Give Yourself the Gift of Travel This Christmas
For some people, the holidays are a time to gather around the hearth at home. However, for many jetsetters, it’s time to pack those suitcases and head for an exotic destination that’s halfway around the world or closer to home. Jetset Extra checked out some of the hottest destinations for the holidays this year:
If you’d like to experience the warmth of the Caribbean this Christmas, head down to Grenada or the Grenadines. At Mount Cinnamon on Grand Anse Beach, you can experience all of the joys of the holiday season. Take a half-day island cruise on a catamaran, complete with snorkeling and a lobster lunch. On Christmas Eve, dance on the beach to the beat of a West Indian drum band. On Christmas day, sip organic Grenadian chocolate martinis as “Rasta Claus” hands out gifts. On Dec. 26, Boxing Day, there will be storytelling, crafts, and music for the kids. For more information, call 473-439-9900 or visit their website.
If a private island is more your style, Palm Island Resort in the Grenadines will celebrate Christmas in style, with a steel band, Caribbean cuisine, storytelling, a cake-making demonstration, and, of course, Santa Claus will be dropping by. For more information, call 866-237-2157 or visit their website.
In Kosrae, Micronesia, they celebrate Christmas like nowhere else – each village divides into marching groups that practice every day starting on December 1 and culminating in a day-long performance on Christmas day. Marchers wear matching floral-print shirts and dresses, and spectators toss candy and other treats. Afterward, the audience votes on favorite groups by making small donations. For more information, visit their website.
They’re pulling out all the stops in Florida this holiday season. At the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa in Bonita Springs, enjoy a life-sized gingerbread village, elaborately decorated trees, and a fire pit for toasting s’mores. This AAA Four Diamond, 454-room resort between Naples and Ft. Myers features a vintage boardwalk through the mangroves, a lazy river, a private-island beach, large porches, hammocks, and plenty of palm trees. For more information, call (239) 390-4398 or visit their website.
The all new AAA Four Diamond Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa will celebrate the holidays with a bountiful Christmas feast, including savory sage roast turkey with apple and fennel stuffing, slow-roasted prime rib, crab-crusted grouper with melon salsa, garlic and herb potatoes, an artisan cheese display, honey-baked acorn squash with grilled asparagus, a complimentary glass of champagne, a Bloody Mary bar and a seafood bar. For more information, call 800-233-1234 or visit their website.
Miami is an even hotter destination than usual this holiday season. The InterContinental Miami will sport an outdoor ice rink next to Biscayne Bay from December 1 to January 15. The hotel will also display never-before-seen photographs of Andy Warhol through the month of December for Art Basel Miami Beach, going on Dec. 1-4, 2011. For more information, visit their website.
Looking to extend your holiday celebrations as long as possible? Puerto Rico has the world’s longest holiday season – starting right after Thanksgiving and extending all the way through Three Kings Day until mid-January, when “las octavitas,” eight days after the epiphany. Puerto Ricans have unique Christmas traditions such as “parrandas” – lively groups of carolers accompanied by bongos, guitars, and other instruments who go from house to house serenading their friends and enjoying food and drink. For more information, visit their website.
If you’re looking for a cowboy Christmas, Sheridan, Wyoming may be the place to be. With snow, Christmas lights, carolers, and an evergreen-decked wagon jingling down Main Street, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to the Old West. Visit the Trail End State Historic Park to the Bradford, the Brinton Memorial Museum, and the WYO Theater. The downtown area has more than 30 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For more information, visit their website.
Looking for some zany fun this Christmas? Then check out EverGreen Escapes in Seattle, which is offering a Wacky Holiday Lights and Wine Tour. Start your outing with a festive tour of the downtown holiday lights with Ride the Ducks. Then ride in a plush Mercedes van to the Fall Line Winery in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle, where you’ll enjoy select food and wine pairings while chatting with chef Heidi Pomeroy of Maven Meals and winemaker Tim Sorenson. The holiday lights tour, wine tasting, dinner and dessert is $114 + tax per person. Skip the lights and enjoy the trip to the winery, dinner and wine tasting for just $99 + tax per person. EverGreen Escapes also offers snowshoeing trips to Mt. Rainier, Crystal Mountain, and Snoqualmie , and a series of adventures called ActiVino! that combine snowshoeing or another activity, lunch, and an afternoon wine-tasting. For more information, visit their website.
For more even more holiday festivities in Seattle, head over to West Seattle Junction for three weeks of Hometown Holiday festivities. Events include a Holiday Raffle, professional Santa photos with proceeds benefiting West Seattle charities, festive carriage rides down California Avenue SW pulled by a beautiful Belgium Draft mule, Shop Late Thursday at Junction retailers and a nighttime Farmers Market on December 22 at Junction Plaza Park. For more information visit their website.
You may not think of “Sin City” as a festive place to spend Christmas, but Las Vegas has a host of G-rated attractions planned for the holiday season. Check out “Santa and the Shipwreck” at the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay. Santa will visit the aquarium from 10 am to 4 pm December 21 through 24 to hear last-minute Christmas wishes. Kids 12 and younger with paid admission will receive a candy cane and a photo with Santa.
At the Bellagio’s Conservatory and Botanical Garden, check out a free holiday display through January 3 that features a 42-foot-tall Shasta Fir with twinkling lights and traditional holiday decorations, oversized jingle bells, igloos, and families of penguins and polar bears. The Bellagio’s iconic fountains pair a light and water show with traditional Christmas carols.
At the Mirage, Terry Fator will perform “A Very Terry Christmas,” mixing Christmas songs into his spot-on singing impressions and ventriloquism skills. From “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” to “White Christmas,” “A Very Terry Christmas” captures the spirit of the holidays.
Christmas traditions in Albuquerque, New Mexico are a blend of Native American, Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo culture. Visit the River of Lights from November 26th to December 30th and see thousands of lights transform the Albuquerque BioPark Botanic Garden into the largest walk-through holiday light show in New Mexico. Walk through the gardens to see animated, lighted displays of zoo animals, Southwestern plants, and holiday scenes. And don’t miss the Luminaria Tour on December 24th – entire neighborhoods are lit up with “lanterns” made out of brown paper bags filled with a few cups of sand and a small lit candle. Drop by Old Town at any time during the holiday season to see its lit Christmas tree and thousands of twinkling luminarias.
On December 12th, visit one of New Mexico’s 19 pueblos to see the annual luminaria lighting event accompanied by traditional pueblo dancing, music, food, and storytelling. For more information, visit their website.