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In the Loop

(by) Donna McCrohan Rosenthal–

January sends mixed signals – cold weather, rain and occasionally fog – but fine opportunities pop through the clouds nonetheless, as you will read in this month’s roundup of short hops and trips around the Golden State.

Donna Rosenthal

Month-long, many California cities and towns host Restaurant Weeks when you can enjoy prix fixe deals: in Gold Country, farm-to-fork specials during Sacramento’s Dine Downtown (January 12–21) and Elk Grove Restaurant Week (January 12–21), or the Central Valley during Stockton Restaurant Week (January 19–28). In the Bay Area, choose from Napa Valley Restaurant Week (January 19–28), Vacaville Restaurant Week (January 19–28), and the all-month Concord Comfort Food Month.

January also affords prime time for whale-watching as gray whales make their annual migration to Baja. See them along the North Coast at Mendocino Headlands State Park and Point Arena Lighthouse, or book a spot on a whale-watching charter in Mendocino County. Near San Francisco, look for them at the tip of Point Reyes National Seashore. Off the Central Coast, visit Oxnard for a tour near Channel Islands National Park or head south to Dana Point, to observe from an underwater viewing pod. (Dana Point has the distinction of first Whale Heritage Site in the Americas.)

To the northwest in San Francisco, the Exploratorium offers “Discover the Art of Light” through Sunday, January 28 with luminous artworks big and small, including U.S. premieres: touch quantum physics and play experimental LED dungeon crawlers; find yourself beneath a vast glowing moon; compose and create with large-scale sound and light experiences; and 415-528-4444). Also in San Francisco through Sunday, January 21, the California Academy of Science showcases “the largest land animals that ever lived, sauropods, with colossal dinosaur models, hands-on interactives, and programs for junior paleontologists” (415-379-8000).

Down below in LA’s Exposition Park, the California Science Center presents “Blue Whales,” “Island of Lemurs,” and ”Journey to Space” (this one narrated by Patrick Stewart) in IMAX on various January dates  (323-724-3623).

In Buena Park, the Knott’s Berry Farm Peanuts Celebration runs weekends Saturday, January 27 through Saturday, February 24 (714-220-5200).  In Costa Mesa at Segerstrom Hall, “An Evening with Itzhak Perlman” presents the 16-time Grammy-Award winning violinist (honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008) joined by master pianist Rohan De Silva on Wednesday, January 24 (714-556-2787).

Southwest on the coast in Simi Valley after unprecedented demand, the Reagan Presidential Library and Museum extends “Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away” through Sunday, January 28, a collection of more than 700 original objects of great historic and human value that reflect the horrors of Auschwitz and the Holocaust (800-410-8354).

To the south, the star-studded Palm Springs International Film Festival screens upwards of 200 films from around the globe, January 4-15 (800-898-7256).