Step Back Into Time at These Historic Holiday Destinations

By BT Editor
November 13, 2023
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A market on a winter's day in Denver, Colorado - Colin Lloyd - Unsplash

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.

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            Celebrate the Season in Orlando—Without Ever Stepping Into a Theme Park

            While there's nothing quite like the magic of Walt Disney World decked out in Christmas lights and decor, there is plenty more to do and see in Orlando, Florida this holiday season—without even stepping foot into a theme park. The city prepares for an enchanting holiday season as attractions and hotels dazzle visitors with festive fun. From shimmering light spectaculars and reimagined live performances, visitors can enjoy the most wonderful time of the year with a full lineup of holiday happenings to celebrate the season. “November marks the start of a joyful holiday season in Orlando, featuring new experiences and cherished signature events that capture the magic of the destination and create treasured holiday memories with the entire family,” said Casandra Matej, president and CEO of Visit Orlando. Family-friendly, Festive Events Crayola Experience Musical Light Show - courtesy of Visit Orlando Island H2O Water Park debuts an all-new island-themed holiday light spectacular, “Holiday Nights,” (select nights from Nov. 8 – Dec. 31). The unique walk-through experience will feature twinkling lights, enchanting displays, immersive family fun, live entertainment, a holiday market and more. The Orlando Museum of Art transforms into a winter wonderland during the 37th annual Festival of Trees, Enchanted Holidays (Nov. 10 – 19). Featuring enchanting décor, more than 30 designer-decorated trees, gingerbread houses and wreaths, special events include an Opening Night Party, Breakfast with Santa and a children's Reindeer Romp party, photo ops with Santa and more. Harry P. Leu Gardens blooms into a winter wonderland with a million sparkling lights, shining forests, magical displays, music and beautiful sculptures during “Dazzling Nights” (Nov. 24 - Jan. 6). The three-quarter mile, family friendly interactive holiday experience features new immersive elements like a nighttime show with 100, 10-foot-tall beacons of light and a 30-foot-tall tree of thousands of shimmering, gold sequins. During the day, “Holiday Blooms” showcases a collection of beautiful floral and holiday themed displays throughout the garden. Ivanhoe Village kicks off the holiday season with Jingle Eve (Nov. 18), a free family friendly event featuring a variety of yuletide festivities, including beer gardens, live music, arts and crafts vendors, food trucks, a children's holiday village, a fireworks finale and more. The event will also feature the ticketed “12 Wines of Christmas” Wine Walk experience for access to tastings among a curated selection of wine options at 20 locations. Crayola Experience's Colorful Christmas (Nov. 18 – Jan. 7) returns with SNOWtastic adventures as visitors help save Christmas by piecing together riddles given by animatronic Christmas characters. In addition, guests will find a life-sized snow globe, complete with falling snow, a light show starring Scarlet and her singing reindeer and the chance to craft unique gifts. Watch as I-Drive dazzles with a glittering lighting ceremony of a 50-foot Holiday Tree during the I-Drive District Holiday Tree Lighting (Dec. 1). More details will be announced later this season. The 6th annual Oh, What Fun! Holiday Festival (Dec. 7-23) will transform the Lake Nona Town Center into Peppermint Square, a winter wonderland with nightly snowfalls, live entertainment, festive photo ops and more. Celebrating its 71st year, Winter Park's annual Ye Olde Hometown Christmas Parade (Dec. 2), the oldest continuous holiday parade in Central Florida, will feature over 80 participating organizations, including marching bands, an appearance by Santa and more. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex hosts Holidays in Space (Dec. 15-30), with Starflake's Holiday Voyage, a nightly projected show on the massive exterior of Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex where visitors can embark on a journey with Starflake as she travels through the stars, Earth and beyond. In addition, festive holiday décor encompasses the visitor complex, including a 50-foot tree with more than 61,000 pixels of light, an all-new Rocket Tree Trail Sponsored by L3Harris, astronaut nutcrackers and more. Gatorland's Holiday Ho Ho Ho-Down will return select dates starting Dec. 2. The family friendly event is included with park admission and will feature live music, festive food items and displays, and more. Holiday Productions and Shows String players performing by Larisa Birta - UnsplashThe Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra presents “Home for the Holidays” on Nov. 25 in Steinmetz Hall at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Conductor Mauricio Céspedes-Rivero will feature holiday favorites, singers and a few surprises. The Abbey hosts Candlelight: Holiday special featuring “The Nutcracker” and more on select dates between Dec. 6-20. The concert will bring the magic of a live, multi-sensory musical experience to awe-inspiring locations like never seen before, featuring the music under the gentle glow of candlelight. The Orlando Ballet premieres a new production of The Nutcracker, Dec. 8-24, in Steinmetz Hall at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. It will be an imaginative version of the world's most beloved holiday tale featuring an entirely new choreography to create a fresh and whimsical experience complete with giant snow globes, fancy mice, and a few high-flying surprises. The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts welcomes GRAMMY Award-winning multiplatinum musician Mark Tremonti for the “Mark Tremonti sings Frank Sinatra Christmas Special” on Dec. 16 in The Walt Disney Theater, paying homage to childhood Christmas classics. Very Merry Hotel Experiences A child and parent enjoy the magical holiday decor in Orlando - courtesy of Visit OrlandoThe Hotel Meliá in Orlando Celebration brings the joy of ice-skating without the cold weather through an installment of an Eco-Rink. Now through Jan. 3, hotel guests can glide on a sustainable alternative to a traditional ice rink with synthetic ice panels for holiday fun all season long. Gaylord Palms presents ICE! featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas (Nov. 17 – Jan. 3), where guests experience an immersive, story-driven holiday showplace complete with larger-than-life ice sculptures of classic scenes and beloved characters re-created in three dimensions, along with frozen slides, and tunnels where guests can experience an immersive, story-driven holiday showplace complete with larger-than-life ice sculptures of classic scenes and beloved characters re-created in three dimensions, along with frozen slides, tunnels and more.


            Stay Warm Indoors at These New Museum Exhibits This Winter

            Not quite adjusted to the cooler temps of fall yet? Feeling apprehensive about the impending "winter wonderland" weather? If you find yourself in a less-than-sunny destination over the fall and winter this year, take some time off from braving the bitter winds and dreariness, and stay warm inside at these fun and unique exhibits coming to museums across the country. Impressionism and Barbie in Ohio The Cleveland Museum of Art - courtesy of Destination Cleveland Three new exhibits come to the Cleveland Museum of Art this season, including Degas and the Laundress: Women, Work, and Impressionism (open until January 2024). This groundbreaking exhibition is the first to explore Edgar Degas's representations of Parisian laundresses, with a selection of works united for the first time. The exhibit contextualizes these works with others of the same subject by the artist's contemporaries, including Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Also featured are posters, photographs and books that reveal the interest of Parisians in the topic of laundresses during the late-1800s. In China's Southern Paradise: Treasures from the Lower Yangzi Delta (open now - January 2024), developed with the cooperation of Chinese museums, there are more than 200 objects from 40+ international museums on view for the first time to the American public. Pieces illustrate the rich history of the Jiangnan region, one of China's wealthiest, most populous and agriculturally fertile lands. Egyptomania: Fashion's Conflicted Obsession (now ‐ January 2024) brings together nearly 50 objects that explore the influence of Egyptomania in fashion by juxtaposing contemporary fashion and jewelry with fine and decorative artworks from CMA's collection. Loved the Barbie movie? In Columbus, Ohio, see the Barbie exhibit at the #1 science museum in the country, COSI (Center of Science and Industry). Visitors of all ages will want to check out Barbie™ You Can Be Anything™: The Experience, coming to COSI Oct. 4. COSI has been named the best science museum in the country for four consecutive years by USA Today 10Best, and this new exhibit showcases the iconic doll through history and allows visitors to explore 11 different careers and learn about more than 200 careers Barbie has had over the years. Human Ego, Cartoon Pets, and Zen in San Francisco Artwork on display in San Francisco, California - courtesy of San Francisco Travel Association Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama's dazzling psychedelic art installations are on view for the first time in the Bay Area at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). With an extended run through September 7, 2024, Yayoi Kusama: Infinite Love features two of the acclaimed artist's Infinity Mirror Rooms: Dreaming of Earth's Sphericity, I Would Offer My Love (2023) and LOVE IS CALLING, one of the largest and most immersive of such installations by the artist to date. In addition, Kusama's monumental sculpture Aspiring to Pumpkin's Love, the Love in My Heart (2023) pushes the polka-dotted pumpkin to new extremes, extending over 18 feet in length and more than 11 feet in height. Also at SFMOMA, Wolfgang Tillmans: To Look Without Fear opens on November 11th. Curated by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the exhibit is the most comprehensive of the artist's work to date. It encompasses Tillmans' iconic pieces in photography, video, and multimedia installations. Tillmans' inaugural solo exhibition in San Francisco is on view through March 3. At the Asian Art Museum, Takashi Murakami: Unfamiliar People — Swelling of Monsterized Human Ego, showcases more than 75 works — including a dozen never-before-exhibited ones — and delivers Murakami's signature combination of fun, spectacle, and playful social commentary in his first-ever solo exhibition in the Bay Area. On view through February 12, 2024, Murakami uses monsters as a lens to examine human behavior. Additionally this season, the museum will reveal two rarely seen, precious and celebrated artworks that have never previously left Japan. The Heart of Zen exhibit features Six Persimmons and Chestnuts — centuries-old ink paintings originating from China. The paintings, treasures of the Daitokuji Ryokoin Zen temple in Kyoto, have remained out of sight for all but a few monks and select special visitors. Given their fragility, Six Persimmons and Chestnuts will be exhibited separately for three weeks in November and December, and together for one week in December. Reuniting rare works from across the U.S. and Europe, Botticelli Drawings — presented exclusively at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco's Legion of Honor from November 19th to February 11the — is the first exhibition to explore the central role that drawing played in Botticelli's art and workshop practice. The exhibition unveils five newly attributed drawings alongside more than 60 works from 39 lending institutions. Botticelli Drawings features 27 drawings by the artist. The incredible rarity and fragility of these works preclude frequent travel, and many are leaving their lending institutions for the very first time in modern history solely for this exhibition. The Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco (ICA SF) currently has the largest solo museum exhibition of artist Patrick Martinez. On view through January 7th, Ghost Land features a major public art piece and large-scale sculptural installation. The exhibition highlights Martinez's “landscape” paintings—works that evoke the topography of personal, civic, and cultural loss, and includes a wall installation of his popular neon works. Also on view is Out of Place from Oakland-based painter Rupy C. Tut. Her exhibit follows the relationship between three characters – the body, the landscape, and the will to belong – and features Tut's largest paintings to date. Finally, Disney Cats & Dogs is on view at The Walt Disney Family Museum through June 2nd. The exhibit features over 300 archival reproduction concept sketches, paintings, model sheets, animation drawings, posters, photographs, digital artworks, and final film sequences that highlight the true-to-life design and movements of Disney's speaking and non-verbal cats and dogs, including characters like Mickey Mouse's best pal Pluto, Lady and Tramp from Lady and the Tramp (1955), and Duchess from The Aristocats (1970). Art-making and Apollo in Pittsburgh A view upwards through the architecture of Carnegie Mellon University by Nathaniel Shuman - Unsplash A one-of-a-kind exhibit Violins of Hope comes to the Posner Center on Carnegie Mellon University's campus, free and open to the public, through November 21st. The exhibit shares powerful stories of string instruments played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust. Plus, several other events and productions will take place around the city in tandem with this moving and important offering. At the Heinz History Center, the holiday exhibition A Very Merry Pittsburgh returns on November 18th and includes artifacts from Kaufmann's Department Store collection, along with a special section featuring family keepsakes, artifacts, film, and imagery that explores how Western Pennsylvanians have celebrated major winter holidays, including Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanzaa, through the years. The exhibit will run through January 7. The Andy Warhol Museum features its latest special exhibition Unseen: Permanent Collection Works through March 4, 2024. The collection features more than 60 works that have never been displayed, reflecting the enormity of the museum's collection and the complexity of Warhol's legacy. The Carnegie Museum of Art's new exhibit Amie Siegel: Panorama is now viewable through February 11, 2024. Additionally, the art museum is now offering new art-making programs for students up to 18 years old. Children ages 1–10 can share in art-making and sensory explorations at Museum Makers, a new weekly studio-based program. In its 95th year, The Art Connection will challenge artists in grades 5–9 to create unique artworks inspired by the work in our galleries and exhibit their own work in our galleries. For high school students, grades 10-12, interested in pursuing the arts, Youth Art Studio provides space and opportunities to expand students' personal art portfolios and learn more about creative fields and local academic programs. Finally, the first American lander since Apollo is currently being built at the Moonshot Museum. Visitors can get up close while it's still here – plus, the museum will double as the spacecrafts mission control center guiding the spacecraft on its journey to the moon, right from Pittsburgh. LEGO Towers in Michigan Build with LEGO bricks at the Towers of Tomorrow exhibit - courtesy of Visit Detroit The Michigan Science Center (Mi-Sci) is currently showing an all-new LEGO exhibition, Towers of Tomorrow with LEGO Bricks, presented by Ford Motor Company Fund. This exciting exhibition features 20 astonishing LEGO® skyscrapers from North America, Asia, and Australia constructed in breathtaking architectural detail. Featured towers include the Burj Khalifa, Bank of America Plaza, Barangaroo Hotel, Central Park Tower, Chrysler Building, CN Tower, Empire State Building, Eureka, Infinity Tower, International Commerce Tower, Marina Bay Sands, Petronas Towers, Q1, Shanghai Tower, Taipei 101, Tokyo Skytree, Willis (Sears) Tower and Wilshire Grand Centre. Visitors can also create their own 'towers of tomorrow' with over 200,000 loose LEGO® bricks available in hands-on construction areas. Young and old will be limited only by their imaginations as they add their creations to a steadily rising futuristic LEGO® metropolis inside the exhibition. “This extraordinary collaboration between Museums of History NSW and Flying Fish brings together the finest architectural artistry and creative expression. Brought to life by the talented Ryan McNaught and his team, these towering LEGO® creations are testaments to human ingenuity and limitless imagination. We are excited to share this stunning exhibition with audiences of all ages as we celebrate engineering, design, and play,” said Jay Brown, Principal & Managing Director of Flying Fish. Towers of Tomorrow with LEGO Bricks is included in Mi-Sci's general admission tickets, available at Mi-Sci is located at 5020 John R. Street in Midtown, Detroit and is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday and until 8 p.m. the first Friday of every month.


            This Year's Best Cities for Foodies

            If you're a traveler that prioritizes culinary experiences and local food, make sure to take a look at the cities that topped the "Best Foodie Cities" ranking for 2023. WalletHub recently compared over 180 destinations in the US to determine which had the best local food scenes. In order to determine the top destinations for food, WalletHub evaluated data in two key categories: “Affordability” and “Diversity, Accessibility & Quality.” Each category looked at metrics such as average restaurant meal prices and grocery costs; food and sales taxes; the number of restaurants, food trucks, farmers markets, cafes, breweries, and more per capita; access and availability of international and specialty item grocery stores, food festivals, tours, and culinary supplies stores; as well as restaurant diversity and recognition. Set aside those dieting plans for after the new year begins, and take a peak at what makes the destinations below so delicious. Top spots in the Sunshine State A taco stand in Miami, Florida by Daniel Lee - Unsplash Cities in Florida dominated the rankings, with Orlando coming out as the number one spot for foodies. It's no surprise—the city is a tourist hot spot thanks to its numerous theme parks and attractions. It tied for first place in multiple categories including the most restaurants, ice cream and frozen yogurt shops, gourmet specialty food stores, and coffee shops per capita, making it the ultimate destination if you are looking for variety and options when it comes to eating. While it didn't do as well when it came to affordability, the quality and diversity of the food scene make Orlando more than worthwhile for people looking for a tasty trip. With a bustling international food scene, Miami came in at fourth overall thanks to its top spot in the category of Diversity, Accessibility, and Quality. Cuban food is a particularly well-loved cuisine in the city, but the Miami dining scene also has an incredible amount of influence from several Latin American cultures. The south Florida gem also tied for first place in restaurants per capita and ice cream shops per capita. Tampa, Florida, ranked sixth overall, tied for most ice cream shops per capita and ranked fifth for most gourmet specialty food shops. While not making it to the top 10 overall rankings, Cape Coral also made an impressive showing as the city with the highest ratio of full-service restaurants to fast-food establishments Culinary gems in California A seafood restaurant in San Francisco by Yaopey Yong - Unsplash California was another state that topped the lists in WalletHub's research. Overall, Sacramento ranked third, San Francisco ranked fifth, and San Diego ranked seventh. Additionally, just outside of the top 10, Los Angeles made it to 13th place, Oakland came in at 21st, and Santa Ana was close behind at 23rd. San Francisco took second place in the category of Diversity, Accessibility, and Quality—which comes as no surprise thanks to its award-winning restaurants, bustling Chinatown, fresh-caught seafood, local farms, and international food scene. Sacramento and San Diego also had great showings in the same category, ranking seventh and eighth respectively. San Diego topped the list for most craft breweries and wineries per capita. Both Los Angeles and San Francisco tied in first for most restaurants per capita. Other notable California towns in the study include Fresno, which ranked fourth for lowest average beer and wine prices, and Santa Rosa, which tied for most craft breweries and wineries and came in second for highest ratio of full-service restaurants to fast-food establishments. Flavorful, affordable Western cities Las Vegas lights up the night by Ameer Basheer - Unsplash Destinations west of the Mississippi made a great overall showing, often due to the lower costs associated with food and dining. In eighth place overall, Las Vegas tied for most ice cream shops per capita and most restaurants per capita. While its affordability ranking was modest at 88th place, Sin City actually fared better than many of the other overall top-ranked cities (several of which fell near the bottom of that category, though they were redeemed with their incredibly diverse culinary scenes). Denver took 11th place overall, also with one of the better affordability rankings of the top ranked towns—the "Mile High" city doesn't quite have mile-high prices, coming in at decent 48th place. Texas towns had an impressive showing and are also more affordable overall. Austin made it just inside the top 10 at ninth place overall, came in at 13th in the Diversity, Accessibility, and Quality category, and ranked fifth for lowest cost of groceries. San Antonio showed up for a first place tie with the most ice cream shops per capita. Additionally, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, and Laredo ranked first, second, and third respectively for lowest cost of groceries—though they might not be as fun for dining out as the bigger cities. Pacific Northwest standouts Coffee shop in Pike Place in Seattle by Brett Wharton - Unsplash It's all about craft breweries and good coffee in the Pacific Northwest, and that certainly helped the rankings for towns in Washington and Oregon. Amidst all the Florida and California destinations, Portland, Oregon, snuck into second place overall, thanks to an impressive 5th place finish in the Diversity, Accessibility, and Quality category. Tenth-ranked Seattle also came in fourth for Diversity, Accessibility, and Quality. Both Seattle and Portland tied for most craft breweries and wineries per capita; Spokane also tied for most coffee shops per capita. —To view the full rankings and data, visit WalletHub.


            Top Historical Sites To Visit This Thanksgiving

            Berkeley Plantation, Home of The First Thanksgiving While it is commonly accepted that New Englanders held the first Thanksgiving, many actually contend Thanksgiving in English-speaking America took place in Virginia, at Berkeley Plantation, more than a year before the Mayflower set sail for Plymouth. Records show that Captain John Woodlief led his crew and passengers from their ship to a grassy slope here along the James River for the New World's first Thanksgiving service. Once they disembarked, in accordance with rules laid out by their British company expedition sponsor, the English colonists knelt down and prayed. The date was December 4, 1619. Today on the site where Woodlief knelt, a gazebo contains the following words: "Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God." While the plantation holds an annual Thanksgiving Festival during the first week of November, visitors can tour this fascinating historic home in Charles City year round. American Indian Heritage Month at Colonial Williamsburg Colonial Williamsburg. Courtesy of Throughout the month of November, Colonial Williamsburg features special programming to learn more about American Indians in 18th-century Williamsburg, where they were a regular and frequent presence. There were local "tributary" tribes, who were considered subjects of Great Britain by the 18th century, such as the Pamunkey, Mattoponi, and Chickahominy. And there were “foreign” Indian tribes who had a nation to nation relationship with Great Britain, such as the Shawnee and Cherokee, who would come to Williamsburg to discuss treaties with the Royal government of Virginia. These diverse native nations had an influence on American culture, democracy, and its struggle for independence. The explorations of these American Indian nations and their role in our collective story then and now is essential in understanding modern American life. At a special event on Thanksgiving Day, visitors can hear from President George Washington himself during a special reenactment event. Following a resolution of Congress on October 3, 1789, Washington proclaimed Thursday, November 26, 1789, a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer” devoted to “the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.” In setting aside a day for Thanksgiving, Washington established a non-sectarian tone for these devotions. It stressed political, moral, and intellectual blessings that make self-government possible and personal and national repentance. History-lovers will also want to book a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at one of the historic taverns, such as Christiana Campbell's Tavern or the King's Arms. American's Hometown Thanksgiving Celebration in Plymouth, Massachusetts Plymouth Thanksgiving parade. Courtesy of Plymouth, Massachusetts is one of the most visited places in New England, especially in the fall. Located where the Pilgrims first settled back in the 1600s, many of the town's historic sites have been wonderfully preserved or restored. Plymouth hosts several special holiday events during the weekend before and on Thanksgiving day. This year's festivities include a harvest market, historic village and living historians, children's activities and food trucks, Plymouth Philharmonic concert, as well as American's only historically-accurate chronological parade. On the day of Thanksgiving, the town puts on “Pilgrim Progress," a reenactment of the Pilgrims’ Sabbath procession to worship. Costumed participants representing survivors of the winter of 1621, assemble to the beat of a drum, proceed down North Street, along Water Street past Plymouth Rock, up Leyden Street to School Street where a short Pilgrim worship service is observed near the site of the original fort/meetinghouse. Psalms sung are taken from The Book of Psalms by Henry Ainsworth, used by the Pilgrims in Holland and in Plymouth. Passages read by “Elder Brewster” are from Governor Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation or other sources. After the service, the march continues through town on Main Street, ending at the Mayflower Society House via North Street. Then at noon, the National Day of Mourning March and Ceremonies are held at the Massosoit Statue. Since 1970, Native Americans and their supporters have marched to Plymouth’s Town Square and then gathered on Cole’s Hil. Organized by United American Indians of New England (UAINE), the march has brought about revisions in the depiction of United States history and government as well as settler relationships with Native American peoples. A day of remembrance and spiritual connection, the annual event is held to create a renewed appreciation for Native American culture, and to protest the treatment of American Indians.