12 Christmas-Themed Girlfriend Getaways
There's never a bad time for a vacation with your closest pals. We've got you covered with options ranging from girlfriend getaways perfect for fall to Southern trips we know the whole crew will love. But what better excuse to plan a vacation than to toast the merriest time of year? Pack the reindeer ears and Christmas sweaters, and we'll plan the rest for you. Read on for the best of America's yuletide fun from a classic country Christmas in Nashville to an unexpected midwestern town along the Missipppi River decked out in 4,000,000 lights.
Take a Christmas Vacation to These Spirited Locales
There’s never a bad time to visit Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland. But their Country Christmas truly goes above and beyond with ICE! Featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas and Cirque Dreams Holidaze. There’s also ice skating, Santa’s snow throw, and a whole lot more. Should you choose to wander away from the property and its dazzling three million holiday lights, head to the Country Music Hall of Fame for a slew of seasonal delights. Or, if historic sights tickle your fancy, tour the sprawling Belle Meade Plantation or Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, the president’s former mansion. To top off the trip, don’t miss Christmas at The Ryman with Amy Grant and Vince Gill, running on select dates from November 29th to December 21st.
Wheeling, West Virginia
If you and the ladies are on an annual pilgrimage to find the best holiday lights Oglebay Resort proves an unexpected Christmastime jackpot. Running from November 10th, 2017 to January 1st, 2018, their light display fills 300 acres, illuminating the clear, Mountain State sky with a smattering of vibrant color. By day, enjoy skiing and snowboarding (you'll find us lazing by the firepit) or wandering the property's 1846 Mansion Museum or Glass Museum. After the sun sets, enjoy one of the on-site restaurants, or venture to Figaretti's, a family-owned Italian eatery that's been a staple in the community since 1948.
Perched in the picturesque Shenandoah Valley, about 45 minutes outside of Charlottesville, this small Virginia town is one to watch. On your trip, enjoy holiday lantern tours at the Frontier Culture Museum that are equal parts delightful and informative. Then, refuel on West Beverley Street, which dates back to the 1800s, and still maintains much of its old-school architectural charm. At night, grab tickets for the posse to check out A Christmas Carol or Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!) at American Shakespeare Center.
It may be sunny Florida, but a Polar Express oasis is in full swing in the Pensacola Bay Area. Starting November 25th, there's a dizzying array of events ranging from the Winterfest Elf Parade on Black Friday to festive trolley tours (learn more at PensacolaWinterfest.org). Other hits include The Nutcracker and the popular New Year's Eve Pensacola Pelican Drop.where live music and fireworks add to the magic of this distinctly Gulf Coast event.
Lexington's Southern Lights Holiday Festival is Kentucky's largest light festival, and will amaze newcomers and returning fans with a packed four-mile route of lights at the Kentucky Horse Park through December 31st. (Yes, there will be glowing horses.) We hear you can also find Santa at the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort. Crafter? You'll love shopping at nearby Shaker Village—3,000 verdant acres where a large community of Kentucky Shakers lived in the 19th and early 20th centuries— especially at the Pleasant Hill Craft Store. Compare your loot with the ladies over a marvelous meal at The Trustee's Table, which highlights the best of The Bluegrass State's agricultural bounty.
Fort Myers and Sanibel, Florida
Round up the gang for the 33rd annual Luminary Festival on Sanibel and Captiva Islands (In 2017, it falls on December 1st and 2nd). Wander along the candlelit trail during the traditional holiday stroll with a tree-lighting ceremony, Santa cameo, music, free trolley, and more. From November 24th through December 31st, you can also enjoy guided holiday home tours of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford's winter estates. There's also plenty going on in downtown Fort Myers (see a full holiday calendar here). Our vote? Dinner at The Standard, followed by a night cap wherever Santa's sleigh takes you.
San Antonio, Texas
Does it get more magical than San Antonio's River Walk during Fiesta? Arguably it does during the holiday season. Inaugurate your BFF getaway with Ford Holiday Boat Caroling (December 1st through the 22nd, nightly), where floating carolers sing along the beautifully decorated River Walk. The next day, delight your senses at the San Antonio Botanical Garden and the seasonal Holidays in Bloom exhibit brimming with garlands, poinsettias, and ribbons galore. Other must-see pit stops include the Music for Your Eyes - Holiday! tour at Villa Finale, a home and museum that's part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Ford Fiesta de Las Luminarias, a special Mexican Christmas tradition. Want to live like a local? Beeline to the holiday night market at The Pearl, a thrumming district centered around a former brewery founded in 1883.
New Orleans, Louisiana
With 200+ seasonal events, the gals may have a tough time narrowing down your schedule. Allow us to suggest bonfires on the levee on Christmas eve, at various locations about an hour ouside of downtown New Orleans. Also be sure to indulge in a Creole Réveillon Dinner, a tradition that has its roots in the 19th century. After all, you'll need plenty of fuel to wander around the city's plazas and churches to catch carolers (and forge a path towards beignets). Starting at $379 a night (use code NOLA when booking), book a double suite at the Pontchartrain Hotel which includes a Christmas tree in the living room, milk and cookies on your first night, two all-day streetcar passes, and more.
La Crosse, Wisconsin
It's hard to outshine La Crosse's The Rotary Lights annual holiday display—literally. Created from more than 4,000,000 lights, marvel at the Mississippi River from Riverside Park, with a warming hot chocolate (you're not on our strip of the Mississippi, after all). The event attracts 300,000 visitors, so expect lots of festive costumes and some Santa sightings, to boot. To get away from the crowds, post up at The Charmant Hotel. Through December 31st, The Restaurant is offering a $35 prix fixe menu, where you can soak up scenery of The Rotary Lights (and some outstanding pastries) without the layers. In town for December 9th? The Ugly Sweater 5k is a must, even if you're only cheering on the spectacle from the sidelines. Did we mention Cinderella Carraige Rides and lap robes as you trot through the nearly endless display of yuletide lights?
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Put your camera down and take in the warm glow from approximately 5,500 candles at Brookgreen Gardens' Nights of a Thousand Candles, a special treat for the community since 1999, which now draws around 53,000 people annually. If the group also craves another illuminated spectacle, check out The Great Christmas Light Show drive-through experience in North Myrtle Beach running through December 31st. A fitting place to toast friendship, head to La Belle Amie Vineyard, home of Twisted Sisters wines, where some seasonal events include A Stardusters Afternoon of Holiday Tunes on December 9th and a New Year Bonfire on December 30th.
You had us at "Christmas Wine Trains." Okay, the roughly 1,400 other Christmas events around town don't hurt either. In Grapevine, posse-friendly activities range from The Parade of Lights to watching classic movies or Christmas concerts at the Palace Theatre. To bring a joyful token back home, swing by Dr.Sue's Chocolate (Dr.Sue is a practicing physician), which pedals antioxidant-rich dark chocolate goodies like you've never before tasted.
Callicoon, New York
A Victorian winter wonderland takes over the charming small town of Callicoon, nestled in New York's Sullivan Catskills mountain range. On December 9th, revelers who attend Dickens on the Delaware are in for street performances, horse and buggy rides, a book emporium, and a holiday portrait studio so everyone in the group can return home with a souvenir to frame. Head to the historic train depot to explore an outdoor market complete with burning log sculptures and enough down-home food and eggnog or spiced wine to have you floating down the quaint Main Street with glee. For the perfect home away from home, book rooms (or rent the whole house) at 9 River Road, which was built in 1884. To round out your vacation, don't miss the celebrated Callicoon Farmers Market every other Sunday and live tunes every Saturday afternoon at Callicoon Brewing Company (On Dickens' Day, they'll be giving out prizes for the best Victorian costumes, so bring your finest threads).