Camden's Adventure Aquarium sends Santa scuba diving with sharks, sea turtles, and sting rays, but don't worry. You can watch from outside the aquarium's 760,000 gallon Ocean Realm tank, until it's time to pet Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and meet Bumble the "Abominable Snow Monster."
On Christmas Eve, Santa Fe's Canyon Road is illuminated with hundreds of "farolitos" (a.k.a. sand-filled paper bags lit with votive candles) and luminarias. The lights cast a warm glow on the city's adobe walls as people promenade and sing traditional carols.
Sure, there's the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, but New York City may be home to more holiday markets than any other city in the U.S., so whether you need to do some last-minute shopping or just want to see what local artisans are up to, you're sure to find what you're looking for. If you're a Francophile, you won't want to miss Brooklyn's Le Marché de Noël, hosted by French Morning New York.
Talk about sliding down chimneys! In North Carolina, Santa clambers down one of the longest chimneys of all, the famous Chimney Rock, a 315-foot rock face 25 miles southeast of Asheville. Come and cheer him on, then get some cookies from Mrs. Claus.
Medora's Old-Fashioned Cowboy Christmas has been celebrating the holidays for over 20 years with magic shows, hay rides, a Cowboy Christmas supper, dance contests, and, on the last day a buffet serving foods reminiscent of the region's Scandinavian ancestors.
For a spectacular lighting display, don't miss the Legendary Lights at Clifton Mill, in Clifton, OH. There, 3.5 million lights dazzle on the five-story tall structure, the largest remaining water-powered gristmill in America.
Guthrie's old-fashioned Territorial Christmas events include a lighted parade, tours of historic homes and churches, a Christmas Organ Concert at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center, and a Victorian Walk, when merchants decorate their windows with live scenes from the state's Victorian Era.
At Portland's Holiday Ale Festival, more than 50 winter ales are created just for the season. From Belgians and Barleywines to Stouts and Sours, there's an ale for any celebrating palate.
The state's Amish Country highlights its Pennsylvania German heritage during the holidays. The Moravian Church in Lititz displays a 110-point star, an elaborate version of the original 26-point Moravian Star created in Germany in the mid-1800s. Families will also make a "putz," the Pennsylvania Dutch version of a crèche. In addition to featuring the baby Jesus, the putz might showcase historical figures, like Sir Galahad searching for the Holy Grail.
The Chorus of Westerly, RI and the city's Pops Festival Orchestra invite locals to sing along during its Christmas Pops Concert the week before Christmas.
Charleston's annual Holiday Pub Crawl takes revelers on a historic city tour through the oldest pubs and taverns while being regaled with tales of pirates, Prohibition, patriots, and presidents.
On "Pie Day" at the state capitol building in Pierre, visitors are served a free piece of pie, coffee and ice cream, then sent on their way to tour three floors of gorgeously decorated trees.
How could you pass up Christmas at Graceland? Elvis Presley's former mansion is decorated the way he used to twirl it up, with hundreds of blue lights along the driveway, a life-size nativity scene, his traditional red velvet drapes, and Presley family Christmas artifacts on display.
Across the Lone Star State, Texans celebrate Christmas Eve by feasting on tamales. They're part of the traditional Mexican celebration known as Las Posadas, which commemorates Mary and Joseph's search for lodging the night Jesus was born.
If you're lucky enough to get a ticket, the best show in the state has got to be listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing Handel's Messiah, accompanied by the Tabernacle's orchestra and bells.
Middlebury is the place to be if a month-long celebration sounds like fun. The festivities include the Annual Community Messiah Sing, a "Night Fires" winter solstice celebration featuring poetry, dance and story telling, plus ice skating, dancing, and more on New Year's Eve.
Mount Vernon, George Washington's historic home, is beautiful any time of year. But it's particularly special during the Christmas holidays, when Washington's mansion is elaborately decorated the way it would have been when our first president lived there. Don't miss a visit to see "Aladdin," a camel like the one Washington used to bring to his home to entertain his visitors.
The Bavarian Village in Leavenworth becomes a Village of Lights from Thanksgiving weekend all the way through the middle of February. Enjoy Christmas performances at the Front Street Gazebo, including hand bell choirs and an Army National Guard Dixie Land band, then drop by the Gluhwein Tent for hot spiced wine and cider.
The folks of historic downtown Fairmont celebrate their Italian-American heritage with a holiday "Feast of the Seven Fishes." In addition to sampling traditional Italian foods and enjoying live music, partygoers can marvel at the wares created by local crafters who showcase both their Italian roots and their Appalachian history.
The Holiday Folk Fair International at the Wisconsin State Fair Exposition Center celebrates the heritage of people living in southeastern Wisconsin. More than 50 ethnic groups, including Norwegian, Jamaican, Filipino, Cornish and Mexican, are represented in music, food, dance and the arts.
The Paul Smith Children's Village at the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens displays a collection of rare Santa Clauses from all over the world. Called "1,000 Faces of Santa Claus," the exhibit features ornaments, cards, plastic dolls, and handmade nontraditional depictions of Santa Claus, including a Santa dressed in pink and one that bears a striking resemblance to Mickey Mouse.