- A live 35-foot-high fir tree is placed in the banquet hall of the Biltmore House every holiday season. Credit: © 2007 The Biltmore Company, all rights reserved
Sometimes living up the holidays means returning to tradition. What better places to visit than museums and historic estates? We’ve picked the best holiday destinations to experience all the charm the season has to offer.
Whether you visit by day or night, the iconic lions outside the Art Institute of Chicago will be out front to greet you. This year husband-and-wife team Stephanie and Bruce Tharp of Materious combined North American cranberry wreathes with Buddhist and Taoist wishing trees. Even better? They glow at night. Other holiday event highlights include the museum’s “Masterpiece of the Day” tour Dec. 20-31, and a new holiday tradition: six of the Thorne Miniature Rooms are decked out with all the holiday trimmings.
While you’re in the area, stop by the Evanston Art Center for its annual Winter Arts + Crafts Expo, which runs through Dec. 19. Expect handmade works by more than 100 artists in jewelry, ceramics, fiber, glass and more.
If you want to immerse yourself in all things Christmas, head to the Biltmore House in Asheville, N.C., through Jan. 2, 2011. Once there, explore the estate through a daytime or candlelight tour, or participate in cooking demonstrations and holiday decorating talks.
And if you still need to find gifts on your list, time your trip with the Asheville Art Museum’s “Big Crafty Holiday” Dec. 5, a daylong craft fair that showcases more than 100 local artists at Pack Place in downtown Asheville.
If immersing yourself in tradition means exploring the nation’s roots, head to Williamsburg, Va., and take in 80 decorated buildings, shops and guesthouses sparkling with white pine roping, wreaths, holly, magnolia, berries and fruit, true to their 18th-century beginnings. Once there, participate in “Decking the Halls: The Evolution of Holiday Decorations at Historic Sites” Dec. 16. Next, visit the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum to take in its 16-foot-high folk art Christmas tree, decorated with handmade ornaments. Finally, relax by exploring Merchants Square, home to more than 40 shops and restaurants.