Thanksgiving has come and gone, and the smell of holiday baking is in the air. Radio stations have begun the stream of 24/7 Christmas carols, and twinkling lights adorn houses and trees from coast to coast.
This holiday season, we asked 10Best readers to help us name North America's best holiday parades, zoo lights, winter wonderlands, warm weather getaways and department stores.
10Best editors – along with a panel of travel experts – narrowed down the contenders in each category to the best 20, and then we turned things over to our readers to choose the winners. After four weeks of voting, the results are in.
Best Winter Wonderland: Quebec City, Quebec
Quebec City has been named one of the world’s best holiday destinations, and the combo of history, lights, snow and great shopping easily explains why. In December, Old Quebec turns into a real-life Christmas village.
Visitors can stroll through the decorated streets, or take a guided historical tour that ends in a Christmas market. In fact, Quebec features a variety of holiday markets, including European-inspired. Quebec also offers holiday foodie tours, and is home to one of the world’s seven Holy Doors.
Best Zoo Lights: Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo
Highlights of the Toledo Zoo's annual Lights Before Christmas celebration include nearly 70 miles of lights (over half are LED), bumper cars on ice, a three-lane ice slide, plenty of food and, of course, visits with Santa. Visitors can warm up in the theater with a show by Douglas the Talking Tree and share the spirit with various groups of carolers.
Best Holiday Parade: Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade
Each holiday season, on the second Saturday in December, the Eastport Yacht Club in Annapolis hosts its festive Lights Parade on the waters of Annapolis Harbor. Boats illuminated by thousands of colorful lights float along the waterfront in celebration of the holiday season.
Best Department Store: Stein Mart
Based in Jacksonville, Fla., Stein Mart was opened in 1908 by Sam Stein, the grandfather of the current chairman. Today, shoppers will find 278 locations from coast to coast, all retailing current season, brand name fashions at discounted prices.
Best Warm Weather Getaway: Golden Isles, Ga.
Situated halfway between Savannah and Jacksonville, Georgia's four barrier islands – St. Simons Island, Little St. Simons Island, Sea Island and Jekyll Island – collectively called the Golden Isles, encompass pristine wetlands, beautiful beaches, abundant wildlife and a host of historic attractions.
Average highs in the 60s and 70s throughout December and January make it comfortable to explore the great outdoors of Georgia's coast.
Congratulations to all our holiday winners, and happy holidays to our readers, no matter how you choose to celebrate.