Where to Get Away for the Holidays

By Katy Macek | Photo Courtesy Pure Michigan; Photo By Michigan Nut Photography

The holidays are a time for togetherness, but let’s face it, sometimes you need a change of scenery. Instead of the same old party, consider taking the family—or your significant other— out on a road trip this season.

Travel doesn’t have to mean sacrificing a home-cooked meal, either. You can rent a cottage or cabin, stay at a bed and breakfast together or book an entire home, apartment or condo through a vacation rental company. That way, you can still bring the whole brood, and have the space you need to cook and relax.

Here are a variety of trips that may work for your family and friends. Many are within a day’s drive of the Madison area.

MICHIGAN’S UPPER PENINSULA

Don’t let a little cold weather dissuade you from the UP. Many of its outdoor attractions remain open in winter. Tahquamenon Falls State Park offers incredible ice displays. If you thought waterfalls were picturesque in the summer, wait until you see them frozen. Head to the Grand Island Ice Caves for more breath- taking vistas. There are numerous snowmobile runs and cross-country ski trails to enjoy. Perhaps your new Christmas morning tradition will include a family hike with big, heavy snowflakes falling softly around you.

Book your lodging in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, where the family can hunker down by night and explore by day. It’s separated from its sister city in Ontario, Canada, by the St. Mary’s River. Snowmobiles are even allowed on downtown streets if you are connecting to another trail.

MEMPHIS AND NASHVILLE

Take a road trip down South to Tennessee, where two of the country’s top destinations for quintessentially American music are only about a nine-hour drive from the Madison area.

In Memphis, catch a Broadway show at the historic Orpheum Theatre, or check out how a blues guitar is created at the Gibson Guitar Factory tour. And, you don’t want to miss Graceland, Elvis Presley’s lavish home and grounds. Cap off the trip with a visit to the historic Beale Street area to immerse yourself in toe-tapping blues (and catch Santa in the Christmas Day parade).

If you want more music, head three hours west to Nashville— Music City itself. Prepare to spend hours browsing the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Johnny Cash Museum. Or, for a lesson in contemporary country, simply head down to Broadway and pop into any of the many establishments offering live music from up-and-coming musicians. From Kid Rock’s place to the historic Robert’s Western World honky tonk, there’s something for every age.

PENSACOLA, FLORIDA

Snowbirds, rejoice. This Florida city averages temps in the mid-60s December through March, meaning you can enjoy the warm weather in the offseason and beaches will be less crowded.

Still want to feel the holiday spirit? Just head downtown, where the city puts up an impressive holiday light display adorning every tree, lamp post and storefront.

DENVER, COLORADO

If action is more your thing, head to the Denver, Colorado, area for some of the most amazing skiing you’ll do in your lifetime. Home to two well-known ski areas—Breckenridge and Vail—among others, you can spend your days out on the slopes, then tuck into one of the many cabins and cottages available for rent.

Gather the family and your cooking supplies for a home-cooked meal in a log cabin around the fireplace, and the holidays just got a lot more memorable.

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