It's Dec. 25, more popularly known as Christmas Day. You've exchanged gifts (or haven't), played all the holiday music, watched all the Christmas movies. Now you're bored and looking for something to do.
But everything is closed—or is it?
You'll notice a number of things to do—some for free—from local and Bay Area Jewish organizations. The Jewish gift-giving December holiday of Hannukah has come and gone, but the giving season that crosses religious and cultural lines remains. In addition, some restaurants are open, the movie theaters are playing holiday blockbusters, and parks around the region are welcoming visitors, as are the holiday skating rinks.
Here's a list of things to do, that will may help make the Christmas holiday even a bit more fun and special for you and your family.
Not all restaurants are closed Christmas Day. Here are suggestions for a few restaurants that are open in Los Altos and beyond. Here at home, two of our favorite Chinese restaurants will open their doors at 11am. And we've got links to a few other affordable restaurants nearby. Hunan Home's Restaurant at 4880 El Camino Real and New Wing Wah at 132 State Street will serve you a tasty lunch or dinner. From Open Table, here are links to a few other nearby restaurants serving special holiday dinners: Beausejour in downtown Los Altos, Bistro Vida in Menlo Park, (French); The Menu - Artisan Indian Cuisine in Mountain View; MacArthur Park in Palo Alto (American), Ristorante Don Giovanni in downtown Mountain View, and The Menlo Grill inside the Stanford Park Hotel in Menlo Park (American/California).
2. Go to the movies
The movie theaters near Los Altos will be open Christmas Day. So that could be a good opportunity to see one of the films that just opened that you know you won't have another opportunity to get to see anytime soon. You can head either to the two-screen CineArts@Palo Alto Square at 3000 El Camino Real in Palo Alto or the Century Cinema 16 multiplex at 1500 N. Shoreline Boulevard in Mountain View.
The Oshman Family JCC throws its annual comedy and Chinese food extravaganza on Dec. 24. Laugh a lot at Chopshticks with Avi Liberman, an Los Angeles-based comedian. The JCC says he uses his combination of life experiences and topical issues, "making him a favorite in comedy clubs across the U.S. and Israel." The Oshman Family JCC is at 3921 Fabian Way in Palo Alto. Tickets are $47 for JCC members and students and $50 for non-members. Price includes hors d'oeuvres and dessert. Wine bar available.
The Addison-Penzak Jewish Community Center is offering a Chinese lunch and a movie with friends, 1-3 p.m. Watch An American Tail, an animated film that tells the story of Fievel Mouskewitz and his family as they emigrate from Russia to America for freedom. Fievel gets lost and must find a way to reunite with his family. Cost is $15 for JCC members, $20 for non-members. The JCC is located at 14855 Oka Road in Los Gatos. The ticket deadline was Thursday, but contact Lisa at (408) 357-7492, email@example.com to see if tickets are still available.
5. Ice skate, amusement rides in San Jose
The big city to the south has a lot to offer on Christmas Day. First, there's Christmas in the Park at downtown San Jose's Cesar Chavez Plaza. Although there won't be any performers Christmas Day, you still get to see the holiday decorations and the park sporting a look it has no other time of year. Up for the gazing are the community giving tree, the gingerbread house, the reindeer wishing well and the reindeer barn among many other displays. And best of all, it's free. Then if you like, you can head over to Downtown Ice, which is right across the street. The South Bay's largest seasonal outdoor skating rink is open Christmas Day 2 p.m. to midnight; New Year's Eve noon to 10 p.m.; New Year's Day 2 p.m. to midnight. Downtown Ice offers several ways to save up to half off on admission. And don't forget Winter Wonderland on the surrounding streets, consisting of carnival-style amusement rides open 1-11 p.m.
6. Take in the holiday lights in parks and neighborhoods...
Consider swinging by Vasona Lake County Park in Los Gatos to see the Fantasy of Lights display before you head home, at 333 Blossom Hill Road. Fantasy of Lights is a 1.5 mile drive-through holiday lights and display entertainment extravaganza for the whole family, already in its 12th season. It's $15 per vehicle with up to nine guests. Global Winter Wonderland, an holiday lantern festival extravaganza that produced by the International Culture Exchange Group last year, is now at Great America Park in Santa Clara and is open Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. They boast additions including more than 70 gigantic Chinese lanterns, a new laser light show, a seven-story Christmas tree lantern, and Rudolph and Hermey the Elf. A limited set of Great America rides are also included. Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for kids, and there are discount deals available on through various deal sites, including $20 for two adults, for AAA members, and $9-16 on Groupon.
Locally, K. Dworkin Tweeted that Trekaroo has a list of some great neighborhood holiday light displays that have gone on for years, including Christmas Tree Lane" in on the 1700 and 1800 blocks of Fulton Street in Palo Alto, and Estate Drive in south Los Altos.
7. Ah, yes. San Francisco
You might want to consider the free museum day at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, especially if you have children in tow. Come to the CJM on December 25, when admission is FREE, courtesy of Target's Community Day, for everyone, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The current exhibit celebrating "The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats" includes art-making activities (create Keats-inspired book bags and add to the Keats community mural). Performances by musical group, Octopretzel are 11:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. (Get the free tickets, which are very limited, at the entrance). Box lunches are available at the museum cafe. Located at 736 Mission St. (between Third and Fourth streets) in San Francisco.
You can also go ice-skating at The Holiday Ice Rink at Embarcadero Center, now through Jan. 2, 2010, including all day Christmas Day. The rink is at Justin Herman Plaza, adjacent to Four Embarcadero Center and across from the Ferry Building. Or try the Safeway Holiday Ice Rink in Union Square. And the indoor Yerba Buena Ice Skating Center is open for public skating on Dec. 25 during afternoon and evening hours. The Yerba Buena Bowling Center is also open Christmas Day, beginning at noon to 8 p.m.
(And if you've heard of the grandma of all Jewish comedy-Chinese food events on Christmas Day, the famed Kung Pao Kosher Comedy, it's sold out. You can call (415) 522-3737 after 1 p.m. and see if you can get a seat at the door of the New Asia Restaurant)
8. Talk a walk in the park or go for a bike ride
Rancho San Antonio is a great place to take a hike or take out those new Christmas bikes. The park covers 165 acres and is one of Santa Clara County's most popular parks. Remember—bicycles are restricted to the paved trails! The park is adjacent to the 2,135-acre Midpeninsula Regional Open Space Preserve and connects to Hidden Villa Ranch. There are more than 23 miles of trails. And if any model airplanes were part of your Christmas booty, enthusiasts can use the rough grass areas adjacent to the parking lots to try them out.
9. Imagine distant shores at Shoreline Mountain View Park
For another take on Christmas, head over to Shoreline at Mountain View Park and breathe in the scent of 50-acre saltwater lake. If wind-surfing gear was under your Christmas tree, this might be a place to try it out. Shoreline has long been popular, not just for boating, but for windsurfing, too. But there's more. Shoreline is also a wildlife sanctuary and home to many rare, migratory birds, such as the burrowing owl. There's trails that go around the lake and tidal marshes. It can be a real get-away and you may find there's something to the tagline that the park uses to advertise itself, "a civilized respite in Silicon Valley." For more information and a map, click here.
10. Spend a little time with someone who is alone on the holidays
The Bay Area is made up of lots of caring and giving people, so many of the volunteer organizations that are providing holiday dinners already have helpers. But many people get overlooked during the holiday season, especially folks who live alone. So visit a neighbor who is alone and engage in a little conversation. Bring some cookies or a small cake. Take your young ones to a senior center to visit with residents there. Again, bring some cookies and holiday spirit along with you. You'll make them feel good and you'll feel good as well. And if no neighbor comes to mind, here's a few suggestions of retirement communities in our vicinity: Bridgepoint, 1174 Los Altos Ave., 650-948-7337; Pilgrim's Haven 373 Pine Lane in Los Altos, 650-948-8291 or The Forum in Cupertino at 23500 Cristo Rey Drive 650-944-0100. But call ahead first, to see if it's OK to visit.