Restored historic houses let us step back into another era and see how families celebrated the holidays in the past. Look for local museum houses with special holiday openings when they bring out vintage and antique decorations and feature traditions from Christmases past. Or travel to these historic homes famed for their Christmas displays.
Nemours, a duPont mansion in Delaware’s Brandywine Valley seems more like a royal palace than an American country house, and never does its gold and crystal glitter more brightly than in December. The family’s own holiday decorations, supplemented by evergreen boughs and masses of poinsettias, turn the 77-room Nemours into a Christmas wonderland.
Christmas was clearly a big event here, with tall, lavishly decorated trees in each room; ornaments are a mix of exquisite treasures, family trinkets and treasured childhood toys, making the trees more personal. The decorations show how the family celebrated and entertained, and visitors can almost picture themselves in 1920’s finery, socializing with the guests.
Not far from Nemours, another duPont mansion offers a different holiday experience. Winterthur was not just a country estate, but also a museum for one of the world’s premier collections of American furniture and decorative arts. More about historical preservation and fine craftsmanship than glitz and splendor, room after room is furnished in priceless antiques and blended artfully throughout are Christmas decorations and stories of how the family celebrated their holidays here. The highlight is a gigantic Christmas tree decorated entirely in dried flowers and plants grown in the estate’s gardens.
Another group of palatial homes famed for Christmas displays are the Gilded Age mansions of Newport, Rhode Island. As each hostess strived to outdo her neighboring mansions, Christmas made these showplaces even more over-the-top. Three of them — The Breakers, Marble House and The Elms — are open for tours.
Of course, Mrs. Vanderbilt’s cliffside palace outshines them all. Christmas trees in each room are decorated in themes to match the décor, and the 15-foot-tall poinsettia tree in the Great Hall is made of 150 poinsettia plants. On some evenings, the 13 acres of grounds are aglow with colored holiday lights.
While these lavish estates of the uber rich have holiday décor to match their own opulence, you can get a less embellished view of past holidays at places like Colonial Williamsburg, where houses are decorated in the simpler, timeless 18th-century styles.
For a look at how an exuberant Victorian family celebrated, go to Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Connecticut, where the author of Tom Sawyer created a whimsical world for his children. Outside of Boston, Eustis Estate gives another look at a Victorian Christmas, and farther west, visit Denver’s Molly Brown House.
Ever dreamed of being a mermaid? Well, your dreams could come true on your next family trip. With March 29 National Mermaid Day, these two resorts offer experiences for guests of all ages to enjoy.
Five Tips to Help Minimize Potential Travel Problems
Make Best Western your hotel of choice during spring family travels for a sweet reward. This spring, BWH Hotels offers members of its Best Western Rewards loyalty program the opportunity to earn a free night stay.
Known for its clear, vibrantly blue-green waters and varied and historic ports of call, the Adriatic is the new Mediterranean for cruise enthusiasts and family travelers. An Adriatic cruise is especially suited to multigen family trips, since it appeals to all ages with its beautiful beaches, water sports, rich marine life, historic cities, ancient archaeological sites, colorful cultures and varied cuisines. There is truly something for every traveler.
As the only major U.S. airline to own a flight school, United Airlines already hit a major milestone, and now the carrier celebrates another important — and historic — step as the inaugural class of United Aviate Academy pilots graduates, leading the next generation of aviators. The 51 students in the graduating class were majority, at 80 percent, women and people of color — another stride toward United’s goal of training 5,000 new pilots by 2030 with half women or POC.
Parents, it’s time to ditch family travel and embark on a romantic vacation at Solmar Hotels and Resorts in Los Cabos. Renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, pristine beaches and unparalleled hospitality, Los Cabos sets the stage for couples looking for a romantic escape away from the kids. At Solmar Hotels and Resorts, guests are invited to take advantage of the romantic accommodations, spa experiences, gastronomic delights and more.