Family-Friendly Winter Vacations

By Fabiana Santana

Sesame PlaceSometimes, a winter vacation is more in demand than a summer one. Especially when families feel the pressure of being cooped up inside all day. After all, summer is a season for outdoor activity, but come winter, the shorter days can seem way longer.

We’ve come up with a list of family-friendly vacation spots across the country that offer something for everyone. Whether a character encounter or Christmas show, these trips are sure to be a hit this holiday season.

Sesame Place

You may be thinking, “Hey, isn’t Sesame Place a water park?” Yes, but first, it’s a family park located in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. That means that every season, Sesame Place transforms itself into something new. Starting November 17, the park will become a winter wonderland for It’s A Very Furry Christmas at Sesame Place! Open until December 31s,  join Elmo, Big Bird and Cookie Monster for a one-of-a-kind family-friendly celebration with everyone’s favorite furry friends. Three different special Christmas shows, dry rides (weather permitting), awesome music and twinkling lights are all around.  Sesame Street will glow with festivities and come to life at night with our illuminated Neighborhood Street Party Parade. And the fun continues with a special Christmas menu, super holiday shopping and, of course, a visit with Santa. That’s right. Santa Claus will  visit the park each evening to hear Christmas wishes and pose for photos at Santa’s Workshop, where kids and adults alike will enjoy talking with a cheerful interactive snowman before being greeted by joyful elf attendants.New this year, A Very Furry Christmas will have exciting special events, including concerts and character meet and greets. Imagination Movers, the popular children’s band, will kick off opening weekend with three concerts each day at Sesame Place. Sesame Place will also celebrate New Year’s Eve with fireworks set to Sesame Street themed music.

Joshua Tree National ParkJoshua Tree National Park

Bask in the sun while exploring one of the country’s most amazing deserts. The Joshua Tree National Park is 800,000 acres of family friendly fun including nature walks, historic landmarks, and amazing desert ranches like the Desert Queen Ranch, built in the early 1900s. The ranch has been restored to include a  school, replanted orchard, store and house that gives you a first hand look into what life was like decades ago.

The TradeWinds Island Grand Resort The TradeWinds Island Grand Resort

Located on St. Pete Beach on Florida’s west coast and just voted #1 beach destination in the USA by TripAdvisor, the TradeWinds Island Grand is a 20-acre beachfront playground with fun in mind. Bask beside one of five heated pools while the kids play at the KONK – a kids only activity club that runs all day and night.  In November of 2010, TradeWinds Island Resorts was designated an Autism Friendly business by the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (C.A.R.D.). TradeWinds employees underwent C.A.R.D.’s training program, which taught employees how to better meet the needs of guests who have autism and their families. For those with special diets, we have gluten free offerings available in our dining outlets. As a special treat we also have our Snack Attack amenity available, which includes a TradeWinds lunch bag and gluten free snacks.

New York CityEloise Suite at the Plaza Hotel, NYC

Seeing New York City in winter is a truly amazing experience for kids and grown-ups alike. The lights of Broadway give way to the the twinkle of holiday lights strung up all along Fifth Avenue. Among the sites the city has to offer during the winter season is Ice Rockefeller Center where you have a perfect view of the world famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Show featuring the Rockettes is sure to get you in the holiday spirit as are the seasonal holiday shows like Grinch ChristmasMusical and Scrooge. Stop by the Bronx Zoo to get a look at the sea lions as well as the 140 illuminated animal and holiday sculptures and take a ride on the Holiday Express Train and the Polar Bear Express Experience.

If you can swing it, a stay at the Eloise Suite at the Plaza Hotel is a once-in-a-lifetime treat. designed by celebrated fashion designer Betsey Johnson. Channeling the ebullient spirit of The Plaza’s most famous “resident,” Eloise, the irreverent and irrepressible fictional heroine of Kay Thompson’s classic book who skibbled her way into the hearts of generations of readers. For her first-ever hotel collaboration, Johnson has designed an exclusive Eloise Suite that blends luxury and whimsy for a charmingly original result.

As is only fitting for New York’s quintessential “city child,” Eloise’s suite is located on the 18th floor and is comprised of two rooms – one for erstwhile young Eloises and one for their parents – resplendently rendered in an Eloise-approved palette of pink and black. Décor highlights include: a signature Plaza chandelier fitted with pink, candy striped wall panels outlined with gold leaf molding, a white zebra-print carpet, a King-size bed made up with custom-designed bedding depicting images of Eloise, a sparkly padded pink headboard and nearby ottoman, and Eloise’s name scrawled in neon lights affixed to the wall above. The suite is also equipped with original Hilary Knight prints adorning the walls, a disposable Eloise camera so that guests may snap photos of their stay, a wall-mounted flat screen TV and DVD player, Eloise DVDs and books, a tea set and Eloise and Weenie dolls, Eloise robes and towels.

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