(BPT) - For some people, the holidays are meant to be spent at home, surrounded by friends and family. For others, they are a time to escape on vacation. And then there are those remarkable people who manage to work in both. To aid in that pursuit, here are six destinations across the country that are perfect for a quick holiday getaway.
Named by Good Morning America as one of the country's three most beautiful places, Asheville is a wonderful destination year-round, but in the winter, this town really turns up the cheer. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the historic Grove Park Inn hosts the National Gingerbread House Competition, inviting contestants of all ages from across the country to enter their sugary masterpieces into this famous contest. The houses are on display throughout the resort until the beginning of January. Across town, visitors to the area will find one of the largest private homes in America, The Biltmore Estate. Built by George Vanderbilt in the late 1800s, this 8,000-acre property is still family owned, and each year during the holiday season the home is decorated with dozens of trees, hundreds of wreaths and thousands of ornaments. It's a special treat to take an evening tour when all the candles and fireplaces are lit.
New York City
Visiting NYC over the holiday season is like dropping into a movie scene. The vibrant colors, soft white blanket of snow, and beautifully decorated trees set the scene of a perfect Christmas. Away.com, a travel inspiration site, recommends visitors to the Big Apple get tickets to the famous Radio City Christmas Spectacular and watch the 36 Rockettes kick their way through 'The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers' and 'The Twelve Days of Christmas.' They also recommend to head over to Fifth Avenue and take in the holiday window displays at the famous department stores. Don't miss the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, which has been a tradition for more than 75 years. And if that's not enough, several ice skating rinks and the holiday fair at Grand Central Station will surely fill out your vacation.
Chicago is host to one of the largest traditional German Christmas markets outside of Germany. The city's first Christkindlmarkt was held in 1996, and it now resides in Daley Plaza from the end of November through December. A tree-lighting celebration kicks off the season, and visitors can experience German traditions without having to fly to Europe. Walk through the small village under skyscrapers and feast on Bavarian pretzels and bratwurst. Plus, admission is always free.
Disneyland, Anaheim, Calif.
The happiest place on earth might just be the merriest place on earth, too. Disneyland lights up the holiday season with tons of sparkly decorations all over the park and castle. Of course there are parades with Disney characters, a Santa, and real reindeer, too. The park caps off the evenings with a 'Believe…In Holiday Magic' fireworks show, with lots of color and even snow.
Of course Austin, Texas, the 'Live Music Capital of the World,' would have a Christmas carol sing-along through the streets of downtown. After you harmonize your way through 'Jingle Bells,' make your way over to the annual Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, which has more live music and art that is 100 percent 'Made in Austin.' Once the sun goes down, take in 37th Street, which is famous for the thousands of lights that are displayed during the holidays. Clark Griswold has nothing on these people.
South Deerfield, Mass.
If you're one of those people who cannot get enough of Christmas, then head to Yankee Candle's flagship store in Deerfield, Mass., 15 miles south of the Vermont border. Year-round this store features an old fashioned German-style Bavarian Village. Mr. and Mrs. Claus are always nearby to say hello to the good boys and girls. Tons of ornaments and decorations can be found and snow falls from the ceiling to the delight of visitors.