Thursday, December 5, 2019

Go West, and Be Jolly

Here we go. Time to do Festive Things. I know. There's decorating and shopping and planning and entertaining and events and performances. . . But may I gently suggest that the most productive use of your time during this hectic holiday season might be doing something that yields no tangible results, offers nothing to check off of your "to do" list, and may (gasp!) gratify only you and some of the people closest to you.

Go ahead, block off a few precious hours and spend them doing something Simply Delightful with family or friends. If it's outside and gets you moving, all the better, I say.

Need ideas? Here are some you might not have considered -- all just west of uptown in and around neighboring Gaston County.

McAdenville Lights. . . On Foot!
For the month of December, McAdenville, NC, a quintessential small town about 15 miles west of Charlotte, transforms into a twinkling holiday wonderland. Every house, building, light post and tree is draped and wrapped in sparkling lights and Christmas trimmings.

Starting December 1, you can drive through “Christmas Town, USA.” But for the full sensory experience, consider walking instead.

Here’s what you get when you opt for a stroll: Enjoy the fresh air. Linger at your favorite displays. Hear the church bells and holiday music. Stop for hot chocolate at the town fire station. Share a friendly greeting with fellow revelers. And take advantage of abundant photo opportunities.

Here’s how to discover the magic of McAdenville on foot.

Charming Belmont
Downtown Belmont, NC, is postcard picturesque, complete with shops, restaurants, and an old city hall. This time of year, it is bedecked with lights and decorations for the Festival of Trees, which fill Main Street and adjacent Stowe Park. Grab dinner and take a stroll.

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden Lights
The exquisite grounds at Daniel Stowe become even more magical at night when draped in the Mile of a Million Lights. Holidays at the Garden, complete with music, a fire, children's activities and model train displays, will delight revelers of all ages. Simply enchanting.

King's Mountain Trains
The Kings Mountain Museum is nestled in an old post office. Their collection -- free and open to the public -- showcases this tiny town's storied history. During the holiday season, the museum is filled with model train displays that wind their way through miniature snow-covered villages. This cozy exhibit will evoke joy and wonder for young visitors and maybe a touch of nostalgia for the rest.

U.S. National Whitewater Center Winter Wonderland
New this year at the U.S. National Whitewater Center are ice skating and a lights display. This sprawling outdoor adventure center is fun on any given day of the year, offering everything from whitewater and flatwater paddling, to hiking and biking, to ropes courses and ziplines. But, with the new seasonal activities, it's a particularly spectacular venue for some winter fun.

Here's what to expect if you go.

Want more ideas? Here are some closer to home.

Whatever you have on your list of things to do, go ahead and squeeze in -- or, better yet, prioritize! -- meaningful time together with family and friends doing something delightful this holiday season. When we get to the other side of December and all of its demands, this might just be the memory that lingers brightest.

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