Not everybody wants to stay at home for the holidays, and lately more and more people are leaving home to find the holiday magic. Since it’s become easier than ever to book flights and hotel rooms, traveling is a common holiday option. If you’re not sure where to spend your Yuletide, any of these eight destinations are guaranteed to fill you with tidings of comfort and joy.
1. Liberty Hotel, Boston
Liberty Hotel is a great hotel for any vacation, but Christmas is when it really shines. For the holidays, the hotel attracts a number of guests each year for its John LaRoche installation: six nine-foot tall Christmas trees, hanging upside-down from the 90-foot rotunda ceiling. The trees are all decked out, with 1500 holiday tree lights, 50 yards of bronze ribbon, and 720 tiny glass ornaments. The trees take eight men to install, and are a magical sight from each level of the hotel. The former jail turned luxury hotel is also a short walk away from Charles Street, where the boutiques will make your Christmas shopping a breeze. You can get all of your gift shopping done with yoga-wear from Core de Vie, kid’s clothes from Ralph Lauren at NRO Kids, and transcontinental jewelry from Good. A Portuguese dinner of katchupa sausage from Restaurant Cesaria will be the perfect end to your afternoon of spending.
2. Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Lake Tahoe is the perfect setting for your Christmas, with its snow-capped mountains and lights decorating the town. From December 20 to 31 the Heavenly Village has its annual Festival of Lights. The Festival features professional ice skating shows, carolers, and ice sculptors. There’s also a chance for the kids to get their picture taken with Santa in his workshop, which is recreated in a 16-foot interactive snow globe. Café Fiore is the perfect place to stop for an Italian dinner, and you’ll find a new appreciation for the cold when you try their home-made white chocolate ice cream. With opportunities to ski and ice-skate at the Heavenly Lodge, Lake Tahoe is the perfect place to make a memorable holiday.
3. 5th avenue, New York City, NY
The walk from Fifth Avenue to Macy’s on 34th features the best Christmas Windows in the world. After the Traditional Tree Lighting Ceremony, you’ll have to check out the iconic department store window displays. Past displays include Barney’s interactive scenes with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and the use of 3-D mapping and light projections to create a “floating city.” Last year, Macy’s window displays followed the journey of a young boy through an enchanting dreamland with the use of LED lights, and Saks had an interactive window where guests could choose and display their own “Yeti” name. Between the window displays, twinkling lights, and performances by 39 choral groups and musical ensembles, you will definitely feel Christmas in the air.
4. Opryland Hotel, Nashville, Tennessee
The Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center does not hold back during the holiday season, known as “A Country Christmas.” Two million LED lights cover the property on every tree and bush outside, while inside curtains of light hang from the ceiling. The hotel also features not one, but four different nativity scenes: one on the front lawn, one carved of ice, one in the Delta atrium, and a “Living Nativity” that is part of the Music City Rockette show. Nashville does not typically get a heavy snowfall, so this year Opryland has added an ice-skating rink and the Arctic Plunge: a six-lane tubing hill made from 1.5 million pounds of real snow. From gingerbread decorating to the birth of Jesus, Opryland had included almost every vital part of the yuletide tradition, now complete with snow for your own white Christmas.
5. Washington DC
Since 1923, the United States has lit a National Christmas Tree in Washington DC every year. The 40-foot live Colorado blue spruce was given company in the form of 56 smaller trees in 1963. Those surrounding trees, dubbed the Pathway of Peace, represent the 50 states, five American territories, and the District of Columbia. Every year one-of-a-kind ornaments are designed by Americans to hang on the state trees, and on December 4 the national tree is lit – no matter the weather conditions. You can visit the tree at any time during the holiday season, and listen to the nightly choirs who perform. If you want to see a true winter work of art, stop by the Gaylord National Resort for ICE!, where every year dozens of artisans carve a winter marvel from thousands of ice blocks. The 2014 theme is “Frosty the Snowman” and will exhibit scenes from the TV special carved from ice, including Frosty marching through the town square!
6. Josselyn’s Log Cabins, Jefferson, New Hampshire
Josselyn’s has a variety of ordinary log cabins that will keep you cozy during the holidays, but if you’re really feeling in the spirit, go straight for the Christmas Cabin. The cabin is rustic and cozy, and the snowy surroundings are so beautiful you won’t be able to resist making a snow fort. The cabin is secluded but still close to town, and only about a mile away from Santa’s Village. The Christmas-themed amusement park has 16 rides, with names like “The Great Humbug Adventure,” and “The Skyway Sleigh.” Santa’s Village is as close to the North Pole as you can get, with reindeer to feed, performing elves, and appearances by St. Nick himself. After a day at the park, stop by JL Sullivan’s Irish Pub for some barbecued pulled pork before heading back to the cabin. With six beds to choose from, you’re sure to get a good night’s sleep before Christmas morning.
7. Aspen, Colorado
When you visit Aspen for Christmas, you’re guaranteed never to have a dull moment. The Aspen Chamber Resort Association has a calendar full of activities for the 12 Days of Aspen, which begins on December 20 and concludes on the 31st. There’s guaranteed to be an activity for everyone in your group. Sports-lovers can watch the USPA World Snow Polo Championships at Wagner Park, and theater-lovers can watch the Theater Aspen School’s performance of The Importance of Being Earnest. The Little Nell Hotel features an Ugly Sweater Party, and Santa himself shows up with his live reindeer at the tree lighting celebration before heading home to the North Pole. With all of the activities going on, you might forget that you came for the main attraction – to ski!
8. The Bahamas
The Bahamas are the perfect place to have a festive Christmas without the freezing temperatures. One of the central parts of Christmas in the Bahamas is the food: black cake, ginger beer, pickled onions, and garlic pork will make up your holiday meals. Much like at home, carolers start singing songs like “Christians Awake, Salute the Happy Morn” in public about a week before Christmas, but the Bahamas also has its own festive tradition with the Junkanoo parade. The parade is comprised of a number of dance troupes, who dance along to the sound of whistles, goatskin drums, and cowbells as they wear colorful dresses. Junkanoo lasts from 2am until 10am, and the performer’s energy doesn’t waver until the judges award them their prizes for best music, costumes, etc. While the Bahamas celebrate the traditional customs of feasting and gift-giving, it’s their own holiday festivals that will fill you with the Christmas spirit.