Think it might be time for some new experiences and adventures for you and your family this holiday season? Whether you prefer to stay stateside or travel abroad, there are ample possibilities for unconventional escapes that have plenty to offer those looking to create amazing holiday memories. For inspiration, take a look at a few destinations you may not have considered before but may soon top your list of favorite holiday spots:
La Paz, Mexico: If you think nothing rivals Los Cabos when it comes to destinations on the Baja Peninsula, you’ll be pleased to discover this sunlight escape on the Sea of Cortez. With magnificent scenery, a diverse, thriving culinary scene and a wide range of recreational options, La Paz is an excellent choice for those seeking a more affordable alternative to Cabo. While there, check out the marine life at Los Islotes and consider snorkeling in the aquamarine waters at Balandra. In general, you’ll find that you’ll pay far less for a hotel room in this capital city than you would for similar accommodations further south in Los Cabos.
Reykjavik, Iceland: Not only is winter a wonderful time to view the Northern Lights, but Icelanders know just what to do to when temperatures take a dive. Just a few popular cold-weather activities include glacier hiking, snowmobiling and exploring spectacular sights like the Golden Circle and Volcanic Veins. Visit one of the “25 wonders of the world” at the geothermal springs at the Blue Lagoon and don’t skip the ice skating plaza at Ingólfstorg Square beginning December 1. Have young children and looking for family-friendly places to grab a bite to eat? Visit http://bit.ly/WhereToEatWithKidsIceland for some good suggestions.
New Orleans, Louisiana: Along with its lively music scene and festivals, the Crescent City is known for its unique cuisine, and the Thanksgiving holiday is an ideal occasion to indulge. Ever heard the term turducken? This Cajun dish consists of turkey, duck and chicken stuffed into one delicious entrée and is even better drizzled with gravy. Immerse yourself in the history of New Orleans with a tasting tour of the French Quarter. Beginning November 24, take in the Celebration in the Oaks in City Park, when the park’s oaks are wrapped with hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights throughout 25 acres, including the Botanical Gardens, Storyland and Carousel Gardens Amusement Park.
Santa Fe, New Mexico: Holiday magic abounds in this desert city, where the magnificent festival of lights begins the day after Thanksgiving with the annual Christmas tree lighting in historic Santa Fe Plaza. You’ll find plenty of entertainment during this time of year, from concerts and the much-celebrated Aspen-Santa Fe Ballet to the Christmas Eve Farolito Walk on Canyon Road. Favorite holiday foods are steeped in tradition – from posole and carne adovada to enchiladas and biscochitos. Tamales are also popular holiday fare in Santa Fe, where tamale-making is a time-honored ritual among many families in the area.
Edinburgh, Scotland: Although it may not be considered an exotic hotspot from a European perspective, we couldn’t resist mentioning this city. With streets and gardens transformed into a winter wonderland, and great food and amusements to be found in seasonal markets that line the streets, Edinburgh captures the spirit of the holidays like perhaps no other city. Experience the European Christmas Market on East Princes Street Gardens and the Scottish Market on George Street, and delight young children with the city’s many holiday attractions including a double carousel, Santa train and more. And of course, there are plenty of pop-up ice rinks for those who enjoy this winter diversion.
Excited to get your holiday travel plans underway but not sure where to start? Don’t forget that vacation rental marketplaces like Airbnb, VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) and FlipKey can be excellent tools for finding a wide selection of unique accommodations that can make your stay even more memorable. On Airbnb alone, short-term rentals run the gamut from apartments and villas to castles and treehouses. In many cases, you can find great deals on lodging if you have some flexibility (e.g. you’re willing to share the space) or don’t mind staying at a location outside the center of town. Just be sure to get a good sense of how these services work before you book. For a helpful explanation, visit http://bit.ly/ProsandConsofShortTermRentals.