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Last Minute Holiday Vacations in November, December and January

Updated on September 26, 2012

Last Minute 2012 Vacations

Tired of the family staycation Holidays, dreading another holiday by yourself or do you just want to create some new memories this year. Consider a vacation in a city with plenty of holiday traditions to share. And, while you're contemplating your adventures, plan on giving of yourself in time or money during this holiday season.

Thanksgiving 2012

This day of thanks synonymous with turkey, loved ones and extra pounds is celebrated throughout the world. In 1997, the United Nations declared the millennium year 2000 as international year of Thanksgiving to promote worldwide peace and brotherhood.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

New York City, New York

This parade sports a long, proud history. Since 1924, the Macy's Department store has staged this extravaganza of floats, rides, bands, animals and people. The huge helium balloons of today, replaced the live animals used in the past and the audience has ballooned to millions of on-site and over 50 million off-site spectators enjoying the falloons (float-based balloon) and balloonicles (self-powered balloon vehicle). Note, you can check out the Macy's website reference for a chance to win a trip to the parade.

While in New York stop by Rockefeller Plaza and view the beautiful Christmas decorations. And, of course, take in a Broadway or off-Broadway show.

Williamsburg, Virginia

Visit this colonial landmark, which was established in the 18th century, and trace the steps of our country forefounders.George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Patrick Henry really slept here. Virginia, one of the original 13 colonies, and home to eight U.S. presidents, is bordered by the Blue Ridge mountains and the Chesapeake Bay. Williamsburg has dozens of recreated or authentic buildings dating from 1699. Workers in the 301-acre settlement attempt to recreate the colonial atmosphere in dress, speech and mannerisms. There are several restaurants serving colonial themed meals with hearty stews shared family style at large wooden tables.

While in Wiliamsburg, visit the nearby College of William and Mary, the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and Merchants Square for great shopping.

Thanksgiving Day Football

Dallas, Texas

November 22, 2012

Okay football fans . . . if you're looking for a good venue and place to spend Turkey Day, this year the Dallas Cowboys are hosting the Washington Redskins, in the next to new stadium right outside of Dallas in Arlington, Texas.

Dallas is a cosmopolitan city with numerous attractions and historical markers. Several museums and monuments are dedicated to the memory of the tragic assassination of President John Kennedy, including The Sixth Floor Museum exhibition, the Dealey Plaza Historical Landmark District (where the shots rang out) and the Texas School Book Depository (where the killer took aim). Dallas also has a insightful Holocaust Museum, Dallas World Aquarium and Zoo and the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. And, if you can't get tickets to the game, you can still tour the cowboy stadium during a VIP, group or self guided tour.

Contestants vie for Miss Rodeo America
Contestants vie for Miss Rodeo America

Wrangler National Rodeo Finals

Miss Rodeo America

Las Vegas, Nevada

Late November/Early December 2012

Interested in a different type of beauty pageant, consider the Miss Rodeo America contest where state rodeo queens as judged based on their appearance, personality and horsemanship. You won't see any slinky, body wear here, only beautiful women tastefully decked out in leather dress, cowboy boots and ten-gallon hats. Miss Rodeo America receives monetary prizes and scholarship funds, clothing from Wrangler and other winnings.

Christmas 2012

Natchitoches Christmas Festival

Natchitoches, Louisiana

December 2012 (tba)

This waterfront city, about an hour fron Shreveport, has been celebrating Christmas big for 84 years; in fact, they start celebrating in November and don't conclude until the next year rolls in.

Natchitoches holds special events for each weekend in December. The first weekend is the official festival opening date. Visitors will enjoy entertainment, food, parades, fireworks, a laser show and the lighting of over 300,000 Christmas bulbs. The events start early with a 7:45 am Santa shuffle 5k run. Additional events include a Flotilla of lighted barges and Christmas gala.

Walt Disney World Christmas Parade

Orlando, FL (Buena Vista)

Mickey loves a good parade and Walt Disney World pulls out all the stops for this parade celebrating the holidays and Disney technology.

Orlando is known as the vacation capital of the world with numerous attractions geared for children and adults such as Universal Studios and Island of Adventure and Epcot. While there you can visit the Discovery Cove and partake of a dolphin swim. Or if you have a hankering for reptiles, visit Gatorland for an upclose and personal. The Harry P. Leu Gardens are lovely and the John F. Kennedy Space Center, an hour's drive away, is educational, fun and inspiring. And speaking of inspiration, the Mary, Queen of the Universe Shrine is a beautiful church open for worship and tours.

Christmas Festival

Portsmouth, Hampshire, England

Friday, November 24 -- Sunday, November 27, 2012

Portsmouth invites you to explore your very own Wonderland based on literature set in the Victorian era during this winter celebration.You can take a stroll down the Victorian Street to find rest and merriment and participate in bawdy Music Hall-style entertainment. A Victorian Father Christmas will distribute gifts from his grotto aboard HMS Warrior 1860 and costumed characters will perform.

There will be a bazaar of arts, crafts, festive food and drink and unique Christmas gifts at European-style Christmas shopping markets.Tickets include entrance to the world-class attractions such as the HMS Victory, Mary Rose Museum,and the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Action Stations. The entrance price includes a boat tour around Portsmouth Harbour.

Dickens on the Strand

Houston/Galveston, Texas

December 2011 (tba)

And, if you don't have the time or money to visit England, you can join hundreds of costumed vendors and performers as Galveston travels back to the 19th century Victorian age while exploring the historical connection between London and Houston. (Galveston is one hour south of Houston). Events include Holiday handbell concerts, the Queen's Parade and a costume contest.

This event is sponsored by the The Strand National Historic Landmark District and will include parades, continuous entertainment, strolling carolers and roving street musicians. While you are enjoying the festivities, you can purchase delectable foods, Vicctorian-themed crafts, clothing, jewelry, and holiday decorations.

Dickens on The Strand began 36 years ago with the goal of saving The Strand’s historic buildings from demolition and it has grown to become one of the largest Texas events.

Christmas Festival

Santa Claus, Indiana

December 3 -19, 2012

Yes, Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus. And, residents of the small southern Indiana town of Santa Claus have frequent sightings. This town celebrates Christmas everyday with attractions such as Frosty's Fun Center, Christmas Store, Santa's Candy Castle and the Santa Claus Museum. Guest can even enjoy Christmas themed lodging and the 1.2 mile Santa Claus Land of Lights. If you don't get to visit this quaint town, you can still send letters to the town post office for the unique Santa Claus postmarks.

Los Alumbrados

Medellin, Columbia, South America

December 2012 - January 2013

If you love Christmas lights, plan a visit to the City of Everlasting Spring when the entire city becomes one huge lighted display. While in Medellin, vist The Museum of Modern Art, the Pedro Nel Gomez Museum and the Nutibara Hill and Pueblo Paisa. Note, if you plan a visit to this city of 2.5 million, check with the State Department, as this area was once considered dangerous due to crime. Medellin has worked to rid itself of this reputation and has experienced a resurgence of tourist traffic.

January 2012

Tournament of Roses Parade and Rose Bowl Game

Pasadena, California

January 1, 2013

Spend the first day of 2013 romanced by the beauty and aroma of flowers. The 124th Rose Parade themed, Oh, the Places You Will Go, will be held on Tuesday, January 1, 2013. This parade highlights spirited marching bands, beautiful floral floats, and plenty of rose dressed ponies. This year, the Parade features the first ever live wedding. One happy couple will be wed while riding on the Farmer's Insurance Love Float. Farmer's Insurance is conducting a contest to select the lucky couple.

Following the parade, the 98th Rose Bowl game will commence highlighting two of the nation's top college football teams.

Florida Keys, Florida

December 31, 2012 and January 1, 2013

Looking for a risque end to 2012 . . . Key West adds a naughty twist to its out with the old and in with the new when a pirate's wench descends a ship's mast in Seaport on December 31 just prior to midnight. Or you can visit Blackwater Sound for midnight fireworks and partying.

Then lace up your running shows, for the January 1, 5k Run, Walk and Crawl. This kickoff to a day of festivities starts at 8am (that's right, 8 sharp) at Founders Park in Islamorada.

Natalie Cole was featured at the 2011 Festival
Natalie Cole was featured at the 2011 Festival

Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival

Trelawny (1/2 hour from Montego Bay), Jamaica

January 24 - 26, 2013

Ready to exit this cold weather for some hot jazz and some balmy blues. Point your compass south for the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival. Head to Jamaica Mon and you can expect to bask in tropical temperatures in the 70-80s F while enjoying beautiful scenery and delightful music. The 2012 artistic line up is still in the works. Last year high calibre musicians included Natalie Cole, Ron Isley, Maroon 5, Regina Belle, Diana King, Brenda Russell, Air Supply and Committed.

Travel 411

This event information is accurate as of publication, but always confirm date and times before scheduling your travel. And, if you need additional ideas, you can find additional hot travel spots for Christmas and New Years here.

Charitable Organizations

While you are exchanging gifts this year, think about others less fortunate and consider a donation of time, toys, food or money. You can contact your local Fire Department, homeless or domestic abuse shelter for information on donating toys or other items or volunteering your services. Most cities sponsor Thanksgiving Day dinners and need volunteers and/or donations. While your enjoying your time at home, visiting love ones or on vacation, why not add some philanthropic time to your schedule.

The Leukemia and Lymphona Society Team In Training

Joining this team has benefits you and others. This society works with event sponsors in delightful cities to sponsor various sporting competitions such as marathons, mini marathons and trianthions to secure donations and educate the public about leukemia and lymphoma. Volunteers hone up on their biking, swimming, walking or running skills during sponsored training sessions. Participants recruit donations and then journey to cities such as Phoenix, Los Angeles or Honolulu to participate in the event.

UPCOMING Leukemia and Lymphona Events

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

Orlando, FL

January 2013

PF Changs Rock 'n Roll Arizona Marathon and 1/2 Marathon

Phoenix, AZ

January 2013

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army sponsors Toys for Tots, services for the elderly, and other programs to provide additional help during the holiday season. They are always looking for volunteers to man their donation kettles outside retail centers.

For Information on donating furniture, clothing, a used vehicle, etc, or to schedule a truck pick-up, call 1-800-95-TRUCK. You will get more information at

Food Pantries

Of course, the holidays are not just about stuffing yourself while debating politics with Uncle Fred, and screaming at the Cowboys. You can spend all or part of your day helping others by volunteering at a neighborhood soup kitchen, delivering homemade dinners needy famlies, sponsoring a deserving family's dinner or even inviting your single coworker over for dinner.

Here's list of food pantries and soup kitchens. See the resource section for a more extensive listing, and if you don't see anything in your area, contact your local United Way or television station or newspaper for referrals.

North West

Food Bank Roy Fish

220 First St. North

Yelm, WA 98597


This group provides food rations to singles or families. They provide holiday gift baskets with a turkey or ham and Christmas gift baskets for children.

West Coast

Union Rescue Mission

545 S. San Pedro Street

Los Angeles, CA 90013


This organization serves about 3,000 warm meals daily. They provide infant formula and baby food and have 3-meals, 7 days a week service.


Tolleson Food Bank

10 S. 93rd Avenue

Tolleson, Arizona


This non-profit food bank has an open door policy and coordinates with the Deep Within project to provide rehabilitation assistance to those in need.


Toledo Northwest Ohio Food Bank

24 E. Woodruff Avenue

Toledo, Ohio 43604


This organization is a Member of Feeding America, one of the largest domestic hunger-relief agencies in the US. They have delivered over 70 million pounds of food and products.

North East

New Hampshire Food Bank

62 W. Brook Street

Manchester, New Hampshire


This group works to end hunger by both providing food and empowering needy recipients through mentoring and education.


Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida

2008 Brengle Avenue

Orlando, FL 32808


904-353-3663 (Northeast Florida)

850-562-3033 (Tallahassee)





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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Dickens on the Strand is wonderful!

    • ExpandYourMind profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Midwest USA

      You're welcome. Thanks for stopping in for visit.

    • SUSIE405 profile image


      8 years ago from Delray Beach, Florida

      Thanks for these ideas. Always looking for new getaways.

    • ExpandYourMind profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Midwest USA

      Thanks for stopping in, ericfrusy. Happy holidays!

    • ericfrusy profile image


      8 years ago from New York

      Great and affordable ideas! Thanks for sharing them :)

    • ExpandYourMind profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Midwest USA

      Yep. Sometimes we get too caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays and forget to enjoy them for their intent. Thanks for stopping.

    • alertswiftreview profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      This really great idea to spend holidays; I just like your thoughts about the vacations and enjoying them.

    • ExpandYourMind profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Midwest USA

      Thanks for your comments PeggyW; I know I sometimes lose track of what these holidays should represent. Thanks for visiting.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I really like how you worked in the thoughts about being helpful and aiding others while enjoying the holidays intermixed with your suggestions about places in which to spend holiday vacations. Voting this up and useful!


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