Looking for a special holiday vacation? Here are my top holiday destinations. They're in no particular order but are all places I have visited and loved during the Christmas season. Contact me if you want to visit one!
Erfurt, Germany has one of the most beautiful Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas market) in all of Germany. Erfurt is exactly what one wants to picture for a traditional German town. It is after all where Martin Luther studied to become a monk. It has all the charm of a medieval town but the comforts of a more modern city. You can not beat their Christmas celebration. In the market you'll find fantastic gluhwein (spiced warm wine), traditional brats (sausage), and stollen (pastry). You can shop all the craftsmen's beautiful wares and take a turn on the ferris wheel to see the beautiful city and a birds eye view of the Cathedral. The holiday I spent in this town are some of my favorite travel memories.
Rome, Italy has decorations you simply can not beat. The backdrop of this historic city filled with Christmas lights is a site to be seen. Probably the highlight of my holiday trip to Rome was the shopping! The Christmas bazaars are up through all of December and bost unique holiday presents. From leather goods to crafted toys, you'll find something for everyone. You can of course eat to your heart's content in Rome and enjoy a traditional christmas lunch with lamb and potatoes, gnocchi, and a sweet bread filled with nuts, dates, chocolate and honey. Last but certainly not least you can enjoy the history and culture by visiting the tourist sites like the colosseum and the Vatican. We also visited quite a few cafes to enjoy espresso on the chilly days. Take my word for it and head to Rome at Christmas time.
New York, NY can't be left off the list. Is there any greater holiday activity than riding up the wooden escalator in Macy's to see Santa? What about Rockefeller Plaza with its enormous tree and beautiful ice skating rink? Buying the perfect toy at F.A.O. Schwartz? A carriage ride through Central Park will surely seal the deal. The store window decorations, the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, do I need to keep going? Before I got married and had a kid, this was a trip I made every year. I don't need to sell you on New York, just trust me when I say Christmas is magical in the city.
Colonial Williamsburg, VA is one of our favorite places to visit. It's within driving distance from Baltimore and Washington D.C. and the Christmas decorations and celebrations are quaint and quite beautiful. From the rustic decorative wreaths made from dried fruit, wood and cotton, to the ginger cookies and hot cider, to the colonial candle light procession, this is an excellent place to spend the holidays. My family makes the yearly journey Williamsburg to celebrate the holidays with family. Occasionally we go to see the holiday lights and show at Busch Gardens and we sometimes we hit up the outlet mall for some last minute Christmas shopping. It's a truly magical place to step back in time and enjoy some simple fun.
Washington, D.C. is the closest to home and my local readers may not think of it as a destination Christmas, but I would urge you to get a hotel and do an overnight in the capital city. You can of course see the national tree, along with each state tree, or go ice skating outside the National Gallery of Art. But my favorite activities are seeing the National Ballet Company's production of the Nutcracker at the Warner Theater. This particular production of the Nutcracker is revolution themed, with George Washington as the Prince. Another great production is A Christmas Carol at the historic Ford's Theater. Follow up these performances at the Old Ebbitt Grill who's christmas decorations can't be rivaled anywhere in the city. In case you didn't know I had my wedding reception on December 22, 2007 at the Old Ebbitt for just this reason.