These 5 travel destinations do the holidays right

Do you dream of residing in a gingerbread house that glimmers with the glow of 10,000 twinkle lights? Do holiday cookies (washed down with eggnog) constitute one of your major food groups? Do you enjoy a solid romp in the snow?

Then you should join the likeminded individuals in one of these rockin’ towns, where holidays aren’t merely observed. Merry is quite literally made.

Santa Fe, New Mexico


During Santa Fe‘s Canyon Road Farolito Walk, farolitos (paper lanterns) and luminarias (small bonfires) line the historic street and carolers gather at dusk on Christmas Eve to share in song and spread joy. The event draws thousands of participants and spectators each year.

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If you like to spend your holidays on the hill, head to Ski Santa Fe or drive an hour out of town to Pajarito Mountain Ski Area.

New York, New York


There’s just no getting around this one: The Big Apple does the holidays like no other. Behold the windows at Saks, hot cider and handmade wares at Union Square Holiday Market, an enormous Waterford Crystal ball and that tree -- you know, that tree -- not to mention Brooklyn’s Latke Festival and 32-foot menorah (the largest in the world).

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For your action fix, tie in at The Cliffs at LIC, hike through Central Park or hop on a train and hit the lineup in Rockaway.

Woodstock, Vermont


Just 30 minutes from Killington, aka “The Beast of the East,” sleepy Woodstock (home to just over 3,000 people) is renowned for its holiday festivities. Wassail Weekend is named for the medieval tradition of enjoying spiced ale during the coldest, darkest days of the year. The festivities take revelers back to 1800s-era Vermont, where you may take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage and gather ’round a yule-log fire.

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Drive 15 minutes on Route 4 and you’ll find yourself at Long Trail Brewing Company, purveyors of fine ales like Sick Day, a hoppy brown winter seasonal.

Kennebunkport and Freeport, Maine

A photo posted by Kathy Hally (@hallyimages) on


Coastal Kennebunkport is picturesque on the most ordinary of days. Add fireworks, candlelit caroling, a hat parade and a visit from Santa in a lobster-drawn sleigh and you’ve got the town’s annual Christmas Prelude.

During December, nearby Freeport also hosts its Sparkle Celebration, which includes a talking Christmas tree and more Santa sightings. You can even catch him in the reindeer barn at L.L. Bean HQ.

Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows, California


Squaw’s Merry Days and Holly Nights festival turns the revered ski destination into a postcard-perfect holiday scene for the second half of December, complete with ice sculptures, live music, train rides, fireworks, stellar dining and plenty of parties.

Go night skiing at Squaw and you might just run into Santa. (Go day skiing at Squaw and you might never go home.)