We here at Miami Mom Collective LOVE everything about the holiday season. From our annual Holiday Events & Activities Guide chock full of things to add to your winter break bucket list, we’re here for all the holiday magic we can get. And if you’re thinking about planning some fun winter vacation getaways, we’ve got you covered there, too!
Here are 6 cozy destinations worthy of a winter break getaway:
I’m from Atlanta (born and raised), so there are few destinations that evoke the holiday spirit for me as much as this Southern charmer. A short plane ride away from Miami, it offers winter weather (I still can’t get used to a warm Christmas) without needing to buy a ton of new clothes to brave the snow. It is a big and vibrant city but also offers tons of outdoor options. Atlanta holiday favorites include the Georgia Aquarium (the largest in the U.S. and the third largest in the world), Stone Mountain Christmas, and the adorable Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at The Center for Puppetry Arts. A short drive offers dazzling light displays at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, GA, and the Tellus Museum in Cartersville, GA for natural history and science buffs.
Atlanta offers every cuisine imaginable at every price point imaginable. Southern comfort food is almost always a crowd-pleaser for old and young alike. Atlanta truly is a top family-friendly destination, especially around the holidays.
Ugh… now, I’m homesick!
New York City, NY
No holiday destination guide would be complete without a mention of the end-all-be-all holiday destination: New York City. I had the joy of living there prior to our move to Miami, and for me, there is NO better place to celebrate the holidays. It has a buzz all its own year-round, but during the holidays, it is pure magic. From the stunning, iconic tree at Rockefeller, to the delightful Radio City Rockettes, to ice skating in beautiful Central Park, it just doesn’t get more whimsical than NYC around the holidays. It is certainly busier than usual, especially in the aforementioned tourist hotspots, so make sure to pack your patience in addition to your cold-weather clothes. (It’s always colder than I think it will be, especially now that my blood has thinned after living in Miami).
A favorite tradition of ours is afternoon tea and a Broadway show. Tea recommendations are The Pierre, St. Regis, Bergdorf Goodman, or the classic The Plaza, complete with Eloise tea for the little ones. NYC during the holidays is truly a magical experience and a bucket list destination for the whole family.
Helen, Georgia is a small alpine village in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The town is a re-creation of a Bavarian (Southern German) village. As a German, I obviously had to visit Helen while I was in Georgia. Helen is about a 1.5-hour scenic drive away from Atlanta.
During the winter months, the town has an extra magical atmosphere. We were lucky enough to be there during their annual Lighting of the Village event. This event is very popular and attracts lots of visitors. My son got to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, and afterward, we listened to music and saw the village being lit up. A little train would take people around town. While you’re there you need to have a Schnitzel with potato salad at one of the many German restaurants in Helen. I was super happy to be able to get some Glühwein, a warm red wine spiced with cinnamon, which is a preferred drink during cold German winter months. If you happen to be in Helen in December, make sure to visit their traditional Christmas market where you can buy some German treats and handmade ornaments.
St. Augustine, FL
St. Augustine is a must-see in Florida. This old city is filled with so much history and things to explore. I particularly love coming here during the winter holidays. The town is famous for its spectacular holiday light display all throughout the city center. There is a special inaugural event called Night of Lights where they turn on the lights. After that, you can book a fun trolley tour all throughout the holidays where you get to see all these lights through 3D glasses while listening to holiday music and sipping on cider. Another must-do while you’re in town: book a tour of Flagler College. This gorgeous campus was once the Ponce de Leon–the first luxury hotel in Florida by visionary Henry Flagler. There is so much history to uncover here in this gorgeous building.
For our Florida family, heading to the snow at Christmas time is a nice change of weather. Colorado is one of those holiday vacation destinations we love. No better place to find snow-capped mountains and that winter wonderland feel than Colorado. Snowmass, Colorado is a family favorite for all the fun that it offers. Also, Snowmass is only eight miles from Aspen, Colorado. Together, both areas offer so much.
Some of our family favorites are outdoor activities such as skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing. One of my favorites is snowmobiling. You can take a guided snowmobile tour and just bask in the beauty of all the snow and mountains. You may even see a deer peaking around a tree. There are a few companies that offer the guided tour and if you choose T-Lazy-7 Ranch, they have a couple different tours that include lunch. These tours are probably more enjoyed by the teens and their parents. For the littles, they will enjoy snow tubing and ice skating. They also have many opportunities for the kids to go to different ski school programs to help them learn the skill.
After all that outside activity, you will want to find a warm place to rest and fill your tummy. The Stew Pot is one of the oldest restaurants in Snowmass. Their kid menu has all the goodies that my grands love to eat from grilled cheese to PB & J. And to warm up, the adults will love their soups and stews.
Once you get the kids all tucked in their warm beds and the grandparents are up to babysit, the parents can head out on the town in Aspen. The downtown is decorated so pretty at the holidays. A really good restaurant we like is called Plato’s. They offer seasonal American food with breathtaking mountain views.
If a major change in scenery is on your wish list during the holidays, this is a great place to fulfill that dream. Just pack all your scarves and mittens to stay warm!!
Gatlinburg, Tennessee has been a family favorite place to visit since my children were young. The first place that I ever skied was at Ober, Gatlinburg. It really is the perfect place for a Floridian to learn how to ski. I will never forget seeing the mountains and snow for the first time. It really is a special treat for those of us who see the beaches most of the time. If you are looking for a place with snow, mountains, and the beauty of the holidays, then Gatlinburg has all that.
This quaint village in the Smokey Mountains boasts a lot of travelers each year. There are so many attractions in this part of town. Going during the holidays is fun because Lights over Gatlinburg is the big light event that attracts tourists from all over. Seeing all the lights decorated really puts you in the holiday spirit. There are also some cute photo ops for the family, also.
Our family loves Dollywood for all the fun that it offers the littles in the family. They have a themed area now called Wildwood Grove with rides for the little ones. We loved the fact that the preschoolers could ride some of them alone. They also have different playgrounds throughout the park for the children to play. It is a great resting spot when the kids just need a place to run around and burn off their energy.
Another one of our family’s favorite places to visit in Gatlinburg is Ripley’s Aquarium of the
Smokies. Our family tends to like to visit the shows that include sea life, and this was a good experience. It includes educational opportunities along with hands-on experiences. At the holidays, they also add in some Santa shows and photo ops.
A Tennessee Christmas is filled with lots of attractions to build memories as a family. You do not need to go that far from Florida, and you can even drive if you prefer. Either way, your holiday can be a special time around the fireplace sipping hot cocoa trying to decide what activity to do next!