Maybe the kids are scattered this year, and you’re not inclined to go all-out decking the halls and concocting a multi-course feast. Or maybe you’d just like to escape the bustle and the traffic and focus on the sweet pleasures of the season, without having to make all the magic happen yourself. You could stay home and watch a continuous loop of “It’s a Wonderful Life” with a giant bowl of red-and-green M&Ms, but there’s another option: a visit to one of New England’s fabulously festive country inns and hotels.
If you’ve been really, really good this year, consider stuffing your stocking with a visit to the luxurious Inn at Round Barn Farm. Set in Waitsfield, Vt., near Sugarbush and Mad River Glen ski resorts, this 12-room inn is offering a “country Christmas package” full of all things merry and bright: four nights’ lodging, breakfast, a gingerbread-making class, a sleigh ride for two, and a $25 shopping coupon (for each guest) at participating stores in Waitsfield village. Oh, and they give you a gift. If Santa brought snow, go for a moonlight snowshoe hike. You’ll likely be so smitten with this renovated 19th-century dairy farmhouse, you’ll make a New Year’s resolution to come back. This four-night package is available until Dec.15- 26; $849 and up. 1661 East War-
ren Road, Waitsfield, Vt. 802-496-2276, www.theroundbarn.com
As a little kid, Diane got lost in a huge department store because she stalked the store Santa as he handed out candy canes. If your kids are similarly Santa-
obsessed, they’ll be thrilled with a night at the Cape Codder Resort. Come holiday time, this 257-room Hyannis resort — always big on entertainment — goes the full Santy, with an Enchanted Village illuminated by more than 100,000 lights. Santa’s Village has all the trappings, including animated reindeer, snowmen, and a lifelike St. Nick; they also host appearances by the Cape Cod Surftone carolers on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings.
When the kids get revved up on candy canes and Christmas spirit, head to the indoor wave pool, where they can burn off some energy. (For frazzled parents who need a break from the action, there’s the Beach Plum Spa.) Enchanted Village overnight package offered nightly through Dec. 22; from $119 weeknights, $179 Friday and Saturday nights. 1225 Iyannough Road, Hyannis. 855-861-4370, www.capecodderresort.com
You might not automatically consider the coast of Maine when you’re making winter travel plans, but Samoset Resort in Rockport hosts a season of merry-making that stretches into January, and culminates with Glacier, a bar made from 18,000 pounds of carved ice.
Recently named one of the Top 20 Resorts in the Northeast by Condé Nast Traveler, this 182-room hotel is all cozy coastal charm in December, when its Holiday Happenings season is in full swing. The family-friendly scene includes brunch with Santa, and the joy of spinning around an ice skating rink (weather permitting), with a bonfire and s’mores supplies at the ready. Guests can cross-country ski or snowshoe on the resort’s waterfront golf course, and warm up in heated pools and hot tubs. Skiing and tubing at Camden Snow Bowl are nearby options.
Come January (weekends of Jan. 17 and 24), the ice bar opens. Carved by the hotel’s executive chef Tim Pierce, a master ice carver, Glacier will feature elaborate sculptures and ice-cold cocktails — and plenty of faux fur throws. From $119. 220 Warrenton St., Rockport, Maine. 800-341-1650, www.samosetresort.com
If you live in the suburbs, an overnight or two in Boston can feel like a vacation. The city is a wonderland of holiday happenings, such as Handel’s “Messiah,” productions of “A Christmas Carol,” Black Nativity, Holiday Pops, and a choice of “Nutcrackers.” And there are activities that cost almost nothing, but will put you in a festive mood instantly, like a walk in the Common to admire the Christmas tree and the giant menorah, and a few whirls around the Frog Pond, followed by hot cocoa and a cup of chowder. If you’ve got shopping to do, it doesn’t get any better than this, whether you’re drawn to the boutiques on Newbury Street, Beacon Hill, and the North End, or the big department stores, funky carts, or discount emporiums in the Back Bay and Downtown Crossing. It can be truly merry when the streets are full of cheery shoppers and the shops glitter with decorations.
In the heart of all this is the Fairmont Copley Plaza, the grand dame that gets even grander for the holidays. From the lavish decor to the towering tree in the lobby, this hotel is a gilded home-away-from-home in December. The Twelve Days of Christmas package, offered Dec. 14-30, includes a holiday CD from the Boston Pops and late (4 p.m.) checkout, from $229. 138 St. James Ave., Boston. 617-267-5300, www.fairmont.com