Other possibilities: you can see holiday boat parades on December 10 in Key Colony Beach and Marathon, and on December 16 on Key Largo and Key West. Key West also hosts Holiday House Tours on December 29 and 30, with five decorated historic homes and gardens open to the public for viewing. Tavernier, just south of Key Largo, hosts a Historic Holiday Candlewalk on December 10; all are invited to join carolers on a candlelit stroll through the downtown area.
For more information on these and other holiday events, visit the Florida Keys & Key West Monroe County Tourist Development Council website.
White Mountains, New Hampshire and Maine
New Hampshire and Maine's White Mountains are a region-wide destination for those seeking beautiful decorations, wintry weather, and relaxation before the holidays. On December 9 and 10, the Country Inns in the White Mountains will celebrate with the 10th annual Inn to Inn Cookie Tour. Guests can tour the 17 participating inns at their own pace over the two-day event, and will be welcomed at each property with home-baked cookies and candy.
"The idea was to show off the inns and all the Christmas decorations," explains Charlie Mallar, owner of the 1785 Inn in North Conway, New Hampshire. "We try to add a little twist each year ... this year we're having gingerbread displays. Each inn will have two cookies or candies. Drinks will depend on the property—they range from country inns like ours, with a full restaurant, to small B&Bs."
A portion of the proceeds from this year's tour will benefit local charities. Tickets cost $25 per person for the two-day event, or you can also book a lodging package that includes tickets. Each inn is within driving distance of others participating on the tour; no drive between properties should take more than 15 minutes. Guests also receive a keepsake ornament and recipes of the cookies available on the tour.
If you want to sit back and enjoy the winter mountain scenery, consider taking a ride on the Santa Train, based in Lincoln, New Hampshire. Available on select dates in December, the Santa Train takes passengers along the Pemigewassett River to Woodstock, just over an hour's ride. Santa visits children on the train and distributes a small gift to each; hot chocolate and sweet treats are also available for purchase. Tickets are $12 per person; no reservations are required.
For more holiday options throughout the area, check the listings on VisitWhiteMountains.com.
The North Pole and Fairbanks, Alaska
What better place to celebrate Christmas than the North Pole itself? Alaska's North Pole, 15 miles outside Fairbanks, is home to the Santa Claus House and other holiday-themed attractions. The town gets decked out for the season with candy cane streetlights, tree lightings, caroling, and more. Visitors can tour Santa Claus, Snowman, or Holiday lanes, as well as Santa Claus Drive.
Fairbanks also has plenty of options to put you in a holiday mood. The Northern Lights (occurrence permitting) put artificial lights to shame. The town also sponsors an annual Winter Solstice Festival, honoring the shortest day of the year with a treasure hunt, carols, and a tree lighting, scheduled this year for December 16, as well as a "music and fireworks" evening on December 21.
Other possibilities include holiday performances such as Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus at the Riverfront Theater, a sing-along Messiah with the Fairbanks Choral Society, and A Fireside Christmas at the Fairbanks Light Opera Theater.
For more possibilities, visit ExploreFairbanks.com.