Are you looking for new ways to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year as a family? Perhaps shushing down a ski hill in Utah or building sand castles on a tropical beach in the Carribbean are in the works for this year’s Christmas vacation options. We’ve scoured the globe for some great family-friendly holiday resort offers to make Christmas vacations for families affordable, amazing and memorable this season. Take your pick from these 20 festive Christmas destinations for families around the world.
Destinations Making Christmas Vacations for Families Affordable and Fun
Christmas Holiday Destinations in North America
Boar’s Head Resort, Charlottesville, Virginia
The Boar’s Head Resort lights up for the start of the holiday season with their annual Grand Illumination Package on November 23rd. Ideal for families, the array of festive lights and elegantly decorated Christmas trees starts at 5:00 p.m. in front of the Pavilion. The celebrations continue with horse-drawn carriage rides, hot chocolate and cookies from 5:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. Kids and kids at heart will enjoy pictures with Santa from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
This holiday package includes a discount off of the best available rate at the resort, and allows guests to experience all of the Grand Illumination festivities first hand. Additionally, breakfast is included daily along with a $25 resort credit for each date of stay. This package is valid from Thursday, November 22 through Saturday, November 24.
Country Inns in the White Mountains, New Hampshire
C is for cookie (as well as Christmas), and no place celebrates both quite like the Country Inns in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. During the weekend of December 8 and 9, 2018, not one but 10+ historic Inns provide holiday revelers the ultimate in sweet dreams with their 22nd Annual Inn to Inn Holiday Cookie and Candy Tour® held from 11 am to 4 pm each day.
Cookie Tour tickets are available by reserving a lodging package from participating inns, and this is the best way to secure a ticket for a weekend of cookies and candy. Each of the 11 inns on the 22nd Annual Inn to Inn Cookie & Candy Tour will feature original holiday cookies and candies, and the chance to take home holiday decorating ideas as well as scrumptious cookie and candy recipes for themselves. The participating inns have developed original recipes for everything from sweet to savory holiday treats. To celebrate the 22nd anniversary of this event, tourgoers will receive a keepsake collection of recipes for sweet treats from each inn in a keepsake cookbook.
the DOUGLAS, Vancouver, Canada
Gaylord Palms, Kissimmee, Florida
“A Christmas Story” (long a personal favorite) has been a staple of holiday movie lists for years. Now guests can experience this holiday favorite in a whole new way inside ICE!, and in all places, at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Florida. The heartwarming and hilarious family tale will come to life through hand-carved ice sculptures and displays, inviting guests to relive the film’s iconic scenes such as The Old Man’s Major Award, Aunt Clara’s pink nightmare, the ultimate triple dog dare at the school’s flagpole, and more.
The ICE! attraction is crafted by artisans from Harbin, China, home of the world’s largest ice and snow sculpture festival. The artists will travel more than 6,000 miles to hand-carve more than two million pounds of colorful ice, creating larger-than-life sculptures. The ICE! experience concludes with a separate area dedicated to a traditional Nativity created with crystal clear ice.
Greek Peak Mountain Resort, Finger Lakes, New York
Nestled in the super scenic Finger Lakes region of New York state, the Greek Peak Mountain Resort, is offering a special Christmas extravaganza package this season. It includes two (2) nights at its Hope Lake Lodge, offering the amenities of a country inn with 106 condominium-style suites with full kitchens; daily breakfast and Christmas dinner; and access to activities such as the tree lighting ceremony, Christmas caroling, sleigh rides, making snowflakes, writing letters to Santa, and meeting visitors from the North Pole and their reindeer.
In addition, families can purchase access to the 30+ varied terrain ski trails and the resort’s indoor waterpark – the perfect way to end a day on the slopes.
Little America Hotel Flagstaff, Flagstaff Arizona
The newly renovated Little America Hotel Flagstaff invites guests to travel through Santa’s workshop through their special North Pole Experience (NPX). The hotel is nestled on 500 acres of beautiful Ponderosa pine forest at the base of the San Francisco Peaks and gets fully decked out for the holiday season.The experience starts with a trolley ride through the pine forest, filled with snow and over a million Christmas lights. Once inside Santa’s grand workshop and toy factory headquarters, families will work side-by-side with Santa and his elves, building toys; tour Santa’s Toy Hall of Fame; attend Elf University; and eat cookies and snowman soup inside Mrs. Claus’ Bakery. The special accommodation package includes the NPX experience, as well as Breakfast with Santa, and the opportunity to explore Flagstaff- whether it’s to ski at the Arizona Snowbowl, visit the south rim of the Grand Canyon and National Monuments, or stargaze at Lowell Observatory.
Lodge at Whitefish Lake, Whitefish, Montana
Celebrate the magic of the holiday season at the Lodge at Whitefish Lake in northwest Montana. Picture crisp winter evenings, sleigh rides, snow-covered trees, and hot chocolate by the crackling fire. The Lodge kicks off the season with its welcome reception on December 21st, and keeps the holiday spirit going with nightly warm cookies and cocoa, afternoon teas with Santa, and a Christmas Eve tuck in event by Santa’s Elf.
Families will enjoy playing in the region’s winter wonderland, including skating, cross country skiing, downhill skiing at Whitefish Mountain Resort, ice fishing, snowshoeing along the Viking Creek trail on the property. Or just relax and enjoy a scenic soak in our lakeside outdoor hot tub.
The Oak Bay Beach Hotel, Victoria, Canada
Santa’s making a list and coming to Victoria’s gorgeous Oak Bay Beach Hotel to check it twice in the five weekends before Christmas day. This ocean-side property has a wide variety of seasonal festivities to enjoy during the holidays, but the most popular is the Hotel’s Breakfast with Santa. This festive breakfast will include house-made cookie decorating at each table, a visit from Mr. Claus himself, as well as an interactive photo booth so you can bring the merry memories home. Guests can enjoy a Christmas Day Brunch with a fine dining experience, including a carving station and all the works in the intimate seaside Dining Room.
The Peninsula Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Nothing says Christmas quite like gliding around a glowing ice rink, hand-in-hand with your loved ones. Encircled by Chicago’s striking skyscrapers and twinkly lights, The Peninsula Sky Rink is an icy winter wonderland flanked by pretty illuminated pine trees and rustic, colorful log cabins. Its lofty location set it apart from regular rinks though. Set four floors above Michigan Avenue, this outdoor rink offers wow-worthy views of the iconic John Hancock building and cityscape.
For more family holiday fun, don’t miss the Polar Express at Chicago’s Union Station. Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, passengers will relive the magic of the classic story as they are whisked away on THE POLAR EXPRESS™ for a magical one-hour trip through the tunnels, rail yards, and neighborhoods along the Chicago River. Once on board, your car host will work their way through the coach and punch your golden ticket before hot chocolate and a delicious cookie are served by dancing chefs. Santa and his helpers board the train to greet passengers and each guest is given the first gift of Christmas – a silver sleigh bell – and characters on each car lead passengers in caroling and onboard entertainment, just like in the film.
The Resort at Paws Up, Montana
Celebrate a very Montana Christmas at The Resort at Paws Up. This luxury family resort features ‘five-star amenities under a starry sky’, a tableau taken straight out of a holiday storybook. Enjoy horse drawn sleigh rides, gingerbread house building, game nights, snow tubing, dogsledding, bonfires, even a Christmas Eve kid’s party – all set against a background of snow-covered mountains. Each guest has their own tree in their private home. And everyone gets a personal visit from Santa, complete with an exclusive Paws Up Christmas stocking. There’s a kids Christmas party with Holidays Around the World kids’ crafts and cookie decorating. Holiday meals can be enjoyed at one of the resort’s amazing restaurants such as Pomp & Trough, or have your meals delivered directly to your luxury cabin.
Viceroy Snowmass, outside Aspen, Colorado
Revel in ski-in, ski-out luxury at Viceroy Snowmass, located in Snowmass Base Village, near Aspen, Colorado. Of course, there’s skiing, riding and all the snowsports and sleigh rides in between. For the holidays, the resort is offering a special Winter Wonderland Spa Treatment. Guests (including kids 12 and older) can ski right in from the slopes for a soothing 30 minute massage, and then be on their way back into the snow. Your snow play day doesn’t get more luxurious than that.
Waldorf Astoria Park City, Utah
The award-winning Waldorf Astoria Park City is in the middle of all the snowy action in the largest ski resort in the Untied States, Utah’s Park City. For the holidays, the hotel’s encouraging snow play fun by creating a Snowman Alley, a special dedicated area of the property where guests of all ages can build snowmen. WAPC is offering guests a snowman creation kit, including important details like buttons, eyes, nose, and extras like a pipe, scarf, hat, mustache, headbands, etc. Sharing the final snowman creation on Instagram nets the family a marshmallow treat reward.
Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
The Magic Kingdom celebrates the holidays like nowhere else on earth. For this Christmas, Walt Disney World highlights international holiday celebrations from around the world at the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. From November 18 to December 30th, this Epcot tradition features storytellers, a daily character tree-lighting ceremony and a stunning display of snow-white lights. The Candlelight Processional, a favorite of all ages, includes celebrity guest narrators, accompanied by a massed choir and orchestra for a retelling of the Christmas story. Eat, drink and be merry! – the cost is included in your park admission.
Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Orlando, Florida
One of my favorite places anywhere, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando brings holiday Christmas magic to all muggles and magical folk for the first time ever. Between November 17th to January 6th, 2019, WWHP transforms into a Christmas wonderland, with festive décor throughout the streets of both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. Guests will also enjoy new holiday food, drink and entertainment in both parks. Each night, a festive spell will be cast onto Hogwarts castle. Using the latest in mapped projection technology, the Castle will transform itself into a yuletide display, gifting fans with amazing views of movie and holiday scenes.
Christmas Holiday Destinations in Europe
Arc 1950, Savoie, France
Spend the holidays in the French Alps, in the charming French ski village resort property of Arc 1950. This car-free high altitude mountain town resort near Mont Blanc celebrates the magic of Christmas in true French style. There’s a holiday parade with light illuminations, the festive arrival of Father Christmas by zip line into the town square, followed by toasted marshmallows and a holiday fireworks display.
Martinhal Cascais, Lisbon, Portugal
How does experiencing the “California of Europe” for the holidays sound to you? The Martinhal Cascais in Lisbon is welcoming guests for the Christmas holidays with beaches, sporting activities, nature, rich culture and history. Guests booking during the holiday season are eligible to receive special offers on 2, 4 or 7 night stays. There’s also a New Year special that includes a family-friendly gala dinner with special entertainment for kids.
Speaking of which, this super family-friendly resort property offers on-site child care, a complimentary kids club, mommy and me spa treatments, and curated kids menus. Plus, Martinhal’s most unique amenity, The Baby Concierge, developed to make travel with children as easy and enjoyable as possible for parents.
The “Baby Concierge service” gives parents the opportunity to pre-order baby products prior to arrival. Items you no longer have to travel with include baby cribs, safety gates, baby baths,food products, thermometers and more. In addition, each property has a crèche for infants and five kids clubs for various ages from 6 month to 16 years. This amenity gives children a place to stay occupied by toys and games under supervision while parents can enjoy a yoga or wellness activity.
The Atlantic Hotel, Jersey
Enjoy a coastal Christmas at the family-owned Atlantic Hotel, on the British Channel Island of Jersey, overlooking St Ouen’s Bay and the Atlantic ocean. This unique island property features a three-night holiday break from Sunday 24th to Wednesday 27th December. From festive meals to holiday caroling, walks on the beach or even a dip in the Atlantic for the annual St Brelade’s Bay Boxing Day Swim before the festivities, this is a unique and special island getaway.
The Island’s capital of St Helier brings in the yuletide cheer with the spectacular La Fête dé Noué, a Christmas festival featuring a series of magical parades, markets and street theatre performances. Country walks through the Jersey National Park showcase outstanding views of the coast and countryside – perhaps even with a dusting of snow. Sparkling Christmas decorations light up the town square for the St Helier Christmas market and wooden chalets showcase the best products from local artisans and craft workers. With the smell of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts filling the air, watch colourful floats and musical processions along La Route du Port Elizabeth as part of the Christmas parade. The strap on a pair of skates and glide across the Jersey Ice Rink.
Christmas Holiday Destinations in the Caribbean
Carlisle Bay, Antigua
Did you know the average temperature in Antigua is 28C in December? Swap white snow for white sand this festive season at family-friendly Carlisle Bay in Antigua. The resort is set on the tranquil south coast of Antigua, between the rainforest and the Caribbean Sea. The resort is perfect for families due to its accommodation options, holiday specials, dining venues and multitude of activities for all ages.
During the Christmas season, kids can enjoy daily holiday-centric fun including scavenger hunts, a ‘Candy Shop’ where they can decorate gingerbread men, a Christmas Eve party, face painting and snow cone making. Grown-ups can revel in holiday cheer with the special adult events such as the Manager’s Cocktail Party with steel band music, and days filled with food and wine tastings, nightly entertainment at fine dining restaurant Indigo on the Beach, festive BBQ dinner, a DJ-driven fashion show and more. On Christmas and Boxing Day, families can enjoy a three-course festive dinner and festivities with local limbo dancers, fire eaters and steel drum musical performances.
Jewel Grande Montego Bay, Jamaica
Families already plotting their warm weather holiday getaway can enjoy 47 % off of room rates at the all-inclusive, all-suite Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa. Complete with complimentary round-trip airport transfers, guests can enjoy premium amenities such as 24-hour butler service and world-class spa experiences at the award-winning Grande Spa. For the holidays, the resort offers in-suite amenities that reflect traditional holiday festivities with a Caribbean flair, such as ornamented trees, decorations, themed music, catered festive courses and much more. Guests can turn any villa or suite into a winter wonderland, though personally, I’d be quite happy with a palm tree beach paradise!
Celebrate Christmas in Australia
How about renting an entire island for your Christmas getaway? Well, if you’re flush and up for adventure, you can even get one night’s free stay (just for being a loyal reader) by booking four nights at the secluded private Picnic Island in Freycinet National Park in Tasmania. This tropical holiday is a bucket list getaway with friends or an unforgettable multigenerational family holiday. Packages can included hosted stays (including activities and cooking) for up to ten people.
Photo Credits: Visit Orlando, Boar’s Head Resort, Paws Up, Viceroy Snowmass, Picnic Island, Carlisle Bay Resort, Arc 1950, Martinhal Resorts, Lodge at Whitefish Lake.