Christmas Vacation Spots for Kids

Christmas Vacation Spots for Kids
Christmas is a magical time, especially for children, and parents are always looking for those lasting family memories. A Christmas vacation with your kids can make for some of those lifelong happy memories. Here are some suggestions.

Water Park (Many Locations)

Great Wolf Lodge promises squealing delight when you introduce your kids to its four-story interactive treehouse water fort/indoor water park. In December it hosts "Snowland," where kids can attend North Pole University (and get a diploma for practicing to chimney slide), decorate their own tree, visit Santa, play at Santa's Workshop and compete in the Polar Bear Race. There's also Scooops Kids Spa for when they're tired, and Camp Cub Club (no parents allowed).

Special rates apply for the Wolf Den, KidKamp, Majestic Bear and Loft Fireplace Suites. The Wolf Den and KidKamp rooms offer kids a private "wolf den, an in-suite cave-themed area with bunk bed. They can "rough it" with movies and Nintendo on their own 20" flat screen LCD TV." (Greatwolf.com) Prices begin at $229 a night which includes admission to the water park.

Dining choices inside the lodge are: Bear Paw Sweets & Eats Cafe, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, Spirit Island Snack Shop, Loose Moose Cottage and Camp Critter Restaurant.

Great Wolf Lodge offers many locations: Grand Mound, Wash., Charlotte-Concord, N.C., Grapevine, Texas; Kansas City, Kan., Mason, Ohio, Niagara Falls, Canada; Pocono Mountains, Pa., Sandusky, Ohio, Sheboygan, Wis., Traverse City, Mich., Williamsburg,Va. and Wisconsin Dells, Wis.

Ride the Polar Express in New Hampshire

The Lodge at Jackson Village in New Hampshire is a charming New England getaway. At Christmastime, it offers the ultimate fantasy: a train ride to visit Santa known as Polar Express. Performances/train ride run each night at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m for 2 1/2 hours.

The Lodge's Polar Express package includes: train tickets, three nights lodging, New England continental breakfast, lunch at the Thompson House Eatery, free passes (weather dependent) for tubing, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, a framed family portrait by the fire, a personalized letter from Santa along with a golden souvenir ticket and Christmas goodies (ilovethelodge.com)

"You'll be greeted by the elf conductors and chefs as you get onto the train. As the train starts out of town and into the forest be on the lookout for wolves (not real ones) After a 20 minute train ride you'll arrive at the North Pole. A sea of elves will be waiting for you outside of the train with lighted lanterns to take you up the hill to Santa's workshop.

Back at the Lodge, guests enjoy a hearty White Mountain continental breakfast (not your ordinary cold bagel and juice) including homemade warm muffins, bread pudding, cinnamon rolls and more. In the afternoon, cider and warm cookies are provided. All rooms come with free Internet WiFi and access to free DVD collection.

According to owner/innkeeper, Dana Belcher, the Polar Express package prices for 2009 are:
For one child, two adults, midweek (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday) begin around $899; two children, approximately $1,099.
Weekend rates (Saturday, Sunday and Monday) for one child, two adults start at $1,000.

Visit the North Pole in Colorado

Celebrating its 50th year, Santa's Workshop, North Pole, Colorado, is identical to the one in Lake Placid, N.Y. Both were designed by Arturo Monaco, a former Walt Disney artist. The family amusement park, at the bottom of Pike's Peak, has alpine villages that surround Santa's house. With shows, gift shops, animals to feed and rides, there's entertainment for all ages. The sky ride is for the bravest hearts, overlooking the village!

Santa's Workshop is open until Christmas Eve, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and closed Christmas Day. Admission is $17.95 for ages 2-59 years old. Discounts and season passes available. It is closed on Wednesdays and Thursday from August to December.

If you want a NORTH POLE, Colorado, postmark on your letters or Christmas cards, send a $.44 check, for each stamp, with your cards through UPS or FedEx to: Santa's Workshop, 5050 Pikes Peak Highway, Cascade, CO 80809. Mail by Dec. 10 to ensure delivery before Christmas. Please do not send a red card because their cancellation is in red ink. The exception: Do not send in the $.44 for a stamp if you child writes a letter to Santa, he/she will receive a postcard response from Santa.

Article Written By Michelle Bermas

Michelle Bermas has been a freelance writer since 1994. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the "Boston Globe Sunday Magazine," "2008 Writer's Market," "The Social Cause Diet" anthology, "South Shore Living Magazine," "Hudson Valley Life," "The Boston Globe," "The Patriot Ledger Newspaper" and more. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Pace University, New York.

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