All four seasons occur in Pennsylvania. Accordingly, winters typically bring lots of cold, snowy weather, especially over the mountainous interior and northwestern corner near Lake Erie. If you’re in search of a good, old-fashioned Christmas, choose the Keystone State as your vacation destination. As for accommodations, Pennsylvania vacation rentals range from cozy cabins in the woods to upscale apartments in the city. The family-friendly holiday activities are endless when you plan a Christmas getaway in one of these cities in Pennsylvania.
Located in eastern Pennsylvania, Bethlehem is known as “Christmas City, USA” and it certainly earns the moniker. Stroll the downtown area to view the stunning window displays, and pop into some of the shops to catch up on your Christmas shopping. Christkindlmarkt, an open-air market that goes on for five weeks, gives you access to handmade ornaments, locally made art, tasty food, and so much more. A favorite tradition for Bethlehem visitors and locals during December is the city’s Live Advent Calendar. Every evening at 5 p.m. leading up to Christmas Day, a different merchant steps out of the Goundie House on Main Street to award special treats to anyone waiting outside the door.
Hermitage, situated in northwestern Pennsylvania, lies near the border of Ohio. Hermitage kicks off the holiday season the week before Thanksgiving with the Hermitage Holiday Light Up Parade and Festival, which features ice sculptures, fireworks, and a kids’ area complete with a bounce house, face painting, jugglers, and magicians. As soon as the fireworks finish, runners dress up as their favorite Christmas characters to participate in Hermitage’s Merry Christmas Mile. Enjoy an afternoon of ice skating or sled riding at the picture-perfect Buhl Park, and be sure to plan an evening at Santa’s Christmasland, where your family can wander through the indoor avenue of more than 60 Christmas trees, each decorated with its own theme.
Find Paradise in South Central Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County, smack dab in the middle of Amish Country. The tranquil beauty of this small community is unmatched. The National Christmas Center is a must-visit attraction, featuring 20,000 square feet of indoor exhibits, all related to Christmas. Fifteen galleries range from Santa’s Workshop and Toyland Train Mountain to 1950’s Woolworth’s 5 & 10 and The First Christmas. Delight the kids with a trip to Dutch Wonderland in nearby Lancaster. This exciting amusement park transforms into Dutch Winter Wonderland from late November until the end of December. Enjoy rides, food, games, and the Royal Light Show.
Visit the Steel City in western Pennsylvania for a healthy dose of urban holiday fun. In mid-November, Pittsburgh kicks off the holiday season with its annual Comcast Light Up Night Celebration, which includes music, decorations, activities, fireworks, and the opening of the Christkindlmarkt in Market Square. Take a horse-drawn carriage tour of the downtown area to marvel at the stunning decorations, go skating at MassMutual Ice Rink, or see a performance of “The Nutcracker” at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Spend a day at Kennywood, Pittsburgh’s well-known amusement park, to see more than 2 million twinkling lights, ride the Gingerbread Express, and enjoy a visit with Santa.
Where better to spend your Christmas than The Sweetest Place on Earth? Hershey, also known as “Chocolatetown, USA,” offers Hersheypark as its most popular attraction. From early November until the end of December, the park becomes Hersheypark Christmas Candylane, which features over 4 million lights, real-life reindeer, and more than 50 rides. Load up the car to spend an evening driving through the Hershey Sweet Lights, comprised of 600 lighted and animated displays. Enjoy Story Time With Mrs. Claus at Hershey Gardens, catch the Hershey Symphony’s Holiday Spectacular at the Hershey Theatre, or let the kids have an indoor battle when you attend Snowball Saturday at The Hershey Story Museum.
Step back in time when you book a vacation rental in quaint Wellsboro, located in northern Pennsylvania. The small town goes all out for its Dickens of a Christmas celebration, which transforms Main Street into a page from an 1840’s novel. Gorgeous lights and wreaths adorn the street’s antique gas lights, and locals roam around in Victorian-era clothing. Craft vendors sell their wares, and there’s plenty of food. Listen to the strolling carolers while you sip your hot chocolate, or stop by the Coolidge Theater to catch a performance of “A Christmas Carol.” Stick around for the annual community tree lighting.
Situated in eastern Pennsylvania, Bernville is home to Koziar’s Christmas Village, a light display you have to see to believe. More than 1 million lights illuminate the valley and reflect off the lake to create an awe-inspiring winter scene. Walk the paths to see all the lights, and stop by the country bakery to take some sweets back to your vacation rental. Do some shopping in the gifts barns, take peek inside Santa’s workshop, and meet the big guy himself. The Village opens in early November and doesn’t close until January 1.
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