With so many holiday lights and dance programs, finding a truly unique holiday attraction complete with a Christmas Village and international holiday celebrations isn’t easy. But Long Weekend Traveling Mom found all that and more at the Gaylord Hotel in Maryland. See why her family will be making the Gaylord National Resort and Spa gift experience an annual tradition to visit the ICE! attraction featuring Christmas Around The World.
Holiday Traditions at Gaylord Hotel
The holidays are the perfect time celebrate with your family. Yet holiday celebrations and end of the year closeouts can be a challenge to bring together family time. This year, we gave our family a gift experience, taking matters into our own hands with a long weekend at the Gaylord National Resort and Spa in Maryland. This was such a great idea that I’m looking forward to turning this into an annual tradition.
We loved staying at a Gaylord hotel. These family-friendly resorts are so convenient because you don’t have to leave the property AND have a full experience. We’ve usually visited for a conference or other meeting. This time, our visit focused on the ICE! attraction featuring Christmas Around the World. I knew it was a walk-through ice sculpture event but had no idea just how exceptional was this holiday-themed attraction.
Read More: Best Hotels for Families at Christmastime
Going Inside the ICE! at Gaylord National
ICE! is a unique experience at any Gaylord hotel. During this time of year, you’ll find lots of holiday light displays, dance recitals and train rides with Santa, but the ICE! attractions are two-story villages carved from blocks of solid ice.
We loved the 2016 theme of the Gaylord National Resort, Christmas Around the World. This unique holiday display was a unique way for my children to learn more about holiday traditions while having a great time. We noticed the similarities in how different cultures celebrate the Christmas traditions. As a homeschooling family, I really try to include the educational aspect when we travel during the school week. But this experience was also an opportunity for my husband and me to learn as well.
The actual skill that goes into creating the ice sculptures is a testament to the craftsmanship of the artisans. In our tech-heavy world, there is something incredibly special about seeing a person create such amazing details from the blocks of ice. During our visit, we were able to observe a carver working on a project and talking with a family. Each of Gaylord hotel has their own team of artisans from China who begin working a month before on carving the ice and stay onsite to refresh carvings as needed.
Traveling Mom Tip: Make sure to bring your own gloves and hats. ICE! is located in an outside pavilion that is temperature controlled to 9 degrees. They do provide blue parkas for everyone; even extended plus sizes.
The Christmas Village at the Gaylord National
The Christmas Village is really a traditional holiday celebration. I felt like I was at a Christmas carnival and we were all pretty excited just walking in the door. A scavenger hunt for Elf on the Shelf takes you all over the Gaylord National.
Within the Christmas Village, families can also experience area for cookie decorating, an indoor miniature train ride, a carousel ride, and a complete Build-A-Bear Workshop. My boys enjoyed every bit of the village. My husband and I even joined in the fun in the cookie decorating area.
The best thing is that the Christmas Village has some special attractions such as character breakfasts with Charlie Brown and friends. For adults who really want to celebrate, there are some special holiday treats with the Cask & Cocoa: International Wine & Chocolate Pairings. You can sign up to taste three red wines from around the world paired with gourmet chocolates. I would be in heaven!
Traveling Mom Tip: The special dining events also extend until January 1. Booking in advance is strongly suggested but there may be some walk up tickets available at the box office.
Also, ICE! and the Christmas Village are a complete attraction. Maybe it’s just been my experience but often times when you visit a special attraction, it is just a tour and you’re done for the day.
I didn’t feel like this with ICE! We spent at least 2 hours exploring just the inside of ICE! Your ticket admits you for as long as you like to visit. Because it is a balmy 9 (nine) degrees, my family went in and out several times. We walked through once and then came back for our favorite parts of the visit.
We’re looking forward to making this an annual traditional because there are three more different ICE! attractions to explore at other Gaylord Hotels.
We spent the weekend at the Gaylord National right outside of Washington, DC while the Gaylord Texan is hosting Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town, A Charlie Brown Christmas is at the Gaylord Palms (Kissimmee, FL) and Gaylord Opryland is hosting Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
I loved the Gaylord National so much that I wanted to take a trip to either the Palms or Opryland and see their ICE! attractions. You can see more about all the Christmas traditions at the Gaylord Resorts.
Traveling Mom Tip: Stay the weekend and turn into a special gift experience for your family! You can visit for just a day but there’s really so much more to enjoy with the spa and light shows that spending just one night will be a distinctive and memorable gift.