Historic Homes for the Holidays

  • Winter Wonderland at Fonthill Castle - Doylestown

    Fonthill Castle, the palatial home of Henry Chapman Mercer during the early twentieth century, transforms into a winter wonderland when the holidays roll around. Located just outside Philadelphia, the estate get adorned with Victorian-era decorations with seasonal events planned throughout the month of December, including free Holiday Festivities with Santa and candlelit evening tours.

    Photo courtesy of John Barkley

  • Christmas at Mount Vernon - Alexandria

    To see how America's first president celebrated the season, head to Alexandria or Christmas at Mount Vernon. During the celebration, guests will have the opportunity to tour the rarely-opened third floor of the estate, enjoy themed trees and festive greenery, watch chocolatiers produce holiday treats, listen to live holiday performances, meet Aladdin the Christmas Camel and see the lucky turkey who received the presidential pardon at the White House. Evening candlelit tours are also available.

    Photo courtesy of Russ Flint - George Washington's Mount Vernon

  • Holiday Nights at the Ca' d'Zan - Sarasota

    The Ca'd'Zan, the spectacular Venetian Gothic mansion and former home of circus tycoon John Ringling and his wife Mable, will get a Christmas makeover this holiday season with a 10-foot-tall Christmas tree as a centerpiece. Sarasota visitors can tour the mansion during extended hours as part of the Art After 5 series on Thursday evenings throughout December

    Photo courtesy of The Ringling

  • Boone Hall Plantation Christmas - Charleston

    During Boone Hall Plantation Christmas, Charleston's iconic Southern plantation home gets a seasonal makeover, complete with live Christmas trees of all shapes and sizes adorning every room on the main floor. Decorations throughout the estate are made from sweetgrass, cotton, berries, live fruit and leaves of Magnolia trees, mostly grown on-site.

    Photo courtesy of Boone Hall Plantation

  • Christmas at Biltmore - Asheville

    On Christmas Eve 1895, George Vanderbilt debuted his new home – decorated in full holiday regalia – to his family and friends. America's largest home continues the tradition, with thousands of ornaments, dozens of lit Christmas trees and thousands of miles of twinkling lights on display through mid January. The gardens will host a series of winter-themed seminars as well, including wreath making and caring for Christmas plants.

    Photo courtesy of Biltmore

  • Holiday Evenings at Vizcaya - Miami

    Even though winters aren't exactly cold at Vizcaya – the former winter home of wealthy industrialist James Deering – in sunny Miami, the estate still decks its halls with all the trappings of the season. During Holiday Evenings at Vizcaya, visitors can see what the mansion might have looked like when Deering decorated it for the holidays while listening to Christmas tunes on the estate's custom-built pipe organ.

    Photo courtesy of Bill Sumner

  • Monticello Holiday Evening Tours - Charlottesville

    If you've ever wondered how Thomas Jefferson spent the holidays, you're in luck. This season, visitors to Charlottesville can sign up for a guided small group tour of Monticello after dark. Other seasonal events at this famous presidential home include wreath and gingerbread workshops, a holiday open house with Thomas Jefferson and the fourth annual Monticello Holiday Classic 5k.

    Photo courtesy of Thomas Jefferson Foundation

  • Upside down Christmas tree made from Lady Anna's hats

    A Very Duchess Holiday at Lyndhurst - Tarrytown

    Much like Lady Grantham in Downtown Abbey, Anna, the Duchess of Talleyrand and the last owner of Lyndhurst castle in Tarrytown married a titled aristocrat in Europe. When she donated her New York estate to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1961, she left much of her couture wardrobe as well. Beginning on Black Friday, Lyndhurst will celebrate A Very Duchess Holiday with displays of her clothing, live theater and a holiday bazaar.

    Photo courtesy of Lyndhurst

  • National Christmas Tree at the White House - Washington DC

    The White House gets a holiday makeover every year that includes the lighting of the National Christmas Tree out front on December 6. Inside the Presidential house, another festive tree sits in the center of the Blue Room, decorated according to a different theme each year. In 2012, it took 85 volunteers from around the country to get the White House holiday ready.

    Photo courtesy of jim pruitt/iStock/Thinkstock

  • UnDecked Halls at Rough Point - Newport

    In New England, it was common for members of high society to winter elsewhere, and at Rough Point, the oceanfront estate of heiress Doris Duke, visitors during the holiday season get a glimpse at what an authentic New England Christmas was like for the staff when the mansions were empty of residents. Since Doris Duke spent her holiday in Hawaii, her staff decorated their own quarters, an area that opens to the public only during UnDecked Halls tours.

    Photo courtesy of Newport Restoration Foundation

  • Holiday Traditions at Filoli - San Francisco

    Built by the Bourn Family, owners of one of California's richest gold mines in the early twentieth century, the historic Filoli house just outside of San Francisco will become a showcase of Christmas decorations and merchandise beginning Thanksgiving weekend. Holiday Traditions at Filoli includes an Opening Night celebration complete with live music, holiday shopping and hors d’oeuvres, as well as a children's party with Santa

    Photo courtesy of Ned Gault

  • Edison Ford Holiday Nights - Fort Myers

    Beginning Thanksgiving Weekend, the Edison & Ford Winter Estates will host the annual Holiday Nights celebration. The 20-acre former winter home of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford in Ft Myers will open each evening for visitors to enjoy traditional Christmas decorations and inventions by the pair. The festivities kick off on November 29 with a tree lighting ceremony featuring Santa and live carolers.

    Photo courtesy of Edison & Ford Winter Estates