Jingle all the way…this Charlotte Dentist’s: 5-holiday destinations within 2 hours of the Queen City 

UPDATE: As Covid continues to spread at a rapid pace many of these destinations are closed or have limited schedules. Like with everything else we have had to do this year keep these destinations in mind for next year!

And here it is….*drumroll please*…the most wonderful time of the year!

The holiday season is upon us, and my kids couldn’t be more excited. This year we wanted to make things a little extra special, so to kick things up a notch, we’ve planned a couple of weekend getaway trips to keep the holiday spirit alive and well.

If you’re looking for a few holiday destinations for the family that require a few less frequent flyer miles than the North Pole, here are five awesome destinations within two hours of Charlotte.

Christmas at Biltmore / Asheville 

Nov. 6 – Jan. 10

If you’ve never visited the Biltmore House during the holidays, put it at the top of your list now. Sure, Biltmore is already an incredible experience for the whole family — America’s largest home with a captivating history and plenty of dining and shopping. But Christmas at Biltmore takes the captivation from a 10 to an 11.

More than 100 decorated Christmas trees; hundreds of wreaths, bows, and poinsettias; 100,000 twinkling lights; and more than 10,000 ornaments. Possibly the best part is the seven-story-high Banquet Hall, where books, dolls, and other toys hang from a 35-foot Fraser fir. 

Learn more: https://www.biltmore.com/things-to-do/events/christmas/

Christmas Town, USA / McAdenville

Dec. 1 – Dec. 26

With a population of less than 700, this town west of Charlotte wraps itself in lights to become Christmas Town USA. Just how Christmas-y are we talking? Well, the Christmas trees outnumber the homes. In a celebration that started in 1956 with nine evergreens, ‘Christmas Town, USA’ has grown to a tradition that brings 600,000 visitors to travel the 2-mile route each year.

From modest (6-foot tree, 500 lights) to dazzling (90-foot tree, 5,000 lights), the entire town glows each evening in December. With about 600,000 visitors traveling the 2-mile route, be prepared to relax and enjoy a very slow ride, especially on weekends.

Learn more: https://www.mcadenville-christmastown.com/

Polar Express / Bryson City

Nov. 6 – Dec. 31

All aboard! A train ride along the Great Smoky Mountains in and of itself is something my kids would enjoy every second of. But a train ride through the quiet wilderness that ends at the North Pole and a visit from Santa himself? Get ready for the Greatest Parents Ever award.

The 75-minute journey features Chris Van Allsburg’s 1985 magic story and clips from the movie soundtrack, truly bringing the story to life. Hot cocoa is served on the train, and Santa will be waiting at the North Pole to give each child their own silver sleigh bell. Christmas carols will be sung as they return back to the Bryson City Depot.

Learn more: https://www.gsmr.com/events/polar-express

12 Days of Christmas at The Carolina Inn / Chapel Hill

Dec. 1 – Jan. 3

Now in its 23rd year, The Carolina Inn celebrates the holiday season with decorations and activities inspired by the traditional holiday song that involves 12 days of gift-giving, and a lot of birds. 

Festivities include brunch and lunch with Santa, a gingerbread house-making class,  cookie-decorating classes, and even a teddy bear tea. And if you’ve been slacking on your holiday shopping for the in-laws, sneak away to the Inn’s gift shop for a treasure trove of great gift options.

Learn more: https://store.carolinainn.com/collections/12-days-of-christmas

Santa on the Chimney / Chimney Rock State Park

Dec. 5 & Dec. 12

This one is truly unique and intriguing: A mountain-rappelling Santa. I mean, how could Chris Cringle resist a 315-foot granite rock shaped like a chimney? 

For the 23rd year, the man in red will warm-up for his Christmas Eve chimney-thon by rappelling down this North Carolina landmark. Visitors can meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, see critters and enjoy live music, hot cocoa, cookies, and kids’ activities. Fun fact: In 2013, BuzzFeed included this rappelling Santa in its list of eight most extreme Santas in the world. 

Learn more: https://www.chimneyrockpark.com/events/list/?tribe-bar-date=2020-12