Magical Christmas Towns to Visit in America

Whether your highly-anticipated summer vacation is a couple weeks away or already in the rearview mirror, you’ve probably already started planning your next getaway. If you’re looking for a break from the same old Christmas gathering, consider packing up the family and heading to one of these magical Christmas towns.

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Durango, Colorado
This small Rocky Mountain mining town knows how to do Christmas right. Its main attraction is the Durango Polar Express, which recreates the classic Christmas tale. Families can take a ride on the Silverton Railroad at night through snowy winter settings. Hot cocoa and cookies are served while the story is read, ending as the train arrives at the “North Pole” where Santa Claus awaits. During the day, the steam engine also goes on Christmas tree trips where passengers can cut down their own tree and haul it back to the train station.

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Santa Claus, Indiana
Originally called Santa Fe, this tiny southern Indiana town was forced to change its name during the middle of the nineteenth century, choosing to adopt the name Santa Claus. It didn’t take too long for a load of letters to start arriving from hopeful kids trying to send their lists to Santa. Instead of changing its name again, the town started responding to the letters, and has written back to every child for over a century. The town might not be a Christmas destination, but if your kid wants to write a letter to Santa, you’re guaranteed a response.

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Park City, Utah
Utah is home to some of the most festive Christmas towns in America. One of the most visually stunning is Park City. Nestled southeast of Salt Lake City in the Wasatch Back of the Rocky Mountains, the old mining town is known for being one of the main locations for the Sundance Film Festival. But during the Christmas season, covered in snow, surrounded by ski resorts and illuminated with white lights, it looks like a classic Christmas portrait. There’s even a life-sized gingerbread house made out of thousands of sugary cookies.

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New Orleans, Louisiana
With all the commercialization that goes on during the holidays, it can be rare to find a city-wide Christmas celebration that’s structured around the true meaning of the holiday. New Orleans may be known for Mardi Gras, but it’s also home to one of the largest Christmas carol gatherings in the United States. Thousands of people come together dressed in Santa hats and holiday garb to sing Christmas carols by candlelight. The backdrop of the brightly lit St. Louis Cathedral helps set the scene, which gets bigger and bigger ever year.

Does your city, town or village celebrate Christmas in a big way? Have you visited one of these destinations or have one of your own to share? Comment below with your favorite places to celebrate the holidays!

5 Interactive Children’s Museums from Around the Country

Parents know the difficulty of keeping kids entertained in the summer. It’s hard enough to find a few activities to do, let alone provide them with exciting new opportunities to learn while school isn’t in session. Vacations are great for relaxing, having fun and introducing kids to fresh experiences, but as long as you’re in a certain part of the country, why not combine fun, fresh experiences with inspiring, interactive lessons? Here’s five of our favorite interactive children’s museums from around the country to keep kids learning while school’s out.

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Boston Children’s MuseumBoston
One of the oldest and largest children’s museums in the world, the Boston Children’s Museum is focused on providing hands-on exhibits to spark imaginations and inspire creativity. It focuses on a variety of areas, like science and the arts, but also places a heavy emphasis on the power of play and stimulating brains through the process of self-discovery. And it’s also located in one of America’s most historic academic communities.

Discovery Place, Charlotte
A trip down the Atlantic coastline leads us to Charlotte, North Carolina, where science and technology meet to form one of the best educational experiences in the country. The main facility isn’t as hands-on as others, but there is a Discovery Place KIDS for families looking to get their kids involved in fun, interactive activities. It also has a unique IMAX® Theatre that takes you into the heart of space journeys and earthly adventures.

Museum of Science and IndustryChicago
If you’re kid is getting a little old for some of the hands-on activities at children’s museums, it’s might be time to move them up to an adult museum. Some museums aren’t designed to capture the imagination of young kids, but the Museum of Science and Industry satisfies any age. It’s a great family destination, and with more than 400,000 square feet of exhibits, it’s bound to have something even the most stubborn kids will enjoy.

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Children’s Museum of DenverDenver
One of the top museums for kids when it comes to the interactive fun factor, it has come a long way since the early days sharing scientific mysteries from a simple bus. Now with a wide variety of permanent exhibits that combine state-of-the-art facilities and hands-on experiences, it helps children learn by allowing them to step into the shoes of physicists, agriculturalists, artists, physicians, dentists, chefs, zoologists and so much more.

Exploratorium, San Francisco
Much like the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, the Exploratorium’s mission is tailored to speak to people of all ages and from all walks of life. Branded as a “public learning laboratory,” the museum allows kids and adults to become explorers with hundreds of exhibits that encourage curiosity and inquiry. The hub for scientists and artists alike, it provides educational activities for kids on just about every topic imaginable.

Road Trip Checklist for a Smooth Ride

Summer is the perfect time to jump in the car, get on the open road and set out for a brand new destination. A road trip allows you to see some of the sights, listen to music and enjoy time with your family, friends and anyone else you might meet along the way. Although it’s pretty tempting to pile into the car and speed to the nearest exit, a little planning can prevent big headaches down the road. Check out our road trip checklist to help plan your trip, pack your bags, stay organized on the road and boost your energy on longer drives.

Plan your road trip. Pack with a purpose.

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Hit the open road with Drives of a Lifetime Book. For over a century, National Geographic has been the best resource for savvy travelers. Inside you’ll find incredible routes through amazing landscapes, whatever your taste and budget. The roomy Monogram Burlap Tote is the perfect blend of coy and confident. Marked with your initials, its unique, boxy shape is fashionable and functional. Feel comfy in the car and beautiful on the beach wearing a Women’s and Women’s Plus Crochet and Ruffle Cover-Up. The casual summer cover-up is accented with crochet detailing on the bodice. Its fashionable, ruffled hem extends up the center of the cotton cover-up. The stylish front design is 16″ shorter.

Organize the backseat. Entertain the kids.

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Keep everything your child needs close at hand during a road trip with this Whimsical Headrest Organizer Bag. Featuring a colorful animal image, it hangs from the headrest into the back seat and holds drinks, snacks, books or toys. On-the-Go Car Seat Tray makes long trips a lot more fun for small children and easier on you. The large tray has a wall bordering three edges to prevent dropped toys, bottles and snacks. It attaches to car seats using an adjustable strap. The Magnetic Play Scene Book gets kids involved in the story with movable pieces. It’s easy to read and has magnets for many of the characters and objects that appear in the story. It has 20 magnets that will help bring the story to life.

Recharge your smartphone. Refuel for energy.

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Charge your electronics on your road trip with this Triple USB Car Charger. Just plug it into your vehicle’s 12V outlet and charge 3 devices at the same time. Two of the ports charge all types of cell phones. The third port can also charge a tablet. A 3-ft. cord makes it easy to charge from the backseat. Refrigerate in your car with the Collapsible Rolling Cooler. The cooler is fully lined and insulated to keep food and drinks cold. It has a full zip cover for easy access. Has a sliding handle and wheels for rolling between destinations. Keep hydrated while you’re out and about with a Licensed Water Bottle. It features your favorite animated characters. Has a screw-on lid with a sip tip that folds in the top to stop spills. 20 oz.

4 American Road Trip Routes for Summer Vacation

One of the best features of the long road trip is getting to see the sights. Planes fly over everything and leave you squinting through clouds at patchy colors and little dots, but getting behind the wheel turns that tiny port window into panoramic viewing paradise, allowing you to see the wonderful sights and intricate landscapes in the most beautiful areas of the country. Take a detour and explore 4 awesome American road trip routes.

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Great River Road, Minnesota to Louisiana
The Mississippi River is like America’s spine, winding from Lake Itasca in Minnesota until it empties into the Gulf of Mexico at the tip of Louisiana. The Great River Road isn’t just one single road. It’s a big collection of roads, clearly marked, that allows you to travel along the Mississippi for nearly 3,000 miles and through ten different states. Get to know the heart of America just by driving south along America’s most famous river.

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Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park, Montana
June and July are the perfect months of the year to explore every single part of this beautiful road in one of America’s stunning National Parks. At 50 miles, it won’t take you more than an afternoon to see everything the road has to offer, but it promises some of the best views you’ll ever see in that short period of time. With picnic areas, campgrounds and outdoor activities, it’s a nice place to stop if you’re trekking to the northwest.

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Seven Mile Bridge, Florida Keys
It wasn’t CGI. This scenic bridge has been featured in many movies and continues to draw tourists who just want to take a drive over the ocean. One of the longest bridges in the entire world, it stretches across seven miles of the Florida Keys, offering endlessly blue-hued views of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. Most tourists view the road as a dangerous thrill-ride, but it’s actually very safe. Time your drive to catch a sunset.

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Pacific Coast Highway, Washington State to California
No summer road trip is complete without a drive along the coast. The Pacific Coast does not disappoint. It’s interstate route allows you to ride from the top of the country all the way down to the bottom, from the Pacific Northwest all the way to sunny Los Angeles. Most drivers claim California Highway 1 is the can’t-miss road on the map, taking you through giant redwood tree forests, San Francisco and plenty of beautiful beaches.

Before you think about setting off on your road trip adventure, make sure you’ve got all the gear you need to enjoy a flawless vacation. Shop car accessories, backseat games and so much more for your fun family trip.