Monday, December 25, 2017

It's Christmastime In The City - Week 2


It was time to head west after checking out Wilmington, NC, Charleston, SC and Myrtle Beach, SC. on our quest to find "Christmastime in the city."  The first week of our adventure was so much fun and we were excited about Week 2.

We were offered a free room at Harrah's Cherokee in Cherokee, NC.  We take these offers even though we know it will cost us something after we visit their casino.  It definitely costs us less than if we had to pay for the room though.  We were frequent guests for many years of the Harrah's chain when my mom was around and soon got these offers.  Now that Mom has passed we don't go that often but we will take advantage of the free room as long as they keep offering them to us.  This gorgeous hotel is in a perfect location to enable us to get to Tennessee which is someplace I knew we could find some of the best holiday displays.  It takes just a little more than one hour over the Great Smoky Mountains to get there from Cherokee.

Week 2

We have been to Cherokee, NC and know that it is a touristy area, similar to Gatlinburg, TN, but on a much smaller scale.  Both cities have many shops that sell beautiful Native American created goods, the ice cream parlors and the zip line adventures.  I wasn't sure what to expect in Cherokee but was hoping for the town tree.  The city did have a few nice light displays but I couldn't find the town tree.  To tell you the truth we were so impressed with and really enjoyed the hotel's holiday displays that I decided to highlight the hotel.  (Although Cherokee didn't have enough to highlight their city, they did have my favorite light display!)

Harrah's Cherokee, NC

Harrah's Cherokee hotel is so huge that it is almost a small city in itself.  There is a bowling alley  along with the spa, hairdressers, game room for the kids, one indoor pool and one outdoor pool, many restaurants and lots of shops ranging from high-end to gift shops.  Almost every shop and restaurant decorated for the holidays and there were Christmas trees everywhere!


This huge, beautiful tree was the first one we saw when we first walked into the hotel.


We found this one on the second floor near the high-end stores.


This tree was smaller to fit into one of the many lounge areas throughout the hotel.


Many of the shops at the hotel made room to put a tree in their store.  This one decorated their tree with the ornaments they were selling.


This store had an upside-down tree.  I have seen a couple of these type of trees this year, but I really don't understand them at all!  Somebody please tell me why we want to turn our Christmas tree upside down.  Does it have anything to do with Stranger Things?


I have also been seeing lots of these, the snowman tree!  We found this one behind the hostess stand at one of the restaurants.  I love these trees...

and this display!


Which tree did these giant balls fall off of we wondered?

We really had a great time on our Christmas tree hunt at the hotel.  I think we probably counted at least 15.  Now it was time to venture out of the hotel and into the cities.

Gatlinburg, TN

Gatlinburg was the city I was the most excited about seeing this second week.  We were just there in September and the fall displays around the city were some of the best I've ever seen.  I was sure that the scarecrows, haystacks and pumpkins would be replaced by snowmen, snow and poinsettias.  

We were not disappointed.  There were displays around every corner, decorations around every storefront  and "a feeling of Christmas" everywhere.


The entranceway into each small shopping area off the main street were so festive and inviting that we had to go into each and every one of them.


The downtown shops in this very touristy area are so charming and at Christmastime they are even more so.




I just had to sit for a picture at one of the many photo ops that were scattered all over the town.  I helped an adorable family of 7 take their picture here.  


We love Gatlinburg, TN because of this fun downtown area and the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains.  We will definitely be back one day soon.  On our way out of this wonderful city, we saw their gorgeous, gigantic town tree.


Our next stop was the city of Pigeon Forge.  I had heard that their light show was not to be missed.  We had to see if all the hype was true.

Pigeon Forge, TN

The city was so lit up with more than 4 million lights that I wouldn't be surprised to hear that they could be seen by the passengers in the airplanes flying above.  This festival of lights was called Winterfest Driving Tour of Lights.  There were light displays on the sides of roads that you could enjoy as you drove by them and then there were clusters of themed light displays in outdoor malls and parks where you got out of your car to view the displays.  


We went to Patriot Park where there were light displays with an Americana theme.  We loved the armed forces displays.


Most of the buildings in the city were all decked out and covered with thousands of lights including the Smoky Mountain Opry and the Pigeon Forge Information Center.



There were many displays scattered around the city that celebrated Pigeon Forge.  This one was a tribute to their southern charm.


Something I read said to look for the critters who live in the Smoky Mountains to be wandering around the city.  We found the bear family.


And also to look out for the many pigeons around town.


Are these pigeons?  I'm not sure but they were the only birds I saw so I hope they were!

Murphy, NC

Murphy is a city we discovered in the western part of NC on one of our vacations in the area.  We were looking for a place to eat and it brought us here.  It is one of those small town, USA spots for sure.  The whole town spans about 6 blocks and you can walk from the post office to the court house, to city hall, the library and police station, church and to anywhere else you need to go in a matter of a few minutes.  We were curious to see how festive this area would be for the holidays.   


The first thing we noticed when we drove into the city of Murphy was their Christmas tree.  It was placed perfectly in the center of town.  This was a good place to park the car.  We weren't going to need it to get around this tiny, adorable city.


The church and other buildings were decorated simply but you knew they were celebrating Christmas in this city.




Every lamppost was decorated and most of the storefronts were too.




 

We love this small town.  Besides for being able to walk around the entire town in less than 30 minutes, there is a shop that sells the best olive oil in every flavor imaginable.  We grabbed a couple of last minute stocking stuffers there.  And the people here are so friendly.  Not only do you get a smile and nod, you also get a "How y'all doing today" as you pass them on the street!

We had lots of fun exploring all of the cities and we felt the joy of Christmas everywhere!  I mentioned that Cherokee, NC didn't have much but they did have my favorite.


The real reason for the season.

Wishing you the very merriest Christmas and a happy and healthy new year!


Christmas 2018









Monday, December 18, 2017

It's Christmastime In The City




In 1986, I was running errands in my neighborhood at that time, Nanuet, NY, and saw a huge tree being carted away on a flatbed truck.  I didn't know until the annually televised tree lighting that the tree I saw was the one.  I couldn't believe how awesome it felt when I realized how close I was to the tree that was going to make history!  People come from all over the world to ice skate at Rockefeller Center and to see the lighting of the magnificent (and soon to be historic) tree.  I don't know if there is another city in America that can rival the holiday displays and festivities of New York City.

New York City

 

I live in North Carolina now and just recently went to our city's tree lighting.  Although Leland's wasn't as grand as the one in Manhattan, they did have guest singers singing Christmas carols and Santa Claus made an appearance.  We were offered free coffee, hot chocolate and cookies which was really nice.  No, it didn't come close to NYC but we did have a fun night!  

Leland, NC


I haven't been to too many cities, though, at Christmastime and I'm sure that most towns across the United States have their tree lighting evenings, festivities and holiday displays.  So since our Christmas tree and decorations were up and most of the presents were bought, I decided to plan a road trip or two to check out some holiday decor.  I was on a quest to find and enjoy the best holiday displays in as many cities as I could get to in the two weeks before Christmas.

Week 1

The first stop of this adventure, would be the nearest city to us, Wilmington, NC.  Me and Soko headed downtown to see the huge tree that I knew was there somewhere.  I was hoping, and was pretty sure, that there would other things to see.  And, yes, there was lots of festive decor all over the city to enjoy.

Wilmington, NC




Lots of the restaurants and shops downtown had holiday displays and this one even used the tree in front of their business to put Wilmington in a festive mood.




On our stroll down the Wilmington Riverwalk, was where we found the tree in front of the court house.


And the menorah...


And where we found the horse drawn carriage, lampposts and many other things shouting "It's Christmastime In The City!"

  

Our final stop here in downtown Wilmington was Front St. to see if the historic homes on this block were decorated for the holidays.  There were and they were gorgeous.  





We will definitely try to get downtown at another time to check out the other historic homes in the area but it was time to get ready for my next stop to find Christmastime in the city.

Charleston, SC

Early the next morning, me and my daughter, Lisa, hopped into the car and settled in for our four hour drive to meet some friends in Charleston, SC.  I was very excited for this road trip as I had been to Charleston and it was such a charming old town and I was sure it would be even more delightful at Christmastime.


Charleston, on a gorgeous winter day with my best friends and favorite daughter.  I can't think of a better way to enjoy the holiday displays of a beautiful city!

The first place we wanted to check out was the Charleston City Market...  


 which was right where the city put their tree.


Then a stroll around the town where we admired the creativity of this building...


and where we enjoyed the many other decked out buildings, and homes that filled their window flower boxes with festive plants and decor.  We noticed that almost every building had a wreath hanging on it, either on a door or window, one prettier than the next.






A visit to Charleston wouldn't be complete without a walk down Rainbow Row.  




Me and Lisa had a great time in Charleston, especially because we got to spend the day with good friends.  The city was as we imagined and more.  Now it was time to head back home but not before stopping for something to eat at one of Lisa's favorite places, Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach, SC.

Myrtle Beach, SC

Not only did we enjoy dinner here, but we were treated to some really beautiful and festive decorations!  Christmas lights are really special at night and this stop had one of the prettiest displays I had seen so far.




And, just when we thought this day could not get any better, we saw the tree, spectacular and glowing with hundreds of colorful lights!


Week 2 takes us six hours west to see what we can find in the mountains of North Carolina and into Tennessee.  To be continued...


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