Escape to a winter wonderland!
Let's be real, you both need a vacation. Now more than ever. Between hustling to the post office and back to send packages of presents to nosy in-laws asking "when you kids are gonna settle down" or "start giving us some grandkids" for the umpteenth time, the holiday season can be … well … not so jolly.
So if you're feeling the stress of the holidays build, now's the time for a relaxing getaway for two. To help you get into the spirit of the season, here are some holiday-themed destinations that are perfect to escape to this weekend (no in-laws or kids allowed).
If you've ever wondered what it's like to live inside a Norman Rockwell Christmas card, this is your chance. Dubbed the "Christmas City", walking the downtown streets here on a snowy evening is like walking through a wintry wonderland a la It's A Wonderful Life. You can shop the 170+ vendors at Christkindlmarkt, listen to live holiday tunes, dig into delicious German and Austrian food, and clink glasses on the holiday cocktail trail. Cheers to that!
Whisk yourselves away to the majestic White Mountains in the small state of New Hampshire. It's a small New England ski town, but more than that, it's a place where you can really get in touch with your inner child by recreating a classic holiday book straight out of your childhood: Chris van Allsburg's The Polar Express. Similarly, The Polar Express of New Hampshire is a real-life train of the same name that winds its way between North Conway Village and downtown Lincoln. For the two-hour ride, you can admire the snow-speckled peaks and sip on hot cocoa. Probably the best part of this magical journey is that it supports the Believe in Books Literacy Foundation, which is a family literacy initiative to provide kids with book bags filled with quality books in New Hampshire and Western Maine. And isn't giving back all part of the holiday season?
This otherwise unassuming midwest city is a capital for Christmas lights. During this time of the year, the hotels, houses and theaters all come together to put on the Branson Area Festival of Lights, which draws over a million tourists every year. The festival kicks off early in November and lasts all the season through — perfect for a last-minute retreat! You can take a horse and buggy ride, watch the Annual Adoration Parade travel through downtown or simply ooh and ahh at Branson's millions of twinkly little Christmas lights at the Winter Wonder Landing, the world's only fountain display that shoots fire and water. Oh, and did we mention it's choreographed to Christmas music?
No, not that North Pole. But that doesn't stop kids from all over the world addressing their letters for Santa Claus to this small, misleadingly named city in the Fairbanks North Star Borough of snow-swept Alaska. They capitalized on their accidental fame, by establishing a gift shop attraction named Santa Claus House, the modern-day incarnation of a trading post established in the town's earliest days. Its also home to the world's largest fiberglass statue of Santa Claus who greets visitors outside. And who doesn't want to meet Santa?
If there's one place that does the holidays the good old-fashioned way, it's the mountainside town of Leavenworth. From caroling in the streets to alpine horns blaring to Christmas lightings and craft fairs, the townspeople here are filled to the brim with holiday cheer. And don't forget to include a stop to the
Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum which is all about — you guessed it — elaborately decorated nut chompers!