Leave home for the holidays, and head for these six family-friendly locales.
1. Williamsburg, Virginia
The ghost of American Christmases past is alive at this reconstructed colonial capital, with its month of holiday events. Experience a yuletide supper welcoming Father Christmas’s arrival, a Christmas tree lighting, and a firing of the Christmas guns. A two-night package at the Governor’s Inn starts at $81 per person.
2. Ski Resorts in the West
Not only do ski resorts in Colorado, California, and Canada have awesome powder, they also have child-care centers and programs for families with kids. Whistler-Blackcomb offers small-group ski lessons and has free outdoor adventure centers for kids to explore. There’s also tubing, dogsledding, and ice climbing. Select programs are 40 percent off during Discover Whistler Days through mid-December.
Get a new thrill by experiencing the Old World’s spin on holiday traditions. Renting a Tuscan villa or Provençal farmhouse costs less now than during summer’s high season. Or visit famous Christmas arts-and-crafts markets while cruising the Danube or Rhine: Grand Circle Travel offers a nine-day cruise for $1,395*, including international airfare.
*Please check with tour operators; prices are subject to change.
4. Hershey, Pennsylvania
Forget the Disney World crowds and go to the “sweetest place on Earth.” Besides the 30 themed amusement-park rides at Hersheypark, you can enjoy the Christmas in Chocolate Town, a holiday dinner and musical at the Hershey Lodge. The Breakfast With Santa package, at $498 a night for four, includes lodge accommodation, a buffet with Santa, and admission to Hersheypark and Hershey’s Sweet Lights Show.
5. Club Med in the Caribbean or Mexico
These beach resorts are known for fun-packed kids’ programs with a range of activities from water sports to archery and trapeze. Put the tots in Baby Club Med or Petit Club Med if you need some beach downtime. The most family-friendly Club Meds are on the Mexican coasts and in Guadeloupe and the Dominican Republic.
6. Rocky Mountaineer Train, Canadian Rockies
Experience a real winter wonderland as this train travels from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Banff, Alberta. You’ll be treated to magnificent mountain views and partake of holiday partying onboard. Ranging from two to eleven days, the itineraries include side trips to glaciers and mineral springs along the way.