The California Bucket List: Your daily guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State

Plan now for a Christmas journey to the faux North Pole or Paris

If you want to see the Rockettes' Christmas show or take a spin on the Polar Express, reserve now.

New York City's famed Rockettes turned up on the city's streets in mid-August dressed as toy soldiers and rag dolls. There was even a little bit of snow falling.

The dancers and performers were out to remind folks that summer isn't too early to buy tickets to the Christmas show held each year at Rockefeller Center.

It's a good reminder. Here are some tours and trips ready to book if you plan to have yourself a merry little Christmas.

-- The Polar Express journey aboard the Grand Canyon Railway in Williams, Ariz., takes kids and parents to the North Pole. OK, it's not really the top of the world, but a stand-in west of Flagstaff that twinkles with lights and includes Santa Claus, hot chocolate, cookies and a reading of "The Polar Express."

Hourlong rides in afternoons and evenings run from Nov. 7 through Jan. 3, with a Christmas Eve Limited run on Dec. 24. Tickets cost $20 to $49 for children 2 to 15, and $39 to $69 for adults.

Info: Grand Canyon Railway/Polar Express, (800) 843-8724

-- Want to shop at Printemps and Galleries Lafayette or just see Paris decked out for the holidays? La Jolla-based Adventure Vacations offers a four-day trip that includes stays at the Tim Hotel at Gare de L'Est, round-trip nonstop airfare from Los Angeles, all meals, drinks, shopping discounts and baggage charges.

Daily departures start Nov. 1. Cost is $1,389 per person, based on double occupancy (which increases a bit Dec. 19 because of higher holiday airfares).

Info: Adventure Vacations, (800) 600-5587

--Christmas markets are once-a-year street events that pop up during the runup to the holiday in Germany and elsewhere in Europe. Artisan foods and specially crafted gifts are sold in open-air booths in city squares. Travel company Tauck recently increased the number of river cruises it runs during late November and December to showcase the Christmas market scene.

Travelers spend eight days on the Rhine between Cologne, Germany, and Basel, Switzerland (cruises run in both directions), starting at $2,550 per person; or on the Danube from Nuremberg, Germany, to Vienna for $2,590 per person. (Prices are based on double occupancy; airfares are extra.)

Info: Tauck, (800) 468-2825 or contact a travel agent.

--New York City's Rockettes put on a dazzling Radio City Christmas Spectacular every year. Tickets are on sale now for $45 to $249, depending on the seat and the date, and shows run from Nov. 7 to Dec. 31 at performances in New York City.

The show also goes on the road. It will be in Omaha from Nov. 13 to 30; Nashville from Nov. 21. to Dec. 24; and Houston, Dec. 5 to 28.

Info: Radio City Christmas Spectacular

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