bouldersviewFor some families, Christmas means snow. Traveling to warm weather is anathema; they want the white fluffy stuff.  But a White Christmas is no guarantee in the northeast; in fact, in the beginning of December, New Yorkers walked coatless while The Boulders Resort, in the Sonoran desert, had snow flurries.

Although my family likes to ski, we also like to lounge by the pool, and Arizona in winter offers warm days where you can swim, and cool nights where sitting by the fire is necessary. At Boulders, you can build a fire in your room, or sit at one of the adobe fireplaces around the resort.

xmascactiDuring the holiday season, Boulders offers free hot apple cider, and illuminates its cacti with Christmas lights. The resort’s el Pedregal marketplace offers holiday entertainment with carolers and the Bakery Café offers gingerbread specialties and hot chocolate.

The Bakery Café is also ideal for reasonably priced family meals for breakfast and lunch. The Spotted Donkey Cantina, also at el Pedregal, has casual Southwestern food. And there is a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream parlor.

If your family likes to stay active, Boulders has family tennis and golf clinics. Although there is no kiddie pool, the main pool provides noodles to keep kids afloat, and complimentary sunscreen so you can protect your child’s skin.

If you have teens, sign up for a rock climbing clinic. If your experience with rock climbing has been limited to indoor climbing gyms, you’re in for a real treat. The guides lead three hour clinics on the resort’s ancient granite boulders. They also provide packs and water bottles; bring your own hat and sturdy shoes (sneakers will suffice, though hiking boots are better).

If you aren’t ready to tackle the boulders, or your kids are younger, you can take an hour long walk with the resort’s geologist, who enlightens you about the history of the rocks, while pointing out animals and different plants. Keep your eyes peeled for bunnies.

Make sure you walk up to Sunset Point and step out at night to see the stars. You may not see the Star of Bethlehem, but you will get a great view of night sky.

And when you think about it, you’re in the desert – isn’t that close to being in Bethlehem?