As the weather cools and every street corner gets dressed in holiday best, the excitement of celebrating the season takes hold. Why not see your favorite traditions in a whole new light when they’re set against the backdrop of a seaside town? Find your white Christmas on the sands of Galveston, Texas, or jet off to chilly Ogunquit, Maine, a beachside town that combines holiday tradition with coastal charm.
By Plane: Ogunquit, Maine
What to Do
Inspired by the picturesque beauty, Native Americans named this New England town on the rocky coast of Maine Ogunquit, meaning “beautiful place by the sea.” That distinction is even more fitting as snow cloaks the coastline in icy white and the town transforms to present the magical Christmas by the Sea Celebration. This annual celebration lights up the seaside town during the first two weekends of December, providing family activities full of holiday cheer. Families will enjoy a rousing scavenger hunt that leads them through town to Santa’s village, where they can leave a wish list with Mrs. Claus and see the elves hard at work. Join the outdoor ice-skating party at the pond and then warm up with a holiday tea. The Chowderfest and Chocolatefest allow local chefs to flaunt their best dishes, presenting delicious samples to shoppers. Activities galore include hayrides, parades, caroling and a live manger scene. At the end of the day, head to Ogunquit Beach for a roaring bonfire by the sea.
Where to Lay Your Head
If you want to be at the heart of the holiday action, you’ll want to make Meadowmere Resort your home away from home. Conveniently located on the trolley route and within walking distance of the beach, Meadowmere situates you just minutes away from all of the fun in town. Families will find comfort in the two bedroom suites, and kids will enjoy a game of pinball or pool in the game room and then settle in for a nightly G-rated movie in the stadium-seating movie theater. When it’s time to relax, the whole family can indulge in the onsite Roman spa or take part in holiday-themed activities throughout the day.
Where to Eat
As you stroll down the streets of Ogunquit, it’s almost impossible to believe that you’re only 70 miles north of Boston. There isn’t a fast-food joint or chain restaurant in sight, but instead you’ll find rows of family-owned eateries serving up impossibly fresh seafood and friendly hospitality. You can’t leave Maine without having a lobster (or two), and Jonathan’s Restaurant is the perfect place for an authentic lobster dinner in a casual family atmosphere. As you wait for dinner to arrive, you can take turns spotting the colorful fish that dart through the 600-gallon saltwater tank at the center of the restaurant.
By Car: Galveston Island, Texas
What to Do
Galveston is famous for summer fun, but as the holidays roll around it’s known for its two-month celebration of more than 1,000 holiday events. The island has long been renowned for its Dickens on the Strand celebration, where you’ll be swept away to celebrate the holidays in Victorian England with costumed Dickens characters and roving street performers. New this year, visitors can enjoy Lasers, Lights and Magic as historic downtown is transformed into a holiday spectacle. In addition to the nightly laser and light show, families will enjoy photos with Santa and carolers roaming the streets. Be sure not to miss Moody Gardens’ Festival of Lights, where you can stroll along pathways lit with more than 100 holiday scenes, take a snowy ride down the tubing hill and skate on the only outdoor ice rink in the area.
Where to Lay Your Head
Nestled among the 242 lush tropical acres of Moody Gardens, Moody Gardens Hotel, Spa and Convention Center is the perfect getaway that still keeps you right in the center of the holiday action. Families will enjoy visiting the onsite Aquarium, Rainforest and Discovery Pyramids or just relaxing in the Texas-sized pool. Kids will enjoy the amenities designed for them, including the complimentary Kids Crew Club that programs hours of nonstop entertainment and the fun pack at check-in. At the end of the day, little ones will be thrilled to crawl into their beds with a special holiday turndown service, complete with a treat-filled stocking on their pillow.
Where to Eat
With a menu featuring hamburgers, salads, and seafood, The Spot has something to satisfy every palette and is located on the beachfront to top it off. While the kids play in the arcade, Mom and Dad can soak in the views of the Gulf of Mexico or check out the game on one of the 30 big-screen TVs. After dinner, everyone deserves a trip to the “Ice Cream Spot,” which features sundaes, milkshakes and banana splits.