An elaborate U.S. Christmas Vacation Question
November 29, 2010 2:12 PM   Subscribe

Help me plan a Christmas vacation for my mom.

My dad died recently, and my mom has been in bad shape. This Christmas is the first vacation time either of us has had since then, and I'd like to take her somewhere in the U.S. for a week (the two days on either side of Christmas weekend). I'm looking for one of three (somewhat strange) options:

1: Somewhere south and warm enough to go swimming in late December (does this even exist in the non-islandy U.S.?) in a decent beach. Basically, something summery.

2: My mom really likes mountain towns such as Whistler, even though neither of us can ski. So looking for a mountain town with lots of cool non-ski stuff to do.

3: A big city that's not a big city. We've been to LA, NY, Chicago, etc. Are there some cool cities with lots of museums, shopping, attractions etc that aren't in the list of Top 5 Big U.S. Cities Everyone Has Been To?

I realize these are somewhat vague criteria, but any advice is much appreciated. My budget's about 2 grand for hotel, flight and possibly rental car (so excluding all the stuff we do/buy/visit when we get there).
posted by Fireland to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total)
I always recommend Key West, especially for a winter escape. It has swimming in December, and it has beaches, but the two do not necessarily go together. I think there are a couple of swimming areas in the ocean, but generally the beaches are for walking/sitting. However, many of the houses you can rent (full-sized or partial) have small, private pools that are wonnnnderful for just floating around. I went there in December, recovering from a somewhat traumatic injury, and for the first time in my life I woke up one morning and said, "Oh. I guess this is what being relaxed feels like."

As for your third option, how about Seattle, or Boston, or the Twin Cities? Yeah, yeah, Minnesota or Massachusetts in December, but they're still wonderful, and I bet they'd have some absolutely stunning holiday concerts almost every night.

If your "in the U.S." criterion extends to "nearby border crossing into Canada," Toronto is also fantastic. I hear Montreal and Quebec are great, too, and if you go to Seattle, Victoria is a nice trip as well. Toronto and the Pacific Northwest are pretty mild, all things considered.
posted by Madamina at 2:44 PM on November 29, 2010

Re #1, you want Miami or the like. I don't think anywhere else in the continental US has weather that warm. You could also go to Hawaii, of course.

Not quite as warm, but what about Asheville, NC? Mountainous, warmish, lots to do. Especially if you have a car and can visit surrounding areas in the Great Smoky Mountains.
posted by Sara C. at 2:47 PM on November 29, 2010

This Christmas? Well you have have benefit of booking last minute which will help you most on a cruise.
I am not sure where you are located but there is an amazing cruise from barbados. A pricey flight probably but the cruise is 1000 instead of 3500. It's on a yacht with only 312 guests.
It's on the Windstar Windsurf and goes to great little islands that a big cruise ship could never go. St
No dinners or car to pay for and it's an ocean view room.
Cruises are nice because you don't have to worry about budget, deciding where to eat, directions, etc.
There are other cruises at that time too. Some leave right from NYC. I look on but you have to give your email address.

Good luck and what ever you decide to do I hope you both have a nice holiday.
posted by beccaj at 3:06 PM on November 29, 2010

If you're considering Key West, also consider the central Keys, around Marathon. I always have found Key West to be a tad too busy to be fully relaxing.

There are also some other island escapes in Florida, like Sanibel and Captiva, that are just as idyllic. (It may be difficult to find last-minute accommodations in Captiva.)

You don't say where you're coming from (if I had to guess, I'd say Vancouver), but that might help us tailor our advice to fit your situation.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:02 PM on November 29, 2010

Thanks for the advice, all. We'll probably be flying out of Toronto, fwiw.
posted by Fireland at 7:56 PM on November 29, 2010

Most people focused on the warm spots but for her desires of a mountain town, have you considered the ski/mountain towns of New England and Quebec? Lots of scenery, lots of charm and plenty of things to do for the non-skier. If she liked the man-made Whistler scene then the authentic, real deal in the northeast should have her heart aflutter. Here are Vermont Tourism's activities for the non-skier.
posted by mmascolino at 8:12 PM on November 29, 2010

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