Tag Archives: Holiday travel

Taking the Train to Christmas Town

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas…well, it’s still 100 degrees, but it’s almost chilly at night. So, it’s time to start thinking about booking tickets to Christmas Town on the train in Watsonville, Calif. The Train to Christmas Town will begin departing this holiday season on Nov. 28-30, Dec. 3-7, Dec. 10-14, Dec. 16-23 and after Christmas, Dec. 26-28.

Train to Christmastown in Watsonville, Calif.
Train to Christmastown in Watsonville, Calif.

The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (SCCRTC) approved the Santa Cruz & Monterey Bay Railway (SCMB) for a 2-year operational plan for the Train to Christmas Town holiday train ride from Watsonville.

“We are very pleased with the outcome of this vote,” stated Jeff Weeks, General Manager of the SCMB. “Having a passenger train operation in Santa Cruz County will complement the positive economic impact freight service has had and, we believe, will be a huge asset to the community’s tourism landscape.”

The Train to Christmas Town event is based on the book of the same name written by Peggy Ellis. It is accompanied by whimsical illustrations of the lively characters including Janice and Bumble Bee the Polar Bear. The book is a holiday saga that highlights timeless and meaningful Christmas themes as readers follow Janice’s annual journey to Christmas Town. It all comes to life aboard vintage passenger rail cars decorated for the holidays. The cheerful Conductor punches each passenger’s ticket while elves travel through cars serving hot chocolate and cookies. The book is read aloud, and there is merry holiday fun and fabulous music by Grammy winning singers/songwriters Trout Fishing in America.

Train to Christmas Town tickets are now on sale at www.traintochristmastown.com or by phone at 888-978-5562. Tickets start at $17 for kids and $22 for adults. New this year, group discounts are available in Standard Class seating for parties of 25 or more paying guests. Tickets for high demand dates like weekends and dates closest to Christmas sell very quickly.


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.

The Turkey Task Force to Aid Holiday Travelers

Turkey Task Force on the case at LAX for holiday travelers.
Turkey Task Force on the case at LAX for holiday travelers.

Travelocity’s Turkey Task Force will once again be on hand to assist holiday travelers. The 13th annual Turkey Task Force team of travel experts  will be stationed at the country’s 10 busiest airports providing airport status reports, travel tips, money-saving advice and other helpful information via Twitter and live television interviews the Tuesday and Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving.

Travelers can follow @Travelocity using the hashtag #TTF2013 to stay up-to-date on happenings at the airport, and will also have the opportunity to win prizes throughout the two-day campaign by participating in the conversation.

Airlines expect to top 25.1 million passengers over the Thanksgiving holiday, making 2013 the busiestThanksgiving season for flyers since 2010, according to Airlines for America. U.S. airlines added 2 percent more seats this year to accommodate the growing demand, so travelers should anticipate crowded airports and flights to be as full as last year (about 85 percent full on the busiest days).

The Turkey Task Force will be at the following airports providing travel updates:

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International  ( Atlanta )
  • Charlotte Douglas International Airport (Charlotte)
  • Chicago O’Hare ( Chicago )
  • Dallas / Fort Worth International ( Dallas )
  • Denver International Airport  ( Denver )
  • McCarran International Airport ( Las Vegas )
  • Los Angeles International Airport ( Los Angeles )
  • LaGuardia Airport ( New York )
  • San Francisco International Airport ( San Francisco )
  • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport ( Washington, DC )


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.

Outrigger Resorts Win for Family-Friendly Features

The family-friendly Embassy Suites Waikiki on the Beach // (c) Outrigger Hotels & Resorts
The family-friendly Embassy Suites Waikiki on the Beach // (c) Outrigger Hotels & Resorts

Looking for family-friendly accommodation in Hawaii this holiday season ? (I know I wish I was!) You might want to check out the Outrigger Hotels & Resorts-managed Embassy Waikiki Beach Walk, which was just voted as one of the Top 10 Family Resorts in the U.S. by Australian family magazine Holidays With Kids. In fact, three Outrigger Hotels & Resorts have  received Top Ten Resort awards from the magazine. Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort was  voted Best Family Resort in Thailand and the Outrigger on the Lagoon – Fiji also cracked the Top 10 Family Resorts in Fiji.

So if you are looking for somewhere to hang your santa hat this holiday season — be it in Hawaii, the South Pacific or Southeast Asia — these three properties offer good options.