Inn-to-Inn Cookie and Pie Tours, NH and ME
Follow the trail of crumbs to Mount Washington Valley's Inn-to-Inn Cookie Tour the second weekend in December. Pop from one charming New Hampshire inn to the next, working on your sugar high with fresh-baked delectables. Those who are still standing after 15 stops can show their punch card and get a special ornament. This gave the nearby coastal town of Rockland, ME, an idea: Let there be pie! On January 24, 2010, it will host an inn-to-inn pie tasting, with a belt-busting 40 pies total. (For you Food Network fans: This was the locale of an infamous Bobby Flay Throwdown, where he trounced the pie mistresses of Rockland.) Book tickets in advance at countryinnsinthewhitemountains.com and historicinnsofrockland.com.
Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, CA
The main attraction in this chic beach town is a California twist on the season: decked-out boats parading in the harbor. Kids' eyes will bug out at the thousands of lights strung on the passing vessels, and you'll be wowed by the elegant yachts done up in similar finery. Prime viewing spot: the bridge that connects Balboa Island and Newport Beach; just get there early. Check christmasboatparade.com for a map and info. While you're in the area, you may get a peek at the gray whales that pass by in December and January as they migrate south. Get details at Newportwhales.com.
Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum, MI
The picture-perfect historic village is transformed into a wonderland in December and January. The lantern-lit streets, carolers, and garland-strewn houses give the feeling of being inside a snow globe. At night, live reindeer make an appearance alongside storytellers. During the day, it's playtime at the museum, where this year a Lego-themed model train chugs around gingerbread buildings. Check Thehenryford.org for info.
Winter Park Resort, CO
If you're going to hit the slopes this season, Winter Park Resort is hard to beat as a family destination. The rooms are reasonably pricedóand the deals on Winterparkresort.com are plentiful. On Christmas Eve, there's the annual Torchlight Parade, in which the jolly man in red himself shoots down the mountain behind other skiers carrying lit torches. At the end of their route, a fireworks display is spectacular against the Rocky Mountain backdrop.
Callaway Gardens Fantasy in Lights and Atlantic Station, GA
At the biggest display in the south, 8 million lights are aglow on the manicured grounds of Callaway Gardens from November 20 to December 30 (Callawaygardens.com). The miles of lights make dozens of dazzling scenes that you drive through (or ride through on a trolley). If you are staying near Atlanta, don't miss the festivities at Atlantic Station. From November 21 through December 31, a realistic snowfall comes down around a massive tree at 7:30 each evening. Go to Atlanticstation.com for details.