The winter holidays are a magical time of year to travel with kids. Hotel lobbies are well decorated, decorated trees grace city squares and ski slopes, and festive music can be heard everywhere. Kids are out of school and excited for the holiday season, so where to go? Everyone knows that theme parks and big cities will have a lot on tap for kids, but off the well-known path, the following family friendly destinations with holiday programming reign:
Big White Ski Resort, BC
Families expect ski resort destinations to offer plenty of kid-friendly holiday fun, but Big White Ski Resort really goes over the top. When we visited Big White in December of 2012, we were amazed at how much there is to do in this cozy, remote ski village. It’s like a cruise ship itinerary set at a ski resort! We attended kid-centric carnival nights, witnessed a Christmas Eve parade of all Big White employees waving banners and singing carols, then watched night-time fireworks against the backdrop of snowy mountains.
From December 18th, 2013-January 4th, 2014, families can enjoy the Big White Holiday Experience. Families will find free hot chocolate around the bon fire at Happy Valley ice skating rink, and from the 19th-24th, kids can have photos taken with Santa. On the 21st, skiers and riders dressing like Santa or Mrs. Claus will get a free lift ticket for the day, and on Christmas Eve, kids can participate in the Torch Light Parade. Toby, age 7, did this last year: he joined a ski school instructor in the village while everyone else lined up to watch the village parade, then made his way with other kids to the top of the closest chair lift. Each kid was given multiple glow sticks, and after the village parade was over, all eyes turned to the slopes, where all the children skied down, aglow. The spectacle was followed by celebratory fireworks. (Note: kids participating in the Torch Light experience will miss the village parade.)
And if you’re at Big White to kick off the holiday season, attend their annual Sweater Ball (December 7th), where you can show off that worlds’-worst holiday sweater you have hidden in your closet.
Lake Placid, NY
We love Lake Placid as a summer destination or an autumn retreat, but this Olympic town also shines during the holiday season. At the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort, families find a respite from the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping and events, and enjoy downtime amid the snowy landscape. The resort is also offering Christmas gifts to all guests staying over the Christmas holiday. All are locally made, Adirondack goods, including maple syrup, local honey, sea salt caramels, Adirondack notecards and clay pots. They also offer a continental breakfast in the lobby on Christmas, and cookies and hot chocolate daily from 4 – 6 pm for those returning from Whiteface Mountain after skiing or riding. For 2014 planning, schedule your visit to coincide with the Lake Placid Holiday Village Stroll, which will take place December 12-14th, 2014.
During this activity-packed two days, visitors can enjoy craft times, skating parties, the annual Jingle Bell Run, Main Street tastings from local restaurants, a tree lighting ceremony, and holiday story times at local hotels. Resorts in the area, including Golden Arrow, offer package deals during the Village Stroll. Our recommendation: book in time to enjoy the Stroll, then stay on for some family R&R.
We spent one Christmas at Sunriver Resort in Oregon, and never forgot it. Skiing at nearby Mt. Bachelor is an option for active families, but there’s just as much to do during the holiday season right in the Sunriver village area. Kids enjoy ice skating at the outdoor rink all winter long, but during the holidays, festive music and treats make skating all the more appealing. The Sunriver Traditions Holiday Celebration kicks off during the last week of November with the Grand Illumination, then continues with sleigh rides, breakfasts with Santa, Teddy Bear teas, Elk Tuck-ins (just as adorable as it sounds), and a family Christmas concert. If you plan to eat a holiday meal at the resort, make reservations early; we recommend calling before your stay to find out which restaurants are offering holiday meals.
Considering staying at a Preferred Hotel? Preferred properties all over the world are participating in ‘Season’s Treatings’: a low room rate deal coupled with holiday treats to fit the destination. Since Preferred Hotels are always a home run, families heading to a city featuring one should consider this deal!
Wherever your family is celebrating the winter holidays, we wish you safe travels and lots of candy canes this festive season!
Photo credit: Big White Ski Resort and John DiGiacomo.