Best Family Holiday DestinationsWe sincerely hope your family is nothing like The Griswolds in the movie "Christmas Vacation"... Though, let's face it, most of us do have an embarrassing relative or two we would love to avoid this holiday. "Sorry, Aunt Ellie, we just can't afford the travel this year." (Parents: Don't lie in front of your kids.) Tell the children that the real reason to get out of town (and not visit the relatives), is it's a wonderful opportunity to create new and favorite memories for all of you (except Aunt Ellie) in a different location. After all, Santa does travel, so why can't you??
Here's my roundup of some spectacular places to take the family this December…
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PARK CITY, UTAH-
Park City is known as the middle class family's Aspen…it's unpretentious, brimming with fun for all ages, spectacularly beautiful and an easy half-hour drive from the Salt Lake City airport.
RECOMMENDED ACCOMODATIONS: Marriott Mountainside featuring a Kids' Activity Center (http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/slcms-marriotts-mountainside/).
Park City Waldorf Astoria (Best location with gondola lift right outside the hotel and Golden Door Spa treatments inside for Mom.)
BEST LOCAL ACTIVITIES: Skiing, Snowboarding, Snow Ball Fighting, and Hot Chocolate Drinking.
For info on Kids' Snowboarding and Skiing lessons, go to:
The Seaside city of Monterey is home to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, voted the number 3 top-rated family attraction in the US. 90 minutes south of San Francisco,
this getaway is a haven for families who enjoy history and nature lessons at holiday time.
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RECOMMENDED ACCOMODATIONS-Portola Hotel and Spa (Portolahotel.com) features a frequent guest incentive for adventurous and brave kids, enticing them with the Portola Kids Pirate Program. After check-in at the hotel, a treasure map takes kids on a scavenger hunt around the hotel, guided by pirate stickers and flags. Upon each return visit to the hotel, your little crewmembers earn additional benefits and surprises in the program, like an all-nighter Pirate Party for 12 kids in a suite!
Right on the Bay with beautiful views, sea otter-spotting, and sea lion crooning to awaken you in the morning, Monterey Plaza Hotel (Montereyplazahotel.com) offers special packages for families interested in visiting the Aquarium.
Touring famous Literary and Historical sites such as the John Steinbeck Center and Cannery Row… http://www.seemonterey.com/top-10-literary-sites
SMALL TOWN NEW YORK-
Do something different this year, leave the hustle and bustle and over-consumption of the big city and head to a simpler time in a very special place you've probably never heard of: Skaneateles, New York (a 4 ½ drive from NYC.) Skaneateles (settled in the 1790's) is set on a jewel-clear lake in central New York State, and is home to an annual Dickens Christmas Eventhttp://www.skaneateles.com/visit/events-a-attractions/dickens-christmas) going strong in its 18th year.
With free roasted chestnuts, eggnog, and carriage rides through Christmas weekend, this slower-paced community is a shining example of connection and quality time in a far too busy world. A visit to Skaneateles will prove New Yorkers are the friendliest people you'll ever meet.
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The elegant Mirbau Inn and Spa (mirbau.com) offers a special comfort food menu with dishes like turkey pot pie and for dessert, satisfy your kids' sweet tooth with holiday-cookie making classes through December 17th.
Family hikes around the 10 acres of Monet-inspired gardens and the inn's antique sleigh provide great picture-taking opps for next year's holiday greeting card. Mirbau has been awarded a spot on Condé Nast Traveler's Top 30 Small Resorts in the US for three years in a row.
The Sherwood Inn (thesherwoodinn.com)
is a 25-room luxurious but unpretentious property that has welcomed such families as The Clintons (photos of Bill, Hilary, and Chelsea are seen on the website).
(Families love the Sun Room Suite, Room 24, which overlooks the lake and has a Queen Bed and Queen Sleeper Sofa.) The Dickens Christmas Festival kicks-off each day at noon on the porch of the inn and village carriage rides depart from here.
BEST LOCAL ACTIVITIES:
Dickens' Christmas Festivities, Art Gallery Visits, Lakeside Strolling, Browsing in one-of-a-kind shops, Dining at Johnny Angel's (the best undiscovered family-friendly eatery in NY,) and simply slowing down.
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