Welcome to the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. The winter solstice kicks off this Saturday, and with it, thousands of visitors from around the world have gathered at Stonehenge — the mysterious standing set of stones dating between 3000 B.C. and 2000 B.C., in Wiltshire, England — to mark the grand astronomical event when the monument aligns on a sight-line pointing to the winter solstice sunset.
Of course, who are we fooling? On Saturday morning, most of us would probably prefer to snuggle up under the covers than brave the gathering crowds at Stonehenge (even if the new $44 million visitors center, which opened this past Wednesday, sounds interesting, with an exhibition that includes a forensic reconstruction of a Neolithic man). We’ll leave it to the druids, pagans and astronomical diehards currently gathered at Stonehenge to fill us in on the grand event, which, on the flip side, ushers in the longest night of the year.
Well folks, you had the perfect gift picked out online, added it to your list, but just when you were about to add it to your “cart,” the express shipping fee made your eyes bulge or worse, the item is now on backorder. Not to fear, we have some last-minute ideas that your favorite traveler will truly appreciate: An unforgettable travel experience where the only thing to ship is yourself.
Glamping at the Resort at Paws Up in Greenough, MT
Wilderness lovers and those who prefer to be pampered (think: gourmet meals) will both be pleased with a getaway to this luxurious ranch about 30 minutes east of Missoula, MT. Guests can go fly fishing, horseback riding and hot-air ballooning before hitting the spa tent for a massage and then retiring to their own tent, complete with heated floors and electricity.
Check out more glamping spots.
Sonoma Country’s 3-Day Barrel Tasting Weekends
The Wine Road, an association of more than 100 wineries that includes household names like Clos du Bois and family-owned operations such as Stryker Sonoma, typically hosts barrel tastings twice a year along Sonoma’s Russian River Wine Road. Most wineries offer “futures” on their barrel samples — a chance to purchase wine while it’s still in the barrel, at a discount, before the wine is bottled in 12 to 18 months. So this really could be the gift that keeps on giving.
Explore more wine-tour weekends.
Indeed, we can depend on the Christmas tree at NYC’s Rockefeller Center to beguile us with its size and glittering ornamentation year after year.
It’s time to get serious — about finishing your Christmas shopping. There’s only 10 days left and counting! If you’re still looking for the perfect gift for the outdoorsman, frequent flyer or techie in your life, Rob Pralgo, Travel Channel’s Gear Guide, is here to help.
From bedbug-proof luggage to the latest in smartwatches, smart phone covers, camera lenses and HD snow goggles, he informs travelers of all the new gadgets they should not live without. Check out the coolest new travel gadgets on the market, and while you’re at it, you might want to pick up one for yourself!
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Still wondering what to get the seasoned travelers in your life? Here are some of our favorite new travel books — and if your traveling friends and family are anything like us, come Christmastime they’ll happily make room for these travel books on their coffee table.
For the Foodie: Where Chef’s Eat
This handsome food guide brings you the favorite restaurants of those who know food best — 400 of the world’s top chefs. Inside you’ll find personal recommendations from the likes of Rene Redzepi and David Chang.
For the Culture Vulture: Humans of New York
In 2010, photographer-blogger Brandon Stanton began photographing complete strangers and sharing their life’s secrets on his website, Humans of New York. Some 1 million fans later, the eponymous book-cum-intriguing photographic census of New York has become an instant best-seller.
The holiday season is officially in full swing — now that Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday have all come and gone (finally), it’s time to break the Christmas boxes out of the attic and get decorating! The National Christmas Tree in Washington, DC, will be lit this Friday, and the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is set to take place tonight at 8 p.m. — but what about your tree?
Want to show off your decorating skills? Or know someone who goes all-out with their spirited décor? We want to see your photos! Instagram them with the hashtag #TCHolidayLights, and we’ll pick our favorites to feature on the blog.
Plus, don’t miss Sam Brown and Zak Bagans’ picks for their favorite lights displays:
What better way to welcome the holiday season than with family, festivities, and, of course, the perfect holiday portrait. Don’t just settle for mundane decorations or a white background for this year’s holiday card; head to one these locations to truly wow your loved ones – no Photoshop required.
There’s no need to scramble to deck the halls and put up the tallest Christmas tree for the perfect holiday portrait. Trade an ordinary fireplace backdrop for one of the country’s coziest hotel fireplaces – just find one near you.
Looking for something less formal … and posed? Get outside and take the kids to a nearby park for a photo shoot. For you city slickers, we’ve rounded up a list of some of our favorite urban parks. No excuses!
Capture their attention with breath-taking views of the ocean, coast, or mountains from your last vacation. If your annual ski trip or beach house rental feels like a family reunion, why not use a photo from the last time you were all together?
Looking for more Everyday Escapes during the busiest travel time of the year? See our Holiday Tips for Family Travel.
Take a photo on your phone to share your family holiday spirit in a real Hallmark card with just a few clicks. Download the Hallmark Go Cards app to send real Hallmark cards to their mailbox from wherever you are. Download it now at Hallmark.com/GoCards.
Cyber Monday isn’t just a great time for snagging deals for holiday gifts for everyone on your list … it’s a great time to book your next vacation. You can score amazing deals on hotels, flights and more.
Let’s face it: After the holiday hoopla is over, you’ll be spent (and so will your funds) and in need of a vacation. So you might as well save money booking one on Cyber Monday! Without further ado …
1. This year American Express Travel is launching its first-ever Cyber Monday deal. The promotion has deals for hotels throughout the US and Canada travel from January 13 through the 31st, 2014. The promotion will begin on Monday Dec. 2, and will last 72 hours. To book, log on to amextravel.com starting December 2.
Think twice about that elusive 99-cent iPhone, people. Pushy crowds, endless lines and bitter cold can make you second-guess whether that deal is really a steal once Black Friday rolls around. Don’t even get us started on the whole sales-starting-on-Thanksgiving backlash. Here’s a better idea, several in fact, that can be ordered from the comfort of your own home.
At Travel Channel, we’ve been busy rounding up the ultimate gifts for all the globetrotters on your list – check out some of the best gear, gadgets and luxe travel essentials this holiday season below. Then enter for a chance to win some of our favorites as well as $10,000 cash in our Gift of Travel Sweepstakes!