There's no unwritten rule that says the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons have to be stressful. This year, skip the family gatherings, put aside the potlucks, and spend the holidays being pampered instead. Let someone else take care of the cooking while you sit back and savor a glass of mulled wine. Whether it's a little pre-Christmas R&R you're after or snowshoeing followed by a cozy sleigh ride for two, these seven great spots offer a wonderful range of holiday getaways combining fabulously festive outdoor settings with B&Bs that fully immerse themselves in the spirit of the season — giving even the biggest Scrooge something to smile about.
Phineas Swann B&B, Montgomery Center, Vermont
According to innkeeper Darren Drevik, Phineas Swann Bed and Breakfast Inn has “all the décor and decorations you'd expect from an 1880s Victorian mansion,” not to mention its own northern Vermont winter wonderland locale — with opportunities for dog-sledding, snowshoeing, and both downhill and cross-country skiing. Each of the inn's nine guestrooms and suites — spread among three distinct structures — boasts a holiday tree, though guests tend to gather around the B&B’s classically adorned main tree for socializing. There's also a “doggie tree” for pooches. Christmas morning breakfast consists of the inn's sideboard and hot country selections, along with a traditional holiday ham. Guests then have the option of enjoying a giant Christmas buffet dinner (which you can work off on the slopes after) at neighboring Jay Peak ski resort.
Amelia Island Williams House, Amelia Island, Florida
Though best known for its sandy beaches and luxury resorts, Amelia Island — a barrier island off of Florida's northern Atlantic Coast — is also a holiday hotspot, with everything from a Victorian-inspired Dickens Festival (December 8–10) to a holiday tour of decorated homes (December 1–2). Tucked away on a quiet street in Fernandina Beach — the island's Victorian-era seaport — the luxurious 11-guestroom Williams House participates in the season as well, with overnight packages for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Each package includes an overnight stay (number of nights vary) in one of this designated Historical Landmark's three stand-alone buildings, (which include an an 1856 Antebellum Mansion and a cozier, more modern carriage house), a horse-drawn carriage tour of Fernandina Beach's historic downtown, and a dinner reservation at David's Restaurant, a fine-dining eatery serving up dishes like truffle scallops and filet mignon. Williams House also participates in the annual Annual Amelia Island Bed and Breakfast Holiday Cookie Tour (December 9), an afternoon self-guided tour of six classic inns and B&Bs, each sporting its holiday best and serving up its own signature cookie.
Kings Courtyard Inn, Charleston, South Carolina
The 17th-century port city of Charleston, SC, is a travelers’ favorite any time of year. Still, this hub of gourmet dining and historic architecture especially comes alive during the winter holidays, when visitors can tour some of the city's most iconic residences all decked out for the season and embark on holiday-themed walking tours through its storied Historic District. Get in on the festivities with a stay at the Kings Courtyard Inn, a spacious Historic Hotel of America built in 1853 and featuring 41 individually styles guestrooms — some with wide plank wooden floors, others with canopied beds. From November 23 through December 23, the inn offers its Progressive Dinner Package, a one-night stay that comes with an evening of holiday finery. It starts with hors d'oeuvres and mulled cider in the B&B's Pineapple Courtyard, followed by a carriage ride to Charleston's Circa 1886 Restaurant, where you'll enjoy a three-course meal with choices like Berkshire pork chop and dill lacquered salmon. The evening caps off with coffee and dessert at the city's historic John Rutledge House, complete with a Christmas gift: a Southern cookbook to remind you of your holiday stay.
The Inn at Round Barn Farm, Waitsfield, Vermont
If it's holiday romance you're after, there's no better place than central Vermont's Inn at Round Barn Farm. The restored farmhouse and barn — one of the state's last round barns still standing — sit on 245 natural acres in the heart of Mad River Valley, a somewhat isolated area known for its wide-open meadows and mountain views. Whether it's cross country skiing along well-groomed trails, snowshoeing among fragrant pines, or alpine skiing at one of New England's largest ski resorts (Sugarbush Resort is just a 15-minute drive away), you'll find what you're looking for here. The inn itself is warm and inviting, with 12 stylish guestrooms — some with their own gas woodstoves, others with a whirlpool tub and skylights for stargazing. Book the inn's Country Christmas package for the ultimate holiday getaway. Along with a delicious farm-to-table breakfast, the three-night stay comes with a cookie decorating class, hors d'oeuvres by the library fireplace, and a cozy sleigh ride for two.
The Mason Inn, Cape May, New Jersey
"America's First Seaside Resort" is also one of its best places to celebrate the winter holidays , a Victorian village dressed up in green garlands, sparkling lights, and ample holiday-themed activities, including trolley rides, wine dinners, and house tours. For full holiday immersion, make the city's Mason Inn your base. The 2016 "Best Overall" winner of Light Up Cape May's Christmas lights competition, this late 19th-century Victorian is also only a two-block walk from the beach and right in the center of Cape May's historic downtown — its hub of holiday festivities. "We highlight our exterior's colorful gingerbread trim with warm white lights," says owner Kim Gilbert, "and decorate two trees: one in our parlor and the other in our dining room." The 9-guestroom B&B also takes part in Cape May's "Candlelight House Tours," run by the city's Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts, on December 2 and 9. Something to make your holiday stay even sweeter: Winter falls within the inn's Chocolate Decadence Tea Time, six months of cocoa-themed afternoon offerings like hand-dipped chocolate strawberries, delicious brownies, and decadent teas such as Chocolate Mint Oolong and Chocolate Hazelnut (through March 30).
Old Rittenhouse Inn, Bayfield, Wisconsin
With its shimmering holiday lights shining out onto the waters of Lake Superior, and everything from ice skating to ice fishing nearby, Bayfield Wisconsin makes a lovely Christmas getaway. While here, join in a decades-old holiday tradition at Old Rittenhouse Inn, an elegant 1890s Queen Anne Victorian that's been hosting its all-ages Wassail Dinner Concerts each December for more than 35 years. The inn's Rittenhouse Singers and a group of local musicians perform holiday choral music throughout its public Landmark Restaurant and within its halls, bringing the season to life while guests enjoy either a three-course lunch or five-course dinner. There are strolling minstrels, a Grand Processional and caroling, and the Presentation of the Boar's Head —a Tudor tradition — while the inn itself is awash in ribbons, pine boughs, and a 16-foot-tall Christmas tree adorned with hundreds of ornaments. Along with Wassail Concert and Lodging Packages, Old Rittenhouse also offers a two-night Thanksgiving and Dining Package (November 22–24) that includes dinner (seatings throughout the day) at its public Landmark Restaurant, a casually elegant eatery specializing in gourmet French-inspired cuisine.
Inn on the Paseo, Santa Fe, New Mexico
New Mexico may seem like an unusual spot to spend the winter holidays, but Santa Fe fully embraces the Christmas season — there's even a chance for snow. The city's entire community gathers for events like Christmas at the Palace (December 8), a traditional evening of hot cider and candy-filled piñatas that culminates with a visit from Santa, and Christmas Eve's beloved Farolito Walk, a stroll among the illuminated farolitos or paper-bag lanterns that line Canyon Road, with caroling and bonfires aplenty. The family-owned Inn on the Paseo is just three blocks from Santa's Fe Plaza, which spends the entire holidays season strung in sparkling lights and is home to some of the season's biggest happenings, including Las Posadas (December 10), the journey of Mary and Joseph reenacted. After joining in the festivities, bed down in one of the inn's 18 guestrooms, each with a different theme. Southwestern colors adorn rooms like the sunny Desert Flowers Room and the Petroglyphs Room, complete with private entrance, making for a one-of-a-kind holiday stay.
By Laura Kiniry