Unique Holiday Vacations

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Growing up in Fredericksburg, Virginia, the ultimate place to celebrate the holidays was a trip into New York City. Our family actually celebrated the holidays with Broadway shows. It happens to be the best time of the year to get fabulous Broadway show tickets on Christmas Day. New York City in lights dazzled me beyond anything I’d ever seen before.

Life was totally different when we were in New York. It seemed like everything was always open and I loved staying up so late and eating dinner after shows. I’d seen Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree on television but that was nothing to standing so near to it in person. We skated on frozen ponds in Fredericksburg but waiting online for a spin on a rink was so exciting my mother kept telling me to ‘calm down.’ I loved the displays in the store windows along Fifth Avenue and looked forward each year to visiting the Rockettes. Although I raised my daughters in Fairfield County, Connecticut, growing up we continued my family’s New York tradition, staying in the city over Christmas weekend, attending shows and seeing the sights.

Unique Holiday Vacations

It is funny how many people I know now, who live in the city, are always looking for something new to visit for the holidays. Here’s my response: Have you ever been to Frankenmuth, Michigan? About an hour outside of Detroit, you’ll find Frankenmuth, also often referred to as “Michigan’s Little Bavaria.” The community is very proud of their German heritage which is visible in the German food, Bavarian architecture and multiple festivals, including the World Expo of Beer along with an Oktoberfest.

store in michiganIt’s also home to the world’s largest Christmas store, Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland which is open every day of the year. The store is the size of one and a half football fields with thousands of ornaments, decorations and unusual gifts.  Be sure to reserve the horse-drawn carriage to show you the wonderful light displays all around the town. It’s fun, before, after, and during the holidays.

Unique Holiday Vacations

If you’d like to be skiing alongside Kris Kringle (yes, I met a man there by that name), consider celebrating the holidays in Leavenworth, Washington.  I discovered Leavenworth with its Old World charm with the Cascade Mountains all around when I worked as a breakfast lunch cook at the Stehekin Valley Ranch in Stehekin, Washington. In Leavenworth, be sure to see the Christmas Lighting Festival the first three weekends in December, with more than 500,000 lights on display. There’s a hand bell choir along with carolers which is really cool. I’m into bells. Ride a dogsled, take in some skiing or snowboarding, and enjoy the sugar rush of the town’s annual “Cookie Crawl.” It’s no wonder Leavenworth was crowned “Ultimate Holiday Town USA.”

There are accommodations in and around town for all sizes of groups. The Holiday Cheer never stops. Wherever you decide to be on the holidays, surrounded yourself with those you love and enjoy and create memories. Happiest of holidays and the very best in the New Year.

Take part in the 2017 Immersion and Volunteer Vacation planning columns right here with The Three Tomatoes – let me know your 2017 travel plans and I’ll highlight your locations with Immersion and Volunteer extras throughout the coming year! Looking forward to hearing from you! In the meantime, join in on the newest Travel That Has Changed Your Life Contest, drawing to be held on January 1, 2017!


  • Sheryl Kayne is a writer, editor, educator, and motivational speaker. She is the author of travel guidebooks. Immersion Travel USA: The Best & Most Meaningful Volunteering, Living & Learning Excursions was awarded The Society of American Travel Writers Foundation’s Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award for Best Travel Guidebook 2009 and Volunteer Vacations Across America was named on Amazon’s list of best new travel books 2010. Kayne travels extensively and works and volunteers where she visits. She was the writer-in-residence at the Everglades National Park, Homestead, Fla. and a writing fellow at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, N.M. She has appeared on NPR, CNN, CBN, ABC Weekend Evening News, Lifetime Television Network, and MTV, among others. Visit Sheryl at: www.sherylkayne.com/

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