Traditions History and Holiday Cheer

Photo Credit: Anna Feiner (DKC)

If traditions, history and holiday cheer are top picks for holiday travel 2017 keep reading. I’ve researched and reviewed a few exceptional experiences that will have you oohing — aahing from the moment you arrive.

Washington, D.C., may not come to mind for a holiday escape but you would be remiss not to have it on your bucket list. Rich in traditions, history and holiday cheer, our nation’s capital shines exceptionally bright during the holidays. Is shopping is on your holiday to-do list? Why not shop a local craft fair? The Downtown D.C. Holiday Market is a wonderful way to purchase unique holiday items while supporting local area businesses. The market is found in the Penn Quarter Neighborhood. A revitalized historic downtown brimming with local retailers. Shop the market from noon — 8 PM from today until December 23, 2017.

Washington, D.C. is home to exceptional area museums. The Smithsonian Museum, the world’s largest education and research complex will have shopper’s oohing and ahhing. Vistors can shop their 11 museum stores all are overflowing with educational gifts from around the world. Parents will also want to browse their collection of books, puzzles, toys, science activity items, and collectibles. Shopping Tip: A feel-good shopping experience to support one of our nation’s most coveted museums, plus traditions, history and holiday cheer are found around every corner.

Don’t feel like wandering around D.C. to view the district’s iconic buildings? No worries. Stop at the U.S. Botanic Gardens, which presents “Holiday Magic” complete with lifelike replicas of Washington D.C.’s most famous buildings and gorgeous model trains.

  • The Watergate Hotel may not have been on your radar, as its history is marred by political scandal, not holiday cheer! Yet, this unlikely hotel has introduced a new, rooftop, ice-skating rink, Top of the State. The hotel has transformed its famous rooftop bar, into a winter wonderland. It’s a synthetic ice rink, yet skaters won’t know the difference and who cares skaters will be too busy enjoying the dynamic, 360-degree views of the Capital. They’ve also introduced Igloos for holidays parties and nights of romance, say ‘I Do’ in a private heated winter Igloo? Visit thewatergatehotel.com for further details and holiday packages and rates.
  • The Watergate Hotel isn’t the only property with an ice rink, the Fairmont Washington, D.C. — Georgetown also offers guests an ice rink this year. Located in its outdoor courtyard, ringed by fire pits. Free mulled wine, made with honey from the hotel’s rooftop hives, is enjoyed by all who dare to wear a hideous seasonal sweater. Additionally, Fairmont is debuting a Santa Suite, a contemporary North Pole in whites and blues where families can meet and greet Saint Nick! Visit fairmont.com/washington for further details and holiday packages and rates.

Asheville, North Carolina, is always aglow. This southern town, with gorgeous hilltop views, historic hotels, and notable architecture, is a feast for the eyes, especially during the holidays. This mountain getaway sparkles during the season as lights layer into the mountainsides, creating incredible nighttime views. Visitors can enjoy one of the area’s newest light displays at the North Carolina Arboretum, featuring 500,000 energy efficient LED lights. These lights meander in and around nationally recognized gardens, while holiday music and a scaled model train, aptly named the Rocky Cove Railroad, add to the celebration. Advanced tickets required. Open nightly from 6–10 PM until December 31, 2017. Learn more about Asheville here.

  • Those looking for one of the city’s most coveted Christmas escapes will want to plan a visit to the 8,000-acre estate — the Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina. The Biltmore Estate dates back to 1895 when George Vanderbilt opened Biltmore House for the first time to family and friends on Christmas Eve.
  • The 2017 seasonal event is fittingly titled “A Vanderbilt Christmas” and scheduled from today — January 7, 2018. The historic Biltmore House relies on its archives to present today’s visitors with events chronicled in Vanderbilt traditions. The centerpiece for the Estate’s indoor celebration starts with a 35-foot Fraser fir decorated with thousands of twinkling lights, decadent ornaments and, wrapped packages tucked into branches. Guests will continue to be amazed at 100 Christmas trees, each individually styled and decorated, deck the halls during the annual holiday celebration.
  • Candlelight Christmas Evenings at the Biltmore House is a step back in time. A 55-foot Norway spruce shines brightly in the center of the front lawn surrounded by 20 illuminated evergreens. Candlelit luminaries line the walkway to the house, a magical experience. Reservations are required for this intimate event.
  • Guests at the Biltmore Estate will want to gather at Antler Hill Village and Winery visit the newly opened Biltmore Winery. The Biltmore Winery is dressed for the season in over 7,000 globe-shaped ornaments floating from above giving the feeling of being ensconced inside a bottle of sparkling wine. For further details visit www.biltmore.com where you will find rates and holiday package information.
  • The Omni, Grove Park Inn, Asheville, North Carolina a member of the Historic Hotels of America and an American treasure. It opened its doors on July 12, 1913, and today it boasts one of the best spas in the South. Traditions, history and holiday cheers prevail here as the halls are decked, the fires are lit, and delightful seasonal menus will have you going back for seconds. Visit here for rates and holiday specials.

For those who envision tradition, history and holiday cheer beachside, St. Augustine, Florida, is a town that knows how to keep the “merry” going strong all month long!

St. Augustine is awe-inspiring, welcoming visitors to the area with the Plaza de la Constitución, the oldest park in the United States, established by Spanish Royal ordinances in 1573. Besides, being a wonderful place to take in a history lesson, this 16th-century showpiece includes the Government House and the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Augustine, surrounded by museums, historical retail shops, eateries and more. It becomes a focal point for holiday festivities. The city is decorated like none other. Over three-million lights are on display, gorgeous holiday trimmings, wreaths, and garlands, beautifying the historic downtown in observance of Nights of Lights, a 20-year-old tradition. The Nights of Lights celebration was chosen in 2011 and 2012 by National Geographic as one of the ten best holiday lighting displays in the world.

  • Those seeking a historical overnight stay won’t want to miss the Casa Monica Resort & Spa, a Moorish Revival property, which opened its doors in 1888. Intricate balconies and a welcoming archway entrance partner easily with hand-painted Italian tiles. An impressive lobby, embellished with gold-leaf archways and ornate Spanish tapestries, leads guests to one of five elegant suites. For more information visit www. Casamonica.com for holiday packages and additional details.
  • Looking for water views then try the Bayfront Marine House Historic Inn. This property dates back to the late 1780’s and was noted in a Roque Map, one of the most important maps related to St. Augustine’s history. Staying here is a history lesson onto itself. Guests can enjoy picturesque water views filled with sailing ships and gorgeous sunsets in the historic downtown district. This charming property provides downtown rooms and beach cottages — all have been magnificently restored. Dogs are always welcome! For more information visit www.bayfrontmarinhouse.com for holiday packages and additional details.

May this year’s holiday getaway be a new season filled with tradition, history and holiday cheer!

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