Day trips: Count on candlelight, cannoli and even cardinals

New York City

Christmas Lights & Cannoli Tour

Who needs the lines at Rockefeller Center when you can take a tour of the lit-up homes of Dyker Heights in the Italian-American section of Brooklyn? Crowds gather in the quaint neighborhood to view spectacular Christmas light displays and Nativity scenes that get more extravagant every year. If you're hungry, the Mona Lisa Pastry Shop offers cannoli and cappuccino as a stop on the tour. The best part is, it's easy — just board the bus in Manhattan and head out to Brooklyn for some unconventional New York City holiday cheer.

The meeting place for the tour bus is on Fourth Avenue between 13th and 14th streets, just off Union Square. Tours run Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays in December from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Tickets are $55 for adults and $45 for children under 12. Go to

Cape May, N.J.

Christmas Candlelight House Tour

The holiday season wouldn't be complete without a night of strolling past homes covered in twinkling Christmas lights, caroling and holding a cup of hot cocoa. The Christmas Candlelight House Tour in Cape May provides all of this, and more. The tour features homes, hotels, inns and churches all decked out for the holiday season. Musicians serenade visitors as they enjoy warm drinks and sweets. Admission also includes entry to the Emlen Physick Estate, a Victorian house museum, and the "Holiday Traditions through the Years" exhibit in the Carriage House Gallery.

The last day of the Christmas Candlelight House Tour is Dec. 17 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Admission is $25 for adults and $20 for children. Go to or call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278.

Charleston, W. Va.

Ski season begins

With the weather finally cooling off, it's starting to feel like ski season. The ski resorts of Canaan Valley, Timberline and Winterplace in West Virginia all open for the season Dec. 17, while Snowshoe opens this weekend. The onset of colder weather will allow for the production of artificial snow to join the natural stuff, covering the trails with thousands of tons of snow. So bundle up and head out to the slopes!

The ski season will continue through early April. For more information on skiing and snowboarding in West Virginia, go to


Christmas Bird Count

The Audubon's 112th Christmas Bird Count is in full swing. From now until Jan. 5, thousands of volunteers nationwide will be on a mission to collect a census of bird populations in hopes of promoting bird conservation. Started in 1900, the Bird Count is the longest-running wildlife census, thanks to the volunteers who are passionate about nature's beauty and maintaining it. You can be part of the count, too. All you need is a pair of binoculars, a checklist and a bird guide.

If you're interested in helping out with the bird counts in Maryland, a Christmas Bird Count will be held in the Baltimore harbor area on Dec. 17. For more information, contact Pete Webb at 443-904-6314 or More bird counts take place on Sunday, Dec. 18, in Salisbury and at Catoctin Mountain. Go to

Philadelphia, Pa.

TubaChristmas Celebration

To celebrate the Kimmel Center's 10th birthday, the performing arts center is offering a free family-friendly music series throughout December. The TubaChristmas Celebration kicks off the festivities and features more than 100 tuba, sousaphone and euphonium players that gather, rehearse and perform a medley of holiday songs, all in one day. Wolfgang Puck will whip up Pigs in a Blanket and Candy Cane Cocoa for the children and Peppermint and Snowflake martinis for parents at PECO Café at the Kimmel Center.

The TubaChristmas Celebration is Dec. 17 from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Commonwealth Plaza at the Kimmel Center. For a full schedule of events, go to

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