Are you longing for a place where sleigh bells ring and snow glistens? Nothing puts the ho-ho-ho in the holiday season faster than a family getaway with a winter wonderland vibe, and you don't necessarily have to head up north to find it. These five getaways are guaranteed to supercharge your season with everything we love about this time of year:
Where: Orlando, FL; National Harbor, MD; Nashville, TN; Grapevine, TX Why: Because the four Marriott-owned Gaylord Resorts have once again spectacularly transformed themselves into magical holiday wonderlands with millions of twinkling lights, nightly indoor snowfalls, dancing fountains and ICE!, a wildly popular annual exhibit showcasing life-size hand-carved ice sculptures, including two-story-tall ice slides. Other wintry options include hot cocoa, gingerbread decorating and even snow tubing. Hotel packages and ICE! ticket prices vary by destination.
Where: Cape May, NJ Why: Because winter is a magical time of year in the Victorian seaside town of Cape May, as America's oldest seaside resort transforms into a winter wonderland for the season with 12-foot toy soldiers in the lobby, breakfast with Santa, storytime with Mrs. Claus, gingerbread house-building, holiday caroling, a holiday train and much more. Congress Hall and two of its sister properties, the Sandpiper Beach Club and Star Inn, are each offering a Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland package that includes accommodations, a daily $20 breakfast voucher (plus, kids eat free), a ride on the holiday train, hot cocoa and more. Available through Jan. 1, 2014. Use promo code WINTERW.
Where: Keystone, CO Why: Because if your idea of paradise is a family-friendly ski mecca with plenty of wintry fun for the whole family, then Keystone is just the ticket. Throughout the holiday season, families can enjoy parades, fireworks, mountaintop tubing, the enormous Kidtopia snow fort, two ice-skating rinks, snowshoeing and much more. Take advantage of an early season special and get your second night free on stays before Dec. 19, 2013, and kids always ski free at Keystone.
Where: Scottsdale, AZ Why: Because this upscale Scottsdale resort is hosting its annual "Christmas at the Princess" festival through Jan. 5, 2014, creating a desert winter wonderland complete with an ice skating rink, four-story musical tree, holiday train, carolers, visits from Santa and more. The Christmas at the Princess Family Package includes accommodations, a second room at half price, skating, s'mores and more.
Where: Hot Springs, VA Why: Because this historic luxury resort in Virginia's Allegheny Mountains is an alluring winter playground with a variety of family-friendly activities that include skiing and snow mobiling, as well as side-by-side ice skating and outdoor swimming in the adjacent spring-fed heated pool. The Holiday Escape Package starts at $191 a night and includes accommodations, daily breakfast and a 15-percent discount on outdoor activities. Available through Dec. 23, 2013.