Most Festive US Cities to Celebrate the Holidays with Kids
Holidays with kids By Jody Halsted
Visiting Santa Claus’ Land Of Lights is a great way to spend holidays with kids. (Courtesy Spencer County Visitors Bureau)
As the holidays approach, a sense of excitement begins to vibrate through the air. Decorations are pulled from storage with joyous anticipation of an evening spent trimming the tree while family-friendly movies play on the television. Whimsical displays fill the stores, and the sounds of Christmas songs carry in the still, cool air.
Celebrations abound across the US to welcome the holiday season, but these five cities take holidays with kids to a new level of wonderment and magic.
Your Holidays with the Kids are Better in the Most Festive US Cities
It’s always Christmas in Santa Claus, Indiana, but in December it becomes Christmasy-er! Three weekends of celebration have Jolly Old St. Nicholas front and center. Join him for breakfast or dinner, visit him at Santa’s Christmas Store, and hear his story at the Santa Claus Museum & Village. Or just send him a letter with the special Santa Claus postmark!
All around the town you’ll find family-friendly festivities. There are arts & crafts, live theater, story times, twinkling lights and toy testing. You can even end your evening by roasting chestnuts over an open fire at Santa’s Candy Castle, a true Christmas tradition. It’s definitely one of the best places to visit for Christmas with the family.
In family-friendly Wilmington, North Carolina, Santa loves the beach and Christmas by the sea makes for fabulous holidays with kids! Lighted parades on land and water are only the beginning of the spectacular events that stretch from Thanksgiving through the end of December. On weekends you can visit Santa along the Carolina Beach Boardwalk for storytelling, caroling and holiday-themed movies. And you can wander the illuminated gardens at Airlie or join a candlelight tour at Poplar Grove.
Any extra time your family may have will be easily filled with live Christmas shows, concerts, historic holiday strolls and Christmas-themed adventures aboard the Battleship North Carolina.
Across the county, Monterey County, California, welcomes the holidays with at least six tree lighting celebrations, making it one of the best places to visit for Christmas. They come complete with carolers, reindeer, visits from Santa, and three lighted, kid-friendly parades between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Your family will get right into the holiday spirit as you ice skate by the bay, enjoy the festivities of Christmas on the Wharf, or walk through the streets of Bethlehem in a live Nativity Story.
Historic Downtown Monterey bedecks itself for the holidays with Christmas in the Adobes, an evening event which transports your family to the mid 19th-century. See the Adobes by candlelight while you enjoy tasty treats and live performances in the historically decorated homes.
Celebrating Yuletide in Taos, New Mexico, adds a bit of southwestern flair to holidays with kids. The month-long celebration begins with the Twirl Aglow party, an enchanting community-wide gathering filled with the wonder of the season. Lighting up the night is a big part of Yuletide. Not only is there a tree lighting ceremony, but historic Ledoux Street has its own celebration too. Here, farolitos and luminarias swath the narrow street in golden glow welcoming visitors to the galleries, museums and shops. All around town, celebrations are taking place—holiday fiestas, winter concerts, crafting workshops and festive bonfire celebrations.
Living history has a different meaning at Taos Pueblo, a 1000-year-old Native American community. Sunset on Christmas Eve heralds the Procession of the Virgin. This combines thousands of years of Christian, Native American and southwestern traditions to create an event like nothing else in the world! Return on Christmas Day for the ceremonial Matachines Dance, honoring the depths of winter.
With over 1,400 events taking place over 40 days, Grapevine—the Christmas Capital of Texas—is the place to visit for Christma and celebrate winter holidays with kids. Begin with the larger-than-life-size ICE! sculptures at the Gaylord Texan’s Lone Star Christmas. Then visit LEGOLAND® Discovery Center where your child can created their own (smaller) ‘brick-tacular’ creations in the holiday themed build challenge. Hop aboard the North Pole Express to have cocoa with Santa. Later, return to the historic downtown for the fun at Christmas on Main and a chance to meet Captain Christmas, Grapevine’s talking reindeer!
Lighted parades on both land and lake, classic Christmas movies, and live shows at the Historic Palace Theater will keep your itinerary full and make holiday wishes come true.