Originally part of Spanish-ruled Mexico, San Antonio's history dates to 1681. Today's visitors can follow the interwoven threads of Hispanic culture and Texas-style enthusiasm. Although the city is a treat to visit almost year-round, December guests will enjoy a range of holiday treats in delightfully refreshing temperatures.

Icicle Valley or Rocky Mountain High?

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? If your dream Christmas includes snow-topped peaks, take a scenic 105-mile drive from Seattle over the Cascade Mountains to the Bavarian-style mountain resort of Leavenworth, Washington. For a peaceful escape, head to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, just 90-minutes north of Denver, Colorado.

Question: It's our anniversary. Where can we go for a romantic holiday getaway in the Chicago area?

Answer: If the idea of another 'smile-'til-you-die' Christmas office party makes you want to run away from home, the place to hide is Yelton Manor Bed & Breakfast, in South Haven, Michigan, a few hours east of Chicago and west of Detroit.

Long-time innkeepers Elaine Herbert and Rob Kripaitis have decorated their Victorian inn with great style and comfort, and offer 17 guest rooms, some with lake views, balconies, king-size beds, fireplaces and whirlpool tubs. All have a VCR, so you can pick a favorite movie from their 1000-plus video library--be sure to see Holiday Inn and White Christmas. The inn is decorated for Christmas through January 15, and is garlanded with a fairyland of 15,000 white mini-lights outside; inside, Elaine decorates a mini-Christmas tree in each guest room, a 16-foot fir tree in the living room with over 1500 heirloom ornaments, plus such heirloom collections as nutcrackers, antique toys, and four porcelain villages. B&B double rates of $90-165 (higher in summer) for guest rooms in the Manor include such breakfasts as egg strata with fresh salsa, home-fried potatoes, English muffins, and orange coffee cake. Sociable guests congregate in the cozy den to snack on just-popped corn, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies, or evening hors d'oeuvres; those who prefer maximum privacy will want a suite ($135-165) in the adjacent Guest House, ideal for quality time with your significant other. More inns…

While brisk breezes and daily "lake effect" snow showers may tempt you to spend the weekend under the covers (worse things could happen), we'd recommend heading outside to explore. Bundle up and follow the historic Harbor Walk to the South Haven Lighthouse to enjoy the views and learn about the area's maritime history, or hike, bike, cross-country ski, or snowmobile a portion of the 36-mile Kal-Haven Trail. Shoppers will enjoy browsing in the local galleries and antique shops; more details from the South Haven/Van Buren County Lakeshore Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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