There’s certainly no place like home for the holidays, but sometimes our family homes are scattered across the country or everyone is so completely stressed out that a holiday vacation is the answer. Actually nothing brings a family closer together than experiencing a new destination together. And once your kids have outgrown the footed pajamas under the tree phase, there’s nothing better than planning a relaxing escape to a destination that specializes in memorable holiday celebrations.
As your family explores new cultures and vistas, you’ll find yourself snapping pictures of smiling faces and group hugs. So give yourselves the ultimate gift of a spending time together and relaxing where someone else does all the work. Here are our picks of the most magical destinations in America for spending the Christmas and New Years holidays:
Chateau On The Lake in the Ozark Mountains, Branson, Missouri
If music makes your Christmas, head to Branson Missouri, the live music capital of America, and where Andy Williams still sings your favorite holiday music. You’ll be singing along with 40 live shows offered daily and Broadway style shows like “It’s A Wonderful Life, A Dickens’ Christmas Carol, The Living Nativity show, and Rudolph’s Holly JollyTM Christmas Light Parade”.
Traditions are front and center at the 4-diamond Chateau On The Lake that overlooks Table Rock Lake with a variety of promotional packages that include tickets to the Old Time Christmas Festival at Silver Dollar City. Here you’ll find 1,000 trees decorated with an estimated 5 million holiday lights, life-size nativity scene and gingerbread houses. This year the resort is celebrating a “Victorian Homecoming” and will treat you family to a nostalgic turn-of-the-century holiday experience.
Savor The Elegant Simplicity of a Colonial Christmas in Williamsburg, Virginia
From the earliest days of life in America, colonial settlers crafted lovely holiday decorations from the natural elements at hand. Perhaps nowhere else in America are the holidays celebrated in such simple, elegant and meaningful fashion as they are in Williamsburg, Virginia. The colonial village has become famous for their beautiful doorways and homes decorated with pine bough swags, clove-studded fruits and hand-dipped bayberry candles. Wander Colonial Williamsburg Village sipping hot spiced cider, learning about American history and admiring the impressive collection of early American homes. Check the events calendar for performances of Washington’s Peaceful Christmas, a Harlequin’s Holiday (think Marx Bros. meet the Three Stooges), and Christmas Music Through The Ages. There are many holiday events in the Twelve Days and Nights Before Christmas.
Nearby Kingsmill Resort offers a number of holiday packages including tickets to Christmas Backdrop Town at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Other festivities include Liberty’s Ice Pavilion, the Grand Illumination and Feast, and performances of A Christmas Carol at Merchant’s Square. Or perhaps you would like fright in your night – you won’t be disappointed with the Colonial Ghost Tour that visits 19 locations with frightful tales. Or on the tamer side, a Taste of Williamsburg tour might be more to your liking. Families will find Williamsburg and nearby Busch Gardens full of wonderful Christmas celebrations.
Celebrate a Country Christmas in Nashville, Tennessee
The home of the Gaylord Opryland Resort is surely a great gathering spot to celebrate a country music Christmas with the whole family. There are so many attractions and performances you’ll hardly know where to begin. Selections include; The Nutcracker performed on ice, four fun ice slides, The Frostbite Factory where you can see ice sculptors at work, full-size Nativity Scene carved from ice, Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas – The Musical, Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt and Larry Gatlin and The Gatlin Brothers in concert. Or you may want to get outdoors in the fresh air to enjoy ice skating, snow tubing, carriage rides and displays of more than 2 million dazzling holiday lights!
Breathe The Fresh Mountain Air With a Christmas in Colorado Springs
With the beautiful snow-capped mountains surrounding Colorado Springs your kids will think that the North Pole can’t be far away. Take them on an adventure to Santa’s Workshop (aka the North Pole), a Christmas-themed family amusement park. You’ll meet Santa and his elves and ride on more than two dozen unique holiday themed rides. And if you want to keep close tabs on Santa’s holiday travels, tune into the NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) Santa tracking service. NORAD who’s facilities are buried deep inside Colorado Springs’ Cheyenne Mountain keeps an ultra accurate countdown on he travels of the big guy!
What would Christmas be without a train ride? Colorado Springs offers two memorable Santa train excursions. Climb famed Pikes Peak on a two-hour round trip journey aboard the Cog Railway. The train climbs halfway up Pikes Peak with Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves along for the ride. Or dress your kids in their cozy ‘jammies’ and travel the Royal Gorge Route to the ‘North Pole’ village, sipping hot chocolate and hearing holiday stories read by Santa’s Elves along the way. This is a night they will long remember!
Another evening adventure is a visit to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Electric Safari in its 25th year. Decorated with nearly 1 million sparking lights, you will be charmed by select animal exhibits and holiday cheer at America’s only mountain zoo. And the fun isn’t over yet! Visit Cripple Creek for a Gold Camp Christmas and take a self-guided tour of the ghost town decorated with gala light displays. Or take a Lighted Headframe guided tour that begins at the Aspen Mine Center and travels to the Victor Parade of Lights. Finally, not to be missed is a visit to Miramont Castle for a true Victorian holiday experience. The Castle is lavishly decorated with entertainment and homemade goodies just waiting for your visit.
For Active Family Adventures Visit St. George, Utah
The small city of St. George offers over-sized adventures in red rock canyons and dramatic cliffs of nearby National Parks. The Mojave Desert environment means temperatures stay temperate and landscapes free of icy snow during winter months. Take your teens to this outdoor wonderland to enjoy hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, running, and golf, all framed by beautiful Zion National Park, Snow Canyon State Park and the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. Everyone will be wowed by the Dinosaur Discovery Site which has some of the best preserved dino-tracks on earth. Be sure to plan to attend a Christmas in the Canyon performance at the Tuacahn Amphitheater.
There Are Few Places as Exciting as New York City for the Holidays!
A visit to New York City during December is exciting for every age, which may account for the expected 5.2 visitors during holiday season. The variety of activities, performances and celebrations is simply breathtaking. Here’s an overview of some of the most noteworthy NYC attractions: Holiday-central has to be Rockefeller Center where the dazzling Christmas lights are world famous. Take a glide around the iconic skating rink and visit Radio City Music Hall for a Rockettes Christmas performance. Certainly a stroll through Times Square is a must and you’ll want to take in a play (perhaps Elf the Musical or the Nutcracker Suite ballet). You’ll find holiday marketplaces set up in Rockefeller Center, Union Square, Columbus Circle, Grand Central and Coney Island. Whimsical train exhibits are constructed at the Botanical Gardens in the Bronx and at Grand Central Station in the NY Transit Museum Gallery. The Empire State Building puts on gala light shows from 12/20 – 12/24 and you just can’t miss a walk down 5th Avenue to take in all the fabulous store windows. And there can be no more spectacular stay than The Plaza Hotel for a once in a lifetime NY experience – check out their special Christmas packages.
If you need some assistance touring NYC, we suggest taking a tour with OnLocationTours.com, FreeToursByFoot.com or ASliceofBrooklyn.com If you’re traveling with young children consider the tours offered by NYCKidsTours.com for their interactive fun with sightseeing games and fun challenges designed by their team of teachers.
And of course there’s always a visit to Disney World to make the magic seem real, or take family cruise to tropical isles. So consider starting a new tradition this year with a festive vacation to take the stress out of the holidays!