The holiday season is upon us. Why stay in this Christmas when there's so much to do? Quit roasting chestnuts and get old Jack Frost off your nose. Bundle up, pack your overnight bag and take a quick trip. We've found some of the best places in and around Maryland to tour, learn, shop, eat, play and more.
. Board the Winterfest Express train and join in song with Christmas
, while passing by spectacular lighted displays. Visit Winterfest Village located inside a pavilion, buy hot chocolate from various vendors, take pictures with Santa and make sure to go gift shopping. Admission is $5. Free for children age 11 and younger. Go to ococean.com.
Christmas Wonderland Light Show,
through Jan. 8, New Market. For the second year, Adventure Park USA is hosting Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland with LED Christmas lights and a music show all while you drive-through. After the light show, enjoy some indoor attractions and a free hot chocolate. Go to adventureparkusa.com.
through Jan. 1.
Zoo offers light displays, dancing trees, live entertainment and Panda Claws. Stop by the visitor center to see the model train and gingerbread habitat contest entries. New this year is the "iceless" skating rink, safe for families. Go to nationalzoo.si.edu.
Downtown Holiday Market,
Dec. 2-Dec. 23. Enjoy a festive shopping village with more than 175 artisans located right in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. In addition to vendors offering jewelry, paintings, pottery and textiles, there will be seasonal entertainment, snacks and treats. Go to downtownholidaymarket.com.
National Christmas Tree,
through Jan. 1 at President's Park. The tree-lighting ceremony takes place Thursday at 5 p.m., but tickets are required. Plan to visit later to see the Yule log, model train and manger displays along with nightly entertainment. Go to thenationaltree.org.
Capitol Christmas Tree,
through Jan. 1. Not to be confused with the National Christmas Tree, this red fir – harvested from the Stanislaus National Forest in California — sits on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol and will be lit by the Speaker of the House on Dec. 6. After that, the lights go on from dusk to 11 p.m. Go to capitolchristmastree2011.org.
through Dec. 31, Williamsburg. The park has added millions of lights, four new attractions and a new Christmas show to entertain guests with the holiday spirit. Favorites include the 50-foot-tall, light-dancing Christmas tree, Santa's Workshop and a traditional outdoor German market featuring artisan-made crafts and gifts. Tickets are $23.99. Go to christmastown.com.
A Colonial Christmas,
Dec. 1-31, Williamsburg. The event takes you back to 17th and 18th century holiday traditions with tours, interpretive programs and music. Visitors to
can learn how the English colonists' celebrated
at sea, celebrate at a fort church or hear about Christmas in military camps. Go to historyisfun.org.
Dutch Winter Wonderland,
weekends through Dec. 30, Lancaster. Enjoy rides, entertainment, light shows, gingerbread houses, shopping and meeting Santa, of course. New this year is the Jingle Bell Rock stage show. Admission is $12.99. Go to dutchwonderland.com.
A Magical Fireside Christmas,
through Dec. 31, Poconos. The Inn at Pocono Manor offers guests a chance to roast marshmallows over an open fire, take a horse-drawn carriage ride and meet Santa and his reindeer. In the Fireside Lodge, guests can discover a Gingerbread Village, create holiday ornaments, decorate Christmas cookies and hear stories from past and present. Go to poconomanor.com.
Christmas in Hershey,
Christmas Candylane with two million lights, rides, and decorations. Sing Christmas songs at A Rockin' Music Box Christmas, visit Santa's reindeer and browse village shops. Drive through Hershey Sweet Lights with 2 miles of 600 lighted animated displays. Tickets are $12.95. Go to christmasinhershey.com for dates.
A Very Furry Christmas at Sesame Place,
through Dec. 31, Langhorne . Sesame Street characters have created the perfect holiday celebration for kids. The park is decorated with more than 300 Christmas trees, millions of lights in primary colors and garlands hung with rubber duckies and ballet slippers. The illuminated Neighborhood Street Party Parade happens nightly. Tickets are $19.99. Go to sesameplace.com or call 215-752-7070.
Holiday Magic at Nemours Mansion and Gardens,
through Jan. 8, Wilmington. The grand residence, with 70 rooms, offers tours of its decorated interiors and lush gardens adorned with holiday spirit. Tickets are $15. Go to nemoursmansion.org.
A Longwood Christmas,
through Jan. 8, Kennett Square. Longwood Gardens will feature its own landmarks recreated in gingerbread along with thousands of poinsettias, Christmas trees and other flowers in an indoor garden. Outside, there will be over 400,000 LED lights and colorful fountain displays set to music. Tickets are $18-$25. Go to longwoodgardens.org.
Spirit of Christmas – A Celebration of the Holidays,
through Dec. 21,
. Enjoy a special song and dance performance at the Tropicana hotel. Follow the sounds of jingle bells into the Tropicana Showroom to see this Broadway-style Christmas revue. Tickets are $25-$35. Go to tropicana.net.
Holiday Light Show,
through Jan. 2, Smithville, N.J. Watch more than 100 Christmas trees light up to the sound of holiday music around Lake Meone. And afterward take a short drive to Historic Smithville. Admission is free. Go to colonialinnsmithville.com
Holiday Train Show,
through Jan 16,
. Bring the family to The New York Botanical Gardens to see trains zooming down tracks, over bridges and past replicas of New York landmarks made of bark, nuts and leaves, including the
and Yankee Stadium. Handcrafted by award-winning designers, the set is made from natural materials such as orange slices, cinnamon sticks and pine cones. Go to nybg.org.
Winter Wonderland Tour,
. Gray Line tour buses offers visitors a chance to enjoy the beauty of the city this holiday season. Stops will include the Aspen Social Club, a chic lounge in