66 June 2010 LeisureGroupTravel.com
The holidays are a great time forgroups to explore the Midwest,where festivities abound in towns largeand small.
CHICAGOLets begin in Chicago, the regions
largest city and one that goes all out forthe holidays. The season begins on theSaturday afternoon before Thanksgiv-ing with the Magnificent Mile LightsFestival. As the parade travels downNorth Michigan Avenue, more thanone million white lights adorning thetrees illuminate the citys prime shop-ping street. Also lit for the holidays areLincoln Park Zoo with its ZooLights
Dreamy visions of
Christmases past come
to life at Pabst Mansion
Holidays in the Heartland
john kloster Midwest
Christmas shoppers in Chicago make a beeline to North Michigan Avenue.
Christmas traditions warm travelers spirits in some of the regions most group-friendly places
of the C
LeisureGroupTravel.com June 2010 67
and Navy Pier, where Winter Wonder-Fest activities lure crowds to Chicagosmost popular tourist magnet.
Christmas Around the World at theMuseum of Science & Industry hasbeen a Chicago tradition for over 60years. More than 50 trees are decoratedto honor different ethnic groups. Anewer tradition is Christkindlmarket,dating to 1996. Held in Daley Plaza, thisis the largest German Christmas marketin the country. The goods, many hand-made, include glass ornaments, cuckooclocks, toys and nutcrackers. There arealso vendors offering traditional Germansausage and sauerkraut as well as Ger-man beer and wine. (explorechicago.org)
MILWAUKEEA Grand Avenue Christmas, held
Nov. 19-Jan. 9 in Milwaukee, is an an-nual event that showcases the 37-room
Captain Frederick Pabst Mansion,built in the 1890s by a beer baron,whose brewery at the time was thelargest in the world. Interior design-ers, florists and residents are broughtin to make a dozen or so of the opu-lent rooms even more so. Each roomis decorated differently each season,so theres every reason to make returnvisits. The home also hosts DickensDinners in December. This is a tra-ditional English feast where Dickenshimself reads sections from the clas-sic A Christmas Carol. (pabstman-sion.com)
FRANKENMUTH, MICHIGANTheres Christmas shopping and
then theres Christmas shopping!Bronners Christmas Wonderlandin the charming German village ofFrankenmuth is the worlds largest
Clevelands Tremont neighborhood is home
to A Christmas Story House and Museum.
Christmas store. It offers over 50,000different items in a building the size of5 football fields. More than 350Christmas trees are adorned with 6,000ornaments. The 27 acres of grounds arelandscaped with Christmas displays,and theres a nightly year-round displayof outdoor lights along ChristmasLane, with life-size Nativity scenes out-side each entrance. Its more than twomillion annual visitors, including morethan 2,000 groups, make it one of thestates top attractions. Bronners onlyhas snacks, so groups will want to headinto downtown Frankenmuth for aniconic family-style chicken dinner at ei-ther the Bavarian Inn or Zehnders.(bronners.com)
CLEVELANDThe 1983 film A Christmas Story had
modest success in theaters but has sincebecome a classic, running around theclock on cable during the holidays. AChristmas Story House and Museum,located in Clevelands Tremont neigh-borhood, is the original family homefrom the film in which Ralphie is hop-ing for a Red Ryder BB gun for Christ-mas. The home was purchased by a fanin 2004 and has been renovated tomatch the sound stage of the film so vis-itors can see sights such as the OldMans leg lamp in the front window.There are also hundreds of photographsand original props, such as the I cantput my arms down snowsuit. An annualconvention allows guests to meet mem-bers of the cast, screen and discuss themovie, ride on the movies fire truck andshoot BB guns in the back yard. Theweekend coincides with Clevelands an-nual tree lighting and Christmas parade,this year on Nov. 26-28. (achristmassto-ryhouse.com)
SANTA CLAUS, INDIANAThe town of Santa Claus, in South-
west Indiana, has the only post office inthe world with this name. As a result, itreceives thousands of letters from chil-dren from around the world, and agroup of volunteers answers each ofthem. For three weekends in December,the towns Santa Claus Christmas Cel-ebration features a traditional Christ-mas with the lighting of the townsChristmas tree and attractions. Theseinclude a drive through the Santa ClausLand of Lights, Santas Great Big LEDTree of Lights at Kringle Place and achance to learn the history of the townat the Santa Claus Museum. Enjoy aholiday arts and crafts show, manythemed restaurants and shops, and visitswith Santa himself. (santaclauschrist-mascelebration.com) LGT
68 June 2010 LeisureGroupTravel.com
Movie fans in Cleveland flock to the
filming site of A Christmas Story.