Squatters Pub Brewery: 147 W. Broadway; (801) 363-2739. Lakota Restaurant & Bar: 380 West 200 South; 519-8300. Tony Caputo's Market & Deli: 308 West 300 South; 531-8669. Utah Jazz tickets from $5; 355-3865.

2 Nature in the city. Look for wildlife on 3 1/2 miles of paved and usually plowed road (it's closed to cars) up snowy City Creek Canyon Nature Preserve just above downtown. (801) 483-6705.

3 Put on your bonnet. The cider is hot, and it's the mid-1800s again at historic Old Deseret Village's Christmas candlelight tours. Dec. 7-12, 14-19; $8; (801) 584-8392.

4 Get buffaloed. They roam closer to the road when snow has been blowing at Antelope Island State Park in the Great Salt Lake. Bring binoculars, food, and hot coffee. $7 per vehicle; (801) 595-4030.

5 Temple square. The display of lights - 300,000 of them in all - may just be the best in the West; concerts and other events run nightly. (801) 240-2205.

6 Abravanel Hall. The Utah Symphony commands this 2,812-seat downtown gem with great acoustics. From $12; (801) 533-6683.

7 Luge, anyone? Preview the 2002 Olympics by riding the rocket sled ($27) or learning to ski jump ($30) at the Utah Winter Sports Park in Park City. (435) 658-4200.

8 Main Street, Park City. The mining camp turned resort is brilliantly decorated and has many holiday events. (800) 453-1360.

9 Blade running. Skate downtown at the Gallivan Utah Center's outdoor rink. (801) 596-2874.

10 To the slopes. Pack up skis and snowboards and hit one of the nine ski areas within an hour of downtown. (800) 754-8824 or www.skiutah.com. - Jeff Phillips

Denver Area

11 Really wild lights. Colored lights and animated sculptures dazzle at the Denver Zoo's Wildlights celebration. Other highlights: storytelling and visits from Santa. 5:30-9 P.M. Dec. 1-31; $5; (303) 376-4800.

12 Little engines that could. Turn your inner child loose in Caboose Hobbies, called the largest model train store in the world. 500 S. Broadway; (303) 777-6766.

13 No snacking. Check out the lavish 19th-century-style ginger-bread village at the Westin Hotel Tabor Center, or indulge in a hotel weekend shopping package (from $99). (303) 572-9100.

14 Train to ski. The scenery will knock your ski socks off on the weekend Ski Train to Winter Park Resort; $35 round trip from Union Station. (303) 296-4754.

15 Smooth ice. Skate your cares away at Evergreen Lake House in Evergreen. $2.50; (303) 512-9300.

16 Hoop it up. Watching the Denver Nuggets at McNichols Arena is one sure shot. From $10.50; (303) 830-8497.

17 Live steam. Climb aboard the Christmas choo-choo with Santa at the Colorado Railroad Museum near Golden. Dec. 5-6; $4; (800) 365-6263.

18 Hiss the villain. Scrooge, that is, in Ebenezer, the melodrama version of A Christmas Carol at Golden's Heritage square Music Hall. Buffet before the show. From $22.50; Nov. 12-Dec. 31; (303) 279-7800.

19 Skin-deep. Have a minifacial at the Oxford Aveda Salon & Spa next to the Oxford Hotel on 17th Street. From $45; (303) 628-5435.

20 Wallflowers welcome. Go two-stepping at the Grizzly Rose Saloon & Dance Emporium. Dance lessons free Wed, Fri, Sun; dinner for two about $20 plus cover charge for special concerts; (303) 295-1330.

- Lora J. Finnegan

Boise Area

21 Ice is nice. Two NHL-size indoor ice rinks just opened at Idaho IceWorld off Interstate 84 at the Boise Factory Outlets. $5.50, rentals available; (208) 331-0044.

22 Winter birding. Bald eagles and waterfowl winter along the Boise River Greenbelt. Best viewing: Barber Park area downstream from Eckert Road bridge. (208) 343-1328.

23 Hyde Park shopping. Stroll N. 13th and Eastman streets for antiques and specialty shops (fountain pens at Collection Connection Antiques) and restaurants (try Richards Bakery & Cafe). Collection Connection Antiques: (208) 343-6221. Richards Bakery & Cafe: 331-9855.

24 Night skiing. Runs at Bogus Basin Ski Resort, 16 miles north of town, are lit up like a Christmas tree. 4-10 P.M.; $20; (208) 332-5100.

25 Steamin' Steel. Boise's hottest ticket is the Idaho Steelheads' second season of minor-league hockey. From $15.75; (208) 331-8497.

26 Night lights. Hop a motorized trolley to tour Boise neighborhood lighting displays. Dec. 12-27; $5.50; (208) 342-4796.

27 Watch that hawk. See hawks, eagles, and California condors up close at the World Center for Birds of Prey, 6 miles south of Boise; $4; (208) 362-8687.

28 Tinsel time. Pick out a decorated Christmas tree at Boise Center on the Grove's Festival of Trees. Nov. 25-30; $5; (208) 367-2797.

29 Ski and soak. Cross-country ski the groomed trails of the Idaho City Park n' Ski Area, then soak in the hot pool at Warm Springs Resort. Ski permit $15; (208) 334-4199. Resort hot pool $5; 392-4437.

30 Welcome 1999. First Night Boise '99 rings in the new year with children's programs, a parade, and fireworks. Dec. 31; $8; (208) 336-4936.

- J.P.

Seattle Area

31 Artful Kirkland. This Lake Washington-side city is especially festive at the holidays. Shop along Lake Street, Central Way, and Park Lane - and don't miss clay sculptor Dennis Brown at work in the window of Reasons to Believe. Spirit of Christmas has 30 trees covered in ornaments you can buy, and has caroling and carriage rides. The new Kirkland Performance Center celebrates its first Christmas with the Village Theater's holiday revue, Christmas in the Northwest. Or see the Christmas lights from the water on Kirkland's annual Christmas cruise. Reasons to Believe: 92 Kirkland Ave.; (425) 8938159. Spirit of Christmas: 200 Central Way; 739-9627. Kirkland Performance Center: Christmas in the Northwest; from $18; 893-9900. Christmas cruise: Dec. 16; $35; 822-7066.

32 Painting party. At University Village's ceramic studio, Paint the Town, you can daub gifts that will be fired and ready in a week. Take over the whole place, after hours, for parties of 12 or more. Studio time and ceramic items from $9; (206) 527-8554.

33 Teddy Bear Suite. Lucky bruins loll around a lavish room at the Four Seasons Olympic Hotel; visit them, then sip tea in the Georgian Room. Free; tea $22; (206) 621-1700.

34 SAM lights up. Children light candles to celebrate the holiday traditions of different cultures at the Seattle Art Museum. 6 P.M. Dec. 3; free; (206) 654-3100.

35 Seattle sparkles. See holiday lights along Seattle waterways - Lakes Union and Washington, and Elliott Bay - with Argosy Cruises. From $10; (206) 623-1445.

36 A chateau Christmas. Woodinville's Chateau Ste. Michelle winery has beautifully lit grounds and a great gift shop. (800) 267-6793.

37 Bring us a figgy pudding. Downtown Seattle's Westlake Center glows with great decorations and sponsors a Figgy Pudding competition. Free; (206) 287-0762.

38 Clip-clop. Take a horse-and-carriage ride to view downtown decorations. 15-minute ride $25 for six; (425) 277-8282.

39 Arias and plies. Seattle Center's Winterfest brings lights, ice skating, and performances by the Seattle Opera and the Pacific Northwest Ballet. Most events free; (206) 684-8582.

40 Paddle into 1999. Navigate Lake Union in a kayak from Northwest Outdoor Center or a rowboat from the Center for Wooden Boats. Kayaks from $10 an hour; (206) 281-9694. Rowboats from $10 an hour; 382-2628. - Jena MacPherson

Portland Area

41 Slide down Mt. Hood. Is the weather outside frightful? The snow up on Mt. Hood should be delightful at Summit Ski Area in Government Camp. If you're not a downhiller, rent an inner tube for a day of snowplay. Afterward, grab a pizza at Mt. Hood Brewing Co. in Government Camp, or head 6 miles upmountain to the toasty fireside and fine dining of Timberline Lodge. Summit Ski Area: 54 miles east of Portland off U.S. 26; lift tickets $15, tube rental $7 a day; (503) 272-0256. Mt. Hood Brewing Co.: 2720102. Timberline Lodge: 272-3311.

42 Bookworms, unite. Lose yourself in Powell's Books on W. Burnside Street, the world's largest independent new and used bookstore. (503) 228-4651.

43 Zoo glow. Arrive at the Oregon Zoo early to see the animals; stay late to see ZooLights, with more than 500,000 lights, music, and puppet shows. Dec. 4-31; $5.50; (503) 226-1561.

44 Ship parade. Portland's parade of decorated ships alternates between the Willamette and Columbia rivers. Good viewing from Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Dec. 10-23; free; (503) 225-5555, ext. 2065.

45 View and chew. In northern Washington Park, admire the 1914 Pittock Mansion's lavish holiday decorations, then grab lunch at nearby Pittock Gate Lodge. Mansion: $4.50; (503) 823-3623. Gate Lodge: 823-3627.

46 Our kind of shopping. Taste world-class Pinot Noirs and finish gift shopping on a Willamette Valley winery tour. Most open 12-5 Sat-Sun in Dec.; free guide; (800) 242-2363.

47 Designer gingerbread. At downtown's Pioneer Place, mix a dozen architects with equal part pastry chefs, add gingerbread, and watch out. Dec. 2-26; free; (503) 228-5800.

48 More than lights. The east Portland religious shrine and gardens, the Grotto, also has carolers, choral concerts, puppet shows, hot cider. Nov. 27-Dec. 30; $5; (503) 261-2400.

49 Winter Zen. Be soothed by the Japanese Garden in its frosty and leafless simplicity, or stroll the adjacent Wildwood Trail (free). $6; (503) 223-1321.

50 Road trip. Drive over the Coast Range to Cannon Beach for a day of shopping and gallery-hopping - beach walking, too, if weather permits. (503) 436-2623. - Bonnie Henderson

San Diego County

51 The perfect hot tamale? Each December, San Diego's two busiest tortilla factories and a popular Barrio Logan lunch counter gear up for the holiday onslaught of tradition-hungry tamale aficionados.

El Indio has been a landmark tortilla factory and take-out joint since 1940. Porkyland is a tortilla factory and takeout in Barrio Logan. Las Cuatro Milpas, also in Barrio Logan, has been famous since 1933 for saucy beans and inexpensive tamales.

Find your own favorite shop by tasting your way through all three, but call first to check holiday hours and be certain that they haven't run out. El Indio: 3695 India St.; (619) 299-0333. Porkyland: 2196 Logan Ave.; 233-5139. Las Cuatro Milpas: 1857 Logan; 234-4460.

52 Grand theft Grinch. How the Grinch Stole Christmas runs at the Old Globe Theatre. Through Jan. 3; from $34; (619) 239-2255.

53 A whale of a holiday. With winter's clear skies, Cabrillo National Monument offers great views of migrating whales. Bring binoculars. $5 per car; (619) 557-5450.

54 Parade of Lights. Decorated private boats motor up and down San Diego Harbor. Best viewing at Harbor and Shelter islands. 6 P.M. Dec. 13, 20; free; (619) 236-1212.

55 O Sole Mio. Bundle up for a one-hour gondola cruise through the "canals" of Coronado Cays. $72 for two; (619) 221-2999.

56 Wild Christmas. Near Escondido, the Festival of Lights at San Diego's Wild Animal Park turns zoo into holiday fantasy. Dec. 11-23, 26-30; $7.95 after 4; (760) 796-5615.

57 Room at the inn? In Las Posadas, follow Joseph and Mary's wandering path from Heritage Park through Old Town. 6 P.M. Dec. 11; free; (619) 220-5422.

58 Del Mar Fairgrounds Holiday of Lights. Steer your car past 250 holiday scenes spread along the Del Mar racetrack. Dec. 26-Jan. 1; $8 per car; (619) 793-5555.

59 Tree lighting at the Hotel del Coronado. Watch them flip the switch at the 94th annual ceremony. 5:30 P.M. Dec. 2; free; (619) 435-6611.

60 Promenade in Balboa Park. Join carolers, dancers, and minstrels at the Prado's annual open house. 5-9 P.M. Dec. 4-5; free; (619) 239-0512.

- Peter Jensen

Los Angeles County

61 Christmas on the range. While fans mourn the late Gene Autry, the Autry Museum of Western Heritage in Griffith Park rides high with Gold Fever, an exhibit marking 150 years since the California Gold Rush. $7.50, $3 "Gold Fever" surcharge; (323) 667-2000.

62 Castle Green. A rare chance to step inside a landmark Pasadena hotel (now condominiums), celebrating its 100th birthday. Tours Dec. 6; $15; (626) 793-0359. Pasadena Heritage exterior tours Dec. 12; $5; 441-6333.

63 Las Posadas. Joseph and Mary seek shelter at downtown's El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument. 7 P.M. Dec. 16-24; (213) 625-5045.

64 O tannenbaum. Those arboreal enthusiasts, TreePeople, celebrate their 25th birthday this year. Head to their aerie (off Coldwater Canyon Ave. and Mulholland Dr.) and explore 7 miles of hiking trails. Free; (818) 753-4600.

65 Angels we have heard on high. They ride Angels Flight Railway, the 1901 funicular that connects Hill Street to California Plaza downtown. 25 cents one-way; (213) 626-1901.

66 Garden of earthly delights. La Canada Flintridge's Descanso Gardens celebrates with Christmas decorations and concerts. Dec. 5-13; $5; (818) 952-4401.

67 Holiday Boat Parade. Decked-out yachts cruise through Marina Del Rey's Burton Chace Park. 5:30 P.M.; Dec. 12; (310) 821-7614.

68 San Vicente Mountain Park. Hikers garner winter views from this Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy park, off Mulholland Drive near Havenhurst Drive. Free; (310) 8587272 or www.ceres.ca.gov/smmc.

69 Long Beach antiques. You'll find kitsch and classics in Long Beach's burgeoning antiques district. Fourth St. between Cherry and Orange avenues; Broadway and Ocean Blvd. west of Linden Ave.

70 Christmas in Hollywood. Santa reigns over Tinseltown during the Hollywood Christmas Parade. 6 P.M. Nov. 29; grandstand seats from $18; info (323) 769-5990; grandstand reservations (626) 795-4171.

- Gillian Andrews and Peter Fish

San Francisco Bay Area

71 A stroll from art to beauty. Classically elegant but mysteriously aloof, the California Palace of the Legion of Honor this month sponsors a major Picasso exhibit. Afterward hoof it west along the paved road below the palace - at road's end a trail enters the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Follow it for stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and, in a mile, the stirring memorial to the USS San Francisco. Return the way you came for a 2-mile hike. California Palace of the Legion of Honor: $7, $5 Picasso surcharge; (415) 863-3330.

72 Make a joyful noise. The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir stars at Slim's Gospel Christmas Eve. $12; (415) 522-0333.

73 It's a Barbie holiday. Honor the queen of dolls at downtown Palo Alto's Barbie Hall of Fame. $6; (650) 326-5841.

74 Be a good skate. Trip the ice fantastic at Kristi Yamaguchi Holiday Ice Rink in San Francisco's Embarcadero Center. $6; (415 956-2688.

75 Teddy Bear Tea. Bears put on airs at the San Francisco Ritz-Carlton's children's teas. Nov. 27-Dec. 30; $37; (415) 773-6198.

76 Feliz Ano Nuevo. Sing a rousing 'Auld Lang Syne" to the elephant seals at Ano Nuevo State Reserve, 25 miles south of Half Moon Bay. $5; (650) 879-0227.

77 Cook's tour. Chef on your shopping list? Join Shirley Fong-Torres's "Holiday Shopping in Chinatown" tours. From $25; (415) 981-8989.

78 All Klezmer, all the time. The critically acclaimed Yiddish musical Klezmer Mania! takes the stage at the University of California at Berkeley. Dec. 22-23; from $14; (510) 642-9988.

79 God bless us every one. The American Conservatory Theater's annual production of Dickens's classic will melt the hardest heart. Nov. 28-Dec. 27; from $14; (415) 749-2228.

80 Hit the heights. Ponder the year to come atop the Bay Area's most picturesque peak. Mt. Tamalpais State Park: $5; (415) 3882070.

- P. F.

Phoenix Area

81 Morning hike on Squaw Peak. Need to atone for the excesses of New Year's Eve? Hike up Phoenix's Squaw Peak Summit Trail.

The trail zigzags up the rocky, cactus-studded mountain, gaining some 1,400 feet in elevation in 1.2 miles to a height of about 2,600 feet. Benches let you catch your breath, but if you push yourself, you will burn off some of those December calories. And, at trail's end, you're rewarded with nearly 360 [degrees] views of the city below.

To find parking on New Year's Day, go at the crack of dawn or wait until afternoon. From State 51 head east on Glendale Avenue, which curves south, then east on Squaw Peak Drive. Summit trailhead is in the first parking lot on the north. (602) 262-7901.

82 Behind the scenes at Taliesin West. An in-depth, three-hour tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's historic architectural community in Scottsdale. 9 A.M. Tue, Thu; $35; (602) 860-8810.

83 Suns hoops. Good seats for Phoenix Suns home games are scarce, but you can still score upper-tier seats at America West Arena. From $13; (602) 379-7867.

84 Desert glow. Some 7,000 luminarias light the Desert Botanical Garden, with music and hot cider. Dec. 3-5; $10 in advance; (602) 941-1225.

85 Magnificent menudo. Too many trips to the wassail bowl? Head to Carolina's Mexican Food, on E. Mohave Street in Phoenix, for homemade menudo - the classic tripe stew said to be a surefire cure for a throbbing head. Pint $2.09, quart $3.79; (602) 252-1503.

86 Killer view. For the price of a $10 glass of Cabernet, you can watch the city lights from the patio of the Phoenician resort at the base of Camelback Mountain. (602) 941-8200.

87 Power dining. Martinis, cigars, and deal-making have always been in style at Durant's, the quintessential 1950s steak house where you can get a 3-pound porterhouse for $49.95. 2611 N. Central Ave.; (602) 264-5967.

88 Got milk? Got kids? Crow's Dairy Farm has barn tours, a hayride, and piles of feed to flop in. Wear old shoes. 10505 W. Broadway; 9-2 Sat; $6; (602) 936-4435.

89 Two-wheeling. At Phoenix Mountains Preserve, you can pedal 57 miles of desert bike trails. Wheels 'n Gear Bike Star rents mountain bikes and helmets starting at $24. Preserve: (602) 262-7901. Wheels 'n Gear Bike Star: 945-2881.

90 Ice-cool Tempe. Fantasy on Ice brings the joys of ice skating, complete with rentals and schmaltzy music, to the Centerpoint parking lot. Nov. 28-Jan. 17; $9 including skate rental; (800) 283-6734.

- Nora Burba Trulsson

Santa Fe Area

91 Las Posadas. There's no holiday celebration as moving as the annual procession of Mary and Joseph around Santa Fe's central plaza. Afterward convene for cider and cookies at the Palace of the Governors. 7 P.M. Dec. 20; free; (505) 476-5100.

92 Museum of International Folk Art. A fine place to visit at Christmas, especially with the opening of the new Neutrogena wing. $5; (505) 827-6350.

93 Red or green? We mean choice of salsa on your burrito. Try Cafe Pasqual's on Don Gaspar, and Tecolote Cafe on Cerrillos Road. Cafe Pasqual's: (505) 983-9340. Tecolote Cafe: 988-1362.

94 Madrid Open House. Funky, charming art town south of Santa Fe celebrates the holidays. Dec. 5-6, 12-13; free; (505) 471-1054.

95 Winter Spanish Market. Cousin of the summer Spanish Market, it features furniture, tinwork, and art. Sweeney Convention Center; Dec. 5-6; (505) 983-4038.

96 Santa rides the rails. Mr. Claus boards the historic Santa Fe Southern Railway. Dec. 19-20, 22-24; $21; (505) 989-8600.

97 Bishop's Lodge. Generations of visitors have stayed here, and a December brunch or dinner is a special treat. (505) 983-6377.

98 Christmas at the Palace. Enjoy storytelling and carols at Santa Fe's historic Palace of the Governors. 5:30 P.M.; Dec. 17-18; free; (505) 476-5100.

99 Jackalope. On Cerrillos Road, the essential stop for Southwest stocking-stuffers, laughable to lovely. (505) 471-8539.

100 Farolitos. The essence Of Southwestern Yuletide; Santa Fe's best display is Christmas Eve on Canyon Road. (505) 984-6760.

- P. F.
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Title Annotation:one hundred best ways of entertaining holiday guests in 10 of the West's largest cities
Author:Fish, Peter
Publication:Sunset
Date:Dec 1, 1998
Words:3527
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