Spend Christmas in these Winter Destinations

The end of the year always serves as a wonderful time to visit with loved ones in a calming environment to look around, take stock, and cherish the experiences from the past year while setting your sights on the new dawn right around the corner. So when it comes to the ideal Christmas vacation setting, who says you have to open gifts at home? Thanks to this article from Travel + Leisure that suggests the fifteen most cheerful destinations to spend Christmas this year, it’s never been more tempting to spend the happiest time of  year in these winter destinations.

As always, recent COVID-19 surges may have caused new government restrictions, rules, and safety measures to have been set. Because of this, it’s always suggested that those who wish to travel check local guidelines, consult CDC recommendations, and take personal health conditions into account before traveling. This way you’re more prepared to enjoy your trip while remaining as safe and responsible as possible in these unprecedented times.

Highlands, North Carolina

Consider spending your Christmas morning in Appalachian amazement in the charming town of Highlands, North Carolina. This idyllic winter destination, modern-day setting is so humble and quaint that residents and visitors alike compare its environment to a Nancy Meyers film or Lifetime Christmas special. For over a century, Highlands has been suggested to visitors as being the perfect setting for a “break from it all,” as it’s colloquially known as a mountain respite. Located in one of the few temperate rain forests of North America, the mountain resort town is located only ten miles from Cashiers, North Carolina, and is surrounded by the main attraction that is Nantahala National Forest.  Spend your Christmas in a mountain cabin on the outskirts of this forest or nestled deep within, either way you’re sure to enjoy your time spent among nature.

Inside the town proper, you’ll find many shops, experiences, and community-laden amenities to keep you entertained in between the holiday’s festivities. Downtown Highlands is often called a “postcard” for just how perfectly situated and pictured its various buildings and features are laid out, such as the historic building that houses a full European-style spa. Other spots nearby that are worth a dedicated visit are the Bridal Veil Falls, located on the Waterfall Byway, the historic High Hampton Resort, and the unforgettable American Museum of Cut and Engraved Glass. No matter where you go in this comfortably charming little hamlet, you’re sure to be delighted by it’s size and attention to detail this holiday season.

Stowe, Vermont

For those who were raised on Christmas movies and other similar media, it’s hard to make it through the holiday season with an abundant absence of snow in the background. So, if you’re looking to celebrate a snowy white Christmas, then look no further than the East Coast ski paradise of Stowe, Vermont for your winter destination. Located at the foot of Vermont’s highest peak, Mount Mansfield, Stowe is quite literally a winter wonderland that is known not only for its world-renowned trails and ski slopes, but it’s also famous for its accompanying town as well.  Once you make your way to Stowe, it’s hard to believe that you’re not literally stepping foot into a snowglobe, as the buildings, trees, and grounds are often blanketed with thick layers of smooth snowfall.

Be sure to spend Christmas in the style of a storybook by reserving a horse-drawn carriage ride for you and your loved ones to see the sprinkled pine trees. Alternatively, take a trip down Main Street for nightly winter activities that are sure to make ever-lasting memories. If you’re in the mood for adventure, you can host your holiday celebrations and then cap it off by planning an unforgettable day on the slopes, or you can simply spend the time quietly around the fire of the Stowe Mountain Ski Resort. No matter the reason, there’s no question that Winter is the perfect season to see all of the wonders that Stowe, Virginia has to offer.

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Small Town Fall Travel for 2021

Each year the transition from summer to fall has many looking forward to new opportunities for fall travel, chances, and experiences, and this sensation of new beginnings is often mirrored in the changing weather conditions and transformative color patterns found in the fall foliage of the country’s smaller towns. Thankfully, Travel + Leisure has published an acclaimed list of the seven best towns to visit so that you can ring in the new season in the best way and in the best places.

As always, it’s advised that you research and look to local travel guidelines and CDC recommendations prior to booking any accommodations in these unprecedented times so that you may keep yourself and those you care about as safe and responsible as possible.

Manchester, Vermont

Set between the Taconic and Green Mountain Ranges of southwestern Vermont, the town of Manchester is a quintessential destination for anyone who wants to experience fall travel by enjoying the colorful vibrancy that comes with the changing fall foliage, and according to the Vermont Foliage Forecaster, the best time to observe them in Manchester is around mid-October. The town takes pride in its offering of premier cultural events and world-class recreational activities that can be experienced in a dreamlike environment that is conducive to someone who needs to unplug, restore, and recharge. The town abounds with accommodations to best serve your autumnal vacation as there are plenty of quaint cottages, boutique hotels, and charming inns that can be booked ahead of your stay, such as the Kimpton Taconic Hotel, located in the middle of the village.

Due to the area’s close proximity to the Taconic Mountain Range, some of the best views of the fall foliage can be seen while on a rewarding hike (or drive) up Mount Equinox, the tallest mountain in not just the state of Vermont but the entire Taconic Range at an elevation of 3840 feet. Mount Equinox protectively stands watch over the idyllic village, and it can be accessed by car or on foot. If hiking the 6.8 mile (round trip) trek, it’s suggested that you are among the more intermediate or advanced hikers, but no matter the skill level, all reaching the summit agree that the views from the top can’t be beat.

In summation, there are countless activities to engage in if you are spending an autumnal escape in the town of Manchester such as a round of two of vivacious gaming at Pastime Pinball, a perusing of the shelves of the cozy, acclaimed inn-turned-independent bookstore known as the Northshire Bookstore, or discovering new aspects of presidential history while visiting the stately 1905 mansion, the Hildene, which was once the home of the only surviving son of President Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd. Take the trip to Manchester, Vermont this fall and fall in love with New England, nature, and the fall season all over again in the perfect location for doing just that.

Torrey, Utah

The astoundingly small town of Torrey stands watch at 6,800 feet above sea level as the chief gateway to the Capitol Reef National Park. Especially in the autumn months (particularly November), the population of fewer than 200 residents regularly enjoy the cool temperatures while observing the astoundingly panoramic view of the Cathedral Valley, Boulder Mountain, and the Henry Mountains that is seen in the background of the quaint town.

Other than being a beneficial home-base for fall travel to those looking to explore, trek, and enjoy the offerings of the nearby National Park, the town itself has been known over the past 25 years for keeping a vibrant art scene alive and well in the area. This is most notably seen in the Torrey Chamber Music Festival, bi-monthly gallery showings by local artisans, and the Wayne County County Fair. If you’re stopping by the town before the end of the year, be sure to try and attend the highly-anticipated  Wayne County Farmers’ Market, which is held on Saturdays for the best offerings in food, commerce, and community that the town has to offer.

Be sure to check out the full published list, which can be read at Travel + Leisure, as it includes the towns ofBardstown, Kentucky; Cambria, California; Cape May, New Jersey; Cashiers, North Carolina; and Gretna, Louisiana.

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