3 Epic Outdoor Adventures to Book in the New Year
If adventure is on your list of things to do in the new year, look no further than the destinations below for thrilling outdoor experiences in uniquely beautiful locations across the country. Get a bird's eye view of eastern Tennessee, explore the wilds of Alaska, and camp in and around one of the most beloved national parks, Yosemite. But don't worry—if you're a beginner looking to ease into this "outdoor adventuring" thing, there's also a couple accommodations options to keep you a little more comfortable, too.
Take to the skies in Tennessee
Experience the enchanting beauty of Northeast Tennessee from a whole new perspective as you launch on a mesmerizing hot air balloon ride. Drift gently through the skies, suspended in a wicker basket, and behold the stunning vistas of the mountains, rivers and lush greenery in this beautiful region.
As the gentle breeze carries you across the landscape, you'll be treated to a breathtaking view that captures the essence of the mountains and the charm of the Tennessee countryside. Experienced pilots ensure a safe and tranquil journey, providing a unique blend of excitement and serenity perfect for all ages.
Not too far south, and for an equally thrilling adventure, visitors can also try paragliding in the Sequatchie Valley, Tennessee. With its stunning panoramic views, gentle rolling hills, and pristine natural beauty, the Sequatchie Valley is the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable paragliding experience.
As you soar through the crisp, open air, accompanied by the rush of wind beneath the parachute, you'll be treated to an awe-inspiring vista of the valley below, with its breathtaking foliage, meandering rivers and majestic cliffs. Experienced instructors ensure a safe and exhilarating journey, guiding participants through an unforgettable flight that combines the thrill of flight with the tranquility of nature.
Trailblaze through Alaska
Infinite Adventures, a trailblazer in small group adventure experiences, is thrilled to unveil its latest offering, the "Alaska Highlights Adventure." This exceptional 13-day expedition is designed for adventurous and active travelers who crave the exhilaration of exploring Alaska's rugged wilderness, all while enjoying the luxury of resting in a comfortable bed each night.
"Our new Alaska Highlights Adventure is tailor-made for those who live for adventure and crave the thrill of the great outdoors," expressed David Patrick, Co-Founder of Infinite Adventures. "We understand that our travelers are active, eager, and appreciate a good night's sleep after a day filled with excitement. This new offering allows them to experience the best of both worlds."
Infinite Adventures is a leading small group adventure company specializing in immersive, sustainable, and unforgettable journeys in the wilds of Alaska. Alongside the Highlights Adventure, the company also offers the 9-day Kenai Adventure, 12-day Denali Expedition, and the epic 20-day Salmon Run Adventure, perfect for those who relish an active and adventurous experience that takes you deep into the heart of Alaska. Those trips are geared towards travelers that enjoy camping and are also suitable for family/small group adventures. For more information and to book this unique adventure, please visit www.infiniteadv.com.
Explore the wilds of Yosemite
Like getting together with an old friend, the feeling of visiting Yosemite National Park is unchanging. Looking up at the El Capitan in wonder as you stand at its base, pondering the ancient life span of the Giant Sequoias, connecting with our pioneering ancestors in historic Gold Rush communities and museums. The impacts of these momentous moments hit the same if it's your first visit or your 12th.
Starting in March 2024, a new glamping experience arrives in Mariposa County, California. Wildhaven Yosemite will offer glamping tents and cozy cabins on a beautiful property with mountain and valley views just outside Yosemite National Park. Located less than a mile from the historic town of Mariposa, the extra-large, safari-style tents, and modular cabins with baths feature comfortable beds with linens, electricity, heaters, and all the furnishings needed for a comfortable night's sleep. Wildhaven provides the comfort, cleanliness, and customer service of a hotel while being immersed in nature. Reservations are available now.
Additionally, after a few years of closures due to COVID-19 and then record snowfalls in the winter of 2022 and 2023, the Yosemite High Sierra Camps plan to open again in summer 2024. Nestled high in the wilderness and surrounded by nature, the five camps are only accessible on foot or by mule. Guests are free to explore the backcountry, carrying only a day pack as they head out each day. Camps are spaced 6 to 10 miles apart along a loop trail and for those new to wilderness travel, guided mule and hiking trips are available. The lottery for 2024 spots is open now. Reservations are via lottery only.
In addition to camping options, The Redwoods In Yosemite is celebrating 75 years of incredible hospitality in 2024. In 1949, dozens of homeowners in the Wawona area of Yosemite National Park came together to preserve their family homes and share the wonder of these cabins with the public. The 120 homes are still individually owned and range in size from studios to 6 bedrooms, offering an incredible Yosemite experience for all kinds of explorers. The Redwoods In Yosemite operates like a hotel, offering a front desk, housekeeping and concierge-style services.
Best Places to Ring in the New Year: 2024
If your holiday plans aren't set in stone yet, it's a great time to add in a quick trip to celebrate the new year. To help select the best place to spend New Year's Eve, WalletHub recently released their rankings for 2023’s Best Cities for New Year’s. They compared the 100 biggest cities over 26 key metrics, taking into consideration everything from the legality of fireworks and the nightlife options per capita, to food affordability and forecasted precipitation. In addition to some of the favorite standout cities—like NYC and Vegas—there's also of plenty exciting celebrations happening in smaller destinations across the country. So whether you're looking for a big city or a more under-the-radar spot, the list below has you covered. Panama City Beach, Florida NYE Beach Ball Drop in Panama City Beach - courtesy of Visit Panama City You won't find Panama City Beach on WalletHub's rankings, but that doesn't make this beachside town's celebrations any less spectacular. The New Year’s Eve Beach Ball Drop attracts thousands of visitors and features live music, entertainment and not one, but two beach ball drops – both accompanied by spectacular fireworks displays on the streets of Pier Park. The celebration begins with free live music on the concert stage in front of the Celebration Tower, as the streets of Pier Park are closed off to traffic for thousands of revelers to delight in free entertainment, fireworks, and good cheer throughout the night. Families with young children can enjoy the first countdown of the evening at 8:00 p.m., which includes fireworks and the release of 10,000 inflatable beach balls from nets stretched over the crowds at Pier Park. On the way to midnight, bands perform for the gathering crowd, anticipating the countdown to 2024 and the lowering of a giant LED-lit beach ball on Panama City Beach’s Celebration Tower in the center of Pier Park. Standing over 80 feet tall, this tower is ten feet taller than the pole on One Times Square in Manhattan and can be seen from Russell-Fields Pier, where the second round of fireworks will be launched over the Gulf of Mexico and the “World’s Most Beautiful Beaches.” Throughout the night, visitors can enjoy food vendors, games, activities and musical performances by Saved by the 90's, Will Thompson Band and The Life Atlantic. Please see below for a full schedule of events and more information, click here. Las Vegas, Nevada Fireworks at the Plaza Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas - courtesy of the Warren Group/Plaza Hotel & Casino Las Vegas ranks 4th in this year's WalletHub list, thanks to a first place finish in nightlife options per capita and a 7th place ranking in the entertainment and food category. While there are several parties to choose from in Sin City, one of the best places to go is the Plaza Hotel & Casino. It's New Year’s Eve features a full evening of celebrations in classic Las Vegas style, complete with a delicious dinner at Oscar’s Steakhouse, live entertainment, complimentary champagne toasts, as well as downtown’s only live fireworks show at midnight on December 31st. The Plaza’s new Carousel Bar located under the property’s iconic dome will be at the heart of the evening’s festivities. Carousel Bar will offer an unmatched location to celebrate the new year with handcrafted cocktails, and just steps away from the best vantage point downtown to watch the fireworks, the portion of Main Street in front of the Plaza that will be closed to vehicles during the show. As part of its NYE Room Package, the Plaza will hold an all-ages viewing party of the fireworks for hotel guests only on its rooftop pool deck. The room package also includes a $50 food and beverage credit for use during the stay (2-night minimum) and complimentary early check-in and late check-out (based on availability). The NYE Room Package is available to book online. Before the fireworks, the award-winning Oscar’s Steakhouse will offer a special three-course meal in addition to its regular steak and seafood menu. Restaurant diners will enjoy a complimentary champagne toast at midnight while watching the fireworks show from under the dining room’s iconic glass dome. Reservations are recommended and can be made online or by calling 702-387-7227. The Sand Dollar Downtown will give 2023 a proper send-off with live music and hand-crafted cocktails all night long. The classic rock band, Ian Crawford & Cosmic Miles will perform from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. After a complimentary champagne toast on the casino floor when the clock strikes midnight, the Plaza’s casino will offer a special New Year’s Day 10X Multiplier for a maximum of 10,000 points until 2 a.m. on Jan. 1. (Promotion excludes video poker; see Plaza Rewards for complete rules and details.) Pascagoula, Mississippi Another destination you won't find in the city rankings is this under-the-radar spot in Mississippi. You've heard of New Year's Eve ball drops... but what about an achor drop? In Pascagoula on December 31st at 8 PM, a new New Year's Eve tradition kicks off. Presented by Main Street Pascagoula, the event includes live music, an anchor drop, encore music show after the drop until 12:30, and, of course, fireworks! New York, New York A tourist takes a photo in Times Square by Luo Lei - Unsplash No NYE Celebration list is complete without New York City. Although the Big Apple only comes into third place overall among the best cities in WalletHub's list, there is no more iconic celebration in the US than the Times Square ball drop. This event is attended in person by around a million people and watched live by around a billion. If NYC wasn't so expensive, it would likely take first place. It lands in first place for categories like affordable quality restaurants, nightlife options and music venues, and it also has long fireworks shows. San Diego, California The skyline of San Diego by Reed Naliboff - Unsplash Edging out NYC in the top WalletHub cities is San Diego. The second-best city for New Year’s Eve celebrations overall, and the top destination on the west coast, is the best place to go to if you want nice weather: forecasts estimate clear skies, perfect for outdoor parties and fireworks shows. San Diego is also tied with Orlando, Florida when it comes to the availability of affordable restaurants rated at least 4.5 stars; the city also has some of the highest Google search frequencies for terms like “New Year’s Eve party,” “New Year’s Eve dinner” and “New Year’s Eve concerts.” Great places to celebrate include the San Diego Zoo and the Old Globe theater. St. Augustine, Florida Celebrate Auld Lang Syne at St. Augustine Beach's iconic Light Up the Night! Beach Fireworks! This fun, free event is one of the best fireworks experiences around, with a spectacular show right off the beach pier over the Atlantic Ocean. Bring a blanket to snuggle under and enjoy the show! Fun New Year's Eve celebrations locally can be found at Embassy Suites by Hilton St. Augustine Beach Oceanfront Resort's fabulous Winter Wonderland-themed party, Chez L'Amour's live music bash, premium bar and Posh Nosh snacks' and the free Dewey Via performance at St. Augustine's Colonial Oak Music Park is a local favorite. Tickets are still available for Venardos Circus's world-class show with Broadway musical-style performances, or for a more classic evening, First Coast Opera's stirring performance of Puccini's masterpiece, La Bohème. Orlando, Florida Sparklers in the night by Ian Schneider - Unsplash Taking WalletHub's top spot for NYE celebrations is Orlando, Florida. The city is also one of the most frequently visited during the holiday, thanks to its many theme parks like Disney World. The city ranks first when it comes to nightlife options and affordable restaurants rated 4.5+ stars, and the city has some of the longest fireworks displays in the country. Consumer fireworks are legal, too, so people can set up their own shows. Residents can host the ultimate party, as Orlando also has the most party supply stores and second highest number of gourmet specialty-food stores in the nation (per the square root of the population).
Eat Your Way Along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi
Indulge your senses and embark on a delectable journey along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where culinary creativity meets coastal, southern charm. From sizzling grills featuring unique seafood combinations to the elegant ambiance of fine dining establishments, Coastal Mississippi has become an epicenter of delight. Across the three vibrant counties along the coast of Mississippi, culinary masters blend local flavors with international flair – creating a symphony of tastes that reflect the region's distinctive style. "Across our 62-miles of shorelines, there are many culinary gems including flavors from around the world," said Judy Young, CEO of Coastal Mississippi Tourism. "From fresh-caught seafood to international cuisine and southern favorites, visitors have an array of options to choose from. That's why we've curated this list to help everyone plan their Coastal Mississippi getaway and experience their new favorite culinary destination." Enjoy the freshest seafood and fine dining Nestled on the serene banks of the Jourdan River, Jourdan River Steamer offers an enchanting dining experience, combining vintage elegance with contemporary culinary artistry. With its panoramic views of the river, guests can indulge in a menu featuring fresh Gulf Coast seafood and other culinary delights, such as Royal Red Shrimp, Snow Crab and more.Hook Gulf Coast Cuisine portrays culinary excellence on the Gulf Coast, offering a remarkable dining experience that seamlessly blends coastal charm with gourmet innovation. Located in Pass Christian, this restaurant boasts a menu brimming with locally sourced seafood, featuring Fresh Catch Escabeche, Pecan Crusted Mangrove Snapper, Seared Tuna, and more – all capturing the region's rich culinary heritage.Located in Ocean Springs with a sophisticated ambiance, Kenny Ward's Prime Steaks & Gulf Seafood features impeccable cuts of prime steak and an exquisite selection of Gulf seafood. From Jumbo Butterfly Shrimp to Grilled Duck and Pan Seared Grouper, this culinary destination mixes the finest flavors of land and sea.For the ultimate toes-in-the-sand beachside experience, Sea Level in scenic Pass Christian offers fresh American fare with Coastal flair, ranging from Mahi Mahi to blackened shrimp tacos to world-class burgers and more. Travelers can enjoy breathtaking views of the Mississippi Sound as they enjoy their meal in this peaceful waterside setting. Don't forget to try one of their 40 different flavors of snow cones.Located in Long Beach, Coterie Restaurant & Oyster Bar, recently opened and featuring fresh seafood from the region, including Jumbo Crabcake, Blackened Redfish, seafood platters, crawfish, and more. This destination is a must-stop for any seafood lover who wants to experience delicious seafood with Cajun flair. Live like a local with Southern favorites A tree illuminated by the sun in Mississippi by Cody Board - UnsplashInside a beautiful replica of an 1820s style historic home featuring salvaged bricks and a grand central chimney, 'The Chimney's Restaurant,' in Gulfport is known for its fresh seafood & steak dinners. Travelers can gaze upon the lush greenery, majestic oaks, and Gulfport waterfront - all while enjoying an extensive menu of southern comfort favorites and chef specialties like the Godchaux Salad made with jumbo lump crabmeat, gulf shrimp, and avocado, Oyster Chimney's, or Trout 1640, a filet of fresh speckled trout topped with jumbo lump crabmeat and shrimp in a light cream sauce with a dash of pernod.Located in Biloxi, One Thirty-One Lameuse is a culinary haven that promises a southern dining experience in a beautiful historic setting. With an exquisite menu featuring meticulously crafted dishes showcasing many of the region's best ingredients, this restaurant offers your tastebuds a journey that stays true to Coastal Mississippi's roots.In Bay St. Louis, travelers can visit The Sycamore House, a pair of 19th-century Acadian cottages on the National Register of Historic Places, for delectable dinner, brunch, and dessert options. Chef's Stella LeGardeur and Michael Eastham have curated a menu to tempt every guest with dishes like their savory crab meat and mushroom cheesecake or their Poisson Amandine – a fresh curated fish of the day, pan seared and served with almond butter sauce. The Sycamore House is a historical destination for any traveler looking to dine in sophisticated elegance. There's nothing quite like a po'boy, especially at Quave Brothers Po'boys in D'Iberville, who never disappoints. Quave's features a large selection of po'boys, sandwiches, and seafood plates, leaving food enthusiasts with an unparalleled po'boy experience. Experience a coastal twist on international cuisines Located in Gulfport, Mangiamo Italian Restaurant is a true Italian eatery where every dish is made with love, homemade recipes, and the highest quality ingredients. The fine dining establishment offers delicious appetizers, such as Bruschetta and Beef Carpaccio, pasta dishes to savor like Bucatini Carbonara, Seafood Lasagna, and mouthwatering pizzas. Not to mention, divine desserts you just might not want to share.Designed with multicultural appeal, Tien, located in Biloxi at the IP Casino Resort, is a splashy AAA Three-diamond-rated restaurant featuring Asian cuisines, including Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese. Travelers can enjoy anything from Teppanyaki to Shabu Shabu to Dim Sum and Sushi – all served with a unique interactive experience right at the table. For traditional Mexican and Southern recipes passed down for generations, Juanita's Kitchen in Pascagoula is a dining wonderland. Travelers to the restaurant can find delicious Tamales, Fried Catfish & Grits, Chilaquiles in spicy or mild flavors, red meat and seafood burritos and more. A Southern fusion of Asian cuisine with sweet, spicy, and savory flavors meet southern classics at Long Beach Market & Deli. Whether travelers are craving a custom-made sandwich, a hearty salad or a selection premium cheeses and charcuterie, this location shines with quality and mouthwatering flavors.For flavors from the Southern region of the Indian sub-continent, Orchid Indian Cuisine brings authentic flavors and aromatic spices from India straight to your plate. The menu of Indian delicacies features biryanis, flavorful curries, and tandoori dishes, all prepared by skilled chefs.At Vestige in Ocean Springs, Chef/Owners Alex Perry, and his wife, Kumi Omori, serve a modern American market-driven menu featuring crowd favorites such as Duck Confit, Farm Tomato Salad, Veal Chop and more. James Beard finalists in 2019 and 2023, Vestige offers a creative and innovative dining experience for all travelers in the heart of historic downtown Ocean Springs.Kaiteki, pronounced (ky-teh-key), meaning comfort in Japanese, is an international noodle bar in Long Beach known for its carefully curated ramen recipes with rich, colorful flavors. Travelers can enjoy flavorful starters like Duck Buns or Blistered Shishito Peppers before diving into famous ramen recipes and even have the option to create their own special bowl. Plan an epic Sunday brunch The vision of owner/chef and James Beard Semi-Finalist, Austin Sumrall, White Pillars in Biloxi offers diners a unique experience from start to finish. In the words of Chef Sumrall "I want diners at White Pillars to feel like they are attending an exclusive event." For brunch that means traditional favorites and chef specialties like Brunch Carbonara, Grits & Grillades, and Brioche French Toast.Bacchus on the Beach, located in Pass Christian, is known for bringing a unique Cajun experience to many of their dishes, and this is no different for brunch. Travelers can bask in the sun-drenched ambiance, savoring each bite from a special brunch menu, including Crab Cake Benedict, Shrimp & Grits and more.Located in Biloxi, The Toasted Yolk Café challenges diners to change the way they think about breakfast and lunch with perfected curated delicacies. From Poached Eggs to Chicken & Waffles to Strawberry Pico Pollo Pancake Tacos, this eatery gives guests the flavors they want (or may not expect) in an unmatched atmosphere. At 200 North Beach Restaurant, located in Bay St. Louis, travelers can enjoy elegant waterfront views with a delectable brunch menu in a historic circa 1903 building. From your standard southern brunch offerings of Chicken & Waffles and Shrimp & Grits to Brunch Chorizo Tacos and North Beach Crab Cake – brunch is an oceanside breeze at 200 North Beach. —No matter your craving, Coastal Mississippi is poised to provide endless memories, and of course, fresh, delicious, and unique cuisine to every visitor. Travelers can start planning their Coastal culinary getaway now at CoastalMississippi.com.
Step back into time with these enchanting tours of historic homes and properties across the United States. With elaborately decorated Christmas trees, expertly-themed rooms, illuminated courtyards, and stunning candle-lit architecture, you might even get inspired to revamp your own home decor this time of year! All of the homes below topped the list for this year's Best Historic Homes for Holiday Tours. Nominees for all categories were chosen by a panel of relevant experts which include a combination of editors from USA TODAY; editors from 10Best.com; relevant expert contributors; and sources for both these media and other Gannett properties. #10. Biltmore (Asheville, North Carolina) Christmas at the Biltmore in North Carolina by Stephanie Klepacki - Unsplash On Christmas Eve of 1895, George Vanderbilt officially opened his 250-room French Renaissance chateau in Asheville, North Carolina, to family and friends. Today, it is the largest privately owned home in the country. Step back into America's Gilded Age at Christmastime for a daytime or evening tour. By day, the elegant rooms of Biltmore House shimmer, beautifully bedecked with Christmas trees, ribbons, garlands, and thousands of twinkling lights. In the evening, flickering candlelight, glowing fireplaces, and live music invite you to imagine yourself a guest at the first Vanderbilt family Christmas in 1895. Christmas tours are available through the day on January 7th. #9. Filoli Historic House and Garden (Woodside, California) Experience the magic of the season, both day and night, at Filoli through January 7th. Special "Santa Days," holiday teas, and firepit experiences are also held during the holiday season. Curators are available to guide tours inside the 1917 historic home, which was built for prominent San Franciscan William Bowers Bourn. The name "Filoli" was created by combining the first two letters from the keywords of Bourn's credo: “Fight for a just cause; Love your fellow man; Live a good life.” During Holidays at Filoli, visitors can stroll the illuminated grounds by night or see the decorated home by day in a Gilded Guide tour with the curator. #8. Trail End (Sheridan, Wyoming) The John Kendrick Mansion, better known as Trail End, is an early 1900s Flemish Revival-style home showing off the life of Western cattle barons. During the winter, visitors can enjoy figgy pudding and decorations at the Holiday Open House or take an intimate tour by electric candlelight — complete with live actors — during Christmas with the Kendricks. On January 1st, there is also a special "First Day Hike" program that begins at Trail End at 10am. While not inside the home itself, this annual tour takes participants through the northwest corner of town that includes the Trail End grounds, the buffalo and elk pasture, the fairgrounds, and new and historic neighborhoods. Several short talks are presented along the way, full of well-researched history. #7. Newport Mansions (Newport, Rhode Island) The Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island by Gwendolyn Kwong - Unsplash Why tour one home, when you could see three? Holidays at the Newport Mansions includes the opportunity to see three, impeccably-decorated historic estates: The Breakers, Marble House, and The Elms. Nearly 30 Christmas trees are exquisitely decorated to complement the décor and theme of each room, like Mr. Vanderbilt’s tree in The Breakers, ornamented with trains and top hats! Hundreds of poinsettias, garlands, wreaths and fresh floral arrangements add color, warmth and life. As always, the 15-foot-tall poinsettia tree in the Great Hall of The Breakers – made up of 150 poinsettia plants – provides a perfect holiday photo opportunity. #6. Brucemore (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) Learn about the Douglas Family and their home from 1906 to 1937, the Brucemore in Cedar Rapids, Iowa while taking in festive seasonal decor and beautiful mantle arrangements. Holiday tours allow visitors to explore the first, second, and third floors of the mansion at their own pace. Afterwards, guests can head outside and tour the the 26-acres of grounds and gardens at no additional cost. During the winter season, there are also "Holiday Nights" evening tours available in addition to the Christmas tours during the day. #5. Glensheen Mansion (Duluth, Minnesota) Duluth, Minnesota in the winter by ginger - Unsplash Glensheen is a 20,000-square-foot, Jacobean-style mansion set on the shores of Lake Superior. Experience the magic of Christmas and be taken back to the early 1900s when Glensheen was built with a candlelight tour at Christmas: 27 trees, hundreds of feet of garland, and thousands of Christmas lights adorn the rooms and halls throughout the house. For those looking for extra fun or a family-friendly activity, there are also 25 elves hidden throughout the mansion to find as you take your tour. #4 Meadow Brook Hall (Michigan) Meadow Brook at the holidays - courtesy of Visit Detroit A National Historic Landmark, Meadow Brook was built by Matilda Dodge Wilson, widow of auto pioneer John Dodge. Constructed in Rochester, Michigan between 1926 and 1929, the 110-room Tudor mansion is especially renowned for its superb craftsmanship, architectural detailing and grand scale. The Holidays at Meadow Brook offer two dazzling ways to experience the estate. By day, the beloved annual Holiday Walk transports visitors through the historic mansion decked in shimmering splendor, with over 50 magnificent trees, trimmings and lights galore. In the evening, Winter Wonder Lights transforms the estate into a breathtaking light show featuring music, seasonal treats, bonfires, and holiday magic. Each event is its own self-guided experience. Tickets must be booked for a specific date and time and are available online only at meadowbrookholidays.com. #3. Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens (Akron, Ohio) Stan Hywet Hall is Akron, Ohio's first and largest National Historic Landmark and the nation's sixth-largest historic home open to the public. The Tudor mansion was built by Goodyear Tire & Rubber co-founder F.A. Seiberling between 1912 and 1915. During their Deck the Hall event, the estate is illuminated with 1.2 million holiday lights. In the Manor House, look for a sleigh ride date night for Santa and Mrs. Claus on the West Porch, the Reindeer Flight Academy in the Round Room and an underwater mermaid party in Irene's Room. Visits with Santa are available at Rudolph's Corral on select dates. Don't forget to enjoy cocoa and a *hot* gingerbread cookie or beer, wine and a pretzel from the new Molly's Courtyard Cafe. #2. The Christmas Mansion, formerly Stetson Mansion (DeLand, Florida) With a name like "The Christmas Mansion," it's no surprise this estate is near the top of the list! This grand, High Victorian property was built in 1886 for American hatmaker John B. Stetson as his winter retreat. Formerly known as Stetson Mansion, the home has festive holiday tours from early November until late January that take guests through its 10 rooms, each adorned with completely different decorations sourced from around the world. Both guided and self-guided tours are available. #1. Graceland (Memphis, Tennessee) Topping the rankings is Elvis Presley’s former estate in Memphis. Beginning in mid-November with a holiday lighting ceremony, visitors touring the home will encounter seasonal decor, traditional lights, a life-size nativity scene, Presley family Christmas artifacts on display, and Elvis' Santa. The mansion also puts on a Christmas holiday concert one weekend and guests can even take advantage of a special holiday package that includes hotel accommodations, a Christmas tour, and other fun holiday items.
The wilds of Minnesota are a dream for nature lovers, but most especially for those who live for cold weather and snowy escapes. Using Minneapolis as a base, visitors can enjoy both the relaxation of the city and easy access to the thrills of several outdoor winter activities and cold-weather sports, such as ice fishing and skiing. This season, the Four Seasons Hotel Minneapolis continues a five-month-long celebration of winter. It makes the perfect place to stay for relaxation after an adventurous day; enjoy dining and shopping in the Nordic Village or a guided sauna experience at The Spa. Additionally, to keep guests warm and cozy throughout their activities of choice, the Hotel will be offering a selection of winter wear on loan from Canada Goose—so if you were worried about fitting all those jackets and gear on your carry-on, don't be. So go ahead and plan a trip filled with some of the incredible outdoor experiences below—everything is within 45 minutes from the city—but don't forget to schedule in some relaxation after all that action-packed fun. Ice fish on Lake Minnetonka Few things are as Northern as standing in the cold, waiting for the fish to bite. But, RĒL Fishing provides the glamping version of an ice-fishing adventure. Located on Lake Minnetonka, this endearing village of ice houses is well-equipped with everything one needs to catch fish in comfort and style. Explore magical, wintry trails Nordic skiing in Minnesota - courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Minneapolis Offering a healthy workout and unique access to winter nature, cross-country skiing is a popular Minnesota sport for all ages. The trails at Theodore Wirth Park – headquarters of The Loppet Foundation – are world class; Olympic gold medalist and Minnesota native Jessie Diggins has skied here, and the park will host the COOP FIS Cross-Country World Cup in February. A snowshoe excursion along the trails of Fort Snelling State Park allows guests an opportunity to revel in the quiet beauty of winter, take in the tranquil scenery and access the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers – a sacred place that marks the origin of the Dakota tribe. Finally, visitors can explore the natural landscape just north of the Twin Cities while enjoying the great outdoors – and a bit of adventure. Snowmobiles can cover a large amount of varied terrain, from lakes to park reserves to unique Minnesota towns. Snowmobiling in Minnesota - courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Minneapolis Try curling at Frogtown Curling Club The Twin Cities are home to more curlers than anywhere else in the country, and they play this unique sport as much for the strategy and skill as the post-game socializing. Visitors will spot signatures from former US team skipper Debbie McCormick and John Landsteiner, member of the 2018 Olympic team, on the Frogtown Wall of Fame. Ice skate outdoors Ice skating in Minnesota - courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Minneapolis At 110,000 square feet, the Guidant John Rose MN OVAL is the largest refrigerated outdoor rink in North America. Whether figure skating, speed skating or playing pond hockey – a Minnesota tradition – the evergreen-lined loop welcomes skaters of all ages and abilities. Olympic speed skaters Bonnie Blair and Dan Jansenhave skated the loop. Alternatively, head to Centennial Lakes Park. Nestled in the tiny suburb Edina, this charming 24-acre park features a large pond. Offering a warming house and skate rentals, popular restaurants sit just steps away for post-skate refreshments. Snow tube at Buck Hill Located just beyond the Twin Cities, Buck Hill has been the training ground for Olympic skiers like Lindsey Vonn, Tasha Nelson McCrank and Kristina Koznick. While visitors can take to the steep ski hills, tubing is a family-friendly way for the young and young at heart to satisfy a need for speed. Relax in luxury at the Four Seasons Nordic Village at Four Seasons Hotel Minneapolis - courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Minneapolis Get the best of both worlds by returning to the Four Seasons Hotel Minneapolis after a long day spent adventuring outdoors in the cold. A collection of cedar cabins on the hotel's fourth floor alfresco space, Nordic Village is open for dinners, private events and buyouts Wednesdays through Sundays through March 31, 2024, and local shopping on winter weekends through January 28, 2024. Minnesota's own MartinPatrick3, an internationally recognized boutique dedicated to building a one-of-a-kind experience, designed and decorated the cabins, while area curator Mich Berthiaume facilities the markets. Those who dine in Nordic Village unlock seasonal savings on an overnight stay – and suites include a bottle of Dom Pérignon. Reservations become available one month at a time on Tock. Just beyond Nordic Village, The Spa is offering a guided sauna experience as part of its commitment to nourishment through nature. This 75-minute service is curated for each guest with their unique wellness goals in mind. Appointments for one to eight people may be made online. Finally, if you're looking for a special dining experience, try the hotel's Mediterranean-inspired establishment, Mara. Seasonal events include two meals on Christmas Eve (December 24), all-day dining on Christmas Day (December 25), four courses on New Year's Eve (December 31), a new prix-fixe menu for New Year's Day (January 1) and a signature event – A Winter's Table (February 1) – during The Great Northern Festival. Reservations are available on Tock.