In the 2004 holiday flick “Christmas with the Kranks,” the couple angers their neighborhood by planning to ditch the Christmas festivities for a Caribbean cruise. But you don’t have to ditch Christmas just by taking a vacation. Here are five spots in America where your holiday destination for a trip includes the spirit of Christmas.
Christmas in New York
When people tell me their Christmas travel plans, New York City gets the most responses outside of relatives. From Broadway shows to the lighting of the tree at the Rockefeller Center, you’ll have no shortage of things to keep you busy. And the walking tour will boast how New Yorkers launched many Christmas traditions we enjoy today. The NYC package, which includes Santa and the skyline, goes for $273 for a couple for an unforgettable pair of days. Have your own “Miracle on 34th. Street” this year.
Christmas in Dixie
After listening to Alabama’s classic holiday hit “Christmas in Dixie,” you’ll be looking for “snowin’ in the pines.” And there’s no better place to find that than Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Ground zero for your holiday plans should be “The Inn at Christmas Place.” Weekday rates go for $159 to $239 on weekends, depending on the rooms. But hurry as they’re going faster than Santa’s sleigh. There’s Dollywood, Gatlinburg, Winterfest, the Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival, among a host of other events in the Tennessee mountains. If the Christmas Inn is booked, try this site for alternatives near Winterfest.
Christmas in California
The unhappy San Francisco couple from the film “Four Christmases” might have enjoyed a trip to Lake Tahoe instead of dealing with annoying relatives. My brother’s been out that way and had nothing but good things to say about the experience. You’ve got lake cruises, carriage rides, skiing in Squaw Valley, the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, with package details here. But like other places, tickets and hotels are going fast.
Christmas in the Midwest
I’ve spent Christmases in Chicago, St. Louis, and Milwaukee. Chicago and St. Louis are fine destinations, but Milwaukee gets the edge for being a little more homey and better on your budget, with no sacrifice in quality. There’s the historic Third Ward, German food as well as dancing and other traditions, the decorated Pabst Mansion that should remind one of the Gilded Age, and a Performing Arts Center that does a rendition of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas.” And don’t miss the ice skating at Red Arrow Park. This review should sell you on this Midwestern City as a future Christmas destination (check here for package deals). If you can swing a room at The Pfister, it would make the experience complete.
Christmas in Florida
Given that all four regions are pretty well covered, it’s time to look at Disney. We took the kids down to a family reunion in Orlando and got our money’s worth with a great experience. The parks were great, of course, with the added bonus of Christmas lights and shows. Find out more details here at the Disney site itself or the Orlando Vacation Store, with everything from the affordable to the special hotels on site. Just try not to miss Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.