1. Stowe, Vermont
With the temperature drop and the ground covered in snow, Stowe, Vermont, is the ideal place to vacay during the winter months. Since most of the lodges and resorts offer restaurants and activities, you can have fun without traveling far. Popular resorts include Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa, Innsbrook Inn and Topnotch Resort. The Lodge at Spruce Peak is also popular and offers many snow-filled activities such as skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, snowshoe adventures, sleigh rides, snow biking and dogsledding. Other winter activities include ice skating, a heated pool and ice climbing. Activities aside, the Lodge at Spruce Peak also has many dining selections. Get a taste of fine dining by trying the Solstice Restaurant, the Whistlepig Pavilion or the Cliff House. The Beanery and Skinny Pancake are breakfast options at the Lodge. The menu of Aqua Pool Bar is filled with cocktails and light meals. Zamboni’s Creemee and S’more is home of s’mores kits and ice cream. Harrison’s Restaurant and Bar, Idletyme Brewing Company and Piecasso are other popular foodie destinations in Stowe.
The community celebrates the holidays by hosting different events. Two of the most well-known are A Traditional Christmas in Stowe and the Hanukkah Community Party. A Traditional Christmas in Stowe is celebrated with a contest, festival and donations. The Community of Lights contest is a decoration competition between locals. Area shops showcase their ornaments and decorations during the Festival of Trees and Lights. The community also has the “Giving Tree” tradition where they donate clothes and toys. The Hanukkah Community Party is hosted by the Jewish Community of Greater Stowe. Activities include candle-lighting, games and food. Each year they have an Iron Chef Competition featuring a secret ingredient. During the Hanukkah Community Party, people listen to music and enjoy latkes.
2. Highlands, North Carolina
When snow engulfs Highlands, the town turns into a Hallmark movie. Highlands receives an average of nearly 12 inches of snow each year, while locals decorate the town with lights, wreaths and other holiday décor. The town even hosts a contest named “Trim Our Town” where store owners compete for best decorated storefront. The votes are cast online by locals and visitors. Everyone gathers on Main Street to attend the traditional Olde Mountains Christmas Parade. The parade consists of floats, bands, and camels!
The snow makes it a great area for winter sports. There are many places to go skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and even cross-country skiing. Scaly Mountain Outdoor Center offers ice skating, snow tubing and trout fishing. Sapphire Valley Ski Area allows skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Cataloochee Ski Area is equipped with 18 trails and five ski lifts.
One of the most popular resorts in Highlands is the Old Edwards Inn and Spa. In fact, its popularity is so high that the inn recommends the guests book rooms and reserve restaurants at least six weeks in advance. Skyline Lodge is another popular resort. This lodge sits on a mountaintop and offers the sorts of views you’d expect from that perch. With their “Under the Stars, on the Rock” themed rooftop, Skyline Lodge embraces the surrounding environment. Visitors to Michelle’s Lodge and Cottages get a rustic, cabin-based experience, but also a sense of the urbane; the resort offers a theater, art galleries, boutiques and chamber music. Highlands Inn is historically known as Highlands’ first hotel. Space is limited, as the hotel only has 31 rooms.
3. Nuremberg, Germany
Nuremberg offers history and all the festive spirit you could want. Classic cars and motorcycle enthusiasts should consider visiting Merks Motor Museum. Housed in an old window factory, the eclectic museum’s collection includes many classic and hard-to-find cars and motorcycles – as well as items such as radios, typewriters and model cars. Likewise, Nuremberg’s Toy Museum, with toys dating back to the medieval period, will surely hold children’s, and grownups’, attention. Some other museums to check out are the Imperial Castle Museum, Germanic National Museum, and the Museum of Communication. They even have a museum dedicated to pigeons.
But of course, museums aren’t the only historical sites in Nuremberg. While much of the city is festive and joyful, it’s also a place to learn about some of the 20th century’s most difficult history. Tour Courtroom 600 to learn about the Nuremberg Trials and the Nazi leaders who were questioned and sentenced here. Modern Germany is a place that doesn’t shy away from preserving and making public the darkest moments of its history.
And again, it’s also a city of great joy. Dating back to 1628, the Christmas Market is one of the oldest festivals in Germany. The celebration starts at the end of November and continues throughout December. You can find lots of events at the market including concerts, church services, Christmas exhibitions and live music. Since there are plenty of hands-on booths, the Christmas Market is a great place for kids. The hands-on booths allow children to create their own art and treats. Other activities for children include riding a merry-go-round, miniature Ferris wheel and a child-sized steam train.
There are a variety of hotels to choose from in Nuremberg. Le Méridian Grand Hotel is a classic hotel with state of the art technology in every room. Those booking a stay at Hotel Victoria are able to include dinners and adventures in a package deal. Packages include the BikeVacation, FamilyAdventure, HeartBeat and Magic of Nuremberg. Design Hotel Vosteen is a small hotel with 12 rooms, each with its own name and unique decor.
Go to Café Mainheim for breakfast. They also offer vegetarian and vegan options. Later in the day, get a taste of authentic German bratwurst at Bratwursthaüsle, the city’s oldest restaurant. It’s been serving brats since 1313, so it’s safe to assume they’re doing something right.