CHARMS APLENTY: Monterey and Carmel and Pacific Grove and all of the gorgeous surrounding areas don't have to stretch far when the holidays roll around, in terms of putting on the charm. The charm is already there, like, year-round, right? You could be in any of those places on a muggy July Tuesday, with not much planned, and you're still soaking up far more sweetness and general beauty than in many places. (If you're not currently in the Monterey Bay area, we're of course not speaking about your location, but somewhere else.) So when December drives into town, in a pick-up truck covered in twinkling lights, Monterey gets an extra dose of specialness.
ICE SKATING BY THE BAY: The city's annual yuletide rink opens on Saturday, Nov. 17 at the Custom House Plaza. If you know the area, you know that is just a pinch behind the Portola Hotel & Spa, so it makes sense for the hotel to fashion a festive package each year around its icy, oh-so-brief neighbor. But the Portola's done just that with its Stay & Skate Free Package.
THE DEAL: Stay at the Portola between Nov. 19 and Jan. 6 and receive a few winter-perfect goodies, like skating for two at the Custom House and hot chocolate at Jack's Lounge inside the hotel. The cost kicks off at $179 a night.
MORE HOLIDAY DOINGS: There are a number of other December goings-on around the Monterey-Carmel nexus, of course, that you may want to work into your non-ice-skating schedule. The Holiday Parade of Lights in Pacific Grove is plenty sparkly -- that's on Dec. 6 and the Christmas in the Adobes tour later that weekend in Monterey is a local tradition.