Not feeling too jolly? Has the season snuck up on you yet again? Sometimes, it takes a full holiday submersion candy canes, snow, Santa, the whole bit to get in the mood. Here are five great trips, all of which can be done in a day, to get back your chestnut-roasting, sleigh-bell-ringing self.
Hale Farm and Village Holiday Lantern Tours
Travel back to the holiday season of 1848 at Hale Farm and Village for a guided, lantern-lit tour through Wheatfield Village, where residents will invite you to share in their holiday traditions, lore and legends. Meet Bellsnickle, the Santa of the day; chat with a Jewish peddler; watch a German family trim the tree, a custom they imported from the fatherland; and sip hot chocolate.
Tours take place Thursday through Saturday from Dec. 5 to 21, as well as Dec. 22, 27 and 28. Starting at 6 p.m., the 90-minute tours depart every 20 minutes until 8:40 p.m. The program is recommended for ages 13 and older. Admission is $15 per person and advance ticket purchase is required. Call (330) 666-3711 or visit www.wrhs.org. Hale Farm is located about 40 minutes south of downtown Cleveland.
Hometown Holiday in Milan
Known for its quaint town square and for the boy who lived there until he was 7, Thomas Edison, Milan becomes even more charming the first weekend in December. From 10 a.m. till 6 p.m., there's a flurry of activities, including carriage rides, ice sculptures, visits with Santa in the Town Hall, a madrigal choir, a petting zoo and appearances by Thomas Edison, Scrooge and Mother Goose. For $10, you can add tea and dessert in a Victorian home to your list. For $12, you can tour six historic homes in town. (Reservations are suggested for both activities.)
Hometown Holiday is held Dec. 7 and 8. For more info or to make tea or house-tour reservations, call (419) 499-2968. Also, visit www.milanhistory.org. Edison's birthplace and the Milan Historical Museum will be open as well. Milan is about 50 minutes west of downtown Cleveland.
Spending a day in Loudonville is like taking a 50-year step back in time. Stop for a phosphate at the soda shop (now called Books, Baubles and Brew), then catch a movie at the Ohio Theatre, a real Victorian opera house complete with balconies and a red-velvet curtain. This year, the town will be decorated in red, white and blue lights to celebrate Ohio's bicentennial. Visit on Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. to see the town's annual Christmas parade or on Dec. 14 or 20 for a horsedrawn carriage ride. Take a quick detour off Main Street to the outdoor ice rink at Riverside Park and hot chocolate. Though downtown is home to a fair number of stores offering Amish goods or antiques, the locals are also proud of their more modern amenities, including two up-and-coming eateries, the Sojourner Café and the Broken Rocks Café and Bakery.
For more information, visit www.loudonville-mohican.com or call 1-877-2-MOHICAN or (419) 994-4789. Loudonville is located about 90 minutes south of Cleveland.
Roscoe Village Candle-lighting Ceremony
Yes, Virginia, there really is Christmas without commercialism. In Roscoe Village, it starts at Thanksgiving, when, every year, a local family donates a three-story-high tree for the town center. Then, on the first three Saturdays in December, a tree-lighting ceremony is held. Each guest and there are usually about 2,000 receives a candle. The honorary candle-lighter starts by passing the flame to the choir, which launches into the first verse of "Silent Night." As each person in the crowd receives the flame, they join in on the song. As the light increases through the crowd, so does the volume of the music. The event ends with a prayer.
In addition to the ceremony, there are strolling carolers, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, live arctic reindeer (Dec. 7 only) and complimentary hot mulled cider and cookies. A tour of five of the canal town's historic buildings offers a glimpse into Ohio holiday traditions in the 1800s, including a stop at a print shop and a doctor's house. Tickets for the tour are $9.95. Call 1-800-877-1830 or visit www.roscoevillage.com for more information or to make tour reservations. Roscoe Village is about 2 1/2 hours south of Cleveland. The tree-lighting ceremony is held at 6 p.m. on Dec. 7, 14 and 21.
Christmas at the Hollow
Tour the historic Stewart Manor, decorated for an early 1900s old-fashioned holiday. Built as a farmhouse in 1837, the house was added onto in the 1920s, converting it into a 40-room Federalist manor that was home to railroad entrepreneur H.B. Stewart and his family. Sip wassail, visit with Santa, tour the winter garden or just revel in the surrounding 700 acres of meadows, marsh and woodlands of Quail Hollow State Park.
Christmas at the Hollow runs from 6 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 12, from 6 to 10 p.m. on Dec. 13, from 5 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 14 and 1 to 5 p.m. on Dec. 15. There is no admission fee, though reservations are required. Events are geared toward kids and adults. Call (330) 877-6652 or visit www.quailhollow.org. Quail Hollow is about an hour's drive from Cleveland.