6 Inexpensive and Gorgeous Holiday Season Destinations

Holiday cheer is closer than you may think

Sure, we all see deals on flights to Germany or London during the holiday season. But who can afford to take the whole family to Europe? Well, don’t worry, there are still plenty of cheap holiday vacation spots for those of us looking to travel and experience some holiday magic without breaking the bank.

New Orleans, LA

New Orleans is one of America’s most unique cities any time of the year and that’s no different during the holidays. Sure, it may not scream “winter,” but it definitely screams “wonderland.” History blends with culture to create some fun events the kids will love that can’t be found anywhere else. For example, you can go see the bonfires down on the river levee – a tradition said to light the way for Papa Noel (Santa Claus) to get to New Orleans. Or you can try a traditional Reveillon Dinner. These festive meals were started by Creole citizens and were traditionally a big family dinner that started around 2am. The meal has changed since then (many restaurants now serve it at a family friendly time), but the special New Orleans cuisine remains the same. And if you want to see, and hear, something you can’t find anywhere else, go caroling in Jackson Square. The event is free to the public and anyone can participate.

Chicago, IL

If you live in the Midwest, you don’t need us to tell you how great the Windy City is. But maybe you’ve never visited during the Holidays or just haven’t visited in a while. Either way there are plenty of reasons to get the kids in the car this holiday season. From the German treats at the Christkindlmarket to the “Christmas Around the World” exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry to ZooLights and Lincoln Park Zoo, there’s plenty to see and do between noshing on those iconic (and delicious) deep dish pizzas. The Christkindlmarket is inspired by traditional German holiday markets and features all kind of European treats. Lincoln Park Zoo not only features the beauty of holiday lights, but free crafts for kids and spiced wine and lagers. If you visit earlier in the day, the whole family can ice skate at the Farm-in-the-Zoo.

Westchester, NY

If you’re a New York resident you already know the popularity (and huge crowds) of Rockefeller Center. For those in the tri-state area looking to get away, try Westchester County. Just an hour north of NYC, Westchester offers activities and events for the whole family and you won’t have to fight the same lines to go ice skating. The Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden is a crowd-pleaser, but there are other train (and some say better) shows to visit in the villages of Scarsdale and Wappingers Falls. There’s also a Hanukkah Fun House in Irvington with crafts, bounce houses and glow –in-the-dark room. Last, but certainly not least, The Winter Wonderland is a holiday staple, complete with holiday circus, Candy Cane Lane, outdoor skating rink and more!

Durango, CO

Looking for a picturesque mountain holiday season? Well, look no further. Durango features train rides on the historic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and on The Polar Express™ where they recreate the experience of riding the fictional train for kids of all ages. The HoliDazzle celebration has a caroling procession and holiday tree lighting. If you love winter sports, you can also ski and/or snowboard at Purgatory Resort. If you’re looking for a special gift, check out the Downtown shopping area which boasts over 500 stores and restaurants where smart shoppers can always find a good value along with the cutely decorated storefronts. Located in Colorado, but conveniently near Utah, New Mexico and Arizona, Durango offers Southwesterners an inexpensive opportunity to enjoy everything the season has to offer.

Charleston, SC

If you are thinking of a “postcard holiday picture,” you’ll see that the people of Charleston do it a little differently. They have some of their own unique traditions that give this city a “holiday feel” all its own. Visit The Festival of Lights on James Island – a spectacular 3-mile long light show that visitors can drive through or even take in the views via train. While you’re there be sure to visit the Victorian Carousel and take pictures of the sculptures created from over 50 tons of sand. Beautiful stores line historic King Street if you want to go shopping and they even block off some sections of the street to give pedestrians room to relax. In downtown Charleston, horse-drawn carriage rides showcase the city’s one-of-a-kind southern atmosphere. That’s the kind of holiday charm that you’ll only find in this coastal city.

Solvang, CA

Located a few hours north of Los Angeles, Solvang offers families a one-of-a-kind holiday experience. Founded by Danish settlers, Solvang offers a taste of Denmark in California with the architecture to boot. The quaint village look gives the town a very unique feel during their annual Julefest. In early December, they have a weekend Annual Tree Lighting that’s free to the public and includes live music and shows. If you’re looking for special deals, visit the Shop, Mingle and Jingle events where local retailers, artists and restaurants have special discounts going all weekend long. And if you want to see more local culture, look no further than the annual Julefest Parade which features Danish dancers as well as bands and other performances. At Solvang, you get to combine the charm of Europe with the moderate weather of California.

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