Editor’s Note: Travel is complicated right now. Please check local regulations and location openings before you go. We share places, products and activities we recommend. If you make a purchase using a link on our site, we may earn a commission.
Gingerbread houses evoke automatic smiles. They’re fanciful, pretty, and ultimately delicious. Made with gobs of royal icing, edible gingerbread and more candies than you can imagine, gingerbread creations can take the form of houses, magical buildings, and other displays to wow you with their holiday cheer. Here is an assortment of gingerbread creativity adding joy to the 2020 festive season.
Gingerbread Pieces Across the Nation
At the Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa in Riviera Beach, Florida, a large gingerbread display with tropical twists dominates the lobby. For the first time, the annual sugar-trimmed house includes interactive elements. Chef Kursten Restivo oversees a team that put in more than 1000 hours to complete the gingerbread creation.
Pebble Beach Resorts’ Pastry Chef Anastasia Simpson wants you to gaze skyward as you survey her gingerbread display at The Inn at Spanish Bay. Taking a month to create, this year’s house is built vertically with an intricate, tiered cake-style form. Look carefully because the five-level structure has several distinctive gingerbread houses.
Gingerbread Display at The Broadmoor
The gingerbread house at the 102-year-old Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs is a holiday tradition. Led by The Broadmoor’s Executive Pastry Chef Adam Thomas and his team of chocolatiers and bakers (plus a few carpenters), this year’s installation was inspired by the resort’s own The Broadmoor Manitou & Pikes Peak Railway, one of the top tourist attractions in Colorado.
The chocolate elves are beyond adorable as they work on the railroad. Santa, of course, is the foreman. This year, however, the display is only available to guests of the hotel. Don’t fret, though. You’ll still be able to enjoy the creation online with the myriad photos posted on Instagram.
The Bake Shop at Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas has unveiled a five-foot-tall gingerbread replica of the resort itself. Using 160 pounds of chocolate, 50 pounds of sugar and equally vast amounts of rock candy, rice crispy treats and other sweets, the Gingerbread Hotel took more than 500 hours for the bakeshop and carpentry team to create and is detailed to the max. A treat for younger visitors is also a life-sized gingerbread dollhouse complete with miniature furniture and light-up features.
Find more seasonal tours and activities in Las Vegas here.
Creating a gingerbread house in its own image, Santa Fe’s La Fonda on the Plaza replicates the hotel’s distinctive Pueblo revival architecture down to each sweet detail. Each year, La Fonda’s culinary team crafts a new variation, but you’ll always see the traditional New Mexican farolita lights that flicker atop La Fonda’s exterior walls during the holidays.
Learning the Gingerbread Craft
Sea Island resort on the coast of Georgia invites you to explore their Sweet Traditions Cottage from the inside. Handcrafted at the resort’s pastry shop, the cottage is made up of over 1,840 pounds of gingerbread and 820 pounds of royal icing.
It’s a fun interactive experience with a scavenger hunt to find hidden icons based on Sea Island’s popular traditions like bingo, nature/sea turtle nesting, golf, bagpiping, sailing, oak trees and more. Visitors can design their own gingerbread cottage, too, complete with candy canes, gumdrops and other goodies with the help of a live “elf.”
Catch up on your craft with this Gingerbread design guidebook, A Year of Gingerbread Houses: Making & Decorating Gingerbread Houses for All Seasons by Kristine Samuell listed on Amazon here.
If you’re now inspired to create your own gingerbread structure, check out the larger-than-life gingerbread house at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes where you’ll find Grande Lakes Orlando Gingerbread School. There you can sign up to build and assemble your own creations under the tutelage of skilled holiday artisans. For inspiration, the resort has a massive gingerbread house in the lobby.
In Cincinnati, The Lytle Park Hotel’s restaurant Subito has lent an Italian flair to an oversized cannoli gingerbread house. I certainly hope it’s edible because the restaurant’s special ‘12 Days of Christmas’ menu would be perfect with a cannoli finish. I wonder if it has baby cannolis inside.
Stroll Through the Sweets
For those of you interested in a more active gingerbread experience, Tennessee offers a gingerbread tradition to keep things merry, bright and moving.
In Jonesborough, the town’s Gingerbread Village has a new walkable holiday contest and display with edible gingerbread houses, replicas of historic buildings and more, all displayed in store windows. You’re invited to participate in the contest with your own gingerbread creation.
Revelers can keep the momentum going in New York’s Finger Lakes Region. At the Sweet Creations Gingerbread Display in Rochester, dozens of cleverly designed and deliciously decorated gingerbread houses fill the George Eastman Museum, where guests can stroll through the confectionary spectacle.
New this year, the gingerbread creations, many behind glass for close-up viewing, will be available for auction. Social distancing and masks are required.
For something completely different, Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights near Chattanooga, Tennessee, is an annual event with a million sparkling lights creating a gingerbread house among other structures. Tickets must be purchased in advance.
Find a hotel room at one of the Gingerbread havens listed here.