Christmas on the Coast - Small Towns with the Holiday Spirit Are Ideal for a Winter Escape

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Small towns offer a great escape to shop, reconnect, and relax before, during and after the holidays Say Travel Professionals from Calabash Cove, Hotel Viking, Hotel Caravelle, Lemon Tree Inn and Paradisus Resorts

Christmas on the Coast - Small coastal towns to visit during the holidays

The duty-free shopping is impressive with brand names stores including Burberry, Fendi, Louis Vuitton as well as local artisans and designers.

The holidays are fast approaching and small towns offer a great escape to shop, reconnect, and relax before, during and after the holidays. Travel professionals, including the general manager at historic Hotel Viking to the Romance Director for Paradisus resorts, share tips on what is happening in their coastal towns during Christmas.

Newport, Rhode Island
Recently ranked as one of America’s Best Towns For The Holidays by Travel + Leisure readers, Newport is ideal for holiday escapes. Robert Burnetti, General Manager of Hotel Viking, says that Newport offers a plethora of activities and events in winter. He recommends visiting the Newport Mansions, historic mansions-turned-museums that decorate in grand style. The decorations are on display from November 21 thru January 3, 2016. The Newport Nutcracker at the Rosecliff Mansion is an other annual tradition as is the tree lighting ceremony on Bowen’s Wharf, walking distance from Hotel Viking. The Medieval Pageant, celebrating its 104th year, and Holiday Lantern Tour, which shares early American holiday traditions on a walking tour, are entertaining ways to incorporate education into a winter escape. The small seaside town also has concerts, theatrical productions and more. A holiday events schedule is at http://www.christmasinnewport.org/. For shopping, Newport is home to hundreds of independent boutiques where shoppers can find a truly unique and meaningful gift. “Taking a trip to Newport to shop, dine and enjoy the special events is a great way to kick-start your holiday spirit,” says Burnetti, who reports that the average high in December is 44 degrees Fahrenheit and average snowfall is only about 5 inches for the month, “Newport is beautiful when it snows.”

Naples, Florida
On the West coast of Florida in the coastal town of Naples, the only thing white as snow are the sun-soaked beaches and the sparkling white lights that weave through the trees lining 3rd Street and 5th Avenue South, both popular shopping and dining areas. “There is a tree lighting ceremony on 3rd Street on November 24 and a separate one on 5th Avenue on Dec 3,” said Sid Kalmans, owner of Lemon Tree Inn, which is walking distance from 5th Avenue, “There are choral groups, dance troupes and of course Santa makes an appearance. It really puts you in the holiday spirit as music drifts through the air as you shop and eat.”

Kalmans also recommends viewing the Christmas Boat Parade, scheduled for December 12, from Naples City Dock or from a waterfront restaurant at either Naples Bay marina, Tin City or at Port O’ Call marina. “Boat parades are always community oriented and add a special twist to the holidays,” said Kalmans, “From small boats to million-dollar yachts, you really get to see the creative side of the people from the area.”

Christiansted, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
The St. Croix Boat Parade occurs the second Saturday of December (Dec 12, 2015), and is held on the harbor of the historic town of Christiansted. This event attracts thousands of visitors and locals to the boardwalk. The best spot to view the boat parade is from a room at Hotel Caravelle, or from one of the many harbor-front pubs and eateries like Rumrunners Bar & Restaurant. “The holiday spirit is big on St. Croix and all wrapped up in a big, wonderful Carnival of events,” says Karen Beagles who moved to the island more than 20 years ago. “Festivities start with j’ouverts in September and carnival competitions in October and November. Once December rolls around, the party is non-stop.” Beagles says that the festivities culminate on the Three Kings Day parade on January 5, which is held a few blocks from Hotel Caravelle. “It really is the best time of the year,” says Beagles, “The food, the fun, the festivities – it is endless.” Travelers who want to spend the holidays in a home on St. Croix can rent villas for a week or a month through Serenity Garden Villas. The villa manager will even coordinate a private chef for holiday dinners.

Saint Lucia, West Indies
Konrad Wagner, Managing Director of Calabash Cove Resort & Spa, reports that the holiday season on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia kicks off with the Festival of Lights (Dec 13) where locals and visitors make and display lanterns. Wagner says that the culinary traditions start even earlier. “A good Christmas ‘black cake’ recipe starts months before with fruits soaking in rum and sugar in clay pots before making the cake in December,” says Wagner. Hotel guests can try Black Cake with Milk Punch or Sorrel, traditional holiday beverages, which will be on the hotel’s all-inclusive menu along with fresh local lobster dishes during the holiday season.

Cancun, Mexico
Marilyn Cairo, the Romance Director for Paradisus Resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico, says Cancun is delightful during the holidays. “The duty-free shopping is impressive with brand names stores including Burberry, Fendi, Louis Vuitton as well as local artisans and designers.” Cairo says the best part of the holidays in Mexico is the decorations. In Cancun and smaller villages like Playa del Carmen, the towns, homes and hotels will be filled with decorations, and most restaurants and many historical ruins are open on Christmas day. Nativity scenes, called nacimientos, are popular and appear on December 16th. On December 24th, baby Jesus is added and on January 5 the three kings join the scene. To get a taste of culinary traditions, Cairo suggest trying “Ponche con Piquete”, a hot alcoholic beverage popular during the Christmas Season made from fruits and cinnamon sticks.

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Jane Watkins
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