December is a good time for family travel, with sparkling lights decorating the streets and shop windows aglow. But there’s no need to head for the big cities to enjoy holiday lights and festivities or shop in Christmas markets.
You’ll find smaller towns across the country with great holiday festivals. Some are places with long-established immigrant populations who preserved old-world traditions of their former homes. Some towns take inspiration from their names, others simply wanted to make the season special.
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, has long-time roots in the culture of its German population, and it shows in not one, but two traditional Christmas markets. On Friday through Sunday in December, see craftspeople and food vendors selling from a village of wooden cabins at the Christmas City Village in downtown. Another, opening in mid-November, is the indoor Bethlehem Christkindlmarkt. Families can enjoy carriage rides, story time with Santa, a live Advent calendar with treats for everyone and 28 beautifully decorated Christmas trees at historic sites throughout town.
Christmas never ends in the small city of North Pole, Alaska, where holiday decorations stay up year-round. Street lights are giant candy canes, and street names include Kris Kringle Drive, Santa Claus Lane and other Christmas themes. You can buy everything Christmas at Santa Claus House and get lost in the Ice Maze during the Christmas in Ice festival. Professional and amateur ice carvers create polar bears, sleighs, elves and Santas. You can also ride down a mile-long ice slide. Kids can meet reindeer and mail cards to friends with the North Pole postmark.
For a wonderland of Christmas trees, go to Branson, Missouri, in December. More than 1,500 decorated trees include one that’s nearly 40 feet tall and covered in thousands of Austrian crystals. After viewing the trees up close, get a bird’s eye view from Branson Ferris Wheel.
Family travels don’t necessarily need to be in theme parks or resorts with massive kids’ clubs. In fact, more upscale properties across the world cater to both adults and kids, and wellbeing brand Sensei joins the growing trend of family wellness travel. Sensei’s Wellness Science team, led by Dr. Vishal Patel, emphasizes the importance of family travels and exposing young travelers to wellness pursuits. Developing healthy habits at a young age can have long-lasting effects on an individual’s life, and bonding via family trips alleviates some of the main drivers of loneliness and isolation.
Filled with hidden treasures waiting to be discovered, Seoul invites travelers to unearth its many gems, and Seoul Tourism Organization is here to help travelers do just that. Through thoughtfully created initiatives like the Theme Tourism County Competition, Seoul Tourism Organization works closely with local districts to identify and showcase what makes each district unique and charming in all seasons.
Travel to South Korea is on the rise, and not just because of influencers looking for the next big thing. The country is a haven for family travelers seeking incredible culture, history, nature and cuisine, all of which make it a dream come true for adventurous families looking to uncover the country’s unique personality.
While the United States offers a plethora of bike-friendly destinations, a recent study by personal injury law firm Bader Scott found some counties across the country are far more dangerous than others. Family travelers might be surprised to find many lie in popular vacation states.
Making travel plans can be exciting; did you know planning on how to spend time at the airport the right way can enrich the overall trip experience? As a transfer hub, traveling through Doha's Hamad International Airport is a unique experience, as waiting never feels like waiting at one of the best airports in the world.