‘Tis the season for hotels to deck their halls! Many hotels and resorts go all out for the holidays, decorating with lights and trees and providing visits from and meals with Santa Claus. Here are 10 of our favorite places to get into the holiday spirit.

Written by Lissa Poirot
The Omni Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa is celebrating the 21st anniversary of its renowned National Gingerbread House Competition, showcasing the country's most artistic sugar-and-spice creations. Between Nov. 20, 2013 and January 2, 2014, little ones will have a tough time keeping their fingers to themselves as the mountain resort's halls are overrun with holiday-inspired gingerbread themes, set amongst 80 decorated trees and a giant sleigh. Guests of the resort can view the displays daily, while visitors can see them Sunday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is free, but a $10 parking fee (per car) applies.

Read our review of The Omni Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa.

Head to Music City's Gaylord Opryland Hotel, where you'll witness a Country Christmas like no other. This year's event takes place Nov. 15, 2013 through Jan. 1, 2014, and delivers holiday icons, such as The Rockettes in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. ICE!, a returning attraction with more than two million pounds of carved ice, will take on a "Frosty the Snowman" theme this year. In the Christmassy Dreamworks Experience, kids will meet Shrek, Princess Fiona and the gang for a ShrekFeast (held Nov. 16 through Dec. 30.) and gingerbread decorating with Gingy.

Additionally, Opryland features more than two million twinkling lights, unique decorations and horse-drawn carriage rides. It's also offering several Christmas vacation packages, such as A Country Christmas, which features accommodations and tickets to several shows and attractions, including: ICE!, the Radio City Music Spectacular, Lorrie Morgan's Enchanted Christmas Dinner and Show, Holly Jolly Town Square, Treasures for the Holidays and the Grand Ole Opry (must stay three nights for Grand Ole Opry tickets). A luncheon aboard the General Jackson Showboat is also included.

Read our review of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel.

Centrally located in Union Square, The Westin St. Francis overlooks San Francisco's holiday ice rink and Christmas tree, however, it's what's inside the hotel that brings the onlookers: a gigantic sugar castle. The concept began in 2005, and has since become a San Francisco tradition, as pastry chefs create bigger and more elaborate holiday sugar castles every year.

This year's castle will be on display from Nov. 27, 2013 through Jan. 3, 2014. And in March, 2014, the castle will return to include the century's top newsmakers throughout, all in celebration of the hotel's 110th anniversary. You'll be able to spot small replicas of famous politicians, celebrities and athletes!

For the winter holidays, The Westin St. Francis will be decked out with garlands, trees and lights, and those staying in Executive Suites will also find Christmas trees in their rooms. The hotel's Glide into the Holidays Package, starting at $229 per night, includes admission for two to the Union Square ice rink, as well as skate rentals. Request a Union Square Tree View Room, from $239 per night, for views of the city's Christmas tree.

Read our review of the Westin St. Francis.

The Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans remains a personal favorite, as it is the first hotel my newborn daughter visited during a holiday trip. The Roosevelt's lobby is filled with white birch trees and fir trees climbing to the ceiling, and is bedecked in thousands of white lights. Named after President Theodore Roosevelt, who inspired the name, "Teddy Bear," The Roosevelt also features teddy bears in its seasonal fun. Special Teddy Bear Teas occur over December weekends, serving up tea and hot chocolate. The tea includes a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, and kids receive teddy bears upon check-in.

Read our review of The Roosevelt Hotel.

Christmas arrives early at the fairytale-like Fairmont Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City, starting with festive decor and promotions in early November. In December, it offers Christmas Eve and Christmas packages, complete with lavish accommodations, complimentary champagne, a six-course dinner (best for families with older children), buffet breakfast and access to the indoor swimming pool. Holiday-themed events, such as visits from Santa Claus, add to the fun.

Read our review of the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac.

Just getting to the Lake Lanier Islands Resort near Atlanta will be a treat when driving through the seven-mile Magical Nights of Lights extravaganza, where leaping reindeer, Santa's elves, candy canes, characters and holiday scenes are on display. Now in its 21st year, the resort has welcomed visitors to take in the twinkling light driving tour, which ends at the Holiday Village, where Santa awaits for photos. The village also features a bonfire for roasting marshmallows, pony rides and a petting zoo, an ice-skating rink, carnival rides and games and a holiday store. The Magical Lights of Nights display will be presented Nov. 16 through Dec. 31, 2013, starting at 5 p.m. nightly.

Read our review of the Lake Lanier Islands Resort.

As guests pull up to Mirror Lake Inn, located in Lake Placid, N.Y., they're greeted by a winter wonderland, complete with 70 lit trees and 300,000 twinkling lights. Inside, more Christmas trees -- including one made entirely of poinsettias -- are found, and real Christmas trees are placed in guestrooms (upon request).

Mirror Lake Inn also uses its picturesque location to provide holiday fun outside. Skate on the frozen Mirror Lake and receive free hot chocolate at its cafe, enjoy a winter bonfire with marshmallows, ride the Toboggan Chute or a horse-drawn sleigh ride, receive a visit from Santa with milk and cookies and turndown services, and take part in the town's Holiday Village Stroll, December 6 to 8, 2013.

The inn features a Holiday Village Stroll Package that includes accommodations for a family of four, breakfast, $50 in holiday shopping dollars, holiday story time, crafts and breakfast with Santa. Rates start at $470 per night.

Read our review of the Mirror Lake Inn.

Not to be outdone by its southern sister, the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Washington D.C. is offering a Christmas on the Potomac event, which features two million dazzling lights, an indoor snowfall and dancing fountains. It also has an ICE! exhibit, and this year's theme is "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." Christmas in New York, an interactive ice display, practically transports you to the Big Apple with familiar sights and sounds. If that's not enough, there's also the opportunity to enjoy some delicious dining experiences. The event takes place November 15, 2013 to January 5, 2014, and the hotel conveniently offers a Christmas on the Potomac Package. It includes one night of accommodations, tickets to ICE! and a $100 resort credit. Read our review of the Gaylord National Resort.

You didn't think Disney would ignore the holiday season, did you? Not only does Disney World become even more magical during the holidays (think snow falling on Main Street!), but the Disney World Resorts also get a holiday transformation. One of the best is the Grand Floridian, where a life-sized gingerbread house greets guests in the lobby. The house is so large that it features a bakery selling all things gingerbread. While in Disney, make your way to the Magic Kingdom for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, which takes place nightly, Nov. 8 through Dec. 20, 2013. The party includes holiday fireworks, meet-and-greet opportunities, a parade with Santa, and complimentary cookies and hot cocoa.

Read our review of the Grand Floridian.

Even if you decide to hit the tropics during the holiday season, the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani in Oahu will get you in the spirit with its annual Santa's German Gingerbread Village. From November 23, 2012 through January 2, 2013, the hotel lobby is transformed into a village of sweet treats, with an Alpine village standing 24 feet wide and 14 and a half feet high. The hotel's chefs use more than 190 pounds of chocolate, 200 gallons of icing and 70 sheets of gingerbread to create the masterful cookie town.

Read our review of the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani.

1 of 12

10 Magical Hotels for the Holiday Season
The Omni Grove Park Inn Reviews
Be the first to write a The Omni Grove Park Inn review!
Gaylord Opryland Resort Reviews
jabald - May 1st, 2013

We stayed at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel for the first time in February 2013. We decided to make the stop on our way to Atlanta for a family wedding. The hotel was absolutely stunning. It exceeded our expectations in every way. While the ... read more
Gaylord Opryland Resort reviews
The Westin St. Francis Reviews
Be the first to write a The Westin St. Francis review!
The Roosevelt New Orleans Reviews
Be the first to write a The Roosevelt New Orleans review!
Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac Reviews
mari - Jul 30th, 2009

We loved staying here! We arrived in the middle of the night and our reservations for a mid level room with a river view were gone so they upgraded us to a corner suite with a turret with a river view. My little girl who was 4 thought she was a ... read more
Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac reviews
Lake Lanier Islands Resort Reviews
Tmilestone - Jun 11th, 2014

Our room was outdated, the carpet looked like it was from a 70s show, the meals at both windows and bullfrogs were ok but they were ridiculously expensive. The waterpark if you can call it that was a disappointment small, overcrowded and way ... read more
torq - Oct 13th, 2013

I've always loved the water park here. So when my brother-in-law scheduled his wedding at Lake Lanier Islands, I was happy to book lodging within the park. We stayed in a lake house cabin at the wedding discount of $355/night (roughly half the ... read more
Lake Lanier Islands Resort reviews
Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa Reviews
Be the first to write a Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa review!
Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center Reviews
Quinn - Apr 13th, 2014

This hotel is fabulous for families. The location is great and the hotel is well kept. It is right on the river too. When I was there they had a Fourth of July celebration with fireworks and a movie. Teens would like the shopping since it is in ... read more
mrsharvin1 - Apr 8th, 2014

ok I have longed to stay at this hotel and my husband was sweet enough to book a weekend 04/2014-its breathtaking but overwhelming at the same time- the room service person was rather curt and was stingy with the towels and lotion replenishment-the ... read more
Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center reviews
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Reviews
Blessed2beaMom - May 30th, 2014

I would like share our family's experience at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort. Disney is known as a magical place for all ages, but I have to say my experience was above and beyond anything I expected. Shortly after arriving at the resort I went to ... read more
Txtraveler - May 13th, 2014

Stayed last year at the Grand Floridian. Plenty of dining options, with some great on site restaurants. Location on the monorail is a huge plus. My daughter loved the lobby, with the band playing and the inlays of Disney characters on the floor. We ... read more
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa reviews
Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Reviews
jenilyn - Feb 20th, 2013

This hotel has the greatest location! Shopping is right out the door, back and front! More shopping on the sides! But the rooms are very small and outdated. The wheelchair-accessible room we reserved was accessible, except that a minor ... read more
Sheraton Princess Kaiulani reviews


  •  
    FREE Family Travel Newsletter
  • Family Travel Tips   (6 New)

    Family Planning and Tips

    • Carnival Miracle Travel Tips
      OverviewCabinsDiningActivitiesTravel Tips All About the Extras Sail & Sign Card Carnival ships feature Sail & Sign cards, which make life so much easier. All you do is link a debit card or credit card to your Sail & Sign Card at Guest Relations or a kiosk on the ship. You'll then use your Sai...
    • Carnival Miracle
      OverviewCabinsDiningActivitiesTravel Tips One of four Spirit class ships, Carnival Miracle made its magical debut in 2004. While it's certainly not Carnival's grandest ship, it's definitely something of a "miracle" for families, who find an ample amount of amenities and activities on board. Amid ...
    • 10 Best Orlando Resorts for Families
      So many hotels and resorts to choose from! Which ones really are the best for families in terms of theme-park access, amenities, and accommodations? Here are our favorites in the Orlando area! 1. Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creak Maybe it is the Hilton's water park with two zero-entry pools, a 3-acre ...
    • Skip This: Do That!
      Deciding where to go for your next family vacation? Often it's the most popular destinations -- from mega theme parks to world-famous beach towns -- that come to mind first. It's tempting to pick a familiar place and just go with what you know, but do this and you could be missing out on some fantas...
    • Disney Wonder Alaskan Cruise
      Join us onboard Disney Wonder's first exploration into Alaskan waters and ports as Family Vacation Critic Editor Lissa Poirot and her two tots take you on a tour. Be the first to see a sample of Disney's Alaskan Port Adventures, as well as glimpse the Disney Wonder's onboard fun, in our first-ever d...
    • Family Volunteer Vacations
      Away from the hectic pace of our everyday lives, any vacation is a chance for families to reconnect. There's no soccer game, no piano recital, no working late, so finally you have that precious day together. Yet, if you really want a meaningful break from your usual schedule, one that might change t...
  • Twitter
  • Facebook