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November 23, 2015


Dear Family Travelers:

Ready to get out of the house?  Do it Thanksgiving weekend before everyone starts complaining they are tired of eating leftovers and the bored cousins start squabbling.

By Thanksgiving weekend, a lot of holiday light displays will be ushering in the Christmas Season around the country. Even better, unless you are heading to a theme park (and yes, they have big holiday extravaganzas), it won't cost you anything to look-except maybe a candy cane or a hot chocolate afterward. 

Family Travel Forum and Taking the Kids have put together places you can see the lights across the country. If you haven't already, make it a  tradition to start off your holidays with a look at the ever-bigger light displays near where you're spending Thanksgiving:
  • The annual "Holiday Festival of Lights,"  in Charleston, SC is  considered one of the top 20 events in the Southeast, features millions of lights arranged in 750 displays along a three-mile route. Visitors will also enjoy attractions like the Enchanted Walking Trail, an old-fashioned Carousel, gingerbread house displays and more.  November 13-January 3
  • Key Chicago events include "The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival" which begins November 21 with a tree-lighting parade and continues with a German-American holiday market in Daley Plaza. The Museum of Science and Industry celebrates "Christmas Around the World" and "Holidays of Light" with more than 50 trees decorated to represent various cultures and holiday traditions. November 19- January 3
  • They don't call Grapevine, TX   the "Christmas Capital of Texas" for nothing; Grapevine goes all out for the holidays with 1400 events along its heavily decorated and very cute Main Street. Plan your calendar to drop by some wineries, ride the vintage railroad, shop and relax at the Great Wolf Lodge with its "Snowland" festivities.  Eat in a or Gaylord Texan resorts. In fact, at the Great Wolf, the annual "Snowland" festivities  where you  can eat in a life-size gingerbread house after you play in all those indoor water slides.
  • NOLA's City Park, a Southern belle with centuries-old live oaks draped in festive Spanish moss, twinkles with hundreds of thousands of lights as part of the annual Celebration in the Oaks holiday lights festival. Drop by the art museum's free sculpture garden to take some family portraits, and take out a paddleboat out for a great view. November 27-January 3.
  • Spectacular Niagara Falls are illuminated at night year-round, but there's nothing like snow crystals to magnify their beauty. In Niagara Falls USA, collect unique holiday ornaments at the 18 wineries on the Niagara Wine Trail and shop on the famous Erie Canal during Lockport's Winter Wonderland Project
  • The 450-acre Living Desert  in Palm Desert, CA is decked out for the "Wild Lights Festival" that blankets its botanical gardens and educational displays in thousands of lights. Come for festive games, live music, a train ride and the new global-focused area selling international foods, camel rides and wildlife shows. November 23-November 26. 
  • Waterfront Park  in Seattle serves as host to more than 50 toy-themed lights displays, Westlake Park has its holiday carousel, Seattle Center offers ice skating; Holidays in Seattle has a listing of more events and attractions.


And from our partners at Family Travel Forum

 Find out what local and visiting kids have to say about nine great American travel destinations through our Kids' Guides Series from Globe Pequot Press.
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