It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas … Well, the halls may not be decked with boughs of anything at this very moment, but when travel planners dream up ideal trips for November and December, they find plenty of holiday fun in the Southeast.

From the Gulf Coast to Kentucky’s Bluegrass region, the destinations on this shortlist will help groups celebrate the most wonderful time of the year in spectacular ways.


Magic Christmas in Lights at Bellingrath Gardens-Mobile, Alabama


Walter Bellingrath purchased a fishing camp to relax, per his doctor’s orders, in 1917. That property would develop over the course of his lifetime into the Bellingrath Gardens and Home and its Magic Christmas in Lights, one of Mobile’s local treasures and now a Southern Christmas destination illuminated in 3 million LED lights..

“It really gets you excited for the holidays,” said Bellingrath’s Cassidy Smith. “The combination of the gardens and the holidays brings so much joy to your heart and makes you feel like a little kid.“

Magic Christmas in Lights, from late November to early January, consistently rated one of the South’s best botanical light displays, is a walking tour that takes about an hour to complete.

Plan to arrive midday to see the property’s sprawling gardens and the exterior of the estate in the daylight. Tour guides will educate groups on the Bellingrath family as they explore the property. Plus, one of the guides on staff is the grandson of Mr. Bellingrath’s physician. “He’s a walking encyclopedia and actually won best local historian in Mobile this year,” Smith said.

“I had a ton of people telling me how it was a beautiful experience and they had so much fun,” Smith said. “People spend their anniversaries here and get engaged here. It really is a ‘fun for all’ kind of experience. Kids can run around and wear off their energy; adults can relax and take a stroll. If you’re a nature enthusiast you get the best of both worlds. If you just love the holidays, it’s a great thing to do outdoors.”


First published by The Group Travel Leader. Read the first article here