Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Idyllic Idyllwild


Looking for something to do after Thanksgiving? Have I got the place for you! One of my favorite retreats, Idyllwild, is less than 3 hours away and is an artsy, funky, little mountain town . One year I wasn't in the mood to "Deck the Halls" for Christmas (let's face it multiple trips up and down the ladder to the attic and 2-3 days of work isn't a joy). Also, I wanted to de-stress and NOT COOK after ye old Thanksgiving feast. Other than passing through on my way to Palm Springs, I hadn't invested any time in this retreat in the pines (Lake Arrowhead is usually my ballywig), so I recruited a traveling pal and....... ROAD TRIP!!!

Idyllwild has lots of lodging choices ranging from camping, cabin rentals, a few motels, and some upscale Bed and Breakfasts. Finding a B&B with twin beds is like searching for a needle in a haystack, but my online search yielded The Rainbow Inn on Strawberry Creek, http://www.rainbow-inn.com/. We were definitely NOT disappointed. Its outside welcomed us with lit Christmas trees in the front yard and the sounds of a creek nearby. The location amid the pines and within walking distance to town was perfect. We found inside to be even more delightful. Our friendly innkeepers, Lon and John, were FABULOUS. Amenities included 600 thread count sheets, wi fi Internet connectivity, cable TV, DVD players complete with an extensive library to borrow from, mini refrigerators, and more. Some rooms have fireplaces, but ours didn't. We found the Ben Franklin standing fireplace amid extensive nutcracker collection quite cozy. This top floor lounge with its adjacent veranda, was lavishly decorated for Christmas right up to the chandelier in the dining room. The comfy sofas with hand made afghans draped over them encouraged napping with Christmas music in the background softly playing and a gorgeous Christmas tree close by-AHsome! Arriving mid week between the holidays we were lucky to have the place to ourselves feeling right at home. Did I mention the OMG breakfasts??? Can't say enough about those.

Idyllwild does get snow and some very foggy roads due to its 3,000 ft elevation. Check weather conditions in winter season before you go-you might need chains.

This town is not lacking for good eats. We loved The Bread Basket for lunch, 51710 N. Circle Drive. They serve very reasonable breakfast and dinners also . We savored great homemade soup accompanied with fragrant, homemade bread one cool day. 951-659-3506. Our favorite dinner spot (as well as that of the locals) was Cafe Aroma. Proprietor Hubert Halkin, retired UCSD Math professor, serves up great food, reasonable prices, and ample portions. There is live music/poetry readings etc. most nights. Since it is so popular you might want to make a reservation especially weekends and in season.

For the outdoor enthusiast Idyllwild has 200 miles of dirt roads, 40 miles of bike paths, and hiking trails. Shopaholics rejoice-this town boasts over 12 art galleries offering everything from handmade jewelry, paintings, sculptures, photography, woodwork, and more. It's a great place to find that unique gift. If you have been in my home you might spot some souvenirs within.

Culturally, the town is famous for its thriving arts academy. August boasts a jazz festival. October offers an art walk and wine tasting, the Great Pumpkin Parade, and the Idyllwild Haunted Ghost Town. There's even an annual Home Tour and film festival.

While my purpose is to gear up and be inspired for Christmas, this town is a world away if you want just a retreat. My future plans always include going to the Art Walk/Wine Tasting or the Jazz Festival but most of the time I just want to escape crowds. Halloween, however could be my next sojourn there. Try it-you'll like Idyllwild!

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