The holidays are made for families, but sometimes all that togetherness makes you crave a holiday getaway. These hotels get all dressed up for the holidays and make a great family vacation destination whether you’re traveling with kids or in need of a romantic getaway.
Grand Geneva Resort & Spa: This prairie-style resort in Lake Geneva, Wis., offers Christmas in the country. The meandering 1,300-acre grounds are transformed into a festive outdoor-indoor display festooned with half a million lights. Gingerbread houses set the tone, and ongoing events—from live jingle bell jazz to a high-energy holiday song-fest and theatrical musical—add to the holiday feel. Afternoon tea takes place daily through December 30, and kids can enjoy brunch with Santa on Sundays through December 20.
Gaylord Palms Resort: This Kissimmee, Fla., resort offers holiday appeal in a warm destination. Adorned with a two-million-pound North Pole-inspired winter wonderland carved from ice, the hotel also offers a full roster of family-friendly activities amid fanciful décor. Holiday-themed stage shows entertain; likewise the hotel’s hidden gnome hunt and county wreath exhibition. Not surprisingly, Santa makes regular appearances, too. But if you’re just looking to kick back, there’s no better place to do so than in front of the stately 54-foot Christmas tree.
The Ahwahnee Hotel: Yosemite Falls, Glacier Point and Half Dome offer an elegant locale for this hotel, which hosts an annual yuletide event on scheduled dates throughout the holiday season. Expect the dining room to go Renaissance-meets-Middle-Ages with players reenacting the role of the Squire, his family and servants, the Lord of Misrule and minstrels. Decorations and entertainment aside, the real draw is the elaborate, seven-course meal, which lures with the likes of Dungeness crab and avocado timbale with upland cress, tomato jam and citrus-saffron aioli.
Omni Mount Washington Resort: The magnificent, greenery-frocked decorations mimic the North Pole and this Betton Woods, New Hampshire, resort offers horse-drawn sleigh rides and stories with Santa. (Kids who are so inclined can get tucked in by an elf, too.) If you tire of all the outdoor activities, snack on roasted chestnuts while sipping apple cider in the lobby, or take in tunes from carolers and bell choirs. Grownups can revel in holiday cocktail tastings, but the whole family can partake in winter scavenger hunts, crafts and afternoon movies.
The American Club: You could bring the kids with you, but why? This Kohler, Wis., resort is regal and idyllic—from its wood-paneled walls to its twinkling, white light-swathed landscape. There are things the kids would enjoy, including hands-on activities such as scavenger hunts and ornament decorating. But the gracious Baker and McGuire furniture-outfitted rooms, which have their own deep-set Kohler whirlpools, make you want to cocoon with the one you love, not oversee craft projects with the other ones you love.
Gaylord Opryland: Christmas is not a secular winter holiday to the folks at this Nashville, Tennessee, resort. They’re serious about Christmas, about Santa Claus, even about the Nativity. Its Country Christmas celebration includes performances by the famous Radio City Rockettes, who bring their City Christmas Spectacular to the Grand Ole Opry stage next door. Other Country Christmas attractions include a room chilled to 9 degrees and filled with ice sculptures celebrating the television classic "A Charlie Brown Christmas," Santa in the Winter Wonderland, and a host of country music stars, including Louise Mandrell, who presents a "Joy to the World" dinner show.