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A glowing igloo at Winter Wonderland at the Lakehouse Hotel and Resort in San Marcos is the place bride Briana Wilhite of Palm Desert, third from left, chose to celebrate her wedding with friends. Photo by Jerry Ondash
A glowing igloo at Winter Wonderland at the Lakehouse Hotel and Resort in San Marcos is the place bride Briana Wilhite of Palm Desert, third from left, chose to celebrate her wedding with friends. Photo by Jerry Ondash
ColumnsHit the Road

Winter Wonderland on the shore of Lake San Marcos

Emily DeVries is on ice skates for the first time and predictably, it’s not easy.

The 9-year-old San Marcos resident is employing a child-sized walker to help keep herself upright. Her friend Mia Bugge, who has skated a few times more than Emily, is also trying to help.

“It’s challenging,” says Emily, who has been at it for about 20 minutes.

The girls and their parents have come out on this crisp December night to enjoy Winter Wonderland, a holiday event staged by the Lakehouse Hotel and Resort at Lake San Marcos.

A holiday express train takes passengers young and old around the grounds of the light-studded Winter Wonderland, which runs through Jan. 1 at the Lakehouse Hotel and Resort at Lake San Marcos. Photo by Jerry Ondash
A holiday express train takes passengers young and old around the grounds of the light-studded Winter Wonderland, which runs through Jan. 1 at the Lakehouse Hotel and Resort at Lake San Marcos. Photo by Jerry Ondash

“This is a fun holiday activity,” says Michael DeVries as he watches his daughter slip and slide across the rink.

“I think they did a wonderful job with the decorating,” says Alexis Bugge, Mia’s mom. “I’m impressed.”

Besides the (faux) ice skating rink, Winter Wonderland offers a North Pole train; hayride around the Lake San Marcos neighborhood to see the lights; a giant Christmas tree; stars and ornaments scattered around the grounds; a light tunnel; hot food, sweet treats and cocoa; adult beverages served in flashing, plastic snowballs; lots of lights; and at certain times, crafts for kids and visits with Santa.

Carlsbad resident Sherri Dolan enjoyed a holiday “snowball” cocktail during her visit to Winter Wonderland at the Lakehouse Hotel at Lake San Marcos. “This area has a great vibe,” she said. Photo by Jerry Ondash
Carlsbad resident Sherri Dolan enjoyed a holiday “snowball” cocktail during her visit to Winter Wonderland at the Lakehouse Hotel at Lake San Marcos. “This area has a great vibe,” she said. Photo by Jerry Ondash

“I’ve been seeing (the ads) for probably a month and I came last Thursday,” says Victoria Wood of Elfin Forest, as she and her family enjoyed burgers and other fare around a fire pit on the Lakehouse grounds. “This is their first time. I love Christmas movies and I feel like I’m in a Christmas movie. This has a small-town feel.”

Sherri Dolan, a Carlsbad realtor, admits her flashing-snowball cocktail was a bit of a splurge, but after all, it’s the holidays.

“I just came from the Leo Carrillo (Ranch Historic Park) tree lighting ceremony,” she says with a high level of enthusiasm. “This area has a great vibe. I’d like to live here.”

A ‘faux-ice’ rink is one of several family activities featured at Winter Wonderland at  Lake San Marcos. Here, Mia Bugge, right, of San Marcos, who has been on skates before, helps her friend and fellow 9-year-old Emily DeVries, also of San Marcos, who is on skates for the first time. Photo by Jerry Ondash
A ‘faux-ice’ rink is one of several family activities featured at Winter Wonderland at Lake San Marcos. Here, Mia Bugge, right, of San Marcos, who has been on skates before, helps her friend and fellow 9-year-old Emily DeVries, also of San Marcos, who is on skates for the first time. Photo by Jerry Ondash

For those who want to celebrate the holidays or anything else with up to eight friends and/or family members, there are “glowing igloos,” which can be rented for two hours. The $400 cost includes a seasonal charcuterie board, dessert platter (serves eight) and two bottles of wine.

Briana Wilhite of Palm Desert found this the perfect way to celebrate her wedding with seven friends “from my different walks of life,” as well as the birthday of one of these friends. The group was seated on pillows around a low table, sharing laughs, stories and food and wine.

This is the first year the Lakehouse has staged Winter Wonderland, located on the shore of Lake San Marcos. The event is open 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday-Sunday through Dec. 15; and daily 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 16-Jan. 1, excluding some dates. Check schedule or call 760-744-0120.

For more photos and discussion, visit www.facebook.com/elouise.ondash.

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