The holidays are a magical time of year for families to come together and create new memories. Celebrating the holidays in a new destination can make those experiences even more memorable. From European-style Christmas markets to mountain hideaways, here are four of our favorite family holiday destinations.
Ice skating rink at Edgewater during holiday season; Photo courtesy of Edgewater
In Madison, Wisconsin, the holidays are serious fun. Bundle up and head out to enjoy Madison’s many festive activities, from ice skating under the stars to dazzling holiday light displays. The Edgewater is the perfect base for a family holiday. Now celebrating their 75th anniversary, this family-friendly hotel commemorates the holidays with gusto.
At this “Rockefeller of the Midwest,” the annual Holiday Tree Lighting is capped off with the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus. Holiday Afternoon Teas are served in the lakefront Statehouse restaurant, and children delight in the Magical Breakfast with Santa, which includes a viewing of Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas. At PJ&S and Pancakes, kids and parents can dress in their favorite PJ’s and have breakfast with Santa, including made-to-order pancakes.
Cambria Christmas Market light displays; Photo courtesy of Cambria Christmas Market
Cambria, a town of 6,500 along Highway 1 in California, celebrates the holidays in its own unique style. Part of Cambria is along the beach, but it also stretches into the hills covered in sweet-smelling Monterey Pines. This creates a cozy, holiday feel for your family vacation.
The annual Christmas Holiday Market at Cambria Pines Lodge is a huge event. You can walk along paths lit with two million lights, take a train ride, or get a picture with Santa. There’s local beer in the Biergarten, as well as authentic gluhwein, sweets, and handmade wares at the authentic German Christmas market booths. The Market runs November 24 to December 23. Several of Cambria’s top hotels, including Cambria Pines Lodge, Sea Otter Inn, and the J. Patrick House & Inn, offer holiday packages that include admission to the Christmas market.
At Cambria Pines Lodge, Gerald Charles Dickens, the great-great-grandson of the legendary Charles Dickens, brings the timeless tale of "A Christmas Carol" to life with matinee and dinner show performances.
Santa interacts with crowd during Christmas festival; Photo courtesy of Breckenridge Tourism Office
For a fun family holiday, there’s nothing like a Colorado Christmas, especially in the mountain town of Breckenridge. Home to the largest historic district in Colorado, Breckenridge's Gold Rush history lives on in its Old West architecture and sense of adventure.
The holidays kick off the first weekend of December with the annual Lighting of Breckenridge and Race of the Santas, when hundreds of Santa look-alikes race down Main Street.
Afterwards, more than 250,000 LED holiday lights turn the town into a real-life holiday card, creating one of the most photographed sights during the snowy winter in Breckenridge.
Breckenridge is one of the top ski destinations in Colorado, but you can also celebrate winter and the Norse god of snow at the town’s annual Ullr Fest. Now in its 60th year, this December festival celebrates winter with a parade, snow dances, and much more.
Breckenridge has many family-friendly hotels. One new option is The Carlin, which follows the European mountain town concept of combining a restaurant with rooms. The top floor has four luxury suites, the main floor is the restaurant, and the lower floor is the cozy Tavern Underground. The Carlin’s Royal Tiger Suite is the perfect size for families.
Holiday decorations in Quebec City, Quebec; Photo by pololia/stock.adobe.com
QUEBEC CITY, QUEBEC
When the first flakes fall and the holiday lights go up, Old Québec turns into a magical winter wonderland. As you walk its snow-covered cobblestone streets, passing 17th and 18th-century buildings adorned with festive twinkling lights, it almost feels like you’ve stepped back in time.
In the heart of this enchanting scene, you’ll find a delightful German Christmas Market that runs from late November to December 23. There are fun activities for the kids, and the whole family can enjoy hot chocolate, sweet gingerbread and other holiday treats at the festive market.
Keep these family holiday destinations in mind when you plan your next holiday getaway.