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The Upstate’s Top 7 holiday trips

They say there’s no place like home for the holidays, but many of us prefer holiday vacations rather than staycations.

No matter the time year, Upstate residents love packing their bags for a road trip or a drive to the airport. Here are the Top 7 holiday travel destinations for Upstate South Carolinians:

Christmas at Biltmore, Asheville NC

There’s nothing quite like Christmas at Biltmore where incredible decorations, live music and evening candlelight tours celebrate the holidays in style. More than 100 hand decorated Christmas trees adorn the home and the estate, with a 35-foot Fraser fir as the centerpiece.

This holiday season, your Biltmore ticket includes the Downton Abbey Exhibit offering never-before seen interactive elements, along with the fashions, locations and historic events of the time period depicted in the popular television series.

Moderate, luxury and premier on-site accommodations are available at the Village Hotel, The Inn on Biltmore Estate and The Cottage on Biltmore Estate. Visit the Biltmore website for more information.

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Photo courtesy of Biltmore.

Stone Mountain Park Christmas, Stone Mountain GA

Enjoy park attractions including the Summit Skyride and Scenic Railroad, then immerse yourself in holiday magic with evenings full of festive music, millions of dazzling lights, spectacular shows, The Polar Express 4-D movie experience and visits from some of your favorite holiday characters from the North Pole. New this year is the nightly Snow Angel’s Christmas Parade following the Enchanted Christmas Tree Lighting.

Visitors also can enjoy Snow Mountain, a 400-foot snow-covered tubing hill and snow play area. There are thrills and chills on Dare Devil Plunge, Snow Mountain’s tallest, fastest slope where you’ll reach speeds up to 30 mph as you zip through a 150-foot tunnel of lights.

Stone Mountain Christmas is open Nov. 16, 2019 – Jan. 5, 2020. Visit Stone Mountain Christmas for more information.

Photo courtesy of Stone Mountain Park.

Smoky Mountain Christmas at Dollywood, Pigeon Forge TN

Dollywood has become an annual Christmas tradition for families around the Upstate. Just 145 miles from Greenville SC, Dollywood features a holiday celebration with millions of lights, award-winning shows and a Glacier Ridge, a winter wonderland with a 50-foot video motion Christmas tree.

Photo courtesy of Dollywood.

Holiday musical productions include Dollywood’s own Christmas in the Smokies and It’s a Wonderful Life.

Open Nov. 9, 2019 – Jan. 4, 2020. Visit Smoky Mountain Christmas for more information.

New York City, NY

Upstate residents love to pack their warm winter boots, layer up and enjoy Christmas in New York. From the famed Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and the Rockettes Radio City Christmas Spectacular to Central Park carriage rides and the New York Botanical Garden holiday train tour, the Empire State knows how to stage a holiday celebration.

For shoppers, New York City features several Christmas markets, including an indoor market at Grand Central Station, and Christmas window displays along Fifth Avenue. Visitors will also enjoy the Saks Fifth Avenue light show and ice skating at Bryant Park or Central Park.

Christmas in New York City.

Charles Dickens Museum, London, England

What better place to experience the rich traditions of a Dickensian Christmas than in the home of Charles Dickens, author of A Christmas Carol.

The Museum provides a enchanting glimpse into how the season was celebrated by the great Victorian author, with the historic interiors transformed into a true embodiment of Christmas Past.

From the Dickens Museum to glittering Christmas lights, ice skating, traditional markets and Christmas shows, London is a Christmas wonderland.

Christmas Markets of Europe – European River Cruises

European river cruises are a year-round favorite of Upstate residents, but a Christmas river cruise is the perfect way to see a host of Europe’s world-famous Christmas markets. Visitors travel back through centuries, walking along cobblestone streets through grand cities and historic towns adorned with twinkling Christmas trees and lined with wooden huts gleaming with handcrafted treasures.

Popular holiday river cruises include those on the Rhine in France, Switzerland and Germany, the Moselle River in France, the Danube in Hungary and Austria, and the Elbe River in Germany.

Banff and Lake Louise, Canada

Christmas in the Canadian Rockies offers breathtaking views, skiing at Lake Louise Ski Resort or Sunshine Village, ice skating, the Banff Christmas Market and a tour of the historic castle in Banff National Park.

The towns of Banff and Lake Louise transform into a Christmas village with lights, decorations, horse drawn carriages and nightly carolers.

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Canada


About the Author

Deb Metcalf has worked in the travel Industry for more than 20 years. After a 12-year stint in advertising and media sales, she now is co-owner of Travel Agents International where she began her professional career. Deb loves the excitement of helping Upstate residents take their “fantasy trip.” She and her husband, Barry, reside in Woodruff, SC.

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