Resorts Across America That Commemorate America’s Favorite Celebrations

From ice castles to fireworks on the beach: Our guide to resorts offering special vacation activities, events and packages for each holiday.

Excited Women Celebrating Outdoors with Colorful Confetti and Balloons

by NEA Member Benefits


There is something wonderful about packing your suitcase and heading to a fabulous hotel or resort to spend the holiday—any holiday! While you may think getaways like this are relegated to end-of-year celebrations such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the fact is that many resorts pull out all the stops for holidays from Thanksgiving to Easter to the Fourth of July. Here are some of our favorite places to visit for all the holidays throughout the year. You’ll find outdoor carnivals and festivities, afternoon tea and scrumptious celebratory buffets, fun parades and activities, and a chance for the kids to meet everyone from Santa and Mrs. Claus to the Easter Bunny.

Plus, you can get a discount on many of these hotels by booking through NEA Travel. Rates vary by date and room type so log in to check pricing for your preferred getaway. In addition to getting a terrific nightly rate, you’ll earn NEA Travel Dollars that you can apply to future travel costs.

Where to celebrate Christmas

1. Hotel deLuxe, Portland, Oregon

Located in the heart of Southwest Portland, this boutique hotel channeling Hollywood’s Golden Age gets totally decked out for the Christmas season. And while the hotel is cheerful all season long, the main event takes place a few weeks before, at a special brunch with Santa held at on-site restaurant Gracie’s (2019’s brunch will held Sunday, Dec. 15, and costs $70 per adult and $40 per child). Surrounded by magical décor and holiday cheer, Santa and Mrs. Claus welcome guests to the brunch, which includes a mimosa bar and hot chocolate station. Each child—and child at heart—will enjoy a one-on-one visit with Santa, get a picture taken (presented in a custom frame by one of Santa’s helpers) and receive a commemorative ornament.

Rates: Use your NEA Travel discount at this hotel or simply book afternoon tea at the on-site Gracie’s Restaurant to imbibe Hotel deLuxe’s holiday spirit in one afternoon.

Driving distances: 2 hours from Eugene, Oregon | 3.5 hours from Kennewick, Washington | 5.5 hours from Spokane, Washington | 6 hours from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Celebrations at Resorts Across America - Hope Lake Lodge, Cortland, New York  

Photo courtesy of Hotel deLuxe

2. Hope Lake Lodge, Cortland, New York

This luxurious lodge in the Finger Lakes region of Central New York has everything from an indoor water park to a spa to its own Starbucks—and it’s also right near the Greek Peak Mountain ski resort. Come the beginning of December, the lodge hosts its annual Christmas Extravaganza that won’t disappoint. The family package includes daily breakfast and Christmas dinner, as well as access to activities such as the tree lighting ceremony and visitors from the North Pole with their reindeer and sleigh rides. The 106 condominium-style suites sleep up to 10 and are equipped with full kitchens.

Rates: Rates start at $300 per night for the family package, plus an 8% resort fee. However, you can stay at the nearby Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Hampton Inn Cortland or Holiday Inn Express Cortland for less money and then buy a day pass to Hope Lake Lodge’s indoor water park.

Driving distances: 3 hours from Buffalo, New York | 3 hours and 40 minutes from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New York City | 4 hours from Hartford, Connecticut | 6 hours from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

3. Gaylord Opryland Resort, Nashville, Tennessee

The five Gaylord resorts around the country are known for going all-out for the holiday season. The Gaylord Opryland is right next to Nashville’s famous Grand Ole Opry and features more than 2,000 rooms, golf links, an indoor water park and a massive spa and fitness center. Its annual A Country Christmas includes live entertainment, holiday theme events and the Gaylord signature ICE! attraction, which is carved from 2 million pounds of ice blocks. Visitors to ICE! get to walk through a frozen wonderland of slippery things such as ice slides, ice sculptures and live carving zones. The theme for 2019 will be inspired by the classic movie A Christmas Story. Other attractions and activities include a Christmas on ice show, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical performances, tubing, ice skating, scavenger hunt, gingerbread decorating and more than 3 million lights to marvel at.

Rates: The 2019 holiday package rate starts at $219 plus tax and resort fee, including one night room accommodations and two tickets to ICE! Attraction. Note that you do not have to stay at the hotel in order to take part in the holiday fun. Visit the hotel's website to book activities such as ice skating and tubing for a per person fee.

Driving distances: 2 hours from Chattanooga, Tennessee and Huntsville, Alabama | 2 hours 45 minutes from Knoxville, Tennessee | 3 hours from Memphis, Tennessee

Celebrations at Resorts Across America - Gaylord Opryland Resort, Nashville, Tennessee  

Photo courtesy of Gaylord Opryland Resort

4. Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa, Cedar Creek, Texas

This resort just outside Austin goes all-out for the end-of-year holiday season, with decorations, breakfast with Santa, a holiday tree light show, cookie decorating, a hot cocoa bar, storytime with Mrs. Claus, family movie nights, a Christmas market with local vendors and entertainment, and an annual holiday parade complete with longhorns, alpacas, horses, potbelly pigs, goats and cows.

Rates: The average nightly rate on the hotel’s website starts at $199, but you can also book Lost Pines with your NEA Travel discount.

Driving distances: 2 hours 15 minutes from Houston, Texas | 3 hours from Corpus Christie and Dallas, Texas | 5 hours 20 minutes from Shreveport, Louisiana

Celebrations at Resorts Across America - Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa, Cedar Creek, Texas  

Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa


Look for these New Year’s extravaganzas

5. Emerald View Resorts, Panama City Beach, Florida

Emerald View Resorts encompasses multiple hotels in Panama City Beach, and four of them offer special rates in conjunction with the Panama City Beach New Year’s Eve Beach Ball Drop: Grand Panama Beach Resort, Laketown Wharf Resort, Origin Beach Resort and Shores of Panama Resort & Spa. Panama City Beach’s New Year’s Eve Beach Ball Drop, which is free and open to the public, features a countdown, fireworks and 10,000 inflatable beach balls being released from nets stretched over the streets of Pier Park. The Beach Ball Drop actually happens at 8 p.m., so it’s perfect for little ones who need to get to sleep. More entertainment and live music follows during the buildup to midnight, when a dazzling fireworks display accompanies the lowering of a giant LED-lit beach ball to signify the beginning of the new year.

Rates: Nightly rack rates start at $89 at Origin Beach Resort and go up to a base rate of $129 at Grand Panama Beach Resort. But don’t forget that you can get a discount at Emerald View Resorts by using your NEA Travel discount.

Driving distances: 2 hours 15 minutes from Tallahassee, Florida | 3 hours from Mobile, Alabama | 4 hours 30 minutes from Hattiesburg, Mississippi and Jacksonville, Florida | 5 hours from Atlanta, Georgia

Celebrations at Resorts Across America - Emerald View Resorts, Panama City Beach, Florida 

Photo courtesy of Panama City Beach CVB

6. Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino, San Juan, Puerto Rico

For an extra-special start to the new year, head south to the island of Puerto Rico and stay at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino for two thrilling party options. The Illusions New Year’s Eve Celebration features four different rooms, each with unique parties, entertainment and music. In 2018, ticket costs started from $110, with VIP options available. Or, just join the party in the lobby at the District Lounge and Sushi Bar at no additional charge.

Rates: Average nightly rack rates start at $200 but you can get an NEA member discount through NEA Travel.

Airlines that fly to San Juan: Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Frontier, JetBlue, Delta, Southwest Spirit, United

7. The Hotel Hershey, Hershey, Pennsylvania

You can’t do better than “The Sweetest Place on Earth” for your New Year’s celebration. Partake in the tasty fun with The Hotel Hershey’s New Year’s Eve Grand Dinner and Dessert Buffet (from $95 for adults and $65 for children 3–11, who get their own buffet), which also includes a magic show, music, dancing, games and other entertainment, as well as a countdown.

Rates: Room rates start at $299 per night and the celebration is available to hotel guests.

Driving distances: 1 hour and 40 minutes from Baltimore, Maryland | 2 hours from Philadelphia and Scranton, Pennsylvania | 2 hours 30 minutes from Washington, DC | 3 hours from New York City

Spring break celebrations

8. Williamsburg KOA, Williamsburg, Virginia

This 180-acre campground has everything from RV and tent sites to fully equipped cabins and everything in between. In addition to amenities such as a heated pool, splash pad, gem mining, gravity rail, climbing structures and nets, petting zoo and nature trails, all of Williamsburg’s historic sites, theme parks and museums are a short drive away. Easter weekend at Williamsburg KOA features a colorful Easter egg hunt, a meet-and-greet with the Easter Bunny and appearances from all the animal friends from the petting zoo.

Rates: Rates start at $55 for tent site and $65 for a one-room cabin without an attached bathroom.

Driving distances: 2 hours and 30 minutes from Washington, DC | 3 hours from Raleigh, North Carolina | 3 hours 40 minutes from Roanoke, Virginia | 5 hours from Charlotte, North Carolina

9. Great Wolf Lodge, Colorado Springs, Colorado

With a backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, this Great Wolf Lodge boasts a massive indoor water park, bowling alley, ropes course, arcade, mini-golf and Build-A-Bear Workshop. Spring break is a great time to visit, thanks to the lodge’s annual Spring-a-Palooza, which is included in overnight stays over spring break. Activities include arts and crafts, yoga for children, story time, a bubble dance party, a tea party and more. There are even bright and colorful spring decorations throughout the resort. If Colorado’s not on your itinerary, Spring-A-Palooza is offered at all 18 Great Wolf Lodge locations across the country.

Rates: Average nightly rates start at $149, but you can save on rates by booking via NEA Travel.

Driving distances: 1 hour and 25 minutes from Denver, Colorado | 3 hours from Cheyenne, Wyoming | 5 hours from Albuquerque, New Mexico and Casper, Wyoming

Celebrations at Resorts Across America - Great Wolf Lodge, Colorado Springs, Colorado  

Photo courtesy of Great Wolf Lodge

Enjoy Independence Day away

10. CIVANA Resort, Spa & Sanctuary, Carefree, Arizona

This luxe spa hotel just outside Scottsdale has a unique and desert-friendly alternative to fireworks on July Fourth: the Drone Show Spectacular, which features 100 custom LED-lit drones lighting up the night sky 300 feet above the ground. All overnight guests receive the VIP Viewing Experience Package, which includes unlimited daily fitness and health classes, and access to resort amenities including the state-of-the-art spa, complimentary parking and two tickets to the VIP Pool Viewing Party, which includes food and beverage.

Rates: Nightly rates start at $149, plus tax and resort fee ($30) but you can save on the rate by booking through NEA Travel.

Driving distances: 2 hours from Flagstaff, Arizona | 2 hours 11 minutes from Tucson, Arizona | 6 hours and 40 minutes from El Paso, Texas and Albuquerque, New Mexico

11. Wild Dunes Resort, Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston’s barrier island beach resort has everything from a golf course to multiple pools to a massive spa. For July Fourth, the resort has various activities: a pool party at the Swim Center, complete with carnival games, water slides, bounce houses and more (all free); a barbecue with live music ($40 for adults, $15 for children, $23 for drinks package); and, of course, the Isle of Palm’s fireworks show, which can be seen from the resort’s Grand Pavilion or on the beach at no extra charge.

Rates: Average nightly rates start at $149, excluding a 16% resort fee and taxes. Get a discount by booking through NEA Travel.

Driving distances: 2 hours from Columbia South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia | 3 hours from Augusta, Georgia | 3 hours and 15 minutes from Charlotte, North Carolina | 3 hours 40 minutes from Wilmington, North Carolina

Celebrations at Resorts Across America - Wild Dunes Resort, Charleston, South Carolina  

Photo courtesy of Wild Dunes Resort


NEA Travel discounts were valid at the time of this writing but can change at any time. NEA members must be registered and signed-in to participate.

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