by Julie Snyder
As the year winds down and the holiday season hits full gear, you may be exploring the possibility of sneaking in one last vacation before saying farewell to the year past.
If you haven't decided on your destination, we have suggestions that will create warm memories to last during the rest of those long winter months ahead.
Travel during this time of year can be wondrous, with destinations all decked out in their holiday attire. Bright twinkling lights, beautiful garland and bows, and glorious scents of pine mingled with cinnamon wait to greet you!
It's simply a matter of selecting your location. Where will you go? Rates are at a premium for most destinations during the last two weeks of December as many opt for a getaway for Christmas and New Years. Looking to save money? Check for mid-week specials during the early part of the month or discount savings on package deals.
Mountains: Those into winter sports will appreciate the opportunities for skiing, ice skating, snowboarding and riding snow mobiles. Others will love the majestic views, warm nights by a fire and if weather permits, moonlit sleigh rides. You may rent a cabin, stay at a mountain lodge or a nearby hotel.
Popular spots can be found in the Smokey Mountains, throughout the Rocky Mountains, in the north east around Green Mountain (VT), out west at Yosemite and in the Cascades. Off-the-beaten path are plentiful, but be certain to ask questions about accessibility of roads during the winter months.
Beach: Need an escape from the dreary cold? Why not head to a balmy climate, full of sun, sand, and fun! Head to the tropics or Hawaii and enjoy a dip in the ocean. Love the ocean, but not the premium pricing?
Take a look at those beach house rentals that pepper the Atlantic coast line -- such as the Outer Banks of North Carolina, along Virginia Beach, or even amid seaside resorts of Maine. There's a power and serenity present in the ocean's winter walk. Either will offer gorgeous sunrises and sunsets and space to relax.
Cruise: Taking a cruise may be just what the "doctor" ordered! Talk about stress free -- all you have to do is show up! This time of year, you're typically limited to heading south toward the Caribbean or Mexico. Your stateroom, entertainment, and food are included outside of any ventures you may take in various ports of call.
Those alone give you opportunities to taste the native culture, play in crystal waters, go sport fishing and explore. The holidays turned the typical "pampered" feel into one of luxurious grandeur.
Disney Parks deserve their own coverage. Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California both showcase the holidays like no one else. This popular family vacation has a bit of something for everyone. Adults and kids alike will love the rides, characters and activities. Once the kids have settled in for the night, parents may wish to explore the nightlife with clubs for dancing and shows.
Staying close to home or traveling to visit family and longing for some "space"? Investigate the alternatives available. Check out local event calendars and select those you'd like to attend. Next, visit online services such as Priceline where you can "bid" on hotels at the rating you prefer. We nabbed a great 4-star hotel downtown for $22 a night where we stayed following an evening at a holiday concert!
New York, Boston, Charleston, Atlanta, Dallas, Park City, Lake Tahoe -- and everything in between -- present key options for a winter holiday! Your possibilities are as infinite as the spaces on earth!
Where will you be spending your holiday break this year?
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.