Photo The Greenbrier / The Greenbrier's sprawling grounds get into the spirit with thousands of twinkling lights.

If the idea of heading home for the holidays this year sounds ho ho horrible, head instead to one of the many area resorts that deck their halls in holiday cheer. These twinkling wonderlands take getting into the spirit of the season to whole new levels.


Experience a country Christmas at the Opryland Hotel.

Three million twinkling lights throughout Gaylord Opryland Hotel's 9-acre indoor gardens greet guests during the annual A Country Christmas celebration, now in its 39th year.

Grammy Award winning country hitmaker Trace Adkins and a few of his closest pals deliver Christmas classics with a down-home twang in the resort's new Christmas dinner show, "The Gift of Christmas with Trace Adkins and Friends" ($39.99-$129.99, runs through Dec. 25).

Or, visit the neighboring Grand Ole Opry House's stage for "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer: The Musical" ($24.99, runs through Dec. 27).

Opryland also offers a completely different "country" take on another holiday hallmark. Unless you've spent every Christmas in a cave with the Grinch, you've probably seen "A Christmas Story." But you've never seen the movie's iconic scenes — from Ralphie's pink bunny suit to his father's prized leg lamp — come to life in the form of ice sculptures hand-carved for the occasion by 40 master artisans from Harbin, China, using 2 million pounds of ice.

While this icy wonderland is kept at a chilly 9F, Soundwaves, an attraction that integrates water and music featuring slides, lazy and rapid rivers, a splash pad and more, is kept at a comfortable 84F year-round.


Take it easy at NOLA's Roosevelt Hotel.

The lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel New Orleans features a glitzy display of birch and fir trees adorned with more than 60,000 sparkling lights each holiday season, as it has for more than 80 years.

New Orleans is a fantastic place to spend the holidays, which are nearly as decadent as the city's Mardi Gras festivities but with a family feel. The hotel hosts multiple holiday-themed events, from a Teddy Bear Tea to a sumptuous Christmas brunch in its elegant lobby.


Enjoy sugar and spice at Omni Grove Park Inn.

With its two, 36-foot fireplaces and scenic setting in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville's Omni Grove Park Inn is the perfect place for a cozy mountain getaway for the holidays.

Home of the National Gingerbread House Competition — the largest contest of its kind in the country — the renowned resort does sugar and spice like nowhere else. "Everything nice" is also in abundance, from dazzling holiday décor to a lavish Christmas Day banquet.

Speaking of dazzling decor, the nearby Biltmore Estate does Christmas on an epic scale. That, combined with the Downton Abbey exhibit that runs until April 7, is reason enough to make Asheville your holiday destination.

Featuring interactive elements focused on the characters as well as period fashions and events, the cost to view the exhibit is included with the price of a self-guided Candlelight Christmas Evenings tour ($75-$79).

The mansion is stunning during the daytime, but it's substantially more impressive when lit by candlelight — particularly when ensconced in the festive atmosphere that can only be achieved with live Christmas music. Imagine yourself among George Vanderbilt's guests on Christmas Eve 1895, when he opened Biltmore House to friends and family for the first time. 

The Downton exhibit is also included with the cost of a regular daytime tour ticket, should you miss the candlelight tour's run ending Jan. 4.


Participate in time-honored traditions at The Greenbrier.

Since opening in 1778, this landmark hotel has been a holiday destination that many make an annual tradition.

While West Virginia may not be the first place that comes to mind when it comes to festive locales, this historic resort celebrates "60 Days of Holiday Cheer" through Jan. 4 with formal festivities like the annual Gingerbread Ball and elaborate décor that rivals any you'd find in NYC. And you don't have to visit on Christmas Eve to witness the arrival of Santa's sleigh.

Ole St. Nick takes a jolly jaunt to the front lawn every Saturday from Thanksgiving to Christmas to light the tree and set the thousands of lights dotting the 11,000-acre resort aglow.