Holidays with kids
By Mimi Slawoff
Silver Dollar City’s “An Old Time Christmas” festival makes for a great Christmas getaway with kids (Courtesy Silver Dollar City)
It’s easy to get in the holiday spirit when you visit a town. Especially if it twinkles with lights, glows with good cheer, and offers an array of merry family-friendly festivities. Many cities decorate for the holidays, but some go all out. These cities transform into a storybook winter wonderland with towering Christmas trees, strolling carolers, parades, train rides and heartwarming shows. It’s no wonder they are ranked among the best destinations for a Christmas getaway with kids.
With holiday lights, festive shows and merry greetings, these family-friendly cities are among America’s best towns for the holidays.
America’s Best Towns for a Christmas Getaway with Kids
Possibly at the top of the list for America’s best towns for the holidays, this Ozark town goes all out for Christmas. The G-rated, Vegas-style strip features scores of outstanding kid-friendly Christmas shows starring musically talented families. A must-see is Silver Dollar City’s “An Old Time Christmas” festival. It features more than 5 million lights, 1,000 decorated Christmas trees, Christmas musicals, a Christmas Light Parade, and holiday treats. The 1880s-style theme park dazzles during the holidays when all of the rides, shops, theaters and restaurants are bright with lights. Be sure to tour Marvel Cave. Even the railings leading down to the cave are decorated with lights, forming an outline of a Christmas tree.
Find more family fun at the waterfront Hilton Hotel Promenade Branson. The hotel sits on the banks of Lake Taneycomo and is steps from historic downtown. Shops and restaurants adorn the festively decorated promenade, where you can catch a ride on a train.
ICE! featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at Gaylord Opryland (Photo: Doug Scaletta 2016)
Nashville’s legendary music venues get in the spirit of the season with an array of family-friendly activities and shows. Topping the charts is A Country Christmas at Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center through Jan. 1, 2017. It features more than two million lights, lavish decorations, outdoor nativity display, and several holiday activities. Among them is ICE, an interactive winter wonderland carved from more than two million pounds of ice. The event, themed Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, features colorful, three-dimensional, larger-than-life holiday sculptures, and four ice slides. Opryland’s Christmas getaway with kids includes ice skating, snow tubing, Santa’s snowball toss, and Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas: The Musical.
After an exhilarating day in one of America’s best towns for the holidays, there’s no better place to relax than the elegant Hermitage Hotel. The family-friendly hotel in downtown Nashville is beautifully decorated for Christmas. And it has a spa, rooftop pool, and yummy food (try the mac n’ cheese) at the Capitol Grille restaurant.
Old World Christmas Market at the Osthoff Resort (Courtesy Old World Christmas Market)
Secluded and picturesque, Elkhart Lake offers families a quiet, laid-back Christmas getaway with kids. An Old World Christmas Market at the Osthoff Resort features crafts, Turkish shawls, Russian nesting dolls, Estonia woolens and more. Family fun includes hayrides and breakfast with Santa, caroling, and ornament and cookie-making workshops with Mrs. Santa. On hand is delicious German food including bratwurst, dumplings, potato pancakes and apple strudel.
Most festivities take place at The Osthoff Resort, a luxury family resort. They surprise kids (shhh) with a stocking of goodies on Christmas morning. Across the street is another kid-friendly hotel: the low-key Siebens Resort. They offer one-, two- or three-bedroom condominiums with modern kitchens.
Solvang is an authentic Danish town nestled in central California’s serene Santa Ynez Valley. Proud of its heritage, the family-friendly town is teeming with sumptuous bakeries and restaurants. Solvang twinkles during Julefest (pronounced Yule-fest), a Danish holiday celebrated in December. The Julefest Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place at 5 pm Dec. 2 in Solvang Park. Kid-friendly festivities continue with Santa visits, a parade, a community nativity pageant, Christmas carols and more.
The Hadsten House Inn is an ideal Christmas getaway with kids. It has a prime location across from the Hans Christian Anderson Park. Amenities include an indoor pool and complimentary breakfast.
Fireworks over Ogden’s Christmas Village (Courtesy Ogden’s Christmas Village)
This railroad town has a unique Christmas Village that features 59 elf-sized, themed cottages with names. These include The Elf Workshop, The Grinch, and Santa’s Castle, where kids can share their wish lists with Santa. Climb aboard the Polar Express Train to travel through a tunnel featuring glow-in-the-dark artwork.
Come nighttime, bunk down at the family-friendly Hilton Garden Inn. Amenities include a family package, indoor swimming pool, children’s menu, cribs and high chairs.
For a snowy Christmas getaway with kids, bundle up for a visit to this small ski town in the San Juan Mountains. Family-friendly holiday festivities include hot chocolate while riding on the Polar Express, where you can meet the conductor and elves. More holiday fun includes Santa visits, an arts and crafts festival, and holiday shows. These and more make Durango among America’s best towns for the holidays.
Families will be cozy at the Residence Inn Durango. The inn boasts spacious rooms and suites with fully-equipped kitchens, free WiFi, free breakfast and laundry facilities.
Mimi Slawoff of Planetfamilytravel contributed this to MiniTime. She is a Los Angeles-based journalist and a seasoned family travel expert who explores the world with her three children and writes about their journeys.