5 Things to Add to Your Winter Break Bucket List
Winter break is just around the corner! No matter what you celebrate, where you live, or whether you're traveling or staying close to home, there are plenty of ways to enjoy time off from school and work. If you're looking to book a last-minute day of fun (or simply need ways to get out of the house before everyone gets bored of each other) try some of the activities below. With a mix of indoor and outdoor activities, they're all well-suited for family outings, romantic dates, and fun get-togethers with old friends.
See a light show
The days are short—but nearly everyone has decorate their house or business with lights! No matter where you live, there's sure to be a festively-decorated neighborhood or main street in town; many places offer guided light tours. Botanical gardens, museums, zoos, and public parks put on fantastic light displays and shows throughout this time of year.
Columbus, Ohio is an especially great place to see light shows—the city was named one of the best in the country for holiday light displays by Best Life. Utilize the Experience Columbus Holiday Lights Pass for discounted admission to some of these bright attractions. Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens hosts its annual Conservatory Aglow through January 7, enhancing the gardens' year-round beauty with immersive light displays, outdoor games, a lively dance celebration, festive igloos and a life-size gingerbread house. Finally, one of the Midwest's favorite family holiday traditions, Wildlights, returns to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium for its 35th year. Happening now through January 7th, the yuletide season comes alive with millions of LED lights, animated musical light shows, performances by local bands and choirs and visits from Santa and his reindeer. Downtown, the free Columbus Commons Holiday Lights powered by the AEP Foundation features more than 400,000 LED lights aglow through New Year's Day.
Visit a small town
There's nothing quite like a quaint town's main street all decorated for the Christmas season, with small family-owned shops, hidden-gem restaurants, and friendly locals. If you live in a big city, try heading out of town to find a great small community to support while doing holiday shopping. You might even feel like you're in your own Hallmark movie!
Georgetown, Kentucky is a great option if you're nearby. Georgetown pulls out all the stops to celebrate the holidays. In this picturesque and walkable Victorian-style downtown, visitors are whisked away into a quaint and joyful Christmas town. Shoppers can check off every item on their holiday lists at the one-of-a-kind locally-owned shops and boutiques lining Main Street: Georgetown Antique Mall; Heirlooms & Gretchen’s stained-glass studio; Birdsong Quilting, Embroidery and Crafts; Hockensmith's Fine Art Editions Gallery and Press – featuring the works of world-famous equine photographer John Stephen Hockensmith – and so many more. The local businesses celebrate all season long with festive decorations and holiday specials.
Go ice skating in a city park
This time of year, many cities open up an ice skating rink in a park. It's a lot more magical than a typical indoor rink; there's nothing quite like gliding around in the chilly air as the sun sets and glistens against skyscrapers. In Detroit, Michigan, visitors and locals can enjoy The Rink at Campus Martius Park. Michigan's premier family-friendly outdoor ice rink located right in the heart of Downtown welcomes nearly 100,000 people annually. Following its festive opening weekend, The Rink will be open daily, including holidays, through March 3, 2024. Skating with Santa, ugly sweater parties, and learn to play clinics will be held throughout the season as well.
“Winter in Detroit is a magical experience for both residents and our millions of visitors,” said Claude Molinari, president and CEO of Visit Detroit. “That is why Visit Detroit is proud to continue collaborating with the Downtown Detroit Partnership to support The Rink at Campus Martius Park. Nothing epitomizes the enchantment of Detroit during this season more than skating outside with family and friends.”
Have a tea party
Cozy up indoors for a festive drinks and treats with an afternoon tea at a local restaurant. It's a great excuse to wear fancy holiday attire one more time, and can be an especially fun activity for young kids. Pair it with a matinee or evening performance of The Nutcracker or other local holiday shows. In Colorado, the Trinidad History Museum hosts "The Nutcracker" Tea Party with Trinidad Tea Company teas, as well as Victorian Christmas Tea Party events offering traditional and themed tea foods promising a historic holiday experience for all.
Spend the day at an amusement park
This time of year, theme parks go all out with special decor, events, food and treats, and more. In Tennessee, Dollywood goes all out for the season with their Smoky Mountain Christmas. The spirit of Christmas shines merry and bright during at Dollywood from November to January, and the new Joyful drone show adds even more holiday fun for guests to enjoy. The 15-time winner for Best Theme Park Christmas Event boasts more than six million shining, shimmering lights throughout the park, but the newest ones will fly above the park each evening as part of a stunning holiday drone show. This larger-than-life display embraces the season with hundreds of drones soaring in the air and displaying festive reds, greens and whites in a captivating show sure to delight every guest. Smoky Mountain Christmas captivates visitors with the rich essence of the holiday season thanks to its gleaming holiday lights, award-winning stage productions, Christmas culinary masterpieces and warm family customs that have enriched the festival for more than three decades.
Colorado has long been renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and year-round outdoor adventures, and during the holidays, it transforms into a winter wonderland. Colorado's allure during this special season lies in its ability to seamlessly combine timeless traditions with thrilling new adventures. From annual events to celebrate the season and memorable winter activities to festive lodging packages and dining experiences, Colorado is the place to celebrate the most magical time of the year. See magical sights and light displays Snow, Christmas lights, and the tree during the day in Denver, Colorado by Colin Lloyd - Unsplash Most trips begin with a flight into Denver, Colorado. Make sure to take in all the magical sights that the Mile High city has to offer this time of year. Stop by Denver's Union Station for a glance at the 40-foot tall Christmas tree. Just south in the suburb of Littleton, visitors can see the Trail of Lights at Chatfield Farms (November 24 – January 1), a 1-mile path that is illuminated with thousands of Christmas lights and epic lighting displays synchronized to music, creating a magical atmosphere on the 1880s Hildebrand Ranch homestead. Then, on December 10th is the Cherry Creek Chanukah Celebration; an outdoor menorah is lit and attendees can enjoy festive treats, face painting and crafts. Also, through January 7th, the Denver Botanic Gardens hosts Blossoms of Light, an annual holiday light extravaganza that transforms the gardens into a shimmering wonderland with a 360-degree immersive light experience. Don't miss The Colorado Ballet's production of The Nutcracker, a cherished holiday tradition offering joy and merriment to visitors as they kick off the season. Several holiday markets also pop up across the state during the holiday season. The Denver Christkindl Market (November 17 - December 23) transforms Civic Center Park into a miniature German village with live music, holiday shopping and food vendors serving traditional German Christmas market specialties such as gingerbread biscuits, grilled sausages and the beloved gluehwein. Heading north from the city, be sure to stop at the Garden of Lights (December 8 - 23) in Fort Collins, one of Northern Colorado's favorite holiday traditions featuring a half-mile loop of perennial flower beds, sculptures, a holiday village and other garden creatures—all crafted entirely from holiday lights. There's also Loveland's Winter Wonderlights (November 18 - January 1), a captivating free light show that enchants visitors with over 200,000 lights, live reindeer, ice sculpting, music and dance performances. Over in Telluride, the Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade showcases ski resort employees gliding down the mountain with torches, making it a unique and unforgettable spectacle. Take a mountain train ride Telluride, Colorado turns into a winter wonderland in the snow by Thomas Kelley - Unsplash For a touch of nostalgia, Colorado's historic trains take travelers on a journey through winter wonderlands. The Leadville Railroad Holiday Express offers a magical ride through snowy mountains with scenic views. The Santa Express Train with the Royal Gorge Route Railroad leads passengers to the North Pole and back, complete with a visit from Santa. The Polar Express Train Rides at the Colorado Railroad Museum and the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, both offer unparalleled holiday experiences. The Georgetown Loop Railroad's Winter Holiday Trains are one of Colorado’s most authentic living history experiences and offer timeless adventures through scenic vistas decorated with more than 300,000 holiday lights. Experience the Royal Gorge Bridge at its most festive For the second time, America’s highest suspension bridge will become a winter wonderland. In December, the Royal Gorge Bridge will transform into an interactive drive-thru holiday lights experience, The Bridge of Lights. Cookies and cocoa are also available for purchase as you enjoy the drive across the sparkling bridge. Stay a night in the backcountry A trail through Crested Butte, Colorado by Taylor Brandon - Unsplash In Crested Butte, those seeking outdoor adventures can embark on a cross-country ski or snowshoe trip into the serene backcountry. The Magic Meadows Yurt, heated by a wood-burning stove, is accessible only on skis or snowshoes through a 1-mile groomed trail. Visitors can warm up with cocktails or enjoy local brews while savoring a Colorado-inspired meal and live music. For equally festive accommodations that are less rugged, the C Lazy U Ranch transforms into a snowy paradise for the holidays offering a delightful combination of Rocky Mountain scenery and festive fun, including gingerbread house making, Christmas karaoke and a special visit from Santa via horse-drawn sleigh. Enjoy merry, seasonal dining experiences Indulge in a unique Snowcat Dinner at Aspen's Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, where a picturesque cabin in the Rockies serves exquisite dishes with breathtaking views. If you find yourself in Arapahoe Basin for New Year's, try the New Year's Eve Moonlight Dinner Series; it combines chairlift rides, chef-prepared global cuisine and mountain vistas for an unforgettable celebration. In Grand Junction, The Hotel Maverick’s restaurant, Devil’s Kitchen will transform its rooftop terrace into an amazing snow globe dining experience against panoramic views of the Grand Mesa and Colorado National Monument. Cozy up and enjoy a festive meal of regionally inspired dishes and specialty craft cocktails in private illuminated igloos and gondolas. There's also Miracle on 7, Estes Park's own Christmas-inspired pop-up cocktail bar that transforms Cousin Pat's Pub & Grill into a festive atmosphere with kitschy holiday decorations, expertly crafted cocktails and more. The Ramble Hotel in Denver will transform Death & Co’s intimate Suite 6A into an elegant holiday bar with floor-to-ceiling décor and a festive selection of specialty cocktails and bites only available in the pop-up ski lodge-inspired suite. Also in Denver, The Brown Palace is an iconic hotel renowned for its holiday offerings including a traditional holiday afternoon tea (November 13 – January 21) and special Christmas and New Year's Eve dining events. Get a taste of holidays past with historic activities A cold winter evening in Glenwood Springs, Colorado by Nate Hughes - Unsplash The historic Fort Restaurant in Morrison, designed to resemble an 1800s fur trading post, offers a unique holiday dining experience serving traditional dishes like bison and game meats. Also in Morrison, the Tesoro Cultural Center's Las Posadas (December 24) is an annual Christmas Eve celebration that reenacts Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem, featuring children's participation, traditional music, piñatas and complimentary treats like biscochito cookies and Mexican hot chocolate. For a cozy and rustic adventure, 2 Below Zero in Frisco offers mule-team-driven sleigh rides with chuckwagon dinners and live music, while Steamboat Springs provides a Wild West touch with its Haymaker Sleigh Ride Dinner. In Glenwood Springs,Hotel Colorado provides an enchanting and classic Colorado Christmas experience, where visitors can immerse in the rich holiday tradition that dates back to 1893 featuring beautifully decorated fir trees, half a million holiday lights, an annual tree lighting ceremony, breakfasts with Santa and festive touches around each corner. Celebrate the holiday season in Victor and Cripple Creek as the Gold Camps come alive with dazzling holiday lights adorning mine headframes (November 24 – December 31). Enjoy a festive self-guided tour, complete with holiday music and beautiful light displays in this historic mining region. Finally, experience the unique charm of the holiday season in Denver before 1924 by touring the beautifully decorated Center for Colorado Women's History and enjoying a delightful tea service during their Holiday Tea special events (November 25 – December 16). Head outdoors for snowy excursions A herd fo elk in Estes Park, Colorado by Greyson & Thomas - Unsplash Located in Granby, between Winter Park Ski Resort and Rocky Mountain National Park, true to its name, YMCA of the Rockies -Snow Mountain Ranch is the ultimate winter wonderland. The 5,100-acre property offers Nordic skiing and snowshoeing on 85K of groomed, world-class terrain, private and group cross country ski lessons and rentals, dog sled experiences, winter horse drawn sleigh rides, ice skating, indoor archery and rock climbing, indoor swimming, nostalgic roller skating, and much more. Accommodations include hotel-style lodge rooms starting at $104 per night and Nordic ski-in and ski-out, pet-friendly cabins starting at $199 for a 2 bedroom. There are several activities to participate in during the winter season: New this year, the Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center will offer full moon ski and snowshoe experience, with lights on the trail and hot chocolate.. The full moon events will take place on Friday, January 26, 2024 and Friday, February, 23, 2024.The Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center offers 85K of groomed, world-class country ski terrain meandering through pine forest, wide meadows and along a mountain creek. An annual tradition for many families and friends is the Christmas Tree Cutting Experience. Purchase a tree-cutting ticket and head out on a winter adventure to find the perfect Christmas tree. Overnight guests can cut down a tree for free.Meet the team, including the six new Snow Mountain Ranch dog sled puppies, and tour the beautiful property on a Snow Mountain Ranch dog sled adventure. Reservations are required for both the long and short sled dog rides. There's also the YMCA of the Rockies Estes Park Center (in Estes Park). Guests can enjoy a number of on-site, seasonal activities during the day – including sledding, snowshoeing, ice skating, roller skating, indoor swimming or rock climbing and more – and return to their cozy lodge room or private cabins at night. And the town of Estes Park itself is a must-visit winter destination – with its annual Catch the Glow holiday festival, local boutique shops, and charming restaurants. Ice skating is a favorite winter tradition at the Estes Park Center. This year, guests can grab their free skate rentals and twirl, glide, and jump to their heart’s content. For a warm-up on select dates, they can stop by the new rink side Hot Cocoa Truck (the resort’s winter iteration of its popular summer ice cream truck).The Mootz Family Craft and Design Center will feature seasonal crafts alongside their popular regular offerings. So, guests can make a holiday-scented candle, mosaic, or piece of jewelry for a gift that really comes from the heart. And, new this year, the craft center will offer gift wrapping. YMCA of the Rockies is known for its guided hikes, included with a stay. Area experts will lead guests through the winter wonderland of Rocky Mountain National Park on snowshoe adventures that range from beginner to expert. At the end of the day, guests can relax and share stories of their day around a private bonfire with hot cocoa and s’mores. — Colorado invites all to embrace the holiday spirit and create treasured memories in a snow globe setting. For more details, please visit www.colorado.com.
"Home for the holidays" might be the preferred plan for some, but these hotels go all-out when it comes to celebrating Christmas day. With life-size confections and incredible gingerbread displays, shows and performances, beautifully-crafted decor, Santa (and reindeer!) appearances, and so much more, visitors will be hard-pressed to find a more magical palce to spend the Christmas season. Hotel Bennett (Charleston, South Carolina) Kids get hot cocoa from a life-size gingerbread house in Hotel Bennett - courtesy of Hotel Bennett Warm your heart and your spirit this holiday season and create cherished memories with loved ones at Hotel Bennett in Charleston, South Carolina. In 2022, Hotel Bennett unveiled a spectacular addition to our holiday decor – an enchanting life-sized gingerbread house. This masterpiece was meticulously crafted using a staggering array of confections: 2 lbs of candy corn, 10 lbs of marshmallows, 10 lbs of candy canes, 25 ft of rock candy, 95 lbs of gummy bears, 105 lbs of Rice Krispies, 364 ft of red liquorice rope, 672 jolly ranchers, 1428 skittles, and adorned with 3000 twinkling red and green lights. Nestled in the welcoming embrace of our first-floor lobby, this Gingerbread House promises an enchanting experience for all. Elves will be on hand to serve steaming cups of hot cocoa, making it a heartwarming treat for families and guests alike. Ensure you don't miss this captivating destination, perfect for creating cherished holiday memories. Enjoy a whimsical "Tea with Santa," held on weekends through the holiday season, that will transport you and your loved ones to a world of magic and wonder with an array of delectable, holiday-inspired treats and a visit from Santa Claus himself. Sip on a selection of whimsical teas with champagne available for grown-up guests; plus, receive a keepsake to commemorate the special day. Holiday teas geared more towards adults are also served Thursdays and Fridays. On December 23rd, guests can also book a magical Breakfast with Santa in the Crown Ballroom. If you can't be home for the holidays, Hotel Bennett will try to be the next best thing. Experience the magic of the season with an enchanting "Home Sweet Hotel Bennett" package. Unwrap the joy of a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, adorned with twinkling lights and festive ornaments, right in the comfort of your room. And to make your stay even sweeter, enjoy a special Hotel Bennett keepsake ornament to commemorate your holiday getaway. (Reservations even include complimentary hot chocolate from the Life-Size Gingerbread House!) Book this special package now through December 25, 2023, for stays until January 3, 2024 (blackout dates apply). Snowvillage Inn (Eaton Center, New Hampshire) Winter at The Snowvillage Inn - courtesy of the Snowvillage Inn The Christmas decorations at the Snowvillage Inn are a sight to behold, transforming the inn into a festive wonderland that exudes warmth and holiday spirit. Visitors can find beautiful, handcrafted wreaths adorning the entrance, each one uniquely decorated with traditional holiday elements. The inn's exterior is adorned with twinkling lights that outline the building, creating a magical, wintry ambiance as soon as you arrive. Inside, the cozy fireplaces are decorated with garlands and their crackling fires invite guests to snuggle up with a warm drink while enjoying the festive atmosphere. The heart of the inn is graced by the presence of a beautifully decorated Christmas tree. Get into the holiday spirit with a pre-Christmas getaway to the Inn. This exclusive package gives you the official Snowvillage Inn Holiday Ornament, romantic dinner for two, and more. Be sure to visit the nearby Stone Mountain Arts Center. Their December schedule is packed with Christmas cheer including: the SMAC Craft Fair on December 3rd, a Christmas luncheon on December 6th with a Christmas concert performed by owner Carol Noonan, and Stone Mountain LIVE December 15th-16th. With the lights all strung and garlands galore, Stone Mountain LIVE at Christmas takes all the best aspects of this special place on the hill and packs it into one fun festive night! The Aspen Meadows Resort (Aspen, Colorado) This year, The Aspen Meadows Resort will debut a new holiday reindeer village complete with carolers along with snowmen building and s'mores by a cozy firepit. On Friday, December 22, the iconic Anderson Park will transform into an enchanting winter wonderland and the magical world of the North Pole will come to life with a meet and greet of Santa’s reindeer from Colorado Reindeer Ranch. An outdoor bar serves steaming hot cocoa and mulled wine. There are also sleigh rides, gingerbread house and cookie decorating, plus special holiday menus. The resort celebrates all eight nights of Hanukkah with menorah lightings and traditional latkes (from December 7th-15th this year). Holiday movie nights as well as happy hours are planned for December 9th, 24th, 27th, and 29th. A special Christmas dinner will be held on the big day, and New Year's Eve will feature a fireworks extravaganza and an elegant four-course prix fixe dinner at Plato's Restaurant. The Westin Anaheim Resort (Anaheim, California) The Westin Anaheim Resort during the holidays - courtesy of Wincome Hospitality From festive décor and delectable holiday dining to special events and interactive family activities, The Westin Anaheim Resort has curated a wonderland of experiences to make this holiday season truly extraordinary. Upon arrival, guests are greeted by a captivating display of twinkling lights on the grand entrance, wreaths, and illuminated Christmas trees. Guests staying at The Westin Anaheim Resort December 13th – 31st will be welcomed with a complimentary holiday arrival beverage, Sweet Orange Tea Elixir. This nourishing elixir is infused with antioxidant-rich oranges and spiced with aromatic turmeric, ginger and honey— long renowned for their many health benefits. From December 22nd - 24th, guests will also enjoy melodious carols and the tantalizing aroma of freshly baked Christmas treats and hot cocoa in the lobby. In the hotel lobby, view Santa’s Chocolate Workshop. Acclaimed Pastry Chef Andy De La Cruz and his talented pastry team have meticulously recreated Santa’s chocolate workshop, a confectionary wonderland filled with the sweet aromas of the season. Over 100 pounds of chocolate were used in building the workshop’s festive scene, where life-sized elves toil to create toys for boys and girls. The display was built by a team of eight, and took over two weeks to construct. In addition to the hotel’s regular Westin Family activities, (Storytime, Art Quest, Yoga and more) throughout the month of December, children can embark in magical ornament decorating, while adults can indulge in Holiday-themed Crafted at Westin cocktails. Santa Claus will also visit Blossom Café on December 17th from 11 am – 1 pm, and inside the lobby December 22nd from 6 pm – 8 pm. Santa’s Holiday appearance will include holiday hot cocoa station and Christmas carolers. The Tangerine Room, the resort's signature restaurant, will host a sumptuous Christmas Day buffet December 25th from 12pm to 6:30pm featuring an array of holiday delicacies. For a more casual experience, families can opt for Blossom Market and Café which offers sweet confections from the bakery and gourmet Christmas coffee including the Gingerbread Espresso Latte and the Cool Yule Peppermint Mocha. The Flamingo Resort (Santa Rosa, California) During the holiday season, the iconic resort will be transformed into a tropical winter wonderland full of retro tiki holiday décor. Upon entering, visitors are welcomed with a beautiful, elevated Hawaiian holiday display in the porte-cochere. Get lost in the whimsy of Sippin' Santa, the Lazeaway Club's holiday themed cocktail pop-up. Envision Santa on a surfboard instead of a sleigh, replace the classic pine tree with palms decked with ornaments, and hang hibiscus garlands alongside tinsel—in essence, that is the Sippin' Santa spirit. Those looking for festive family fun at the Flamingo Resort will enjoy Festive Ornament Decorating on Thursday afternoons and Holiday Cookie Decorating on Saturday afternoons through December. The Broadmoor (Colorado Springs, Colorado) The historic Broadmoor hotel - courtesy of Matt Inden/Miles and Colorado.com In Colorado Springs, The Broadmoor blends timeless tradition with enchanting elegance as guests start their holiday season amid millions of dazzling holiday lights, an extravagant gingerbread display and a wide range of family-friendly holiday programming. This year's special piece in the gingerbread display is "A Lightning Bug Boat" that pays homage to the canopy boats that once cruised on Cheyenne Lake when the resort opened its doors in 1918. Enjoy a Broadmoor Hall Brunch on Christmas Day, and the resort's "12 Days of Christmas" with special events from December 20th to January 1st. The Broadmoor's annual Holiday Show is a family-friendly dinner show filled with seasonal favorites presented in a variety show format, sprinkled with a few surprises. Back by popular demand, singer Debby Boone returns to headline. Joining Boone are Broadway star Marcus Lovett and his daughter, Cathryn Lovett; the Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale; and Ken Miller and The Broadmoor Pops Orchestra. This year, te Holiday Show takes place December 15, 16, 22, 23, and 24, 2023. Additionally, the Broadmoor hosts a New Year's Eve Gala and New Year's Eve Bash.
Photo ops with Santa at the mall are fine, but Ole Saint Nick is making some unique visits around the country this year. From dramatic entrances by air and by sea, to mountainside sightings and rodeo events, the man in the big red suit is gracing the destinations below with a little extra Christmas magic. Look out for flying reindeer (Perdido Key, Florida) Santa lands on this beach in Perdido Key, Florida by Cody Riviello - Unsplash This year on December 9th, don't miss a trip to the gulf coast to experience the Annual Santa Drop, where Santa Claus will skydive onto the snowy-white sandy beach on Perdido Key. On the state line between Florida and Alabama, visitors can view Santa's thrilling entrance at 12:30pm from the Flora-Bama beach lounge. Following the jump, photos ops with the jolly skydiver will be available—all ages are welcome to get in line, so don't forget to bring your holiday wish list! Flora-Bama will also have kids crafts, games, live music featuring holiday tunes for the kiddos, face painting, treats, and (for those of age) plenty of Bushwackers for sale at the bar. The event free to the public, and entertainment begins at 11am. See the Fast and the Festive-est (Breckenridge, Colorado) Downtown Breckenridge in the snow by Michael Steinman - Unsplash The Lighting of Breckenridge in Colorado captures the charm of a snowy mountain town straight out of a holiday movie; but it also has a unique event that brings not one, but several Santas to town. The "Race of the Santas," which takes place during this year's celebration on December 2nd, features hundreds of Santa look-alikes running down the town's Main Street in a race to the finish line. Following the race, the "real" Santa makes an early appearance to Breckenridge to light the tree and illuminate the town with over 250,000 holiday lights. Then from 5 to 7:30pm at the Mountain Top Explorium, kids can visit Santa himself. Other events during the day include a holiday dog parade, a mini-race for kids called the "moose march," carolers, and other revelry. A holiday market and toy drive also run throughout the day. Stop by Santa's year-round workshop (Colorado Springs, Colorado) A Christmas gift all wrapped up by Samuel Holt - Unsplash Sure, Christmas is the best time of year to encounter Santa Claus, but if you're someone who can't shake the holiday spirit (no matter the season), you'll be thrilled to know that Saint Nick can always be found at the North Pole in Colorado Springs. Located at the picturesque foot of Pikes Peak, the North Pole-Santa's Workshop offers a vintage amusement park experience with rides, festive shops, and the chance to meet Santa year-round, creating a timeless family tradition. Take in a show with Elmer the Elf, watch the glass blower create beautiful custom ornaments before your eyes, and don't forget to get some sweet treats at the Carousel Cafe. Wrangle a visit with Old Saint Nick at the rodeo (Las Vegas, Nevada) Christmas decor in Las Vegas by M A Dipp - Unsplash Proud to continue the western legacy in downtown Las Vegas, the Plaza Hotel & Casino will again serve as a hotel sponsor of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) and host numerous professional rodeo events at its outdoor equestrian facility, the CORE Arena, December 4th through 16th. Alongside the rodeo events, the Downtown Christmas Expo takes over the Plaza’s third floor convention space from 9 am to 4:30 pm daily, December 7th through 16th. As a special treat for younger attendees, this year, Santa Claus will be at the Downtown Christmas Expo daily from noon to 2 pm. Shoppers can also bring a new unwrapped toy to donate to a toy drive to benefit St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, a local nonprofit that provides a community of hope and healing to help children and youth who have been abused, neglected, homeless, and/or exploited. The carefully curated shopping event features a diverse array of apparel and accessory designers, artisans, jewelers, and Western couture. Free to attend, the Downtown Christmas Expo is a marquee part of the memorable Western experience in Las Vegas every December. Head to the Cape for a seaside welcome (Falmouth, Massachusetts) Cape Code, Massachusetts by at - Unsplash In Cape Cod, a seafaring Santa makes his way to the town of Falmouth, Massachusetts during the first weekend of December. Falmouth's Holidays by The Sea Weekend is free to attend and features events throughout the town, including caroling at Woods Hole, the Nobska Light Holiday Open House, a GhElf run and Jingle Jog, the annual lighting of the Falmouth Village Green, and a downtown holiday stroll. On the morning of Saturday, December 2nd, Santa sails into the harbor at 10:30am (with free candy canes for all!). Then, on Sunday, Santa Claus returns to take part in the largest Christmas parade in southeast New England, which features decorated floats, marching bands, live animals, and costumed characters.
4 Different Ways to Vacation in Monterey County, California
In Monterey County, California paths connect places, people and experiences, offering a wealth of things to explore. Every trip offers a new opportunity to connect with those around you, with nature and with yourself. Below are four different ways to experience this West Coast destination, with something for every type of traveler. Find you "path" below, and get to booking a trip for the new year! The Wellness Path: Connect Within and Find Your Center Spa treatment at Post Ranch Inn - courtesy of See Monterey Combining the region's iconic natural beauty with unique and immersive bespoke experiences, Monterey County is a haven for wellness seekers. Reconnect with your mind, body and spirit as you immerse yourself in the tranquil trails along the pristine coastline of Pacific Grove, find your Zen in serene redwood forests and enjoy rejuvenating spa experiences at renowned resorts. From indigenous-inspired treatments and shaman sessions to cold stream plunges and equine therapy programs, wellness travelers can experience a diverse array of rejuvenating activities, ensuring an enriching journey of self-discovery. The Epicurean Path: A Culinary Voyage of Land and Sea Old Fisherman's Wharf - courtesy of See Monterey Monterey County is a haven for foodies, connecting diners with fresh seafood straight from the Monterey Bay, produce from the verdant Salinas Valley and award-winning wine poured tableside. Culinary experiences are accompanied by acclaimed wines from the Carmel and Salinas valleys, the largest Chardonnay grower in the country, at esteemed and award-winning vineyards that offer immersive and authentic wine journeys. Savor local classics, such as the iconic clam chowder served in a warm garlic bread bowl or fresh-caught calamari. For an elevated dining experience, indulge in delights crafted by Carmel-by-the-Sea's Michelin-starred chefs like succulent abalone skewers and Dungeness crab ravioli. Additionally, embark on a self-guided journey along the Artichoke Trail, a path winding through farm stands, local shops and restaurants throughout Monterey County, where two-thirds of the world's artichokes are cultivated. The Outdoor Path: Conquer New Horizons Pfeiffer Falls Trail in Big Sur - courtesy of See Monterey Connect with Mother Nature as you explore Monterey County's natural wonders. Monterey County boasts a treasure trove of outdoor adventures and is a veritable playground for wildlife lovers, leisure hikes and thrill seekers. Whether you're into hiking, biking, wildlife spotting or skydiving over Seaside, Monterey County offers diverse landscapes, from 99 miles of sweeping coastline to endless trails into the redwoods and out of the valley. Explore miles of serene hiking trails that wind through the lush redwood forests of Big Sur and the coastal bluffs, perfect for leisurely strolls or challenging hikes. For thrill-seekers, embark on exciting water sports such as kayaking in the pristine waters of Monterey Bay or scuba diving to discover the hidden gems living in the kelp forests. Watch the California condors while you hike ancient rock formations and discover caves at Pinnacle National Park or take a leisurely cruise down the Elkhorn Slough on the lookout for marine birds and sea otters. There's a path, literally and figuratively, for every type of outdoor enthusiast to discover nature and themselves. The Family Friendly Path: Adventures for the Young and Young at Heart Monterey Bay Aquarium - courtesy of See Monterey Creating cherished family memories is effortless in Monterey County. Brimming with attractions for kids and the young at heart, there is an abundance of opportunities for families to create lasting moments and connect with each other. Explore the wonders of the ocean at the world-class Monterey Bay Aquarium, where both young and old can marvel at marine life. Enjoy quality time together at the family-friendly resorts in Carmel Valley where adventure and relaxation blend seamlessly. Discover accessibility and inclusivity at new attractions like Orchard Lane Park in Soledad, the sensory children's park designed to accommodate all children, or ride the rails through Marina State Park on a handcar tour, sure to tire out active kiddos. For a classic family experience, venture to Dennis the Menace Park, a beloved local destination where kids can run, play and let their imaginations roam free. The possibilities are as diverse as your family's unique interests, ensuring that every family member can find their own path to an unforgettable family adventure. — For more information and to find your way here, please visit www.SeeMonterey.com.