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Best of...Christmas Destinations
This holiday season, for a little change of pace, take a trip to a new winter destination. Every city and town in the United States has lovely Christmas lights and unique Christmas traditions. Some places celebrate Christmas year round and go all out during the holiday season. Here are a few exciting and unique destinations have holiday traditions and celebrations that are well worth a visit during Christmastime.
Hershey, PA, called "The Sweetest Place on Earth," is where Milton Hershey started his chocolate factory, now known to people around the world. The town that bears his name is also home to Hersheypark, which puts on a spectacular Christmas program. The Hersheypark Christmas Candyland includes a light show, caroling and, of course, Santa. Hersheypark also has a variety of rides and other fun activities year round. Visitors to Hershey can also enjoy the famous drive-thru light display Sweet Lights.
Paradise, which is around 28 miles from Hershey, is home to The National Christmas Center, the only museum dedicated to Christmas in the world. At this Christmas wonderland museum, open all year, visitors will find a huge variety of Christmas displays. The displays include Santa images, a "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa" display, nativity exhibits and war years Christmas displays. Children are sure to enjoy Santa's workshop with the animatronic reindeer. The museum also has a Woolworth's exhibit with many of the classic five and dime toys.
Santa Claus, IN
In the town of Santa Claus, Indiana, everything is Santa Claus themed. Visitors will find streets named Blitzen Lane and Prancer Drive. Throughout the Spring and Summer visitors can enjoy the thrilling rides, including the world's best wooden rollercoaster, at Holiday World & Splashin' Safari. Unfortunately for holiday visitors, the Holiday World Park is closed until May 2010. However, the town of Santa Claus has lots of holiday fun other than the adventure park. Check out Santa's Candy Castle, reopened in 2006, where the whole family can join in the excitement of the Christmas spirit and sip on the famous frozen hot chocolate. Visitors will also enjoy the Santa Claus Museum, the headquarters for Santa's Elves, who answer all of the lost letters to Santa that arrive at the Santa Claus Post Office every year. No visit to Santa Claus is complete without a visit to the famous Post Office. While you're there, make sure to get a piece of mail postmarked with this year's unique postmark.
New York, NY
New York City is a great place to spend the holidays. The city is an amazing destination throughout the year, but the holiday lights and decorations are a wonderful bonus for holiday guests. First, visitors should stop and see the tree at Rockefeller Center. For the children, FAO Schwartz is a must-see destination. The store is a giant wonderland for children with heaps of toys to look at. The New York FAO Schwartz is the biggest and oldest toy store in the city, and its morning opening ceremony is a sight worth waiting for. Every morning three toy soldiers play a fanfare to open the store and welcome shoppers, then the store rolls out a red carpet for the shoppers. Another added bonus during the holiday season in New York are all of the fantastic window displays throughout the city's stores. If you don't want to shop, you can take a walking tour to see the delightful window displays.
North Pole, NY
The family will love a visit to the North Pole and Santa's Workshop. North Pole, New York, is close to Lake Placid, a much easier distance than a trip to the North Pole! Santa's Workshop opens at the end of June and remains open until a few days before Christmas. At the workshop, children can meet Santa and the whole family will love the festive atmosphere of the village. Visitors can feed the reindeer, ride the carousel, talk to an elf, and speak with Tannenbaum the talking Christmas tree. The village also has theaters, a blacksmiths shop, a candy shop, a glassblowers shop and, of course, a toymakers shop. This theme park is one place visitors can revel in all of the festivities of the Christmas season. In addition, since the town is close to Lake Placid, visitors can enjoy all of the outdoor winter activities to be found in the area.
The holiday season in Leavenworth is especially beautiful. Visitors will find concerts and plays, nativity scenes and even hand bell concerts. All of the little shops and inns are lit up with their holiday decorations, and seeing the town covered in pristine white snow is a delight. The town has the yearly German Christmas Market, Kristkendlmarkt, and the Christmas Lighting Festival. Visitors can also take sleigh rides through the snow. After a day of fun in the snow, visitors can return to the beautiful little town and have some fun with a Bavarian holiday experience. Leavenworth is a great destination for a quiet and traditional Christmas holiday, filled with carols, snow and sweet treats.
Las Vegas, NV
During the holiday season, the lights of Las Vegas are even more spectacular than usual. Although the city doesn't give visitors a traditional holiday experience, there are many great holiday activities and sights to take in. All of the hotels and casinos are transformed with their holiday decorations. The Bellagio has particularly spectacular decorations and the fountains perform to Christmas carols. Visitors to Las Vegas also have some fantastic shopping options, including an FAO Schwartz toy store. In the city you can enjoy a wide variety of music and entertainment throughout the holidays, as well as enjoying the terrific food.
Grand Canyon, AZ
The Grand Canyon is a great destination year round. In the winter, the canyon is coated in snow and the North Rim is closed, but the South rim is open year round, as are all accommodations and restaurants. Visiting the Grand Canyon during the holidays is a magical experience. The Grand Canyon is fairly close to Flagstaff, where you can enjoy a wide range of winter recreation. Another fabulous holiday tradition is The Polar Express, a special train ride run by the Grand Canyon Railway. Families can experience the tradition of the Polar Express ride from the children’s book of the same name. On this evening ride, children wear their pajamas and have the chance to meet Santa, enjoy delicious treats and visit the "north pole."