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Travel

When the thought of shopping and making room for more holiday gifts becomes overwhelming, maybe the best thing you can buy for your family is a holiday vacation. Travel prices are usually higher during the busy Christmas season but it’s a slow time of year in many offices and both school age and college kids are home for break It may be one of the best times for the entire family to get away together. The memories you’ll make will last a lot longer than the latest video game or sweater.

It wasn’t easy choosing only five destinations but I tried to focus on a few important criteria for destinations that  1) Are good for families with kids of all ages, 2) Offer activities and events that celebrate the holiday season, and 3) Are accessible. Whatever the destination, try to book early because many popular places sell out weeks or even months in advance. You may get lucky and find some last-minute deals and cancellations!

New York City, NEW YORK

NYCNYC is a showcase of Christmas cheer. More than sparkling lights, the entire city comes alive with creative genius in December. You may find a sculpture of giant Christmas balls stacked in front of an office building or captivating videos and special effects pulsing from digital billboards in Times Square. Even a skyscraper atrium may glow with enormous crystal chandeliers that change colors. Scattered among these sights are store windows with elaborate, intricate, mobile dioramas:  Lifelike mechanical elves building toys, a rhinestone encrusted snow queen waving amongst a magical “snow fall.” 

Things to Do

See the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, a holiday classic. Shop in the outdoor market in Bryant Park where vendors sell everything from handmade jewelry to scarves, artwork and wood crafts. Admire the decorated trees at Rockefeller Center but skip the lines and ice skate at Wollman Rink in Central Park. You can take a horse carriage ride to get there. 

How to Get There

Amtrak leaves from the Fredericksburg station at 7am and arrives at Penn Station by noon. It’s relaxing, you can stretch out, the kids can move around and there’s even free wifi on board.


STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, COLORADO

Few ski resorts have the range of family activities that Steamboat Springs offers. Besides the powdery snow and spectacular Rocky Mountain scenery, even during the coldest winter, the bright sunshine and crisp, dry, mountain air warms your face as well as your soul. 

Things to Do

Of course there’s day and night skiing and snowboarding but nothing says Christmas like an old-fashioned sleigh ride. If you’d rather get a bird’s eye view, catch a scenic gondola ride. Immerse yourself in the western tradition of a horseback ride or try some backcountry exploration on a snowmobile. Snow bikes, snowshoes and cross country skis are available for the physically fit, or if you seek a thrill, try the Adventure Zone Slingshot Bungee Jump Trampoline or slide down Yee-Haw tubing hill. Steamboat’s natural hot springs are a relaxing relief from all the physical activity and cold weather.

How to Get There

Steamboat Springs is one of the few Colorado ski resorts where you can fly right in on a jet and be only 22 miles from the resort. Most flights from DC have one stop or connection through Chicago although connecting through an airport in a warmer climate such as Dallas may avoid weather delays and cancellations. 


WALT DISNEY WORLD, FLORIDA

disneyFew places know how to make Christmas as magical as Disney World does. Millions of lights wrapped on every building and fixture are synchronized perfectly to holiday music. Disney takes its glitz and glitter to an even higher level during the holiday season with new spectacular light shows and special effects. Although temperatures can reach the 60’s and 70’s during the day, they can drop in the 30’s at night so bring a warm jacket.

During its winter celebration, families enjoy live entertainment, spectacular holiday fireworks, the holiday parade, Santa Claus and more festivities. At EPCOT during the Candlelight Processional, hear the dramatic story of Christmas as told by a celebrity narrator, accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and mass choir. Charming holiday displays of life size gingerbread houses and other sugary treats will delight young and old as you wander through the Disney World Resort.

How to Get There

There are nonstop flights from all DC airports and Richmond to Orlando. If you prefer your own car, driving from Fredericksburg to Orlando takes about 12 hours with no stops. The Amtrak auto train takes your family and your car from Lorton and arrives in Sanford, just outside Orlando in about 17 hours, offers a selection of sleeping accommodations and includes all meals on board. 


OLD QUEBEC CITY, QUEBEC

For the charming flavor of Europe without crossing the Atlantic, Canada’s French inspired culture in Old Quebec City is the quintessential historic village. The only walled city north of Mexico, the ancient, narrow cobblestone streets take visitors back to the time of fairy tale castles and quaint village shops and cafes.

Things to Do

If you like to live on the edge, your adventure could begin in the Hotel de Glace, literally, a “hotel of ice” which opens the first week in January. Make sure you climb the famous Escalier Casse-Cou (Breakneck Stairs) or at least ride the funicular (cable railway) to the top to enjoy fantastic views of Old Québec. Lavish castles and historic sites such as the Citadel are as impressive as they are ancient. Visit the Quartier Petit-Champlain shopping area to see quaint toy and art shops and try some of the local culinary delights. Quebec’s Winter Carnival with even more begins the end of January.

How to Get There

By car, Old Quebec City is less than 13 hours away but winter weather is unpredictable. Air Canada flies from Reagan National to Quebec (YQB) via Toronto or Montreal.


CORONADO, CALIFORNIA

coronadoCoronado is an island just off the coast of San Diego. The 125 year-old Hotel Del Coronado’s holiday spirit is delightfully over the top. Its turret rooftops and balconies are frosted with countless Christmas lights and the entire community participates in the activities. There’s something strange but satisfying about enjoying a warm, white beach instead of frosty white snow at Christmas time but, hey, why not? 

Things To Do

How about ice skating on the beach? The hotel has a beachfront ice rink under the palms for skaters of all ages. Their Victorian style Christmas village surrounds visitors with an old fashioned ambience as they enjoy holiday shows, elf tuck-ins, Santa gondolier rides and more throughout the resort. Rent bikes to explore the entire island because on “Candy Cane Lane” residential neighbors carry on the 50-year tradition of lavish holiday lawn decorations for all to enjoy.

How To Get There

The island of Coronado is just 10 miles from San Diego International Airport. Because the island is just over a mile wide, a rental car isn’t necessary but you may enjoy exploring on a rented bicycle or surrey.

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Pouches' Community Corner

Adoptive parents in Fredericksburg now have a new partner on their journey to a healthy family. In 2016, Children’s Home Society was awarded a $125,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Social Services to extend their Richmond area post-adoptive services to the Fredericksburg area.

ChildrensHomeSociety

Now CHS is looking to find adoptive families in the area who need support before they hit a crisis point. “It doesn’t matter which agency they adopted from, or when that happened,” said Buckheit. “We want to offer a lifetime of support to adoptive families in the Fredericksburg area, especially those who haven’t been aware of our services in the past.”

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