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Mark Williams

Mark Williams

Articles (8)

8 Christmas stores in the USA where the holidays never end

8 Christmas stores in the USA where the holidays never end

If you love celebrating Christmas in July or wish the holiday season lasted longer, you’ll be happy to know that there are several Yuletide-themed shops around the country where Christmas doesn’t come but once a year, it happens almost every day (because Santa and his elves deserve some time off, too). Even the biggest grinch may find themselves becoming merry and bright at stores such as Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, Michigan, and The Incredible Christmas Place in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. You’ll be dazzled (and maybe a little bit overwhelmed) by over-the-top displays of lights, Christmas trees, unique ornaments, model villages, advent calendars, and other Noel novelties. Hop on your sleigh and visit them all. RECOMMENDED: The best Christmas towns in the USA

These dazzling Christmas cities in the USA go all out for the holidays

These dazzling Christmas cities in the USA go all out for the holidays

Whether you love Christmas for the family time and well-worn traditions or the bright lights and festive atmosphere, the best places to get your holiday fix aren't big cities like New York and D.C. (even though, yes, we love their holiday vibe, too). It is the smaller communities that really go all out, the 'Christmas Cities' that should be at the top of the season's travel list. For these cities across the United States, Christmas isn't just a holiday, it's a way of life and often their claim to fame. They erect dreamily lit-up villages, serve hot mulled wine, and cover the city in hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights. Some, like Santa Claus, Indiana and McAdenville, North Carolina have parades and Christmas tree lightings that date back years and years. Some of these towns will even transport you back in time, like at the colonial-style celebration in Williamsburg, Virginia or the Charles Dickens-inspired one in Franklin, Tennessee. While you may still find a few changes due to COVID (not the least of which include masking and distancing), there's still plenty of holiday cheer to go around. For more Christmas excitement, try our guides to the best holiday markets in New York and London. If your ideal winter vacation combines Christmas cheer with something a little more adventurous, check out our favorite ski towns and snowboarding resorts. And if your Christmas will be brighter if you head out of the snow to warmer climes, our list of the best beaches in the country's

The 12 best Christmas towns in the USA

The 12 best Christmas towns in the USA

If you’ve ever dreamed of starring in your own Hallmark Christmas movie, we’ve got a great gift for you: there are many Christmas towns in the USA where you can don your favorite ugly sweater, stroll through adorable winter villages and Christmas light displays with a glass of eggnog or mulled wine, sing Christmas carols to your heart’s content and, of course, visit with Santa (hopefully you’ve made the nice list this year). We can’t guarantee you’ll fall in love with a stranger in need of a little Christmas cheer like in the movies, but you will find an abundance of holiday spirit in Christmasy cities such as North Pole, Alaska and Santa Claus, Indiana, while New England charmers Essex, Connecticut and Stockbridge, Massachusetts look like a living Christmas card. In other parts of the country, Solvang, California and Leavenworth, Washington, offer a taste of Europe without needing a passport, and Grapevine, Texas offers a festive wine train. Seasons greetings! RECOMMENDED: The best winter vacations in the USA

5 scary movie houses and hotels in the USA that you can actually book

5 scary movie houses and hotels in the USA that you can actually book

If you’re the kind of person who watches a slasher flick and thinks, “look at the bones of that house,” we’ve got good news: you can actually spend the night in the horror-fueled houses and haunted hotels used in your favorite scary movies. Whether you want to invite a sparkly vampire or swoon-worthy werewolf into Bella Swan’s Twilight home, pound a typewriter like Jack Torrance in multiple Shining hotels, or make an overnight pit stop at the infamous Texas Chainsaw Massacre gas station, these scary movie houses and filming locations are a great place to reenact iconic scenes and feel like a part of the movie. Just remember: axe murderers and ghosts aren’t part of the script! RECOMMENDED: real-life haunted houses in the USA

The 14 best ghost tours in the USA

The 14 best ghost tours in the USA

Whether you’re a big believer in the supernatural, love scary movies, or are just seeking a fun night out with friends, the best ghost tours in the US offer a frightfully good time. Around the country, expert paranormal guides are dying to show you their town or city’s most haunted places and share spine-tingling tales of murder, mayhem, and mysterious occurrences. From a family-friendly stroll through Colonial Williamsburg's buried secrets to an utterly terrifying descent into Salem’s horrific history, there are spirited tours suitable for every taste. Don’t feel like walking? Hop on a trolley to see Key West’s darker side or take a classic Chicago bus tour to visit Windy City’s most chilling places. No matter what experience you chose, you’ll visit sites that will make you shiver (and maybe even encounter a ghost or two) on these great American ghost tours. RECOMMENDED: The most beautiful cemeteries in the US

The most beautiful cemeteries in the US

The most beautiful cemeteries in the US

For many of us, the thought of visiting a cemetery is utterly terrifying. While it’s easy to conjure images of thick fog, vampires, and zombies, many graveyards across the country offer gorgeous scenery, eye-popping mausoleums, great walking paths, and plenty of spots to enjoy moments of serenity. It’s easy to see why permanent residents rest in peace at Savannah’s Bonaventure Cemetery, where massive oak trees covered in moss, weathered tombs, and stone benches (some of which are actually people’s tombs) offer the perfect atmosphere to pay your respects to the dead and reflect on your own life. Similarly, Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis offers an urban forest with over 130 species of trees, a striking gothic cathedral, and over 25 miles of paved road to explore. Of course, there’s plenty of spookiness to be found, too. If you’re craving some Halloween frights, head straight to St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans, which has been cited as the most haunted graveyard in the United States. Some have even claimed to see the spirit of infamous voodoo queen Marie Laveau walk the grounds. No matter what kind of vibe you’re seeking, the most beautiful cemeteries in the US are sure to leave a spirited impression.Looking for more haunted getaways? Whether it’s Halloween season or not, we have recommendations for the best haunted Airbnbs and haunted hotels to fuel your nightmares — that is, if you can get to sleep at all — and for creepy ghost towns filled with the spirits of days

The 19 most haunted hotels in America

The 19 most haunted hotels in America

If you’re the type of person who packs an ouija board and EMF detector for every vacation, or someone who just loves a great ghost story, nothing beats a stay at one of the most haunted hotels in America. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of creepy accommodations across the country. At La Fonda on the Plaza in Santa Fe, a site of numerous gruesome murders, you might encounter the spirit of a judge who was gunned down in the 1800s or a young woman killed by a jealous ex (on her wedding night, no less!). Over in Milwaukee, the Pfister Hotel is so terrifying that some Major League Baseball players are scared to stay there. Prefer someplace that’s a little less spooky? Try the Hollywood Roosevelt in Los Angeles, rumored to house the spirits of film legends Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift. The good news is that many of these properties are steeped in rich history and include luxurious linens and antique decor, so you’ll find plenty of comfort and charm to accompany those thrills and chills. But you may want to sleep with the lights on, just to be safe. Ready to be greeted by an innkeeper who’s been dead for 200 years, or find your pillows inexplicably floating across your room? Here are the top hotels for exploring things that go bump in the night. Make a reservation… if you dare. p.s. These haunted Airbnb listings, real-life haunted houses, and jaw-dropping ghost tours are as fun as they are bone-chilling.  RECOMMENDED: The most beautiful cemeteries in the US

Best LGBTQ+-friendly small towns in the USA

Best LGBTQ+-friendly small towns in the USA

When we think of LGBTQ+-friendly destinations, big cities often come to mind. Yet many small towns across the USA are just as welcoming. From longtime LGBTQ+ escapes like Provincetown to the charmingly crooked streets of Eureka Springs, these places combine big-city perks like chic restaurants and acclaimed museums and theaters with small-town charm and inclusive communities. Visit one or several, and you’ll find thriving LGBTQ-owned businesses, cozy B&Bs, rustic retreats, stunning beaches, rolling hills, historic sites, and quirky shops – all within easy reach of major cities. The best LGBTQ-friendly small-towns in the USA offer the freedom to explore small-town America while feeling comfortable traveling as you are.  

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