Holiday Trips Sure to Get You Into the Spirit

,

There are places across America that do their best to help revive old holiday memories -- or help to create new ones. Here are three U.S. destinations guaranteed to get you into the holiday spirit.

Photography by the authors.

It’s no surprise many of us recall the holidays from the perspective of when we were children. For many, the memories of Christmas past include fun family gatherings, the smell of pine trees and cinnamon sticks, and the spectacle of a twinkling lights. There are places across America that do their best to help revive these old holiday memories -- or help to create new ones. Here are three U.S. destinations guaranteed to get you into the holiday spirit.

San Francisco.

Thousands of cascading lights, an ice-skating rink and a 45-foot tree with “snowfalls” three times a day suggest this is the perfect place to bring the kids during the holidays. (Photo courtesy Hyatt Regency San Francisco.)

San Francisco is the American enigma. As described in the song “The Lady Is a Tramp,” the city really is “cold and it’s damp,” so what’s it going to do at Christmas? It will never have snow. What it does really is decorate its hotels and come up with special ideas. The Hyatt Regency San Francisco, for example, shows the value of location.

Situated at Embarcadero Center, with a holiday ice rink right outside the hotel’s back door, the Hyatt Regency San Francisco claims to be the city’s “Home for the Holidays.” The hotel weatherman predicts snowfalls in its atrium lobby in the holiday season. Indeed, “snow” falls three times a day in the hotel's lobby through Dec. 31, 2010: Once at 1 p.m., again at 6 p.m. and at 8 p.m. every day -- a brand new tradition for Hyatt Regency.

For visitors, the hotel offers an ice-skating package. Rates start at $169 for two adults. In addition to a premium room, guests booking this package receive two ice-rink tickets so they can skate themselves into the holiday mood. Valid through Dec. 30, 2010, room package bookings can be arranged by visiting the website and entering the booking code “SKATE.” Hyatt Regency San Francisco is located at 5 Embarcadero Center. Reservations are required for all holiday bookings, with the exception of breakfast with Santa, and can be made by calling (415) 788-1234. Additional information and access to reservations are available by visiting its website.

Boston.

During the holidays, one forgets this was once the city of cattle paths and Paul Revere.

This city, like San Francisco, is one of America’s most European cities, with one difference: Boston often has snow at Christmas. The Boston Common lights up to warm this city that is writ so large in history of the U.S.

The Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common has a location to die for (Literally...the Common was used for public hangings until 1817!) The hotel stands on Avery Street, opposite the village square used by the British as a camp before they left for the Battle of Lexington. Thankfully, more mellow events have happened over the years during the holidays. A generation ago at Christmas, actors dressed as toy soldiers marched the corridors and children were encouraged to bring their grandmother for afternoon tea at a nominal cost -- clever marketing because today’s children are tomorrow’s parents.

Today, the Ritz-Carlton has a special holiday club promotion rate of $425 a night for a room on the Club Level (including four complimentary food presentations a day in the Club lounge). The package includes overnight valet parking, and a room decorated in Nutcracker theme with a CD gift of the Nutcracker. Traditional afternoon teas are available on Sundays through December. Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common is on 10 Avery Street. Phone: (617) 574-7100. Additional information and access to reservations are available by visiting its website.

Stowe, Vermont.

The von Trapp family first started welcoming guests to their 27-room lodge in the summer of 1950. The Lodge continues to be owned by the Trapp family, the inspiration for the musical and movie, "The Sound of Music."

Stowe lies about 80 miles north of Woodstock in the Green Mountains of Vermont but we’re talking now about when those mountains are white. Indeed, Woodstock can claim the first ski-lift in the U.S., albeit a rather primitive one. But the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe -- the home of Maria von Trapp and her “Sound of Music” family — pioneered cross-country skiing, with trails established back in 1969. Stowe now has more than 3,000 acres of conserved land with some of the most varied cross-country trails in the U.S.

The lodge offers more than 60 miles of trails in a gorgeous location. Although the lodge burned down in 1980, its replacement has maintained the Austrian Alpine look. The 2,400-acre resort now has 96 rooms and suites, 100 two-bedroom guest houses and 16 three-bedroom villas.

The lodge’s “Meet the von Trapps Package,” starting at $335 per person, includes two nights of lodging in a deluxe room, a three-course dinner, full country breakfast, a gift upon arrival to your room and a family history presentation by a vob Trapp family member, followed by a guided tour of the property.

The Trapp Family Lodge is located at 700 Trapp Hill Road. Phone: (800) 826-7000. Additional information and access to reservations are available by visiting its website.

The Andersons, who live in San Diego, are the resident travel & cruise columnists for Physician's Money Digest. Nancy is a former nursing educator, Eric a retired MD. The one-time president of the New Hampshire Academy of Family Practice, Eric is the only physician in the American Society of Travel Writers. He has also written five books, the last called The Man Who Cried Orange: Stories from a Doctor's Life.