Champagne Dinner at the Mission Inn

Enjoy a swanky sip while standing inside a California castle.

A GLASS OF SOMETHING SPARKLY: There are many picturesque spots in which to quaff a glass of Champagne. You can do so among the vines where the grapes were grown, if you make your way to France. You can do so on a boat, or with the ocean as a backdrop, perhaps with sunset thrown in for good measure. And finding a stunner of a structure, one with lofty towers and grand colonnades and castle-like touches, definitely weaves well with most bubbly-based fantasies. If your daydream has long been to quaff French bubbles in a castle, you'll come pretty darn close in Riverside on Friday, July 8. Yes, that's Riverside, as in California, and the castle we speak of is, of course, the Mission Inn. The hotel is throwing an Under the Stars Champagne Dinner, and the "under the stars" part isn't simply poetic fancy. The swanky summer truly will be served under the night sky, at the landmark's International Rotunda. And while French sips will be a star, so will dishes from...

THE MISSION INN'S FOUR RESTAURANTS: Each course, and dessert, will feature "a signature dish" created by one of the hotel's four eateries. A Champagne reception starts off the $150 evening, and a docent-led talk about the hotel's history will add further flavor to the proceedings. There are five courses in all, plus bubbly, plus hotel stories, plus the general feel of dining in a multi-room castle, only a castle built in the citrus-y heart of the Inland Empire. Call it a Gallic Golden State kind of gala, one that has all the trimmings of a party on the Continent, with the closeness, and charm, of historic Riverside. For information call the hotel at 951-784-0300.

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