Great Holiday Destinations
Dreams come true during the holiday season, whether they’re of sugarplums, that special ring, or taking the fantasy vacation trip you’ve longed for.
We’ve dreamed along with you and located some charming destinations that will provide winter magic for singles, couples and families. If you’re ready to spend the holidays somewhere other than your or your relatives’ home, keep reading. We just might see you there!
Hersheypark’s Christmas Candylane transforms the sweetest place on earth into a glowing wonderland with more than four million twinkling lights. Drive through the Sweet Lights attraction, a breathtaking exhibit of illuminations and sculptures, share breakfast or lunch with Santa and enjoy the year-round rides, including four roller coasters.
Situated atop the mountain adjacent to Hersheypark is the historic Hotel Hershey, a spectacularly elegant Mediterranean-style villa resort inspired by the European hotels of Milton Hershey’s travels. The spa is fondly called the Chocolate Spa, where you can indulge in Chocolate Immersion, a signature chocolate-themed body treatment featuring a Chocolate Bean Polish followed by the Chocolate Fondue Wrap. The nearby Hershey Lodge hosts A Chocolate Avenue Christmas dinner theatre produced by an Emmy®-award-winning team.
The Resort at Paws Up, Greenough, Montana
Stay in a cozy, private vacation home and experience luxury and five-star amenities on this authentic working cattle ranch in western Montana. Christmas flair arrives each December with the resort’s comprehensive package that includes meals, a custom-decorated tree in your lodge, a gourmet dinner on Christmas Eve, and a personal visit from Santa.
Outdoor Big Sky Country activities include sleigh rides, horseback riding, dog sledding, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in a winter wonderland setting. Stay through New Year’s Eve, dubbed Stars Night, and ring in the New Year with fireworks, and, in 2015, a private concert by Austin Jenckes and Brian Pounds of The Voice Season 5.
Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz, New York
From late November to early January, this historic retreat is adorned in style, with garlands, wreaths, elaborate gingerbread creations and spectacularly decorated trees. The Victorian-era hotel in the Hudson Valley sits on 1,200 acres, including 85 miles of hiking trails, affording incredible views of Lake Mohonk and the Catskill Mountains.
Holiday packages include afternoon tea and cookies, a three-course dinner, bountiful breakfast buffet, antique-filled guest rooms, and resort activities including ice-skating, swimming in the indoor heated pool, fitness classes, yoga, meditation, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snow tubing, weather permitting. Guests who arrive before December 5 can watch the holidays come alive each day as the resort is decorated. If you’re looking for a romantic getaway for the holidays or are traveling solo, Mohonk Mountain House caters to your choices.
Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tennessee, transforms with more than two million lights into its annual festival, A Country Christmas. Experience extreme tubing at the six-lane tubing hill covered in one and a half million pounds of real snow, or ice skate at the 6,000-square-foot outdoor ice rink. And speaking of ICE!, experience The Nutcracker in a magical adventure with more than two million pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures, accompanied by the original Tchaikovsky score. This year, you can indulge your love of country music as Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers provide a Christmas dinner show, or visit the Grand Ole Opry House for a performance of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical.
Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Kissimmee, Florida, themes its 2015 ICE! presentation around the classic poem ’Twas the Night before Christmas, with the same volume of frozen stuff featured in six rooms that illustrate the poem. Other activities include Cirque Dreams UnWrapped live stage show, the Gingerbread Decorating Corner and the Elf on the Shelf® Scavenger Hunt. If you weary of activities, the myriad attractions of Disney World are a short drive away.
Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, presents Christmas on the Potomac, with more ICE! in the retelling of the classic television special Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town. It’s always 72 degrees in the atrium, but somehow snow seems to magically fall as part of the Atrium fountain shows, synchronized to modern and classic Christmas carols. Combine a visit here with excursions to the nearby Washington, D.C., attractions.
The Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada
The Bellagio never does anything in small measure, and the holiday season is no exception. The incredibly lush indoor botanical garden is bedecked with a dazzling Christmas tree decorated with 7,000 LED lights and 2,500 ornaments, flying reindeer, enormous ornamental balls and a display of polar bears made of 12,000 white carnations. Also displayed are two 12-foot-tall animated snow globes that showcase classic winter scenes. Outside, the iconic dancing fountains feature special performances of classic holiday tunes such as “O Holy Night” and “Santa Baby” throughout the season.
As always, it’s best to plan ahead and check hotel and resort availability. Even if it’s next year’s holiday excursion, you have a year to dream! HLM
Sources: bellagio.com, fodors.com, hersheypark.com, hersheylodge.com, marriott.com, mohonk.com and pawsup.com.