Turn Winter Adventures Into Holiday Traditions
Don’t let the holidays pass you by—take time to make memories with loved ones this season
The holidays can be busy. But it’s worth slowing down a bit to make the most of this fleeting season with your friends and family.
Many of the season’s best activities are available only once a year. And if you’re a parent, there’s no time like the present to make new memories—and new traditions—with your kid.
Worried about winter weather? Don’t let the cold, short days keep you curled up at home. The Scandinavians have a saying: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.”
So bundle up and get out there.
And if the weather outside is truly frightful, there’s plenty of holiday fun to be had at movie, live theater and concert venues across your city.
Here’s a list of popular holiday outings you can enjoy solo, on a date or with the whole family.
1. Holiday Markets
Christmas markets are a staple across Europe. And they’ve finally caught on in many U.S. cities. Vendors at these open-air markets sell savory, seasonal treats and artisan goods—while shoppers peruse tightly-packed stalls and enjoy attractions like live music.
Struggling to find a market near you? There’s a good chance you have something that comes close. Look for craft fairs and holiday-themed farmers markets leading up to the gift-giving season.
And if your local options don’t offer your favorite holiday foods, just plan a post-shopping meal. To keep things festive, find a cozy spot serving European fare along with hot cider or spiced wine.
2. Films & Live Theater
Streaming services and cable networks promote holiday-themed movies around the clock this season. And while a night at home can be tempting, what’s better than seeing your favorite film on a 50-foot screen?
To up your dose of holiday nostalgia, see if your town has a historic theater screening classic films.
And don’t forget live theater. It’s a great family-friendly option year round, and there are winter classics you should take advantage of now. Staged productions of “The Nutcracker” or “A Christmas Carol” are two great options.
3. Holiday Concerts
Enjoy holiday music? You’ll find concerts galore in winter months. Popular performances include everything from the bright, blaring notes of a trumpet ensemble to the joyful harmonies of a choir and the big, bold sounds of a symphony orchestra.
If classical music isn’t your thing, there are other options too. Many pop, rock, jazz, country and blues concerts add a little holiday flair this time of year.
Your city paper should list upcoming performances, and a little research on social media can help you discover local favorites.
4. Christmas Tree Farms
Whether it’s a Christmas or holiday tree in your home, it’s likely the star of your seasonal decor. You’ll make memories decorating and spending time around your tree throughout the season. So why not make one more?
Sure, it’s always fun choosing a tree, even at a tree lot. But if you’re ready for a real adventure, pack up your car and head to a Christmas tree farm where you can pick out—and cut down—your own.
Pro tip: Make a day of it and pack a snack along with a thermos of hot chocolate or cider. This is a great way to break things up, especially if you’re bringing children (or a skeptical partner) along.
5. Tree Lightings & Light Tours
There’s something magical about holiday lights. And towns across the country host grand illuminations on epic scales.
Zoos, parks, botanical gardens, museums and government buildings are common sites for large displays. Some drive-through displays even have radio stations you can tune into for synchronized shows. And many include food vendors and live music too.
Miss out on the main event? Most cities have at least one neighborhood known for its over-the-top lights. You can sign up for a guided tour (a seasonal offering provided by some limo and bus companies), or just hop in your car and explore.
Pro tip: If you’re bringing young kids, let them borrow your phone to snap photos of their favorite lights. It’ll keep them involved and excited about each new display.
6. Fireworks Shows & Holiday Parades
Holiday lights not bright enough for you? Throughout this season, fireworks shows light up winter skies with brilliant displays.
Want more bang for your buck? Some fireworks shows are paired with holiday parades. Search online and check your city paper for local happenings.
7. Ice Skating & Snow Sports
Few activities let you take advantage of the season like winter sports. And there are fun options for people at every skill level.
Like to skate? Some cities set up seasonal ice rinks downtown or near attractions like Christmas markets and light displays. You can typically rent skates on site, and you’ll find people of all ages and abilities enjoying the ice.
If you live near mountains, this is the perfect time to hit the slopes on skis or a snowboard. Remember, most ski parks have a “bunny slope” for beginners (and a nearby restaurant where you can enjoy a great meal after working up an appetite).
Prefer a lower center of gravity? Grab a sled, toboggan or inflatable inner tube. Many ski resorts have slopes reserved for this exact thing.
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