Take the family to find some Christmas magic

By Lynn O’Rourke Hayes / The Dallas Morning News

Published Dec 22, 2013 at 12:01AM

Make travel a part of your holiday season. Here are five ideas to consider:

1. Santa’s Hometown. If you’ve always wanted to hang with the big guy in the red suit and white beard or chat with an elf, gather the clan and head to Santa Claus, Ind. Roast chestnuts on an open fire, and take in the pet parade, an arts and crafts show and holiday lights galore in this folksy town with a fancy name. You’ll wander down Jingle Bell and Candy Cane lanes and visit the Christmas museum.

Contact: 1-888-444-9252; www.santaclausin.com

2. Plan volunteer travel. During the season of giving, consider volunteering. The nonprofit organization Together for Good helps families give back to underprivileged children and teens in challenged areas of the world in several ways. They’ll provide detailed information and connections to enable your clan to incorporate social responsibility into a cruise’s shore excursion or resort stay.

Contact: www.togetherfor good.org

3. New York City. The Big Apple lives up to its reputation during the holidays. With plenty of musical performances, lights and over-the-top decor, it is easy to immerse the family in the spirit of the season. Don’t miss the chance to skate alongside the storied tree at Rockefeller Center and take a carriage ride through snowy Central Park.

Contact: www.nycgo.com; www.fao.com

4. See the lights. Cities and towns around the country brighten the holiday season with glittery displays designed to tell stories, showcase destinations, stir memories and bring smiles to the faces of children of all ages. Consider a trip to Austin or Albuquerque, where light shows are a family favorite. Or make the fanciful shows the centerpiece of a grander plan.

Contact: www.freefun inaustin.com; www.itsatrip .org; www.visitphilly.com.

5. Road trip. Consider a quiet drive to escape the hustle and bustle. There are 150 distinct roads designated as National Scenic Byways and All-American Roads for their vistas, history and cultural significance. View nature’s bounty and use the miles to connect with your loved ones. Our country’s natural beauty is one of the greatest gifts we all share.

Contact: www.fhwa.dot .gov/byways/about