Festive getaways, open holiday spaces for Seattle families

One of the most magical times of the year is upon us and, while this year’s holidays will look different in many ways, there is still a great variety of small town festivities and adventurous getaways on offer.

Whether planning family outings a few miles away or several hundred, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest health and safety guidelines of your intended destination. Pack plenty of face masks and hand sanitizer in the family car or airline carryon bag and aim to enjoy open spaces when traveling away from home.

Once you’ve taken in the twinkling lights in downtown Seattle and watched all the virtual holiday performances around town, you may be wondering where to set your sights on even more holiday cheer.

Take a drive through Pierce County celebrations or head for the countryside in Tennessee. Or dust off your skis and hit the slopes in Tahoe for some lakeside action. Read on to discover some holiday getaway inspiration.

Tacoma and Pierce County

In keeping the holidays close to home this season, there’s plenty of family-friendly activity in Pierce County.

Visitors can experience a spectacular holiday tradition with Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. More than 700,000 lights and 3D animal displays will entertain the whole family. If you’ve visited before and have enjoyed the light tunnel, prepare for a wonderous expansion this year to capture in annual family photographs.

For more mesmerizing holiday light experiences, visit Fantasy Lights in Spanaway. During a two-mile drive along Lake Spanaway, families can enjoy 300 displays at their own pace. Pack the car with hot cocoa and warm cookies to make this an extra special evening and be sure to tune into the pre-set radio station so the kids can sing along to seasonal favorites.

Can’t get enough of the family driving tours? Join another vehicular experience with Holiday Magic at the Fair. This year, the Washington State Fairgrounds has transformed their traditional celebration into a festive drive-thru light display. Plus, timed-entry tickets provide spacious access to scavenger hunts, fair food favorites, along with hot cocoa and cider bars.

Then take in a festive stroll through Sumner’s Downtown Americana Christmas. All season long, small-town charm and twinkling lights will greet visitors to Sumner where Main Street is lined with boutiques, bakeries and bookshops. During your downtown stroll you’ll notice festive songs playing throughout, while storefronts are decked out with the holiday spirit, too. Be sure to catch the daily light show at Cannery Way Bridge.

Boats lit with holiday lights in Gig Harbor.

Boats lit with holiday lights in Gig Harbor.

Pierce County Tourism

For a little outdoor adventure, head to Mount Rainier National Park where snowshoe rentals guarantee a good time while trekking through the great outdoors. Or take a hike around Longmire for a family-friendly stroll on the Trail of the Shadows. Then take in magnificent views from Paradise where, road-conditions permitting, the kids can make snow angels under the sun.

Christmas on the Cumberland

Less than an hour outside Nashville, the town of Clarksville is an affordable family destination gearing up for a bountiful and safe holiday season. This spacious destination promises joy and wonder for creating new holiday traditions.

More than two million lights are sparkling along the city’s half-mile Cumberland Riverwalk, perfect for family strolls all season long. The paved path is suitable for all paces and visitors will find a captivating, animated display while wandering through a festive lit tunnel.

In the historic downtown, walks along the charming shop-filled streets or slow family drives will showcase the twinkling town. Then for a truly impressive drive-thru light experience, head to Clarksville Speedway to enjoy a festive celebration from the comfort and safety of your car. Now through January 2, the one-mile track is lit up with more than three million lights and joyous with holiday sounds. The cost is $25 per vehicle, with the display offered nightly starting at 5:30 p.m.

The town of Clarksville lit up for the holiday season.

The town of Clarksville lit up for the holiday season.

Eric E Johnson

Looking for a unique holiday gift? Attend a glass-blowing workshop at Erin’s Farm. Here you can design your own ornaments or other novelties under the guidance from gaffer Algar Dole. Workshops are conducted in a spacious environment and make a fun holiday activity for the whole family. The onsite shops also offer an abundance of one-of-a-kind artisan made crafts for souvenirs to take home.

While planning your Clarksville holiday magic, plot out dining choices ranging from local catfish and craft breweries to barbeque and tempting bakeries. Visit Old Glory Distilling Co. for small-batch artisan spirits or Strawberry Alley Ale Works for craft beer and seasonal brews.

Hoping to take the family dog along for the holidays? Clarksville has 20 pet-friendly hotels and Fido is also welcome at all local and state parks when leashed.

Tahoe ski holidays

If your idea of the perfect holiday getaway includes lakefront views and powdery mountain slopes, Lake Tahoe may be on your radar. Before you book that flight, check the latest travel advisories for Tahoe South to monitor when current restrictions ease.

Right now, Forest Suites Resort is offering several winter packages for adventurous travelers seeking open spaces. The holiday sale is perfect for those eager to hit the slopes in the day, then tour the town at night. Or save 40% off your getaway now through April with the Powder to the People offer. Mere steps to the slopes at Heavenly Village, these offers are ideal for families of snowboarders, skiers and tubers.

For even more outdoor adventure, head to North Lake Tahoe to join a full moon snowshoe tour. This guided activity shares local natural history and fun moon facts, and the outing requires no experience.

A tourist puts on snowshoes. (Photo by Lev FedoseyevTASS via Getty Images)

A tourist puts on snowshoes. (Photo by Lev FedoseyevTASS via Getty Images)

Lev Fedoseyev/Lev Fedoseyev/TASS

Want to combine a little slice of nightlife with your adventure getaway? Hard Rock Casino Lake Tahoe has nightly prime rib specials, all-night casino action and live music in socially distanced venues.

The resort is dog-friendly, so you can bring the whole family for a winter getaway and enjoy gorgeous lake views from your suite. While the pool is closed for the season, Hard Rock can easily assist guests with bookings for Heavenly Ski Resort and other area attractions.

Many ticketed holiday events around Tahoe have been cancelled for this season, but there’s still plenty of twinkle lit action around the lake. From festive lighting and holiday music to Santa sightings, keep an eye on the Tahoe South events calendar for scheduled activities during your visit.