The Baltimore Sun

Our hotspot this week is really quite cold. It's the North Pole, which, unfortunately, for our purposes, is not exactly chock full of museums, hotels and restaurants. Some day, perhaps, but for now, traveling to the North Pole is an adventure. You can get there aboard a Russian icebreaker or a chartered helicopter or even by dog sled, but an extended holiday at the famed home of Santa Claus may require a magical sleigh. In light of that, we've decided to highlight North Pole sites across the globe, wherever they may be.


North Pole, Alaska : Just outside Fairbanks, this town is where "the spirit of Christmas lives year round," according to city officials. And it's possible that jolly old elf does live here since the Santa Claus House (pictured, above right) is a popular attraction. Another must-do is the post office, where you can have cards and letters postmarked from the North Pole.


North Pole, N.Y. : This small town in the Adirondack Mountains is a short sleigh ride from Lake Placid. The main attraction: Santa's Workshop, of course, where you can see live reindeer or have a conversation with a talking Christmas tree.


Geographic North Pole : This is probably the place most people think of as the North Pole. It's basically a thick sheet of ice floating in the Arctic Ocean, but that hasn't stopped extreme athletes from traveling here to run the North Pole Marathon. It's a certified 26.2 miles and Guinness World Records notes it is the "northernmost marathon." The 2009 event takes place April 7. The good news: There won't be hundreds of runners, so you'll have a better shot at winning. (The first marathon in 2003 attracted 10 competitors.) The bad news: It's really, really cold.


North Pole, Colo. : In Colorado Springs, this 26-acre village includes rides, a miniature train display, magic shows and performances, including one by Elmer the Elf.


Santa's North Pole : A magical, whimsical, happy place that's yet to appear on any travel map. Still, many people, both old and young, believe it exists.

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