Virginia isn’t just for lovers — it’s also for festive families looking to create new holiday traditions. Average December temperatures in Virginia reach the 40s and 50s, so it’s not too cold to enjoy a stroll through Busch Gardens’ sparkling Christmas Town. When the temperature dips into the 30s, you can view Doswell’s Illuminate Light Show right from your car. By staying at a Virginia vacation rental, you can easily and conveniently enjoy incredible Christmas lights, as well as other family-friendly holiday activities. Take a look at the top festive destinations in Virginia.
Busch Gardens in Williamsburg pulls out all the stops for the holiday season, transforming the entire park into Christmas Town, which is dripping with more than 8 million lights and earns the title as the largest Christmas light display in North America. Most of the rides remain open throughout the holiday, so hop aboard Skyride for an enchanting view of the twinkling lights that adorn the 383-acre park. Have dinner at one of the restaurants in the park. Try Dickens’ Tavern for classic American fare, or head to Dasher’s Diner, where you can take photos with Rudolph and his friends. Pick up a few gifts at the specialty shops throughout the park, and be sure to check the show schedule so you can catch a fun and festive performance during your visit. Don’t miss the light show, which takes place near the park’s 50-foot-tall Christmas tree. If you need to warm up while in the park, stop by Grogan’s Pub for hot toddies, or sip hot cocoa from Annie’s Cafe.
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2. Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach is a popular vacation destination for summer, but a vacation rental here in December puts you in close proximity to the Holiday Lights at the Beach event, which begins on Thanksgiving Day and runs until New Year’s Eve. More than 50 light displays line the boardwalk, known as the Merry Mile at Christmastime. Enter from 2nd Street so you don’t miss anything. From whales and dolphins to treasure chests filled with gold, many of the light displays feature a nautical theme. If you’re coming to Virginia Beach in early December, don’t miss the holiday parade along Atlantic Avenue.
Virginia Beach’s Christmas Market is hosted by the Virginia Beach Convention Center, offering paintings, handmade jewelry, fine photography, and more, so you can catch up on your shopping. Take the kids to the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center for the Sailing With Santa event, which includes a 45-minute cruise with the man in red.
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Experience the unimaginable beauty of the Winter Walk of Lights, a family-friendly event hosted by the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna. This half-mile trail of lights opens in mid-November, treating visitors until early January. The self-guided tour lets you explore a variety of displays, including the Fountain of Lights, Holiday Nature Walk, and Lakeside Lights. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the gorgeous lights reflecting off the lake. Do some holiday shopping in the Snowflake Shoppe, and stop by the refreshment stand for hot cocoa or cider. Pick up a s’mores kit for the kids, and roast the marshmallows by the Garden Plaza fire. Come on craft night to make a holiday decoration to brighten up your vacation home.
The Church Street Holiday Stroll is another exciting Vienna event. Santa kicks off the event with his arrival at Freeman Store and Museum before the mayor lights the town tree. Tour the historic buildings downtown, or peruse the local merchants’ shops for last-minute gift ideas.
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When the cold night air is stinging your nose, gather the whole family in the car for a trip to Doswell’s Meadow Event Park. The annual Illuminate Light Show features thousands of colorful holiday lights. Watch the kids’ eyes glow as they stare up at the 50-foot Christmas tree, and experience the thrill of driving through the 80-foot tunnel of lights. Tune your car’s radio to the right station to see the light displays dance in synchronous rhythm with the festive carols. After you see the lights, stop by Santa’s Village to get a photo with the jolly old elf himself. Be sure to snap a picture next to the life-sized snow globe, and lace up your skates for a trip around the outdoor rink.
If you’re looking to cut down a Christmas tree to bring the holiday spirit into your vacation rental, make the 20-minute trip to Milford, Virginia, to visit Whispering Pines Christmas Tree Farm.
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Experience the peace and tranquility of the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond when you explore the Dominion Festival of Lights. With over 500,000 lights, the gardens are illuminated from late November until mid-January. There are botanical and holiday-themed displays inside and outdoors, including model trains. For even more excitement, show up for the opening night celebration to watch the lights come on throughout the gardens. Make s’mores with the kids as you sip hot chocolate by the fire.
If you’re visiting in early December, don’t miss the city’s annual Christmas parade, which draws more than 100,000 spectators every year on the first Saturday of the month. Watch as the giant balloons float overhead, listen to the music from the marching bands, and wave at Santa as his float rolls down Broad Street.
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