Two-million twinkle lights shine bright for the holidays in the nation's oldest city Nov. 22 through January. There are many special events during the Night of Lights, including evenings tours of historic buildings and inns led by storytellers in period clothing, train and trolley tours through the narrow brick streets, art walks at more than 30 galleries, a regatta and even a Christmas parade.
For a schedule of events, go to www. getaway4florida.com/nights.
Six inns, calling themselves the Inns of Elegance and including Casablanca Inn, Inn on Charlotte, Bayfront Westcott House, Bayfront Marin House, St. Francis Inn and Casa de Solana Inn, are offering package deals during the event. For information and reservations, contact the Inns of Elegance toll-free at 1-877-616-6444 or go to www.innsofelegance.com.
The 15th annual Holiday Tour of Inns, which includes wine tastings and trolley trips of the decorated inns, is Dec. 13 and 14. The $35 tickets, good for both days, sell fast for this event. For more information, call (904) 819-3566 or go to www.staugustineinns.com.
A book for stargazers
Do you love visiting the planetarium? Are you fascinated by the history of NASA? Is seeing the Northern Lights on your life list?
If so, Guidebook for the Scientific Traveler: Visiting Astronomy and Space Exploration Sites Across America by Duane S. Nickell (Rutgers University Press, $21.95) can help you plan your next trips.
The book includes chapters on visiting planetariums, space museums, NASA research and flight centers, and optical and radio telescopes and observatories that offer tours, such as the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, the Lick Observatory near San Jose, Calif., the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz., the National Solar Observatory in Sunspot, N.M., and the Arecibo Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico.
Art extravaganza in Miami
Art Basel Miami Beach, the annual art show and sister event of Switzerland's Art Basel, will be Dec. 4-7 in the city's Art Deco district.
Art Basel Miami Beach showcases selections from 220 galleries around the world. The four-day art extravaganza also includes public art projects, video art, performance art, music performances, movie screenings and other contemporary art events.
Details at www.artbaselmiamibeach.com.
Vacation rental, good or bad?
Renting a house or apartment can be cheaper than staying in a hotel in many places around the world, especially when you factor in the cost of eating out three times a day compared with preparing some of your meals in a kitchen. The November Budget Travel magazine offers a "Vacation Rental Handbook" to help you navigate the many choices for staying in someone else's property.
Advice from Budget Travel includes checking references, buying insurance, finding out what's included (linens? towels? DVD player? Internet access?), asking whether the property is childproof, if pets are allowed and whether there is air conditioning.
The magazine also recommends some vacation rental Web sites, including HomeAway.com, Rentalo.com, ResortQuest.com, VRBO.com and Zonder.com.
Happy 200th birthday, Abe!
Many states have established Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commissions to celebrate Lincoln's 200th birthday in 2009.
Washington, D.C., plans more than 80 exhibits from January through April, including a re-enactment of Lincoln's second inaugural ball Jan. 31 in the historic building that now houses the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery. Ford's Theatre, where Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, will also reopen after an extensive renovation.
Kentucky has established a Lincoln Heritage Trail with a downloadable map at www. kylincolntrail.com to guide visitors to Lincoln sites across the state where he was born. Indiana, where the future president grew up, has a guide to Lincoln sites and events at www.in.gov/lincoln. In Illinois, where Lincoln was elected to the state Legislature and Congress, concerts, lectures, re-enactments and other festivities are being held at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield (www.alplm.org).
Nearly a dozen cities plan to host forums on race and equality, including Washington, Baltimore, Chicago and Philadelphia.
For more information, go to lincolnindc.com, and the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, www.abrahamlincoln200.org.
Compiled from Times staff, wires