From life-sized gingerbread villages, ice skating rinks, wreath-making workshops, and lobbies decked in thousands of twinkling lights, the South’s hotels and resorts shine during Christmastime. There are holiday destinations with offerings for the whole family, including Santa on site and an endless stream of hot cocoa. Other spots cater to adults searching for some Christmas magic with hot toddies, holiday decor inspiration, and festively themed workshops. Whether you want a dazzling Christmas setting that feels like the North Pole traveled south or a casual getaway spent cozied up beside a roaring fire, these holiday destinations will make your days merry and bright.
Nine Holiday Destinations Spreading Christmas Cheer
Primland, Auberge Resorts Collections | Meadows of Dan, Virginia
Throughout the month of December, visitors can sip on holiday-themed cocktails, like hot toddies, and roast s’mores inside the resort’s rustic Tobacco Barn. Additional activities, like holiday cookie decorating, wine and wreath-making, and visits from Santa Claus, will also be underway to spread cheer throughout this property in Virginia’s foothills.
Every holiday season, the Omni Grove Park Inn transforms into a gingerbread wonderland. This year marks its 30th National Gingerbread House Competition, and entries will be on display throughout the resort until January 2, 2023. You can check out winners on social media during the 12 Days of Gingerbread, held from December 1 to 12.
The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee | Greensboro, Georgia
Get into the holiday spirit with a wintery lakeside retreat. The hotel’s outdoors will transform into a Winter Forest, complete with a spacious ice skating rink and hot chocolate, apple cider, and hot toddies available to warm up chilly fingers. Inside the lobby, guests can check out the pastry chef’s life-sized gingerbread cottage.
Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards | North Garden, Virginia
This idyllic farm and winery destination outside of Charlottesville, Virginia, gets into the Christmas spirit with sophisticated activities during December. Programming includes guided wreath-making workshops, family-friendly cookie decorating led by chef Victoria Corner, and culinary classes to help you pull off the ultimate holiday brunch.
Ways to embrace the holiday season traverse European influences and backdrops at this luxury boutique hotel in downtown Dallas, from the feast of the seven fishes at Sassetta to a Parisian-inspired New Year’s Eve at CBD Provisions. The hotel will also hold a seasonal pie sale from November 28 to December 16, where pies prepared by the in-house pastry chef Rose DeLaRosa will be available to round out your own festivities.
The resplendent Biltmore Estate looks even finer decked for a turn-of-the-century holiday celebration. With fresh garland, Christmas trees, ribbons, and twinkling lights, visitors are nearly transported to the tasteful holiday parties the Biltmores themselves would have held. Tours of the Christmas extravaganza are offered during the day, or you could take advantage of the seasonal evening Candle Christmas Evenings.
Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center | Kissimmee, Florida
Known for its Christmas programing, Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee leans fully into the winter season with more than 25 activities and events held from mid-November through December. Explore the ICE! wonderland of carved ice sculptures, grab a cup of cheer from the holiday-themed bar, go tubing down the hilly, ice-covered plummets, or let the kids join a toy-making workshop led by Santa.
Voted the number one luxury hotel in the country by USA Today, Hotel Bennett is a year-round destination. Located on Charleston’s iconic King Street, the hotel spearheads the Christmas season with North Pole cheer on their Gabrielle Plaza, complete with nightly Christmas movie screenings, specialty cocktails, and s’mores kits. Additional special events include wreath-making workshops (beverages included), holiday tea at Camellia’s, a life-sized gingerbread house pop-up in the lobby, and more through the New Year.
The Tides Inn | Irvington, Virginia
Located on a small peninsula between the Rappahannock River and the Chesapeake Bay, The Tides Inn positions visitors to explore the Mid-Atlantic’s holiday hub, from a Christmas parade in nearby Kilmarnock to holiday-themed stops along the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail to a Southern iteration of the Polar Express through downtown Urbanna. But you don’t even need to leave the inn to get into the Christmas spirit. Enjoy cookie decorating classes, workshops for making wreaths or ceramic pieces, or a seasonal oyster restoration workshop led by a local ecologist (complete with wine and beer).
- by Jacob Hollifield
- by Erin Byers Murray