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Winter Wonderlands

By Kristen Larsen

In the Treasure Valley we are fortunate enough to experience four true seasons. As the autumn leaves start to fall, it seems as if the last seasonal shift of the year is upon us. And, with the cozy scent of wood-burning fires filling the air, we know that winter is just around the corner.

With the changing seasons comes a change in our opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors, as well. For some, that may mean a trip to Bogus, Brundage, or Sun Valley. But for those who are less coordinated, yet looking to enjoy the beauty of winter with their loved ones, these ideas for festive fun are guaranteed to wipe the glowers of a chilly day away, and brighten the smile of any child, even the fickle child-at-heart.

SLEIGH BELLS RING

If the vibrant jingle of sleigh bells has been remiss in your traditional holiday celebrations, then perhaps the time has come to change that. Imagine dashing through the snow beneath a cozy blanket with your loved-ones as a team of painted draught horses gently winds their way through a real winter wonderland.

At Idaho Sleigh Rides you will find plenty of winter magic courtesy of a traditional horse-drawn sleigh and the majestic Boise National Forest as your backdrop. Owner-operator Darl Allred has spent the last four years providing Christmas memories that last a lifetime. Let the sweep of downy flakes accompany your outdoor excursion and after your enchanting journey, warm up those frosty fingers with a mug of hot chocolate or a home-cooked meal in their authentic sheepherder’s tent.

If you and the little ones are still looking for a little extra winter fun, check out their sledding hill and make a day of it.

Located in scenic Garden Valley, just an hour north of Eagle, Idaho Sleigh Rides is open weekends or by reservation if you’d like to reserve a private excursion for you and your family to make the most of the winter season. If you are considering a one-of-a-kind corporate holiday event, look into their special packages on catered or Dutch-oven meals. You won’t want to miss out on this! For information, visit www.idahosleighrides.com or call (208) 462-3416.

ALL ABOARD!

You would be hard pressed to find a child who isn’t smitten with the fabled ‘Polar Express’, the legendary tale that unfolds with a little dose of Christmas magic and an unforgettable train ride up to the North Pole.

What if you and your family could make that Christmas reverie come true? Horseshoe Bend’s Thunder Mountain Line offers its guests the perfect one-and-a-half hour holiday getaway, with two festive and holiday-themed options to choose from.

Take the kids on TML’s ‘Santa Express’ tour, where they can mix and mingle with Mr. and Mrs. Claus while riding from the Horseshoe Bend station up to scenic Montour, ID where you and yours can tour Santa’s Village and take advantage of the photo ops you dream of.

Or, you and your friends and family might opt to spend an evening in the company of other festive revelers, while enjoying a catered meal and a glass of good cheer on the more adult-oriented ‘Holiday Dinner Train’, instead.

Thunder Mountain Line’s reservations manager, Nicholaus Lewis, says, “Christmas gifts may come and go, but a young child will remember that holiday train ride forever.”

Again, don’t wait too long—tickets go quickly. For ticket prices and reservations, visit www.thundermountainline.com or call (208) 331-1184.

Yes, the holidays can be hectic. But there is a way to hit the pause button and unwind, and to reinvent how you and your family choose to spend time together during the winter holidays.

Picture yourself under the caressing flakes of a gentle snow flurry as you catch the sparkling glint of freshly fallen snow and the foggy breath of horses. Or sit back amidst silk brocade wallpaper and wooden booths, relaxing with the rhythmic motions provided by transportation of yesteryear.

These two winter getaways encapsulate something timeless, and somehow elusive, when compared to our modern day lives; and give us something that is able to bring us to a slower pace and place, where the holidays mean celebrating time with your loved-ones and creating memories for years to come.