As winter and the holidays fast approach, many feel like traveling to seek new adventures. However, there are many nearby places that can provide new experiences as well as some R&R, without all the hassle and extra aggravation that traveling can cause.
Here’s a compilation of several family-friendly places that are not only conveniently close to Long Island, but also economical if you take into consideration that you can drive to the location.
Here are some quick tips to make the drive a pleasant one:
• Bring plenty of snacks for everyone to enjoy.
• Portable DVD player with movies and cartoons, as well as games are a big plus.
• Waterproof cameras are a must.
• Bring books.
• Blankets or pillows always help make the transition to a hotel better.
The sweetest place on Earth becomes Hersheypark Christmas Candylane during the holiday season. This year, Hershey is celebrating its 30th anniversary and the park will be transformed into a delightful holiday village with more than 30 rides, Santa and his nine live reindeer, games, live entertainment, shops, food and a magical light show featuring more than 125,000 lights dancing to Christmas music. As always, Hersheypark is free for children ages 2 and under.
If the lights of Hersheypark aren’t enough, Hershey Sweet Lights is a holiday drive-thru experience, where guests drive along a 2.3-mile route to view nearly 600 themed light displays, all while listening to holiday music through a customized radio broadcast. Activities include ornament making workshops, clear-toy candy-making demonstrations, music and storytelling. The Sugar Plum Fairy visits daily, and friendly, indoor snowball fights scheduled throughout the weekend round out the fun.
Hershey Lodge offers guests a holiday dinner theater experience titled “Christmas in Chocolate Town, A Holiday Dinner Musical,” which includes a festive dinner topped off with a decadent chocolate dessert. In early December, children will meet Santa and his elves at Santa’s Secret Garden.
Families can take a hands-on Chocolate Lab class to learn about the unique qualities of chocolate. Seasonal classes include Candy Cane Bark, Let It Snow Chocolate, Make a Very Merry Bar and Create a Kris Kringle. A special Chocolate Lab class will be offered during the Old Fashioned Family Christmas – Marshmallow Mischief. No festivity would be complete without a visit to Hershey’s Chocolate World Attraction, which showcases Hershey’s Holiday Chocolate House. This life-sized house is completely covered in Hershey’s famous chocolate and confectionery products and is Santa’s home throughout Christmas.
The Hotel Hershey, Hershey Lodge and Hersheypark Camping Resort all offer accommodations. Families may be interested in making reservations for the “Lunch with Santa” package at The Hotel Hershey, the Christmas in Chocolate Town package at Hershey Lodge or the “Breakfast with Santa” package at either property.
2. Jay Peak Resort in Jay, VT
Think swimming, surfing and skiing and you have the perfect formula for an unforgettable winter family vacation? If your family loves skiing, then pack your snow gear and swimsuits and head to Jay Peak in Vermont. Jay Peak experiences an average annual snowfall of 355 inches, but Jay Peak Resort located in northern Vermont and approximately 4 miles south of Canada, is also home to The Pump. This is actually the name of Jay Peak’s indoor water park, which features the only surfing in the Northeast, as well as indoor and outdoor hot tubs. The Pump features plenty of slides, including La Chute, 65 feet tall, beginning with an almost fully straight 60-foot drop at 45 miles per hour, followed by a full 360-degree loop.
If you get hungry, there are several dining options, but a favorite was Mountain Dick’s Pizza. Ride the tram or chairlift to the top of the mountain and explore the nature trails, skiing paths and experience what eating at an elevation of 4,000 feet feels like at the Sky Haus Deli. Jay Peak Resort’s motto is “there’s a Jay moment in all of us,” and we are looking forward to more for years to come.
Originally opening in 1894, the Cranwell Resort’s history is as rich as the different reincarnations it has undergone throughout its lifetime. The 380-acre estate historic inn has played host to the likes of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Oliver Wendell Holmes, the Vanderbilts, and President William McKinley. It has been a mansion, a resort and even a Jesuit school.
The mansion is elegant and richly decorated with dark wood paneling, French tapestries and porcelain decorations featuring breathtaking fireplaces and views. A championship 18-hole golf course surrounds the resort. The resort houses the mansion, which kids refer to as Cinderella’s castle, and is normally reserved for guests 12 and older. Guests of all ages can stay at any of the four unique guestroom dwellings, cottages suites and townhouses.
This stress-free vacation spot features a 35,000-square-foot full-service spa, indoor pool and a fitness center. Kids can take part in many of the yoga and health and wellness classes. The little ones will enjoy the walking tours and scavenger hunts, which take the family through a visit of the entire facility. Babysitters can be arranged at no extra costs.