Sports Getaways for Nov. 23-26

Updated: November 15, 2006, 6:26 PM ET
By Ron Berler | Special to ESPN Sports Travel

  MAIN EVENTS

Sat., Nov. 25

NCAA FOOTBALL: NOTRE DAME AT USC
L.A. Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles

The Notre Dame-USC game is always big, but now that Charlie Weis has revitalized the Irish program into one that can compete with Pete Carroll's juggernaut, this classic rivalry should have BCS implications on an annual basis. QB Brady Quinn leads the No. 6 Irish into the L.A. Coliseum (3911 S. Figueroa St.) to challenge QB John David Booty and the No. 4 Trojans.

Web site: http://usctrojans.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/usc-m-footbl-body.html

Do: Head to Hollywood Sun., Nov. 26, for the 75th annual Hollywood Christmas Parade. This kickoff to the Christmas season stretches 2.5 miles along Hollywood and Sunset Blvds., and attracts more than one million people. They come to see the flamboyant marching bands, glitzy floats, elephants, camels, cartoon characters, equestrian teams and Santa Claus. But most of all, they come because they're guaranteed to see film and TV celebrities. Last year's stars included Mickey Rooney, Kathy Griffin, David Hasselhoff, Eartha Kitt and Tonight Show bandleader Kevin Eubanks. Sidewalk viewing is free, but crowds get thick, making it difficult to see. Best bet: Purchase a reserved grandstand seat on Hollywood Blvd., between Orange Dr. and Highland Ave. (Tickets).

Stay: Stay in downtown at the 4-star Wilshire Grand Hotel (930 Wilshire Blvd.), where rooms start at $108, or at the 4-star Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel (711 S. Hope St.), with rooms from $129.

Eat: Reserve a table at Cut (9500 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, in the Four Seasons Regent Beverly Wilshire, Web site), Wolfgang Puck's latest steakhouse extravaganza. Order the true Japanese 100 percent Wagyu beef 6-ounce filet mignon from Niigata Prefecture, Honshu, Japan or the prime, Illinois corn-fed 20-ounce Kansas City sirloin. Don't forget your wallet.

Sat., Nov. 25

NCAA BASKETBALL: FLORIDA VS. KANSAS
Orleans Arena, Las Vegas

This matchup at the Las Vegas Invitational, at Orleans Arena (4500 W. Tropicana Ave.) promises to be one of the best of the season: Defending NCAA champion and No. 1 Florida, powered by junior F/C Joakim Noah, selected as SEC preseason player of the year, vs. defending Big 12 champ No. 3 Kansas, led by Associated Press Preseason All-American sophomore G Brandon Rush.

Web site: http://www.orleansarena.com/press/06-invitational.html

Tickets: Tickets

Do: Do? You're in Vegas, baby! Hit the tables, maybe the sports books, have an awesome meal, see a show. Here's our plan: Start at one end of Las Vegas Blvd. S. (a.k.a. The Strip) and work your way to the other. Check out the world-class artwork at Wynn Las Vegas (3131 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Web site), then visit the legendary sports book at Caesars Palace (3570 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Web site).

Stay: Stay on the Strip without spending an arm and a leg (until you start betting). Book a room at the 4-star Monte Carlo Resort and Casino (3700 Las Vegas Blvd. S.), where rooms start at $133. Or try the 4-star Luxor Hotel (3900 Las Vegas Blvd. S.), with rooms from $134.

Eat: Yes, it's over the top. Yes, it's expensive. But if you're a steak lover, you owe it to yourself to dine at Prime Steakhouse (Web site), celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's gift to carnivores. Order the 12-ounce filet mignon or the porterhouse.

  UNDERCARD

Sun., Nov. 26

NFL: BEARS AT PATRIOTS
Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Mass.

Although the Pats have slipped after a 6-1 start, this is still a potential preview of Super Bowl XLI. Certainly, New England hopes it's not a rerun of Super Bowl XX, when the Bears scored a crushing 46-10 victory. Chicago QB Rex Grossman will try to win a big one on the road against three-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady and the Pats at Gillette Stadium (1 Patriot Place).

Web site: http://www.patriots.com/homepage/

Do: With so much riding on this game, take some quiet time beforehand at a place where you can sit and think -- the ultimate spot to chill. That would be Walden Pond, 24 miles northwest of downtown Boston in Concord, Mass. Hike the 1 ½-mile trail around what is surely the world's most famous lake, to the cabin (915 Walden St., Web site) where the naturalist and philosopher Henry David Thoreau lived in solitude for two years, from 1845-1847. It is there he gathered material for Walden, his ode to communing with nature.

Stay: Stay in the Back Bay/Copley Square district. Try the 4-star Omni Parker House (60 School St.), where rooms start at $139, or the 4-star Radisson Hotel Boston (200 Stuart St.), with rooms from $149.

Eat: Dine at Abe & Louie's (793 Boylston St., Web site), the city's best old-time steakhouse. Ask for the bone-in filet mignon, or, heck, just go for it all: the 40-ounce prime porterhouse for two.

Tue.-Sat., Nov. 21-25

NCAA BASKETBALL: CARRS/SAFEWAY GREAT ALASKA SHOOTOUT
Sullivan Arena, Anchorage, Alaska

The nation's longest-running early season NCAA basketball tournament is now in its 29th year. This year's field of eight features Cal and Pacific, both of which played in last year's NCAA Tournament. Will this be the year that host school Alaska-Anchorage finally pulls off the big upset and wins it? Head to Sullivan Arena (1600 Gambell St.) to find out.

Web site: http://www.nmnathletics.com/

Tickets: http://www.goseawolves.com

Do: Stay up late -- very late, past midnight. We promise it will be worth it. That's when the Aurora Borealis -- the Northern Lights (Web site) -- shine. They come in huge, curtain-like waves of yellow, green, red, yellow and purple. Like the weather, they're unpredictable and don't occur every night. But many local hotels offer a Northern Lights wakeup service for their guests.

Stay: Stay downtown at the 4-star Hotel Captain Cook (939 W. 5th Ave.), where rooms start at $145, or the 3-star Sheraton Anchorage Hotel (401 E. 6th Ave.), with rooms from $99.

Eat: Chow down at Club Paris (417 W. 5th Ave., Web site), the state's finest steakhouse. Order the 14-ounce filet mignon or the 16-ounce New York steak.

  DEALS

KAUAI/MAUI, HAWAII

Various airlines are offering flight deals to Kauai. Tickets are limited, so hurry: Orbitz deals: Hawaii

Why Hawaii? You mean, other than the weather, the ocean and Don Ho? Because this is the week of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, designed to feature the winners of the sport's four majors. This year, Tiger Woods (British Open and PGA Championship) and Geoff Ogilvy (U.S. Open) will be joined by Mike Weir (winner of the 2003 Masters, who replaces 2006 Masters champ Phil Mickelson, who is taking the rest of the year off) and Jim Furyk (2003 U.S. Open). The action takes place Tue.-Wed., Nov. 21-22, at Poipu Bay Golf Course (1571 Poipu Rd., Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii, Tickets), an ocean links-style course considered among the finest in the nation.

Between rounds, go whale watching on a two-hour late-afternoon/sunset chartered cruise (Holoholo Charters). Or fly to Maui for the EA Sports Maui Invitational, at Lahaina Civic Center (1840 Hono'apiilani Hwy., Lahaina, Tickets), which features four top 25 NCAA basketball teams: No. 6 UCLA, No. 13 Memphis, No. 21 Georgia Tech and No. 22 Kentucky.

PALM SPRINGS

Various airlines are offering flight deals to Palm Springs. Tickets are limited, so hurry: Orbitz deals: California

More golf! John Daly, Fred Couples, Fred Funk and Stephen Ames face off in the LG Skins Game Sat.-Sun., Nov. 25-26, at Trilogy Golf Club (60-151 Trilogy Pkwy., La Quinta, Tickets). One million dollars is at stake in this, the 24th edition of the event. Couples is the most successful Skins Game player ever, having won in five of his 11 appearances -- a total of 77 skins worth $3,515,000.

Between rounds, repair to the Spa Resort Casino (100 N. Indian Canyon, Palm Springs, Web site), a gaming hotel eloquent enough to challenge the Vegas Strip. After fattening your wallet, sooth yourself in what the resort boasts are its "natural healing waters."

  SCHEDULE WATCH

Fri.-Sat., Nov. 24-25
Big games, big college football rivalries. There are plenty of choices. You'll have to choose. Here are our favorite three: Visit Austin's Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium (2100 San Jacinto Blvd.) Fri., Nov. 24, to see No. 11 Texas take on Texas A&M. Or travel to Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium (1 Stadium Dr.) Fri., Nov. 24, to see No. 5 Arkansas host No. 10 LSU, led by QB JaMarcus Russell and WR Dwayne Bowe. Or trek to Tallahassee's Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium (Pensacola St. and Stadium Dr.) on Sat., Nov. 25 to see Florida State, behind QB Drew Weatherford, face cross-state rival No. 3 Florida, led by QB Chris Leak and WR Dallas Baker.

  SPORTS PLUS

Thu., Nov. 23

THANKSGIVING WEEKEND EXTRAVAGANZA,
Various locations, Atlanta

Work up a Thanksgiving Day appetite running -- or by watching others run -- in the annual Atlanta Marathon (starting line: outside Turner Field, 755 Hank Aaron Dr. S.E.; Web site). Eat, eat, eat. Then head to Macy's at Lenox Square (3393 Peachtree Rd. N.E., Web site). Each Thanksgiving, a giant, live decorated pine tree is hoisted to the roof of a local department store to kick off the holiday season. This year, more than 50,000 will gather in front of Macy's to watch the tree go up and see Leann Rimes perform. That night, head to the Woodruff Arts Center (1280 Peachtree St. N.E., Tickets) to watch a newly digitally remastered print of The Wizard of Oz, accompanied by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, performing the original score, live. On Fri., Nov. 24, visit the world-class High Museum of Art (also at 1280 Peachtree St. N.E., Tickets) to see its new exhibit, Louvre Atlanta -- hundreds of artworks from Paris's Musee du Louvre, on loan to the High.

Then head Sat., Nov. 25, to Athens, Ga.'s, Sanford Stadium (Sanford Dr.), 73 miles east, to see Georgia host No. 18 Georgia Tech in the state's biggest football rivalry.

  INTERNATIONAL PICK

Fri.-Sun., Nov. 24-26

MEXICAN WINTER LEAGUE BASEBALL: LIGA MEXICANA DEL PACIFICO
ĮGUILAS DE MEXICALI AT NARANJEROS DE HERMOSILLO
Hector Espino Gonzalez Stadium, Hermosillo, Mexico

The baseball season is not over. Things are just heating up in the Mexican Winter League. First-place Naranjeros de Hermosillo, whose star player is former Oakland DH Erubiel Durazo, hosts a three-game weekend series at Hector Espino Gonzalez Stadium (Blvd. Solidaridad, Tickets) against Įguilas de Mexicali, whose most recognizable player is 1B Fernando Valenzuela Jr. The son of the former star Dodgers pitcher played last season for the Arizona Diamondbacks' Class AA affiliate Mobile Bay Bears.

Between games, tour the city (Web site) -- the political and cultural capital of the state of Sonora. Don't miss the government palace, the Cathedral of La Asuncion or Zaragoza Square, distinguished by its Moorish kiosk. The beaches of the Gulf of California are less than an hour's drive away.