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Christmas Vacation?

Advice Editorial: Some Suggestions For Those Who Don't Want To Be Home For Christmas

Whether looking for holiday cheer with a New England twist, the assurance of a white Christmas or even to escape the chill, there's a town in the United States that can accommodate it.

There’s Cape Cod, where the Atlantic crashes into a coastline strewn with quaint harbors, windswept beaches, glorious dunes, cranberry bogs and blinking lighthouses. Add Christmas garlands, wreaths and lights to those lighthouses and the architectural and culinary gems adorned with weathered shingles, whaling captains’ mansions and chowder shacks, and a storybook Christmas setting materializes.

It’s a place to capture the brilliance of winter sunsets, harbor views and roaring fires, where Santa arrives by boat, in a cozy B&B or at a full-service hotel, resort or inn. Plan a visit around the lighting of the Pilgrim Monument and the Lobster Pot Tree. Or book a spa experience, dine fireside, bundle up for a walk on the seashore or enjoy village strolls, parades, fairs, theater, shops or even a train to Christmas Town. The Annual Glassblowers’ Christmas features the hand-blown glass ornaments of local artists beautifully displayed on Cape Cod’s Forest of Christmas Trees.

Chosen by both Lifetime and Netflix for filming locations, Leavenworth, Washington is a Bavarian-styled village set in the Cascade Mountains. Its Nutcracker Museum displays thousands of nutcrackers, some dating back centuries.

The small village in the Alp-like mountains of Washington State, which leads to nearby ski areas and wineries year-round, boasts millions upon millions of Christmas lights, a reindeer farm called Antler Academy, sleigh rides, sledding and almost guaranteed snowfall.

It might be located 1,744.54 miles south of the real North Pole, but rest assured holiday decorations will be on display from January through December in a town of just more than 2,000 residents called North Pole, Alaska.

One can celebrate the Christmas spirit year-round at Old St. Nick’s house (it can’t be missed; just look for the 40-foot-tall statue of Santa along the Richardson Highway), glimpse candy cane street lamps on byways with names such as Santa Claus Lane and Kris Kringle Drive, and meet the mayor who goes by “Santa.”

Stay at the Santaland RV Park, or lodge at the Hotel North Pole. Those really committed to the season can reserve the Santa Suite, complete with its own Christmas tree.

It’s a place where some 400,000 letters arrive each year addressed simply to “Santa Claus, North Pole, Alaska,” and where volunteers have worked tirelessly to answer each and everyone arriving at the 99705-zip code for 70-plus years.

Descending the last hill on an unlit country road in Bernville, Pennsylvania, travelers find themselves in a valley set aglow with more than a million Christmas lights adorning buildings, barns and landscapes.

William Koziar began decorating his house and barn at Christmastime in 1948 for his family. As each year passed, his display became more elaborate incorporating the lake, walkways, trees and fences. Featured on CNN Travel, HGTV, The Weather Channel, ABC, Today and QVC, William's Christmas Village has grown to become one of Pennsylvania’s top 10 holiday attractions drawing visitors from around the world as well as locals who have made it a Christmas tradition for four generations.

For those preferring warmth to cold, even in December, a small city on Florida’s southeast coast awaits. Delray Beach, Florida, features the Pineapple Grove Arts District, Japanese Gardens, serene outdoor spaces such as the Wakodahatchee Wetlands, and a very large Christmas tree. It may not have grown from Mother Nature, but the tenacity behind building this 100-foot Christmas tree, with its 18,000 ornaments and 217,980 lights, is real, says Danielle Beardsley, spokesperson for Delray Beach.

“The tree structure, the houses inside and the houses outside the tree, take about 10 to 14 days to set,” she says. “The details on the insides take about a month to complete.”

When the aluminum sections are assembled, they create rings, each smaller than the next.  Once the rings are completed, they are lifted by crane on top of each other creating the tree shape. The star is placed last.

Activities in and around the tree include ice skating, carousel rides, walks through the tree and Santa and gingerbread house tours.

Regardless if dreaming of a Hallmark movie-like setting or Christmas on the beach, as it turns out, there are real-life places just as charming as they seem on television and places that would make perfect destinations for dreams to come true.

"It’s a place to capture the brilliance of winter sunsets, harbor views and roaring fires—where Santa arrives by boat..."

  • Cape Cod
  •  Leavenworth, Washington
  • Leavenworth, Washington
  • Delray Beach, Florida