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Travel & Outdoors

Top Cheap Holiday Escapes Near Philadelphia

December 13, 2013 7:00 AM

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(credit: Chelsea Karnash/CBSPhilly)

(credit: Chelsea Karnash/CBSPhilly)

Your wallet may be lighter after holiday shopping, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend those holiday vacation days cooped up at home. Choose from one of the many options that are just a hop, skip and a jump from the Philadelphia and surrounding area. Bundle up the kids and pack the bags for a much-deserved holiday trip to one of these nearby escapes – without breaking the bank.

Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos
1 Great Wolf Drive
Scotrun, PA 18355
(570) 688-9899
www.greatwolf.com

Funds may be too tight for that dream vacation to tropical shores, but you can still enjoy the waves, balmy temperatures and poolside drinks at Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos. Just a couple of hours by car from Philadelphia, the 79,000-square-foot indoor water park maintains a year-round water temperature of 84 degrees and features tons of family fun with rides, slides, pools and lazy rivers. With many special, holiday-themed packages to choose from, you’ll also enjoy an abundant array of dining and shopping options as well as many other vacation amenities. If you feel like mixing in a little fun in the snow, the slopes of some of the Poconos favorite ski resorts are just a snowball’s throw away.

Related: Top Weekend Getaways In The Philadelphia Area

Hershey Resorts
27 W. Chocolate Ave.
Hershey, PA 17033
www.christmasinhershey.com

Take your sweet time enjoying all of the wonderful things to do and see when you spend a few days at Hershey Resorts during the holidays. Less than two hours from Philadelphia, Hershey Resorts has something for everyone and a package for every budget. Check out one of the special holiday stay and play deals. Families appreciate the added value of packages that include meals and attractions bundled with an overnight stay. You’ll discover why this town is known as the Sweetest Place on Earth when you check out Hershey Lodge’s holiday dinner musical, “Christmas in Chocolate Town,” celebrate your inner child at Hershypark Christmas Candylane with its thousands of twinkling lights and rides and cruise through Hershey Sweet Lights, a fantastic holiday drive-through attraction.

Holiday Inn Washington DC – Central/White House
1501 Rhode Island Ave.
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 483-2000
www.inndc.com

Our nation’s capital is just a two-hour train ride from Philadelphia – slightly longer by car – and comes highly recommended as an excellent nearby getaway destination by Helene Singer, who runs Singer Travel in Wyomissing, a travel agency that has helped Philly-area residents create memorable adventures for the past 30 years. Each year, free boat parades are held along the Potomac River in downtown Washington, D.C., and the National Zoo puts on a spectacular seasonal display of animated lights, offering crafts, family-oriented holiday-themed activities and more. With these and so many other attractions free to the public, the sights are as easy on the pocketbook as they are on the eye. In addition to many other specially packaged getaway plans, The Holiday Inn Washington DC – Central/White House hotel, located just blocks from the sights and museums, has a variety of packages available for family fun. An added bonus for the budget traveler is that kids eat free in this hotel’s full-service restaurant.

Related: Ask The Expert: Top Ways To Prepare For A Spring Break Staycation In Philadelphia

Jack Frost/Big Boulder
Big Boulder
1 South Lake Drive
Harmony, PA 18624
(570) 443-8425

Jack Frost
1 Jack Frost Mountain Road
Blakeslee, PA 18610
(570) 443-8425
www.jfbb.com

Just a couple of hours from Philadelphia, this favorite wintertime family getaway destination has it all. No need to buy plane tickets out west for your holiday ski trip. With 36 slopes between the two parks for skiing, snowboarding, tubing and lessons, Jack Frost and Big Boulder are at the heart and soul of the Pocono Mountains ski industry, with something for everyone. There are dozens of close-by lodging options, many with stay/ski packages at special and regularly discounted prices including a large selection of homes and condos with full kitchens, allowing you to bring and prepare your own meals, saving the budget for fun on the slopes. Many of these units are big enough for two families, so you can split the cost with friends or family while creating priceless holiday memories together.

The Westin Jersey City Newport
479 Washington Blvd.
Jersey City, NJ 07310
(201) 626-2900
www.westinjerseycitynewport.com

Not even two hours from the City of Brotherly Love, New York City abounds with fun things to do during the holiday season. A perfect destination for last-minute holiday shopping, sightseeing and festive fun, NYC is surprisingly accessible on a budget. Many popular destinations including The Museum of Modern Art, The New York Botanical Garden and the Bronx Zoo offer free admission at specific times/days of the week, and many popular tourist destinations including Times Square and Central Park are free. There are deals and steals to be had on hotels too, even for top-notch venues like the Westin Jersey City Newport, just across the river in New Jersey. For less than half of what it could cost you to stay in a similar hotel in NYC, guests at this hotel can still enjoy many of the same amenities as hotels with a Manhattan address, including luxuriously appointed rooms, a stunning skyline view and easy access to all the Big Apple has to offer.

Christy Ayala covers sports, recreation, the outdoors, and leisure activities in the Philadelphia area. She earned a masters degree in recreation administration from George Williams College and managed programs in the Midwest, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.

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