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Best Holiday Travel Destinations

Best Holiday Travel Destinations
Perrone, Sara

People have different reactions to the holiday season and all it brings; you have your winter lovers, the ones who love the snow; then you have the snowbirds who are ready to leave once the temperature drops below 50; and of course, you have the people who want the best of both worlds. Whether you enjoy the cold or are looking for a vacation away, here are some of the best places to visit during this holiday season.

For the winter lovers, look no further than our neighbor: NYCThe city is famous for the holiday season. Famous movies such as Elf and Home Alone 2: Lost In New York both take place in NYC. The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is most recognized during this time. By the tree, you can ice skate, visit venders, and more. If you make your way over to Bryant Park, you can buy from the holiday market. You could also stroll down 5th Avenue and see the holiday window displays. You could see a Broadway show or watch the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. Central Park also holds a lot for the holiday season, such as the menorah lighting! During the lighting you can partake in the Hanukkah festivities and feast on hot latkes. You can visit Santa over at Macys, too. For the older crowd, there is a Christmas decorated bar on 3rd Avenue. The restaurant is decked in decorations and ornaments. There’s the Holiday Train Show at New York Botanical Gardens. Right outside of Manhattan is Dyker Heights in Brooklyn. It’s a beautifully lit neighborhood that is decorated for the holiday season. There are also food trucks on some corners in the town. Obviously on December 31st, you can celebrate the New Year by watching the ball drop in Times Square. Later in the winter season, there’s also a celebration for the Chinese New Year.

Perrone, Sara

Chicago, Illinois: Sheecago sheecago! The winter season in Chicago is warmly festive, despite the cold weather. Chicago hosts many cheerful events during the season. The city is decked with lights on every corner. The Lincoln Park zoo holds a colorful light show for all to see. They offer free admission on Mondays, while the rest of the days admission is just $7. Just outside of the City, Chicago Botanical Gardens hosts a light show as well. Lightscape at Chicago Botanical Gardens is an immersive experience. Visitors explore scenic nature exhibit while admiring the light show.

November starts off the holiday season with Chicago’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony! The tree lights up the Millennium Park. While you’re there you could visit one of their ice rinks as well. For indoor activities, you can check out Chicago’s museums. The Museum of Science and Industry goes all out for the holidays. Every year they host their Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light show. They have 50 beautifully decorated trees and exhibits that celebrate the traditions of Chinese New Year, Diwali, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Hanukkah, Visakha Puja Day, St. Lucia Day, and many more. Another indoor holiday experience is catching a live holiday show. You could watch the limited productions of ‘Twas the Night Before by Cirque du Soleil, The Nutcracker by Joffery Ballet, and many honorable shows as well.

Denver, Colorado: Denver has many exciting holiday experiences that may just surprise you. Have you ever wanted to ride the Polar Express? Well here you can! The Colorado Railroad Museum hosts its annual Polar Express ride. This experience is perfect for kids who want to feel the Christmas magic and for adults who may want to rekindle that magic. The event has been sold out for the 2023 year. It is truly an immersive and magical experience you shouldn’t miss.

Denver’s Union station hosts Grand Illumination! It is an event for people of all ages. There’s family friendly entertainment and classic holiday music. Kids can meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus. The evening reaches its peak with the grand lighting of the stations massive 40 foot tall Christmas tree.

You can’t forget about the light shows.  Denver’s Botanic Gardens celebrates its holiday light extravaganza called Blossoms of Light. This event has been a tradition for nearly 3 decades. The gardens are transformed into a twinkling winter wonderland. The lights are beautiful and perfect for friends and family. Cherry Creek North’s Winter Wonderland Light Walk is another amazing light show. They have a massive display of nearly one million dazzling lights. Other than this bright experience, you can also shop at the Cherry Creek Holiday Market! There’s something for everyone in Denver!  

Now heading South to warm up…


Florida: There are a lot of festive places to visit in the sunshine state. For starters, experience the holiday magic in Disney World! The park is decorated beautifully with lights, wreaths, nutcrackers, and more holiday spirit. You could experience Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Enjoy the holiday treats, such as their festive hot chocolate. While at Disney you could visit their resorts that are also dressed up for the season. For example, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort holds the display for the gingerbread houses. Just next door at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, is the classic gingerbread carousel.  Make your way over to Epcot and experience the culture of the globe. Epcot hosts the International Festival of the Holidays.

If Orlando is not on your radar, don’t worry, there are many other places in Florida that captures the warm holiday experience. Going a bit north, is Saint Augustine! The town celebrates with the annual Night of Lights Festival. You could witness the light festival on the water when you book a tour with Florida Water Tours. If you want a calm yet beautiful holiday experience, visit Saint Augustine!

Known to have the best beaches in Florida, Miami is next on Florida’s list. Miami takes the cake with decorating. Santa’s Enchanted Forest transforms Tropical Park into a winter wonderland. It’s deemed the largest Christmas-themed amusement park in the world. There are over 100 rides, plenty of activities like karaoke, Santa sightings, and more! Bay front park is where you can find the 52 foot Christmas tree.

New Orleans, Louisiana: New Orleans has a celebration for everyone. The Jewish Region’s Children Service holds “Latkes with a Twist” annually. Washington post considers this celebration to be one of the most amazing parties. At the Jewish Community Centers Community Chanukah Celebration there is a Menorah Lighting and there will be cultural foods to add onto the celebration. 

There is a big celebration for Kwanzaa as well. They start off with the lighting of candles, followed by African dancing, drumming, poetry, singing, cultural clothing, and fairs. They host events that celebrate Kwanzaa’s seven principals :Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith).

To start off the holiday season, they hold a bonfire called “Bonfires on the Levee”, used to build a guide for Santa. They have Candlelight Caroling in Jackson Square. There is a merry celebration in City Park. They have plenty of fun activities like train rides for the families. Other seasonal highlights include seeing the Nutcracker – the traditional ballet at the Orpheum or the Hip Hop Nutcracker at the Saenger. 

Hawaii: Hawaii is the perfect place for a relaxing holiday season. There are plenty of activities to immerse yourself in!  Visit Honolulu to see their twinkling light display throughout the city. They have their famous 55 foot decorated tree located downtown. There are venders and activities for kids to help celebrate this annual tradition. 

Most of the larger towns on the islands hold special and free holiday hula shows. These events are perfect for everyone. There will be a perfect mix of tradition and culture. You can experience the culture and holiday spirit. Lahaina and Waikiki have regular shows scheduled in public spots.

To experience the best of both worlds, visit Mauna Kea where snow and beautiful weather meet. Mauna Kea is an inactive volcano on Hawai’i island. Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain on Earth. It is over 33,000 feet tall. There are tours for the mountain. You can book to learn more about the geology. They can give you a beautiful view of the stars as well. 

There are many other activities too like Aloha’s Winter Wonderland! It features a light show, a 50 foot Christmas tree, photos with Santa, a light tunnel, and food! Another amazing event is the Chinatown Winter Walk. Chinatown merchants decorate their store fronts for the holidays. The whole district is dressed up for the Christmas season. And it’s free! Both of the wonderful experiences are found on the island Oahu. 

Whether you’re a cold lover or a snowbird, there is something for everyone this holiday season.

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About the Contributor
Olivia Yagnisis
Olivia Yagnisis, Vice President
Meet Olivia Yagnisis. This is her first year back writing for The Gull since 7th grade. In her senior year she will hold the position of Vice President of The Gull. Olivia has had a love for writing since the 9th grade and enjoys having the option to write freely with The Gull. Her main passions include: the flute, music, making jewelry, and writing. She doesn’t have any specific themes she plans on writing this year, but stay tuned for her future pieces.

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