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12 Places to Spend the 12 Days of ChristmasDecember 15, 2009 By: Staff
It's not too late to plan a holiday vacation for 12 days (or more) of Christmas. AAA inspectors have released a few suggestions, 12 in fact, just in time for any last minute travelers seeking spirited events and properties in North America.
AAA polled its professional inspectors for their favorite places to enjoy holiday festivities.
Blantyre, Lenox, MA
Skate at the outdoor ice rink or snowshoe through multiple trails in the Berkshires before lighting up the snow barebeque at this all-season resort. The adjacent warming 'hut' is a small rustic lodge with overstuffed chairs, a large screen TV and a pool table.
Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City, Canada
This landmark, castle-like hotel dates back to 1893 and includes a giant ice slide in front for tobogganing. The property is situated in an old city with cozy restaurants, small comfortable inns, shops and museums. Horse-drawn carriages will carry you on guided tours through narrow streets.
Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on the Potomac, National Harbor, MD
Celebrate beyond the 12 days of Christmas as, every night, the resort's atrium comes to life with a tree lighting extravaganza featuring music, lights and a dancing fountain that shoots water 60 feet high. The festivities include the East Coast debut of Ice!, a walk-through winter wonderland carved entirely of ice. Special holiday attractions include a nightly snowfall inside the resort, brunch with Santa or Mrs. Claus and ice skating.
Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, Nashville, TN
The light display and Christmas shows appeal to children and adults as guests arrive via a winding entry road that exposes millions of lights hung on trees throughout the grounds. Inside, tens of thousands of poinsettias of various colors and Christmas displays decorate the resort.
The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa, Asheville, N.C.
Contestants from around the country bring their culinary masterpieces to the Grove Park Inn for the National Gingerbread House Competition and Display. The sugar-and-spice creations are on display through January 3. Throughout the inn, holiday displays including giant nutcrackers and uniquely decorated trees.
Great Wolf Lodge at Kings Island, Mason, OH
The Lodge has a "Snowland" theme in addition to a heated water park. During the holidays, the lobby resembles the vast North Woods, decorated with trees, artificial snow and Christmas characters. The lodge hosts a nightly story time and lobby snow show, and the Cub Club offers activities for kids.
Holiday Magic at United States Botanic Gardens, Washington, D.C.
During the holiday season, experience a unique exhibit featuring model trains on a garden railway designed by Paul Busse of Applied Imagination in Alexandria, KY. The railway features replicas of Washington, D.C.'s most famous buildings and monuments, all constructed of real plant materials.
Christmas Lighting of Temple Square, Salt Lake City, UT
Throughout the month of December, this one-of-a-kind, life-size nativity scene is illuminated by hundreds of thousands of lights. The display is accompanied by Christmas music and video presentations.
Christmas at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens, Mount Vernon, VA
Visitors view 12 professionally decorated Christmas trees with themes relating to George Washington. Look for the Christmas Camel like the one Washington had at Mount Vernon in 1787, two years before he became the United States' first president. The celebration also includes 18th-century period dancing, a tour of the rarely seen third floor and, if you're lucky, a chance to meet Mrs. Washington along the way.
Lantern Light Tours at Mystic Seaport, Mystic, CT
During this New England holiday tradition, actors dressed in period costume reenact a Christmas Eve of 1876. Guests are led through cobblestone streets and into Colonial village homes decked with holiday decorations to enjoy tasty ginger cookies and folk dancing. The tour also includes an antique horse and carriage ride and an opportunity to walk on the tall ship docked at the river's edge.
Nights of Lights, St. Augustine, FL
During this two-month long celebration, millions of white lights glow along the ancient streets and historic buildings of the oldest continually occupied European settlement in the continental United States. This year's 16th annual Nights of Lights traces its origins to the Spanish tradition of displaying a lighted white candle during the Christmas holidays.
Holiday River Parade and Lighting Ceremony, River Walk, San Antonio, TX
This season-long event begins with a holiday lighting ceremony of 100,000 sparkling lights that canopy and illuminate the River Walk. There is a Holiday River Parade with decorated floats, a Blessing of the Animals, river caroling and a reenactment of Mary and Joseph seeking shelter that ends at the city cathedral.