Prioritize Self-Care at These Enchanting Spa Retreats

By BT Editor
November 25, 2023
Sonoma County, California is full of unique spa retreats - Sonoma County Tourism

New Year's is just around the corner, which means it's time to start thinking about health and wellness goals. While new fitness memberships are a popular and respectable choice, consider avoiding the crowds at gyms this January and put those savings towards a luxurious trip for the senses. From hot spring dips to aromatherapy, from the mountains and forests to deserts and beaches, the retreats below offer something for everyone looking to rejuvenate the body and mind. Resolve to prioritize self-care at one of these incredible spa destinations below.

Immerse the senses in geothermal pools (Sonoma, California)

Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa is ideally situated atop an ancient mineral hot spring, allowing guests to take advantage of the proven healing benefits of mineral waters in geothermal pools. The drawing of energy from nature has been practiced for millennia. Guests can immerse themselves in the elements and be reconnected with nature at Fairmont Spa. The famed Bathing Ritual at the Bathhouse will leave you feeling vibrant and nourished. The steps you'll travel will be filled with ancient mineral waters, fire, ice, and healing aromas. Make the most of a Sonoma County Wine Country getaway with a curated offer designed with rejuvenation in mind. Visiting for just a night or escaping for a few? The perfect package is available at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa.

Harmonize with nature in the Rocky Mountains (Dubois, Wyoming)

The mountains in Dubois by Andrew Sterling - Unsplash

Unwind and embrace the timeless allure of the mountains at Brooks Lake Lodge's Rocky Mountain Spa in Dubois, where guests can enjoy complimentary access to amenities like hot tubs, saunas, a fitness center and a tranquil relaxation room. Amidst the rejuvenating ambiance of Shoshone National Forest, the spa's skilled staff pampers guests from head to toe, offering a complete spa experience that harmonizes body, mind and soul at this luxurious resort near Yellowstone National Park. Additionally, guests can explore a wealth of outdoor adventures, from horseback riding and hiking to fishing in pristine mountain lakes, ensuring an unforgettable retreat.

Enjoy a waterfront getaway (The Palm Beaches, Florida)

A pool at Hilton West Palm Beach - courtesy of Hilton West Palm Beach and Discover The Palm Beaches

Several prominent resorts and hotels in The Palm Beaches are undergoing substantial transformations, amplifying the guest experience. Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa recently completed an extensive renovation, unveiling 175 revamped guest rooms and suites, upgraded banquet spaces, and the all-new Latitudes restaurant, accompanied by a variety of amenities, including a dedicated kids club. Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa, nestled along the south Palm Beach waterfront, is also preparing to reopen this month following a $20 million renovation, focusing on modernized guest rooms, updated dining venues, and refreshed common areas.

Relax under the Redwoods (Guerneville, California)

Redwoods in California by Matt Busse - Unsplash

Try a "relax under the redwoods" package at Dawn Ranch. Escape to your own cabin or cottage and receive a $100 spa credit to be used on treatments during your stay. Treat yourself to a facial, a massage or just a relaxing aromatherapy session all while reconnecting with nature at the new spa at Dawn Ranch. Explore the other on-site activities, including Writing Salons (select Fridays), Creative Workshops: Treasure Boxes (Fridays), Dawn Ranch Scent Discovery Workshops (select Saturdays), and Introduction to Forest Bathing (select Sundays).

Add a wildlife excursion to your spa day (Saratoga, Wyoming)

Fly fishing in Saratoga, Wyoming by Glenna Haug - Unsplash

In Saratoga, Brush Creek Ranch's Trailhead Spa invites guests to indulge in a wide range of pampering services, including massages and facials, inspired by the rich heritage of the West, providing a unique healing renewal experience amidst inspiring landscapes. Furthermore, guests can complement their rejuvenating spa experience by exploring a diverse array of outdoor activities, from horseback riding and fly fishing to hiking and wildlife excursions, guaranteeing guests a relaxing and memorable retreat.

Visit the country's top-ranked spas (Arizona)

The view from Castle Hot Springs road in Morristown, Arizona by Jim Witkowski - Unsplash

Can't choose just one spot? Plan a multi-spa trip to Arizona. Five spas from across the state earned recognition in Condé Nast Traveler's Top 20 Destination Spas in the US: 2023 Reader's Choice Awards. The luxurious Mii Amo in Sedona, Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa in Tucson, CIVANA Wellness Resort & Spa in Carefree and Castle Hot Springs in Morristown all earn a spot on the list for helping guests find tranquility through their spa treatments and stylish accommodations. If you're looking for seclusion in particular, Castle Hot Springs fits the bill. Located down a dusty dirt road, access is limited to registered overnight guests. Unwind in the natural hot springs, or go on an adventure in the Sonoran Desert.

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Skip the Sweaters at These Sunny Holiday Destinations

If the darker days and chillier temps of November have dampened excitement over the impending holidays and the weather it might bring—fear not. Forget those cumbersome sweaters and winter accessories, order your peppermint mocha iced instead of hot, and head south to these sunnier (but no less festive) holiday destinations. The four warm-weather towns below are making spirits bright with seasonal celebrations, elaborate lighting displays and decor, outdoor activities, and much more. Oceanside, California Holiday lights in Oceanside, California - courtesy of Visit Oceanside Perfectly situated between metropolitan San Diego and Los Angeles, Oceanside is a quintessential California coastal escape that includes wide sandy beaches, a quaint New England-style harbor, historic wooden pier and charming bungalow neighborhoods. O'side (as locals affectionately call it) is a destination of discovery where visitors can explore everything from California history at the “King of Missions” to surf culture at the California Surf Museum and awe-inspiring sea life through exciting ocean adventures. Kicking off the holiday season is the popular Thanksgiving Day O'side Turkey Trot, which takes participants along a scenic course through downtown Oceanside and along the coastline. Festivities continue into December with the official tree lighting in the Pacific Plaza on December 7th that includes visits with Santa, arts, crafts and a gift mart. Other December events include holiday concerts performed by the San Luis Rey Chorale at the historic Mission San Luis Rey, a holiday-themed Sunset Market each Thursday and the Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights on December 9th where fishing boats, sail boats, yachts, kayaks and dingys dress up in holiday swag and circle the Oceanside Harbor to enchant onlookers. For anytime fun, Oceanside's Top Tier Escape Rooms, voted the best in San Diego, is debuting a special Christmas themed challenge to delight holiday revelers of all ages. Visitors can also discover Oceanside's beauty and culture from the perspective of two new tour offerings: Pegasus Sidecar tours and electric Moke tours. With Pegasus Sidecar Tours, participants hop into a vintage sidecar attached to a classic motorcycle and embark on guided adventures along scenic routes that include the historic Mission San Luis Rey, Oceanside Pier, and more. Sidecars hold up to two people and small pets can come along too. Moke and Sons self-guided tours are a fun, eco-friendly and stylish way to cruise “California style” around town. A throw back to a European classic, the newly minted low-speed Moke Electric Vehicles can be delivered directly to Mission Pacific Beach Resort and The Seabird Ocean Resort and Spa and are a family-friendly option for cruising the Historic Highway 101 and surrounding areas. Packages are available for 2 hours, 5 hours or all day. Don't forget to make souvenir, too. At Art Magic, memories of days spent at the beach are captured through epoxy resin as participants design ocean-themed trays, cheese boards, and coasters. Oceanside Museum of Art's monthly bite-sized Taste of Art happy hour includes a museum educator-led lively artist discussion over drinks and nibbles followed by an activity where participants create a work of art inspired by the artist. Sip, Paint, and Gaze happens every Friday night at The Seabird Ocean Resort & Spa. Open to resort guests and non-guests, participants find inspiration in coast views as they paint a sunset masterpiece while enjoying libations. Finally, located in a former gas station from the 1930s, Rising Co. cooperative offers a rotating calendar of make and create workshops where participants can learn how to oil and stamp veg-tan leather, turn plastic bags into zipper pouches, and more. Daytona, Florida An incredible sunrise in Daytona Beach by Ravi Pinisetti - Unsplash From holiday spectaculars and concerts to the golden anniversary of one of the largest car shows and swap meets in the United States, winter travelers spending their holidays in the Daytona Beach area and locals alike will discover plenty of festive happenings to enjoy. Daytona International Speedway will be the location of two holiday traditions in the Daytona Beach area – the Magic of Lights and the Turkey Run. From November 17th through December 31st, Magic of Lights will transform the storied race track into a drive-through holiday-theme light spectacular featuring dozens of displays, festive favorites, and digital animation, all constructed with millions of individual LED lights to create a memorable holiday experience for the whole family. Inside the comfort of their own vehicles, guests will enjoy Magic of Lights’ classic holiday favorites including Winter Wonderland, the 12 Days of Christmas, Toyland, festive Elves and Reindeer Road. In addition to the 200-foot long Enchanting Tunnel of Lights, there will also be other illuminated displays including the 32-foot-tall, animated Mattel’s Waving Christmas Barbie®, Prehistoric Christmas featuring life sized dinosaurs celebrating the season, and the legendary BIGFOOT® Monster Truck. Created with over two million sparkling lights, Magic of Lights is a nostalgic and festive event everyone will enjoy. Another popular event at the Speedway, the 50th Annual Daytona Turkey Run on November 23rd through 26th will feature thousands of unique automobiles and swap meet vendors in the infield of the “World Center of Racing.” Considered to be largest combined car show and swap meet in the US, this family-friendly four-day event attracts close to 200,000 attendees every Thanksgiving holiday week to the Daytona Beach area. Scottsdale, Arizona Holiday decorations in Scottsdale, Arizona - courtesy of Experience Scottsdale The Sonoran Desert shines a bit brighter this season with holiday magic. From November 17th to January 6th, the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess transforms into a holiday headquarters during Christmas at the Princess, complete with 6.5 million sparkling LED lights. In addition to the Desert Ice Rink, S'mores Land, the Princess Express Train, and The Village, new this year is Aurora Ice, an ice lounge bathed in an illumination reminiscent of the Aurora Borealis, better known as the Northern Lights. On November 25th, Scottsdale Quarter’s Santa Social offers an infinite supply of cheer with special character appearances, its annual tree lighting ceremony, a holiday feature film, and of course, a visit from Old St. Nick himself. Then, from November 24th through December 31st, Enchant, an immersive, extravagant winter celebration, returns with a new light maze where visitors help a mischievous elf named Eddie, and Sparky the reindeer, recover missing toys before Santa’s big night. The event also includes an ice-skating trail, live entertainment, and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. Finally, from November 24th through January 7th, Holiday Lights at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park offers enchanting displays and twinkling lights surrounding the park’s Paradise & Pacific Railroad and historic Charros Carousel for a picture-perfect evening. Don't forget to stop into some of Scottsdale's wonderful museums. Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West introduces new exhibitions this season. “Women of the West: Highlights from The Fran and Ed Elliott Southwest Women Artists Collection” focuses on women artists connected to Arizona throughout the late territorial period and early 20th century. The museum will soon open an exhibit featuring works of art from a portion of the Eddie Basha Collection of American Indian and Western American fine art, one of the largest, privately-owned art collections of its kind. Also this season, the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) showcases how cultures from around the world celebrate their unique winter holidays through “'Tis the Seasons: Holidays at MIM” with performances from Dickens Carolers, Mariachi Rubor, and Rural Street Klezmer Band, and festive-themed activities such as a music-making workshop and a Kwanzaa storytelling (December 9th and 10th). Frisco, Texas A heart sign and holiday lights in Frisco, Texas - courtesy of Visit Frisco Frisco is where sports stars play, music's biggest stars take the stage, and holiday magic comes to life. Connect these five ways to explore Frisco to make you and your guests the star this holiday season: hotels, events, shopping, dining, and sports. Kick off the holiday season in Frisco at Merry Main Street presented by Texas Health Hospital Frisco, Saturday, December 2nd from 3:30 to 8 p.m. The event will feature a holiday gift market, food vendors, school choir performances, Santa & Friends parade, and the lighting of The City of Frisco Christmas Tree in front of the George A. Purefoy Municipal Center. This is a free event, open to the public. Also on December 2nd, don your merriest running gear or costume and take part in one of Frisco's most popular holiday traditions, the Frosty 5K & Merry Mile. Taking place November 18th through January 8th, Christmas in the Square is one of the largest choreographed lights and music displays in North Texas. The nightly show begins at 6 p.m. and features more than 175,000 lights. Tune in to the radio in your vehicle or listen to the music piped through speakers as you take a walk through the Square. This year's Christmas in the Square event will also feature Skate the Square, an outdoor ice-skating rink, as well as a Christmas tree lot. The light and music show is free to experience. Some activities do require a fee. The Dallas Cowboys will host Cowboys Christmas Extravaganza powered by Reliant each Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m., November 17th through December 16th. The must-see 20-minute show on Tostitos Championship Plaza kicks off with the lighting of The Star's 67-foot Christmas tree and holiday performances featuring the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blue Dancers, Santa Claus, and special guest appearances. Admission and parking for the event are free. Witness more than one million lights at Riders Field from the comfort and convenience of your vehicle at The Light Park drive thru light show. Pre-purchase tickets and pile up your friends or family - and your pup, too - to make some memories. Snacks like popcorn, candy, sodas, water, and light-up lemonade are available for purchase. Fridays and Saturdays in December at PGA Frisco mean toy soldiers, real reindeer, rides on the Fields Ranch Holiday Express Train, ornament decorating, tree lightings, and cozy outdoor movies on the big screen. Whether you're looking to get into the holiday spirit or simply enjoy a fun-filled evening, Home on The Range for The Holidays is the place to be. This is a ticketed event with additional exclusive experiences available to Omni PGA Frisco Resort guests who purchase the holiday package. On Monday, December 18th the U.S. Army Bowl brings the top high school football players together at Ford Center at The Star. The next day at Toyota Stadium, it's time for classic Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) action at the Scooter's Coffee Frisco Bowl. Take a tour of the Dallas Cowboys World Headquarters, The Star, to see where players train. Dive into the history of America's team as you explore the Ring of Honor Walk in The Star District. Finally, keep the holidays going on January 7, 2024 with the NCAA Division I Football Championship (FCS) at Toyota Stadium, home to the best championship memories in college football.


Where to Celebrate National Hiking and Camping Days

Although lesser-known than that other national holiday in November, these two holidays make for a great excuse for a getaway: National Hiking Day falls on today, November 17th, and is closely followed by National Camp Day on November 19th. Even though fall, spring, and summer seem to get all the attention when it comes to camping and hiking, the winter can be just a magical time to plan your next outdoor adventure—don't let the impending cold weather keep you from the fun. "There’s a special kind of joy in embracing the outdoors, in being active and playful, and yes, even in getting a little muddy,” Ali Rasmussen, co-founder of Spacious Skies Campgrounds, says. “Our philosophy is to ‘Take Your Indoors Outdoors,’ encouraging everyone to step out of their comfort zones, to exchange screens for nature scenes and to embrace the outdoors, especially as the seasons change. It’s not about retreating indoors as winter approaches, but about celebrating each moment under the open sky.” While many top hiking and camping spots close during the winter season, nine of the Spacious Skies campgrounds are open during the winter. Plus, they are all located near parks and outdoorsy attractions so campers can explore each destination in a variety of ways. In honor of National Hiking Day and National Camp Day, here are a few places to get outdoors and enjoy this season. French Pond (Henniker, New Hampshire) Hit the slopes at Mt. Sunapee Ski Resort. Beloved by area skiers for more than 75 years, Mt. Sunapee Ski Resort is also a state park. “Sunapee” is an Algonquian Indian word that means “Goose Lake,” and the ski area is indeed known for giving visitors goosebumps, with some epic expert runs and four terrain parks in addition to family-friendly beginner and intermediate runs. Spacious Skies French Pond features RV sites year-round as well as glamping options including retro RV rentals and a secluded one-bedroom cottage during the milder seasons. Belle Ridge (Monterey, Tennessee) A man balances on a downed tree on a hiking path by Jon Flobrant - Unsplash At Belle Ridge pack up your daypack and walk right out of your RV or glamping cabin to on-site trails that lead to backcountry waterfalls, overlooks, caves and a catch-and-release fishing pond. And if you don’t get dirty enough after exploring these on-site options, head to nearby Cummins Falls State Park, a rugged 306-acre park situated on the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River on the Eastern Highland Rim. Sparsely visited in the winter, this scenic destination is home to the 75-foot-high Cummins Falls, the eighth largest waterfall in the state of Tennessee. In addition to RV sites, Spacious Skies Belle Ridge features lodging options like glamping cabins, luxury cabins and a vacation house for groups of up to 12 campers. Country Oaks (Dorothy, New Jersey) Break out your binoculars and head to Spacious Skies Country Oaks, a wooded oasis in the southern New Jersey countryside about an hour from Philadelphia and less than 40 minutes from the famed boardwalk of Atlantic City. The campground is close to wildlife management areas and hiking trails and near rivers and lakes in a region that is acclaimed for its birdwatching opportunities. Shenandoah Views (Luray, Virginia) Hikers watching the sunset by Brayden Winemiller - Unsplash Surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains and close to Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive, Spacious Skies Shenandoah Views offers access to numerous hiking trails such as the Bearfence Mountain Trail. This short but rugged hike leads to some of the best views in the park, but to get to them you’ll need to scramble over rocks. In addition to RV sites, Spacious Skies Shenandoah Views features glamping yurts and deluxe cabins in the spring, summer and fall. Hidden Creek (Marion, North Carolina) Spacious Skies Hidden Creek is just a short distance from the Linville Gorge, known as the Grand Canyon of North Carolina. This wild and rugged destination features elevations of 3,400 feet along the rim, and hikers will find the terrain is steep and challenging. In addition to RV sites, the campground – which has recently completed major enhancements – features 17 deluxe one- and two-bedroom cabins. Sandy Run (Fayetteville, North Carolina) Forest views from inside a camping tent by Scott Goodwill - Unsplash Near this delightfully scenic campground is the J.Bayard Clark Park & Nature Center, a natural woodland area that is dedicated to preserving the environment and providing educational information about its wildlife and plants. The park features meandering paved and unpaved trails that lead to one of the highest waterfalls in the coastal plain as well as secluded picnic areas and live animal viewing areas. The Sandy Run campground is especially popular among snowbirds heading south in the fall because of its easy access from major highways. Look for the campground’s colorful mural, created by Carolina artist Christine Crawford. The mural aptly features the Spacious Skies Campgrounds slogan, “Take Your Indoors Outdoors” and it often is the colorful backdrop for camper photos. Savannah Oaks (Savannah, Georgia) The southernmost campground in the Spacious Skies collection, Savannah Oaks is close to the Okefenokee Swamp Park, with boat tours, interactive exhibits and animal encounters, hiking trails and the Okefenokee National Park Wildlife Refuge. The campground is located just steps from the Ogeechee River west of the historic city of Savannah. Peach Haven (Gaffney, South Carolina) Nestled among the rolling hills of South Carolina’s Upstate, Spacious Skies Peach Haven features on-site hiking trails and easy access to attractions such as the Hollywild Animal Preserve. The preserve is home to nearly 300 endangered, wild and domesticated animals that roam through the park’s 100-acre preserve with pastures, water features and plentiful wooded areas. Bear Den (Spruce Pine, North Carolina ) Hiking through a forest by Jake Melara - Unsplash Located adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Pisgah National Forest, Bear Den campers need not travel far to get out in nature. The campground includes some 13 miles of hiking trails, an on-site lake with a beach and a 50-foot waterfall. Just a short drive from the campground is Mount Mitchell State Park, featuring the highest point east of the Mississippi River. The park offers trails to the summit, at 6,684, as well as a network of more challenging trails such as the Mountains-to-Sea State Trail. In addition to RV sites during the winter, campers can stay in on-site cabins come spring, summer and fall.


Beyond Jackson Hole: Where to Ski in Wyoming

Ski season is upon us, and one state offers the most stunning snow-capped peaks, pristine powder, and a sense of untouched wilderness. The last bastion of the west, Wyoming, is unlike any place in the country. While many immediately think of Jackson Hole for its incredible skiing, the state has many other ski areas that are accessible and more affordable for the entire family. Whether you’re an expert skier, it’s your first time on the slopes, or you’re here to soak in the views and peacefulness, Wyoming truly has something for everyone.Below are some of the best “off the packed slope” spots. While road conditions can be unpredictable during the winter months, those that are able to make the trip will be rewarded with spectacular skiing and beautiful mountain scenery. Snowy Range (Laramie, Wyoming) A "welcome to Wyoming" signs greets tourists on the road by Martin Podsiad - Unsplash This spirited, offbeat college town has deep Western roots and a vibrant cultural scene. Snowy Range Ski Area is ideal for a laid-back family ski trip. This low-cost area features many beginner and intermediate runs, offering 250 skiable acres and two terrain parks. Adult season passes began at $429. If stopping overnight, check out the comfy yet affordable motels and hotels in Laramie, and explore the eateries like Sweet Melissa’s and The Crowbar and Grill. Hogadon Basin (Casper, Wyoming) Found along the memorable route to Yellowstone National Park in central Wyoming, best known for its world-class fly fishing on the North Platte River, this city becomes a skier’s dream with some of the best slopes in Wyoming on Casper Mountain, offering downhill skiing, snowboarding, and fun snowmobiling trails at Hogadon Basin Ski Area. Hogadon has 60 acres of groomed slopes and 15 miles of Nordic trails. New to skiing? Consider the all-inclusive learning package at the snow school which includes rentals, a half-day lesson, and a lift ticket. Casper has hotels and lodges to suit any budget and satisfying dining options such as The Branding Iron or Backwards Distilling Company. Adult season passes start at $425. Antelope Butte (Shell, Wyoming) Skis lined up by Negley Stockman - Unsplash This area is rich in history, with geological formations dating back over 2 billion years, with a rare Jurassic dinosaur track discovered in 1997. And with a population of roughly 72 (reported in 2022), it is all about the scenery. The small but mighty Antelope Butte Ski Area, features three lifts, 28 trails, and a heated yurt. You can purchase full-day lift tickets online for $54 or at $44 for a half-day ski. Savor local craft beers and liquors at Black Tooth Brewery or enjoy a steak dinner in nearby Sheridan at Wyoming’s Rib & Chop House. White Pine (Pinedale, Wyoming) Residents call this the “The Real Wyoming,” which is located at the base of the Wind River Mountains and offers fat biking trails, alpine & Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and ice skating. Venture to White Pine Ski Area, one of the oldest in the state, which features 25 runs and over 350 acres of terrain with stunning scenery. For uninterrupted views of the Continental Divide and Wind River Range, snowshoe on the resort’s Nordic trails. Pine Creek (Cokeville, Wyoming) A skier speeds through thick snow by Alex Lange - Unsplash Pine Creek Ski Area is a local favorite when it comes to Wyoming skiing. It includes 30 diverse runs, more than 1,400 vertical feet, and the best part – short lift lines. Accommodations are about 50 miles away here in Kemmerer, where you can enjoy delicious food at a local favorite, El Jaliciense, or a local watering hole like Grumpies Bar or Stock Exchange Bar for a nightcap. Sleeping Giant (Cody, Wyoming) Ski goggles on a ski by Karsten Winegeart - Unsplash Plan a great American adventure and see where the deer and bison roam free with the moose, mountain sheep, elk, and bears. Check out Sleeping Giant Ski Area, and explore the 184 acres of terrain and a 6,619-foot vertical drop on the ski hill, found three miles from Yellowstone National Park. This affordable resort offers 49 runs for varying skill levels and two terrain parks. This location receives an average of over 300 inches of total snowfall per year. Full-day lift tickets start at $59 with half-day passes starting at $48.


Step Back Into Time at These Historic Holiday Destinations

For many, the holidays are about traditions—not just personal family activities, but local events and cultural practices that set this time of year apart. Across the country, destinations come alive with festive events honoring the heritage of a community, historic landmarks put on enchanting and educational experiences, and sacred holidays are once again celebrated with reverence. Visit the destinations below and take a magical winter tour through the ages: beginning in the Spanish settlement of 1500s-era Florida and the British colonies of 1700s-era Virginia, to the towns founded by European immigrants and the 19th-century frontier outposts of the Old West. Celebrate nativity in the New World (St. Augustine, Florida) St. Augustine remembers its Spanish settlement roots throughout the year - courtesy of Florida's Historic Coast When Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles landed on the shores of St. Augustine, Florida in September of 1565, his mission's priest, Father Francisco López de Mendoza Grajales, conducted what was to be the first parish mass in the New World. This holy site is where the new Spanish settlers would begin devotion to Our Lady of La Leche. Today, a small mission chapel stands in honor of Our Lady of La Leche. “Noches de Navidad” and Las Posadas will take place from 3 to 9 p.m. on December 16th, 2023. The event features a live Nativity, Eucharistic Adoration, cookies, hot cocoa, and a 16th-century Spanish procession of “Las Posadas” (the Inns). Admission is free, but reservations are required. Many local events celebrate the traditions of the European settlement, including St. Augustine's famous Night of Lights. It is firmly rooted in the Spanish tradition of displaying white candles in their windows during the holiday season. For images to accompany postings click here. More Spanish influence and heritage can be found throughout Florida's Historic Coast. The St. Augustine Spanish Food & Wine Festival celebrates the food, wine, and culture of Spain with a multi-day festival. Foodies, history buffs, and xenophiles can explore Spanish history and traditions while enjoying Spanish wine, tapas, and spirits. The festival takes place on the Flagler College Campus the last weekend in February. Enjoy festive Colonial merriment (Williamsburg, Virginia) Aerial view of the Governor's Palace in Colonial Williamsburg by Eric Foster - Unsplash The holidays are a wonderful time to visit the "Historic Triangle" in Virginia, when Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown light up with seasonal decorations, markets, and entertainment. Historic hotels, estates, and inns throughout the region sparkle with traditional lights and décor throughout the Christmas season. A Williamsburg White House Inn, themed after the White House, is draped in holiday decorations. And Colonial Williamsburg Resorts is celebrating the holiday season with a festive array of events and experiences including the Annual Lighting Ceremony at the iconic Williamsburg Inn and the highly-anticipated Annual Gingerbread Open House at the Williamsburg Lodge. On December 1st, the Yorktown Christmas Tree Lighting takes place at Victory Walk and Riverfront Landing. The evening is filled with live music including a performance by the Fifes and Drums of York Town. A procession will then make its way from the Victory Monument to Riverwalk Landing, where the tree lighting ceremony takes place. The following day, the Yorktown Holiday Boat Parade features a fleet of decorated boats navigate around the York River and compete for best in show. Festivities include caroling around a beach bonfire, a musical performance by the Fifes & Drums of York Town, and complimentary hot cider. The boats finish the evening as they make their way down the river in a dazzling show of lights. Also in Yorktown, Christmas Market on Main returns to historic Main Street on December 2nd and 3rd. Close to 100 vendors line the street selling everything from nautical paintings to handmade soaps to Christmas wreaths! The Town Crier will ring in the market, followed by a performance from the Fifes and Drums of York Town, an appearance by Santa Claus himself, and musical entertainment throughout the day to add to the festive atmosphere. On December 2nd, 9th, and 16th, Colonial Williamsburg’s Grand Illumination lights up the night sky over the colonial capital. Visitors can begin the special day by checking out the unique decorations throughout the Historic Area. Then, enjoy musical performances on multiple stages throughout the streets and fireworks displays from the Capitol and the Palace. At the Williamsburg Christmas Market dozens of vendors sell holiday gifts and décor, while shoppers enjoy photo ops with Santa, live entertainment, gluhwein (warm spiced wine), craft beers, Christmas music, fire pits, and delicious market food from local restaurants. On December 9th, visitors can enjoy “At Christmas be mery”: A Special Evening at Historic Jamestowne. Guests join an early Virginia Christmas celebration complete with costumed interpreters, madrigal singers, a seasonal bonfire, and caroling, along with a musical performance by William and Mary’s Christopher Wren Singers. From December 16th to 31st, visitors will celebrate 17th- and 18th- century holiday traditions through festive interpretive programs, traditional cooking, caroling, and musical entertainment at Christmastide in Virginia at Jamestown Settlement. Tour lavishly decorated Southern homes (Natchez, Mississippi) An historic home in Natchez, Mississippi decorated for Christmas - courtesy of Lou Hammond Group Natchez, Mississippi, known for its Southern hospitality, historic homes, and significant architecture, invites visitors to avoid the crowded cities this holiday season and swap snow for sunshine in this quaint riverside town. With mild winter temperatures and a selection of holly jolly happenings, including colored lights covering Main Street, decorated historic home tours and more, Natchez is the ideal place to create lasting memories for the whole family.Natchez has over 1,000 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Do You See What I See? Christmas tours at Sunnyside takes visitors through each room in the historic house, decorated with over 30 Christmas trees. Jeweled Christmas Tours, located in The Towers Mansion, adorns its halls in thousands of shimmering jewels in a showing named one of the top 10 most unusual Christmas displays by USA Today. Natchez Garden Club’s Christmas Tours offer a delightful blend of tradition, history and holiday cheer, allowing guests to immerse themselves in the unique yuletide charm of Natchez. Beloved historic homes, including Magnolia Hall, Monmouth Historic Inn and Dunleith Mansion, make spirits bright when they open for Christmas tours. These homes will deck the halls this holiday season for guests from all over to admire the classic estates and festive decorations. In partnership with American Queen Voyages, Christmas in Natchez will bring a festive European-style Christmas market to town for a month-long celebration at the Natchez Christmas Village Markets. Guests are invited to shop their way through the festive stalls, where they will find local crafts, seasonal treats and unique holiday gifts, perfect for checking off holiday shopping lists. Don't forget to stop by Hal Garner at Nest for stunning antiques and home collectables, or spend the day wandering the city’s many other shops. Shop at the village 'Christkindlmarkt' (Covington, Kentucky) A journey to Mainstrasse Village in Covington, Kentucky transports travelers to a 19th century Germantown where they can enjoy an eclectic array of German-inspired shopping, cuisine, and entertainment. On December 3, this serene village undergoes a magical transformation into the enchanting Mainstrasse Christkindlmarkt. From 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., indulge in the perfect fusion of Old-World charm and 21st-century vibrancy at this German-inspired holiday market. The event showcases skilled creators, delectable treats, mesmerizing music, and more. Don't miss this opportunity to explore the Christmas market and uncover unique gifts for your loved ones. Journey to the Old West (Colorado) A cold day outside in Morrison, Colorado by Gennady Zakharin - Unsplash Colorado is already an excellent choice for winter travelers looking for a magically snowy paradise. Head to Denver first, and sxperience the unique charm of the holiday season 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 25th – December 16th). From Denver, you'll have easy access to a number of enchanting mountain towns in the Rockies. 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 Morrison, the historic Fort Restaurant, designed to resemble an 1800s fur trading post, offers a unique holiday dining experience serving traditional dishes like bison and game meats. Tesoro Cultural Center's Las Posadas (December 24th) 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. Visit Cripple Creek as the Gold Camps come alive with dazzling holiday lights adorning mine headframes (November 24th – December 31st). Enjoy a festive self-guided tour, complete with holiday music and beautiful light displays in this historic mining region. For a touch of nostalgia, Colorado's many 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. On the eastern side of the state, at Bent's Old Fort, visitors can step back in time on December 3rd to experience the 1830s and 1840s with activities like reading "A Christmas Carol," trading for taffy and playing traditional card games. Scheduled programs include a Yule Log tradition demonstration and learning about the weapons used in the Borderlands that provide a glimpse into the past.