ICE AND FOAM: Of the dozens of things associated with a California Christmas -- oranges in stockings and Santa on a surfboard and Bing Crosby singing about a non-"White Christmas" in Beverly Hills -- the ocean-close skating rink swirls with fantasy, sunshine, and some truly great photo opportunities. After all, ice by the ocean? Usually one sees a polar bear in the picture. And it certainly doesn't occur naturally in the Golden State ("Golden" is a clue that an icy sand stretch is just not going to happen on its own). But every year the rink builders make for a number of sandy stretches to set up a temporary rink. And one of our favorites? The cold oval at Hotel del Coronado.
HOLIDAY DEAL: The reason we're sweet on this ice is two-fold. One? It's pretty close to the ocean. Nope, waves won't lap at your skates, but if you wore a bathing suit under your sweater and jeans, you could be stripped down and in the surf within a minute or two of unlacing your skates. And two? The hotel offers a deal during December. It's called the Sea & Skate and it starts at $225 on a weeknight (yep, it goes up on weekends). Yep, there's a room involved for that price, plus a skate session for up to four people (four people being two grown-ups and two younger skaters). Could this be a pre-Christmas present for the fam? Oh goodness, we do like a good pre-Christmas present. It's also running the week after Dec. 25, too, if you like gifts to be given on the big day. Skates and suits on, skaters/swimmers.