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