Don Emmert  /  AFP - Getty Images file
Skaters skate below the Christmas tree decorating Rockefeller Center in New York  Dec. 17, 2003.
updated 11/13/2006 4:18:34 PM ET 2006-11-13T21:18:34

With the holidays coming, are you looking for some really special gift to reward your kids for being extra good this year? Instead of buying them a pile of new toys, why not pack their bags and take them someplace different for a really special Christmas.

Join the crowds in New York City and take the kids of all ages to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and go ice skating at the rink below the tree if you can tear yourself away from the city's Christmas shopping. Click on "See & Do" and "The Tree" on their website.

The Web site has links to information about tours of Rock Center, NBC Studio and Radio City, and the Radio City link will tell you all about the annual Christmas Spectacular show at Radio City Music Hall, just a block west of the tree. A block east of the tree, and a half-block up Fifth Avenue, Saint Patrick's Cathedral is an inspiring monument at any time of year; click on "Music" for their calendar of frequent concerts and recitals.

Give the youngsters a little surprise and take them high above this year's 80-foot-plus tree to the Top of the Rock the Rockefeller Center observation deck 70 stories above street level. Check out "About the Top" for a little history, and then click "Visitor Info" for a link to Rock Center's shops and restaurants.

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If you need help finding a place to stay, the visitors' section of the city's official NYC & Company has an accommodations section, plus maps, ideas for shopping (from bargains to Tiffany), maps and suggestions for itineraries including "Family Fun." And consider the Big Apple Circus which puts on its annual holiday season show next to Lincoln Center home of world-class drama and music.

Maybe your young 'uns would like something more active and less traditional. Combine that idea with a little complete relaxation for yourself by going to Club Med where you want to use their "Village Finder" to look in the USA-Mexico region to find Sandpiper, conveniently located at Port St. Lucie, Fla. On the Sandpiper page, click on "Children's Clubs" to see what's available for various age groups, including sailing and flying trapeze lessons for teenagers. For yourself, read through "Leisure," and then look on the right side of the page for "Holiday Family Plan."

While you're thinking of Florida, consider Walt Disney World where you can type "Christmas" into the search window at the top of the page to see what special events are planned. Also in central Florida, Universal Studios Orlando has a parade and special shows to entertain families around Christmas time.

Too warm? Pack the family's ski gear and head to Canada. Click on "View Holiday Packages" at the Lake Louise Mountain Resort to see what's available around Christmas and New Year's for skiing in the deep snow of the Canadian Rockies.

Resorts of the Canadian Rockies offers more holiday package information in its Getaway Guide.

If you're not into skiing, put everyone on a train to see the mountains the old-fashioned way. Go to Rocky Mountaineer for a two-day excursion. According to the entertainment section of "Onboard the Rocky Mountaineer," there's a decorated specialty car set aside for younger passengers that includes visits by Santa.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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