Tempted to skip town for the holidays? Here are a few places we recommend.
Thanks to the incredibly stressful year it’s been, many will be looking to get out of town for the holidays and finally bid adieu to 2020. There is, of course, an obligation to celebrate Christmas in a safe and responsible way. Staying domestic—and as close to home as possible—is likely the best option but a subdued and socially distanced winter vacation doesn’t mean having to forgo all the merriment of the season. Whether you just want a weekend away cozying up to a crackling fire, or are seeking some Vitamin D in a perennially warm locale, here are our top picks for a festive holiday jaunt.
The Big Island, Hawaii
There is really no bad time of year to go to Hawaii, but winter is especially ideal for East Coasters in dire need of sun and warmth. The Big Island, with its rustic, untamed feel, amazing marine life, and majestic volcanoes, is a truly unique destination. The Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
, one of the best hotels in the state, is reopening on December 1 after using pandemic closures to undergo renovations. This means it’ll pretty much be like staying in a brand new hotel, which is a great advantage anytime, but especially now. (Hawaii has done away with the mandatory 14-day quarantine for visitors, instead requiring two Covid-19 tests, one taken up to 72 hours before departure and another rapid test taken upon arrival.)
2Litchfield County, Connecticut
New York’s most fashionable set, from Diane von Furstenberg to Wes Gordon and Paul Arnhold, retreat to tony but low-key Litchfield County in rural Connecticut. Follow suit for a bucolic—and hopefully snowy—New England holiday at Winvian Farm
, the Relais & Chateaux property with 19 rooms (all outfitted with a wood burning fireplace) and a star chef, Chris Eddy, who is a protégé of Alain Ducasse and Daniel Boulud. If there is enough snow, you can snowshoe or partake in cross country skiing while the kids occupy themselves in a snowman building contest. Then cozy up by the fire pit to roast s’mores and drink peppermint schnapps hot chocolate. There are private wine tastings available, too.
3Carmel by the Sea, California
With a temperate California climate, vineyards, hiking trails galore, top-notch spa treatments, and a world-class golf course, the Carmel Valley Ranch
, located in the chic Monterey areais a great destination for a not-so-freezing holiday jaunt. The sprawling resort has something for everyone, adults and kids alike. In addition to the aforementioned list, there are activities such as beekeeping, whisky tastings, archery, ice cream churning, and candle-making. An added bonus: all rooms are spacious suites equipped with fireplaces and private decks.
4Charleston, South Carolina
There’s a reason why Charleston consistently ranks as one of the top destinations in the country. It’s dripping with charm, the food is fantastic, and it has so much history. Plus, the weather is very pleasant in December and come Christmastime, festive decorations adorn the city’s grandest mansions, making it particularly fun (and Instagrammable) for leisurely house-window-shopping strolls. This season, the Dewberry
is hosting a 1960s themed jewel box of a pop-up with event designer Rebecca Gardner, who recently launched her own site, Houses & Parties, for all things necessary for ultra chic home entertaining—H&P will hold court at the hotel, to basically solve all of your last minute Christmas shopping needs. Also, don’t miss the rooftop bar, which affords some of the best views of the city.
To escape the ultra high wattage scene of Aspen in the winter, head instead to Vail, a slightly less flashy ski town, but certainly no less glamorous. As North America’s largest ski resort, there will be plenty of fresh powder to carve during the day. Plus, there’s a distinctly Bavarian feel to Vail—it bears striking resemblance to German ski resort Garmisch-Partenkirchen—meaning you can pretend for a minute that you’re in a charming village in the Bavarian Alps. Round out the wintry European fantasy by staying at the Arrabelle, which is perfectly situated in the center of town and just steps from the Eagle Bahn Gondola and the Alderhof ice rink.
6Orange County, Virginia
Ninety miles outside of Washington D.C. (and just 40 minutes from Charlottesville) is the Inn at Willow Grove
, a historical property that sits on 40 acres in the heart of Virginia wine country. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate is a short drive away. Season-specific offerings include peppermint oil massages at the spa, special holiday cocktails, and homemade beignets delivered each morning.
7Rancho Palos Verdes, California
Located on 120 acres of pristine, sun-soaked Southern California coastline, the Terranea Resort is a perfect warm weather getaway for the holidays. Expect many festive feasts, world-class golf, and custom spa treatments, plus things for the kids, too, like gingerbread house making kits and ornament decorating.
You may think of Nantucket as a winter ghost town, but think again. While the annual Christmas Stroll is cancelled this year due to the coronavirus, there will still be plenty of safe, holiday events around the island to get into the Christmas spirit. Dubbed Nantucket Noel, the calendar runs from November 27 to December 31 and will include an ugly sweater contest, a virtual tree lighting ceremony, stores and streets covered in festive decorations, and many opportunities to support the local shops. Stay at the newly opened Life House
, a wonderfully intimate—and super cozy—14-room boutique hotel right in the center of town.