Those of us who have always spent our winter holidays in Chicago
can't imagine not having a white Christmas. Even people like me,
who would rather live somewhere much, much warmer, tend to welcome
snow from mid-day on Dec. 24 through the morning of Dec. 26.
If you ask Tracy Louthain, there are white Christmases in
Florida, too. "We have white sand Christmases," says Louthain.
She's the spokesperson for the tourism office of the Beaches
of South Walton, the 15 beach communities that line 26 miles of
beach along the Florida Panhandle.
The communities were devastated by the BP oil leak, which
arrived along with the first tourists of the summer season. The oil
is gone now and the sand is white again.
Louthain admits that once in a while a tar ball still
washes ashore, but in the rare event that happens, there is a
system in place for dealing with it quickly.
The Florida Panhandle is the Sunshine State destination
for families who want a laid-back vacation (no crowded amusement
parks here), like to spread out (by booking an individual cottage)
and save money (having access to a full kitchen makes it easy to
save on food costs when vacationing with kids and there are several
specials aimed at wooing back travelers who were scared off by the
It's a long, but doable 15-hour drive from Chicago.
Southwest and Delta also fly into the new Northwest Florida Beaches
International Airport, although you would probably need to rent a
car once you arrive.
If you head there for the winter holidays, be prepared for
a lot of holiday spirit. "We are very Christmas-y down here,"
Cindy Richards is the mom of two who gets her muse from traveling the world, usually with kids in tow. She also writes for TravelingMom.com, where she also serves as editor.
See more of Cindy's stories here.
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