Whether it’s your first Christmas vacation or you already have a tradition of vacationing during the holidays, here are five diverse ideas to start a new family tradition.
Charleston, South Carolina
For some, Christmas means snow and for others it means poinsettias. If you’re in the second group, then the warm Charleston climate, where the poinsettias were introduced to the U.S., is the place to be. View more than 2 million Christmas lights as you drive the three-mile stretch in the city’s annual Holiday Festival of Lights. The festival begins in November and goes through the end of the year and includes train rides, family-friendly activities and even a 50-ton sand sculpture. Holiday packages for Charleston start around $140 and can be tailored around shopping, dining or entertainment.
If you want a winter wonderland, head to Yellowstone or Yosemite National Park. Yellowstone’s stunning landscape of geysers, steam vents and hot springs take on a new life in the cold. The park’s Old Faithful Snow Lodge caters to people who want to be in the park during the winter season. Make reservations early, as the lodge tend to fill up between Christmas and New Year’s. Although Yosemite’s landscape is equally impressive during the Christmas season, during the holidays the park is better known for its traditional Bracebridge Dinner. Described as a “a four-hour pageant of classic carols, Renaissance rituals and entertainment of the Middle Ages,” this dinner began in 1927 when the Ahwahnee hotel first opened.
If, in the spirit of Christmas, you want to give back this December, why not head to the place where the Christmas story began. Volunteers attending the international work camp in Bethlehem work in various locations throughout the city — including near the church of the Nativity. Volunteers also assist the municipality as it prepares for the Christmas season. Learn more about the program on the Volunteers for Peace website.
What could be more fun for children than Santa and Mickey Mouse? On select nights between November 8 to December 20, Disney turns on the Christmas theme with holiday lights, magic snow and a Christmas parade. Parade features classic Disney characters as well as the Gingerbread men and Santa’s elves. One day tickets start at $62. If you prefer a colder climate head to Santa’s Village nestled in the White Mountains of New Hampshire where Santa is always on hand. This year-round amusement park keeps a dozen rides open during the holiday season and decorates the park with holiday lights. Tickets are under $30 — and lodging can be found in nearby communities.
New York City
No list of Christmas vacations would be complete without New York City and it magnificently lit Christmas tree at the Rockerfeller Center. Family member can also enjoy ice skating in the Center’s outdoor rink. While in town, head over to Radio City and take in any one of their splendid Christmas programs — from the Nutcracker to their awe-inspiring Living Nativity — as these shows come to life in a way only possible at Radio City. Hotels in Manhattan start at around $200 a night.