Tag Archives: christmas

Travel to a Vegas Winter Wonderland With the Family

Christmas at the Bellagio // (c) 2013 Ken Lund
Christmas at the Bellagio // (c) 2013 Ken Lund

It’s going to be a happy holiday season in Las Vegas, as well as a well-lit one and there is no better time for a family to travel to Sin City. With ice rinks and light shows to culinary indulgences and stunning shows, Las Vegas strikes a perfect balance between pleasure and parenting. Here’s a rundown of what’s going on around town:

Holiday Lights

The Neon Museum is getting into the spirit this year and will light up Nov. 30-Dec. 31.

The menorah will be lit at Downtown Las Vegas’ Fremont Street Experience on Nov. 27. A Christmas tree lighting ceremony will be held there as well on Dec. 11.

The Bellagio will unveil its winter wonderland on Dec. 6. The centerpiece is Las Vegas’ largest indoor holiday tree standing at 45-feet tall and weighing 8,000 pounds. Also on display is an eight-foot reindeer crafted of chocolate and a life-size candy house.

Glittering Lights will take place at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Nov. 15-Jan. 5.

Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall will host the Mystic Falls Light Park and Water Show on Nov. 27 and will also be home to Cowboy Santa from Nov. 29-Dec. 23.

Winter Activities

The Cosmopolitan will transform its Boulevard Pool into an ice rink through Jan. 5

Wynn Las Vegas’ pastry chefs will help guests create their own gingerbread design adorned with delicious confections on Dec. 7 at 2 p.m.Or toast to the season with The Twelve Cocktails of Christmas starting Dec. 9 through Dec. 24(weekdays only).

The Venetian and The Palazzo Las Vegas will host their third-annual Winter in Venice celebration, running Nov. 18 through Jan. 5. The  Italian-inspired experience includes a parade, a tree-lighting ceremony, a 3-D light projection show, the return of the picturesque skating rink above The Venetian’s romantic outdoor Grand Canal and more.

Terry Fator’s A Very Terry Christmas is playing at the Mirage until Dec. 24 with the curtain going up at 7:30 p.m.

Fun With Food

Hotels and resorts around Las Vegas are hosting lavish Thanksgiving Day meals inspired by celebrity chefs from around the world including Gordon Ramsey and Jean Georges.

Special Christmas menus are available at Table 10 inside The Palazzo Las Vegas, Delmonico Steakhouse at The Venetian Las Vegas, Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House located at MGM Grand Las Vegas, Dragon Noodle Co. & Sushi Bar and d.vino Italian Food & Wine Bar at Monte Carlo.

For more information on family travel to Las Vegas this winter and holiday events, visit www.lvcva.com.

Top Colorado Resorts for Families This Winter

Winter family vacations in Colorado // (c) Matt Inden/Miles
Winter family vacations in Colorado // (c) Matt Inden/Miles

It’s beginning to look a lot like winter and what does that mean — that’s right, the ski season is here. It’s time for families to start planning their winter vacations. Here in Southern California, we have to wait a little longer before it’s cold enough to head to the local mountains, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t plan an early-season trip to Colorado, where family-friendly resorts are gearing up to welcome young skiers and snowboarders.

From magical Ullr Nights, train rides to ski trails just for kids and kids-ski-free deals, families are welcomed in Colorado ski country, and there are seemingly endless options from which to choose when planning a winter family vacation. Take advantage of this Colorado.com list of family-friendly options at the following resorts:

Aspen/SnowmassPlan the ultimate family winter getaway this season with plenty of unique offerings at Aspen and Snowmass. Friday nights during ski season, families are invited to Elk Camp, the new mid-mountain restaurant at Snowmass, which transforms on Ullr Nights into a nighttime winter wonderland. Ullr Nights include winter outdoor activities like Ullr’s Ghost Ship made of snow with lights and a slide, a Viking sledding hill, snowshoe tours as well as s’mores and hot chocolate by the bonfire. For little chefs, Little Nell in Aspen is hosting a series of cooking classes for kids ages four and older that will teach kids how to create savory and sweet items along with skills like measuring, mixing and chopping. Classes will be held on November 20 and December 18. Families can also book the Perfect Holiday package where kids ski, rent equipment and eat lunch free with the purchase of an adult lift ticket, equipment rental and lunch at select on-mountain restaurants (book by Nov. 15 for travel Dec. 20-25).

CopperCopper Mountain takes winter fun to the next level with Woodward at Copper’s Barn, a 19,400-square-foot indoor playground with year-round ski, skateboard and bike programs. The Barn features mini ramps, foam pits and Olympic fly-bed trampolines for athletes of all skill levels to practice their tricks for their next trip down the slopes. For some friendly competition, Copper Mountain also presents the Alpine Rush Zip Line where two riders can soar side-by-side 30 feet above the West Lake ice skating rink, reaching speeds of up to 30 miles per hour along the 300-foot line. Currently at Copper Mountain, guests can book the One. Two. Free! package and book two nights of lodging and two days of rentals to receive a third night of lodging free, a third day of rentals and group ski lessons free as well as free skiing for kids 12 and younger.

Crested ButteThis winter, Crested Butte brings lots of new activities for kids to explore and discover. Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) has created three new trails for kids, including a trail that winds through the trees for a forest-like experience. The resort will also introduce its own mini Elk Avenue (Crested Butte’s Main Street) with façades along the trails for kids to ski through and play. Additionally, kids will be able to ski through a bear cave, U.S. Forest Service Lodge and gold mining building with interactive activities. CBMR also features the Adventure Park with a Zero Gravity BagJump, rock-climbing wall and bungee trampolines. The Grandest Christmas package ties the whole experience together with stays fromDecember 13-26, including four nights at Grand Lodge, three days of skiing and three days of Adventure Park access, starting at $999 for a family of four.

DurangoFamilies are in for a magical experience this winter with the return of the Polar Express on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. The Christmas-themed train ride invites kids to get in their PJs and enjoy hot cocoa and cookies along with a reading of the Polar Express. At their destination, the kids will get to visit the “North Pole” where they are greeted by Santa and his helpers who join for the return trip, sing Christmas carols and give each child a special Sleigh Bell gift, bringing the story to life. Heading to the slopes at Durango Mountain Resort, a new offering from the Durango Dog Ranch includes dog sledding with hour-long, hands-on experiences where riders are whisked along the Old Flume Trail by Siberian and Alaskan huskies. Durango Mountain Resort also presents the Kids Ski Free package where four nights of lodging and four days of lift tickets for adults gets kids’ lift tickets for free, starting at $299 per family, per night.

Glenwood SpringsJust a few miles south of Glenwood Springs, Sunlight Mountain Resort covers 680 acres of skiable terrain with 67 trails, including one of the longest runs in the state. The friendly and affordable ski environment is great for families looking for a spacious locale to hone their ski skills. Starting at $99, Sunlight’s Ski Swim Stay package is a favorite for families, offering a lift ticket, admission to the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool, slope-side or in-town lodging and free skiing for kids 12 and under with a paying adult.

KeystoneTaking children’s programming to the next level, Keystone Resort offers a Kids Ski Free program with no blackout dates, no lift ticket requirement for adults, availability on all weekends and Holidays and only a two night minimum stay required. This season the Resort is introducing the first-ever family ski trail. The Schoolyard will debut on Keystone’s signature green cruiser, Schoolmarm. The Resort is also introducing Free Family Front-Row Parking in its main parking lot, just steps from Keystone’s gondola. Other family-oriented amenities will include convenient wagons and gear chauffeurs available throughout the resort to help guests easily transport skis and snowboards to and from the lifts. Throughout the season, visitors can enjoy special family programming including a weekly Kids Après gathering, a Sunday morning Ripperoo Brunch, a mountaintop Snowfort and the fourth consecutive year of the resort’s popular Kidtopia programming.

Steamboat SpringsKnown as Ski Town U.S.A., Steamboat Springs has built itself over the past five decades as one of the best family ski resorts in North America. With a focus on award-winning family programs, the resort offers a variety of options on and off the slopes. Steamboat provides the perfect environment for kids and families learning how to ski with kids-only lifts in the form of beginner magic carpets, private full- and half-day lessons for the whole family and Sunshine Family Trail, complete with Snow Monsters, Steamboat Olympians and other characters along the way. To make a trip to Steamboat Springs even simpler for families, when a parent/grandparent purchases a 5-or-more-day regular adult lift ticket or rental, one child/grandchild age 12 and under receives a free lift ticket and rental.


Combat Rising Holiday Travel Prices in 2013

Holiday travel to New York City // (c) Javier Gutierrez Acedo
Holiday travel to New York City // (c) Javier Gutierrez Acedo

Do you feel obliged to travel during the holiday season? Hotwire says you do and statistics show that holiday travelers are going to be spending more this Thanksgiving and Christmas. How much more, you ask? Anywhere between 3 and 8 percent. According to the Hotwire third-annual  Hotwire.com American Travel Behavior Survey, conducted online in October 2013 on behalf of Hotwire by Harris Interactive, American adults will spend a total of $72 billion on obligatory holiday travel this year ($14 billion on Thanksgiving travel and $58 billion on Christmas travel).

Compared to Thanksgiving 2012:

  • Hotel prices are currently up three percent.
  • Air prices for the top 20 US markets are currently up eight percent.
  • Car prices are up seven percent.

Compared to Christmas 2012:

  • Hotel prices currently up four percent.
  • Air prices for the top 20 US markets are currently up six percent.
  • Car prices are up four percent.

Hotwire offered some tips on when to book holiday travel:

According to Hotwire, many cities may see higher-than-normal hotel demand during the winter months, but not necessarily over Thanksgiving weekend, since many travelers stay with family or make the holiday a day trip. So, travelers should see some pretty deep discounts in the coming weeks, but the steepest price drops for bookings will occur within a few days of arrival. In fact, many hotels are offering a discount for day-of bookings that can average around 20 percent. Also, many hotels raise rates or require a two-night stay to protect their rooms on the weekends, so try to arrive Thursday and leave Saturday.

Larger cities across the country are seeing hotel deals over Thanksgiving, including San Diego and Boston. Chicago in particular is a bargain as the city is experiencing some large price drops due to a shifted convention schedule.

For travel during Christmas, Hotwire is seeing strong discounts now, waiting for those “Nightfall Deals”, or day-of discounts, can help travelers save big on hotel stays. So, if you can, wait until the last minute to book your hotel room. Christmas is a little different when it comes to finding airfare deals. With Christmas Evefalling on a Tuesday this year, we recommend avoiding travel on that day at all costs.

As noted above, many popular U.S. destinations are showing low hotel rates throughout December, including Chicago, New York City, Portland and Minneapolis. However, over Christmas, Hotwire is also seeing low rates for Canadian destinations in their off-season such as Toronto and Vancouver. For air, Spirit Airlines has increased the number of flights for Las Vegas and Ft. Lauderdale, which is resulting in price drops for both destinations. In addition to Ft. Lauderdale, Floridian cities Tampa and Orlando are each experiencing price drops of five percent for Christmas, while Phoenix is showing a 10 percent airfare drop.

Travelocity Data Finds Ways To Save On Christmas Travel

Finding cheap flights at Christmas // (c) 2013 Kevin Dooley
Finding cheap flights at Christmas // (c) 2013 Kevin Dooley

This is something that I have always wondered about: When can you get the lowest airfares on travel at Christmastime. It’s one of the most popular times to travel, visit family and friends, take a winter vacation; your kids are home for an extended period of time so you don’t want to be home for the entire break, but can you get a cheap travel deal? Travelocity has provided insider savings based on their data that shows when families can find ways to save on Christmas travel.

Travelocity’s winter data shows that the average roundtrip domestic airfare is $450, up 7.5 percent from last year. In comparison, international airfare is $1,016, up only 2.5 percent from last year, a relatively small increase. The average daily rate for domestic hotels this winter is $204 and $342 for international. These prices are known as the price to beat, but if travelers book early and are flexible with travel dates they can find better deals.

When to Book Christmas Airfare
According to Travelocity’s Christmas Booking Barometer, which is based on bookings from the past three years, travelers should look to purchase Christmas airfare by November 12.  Trends show a spike beginning around six weeks before Christmas day (around November 13). If travelers are not sure of their travel plans yet, data shows that there is usually a drop in fares three weeks before the holiday (around December 4 – 10) and then it will increase again.

  Booking Week          Fare
8 weeks before  Oct 30 – Nov 5 $       314.00
7 weeks before Nov 6 – Nov 12 $       320.00
6 weeks before Nov 13 – Nov 19 $       352.00
5 weeks before Nov 20 – Nov 26 $       392.00
4 weeks before Nov 27 – Dec 3 $       341.00
3 weeks before Dec 4 – Dec 10 $       313.00
2 weeks before Dec 11 – Dec 17 $       363.00
1 week before Dec 18 – Dec 24 $       438.00

Cheapest Days to Fly Domestic for Christmas 2013
Travelocity always recommends being flexible with travel dates when possible to save additional money. Travelers can save more than $350 this Christmas if they are flexible with their travel dates. Travelers can expect to pay less if they leave for Christmas vacation Monday, December 23 or after. Departing on the weekend prior will likely result in higher fares. For returns, travel prices fluctuate about $100, and Travelocity data points to higher prices on Sunday, December 29 or Monday, December 30.

When booking flights on Travelocity, there’s an option to search for flights within one to three days of your ideal departure and return date and this will help travelers find the combination of dates that work best for their route.




Visit U.S. Christmas Markets

Uniworld Christmas Markets 2011 // (c) Janeen Christoff
Searching for the perfect Christmas market souvenir in Germany. // (c) 2013 Janeen Christoff

It is at about this time each year that I start to become nostalgic for the Christmas markets that dot major metropolises around Europe and long to visit a U.S. Christmas market. I loved warming up with gluhwein, eating gingerbread and currywurst and shopping for nutcrackers. I didn’t used to be a big fan of the holiday season but, after a visit to European Christmas markets,  I am always in the mood to celebrate.

The good news, you don’t have to go all the way to Europe for a traditional Christmas market. The bad news, as a resident of Los Angeles, there’s nothing very close by. Here is a list of some U.S. Christmas markets:

Union Square Holiday Market 
New York City
Dates: Nov. 21-Dec. 24

Christmas Village in Philadelphia
Dates: Nov. 28-Jan. 1

Denver Christkindl Market
Downtown Denver
Dates: Nov. 22-Dec. 21

Arlington Christmas Market
Arlington, TX
Dates: Nov. 29-Dec. 22

Columbus Circle Holiday Market
New York City
Dates: Dec. 4-Dec. 24