16 Incredible Gingerbread House Displays That Are Worth a Trip
For some, decorating gingerbread houses is a Christmas tradition, while others are content to simply admire the creativity of others. Either way, there's no shortage of impressive holidays displays across the continent this holiday season. Whether in New York, Denver, or San Francisco, these gingerbread houses, and accompanying displays and festivities, will warm the heart of even the most curmudgeonly Scrooge this holiday season.
One of the most renowned gingerbread displays in the country is the National Gingerbread House Competition at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina. The 24th annual competition brought in more than 100 gingerbread creations, including a beachfront scene, a peacock, and an Eiffel Tower. The entries have already been judged and awarded, but the public can view the display for free Sunday to Thursday until Jan. 5. (Parking costs $10 to $22, but half the fee is donated to a local charity.)
The New York Hall of Science holds GingerBread Lane, a display of about 1,200 gingerbread buildings created by chef Jon Lovitch. He earned the Guinness World Record for largest gingerbread village in 2013 and has broken his own record every year since then. Each version of the village takes about a year to create, and he's pushing for a new record again this year. Admission to the Hall of Science is $15 for adults 18 and older and $12 for youth 2 to 17. The village is on display until Jan. 15.
The lobby at Fairmont San Francisco is home to a two-story gingerbread house with a completely edible exterior. It's more than 22 feet tall by 23 feet wide, and features "bricks" adorned with more than a ton of icing and candy. The house is on display until Jan. 1. The hotel also offers a gingerbread tea, but it ranges from $99 to $119 for adults, plus tax and tip. Nearby, the Westin St. Francis has its own impressive display of two sugar castles, which is on display until Jan. 2.
The 14th annual gingerbread house display and competition at PPG Place in Pittsburgh includes houses made by everyone from preschoolers to professionals. Livability ranked it the second-best gingerbread house competition in the U.S. in 2014. The houses are on display in the PPG Place Wintergarden through Jan. 7. Admission is free, but donations benefitting a local children's hospital are welcome.
The Galt House in Louisville, Kentucky, holds an annual gingerbread house competition for both amateurs and professionals, and the houses are on display through Christmas Eve. Tickets for Christmas at the Galt House ($16 for guests 13 and older, $7 for kids 3 to 12) include many holiday festivities besides the gingerbread village, such as a luminary exhibit and the Peppermint Express Kiddie Train. The hotel also has overnight packages ranging from $169 to $289 a night (plus tax) that include tickets to some of the hotel's other attractions.
Walt Disney World in Florida boasts several confectionary delights. The lobby of the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is home to a 16-foot-tall gingerbread house. It took more than 400 hours to bake all the gingerbread. Disney's Contemporary Resort features a "Frozen"-themed gingerbread castle with gingerbread shingles, chocolate-covered trees, and sugar snowflakes. The American Adventure pavilion at Epcot features a miniature version of the U.S. Capitol Building with 50 pounds of gingerbread. There are other sugary creations at Animal Kingdom, the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, and the Boardwalk Resort.
Related: 26 Ways to Do Disney on a Budget
Related: 26 Ways to Do Disney on a Budget
Visitors to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, can get a glimpse of a gingerbread display in the ballroom scene of the Haunted Mansion ride, which takes on a "Nightmare Before Christmas" theme for the holidays. This is the 15th year the ride has featured a gingerbread house, which is made of more than 200 pounds of gingerbread.
An Illinois chef commemorated the Chicago Cubs' World Series victory by crafting a gingerbread version of Cubs' home turf, Wrigley Field. Assembling the 400-pound arena took more than 70 hours. The chef, Geraldo Madero, has a construction background, which helped him and his team create the sweet structure. The stadium will be on display at Forest Hills Country Club in Rockford, Illinois, until Jan. 1.
For the 24th year, the Sheraton Seattle Hotel has a gingerbread village on display. This year's theme is "Celebrate the Magic of the Holidays," and the candy creations were inspired by J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series. The display is free and open 24 hours a day, seven days a week until Jan. 1. Visitors can vote on their favorite pieces throughout the season.
Visitors to Madison Square Park in New York can stroll down Taste of Home's third annual Gingerbread Boulevard and take in the sights of gingerbread houses up to 9 feet tall. One house is big enough for visitors to come inside. Admission to Gingerbread Boulevard is free; the display runs through Dec. 18.
Ferry Farm in Stafford County, Virginia, is George Washington's childhood home, and for 30 years it's been home to a gingerbread house competition and exhibit. This year's theme is "Home for the Holidays." The exhibit is open every day until Dec. 30 (except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). Admission to the Ferry Farm and the gingerbread exhibit is $8 for adults and $4 for students. Gingerbread-only tickets are also available at $4 for adults and $2 for students. Either way, kids under 6 get in free.
For the first time, the Art Institute of Colorado and the History Colorado museum have teamed up to hold a gingerbread house competition. Culinary students at the art institute made the houses, which are based on area buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. The houses will be on display in the History Colorado lobby through Jan. 2, and visitors can vote for their favorites. Admission for the gingerbread village is free. For the rest of the museum, admission is $8 to $12.
The Cleveland Botanical Garden holds a gingerbread house competition every year, and the houses become part of Glow, the garden's "winter spectacular." Along with gingerbread houses, Glow boasts decorated trees, musicians and carolers, craft making, a wish tree, and more. Glow continues through Dec. 31. Admission is $16 for adults and $12 for kids 3 to 12.
This year is Discover Portsmouth's 26th annual gingerbread exhibit. The New Hampshire town's display has a vintage flair. The gingerbread houses are created by locals, and the display is surrounded by large photos of Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth and New Hampshire trains in winter. The display is open until Dec. 23, and admission is free.
The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain in Marana, Arizona, has a life-size dine-in gingerbread house. The ingredients include 856 pounds of sugar, 100 pounds of ginger powder, and 250 eggs. The house is free for public viewing, but the cost to have a meal inside is, shall we say, not cheap. For a group of up to six people, it's $200 to $250 to rent the space for lunch or dinner, and that's not including the cost of the meal.