WHEN WE PICTURE PLACES... in our mind's eye, we tend to associate a distinctive sensation with the location. Perhaps it is the feeling of sand beneath our tootsies at the beach, or the crunch-crunch of leaves when we ponder the Sierra in October. And when our musings turn to The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, the castle-like landmark in Riverside? Well, an eye-pleasing twinkle is apt to make our thoughts go sparkly. That's because the hotel hangs lots of lights — literally millions of them, as in four or so million — each holiday season, creating a full-scale glow show, something that's seen, via TV and magazines, far beyond its Inland Empire location. But mavens of The Mission Inn know that its arches and towers and courtyards are ready-made for other seasonal celebrations, too, including the one that arrives just ahead of the Festival of Lights: fall, and all of its pumpkin-y pleasures.
OH, DID WE SAY "PUMPKIN-Y"? Why yes, we most certainly did. That's because the structure, which has its early roots in the 1800s, has collected nearly 700 examples of autumn's star gourd and lined walkways around the historic hotel, all to enhance that quintessential fall feeling. If spying so many noble squashes on The Mission Inn grounds only furthers your fall feelings, look into the seasonal sips at the hotel's Presidential Lounge. And might there be a stay-over package that's tied to the crisp feel on the breeze? There is: It's called Fall at The Mission Inn and there's a luxe overnight room, $25 towards eating/sipping around the property, two cupcakes, and, wait for it fall people, a pair of hot apple ciders, the most autumnal libation on the planet (fact). To spy a storied structure with the icons of fall dotting its charming paths, make for Riverside while autumn hangs ever so happily in the air.