Top Holiday Escapes Near Philadelphia

December 8, 2012 7:00 AM

If you’re looking for an adventurous holiday season this year, you’re in luck. You can have tea with the great-great-grandson of Charles Dickens to celebrate the 200th birthday of the author of “A Christmas Carol,” all while enjoying the sights and sounds of Hershey. Follow and participate in the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge ski competition, or experience a Civil War-era Christmas. View the simple life of the Pennsylvania Dutch. All of these experiences and more are just a few hours from Philadelphia this winter holiday season.
Getting There

From Philadelphia, all of the following locations may be reached by taking the Pennsylvania Turnpike or I-76 West, and many of the destinations are located along U.S. Route 30, the Lincoln Highway.

Holiday with Dickens at The Hotel Hershey
100 Hotel Road
Hershey, PA 17033
(800) 437-7439

Dates: Dec. 9 to 10 English tea – 3 p.m.; reception/dinner performance of “The Christmas Carol” – 7 p.m.
Prices: $40 per person English tea/$99 reception/dinner

Celebrate the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens with his great-great-grandson, Gerald Charles Dickens, during his unique, one-man performance of the beloved tale, “A Christmas Carol.” Enjoy one of two performances daily – an English tea in the afternoon, or a reception/dinner performance in the evening. Dickens brings 26 characters to life using only a table, a wing chair and a hat rack in his retelling of Ebenezer Scrooge’s overnight transformation from villain to hero. After each performance, Dickens will be available to sign autographed copies of a special selection of books and other gifts.

While in Hershey, consider including a visit to Hersheypark’s Christmas Candylane. At night, the park and town come alive in Hershey Sweet Lights. Bring the children to a Children’s Gingerbread Tea at Hershey Lodge, or enjoy a fabulous holiday chef’s table dining experience at Hotel Hershey. Click here for directions. Reservations required. Minimum age for guests is 14.

Related: 2012 Philadelphia Holiday Theater Preview

Jim Thorpe Olde Time Christmas
Jim Thorpe Chamber of Commerce
2 Lehigh Ave.
Jim Thorpe, PA 18299
(570) 325-5810

Dates: Dec. 1 and 2, 8 and 9, and 15 and 16
Prices: Most events are free.

Jim Thorpe’s charm shines along with its holiday lights each yuletide season.Take the children on a train ride with Santa, view a live nativity, enjoy the sights and aromas of a gingerbread house contest, or take a tour of the historic mansions all decked out for the season. From street carolers to horse-drawn carriages, a visit to the town’s historic, Victorian-era district promises a cornucopia of experiences to delight the senses and warm the heart on a cold winter day. Named one of the Top 10 Small Towns in America by USA Today and Rand McNally, the town offers a pet parade, a Bach and Handel chorale, wine tasting at the Harry Packer Mansion and a host of boutiques, gift shops, restaurants and fine accommodations. 

Koziar’s Christmas Village
782 Christmas Village Road
Bernville, PA 19506
(610) 488-1110

Click here for hours and prices.

Celebrating its 64th anniversary this year, Koziar’s Christmas Village has won numerous awards, including Best Outdoor Christmas Display in the World from Display World magazine. It’s also listed as one of the top 10 travel attractions in the state by the Pennsylvania Travel Council. In 1948, William M. Koziar began decorating his property for his wife and four children. As the years passed, their home became known as the “Christmas House.” Each year, Koziar added to the lights and decorations that graced his property. Eventually, he began decorating the area around the lake, other out buildings and the barn. Today, the entire display area boasts more than a half of a million lights, and this year, a hand-crafted train display with tracks, a station and a village have been added. Tours include: Christmas in the Jungle, Christmas Beneath the Sea and Christmas in Other Lands.

Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge
Ski Roundtop
925 Roundtop Road
Lewisberry, PA 17339
(717) 432-9631

Date: Dec. 27 – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Ski Liberty
78 Country Club Trail
Fairfield, PA 17320
(717) 642-8282

Date: Dec. 28 – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Mountain Dew Vertical is coming to Ski Roundtop in northern York County and to Ski Liberty, in southwestern Adams County, this year. The event is free for all contestants, but lift tickets are required. The series of races features a dual giant slalom course and snowboarding competition. It’s a celebration of winter and family and individual accomplishments, and the Vertical Challenge also benefits the Make-A-Wish-Foundation. The event was the brainchild of Frank Taney, who, while working for the Pepsi Company, started the event 21 years ago as his way of saying thanks to his customers at ski resorts.

Linda Fontaine, spokesperson for the Vertical Challenge, said the dual race course format includes 13 to 14 gates per course, with average runs of about a 30- to 40-second time. The space between each gate is wider than slalom and not as wide as giant slalom. As a result, skiers and snowboarders, beginners and experts are able to race on the course,” Fontaine said. “Results are by time in each of the 52 different categories — male/female, age, skier/snowboarder, as well as an adaptive category. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd place racer in each category receives a medal and an invitation to our finals at Mount Snow, Vermont, which are held March 30, which is the culmination of our season. We usually have about 1,200 qualified racers that come.” 

For more information on the Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge’s 2012-2013 schedule, visit:

Winter Holidays at Gettysburg
Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau
35 Carlisle St.
Gettysburg, PA 17325
(717) 334-6274

Gettysburg transforms for the winter holidays, offering a mixture of history, culture and seasonal finery. Experience a Civil War Christmas at the Shriver House Museum. Located in the downtown historic district, this house offers an interpretation of the civilian experience during the best-known battle of the American Civil War. Throughout December, visitors may experience a 19th-century winter holiday, in the former home of the George and Hettie Shriver family. A candle-laden Christmas tree, along with yuletide fires and handmade holiday greens provide an authentic Civil War-era experience. For a more contemporary holiday experience, the Eisenhower National Historic Site offers An Eisenhower’s Christmas. The elegant, yet homey farmhouse is decorated in the Eisenhower family tradition. Decorations include mistletoe, wreaths, poinsettias and a candy cane-covered Christmas tree. Other attractions include a Jennie Wade Holiday Open House, as well as a host of other holiday-themed events in the town of Gettysburg, at the National Military Park and around Adams County.

Related: Department Stores Get An Extra Early Start On Christmas Displays

Jeffrey B. Roth, has won numerous state and national news and feature-writing awards during his career. A well-known crime writer, investigative reporter and a feature writer, Roth writes for a number of magazines and newspapers. Listed in the Locus Index of SciFi and Fantasy authors, Roth is the author of a number of published short stories and poetry. His work can be found on

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