MISSION INN – Riverside, CA – By: Simone Graham – Editor HDG – I remember going to the Mission Inn ten years ago to see the holiday decorations and maybe catch the carolers singing in and around the corridors and lobby at the hotel. It was beautiful, but I certainly do not remember it looking then what it looks like now during this season. I think I first saw the display in 2006 when there were only (only) 2.5 million lights. The city got involved that year and 2006 and the Festival of Lights spread to the surrounding area of downtown with an ice skating rink, vendors, and live entertainment.

Now it is a 5 million light display with vendors up and down the promenade that stretches from University Avenue to 5th Street. It is stunning to look at and most of it can be seen from the outside. If you go on a weekend, you will be looking at it from the outside because it is a three-hour wait in line to get inside onto the hotel grounds. I talked to one of the guards at the front entrance to find out just how long the wait is on a weekend night and he said that is how long it takes. He also told me that early weekday nights are the best time to come. The fifteen minutes you will wait in a line that evening is nothing compared to the marathon wait with the crowds Friday through Sunday night. I asked if the carolers sing during the week and he told me that they are usually in the employee rooms warming up their voices when he gets there during the week to change into to his uniform.

Check your Google maps to see the parking structures available between Mission Inn Avenue and 10th Street. Street parking by meters is available.

AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY MAGIC OF LIGHTS – This is great for kids, but I think adults, at least adult males, are looking for more of that spectacular light tunnel at the very end of the car tour. The least expensive ticket is $25 for a car or SUV. Limousines and other vehicles that seat more people cost more. The entrance is off Randall and takes your car through the parking lot on the north side to get in the queue with the other cars. When you get close to the gates for the light show, they will sell you a ticket if you do not already have one or wave you on through if you do. You can save $5 by purchasing online or you can stop by O’Reilly Auto Parts and pick up a ticket for $17. Visit their website for more information at Auto Club Speedway Magic of Lights and Magic of Lights Fontana

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