‘Tis the season of traditions. And there couldn't be better year to begin exploring some new traditions. In fact, you'll find many great holiday experiences that don't require a trek to the mountains. Learn more about the amazing destinations that appeared in the holiday issue of Carolina Traveler magazine by following the links below. And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter to stay in the loop on fun things to do in the Carolinas.

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Christmas characters pose at Kersey Valley

Strike a pose! Holiday characters add to the fun at the Kersey Valley Christmas in Archdale, NC

Randolph County, NC

Holiday attractions abound in the Heart of North Carolina. Start a holiday tradition with a visit to the North Carolina Zoo, a day of fun at Kersey Valley theme park and catch a show at the Liberty Showcase Theater. If you just cannot squeeze anymore fun into your schedule, consider gift cards to these attractions. Find links to these attractions and more at the official website for the Heart of North Carolina.  HeartofNorthCarolina.com

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woman catching snowflakes at MacLaurin Farms

They sprinkle a little Christmas magic on hayrides at McLaurin Farms in Greensboro.

McLaurin Farms (Greensboro, NC) 

Memories are made at Christmas, and McLaurin Farms is here to help. Their Christmas event is sure to be a seasonal highlight. Guests can enjoy a hayride through the lights, meet Santa, make an ornament, see the farm animals (and the Grinch!), while the little ones will get their wiggles out on the jump pad, and playground. Have your camera ready – you'll find many photo opportunities! Save $5 when you use the coupon code “traveler” online at McLaurinFarms.com.

Lion cub opens a Christmas present

Sink your teeth into a fun day trip to Tiger World, near Charlotte.

Tiger World (near Charlotte)

Have you ever wanted to see a tiger or lion eat? Follow our Carnivore Specialists around the park as they feed our Big Cats. You will be able to learn about and observe the natural feeding behaviors of large carnivores as we feed out various types of meat including whole prey. Their diet is specially prepared. It is an amazing sight to see and hear as the animals catch their food and begin the feeding frenzy. This Thursday is our last carnivore feed of the year. Spots are filling up quickly so call (704 279-6363) to make reservations. Play a round of miniature golf in our wild setting – save $1 on a golf game when you mention “Day Trips“.  TigerWorld.us

Exhibit designer puts the finishing touches on a Vietnam diorama at the SC Confederate Relic Room

It takes a steady hand to put the finishing touches on an elaborate Vietnam diorama at the Confederate Relic Room & Military Museum in Columbia.

Confederate Relic Room & Military Museum (Columbia, SC)

Make it a day trip to museum – and explore the huge, meticulously detailed model of Fire Support Base Ripcord from the Vietnam War. This was one of the bloodiest battles of that war, the last major battle involving U.S. troops, and no one back home even knew it happened. It’s a story that begs to be told, and heard. Bundle up your history enthusiasts and send them to the museum for a day of discovery and exploration! Confederate Relic Room & Military Museum

Stowe Botanical Garden in Christmas lights

The hotels at Mount Holly make the perfect basecamp for everything in the Charlotte area.

Mount Holly, NC

The holiday place to stay, Mount Holly is two shakes of a jingle bell from the Charlotte Douglas airport and its location on I-85 makes it the optimal destination for friends and family to stay while visiting the Charlotte area. Within a matter of minutes from the Mount Holly hotels, you can be in Uptown Charlotte, the Whitewater Center, Stowe Botanical Garden, and – for Christmas superfans — McAdenville (a.k.a. Christmas Town, USA). Let the enchanting town of Mount Holly make you and your loved ones feel at home with its rare combination of small-town charm and proximity to big-city happenings! visitmounthollync.com

Santa hands lumps of coal to the crew of the 611 steam train

Put on your most comfy pajamas and board the Polar Express at the NC Transportation Museum in Spencer, NC. Photo by Christopher F. Esposito.

The NC Transportation Museum (Spencer, NC)

Inspired by the hit movie, a holiday favorite comes to life as you and your family take a magical trip on THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride!
Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, families are sure to enjoy their trip to the North Pole, complete with hot chocolate and cookies served on board the train. Passengers are entertained by a reading of Chris Van Allsburg’s classic, The Polar Express. Upon arrival at the North Pole, passengers deboard to watch Santa present the first gift of Christmas. Before exiting the train at Candy Cane Lane, all passengers who BELIEVE will receive their own sleigh bell. Experience the joy of caroling and holiday entertainment that will surely become an annual family tradition. Children of all ages are encouraged to wear their pajamas for the ride and join in on the magic of Christmas! NC Transportation Museum

Thomasville residents celebrate Christmas in an annual parade with a firetruck

Santa Claus is coming! The Thomasville community welcomes the holiday season with parade through town.

Thomasville, NC

Christmas in Thomasville, where you will feel like you are in a real-life Hallmark Christmas movie! The streets are glistening with enchanting lights, store owners fill their festive windows, and even the famous Big Chair is decorated. Our local businesses are known for their care and handcrafted items where you can find a gift for everyone on your list. There is no shortage of activities throughout the holiday season; From the Christmas tree lighting at the Light up the Holidays event, to the Christmas Parade, the Chair City Christmas event, as well as the South’s largest drive-through Nativity. There is fun to be had by children and adults alike. Visit www.visitthomasvillenc.com or contact the Visitors Center at 336-472-4422; 44 W. Main Street Thomasville, NC to plan your trip!

Christmas lights adorn the Kaminski House Museum

Light up your night in Georgetown, SC, at the Kaminski House Museum.

Kaminski House Museum (Georgetown, SC) 

This popular wedding and event venue also pulls double duty as a museum. The Kaminski House contains an outstanding collection of American and English decorative arts and furniture from the 18th and 19th centuries. The Kaminski House celebrates the holiday season with the opening of the Holiday Designer's Showcase, which kicks off a string of holiday events. Holiday Designer’s Showcase opens on Monday, Nov. 7 and runs through Dec. 31. You can see all of the glitz and glamour of the holidays during our daily tours at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm. Drop by for the Holiday Vendor Market and a wreath auction on Dec. 3. A candlelight tour on Dec. 8 and Dec. 15. And on Dec. 17, all are invited for Family Night. KaminskiMuseum.org

Couple enjoy snow tubes in North Carolina

Fill those Christmas wish lists with sporty apparel and equipment from Cooks Sports in North Wilkesboro, NC.

Cook's Sports (N. Wilkesboro, NC)

Cook’s is a full-line sporting-goods store covering the camping, kayaking, biking, fitness, exercise, men’s and women’s apparel and footwear, just to name a few. Cook’s also has a dedicated staff that serve high schools, colleges, travel teams, and recreation departments throughout North Carolina. Cook’s in-house screen-print shop is ideal for custom T-shirts, sweat shirts, and other spirit-wear apparel. At Cook’s, you will find the top brands of sporting goods and athletic equipment at competitive prices, and knowledgeable and friendly customer service. CooksSports.com

handmade nutcrackers line the shelves at a store in Clinton, NC

Discover delightful handmade gifts at the shops that dot the quaint small towns of Sampson county.

Sampson County, NC

The Barn Quilt Capital of North Carolina® is also rich in recreational activities, whether you're on a local waterway, trail or at an outdoor festival in one of county's small towns. This holiday season get a taste of Sampson county at the Town of Harrells' annual Sing Around The Tree and their 2nd annual Craft Market. Catch a tree lighting and Christmas parade in the quaint community of Roseboro. You can find hotels and spend the night in Clinton, then explore Sampson county by way of the Barn Quilt Trail the next day. VisitSampsonNC.com

Vendors clad in Victorian attire line the aisles of the Dickens Christmas Festival

Gifts galore! You'll feel like the proverbial kid in the candy store as you stroll the aisles and enjoy the entertainment at the Dickens Christmas Festival.

Dickens Christmas Show & Festival (Myrtle Beach, SC)

The Dickens Christmas Show & Festival is a national award-winning event that is part shopping and part entertainment. The cornerstone of the event is a Victorian Holiday Marketplace held in the exhibit hall of the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. With so many vendors, there is sure to be something for everyone on your list. But the fun doesn't stop there. You'll be entertained by strolling Victorian musicians, tea leaf readers, Punch & Judy Shows, shadow box displays, a life-sized historic Santa through the ages exhibit, and a real live Santa!. Adding to the experience are the elaborate festive displays of trees, and tables of wreaths and of stockings. DickensChristmasShow.com

man repair jewelry in Landrum

Find unique and timeless jewelry at Covington & Company in Landrum, SC.

Covington & Company Jewelry (Landrum, SC)

Covington & Company specializes in estate jewelry and silver, as well as collections from Frederic Duclos and Southern Gates. You'll even find the trending butterfly wing jewelry here. Covington & Company is where you can find jewelry with a story to tell, and whether it’s the timeless designs, rich history, or the unique look, estate jewelry has become popular among those who want to put their own personal twist on style. With hundreds of pieces in the store, you’re sure to find your next conversation starter in Landrum, SC! CovingtonJewelryStore.com

a little girl shares her wish list with Santa

Santa is such a good listener! Share you heart's desire with the jolly elf and do a little shopping while you're at it. Photo from the Christmas Carousel Holiday Gift Market.

Christmas Carousel Holiday Gift Market (NC State Fairgrounds, Raleigh)

Thanksgiving weekend at the NC State Fairgrounds is the place to be for the annual Christmas Carousel Holiday Gift Market. For over 35 years the Christmas Carousel Holiday Gift Market has been a Triangle Thanksgiving tradition for thousands of holiday shoppers. More than 250 exhibitors come together each year showcasing arts and crafts, holiday food, gifts, holiday decorations and more. This is one of the largest Christmas gift shows in the state. ChristmasCarousel.com


Find things to do in Carolina Traveler magazine

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