Holiday events worth a day trip

The Baltimore Sun
Feeling ho-hum about the holidays? Here's help.

Holidays feeling a bit ho-hum? Take a quick day trip to one of these events to get into the spirit.

Maryland

Winterfest of Lights. Gaze at over a million lights and hundreds of animated light displays sparkling all over Ocean City through Jan 4. Gather your loved ones to sip on hot chocolate, take a photo with Santa and tour through fairy tale-themed exhibits on the Winterfest Express. Boarding the train is $5 and children under 12 may ride for free. Info: ococean.com

Candlelight Stroll. Tour Annapolis' historic district by candlelight with a colonial period-dressed guide to hear the origins of various holiday customs. New this year, step inside the historic Hammond Harwood House decked out for the holidays. The tour takes place most Friday and Saturday evenings from Dec. 5-20. Tickets are $12-18. Info: annapolistours.com

Jolly Express Cruise. Don't let the chilly weather keep you off the water. Hop on a Jolly Express Cruise run by Captain Santa. It offers Spa Creek sleigh rides, hot cocoa and holiday music all while floating along the Annapolis Harbor weekends throughout December. Tickets are $13-23. In true holiday spirit, a portion of proceeds will go toward Historic Annapolis. Info: cruisesonthebay.com

Delaware

Yuletide at Winterthur. Head on up to Wilmington to explore the former home of Henry Francis du Pont and his world-class American art collection. Explore how the Francis family celebrated the holidays while also learning about the evolution of wedding traditions until Jan 4. Don't forget to stop by the Costumes of Downtown Abbey exhibit to see historically-inspired costumes and photographs from the hit television show. Reservations are required. Admission is $5 for children and $18-20 for adults. Info: winterthur.org

A Farmer's Christmas. Bring the whole family to watch craftsmen and women demonstrate wood working, rag-rug making and blacksmithing at the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village in Dover. on Dec. 6 from 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Later, listen to carolers in the St. Thomas Church while aromatic foods cook in an old-fashioned woodstove. Finally, enjoy ghost stories and holiday crafts at the Loockerman Landing train station all while Santa and Mrs. Claus hand out warm cider. Admission is $3-6 and free for children under 3. Info: agriculturalmuseum.org

Speedy Santa. Bring the kids to take photos with Santa at Dover International Speedway on Dec. 13. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Santa will pose with the speedway's famed Monster Trophy. After meeting Santa you'll have a chance to win tickets to the NASCAR Spring Cup Series race in May. You'll have the chance to win more tickets — three-day NASCAR passes — if you bring a new, unwrapped toy donation for Toys for Tots. Don't forget your cameras. Info: doverspeedway.com

Pennsylvania

Sweeter Holiday. Hop to Hershey, Pa. for Christmas Candylane to see over 2 million sparkling lights and enjoy 30 family friendly rides. Be sure to snap a photo with Santa and his reindeer, too. Tickets start at $12. Hersheypark has several holiday events throughout December, including seasonal spa treatments and breakfast with Santa. Info: hersheypa.com

Longwood Christmas. Enjoy the blooming of thousands of flowers inside and evergreens wrapped in over 500,000 glittering LED lights outside. Be sure to explore the bird-inspired display, too, with festive nests, feathers, birdhouses, sparking snowflakes and the Peacock Masquerade Ball. See the blooming of Christmas until Jan. 11 for $10-20. Info: longwoodgardens.org

Amish Village Christmas. The Amish Village of Lancaster, Pa. will showcase holiday traditions through December. Learn the holiday traditions and customs of the Amish in a guided tour through a 1840s farm house, snack on authentic Pennsylvania Dutch Country snacks and explore the 12-acre village. Admission is $9 for adults, $5.50 for children ages five through 12 and free for children under five years. Info: theamishvillage.net

RiverRink Winterfest. RiverRink Winterfest at Blue Cross RiverRink in Penn's Landing in Philadelphia offers live entertainment, light shows and a spectacular view of the Delaware River. Stick around to catch the Pennsylvania Ballet's production of "The Nutcracker," which runs Dec. 6-31. Admission to Winterfest is free. Admission to the RiverRink is $3 and skate rental is $10. Info: visitphilly.com

Christkindlmarkt. Visit Bethlehem, Pa. for the 22nd annual Christkindlmarkt, which runs through Dec. 21. Explore products from 100 vendors and artisans, view ice sculpting demonstrations and enjoy "Breakfast with St. Nick." Daily passes are $8 for adults and $4 for children ages 6-12. Children under age 5 are free. Some events have separate fees and specific times. Info: christmascity.org

Virginia

Break out the Ugly Sweaters. Let's face it — one of the best parts about the holidays is getting to wear tacky sweaters. Fuse your love for hideous sweaters with exercise this holiday season in Norfolk, Va. The Tacky Sweater 5K invites participants to run or walk a competitive race in their favorite holiday outerwear at 9 a.m. Dec. 13. All race proceeds will be donated to the Edmarc Hospice for Children. Registration is $35. Info: visitnorfolktoday.com

Busch Gardens Christmas Town. Bask in the twinkle of over eight million lights at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va. Enjoy the holidays by strolling through the lit paths all throughout the theme park until Dec. 31. Single day tickets are $27. If you make a vacation out of it, choose from three different packages including a colonial Christmas in Williamsburg and one with live penguins. Packages start at $35. Info: christmastown.com

Festival of fun. Walk, drive or trolley through the over-the-top decorations of Richmond, Va. this season. The area lights up with hundreds of outrageous holiday decorations ever year, and this year is no different. Gather your family and friends for a festival of lights — tacky ones! Tours vary. Info: richmond.com

New York City

Rockin' around Rockefeller. Traveling up to New York is worth it every year for this classic. Watch the first lighting of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree on Dec. 3. Catch live performances from 7-9 p.m. and rejoice in the spirit of the holidays with thousands of people all over the city. The tree will remain lit until Jan. 7. Get there early as this tradition is free. Info: rockefellercenter.com

Gingerbread Galore. Gingerbread Lane is a feast for the eyes. If you make the trip up to New York, stop by the largest gingerbread village in the world, according to the 2014 Guinness World Records. The New York Hall of Science will showcase a 1000-house, 1.5-ton, 450-square-foot gingerbread village through Jan. 11. Tickets are $8-11. Smaller versions will be displayed at the New York Marriot at the Brooklyn Bridge and the Algonquin Hotel in Manhattan for free. Info: gingerbread-lane.org

Holiday Train Show. If the big city isn't your thing, stop by another New York landmark outside of the city. The New York Botanical Garden's Holiday Train show is an event the whole family can enjoy. Head to the Bronx to watch model trains travel through miniature replicas of New York City through Jan. 19. Tickets are $10-28. Info: nybg.org

Washington

Speaker of the Holidays. Metro into our nation's capital for the Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. John Boehner, Speaker of the House, will light the fabulous Minnesota tree on Dec. 2 at 5 p.m. on the West Lawn. Energy efficient LED bulbs will light the tree every evening through the holiday season. Info: aoc.gov

West Virginia

Civil War Christmas. Make your way to West Virginia for different events every weekend until Christmas. On Dec. 6-7, historic Shepherdstown will be decked out to recreate a "Civil War Christmas in Shepherdstown," which will include Union and Confederate camps and food, drinks and entertainment of the time period. The best part? Most events, like the annual Christmas parade, will be free! Info: christmasinshepherdstown.com

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