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Great Destinations to Start a New Holiday Tradition

Spread out around the country? Reinvent your family rituals in one fun place.

By Diana Rowe | January 27, 2014

When I was a kid, my five brothers and sisters, parents and I squeezed into our blue Ford Comet for our half-hour holiday road trip “over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house,” from our home in Iowa to hers in Nebraska. There was never any question of who would be there (dozens of cousins, aunts and uncles), what we’d eat (turkey!) or how many presents we’d each get (one).
Those were the good old days, and families who have relatives close by, or even within the same time zone, are indeed blessed.
Today, however, a lot of families are spread around the country, if not the globe. At midlife, we have parents, children, in-laws and blended families to accommodate. Many of us have downsized our homes, so that even if we wanted to be host to a huge family gathering, we can't. Added together, this can suggest modifying — or totally reinventing — family traditions.

(MORE: The Family That Vacations Together Stays Together)
Some extended families who want to be together compromise by alternating the places where they gather to celebrate holidays. This could mean taking turns at one another’s homes; perhaps there's a relative in a fabulous place who acts like a magnet that attracts the whole clan. But some people want to get a little more bang out of their holiday-travel bucks, so they pick destinations where Christmas is done up famously — like New York; Nashville, Tenn.; Santa Fe, N.M.; Orlando, Fla.; or the Disney parks — and turn it into a family vacation.

Many converge on popular winter destinations, like Colorado’s Aspen Ski Resort. Others use national holidays as an excuse to trade in a week of winter for a beach vacation in Florida or Hawaii or a desert holiday in the Southwest.
If your family (or just two of you, or maybe just you) are interested in creating a new tradition, consider these 10 suggestions for great places to spend your holidays. Each of these cities and activities offers something special, so no matter what your family likes to do, you're sure to find it. Pack up your bags, open your mind to a new experience, and explore these fun holiday settings.

Denver-based travel writer Diana Rowe has explored many local and international destinations on her own, but her favorite travels are always with her family.