Merry Times at the Mission Inn

MISSION TRADITION: We're just over a fortnight from the moment when 3.5 million lights get switched on at the Mission Inn in Riverside. It's the start of the historic property's annual Festival of Lights, which typically kicks off in grand, toy-soldier-y fashion the Friday following Thanksgiving. A lot of people visit the hotel to dine or simply gaze upon all the yuletide-i-ness during the Festival's run, but there are some excellent stay-over packages going down during the merriment.

"HOLIDAY MAGIC": This is probably our favorite of the bunch. It's a mid-weeker, meaning you'll need to stay Sunday through Thursday. But the all-over glow will be glowing as powerfully as on any Friday or Saturday, so you'll get that same Christmas feel, and for less. Plus you'll pocket a $25 credit that can be used in a Mission Inn eatery. And all for $199 and tax. Not coal-like at all.

THEY'RE SERIOUS: This is a major thing. A lot of hotels will put a note about an upcoming event on a main web page, which is great and usually helpful, but consider that the Festival of Lights scores its open separate URL. Serious.

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