The 30 Most Magical Christmas Towns in the U.S.

Head here for holiday cheer.

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Seeking someplace where snow will almost be a guarantee? Book tickets to Park City, Utah or Leavenworth, Washington. More in the mood for a warm-weather holiday? Head to Delray Beach, Florida, which lights a 100-foot tall tree each year, or go with the small-town charm of Solvang, California, where Julefest takes place all December long. And we’d be remiss not to mention the year-round Christmas towns of Santa Claus, Indiana and North Pole, Alaska, which find ways to honor the holiday 365 days a year.

Ready to make all your Hallmark Christmas town dreams come true? Then alert the in-laws, bundle up the kids, and hit the road. These magical American Christmas towns are ready to embrace you with open arms, opportunities for new Christmas traditions , and, of course, a warm cup of hot chocolate or two. Happy Holidays, y'all!

Middleburg, VA

a group of people riding horses with dogs

Settle in for an old-fashioned Christmas in the heart of Virginia’s horse and hunt country, where you can cheer on a parade of loyal hounds as they ride through the streets, sip on small-batch hard ciders at Mt. Defiance , and shop for old-world holiday decor, including Wilhelm Schweizer pewter ornaments, and Wendt & Kühn windup music boxes, at year-round holiday shop The Christmas Sleigh .

Gruene, Texas

a white house with flags

A two-steppin' Texas Christmas awaits in this cotton town-turned-thriving historic district located within the community of New Braunfels. Pose for pics with Cowboy Kringle, Gruene's distinctive wrangler spin on Father Christmas, take in the annual Pony Express Ride, a beloved holiday tradition that sees a horseback cavalcade carry a message of yuletide cheer from the state governor straight through town, then head to Gruene Hall , Texas’s oldest continuously running dance hall, for a calendar jam-packed with holiday shows.

Plan Your Trip

Woodstock, VT

a person and a dog outside an old fashioned general store in the winter

In the heart of the Green Mountains, a Christmas card-worthy village and its surrounding hamlets shine with New England charm. Go cross-country skiing, visit covered bridges, and bundle up for horse-drawn sleigh rides through snow-covered pastures at Billings Farm & Museum .

Plan your Trip

Stockbridge, MA

best christmas towns stockbridge ma

Stockbridge might look just like a Norman Rockwell painting—and that's because it is! Each year, the town re-creates the 1967 Rockwell painting, "Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas (Home for Christmas)" during their annual festival . Old-fashioned cars line the main street to re-create the painting, and the public can tour historic homes decorated for the holidays.


Park City, UT

best christmas towns park city ut

Why not escape to a literal winter wonderland for Christmas? Park City is a breathtaking place nestled in the mountains. There are tons of Christmas events throughout December such as holiday markets , sleigh rides , and a Christmas Eve torchlight parade , where skiers and snowboarders come down the mountain carrying torches to lead Santa into town.

Franklin, TN

best christmas towns franklin tn

Step back in time at the annual Dickens of a Christmas festival in historic downtown Franklin. The festival, which is in its 35th year, brings characters from A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist to life throughout its weekend-long festivities. Roam the Victorian Village and try Victorian-era Christmas treats like sugar plums while listening to carolers. Stop for a chat with Jacob Marley or Ebenezer Scrooge before visiting Father Christmas.


There are plenty of reasons to visit Essex at Christmastime. Ride the North Pole Express , then keep things locomotive-themed at the annual Holiday Train Show , or do some Christmas shopping at the holiday village where you can also catch a stunning light show. Have dinner or even stay at the historic Griswold Inn for the perfect New England holiday.

Cape Cod, MA

cape cod christmas

Looking for boatloads of Christmas cheer with a New England twist? Head to Cape Cod ! There are few things more picturesque than lighthouses decked to their nines in Christmas garlands, wreaths, and lights. What's more, the quaint seaside destination hosts dozens of craft fairs, parades, theater productions, and even a Train to Christmas Town .

Ann Arbor, MI

ann arbor michigan best christmas towns

There's so much to love about a Christmas in Ann Arbor, from the dozens of holiday events offered (think: free outdoor markets, German food fairs, lantern parades, s'mores roasting, and live music, just to name a few). The annual "Sing Along with Santa" event, presented by the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra , is a can't-miss spectacle. It's just what is sounds like: A carol sing-along featuring Santa himself, plus plenty of cookies and cider.

North Pole, AK

north pole alaska best christmas town

Bet you never thought you could make a trip to the North Pole ! This town may not be the real thing, but it's got the name—and it boasts year-round Christmas spirit. There's also a "Santa Claus house" with live reindeer, a mayor who goes by the name of Santa, and candy cane street lamps. How's that for a winter wonderland?

New York, NY

new york city best christmas towns usa 

It may not be a tiny town, but it's still got all the charm—and it'd be impossible to make a list of the best Christmas towns in America without including the Big Apple ! There's simply no place quite like New York City at Christmastime. With its countless attractions, skating rinks, and shopping opportunities galore, it's an obvious choice for at least one of your family's Christmas trips.

Bethlehem, PA

bethlehem pennsylvania best christmas towns

Spend Christmas in Bethlehem without shelling out a fortune on airfare or traveling back in time! This Pennsylvania town boasts horse-drawn carriage rides and a "Christmas City Stroll" that'll have your entire family smiling and laughing.

Greenville, SC

Greenville South Carolina Best Christmas Towns

Want to feel like you're walking around on the set of a Hallmark Christmas movie? Then you'll want to head to Greenville, South Carolina, where the sidewalks twinkle with lights as Santa’s electric sleigh drives by with an elf in tow. There's even a miniature outdoor skating rink on Main Street, a "Festival of Trees" competition, tree lighting ceremonies, and more. It's downright magical!

Solvang, CA

best christmas towns in usa california

Take a trip to gorgeous wine country this holiday season and visit Solvang , located in the Santa Ynez Valley . The town hosts Julefest , which lasts all December long. Guests can go on go on a Holiday Lights Tour, take part in the Santa Sprint, listen to live holiday music, and much more.

Andalusia, AL

best christmas towns in usa candyland

It doesn't get too cold in Andalusia , but that doesn't stop the town from turning into a winter wonderland. Every weekend in December, residents flock to Candyland, a kid-friendly event where children of all ages can ice-skate, visit the different holiday cottages, and meet Santa. The best part? Admission is free!

Bardstown, KY

best christmas towns in usa kentucky

This Kentucky town kicks off the holiday season the day after Thanksgiving—that's November 23 this year—with the Light Up Bardstown celebration . Kids will have a blast at the Fun Christmas Corner, where they can enjoy sweet treats and face painting. Everyone in the family will love the annual Christmas tree lighting and an appearance by Santa Claus himself.

Leavenworth, WA

leavenworth washington christmastime

On any day of the year, this Bavarian village gives off an Alpine holiday air. But during snowy December, visitors are met with 21 miles of lights along the homes and fences, and can also anticipate handbell concerts, a lively Christkindlmarkt, harp music, and a weekly festival with carolers, Gluhwein, and sledding gathered 'round the town's tree.

Branson, MO

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Each year, this Missouri city hosts the Ozark Mountain Christmas festival, a month-long extravaganza with festive music, light shows, and plenty of parades. You can even hop aboard the Branson Scenic Railway's Polar Express Train Ride and feel like you're in a scene from the classic movie. Don't forget the hot chocolate!

Asheville, NC

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Not surprisingly, much of Asheville's holiday focus is on Biltmore , the historic Vanderbilt mansion, which dresses up lavishly with ribbons, garlands, and sparking lights. Elsewhere in this active mountain town, locals gather to watch Santa rappel down Chimney Rock as a warm-up exercise for his upcoming Christmas Eve activities . The well-established arts scene in town makes shopping for unique gifts easy at craft shows and studio visits in the River Arts District.

Frankenmuth, MI

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Known as Michigan's Little Bavaria, Frankenmuth's European heritage is on full display during the Christmas season. Some of the town's charming holiday highlights include a traditional Christkindlmarkt, a holiday home tour hosted by the Frankenmuth Women's Club, whimsical light displays, and Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, the world's largest Christmas store.

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25 Best Christmas Towns in the U.S.

From coast to coast, here are the most charming towns to visit for Christmas.

best cities to visit in usa during christmas

Nothing quite compares to the joy of seeing a town bedecked with holiday decorations. The sight of boughs of holly and string lights can warm you even in the coldest temperatures. Everyone wants to spend Christmas in a town like that, seemingly plucked from a Hallmark movie, and there are plenty of them dotted all around the U.S.

Festive destinations across the country beckon families and solo travelers alike. Prepare to find yourself drinking a hot toddy among locals at a cozy tavern, see some of the most epic light displays , and cross paths with Santa Claus himself as you stroll the streets of these charming Christmas towns.

Aspen, Colorado

A combination of luxe living and small-town charm makes this Rocky Mountain town one of the merriest in the country. Wandering along Cooper Avenue, you may chance upon cookie exchanges, public s'mores roasts, or elf meet-and-greets. Get into the spirit at Aspen's treasured hotels — the lobby of the Hotel Jerome, Auberge Resorts Collection , often hosts carolers, while Ajax Tavern and Element 47 at The Little Nell both serve fabulous holiday meals. Looking for a bird's-eye view of the decorations? Book one of the Sky Residences at W Aspen to get access to a private rooftop lounge overlooking incredible mountain scenery.

Ogunquit, Maine

Travelers may be drawn to this former artists' colony in Maine as a beach getaway, but the holiday season offers a different set of perks — namely lower prices and an overall calm, with just enough festivity to keep things humming. December's Christmas by the Sea festival typically includes a bonfire on the beach and visits with Santa. From Ogunquit, you can also easily reach two areas prime for Christmas shopping: the Kittery Outlets and, about an hour's drive away, Freeport, where you can shop at the L.L. Bean Flagship store and pose with the famous big boot. For distinctive local shopping, browse the Harbor Candy Shop on Ogunquit's Main Street (the gift boxes make great stocking stuffers).

Vail, Colorado

Chris McLennan/Vail Resorts

Ski season kicks into high gear during the holidays in this Colorado wonderland. December brings fresh powder, the village tree lighting, and New Year's Eve festivities. Vail is not only one of the best Christmas towns in the U.S., it's also known for good coffee and cocktails. Try local favorites Yeti's Grind and Loaded Joe's in the morning, and sip well-crafted drinks at Root & Flower in the evening. You might ring in the New Year at Flame, the fine dining restaurant within Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail , before having a nightcap at The Sebastian - Vail, a Timbers Resort . Finally, rest your head at the ever-charming, alpine-chic Lodge at Vail, a RockResort , whose heated outdoor pool is flanked by gorgeous fire pits.

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Nantucket's annual Christmas Stroll is its banner holiday event. The tradition started in the 1970s — shopkeepers would stay open later in the evening so locals wouldn't have to travel to Cape Cod to buy gifts. Now, on the first weekend in December, you can shop downtown amid dozens of Christmas trees, take part in wine and cocktail tastings, and go on organized walking tours. Pick up some gifts at Murray's Toggery Shop (the mothership for holiday-ready Nantucket reds) and Jessica Hicks , the boutique of a local jewelry designer. And don't miss the many Christmas trees, all uniquely decorated by community members, at the Whaling Museum 's annual Festival of Trees.

Orlando, Florida

The country's theme park capital is unsurprisingly one of the most festive places to visit over the holiday season. At Walt Disney World, you can attend Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party , which includes a Christmas-themed fireworks show and classic attractions like the Jungle Cruise and Space Mountain decked out in festive cheer on select days from early November to late December. Meanwhile, at Universal Orlando, there's nowhere dreamier than The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Christmastime, when the scenery is topped with a layer of (manufactured) snow and the butterbeer is best served hot.

Breckenridge, Colorado

Breckenridge gets revved up during the holidays as ski season swings into high gear. This resort town dances between thrills and tranquility. During the month of December, festivities abound, from the tree lighting to the Race of the Santas , a half-mile footrace featuring costume-clad runners. You're also bound to fall for the charming après-ski options in Breck, from the house-made beers at Breckenridge Brewery to the martinis and flights at Base Nine Bar .

Lewisburg, West Virginia

Every year, Lewisburg transforms into a winter wonderland with Christmas lights and carriage rides. It's a peaceful getaway for holiday travelers hoping for a low-key escape. But there's plenty of opulence — especially at the nearby Greenbrier , the Lewisburg area's epicenter of holiday splendor. The 18th-century resort keeps visitors entertained with over-the-top decorations and family programming.

Beaufort, North Carolina

You probably won't find snow on the ground in this Outer Banks town come December, but the mild climate means you can celebrate Christmas on the water. Typically, the weather is still warm enough to kayak or join a boat tour along Taylor's Creek. The Christmas lights take to the water, too: one of the biggest holiday events is the Crystal Coast Christmas Flotilla , a twinkling lights-strewn boat parade held on the first weekend in December.

Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

Travel Pictures/Alamy

This California town with a rocky coastline doesn't experience much in the way of winter weather, but Carmel-by-the-Sea does get chilly (around mid-40s to high 50s) in December. The city decorates a tree in Devendorf Park and holds a tree and menorah lighting ceremony in early December. Because this is the low season for tourism, it becomes a little easier to get a table at popular restaurants like La Bicyclette and Flying Fish Grill .

Park City, Utah

This Utah mountain town demands serious wattage during the holidays. The season kicks off with an Electric Light Parade, featuring cars, bicycles, and the town trolley all bedecked with lights. Even if you miss the parade, typically at the end of November or early December, you'll get to admire the glittering lights of the town Christmas tree in Miner's Park. Continue your tour of holiday decorations at Stein Eriksen Lodge , which builds a giant gingerbread display every year.

Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

Visit Florida's 30A in the off-season to get white-sand beaches practically to yourself. With daily highs in the 60s throughout December, you could easily forget it's Christmas. You would be reminded, however, at the Annual Holiday Market at The Artists Warehouse, which happens to be the perfect place to shop for unique gifts. For more one-of-a-kind finds for under the tree, stop by Kitchen Garden Books and Antiques , which calls its own selection "odd" and "unusual."

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Winter is the best season to score lower rates in this family-friendly beach town, but that doesn't mean the place goes totally quiet. People go to Myrtle Beach for the low-season deals and holiday-specific sights like Brookgreen Gardens' annual display of 2,700 hand-lit candles and Ripley's Aquarium's Festival of Trees . The decorations at the Carolina Opry Theater are worth a visit alone, but you should especially go to see the time-honored tradition that is the “ The Christmas Show of the South ."

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe does Christmas a little differently. Its Canyon Road Farolito Walk flips the script on conventional festive displays — instead of modern-day LED string lights, a trail of lanterns sets the iconic pink adobes aglow. And although you might be imagining only desert and earthen homes, you can still have a white Christmas in Santa Fe by making a trip up to the Ski Santa Fe resort in the Rocky Mountains.

Newport, Rhode Island

If flashing neon holiday lights make you cringe a little, head to classy Newport, where only white lights are encouraged to conjure an old-fashioned candlelit vibe. Touching on its upscale history, tours of the Mansions of Newport take you through Gilded Age architectural icons like The Breakers , The Elms, and The Marbles, all decked out with sumptuous trees, fine china, and decorations. Since crowds are lighter, it's a good time to try Newport's most in-demand restaurants, like The Dining Room at Castle Hill Inn .

Annapolis, Maryland

D. Trozzo/Alamy

This military town along the Chesapeake Bay does plenty of pomp, circumstance, and tailgating during the holiday season. Annapolis boasts a plethora of Christmas lights, notably strewn on boats and along the water's edge. On some Thursdays leading up to December 25, the adorable shops downtown stay open until midnight, making for a special shopping experience. Appropriately, the event is called Midnight Madness , and you can expect not just late-night deals but also treat giveaways and Christmas decorations galore.

Paso Robles, California

Cecily Ray Photography

Forget green — red reigns as the premier holiday color in this Central Coast town. We're talking about pinot noirs, cabernets, and syrahs. Leading up to Christmas, wineries offer low-key tastings, musical performances, and great gift shopping. Check out Parrish Family Vineyard 's tasting room and teleport to a '20s-era Christmas at Hearst Castle . The elaborate decor makes the 40-mile drive worth it.

Healdsburg, California

Healdsburg is a charming Sonoma County town known for great restaurants and even better wineries. Visit Flowers Vineyards and Winery for the pinot noir and Aperture Cellars for the view. If you can make it over to Napa, grab a few bottles from Faust to bring back to Montage Healdsburg , where the charming decor, Christmas trees, and roaring fireplaces will put you in the holiday mood.

Telluride, Colorado

Telluride is a pleasantly quirky town whose flair becomes even clearer this time of year. The centerpiece is the Ski Tree, which is literally made of old skis. It's illuminated during an annual tree lighting, during which there's an accompanying bonfire made of more old and broken skis. You'll love the Telluride nightlife in any season. Grab a cocktail in the Timber Room at Madeline Hotel and Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection , and stop by New Sheridan Hotel's Historic Bar , which has kept the same mahogany-paneled look since 1895.

Leavenworth, Washington

Connie Coleman/Getty Images

Leavenworth is an American town that looks more like a portal to Germany in the middle of the Washington Cascade Mountain Range. The town was built to resemble a traditional Bavarian village, and the nearby mountains, poetically named the Enchantments, are reminiscent of the Alps. You'll feel like you're really in Europe this Christmas.

More than half a million lights go up across town in late November and don't come down until February. You can see them any night from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Weekends are often full of holiday activities like gingerbread house displays, caroling, and frequent appearances by Santa.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

David J. Murray/Clear Eye Photo

This waterfront New England town is steeped in history, with settlements dating back to the 1600s. Winter is a festive time to explore its 10-acre time capsule, the Strawbery Banke Museum . In December, you can join the museum's open-air Labrie Family Skate at Puddle Dock Pond or walk along paths lit by candle lanterns to see decorated homes from centuries past. New Hampshire offers one big 21st-century draw, too: tax-free shopping statewide — the best excuse to load up on classic toys and kids' books in Portsmouth.

Cape May, New Jersey

This Jersey Shore town has a strong Victorian streak easily recognized by its quaint architecture, and the holiday season pushes it a little further on the Dickensian scale. Walk the Washington Street Mall to admire garlands and festive lights as you shop. While you're there, drop by The Original Fudge Kitchen , which also offers great fudge and saltwater taffy gift boxes. Book a stay at Congress Hall , especially if you have kids. The hotel typically turns its Grand Lawn into a seaside winter wonderland complete with festive activities.

Charlottesville, Virginia

Charlottesville quiets down as college students cram for finals and then head home for the holidays. Before they go, though, the University of Virginia campus is decorated for the annual Lighting of the Lawn , which usually happens in early December. Another fun tradition is the gingerbread display competition at the Ronald McDonald House.

Atlantic City, New Jersey

Peter Tobia/ACA

A casino and boardwalk don't exactly conjure images of plum puddings and carolers, yet you might appreciate Atlantic City's wild weekend spirit and vivid people-watching around the holidays. Festivities include the annual tree lighting at The Quarter at Tropicana shopping center and the Atlantic City Holiday Bazaar at the Noyes Arts Garage of Stockton University .

Natchitoches, Louisiana

Natchitoches, pronounced "nack-a-dish" and named for its native people, is one of the oldest settlements in Louisiana. During the holidays, the whole city is lit up with impressive displays, and family-friendly festivities are on offer every weekend from Thanksgiving through Christmas. However, the star event is arguably the boat parade, when string lights and fireworks reflect on the Cane River.

Laguna Beach, California

There's no chance of a white Christmas in Southern California. But instead of watching the sky for snowflakes, you can scan the waves for migrating whales. The gallery-lined streets of Laguna Beach get people into the Christmas spirit with an annual arts and crafts festival, Sawdust Winter Fantasy , that spans five weekends in November and December. Stay at the elegant Montage Laguna Beach for more holiday programming and easy access to Christmas Cove, a beautiful and isolated beach.

best cities to visit in usa during christmas

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23 Amazing Places To Visit In USA For Christmas (2024)

Last Updated on March 13, 2024 by Nicole

December is a magical time of year in many places in the United States. Christmas festivities are in full swing and you can feel the joy and excitement that this brings. There are beautiful Christmas lights, lively Christmas markets, decorated Christmas trees, and of course, decadent Xmas treats tempting you almost everywhere you go. Some of us live in hot sunny climates and daydream about snowy winter wonderlands filled with sleigh rides, visits to Santa workshops and hot chocolate. While others live in these winter wonderlands and can’t wait to discover Christmas delights on beaches, by hotel pools, and while walking in t-shirts and shorts along city streets or country paths. If you are not sure what you want, you have come to the right place. Here are 23 best places to visit in the USA for Christmas.

This post may contain affiliate links. That means that I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you buy something through my site. This helps me run my website and produce the articles that I hope you find helpful.

Other Options For Christmas Holidays

Many places in America start preparing for the Christmas holidays with Christmas lights, setting up Xmas trees, and opening Christmas markets in mid to late November. This is an ideal time to travel to enjoy these events without crowds and to take advantage of lower costs from travelling in low season. If you are interested, please take a look at my article 20 Best Places To Visit In USA In November.

For those of you who are looking for a little more adventure with more cost savings, consider visiting Europe. Here are 24 Best Places To Visit In Europe For Christmas .

If you are looking for warm winter getaway s in or near the United States, you have a lot to choose from! Here are:

  • 50 Best US Beach Destinations For A Warm Winter Getaway ;
  • 20 Best Cheap Warm Winter Vacations In USA ; and
  • 21 Best Cheap Warm Winter Vacations Near USA .

Alternatively, if all you dream about is spending your Christmas holidays under blankets of snow in a charming small town or exploring the best snowy winter activities that ski resorts or other destinations have to offer, then take a look at 24 Best Snowy Winter Wonderlands To Visit In The USA .

If you are simply looking for the best Christmas parades in the United States, then check out 15 Best Places To Watch Christmas Parades In USA .

Christmas Gifts

For those of you looking for fun, affordable and thoughtful stocking stuffers or gifts, check out 38 Best Christmas Stocking Stuffers For Adventure Seekers And Travelers and 60 Best Christmas Gifts For Men.

23 Best Places To Visit In USA For Christmas

In this article, I have asked 23 travel bloggers where they have found the best Christmas events in the United States. Unsurprising, they are located in all four corners of the continental USA, as well as Hawaii.

As you expect, most big cities offer over the top extravaganzas and special events. However, many small cities and towns will blow your socks away with their beauty and Christmas spirit.

In addition, when not gazing at gingerbread houses, going on sleigh rides, or watching Xmas parades, all of these places offer amazing every day attractions and experiences. As you will see, I haven’t made it easy for you to choose where to go.

New York City, New York

By James of Travel Collecting

Christmas in New York City  is a magical experience. There are so many amazing things to see and do making New York City one of the best cities to visit in the USA for Christmas.  

All of the department stores decorate for the holidays. You and your whole family can do an easy walking tour around Midtown Manhattan taking in all of the holiday windows. Along the way, visit Santaland at Macy’s and stop at Bryant Park or Rockefeller Center and go ice skating surrounded by the iconic New York skyscrapers! 

There are also decorated Christmas trees throughout the city. The largest and most famous is the real tree in Rockefeller Center that is topped with an enormous Swarovski crystal star. Other interesting trees are the one at the Met, which is surrounded by an antique Italian creche; the animal origami-covered tree at the American Museum of Natural History; and the bright blue tree at Bryant Park. Stop at the Bryant Park Holiday Village for a hot chocolate or hot toddy while you’re there. 

Of course, if you simply want to walk amongst hundreds of trees lightly dusted with snow, head to Central Park.

NYC is a great place to stock up on gifts. There are outdoor holiday markets at Union Square, Bryant Park and inside Grand Central Terminal that sell hand-crafted gifts.   

Finally, there are a couple of classic shows to enjoy. Kids and kids-at-heart will love the iconic Rockettes in the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. It has real-life camels, the high-kicking Rockettes and, of course, Santa. Another show not to miss is the annual season of The Nutcracker by the New City Ballet at Lincoln Center. 

For amazing tips to make your trip to New York City safe and cost effective, please see 50 Best New York City Tips For First Time Visitors .

If you are curious about how to save money in New York City, where you should stay, how to be safe and get around, and so much more, please see  50 Best New York City Tips For First Time Visitors .

For those traveling with kids and teenagers, here are two helpful articles about what you should do when you are not busy with Christmas activities: An Action Packed New York City Weekend With Teens and 10 Ultimate New York City Attractions With Teens .

Best Way To Reach Destination

There are three international airports that serve New York City. JFK is a 35-minute drive from Midtown Manhattan if there is no traffic (which there almost always is). The much smaller La Guardia is 25 minutes from Midtown with no traffic. The third airport, Newark, is actually in nearby New Jersey and is also about half an hour with good traffic from Midtown.  

It is best not to rent a car. Parking is very expensive in New York and there is excellent public transportation. Accordingly, pick up a taxi or Uber/Lyft from airport. You can also easily take the train from Newark Airport to Penn Station.

The average high temperature in New York City in December is 45°F.  You can expect around 3 inches of rain and 3 inches of snow in December.

Hotel Recommendation

There are so many hotels to choose from in New York City. Without question, choosing a hotel is one of the most overwhelming tasks when planning a trip there. I have stayed at several.

On my last trip, I stayed at the Kimpton Hotel Eventi which I loved. The hotel was luxurious but still reasonably priced and the location was fantastic for many amazing attractions . We were easy walking distance to the High Line and Macys, and easy subway rides to Times Square and Broadway Shows. Even better, everyday the hotel offered complimentary wine and cheese!

best places to visit in the USA for Christmas

Savannah, Georgia

By Erin of Savannah First-Timer’s Guide

Savannah is charming any time of year, but something about the Christmas season makes it feel extra magical. From the hundreds of twinkle lights draped across Broughton Street to the seasonal greenery in the squares to the carolers that stroll through the Historic District…Savannahians just know how to celebrate the season!  

A few of the most popular seasonal events include the Holiday Boat Parade, the Gingerbread Trail, and the Holiday Tour of Homes. Make sure to also visit the beautiful Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist. It is filled with red poinsettias and an elaborate nativity scene. 

The most festive areas of town during the holiday season include River Street, Broughton Street, and City Market. Don’t forget to stroll down Jones Street, which is considered one of the prettiest streets in America. Be sure to check out all the  beautiful Christmas decorations in Savannah’s Historic District . They are very classic in nature and look like something straight out of a Dickens novel. 

Two of the most popular dining spots for the holidays are The Olde Pink House and the 17hundred90 Inn & Restaurant. Since Savannah is one of the best Christmas vacation destinations in the United States, make sure that you make reservations at least a month in advance for The Olde Pink House! 

If you’re planning a visit, the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) is the closest option. From there, it’s just a short 15-mile drive to the Historic District.

You won’t need to stuff your suitcase with heavy winter coats, since the average high temperature in December falls in the mid 60s. However, it does cool down at night to mid 40s with about 2.6 inches of rain in the month.

Erin says, “The Marshall House is a fantastic place to stay. The hotel is in a very convenient location on Broughton Street. I’s very easy to walk to restaurants, landmarks, and shops.”

best Christmas vacations in America in December

Asheville, North Carolina

By Bret & Mary of Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide

With its incredible array of outdoor attractions , critically acclaimed restaurants, and thriving cultural scene, you could argue that Asheville is one of the best places to visit in the USA at any time of year. But the mountain scenery and art deco architecture are especially attractive when surrounded by the festive lights and decorations of the holiday season.

Asheville is a beautiful place to visit in America around the holidays. In addition, there are plenty of things to do a Christmas getaway.

For starters, you’ll want to see Christmas at Biltmore Estate (the largest privately-owned home in the US), which starts with the raising of a 35-foot-tall tree in the Banquet Hall in early November. You can take daily tours of the lavish Estate all decked out in the festive colors of the season. Their nighttime candlelit tours make for an excellent date night. 

You’ll also love Winter Lights at the North Carolina Arboretum. Thousands of shimmering Christmas lights make up shining displays along their wooded edge and gardens. Last year, there were several new nature-themed displays, including a giant daisy “garden,” winter wildlife and colorful butterfly displays, and an insect lantern exhibit. 

Of course, there are also lots of other Asheville attractions and activities that you can do all year round. This includes driving the Blue Ridge Parkway to visiting iconic landmarks like Mount Mitchell State Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But these unique Xmas events are what makes Asheville, North Carolina one of the best places to visit in the USA for Christmas.

Despite its location in the mountains, the town offers surprisingly mild temperatures in December, with average highs of 50ºF and lows of around 31ºF. You can expect around 3.6 inches of rain and 1.9 inches of snow fall in December.

While a white Christmas in Asheville is not completely out of the question, it is certainly not guaranteed.

Although it’s one of the larger towns in the Blue Ridge Mountains (population approximately 92,000), Asheville does not have its own international airport.

You can fly into Charlotte Douglas International Airport, which is located about 120 miles to the southeast. But several major airlinesoffer direct flights into Asheville Regional Airport from major US cities like Atlanta, Boston , Chicago, Denver, Houston, and NYC. 

Brett and Mary say, “If you love those competitive cooking shows, you won’t want to miss the 29th Annual National Gingerbread Competition at the Omni Grove Park Inn (one of our favorite Asheville hotels). This is a 12-day Xmas event featuring some of the most elaborately decorated Gingerbread Houses you’ve ever seen.”

best places to visit in the USA for Christmas

Naples, Florida

By Lori of Naples Florida Travel Guide

If you’re dreaming of something other than a white Christmas this year, a tropical holiday can be just as magical, and a wonderful break from the freezing cold! Hop a flight to southwest Florida and head to the Paradise Coast of Naples where Christmas is every bit as festive as the north.

Holiday parades along the southern Gulf Coast are anything but typical. Santa usually arrives on a party boat decked out in holiday lights and rocking Christmas tunes. The annual Christmas boat parades herald the start of the holiday season, and there are several you can attend throughout December. 

The annual tree lighting ceremony also kicks off the holidays the first week of December. During a two-day celebration, there is a long table on 5th Avenue, a skating rink, and a stunning live Nativity scene. The magical scene reappears throughout Christmas week as well.

Throughout the holidays, shops in the downtown create unique displays and artificial snow machines add a bit of traditional Christmas. But the real reason that Naples is one of the best places to visit in the USA for Christmas is that all this holiday cheer can be enjoyed along with a trip to the amazing beaches for which the city is known. And while the water might be a bit chilly for locals, the mid-60s temps (F) will suit most visitors just fine!

Average high temperatures hover pleasantly in the mid-70’s (F), although they can be in the 80s or drop down to the 50s at night. You can expect very little rain.

Getting to Naples is easy. Fly into Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) in Fort Myers, then drive or Uber the 30 minutes to Naples.

Lori says, “The Inn On Fifth is in the center of downtown Naples and one of the best luxury stays in Naples. For the best value, we highly recommend Bellasera Resort.”

best places to visit in the USA for Christmas

Branson, Missouri

By Elizabeth of the Fearless Foreignor

Branson, Missouri is one of the best destinations in the United States during the Christmas season. It has a lot of holiday special events, shows, and activities that don’t take place the rest of the year.

Branson is known for their high quality theater productions. During the holiday season almost all of the shows turn into a seasonal spectacular with Xmas songs, holiday story lines, and festive backdrops. 

The theme park, Silver Dollar City, should also be on your list of places to visit. The whole park is decked out in millions of lights. The Christmas in Midtown light spectacular is a highlight of the park, as well as the nightly holiday parade, Christmas sing along train, and Christmas shows. 

In December, the average high temperature is 48°F and average low temperature is 33°F. Branson has had as much as 8.4 inches of snow but, it rarely snows that much. Usually it is only an inch or two and melts quickly during the day.

Accordingly, don’t expect Branson to be a winter wonderland, but on the plus side, the temperatures won’t be so low that you can’t be outside enjoying all the holiday festivities! 

Many people who visit Branson drive. However, there are several small airports around Branson for those who prefer to fly.

The closest, just 20 minutes south of downtown Branson, is the Branson Airport (BKG). Kansas City International Airport (MCI) and St Louis Lambert International Airport (STL), both about 4 hours away, are the closest international airports. 

However you reach Branson, Branson at Christmas time is the perfect place to visit during the Christmas season!

Elizabeth says, “The Camden Hotel and Conference center is only minutes away from many of the shows and attractions in Branson. In addition to good prices and clean rooms, it offers delicious free desserts every night! 

September is best time to visit las vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada

By Roxanna of Gypsy With A Day Job

If you are looking for the best American Christmas vacations, Las Vegas is a perfect choice. The city has everything for a holiday break: warm activities, cold activities, shopping venues, bright decorations and cheerful events. Even if you are not a big Vegas fan, during the holidays it will warm your heart. If it is your first trip to Las Vegas, you will be pleasantly surprised.

Start your trip with a walk on the strip to get into the spirit. Every resort spruces up its already lavish decor with seasonal tributes. You’ll find trees of every size (including palm trees) with bulbs and baubles, and festive events at every turn. In particular, take a detour and explore the Wynn, Palazzo, Bellagio, and Aria resorts!  

Once you’re fully in the mood, finish your Xmas shopping. You are spoiled for choices. For high end, try The Shops at Crystals, The Forum Shops, or the Grand Canal Shops. For main-stream options try Fashion Show, and for bargains, Las Vegas North Premium Outlets is the best choice.

If shopping exhausts your cheer, the normal Las Vegas attractions are available, and outdoor adventures abound in the surrounding area. 

Consider getting back to nature and doing some hiking at the stunning Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, only 30-40 minutes drive away.

However, if what you really want is more extravagant Christmas events, drive the Las Vegas Motor Speedway light show, walk the Christmas cactus garden at Ethel M. Chocolate Factory, or ride the Holiday Express at Springs Resort. 

If searching for insider tips and tricks on where to stay, how to save money, and the best things to do, please check out  50 Best Las Vegas Tips For First Time Visitors .

For those looking for  21st birthday  inspiration, Las Vegas is also a fantastic destination to celebrate this milestone.

To get to Las Vegas, fly into the McCarran International Airport. The Vegas strip is only 20 minutes away by Uber or Lyft. Avoid taxis as they charge a premium for airport pick up.

In December, you will find the average high temperatures around 59 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring a jacket though, as it cools to the low 40s at night. There will be very little rain and no snow.

Roxanna says, “We recommend staying at the Venetian, or sister resort, the Palazzo. The lavish opulence is appropriate for the city, as is the impeccable staff and luxe resort offerings. More importantly, every room is a comfortable suite with clear sitting, dining and sleeping areas.”

best places to visit in the United States for Christmastime

Leavenworth, Washington

By Karee of Our Woven Journey

Leavenworth, Washington is a small, Bavarian-themed city nestled just east of the Cascade Mountains in the United States. Its charm draws nearly one million visitors a year, with many of them coming to experience Christmas in the village.

Much of the ambiance is due to the half-million Christmas lights that decorate the city. Over 20,000 people come each weekend to see the lighting ceremonies that happen every Saturday and Sunday during the first three weekends of December.

Since Leavenworth is small, you’ll be able to walk to most of the shops and boutiques that line the streets. Be sure to start at the Nutcracker Museum and the Hat Shop as they are both very popular!

If there is snow on the ground when you visit, plan to take sleigh rides through the beautiful, evergreen forest. There are several places that offer rides and reservations are needed, so plan for this attraction.

Is feeding a real-life reindeer on your bucket list? You can make it happen at the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm! You’ll need to buy tickets ahead of time since this is also a very popular thing to do.

Leavenworth is worth visiting any time of year, but for those wanting to experience the magic of Christmas, Leavenworth is one of the best American small towns to visit for Xmas.

The average high temperature for December is 34°F.   The snow season starts in October and lasts through March, with December getting 17 inches of snow on average!!! You’ll want to be sure to dress properly for this winter wonderland! 

If you’re planning a  trip to Seattle , Leavenworth is a great day trip to add to your agenda. It’s only about a two-hour drive, although you could easily spend more than one day there.

Sea-Tac International is the main airport for those flying from out of state.

Karee recommends the Bavarian Lodge. Located across from the Village center, it offers luxurious accommodations with incredible views of the Village and surrounding mountains. It also includes complimentary full breakfast buffet, heated outdoor pool, and two hot tubs.

best places to visit in the USA for Xmas

Baltimore, Maryland

By Terri of Female Solo Trek

Baltimore’s nickname is “Charm City” but during Christmas, it becomes “Jolly Charming City”. It is one of the best places to visit in the USA during the Christmas season.

Hampden is a tight-knit Baltimore neighborhood that is famous for its “Miracle on 34th Street!” Now in its 73rd year, this outdoor holiday exhibit causes traffic jams and happy smiles.

Parents dress their dogs as well as kids in reindeer antlers and Christmas sweaters. As cars crawl down 34th Street, passengers see traditional Baltimore rowhouses and porches transformed into twinkling holiday homes. More information on the 2021 Miracle on 34th Street program can be found at  Christmas .

Hampden has also hosted the Mayor’s Christmas Parade in the past. In some years, there have been 25,000 people along the 2.5 mile route. The performers included 160 marching units, bands, floats, local TV and radio personalities, over 100 Harley Davidson motorcycles, the Mummers of Philadelphia, Miss Yuletide and Miss Yuletide Jr. Santa Claus flew in for the festivities.

Don’t miss the Baltimore Parade of lighted Boats at historic Fells Point. Also, check out The Farmers Market which offers an array of wreaths and Christmas gifts.

If you can spare an extra day, take the MARC train to Washington DC’s Union Station and check out the Capitol Christmas tree . It is in walking distance!

Average high temperatures in Baltimore in December is 47 °F with 2.9 inches and 2.2 inches of snow.

Fly into Baltimore International Airport for a quick 12-mile drive to the neighborhood of Hampden.

Terri says, “If money is no object, book your stay at the Four Seasons waterfront luxury hotel.” Its location is amazing and offers beautiful rooms.

best Christmas beach vacations in America

Oahu, Hawaii

By Noel Morata of This Hawaii Life

Christmas in Oahu is special and different on the island than the mainland. You get all the fun decorations, colorful displays, Christmas fairs and special events but with a more tropical vibe, colors and gusto. 

In December, you can experience:

  • a fun Christmas parade;
  • Xmas lights and decorations at all the major venues and shopping centers;
  • a decorated night boat parade;
  • Christmas fares and holiday markets;
  • firework displays at the Hilton resort; and
  • orgeous store decorations.

However, all of these Christmas attractions have Hawaiian and tropical flare to wow you. Hot tropical flowers, birds, palm trees, and local imagery are included in traditional Christmas themes and colors to create a unique look, making it one of the best places to visit in the USA for Christmas.

Beyond the Christmas cheer, you can also enjoy some of the best things to do in Oahu no matter the time of year, such as hiking Diamond Head, visiting Pearl Harbor , and exploring downtown Honolulu.

The weather in Oahu is perfect and ranges from the mid 70s to mid 80s with low humidity, wonderful breezy weather and blue skies.

Visitors to the island fly into Honolulu International airport and most visitors stay around the tourist districts of Waikiki and downtown Honolulu. It’s approximately 25 minutes by taxi or ride share.

Noel says, “There are many options to stay around Waikiki from boutique to luxury brands. However, the iconic place to have a real Oahu experience with beautiful decorations for the holidays would be to stay at The Royal Hawaiian fronting Waikiki Beach”

best places to visit in the USA for Christmas

Washington, DC

By Maggie of Pink Caddy Travelogue

Christmas in Washington, DC  is unlike any other place in the US! The nation’s capital goes all out for the holiday season, and it celebrates in a way only DC can.

Like decking out the White House. Yes, THE White House. During Christmas time, visitors can tour the Presidential residence and see the annual White House gingerbread cake, the dozens of differently decorated Christmas trees, and an 18 th -century nativity scene. Regardless of your political affiliation, a tour of the White House at Christmas is an amazing experience.

However, make sure you book your tour reservations through your Congressman’s office 3 months in advance. It is very popular and will sell out.

Another can’t miss experience is seeing the National Christmas tree and its surrounding 56 mini trees (one for each state and territory). The annual lighting has been a DC Christmas tradition since 1923 when President Calvin Coolidge lit the first tree. The Capitol also has its own decorated tree located just below the east steps.

Other must-dos include attending a performance of Handel’s Messiah at the National Cathedral and visiting the special Christmas exhibit at the U.S. Botanic Garden (they recreate DC landmarks using just plants!)

If you’re traveling with kids , definitely check out “Enchant DC” (the world’s largest light maze, hosted at Nationals Park), and Zoolights at the Smithsonian Zoo.

The best airport is Ronald Regan National Airport (it is international, despite the name). It’s right across the river from downtown DC. The driving time is 15 minutes, or you can take the metro directly from the airport.

The temperature in December can vary greatly. It can be in the 20s or in the 70s, but the average is in the 40s-50s. You can expect around 2.8 inches of rain and 2.5 inches of snowfall in December.

Maggie says, “The Willard is one of the most historic hotels in DC and is right next to the White House. It’s luxury, but you’ll be able to say you spent the night in the same place as every important world leader and diplomat who visits DC.”

best Christmas escape in United States

Vail, Colorado

By Daniela of Fox In The Forest

As one of the most  beautiful places in Colorado , Vail is one of the best places to visit in the USA for the Christmas season if you want a winter wonderland. With plenty of skiing adventures, European-inspired villages, and a whole lot of alpine goodness, spending Xmas in Vail should be on everyone’s travel bucket list.

Vail is a premier ski destination during the winter months and it is packed with fantastic ski resorts. However, if you want to explore beyond the slopes, there are plenty of Christmas-inspired activities to keep you entertained during your visit.

For a day spent in the mountains, a sleigh ride with a cup of hot chocolate in hand is a must, as well as a gondola ride to the top to get a first-hand view of the beauty of Vail Valley.

To get you into the holiday spirit, you should visit the Kris Kringle Market, an outdoor holiday market that will have you feeling as though you’ve landed in Europe. Closer to Christmas Eve, the annual Winterfest is an amazing event, with illuminated ice sculptures and Christmas lights that light up the entire town!

Temperatures in Vail in December range from 24°F to 43°F. In December, you can expect almost 3 inches of snow.

Vail is serviced by two airports: The closest one is Eagle Regional Airport (around a 40-minute drive) as well as Denver International Airport, which is around 120 miles east of Vail (around a two hour drive).

best cities in united states to visit for Christmas holidays

New Orleans, Louisianna

Ashlee Fechino of  The Happiness Function

New Orleans, Louisiana, has an exciting Christmas season. When most people think of New Orleans, they usually think of Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) in spring. However, it is one of the best cities to visit in the USA in December. Reasons being – New Orleans has some of fantastic lights and food to experience!

Many restaurants offer French food menus in honor of Réveillon celebrations which only happen during the month of December. Additionally, there are incredible Xmas light displays at hotels such as The Roosevelt Hotel, Hotel Monteleone, and The Bourbon Orleans.

During the month of December, NOLA typically has mild weather for folks wanting to escape the cold, perfect for sightseeing and exploring the town. However, be sure to pack some layers for the evening. You don’t want to miss walking around Bourbon Street (a.k.a. the French Quarter) and catching some live music on Frenchman Street!

If you are looking for a little more adventure in New Orleans and the weather is on the warmer side, don’t miss taking a swamp boat tour or visiting the historic Oak Alley Plantation. There are multiple tour companies to accommodate transportation to and from hotels on different days of the week or rent a car and do it yourself . They are both easy to reach from the French Quarter in New Orleans.

Did you know that you could hold your own Christmas parade in New Orleans, or hire a company that can put one together for you? All you have to do is get a permit from the city and you will get a police escort for free! For these and other amazing money-saving, safety, food and accommodation tips, please see  40 Best Travel Tips For New Orleans For First Time Travelers .

In December, temperatures average 65 degrees Fahrenheit with lows in the mid-40s. You can expect around 4.4 inches of rain.

The French Quarter is a quick 30-minute taxi ride from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY).

Ashlee says, “Plan to stay at the historic Hotel Monteleone. Hotel Monteleone is famous for its Carousel Bar along with an impressive Christmas light display. Be sure to eat at Criollo inside – the turtle soup is a must! Hotel Monteleone is one block from Bourbon Street.”

best places to visit in the USA for Christmas

Alexandria, Virginia

By Brianna of The Casual Travelist

Alexandria, Virginia is a beautiful historic town located just across the Potomac River from Washington, DC. While there are tons of  things to do in Alexandria  any time of year, it is one of the best Christmas vacations to take in the United States at Christmas time.

During the first weeks of December, this all American Colonial town celebrates the holidays with a Scottish flair. While you’re wandering the brick paved streets exploring the 18th century buildings, you’re as likely to hear a Scottish brogue as a southern drawl. Each year Alexandria  celebrates its Scottish heritage with the annual Scottish Christmas Walk Parade. Here, Scottish clans parade through town dressed in their finest tartans while bagpipes herald the arrival of Santa Claus.

After welcoming Santa in Scottish style, head over to the Carlyle House to see re-enactors from the First Virginia Regiment set up camp to show how Christmas was celebrated in the Eighteenth century.

You can fly into any of Washington DC’s airports but Ronald Regan National Airport is the closest at only 5 miles away.

While weather can be variable, December temperatures average 45 o F during the day and 35 o F at night. You can expect 2.8 inches of rain and 2.2 inches of snow.

Brianna says, “The Alexandrian Hotel is in the heart of old town Alexandria and a great place to base your visit”

best places to travel in the USA for Christmas

Seattle, Washington

By Adria Saracino of The Emerald Palate

Seattle might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of Christmas, but the city has a ton of holiday spirit. Plus, there are less tourists and snowy destinations only an hour away (Leavenworth is two!), so winter is the perfect time to visit one of the best Christmas destinations in the United States.

No matter the weather, there are a ton of Christmas activities in Seattle . For example, there are typically more than 50 holiday craft fairs around the greater Seattle area. The Pacific Northwest has a huge DIY culture, so handmade gifts are easy to come by.

Experiences more your thing? Check out one of the dozens of holiday shows in the city. Head to the classic Nutcracker Ballet or check out the reimagined hip hop and burlesque versions. Another option is to head to Winterfest where they transform the area underneath the Space Needle into a winter wonderland with events, shows, and craft markets.

It’s not Christmas without dazzling decorations, and Seattle has a ton. You can head to Zoo Lights to see fun light installations among the animals. Or you can go to a drive through neighborhood exhibit at the Lights of Christmas Festival or Dazzle .

You can experience Christmas in Seattle by flying into Sea-Tac International Airport and then driving 30 minutes to the city.

Winter temperatures are usually in the high 30s to 40s with around 3.3 inches of rain. However, if you’re lucky to visit during a winter storm you are in for a treat.

The city is extremely hilly and the local government is against using salt because it damages the road and is bad for the environment. So even with what east coasters might think of as a light dusting, the city shuts down for an unofficial snow day. And if it really snows like it has for at least a few days the past few years, you can expect to find people cross-country skiing, sledding, and snowboarding in the streets!

Adria says, “Everywhere you turn there will be Christmas festivities in Seattle, but if you want to stay in the middle of it all, get a hotel in downtown Seattle. One great option is the swank Fairmont Olympic Hotel with its Festival of Trees that transforms the lobby into a winter forest.

Another option is the more affordable Sheraton Grand, which hosts a huge Gingerbread Village installation in its lobby popular with kids.

best places to visit in the United States in December

Orlando, Florida

Christine of Live Love Run Travel

When looking for the best place to visit in the USA for Christmastime, make sure to put Orlando, Florida, on your list. There are plenty of things to do in Orlando at Christmas , from the theme park holiday events to local events unlike those you’ll see anywhere else.

The theme parks are a popular Xmas destination, but you can also enjoy touring the hotels at Disney without paying for theme park entry. For example, check out the massive Christmas Tree and the huge gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian.

Gaylord Palms also goes over the top at Christmas with their famous ICE! display and other Christmas shows and activities, including some that are free. The theme changes each year, but there are things for all ages to enjoy.

Light Up UCF is another fun and family-friendly place to enjoy at Christmas. With light shows, free movies, and ice skating, it’s a great spot to enjoy for both kids and adults.

Christmas in Orlando is a special time even without the cold and the snow – in fact, that may be the best part of visiting Orlando at Christmas!

To get to Orlando, fly into Orlando International Airport. From there, you can be in downtown Orlando, at the theme parks, or in many of the areas holding Christmas events in about 30 minutes.

Winter in Orlando is one of the best seasons to visit. No hurricanes and humidity (or less humidity at least), and cooler days. You can actually enjoy your time outdoors and not have to deal with the daily thunderstorms found in summertime.

Temperatures range greatly with average temperatures in the mid-70s. Some days can be in the 30s or 40s and others can still get into the upper 80s. There is around 2 inches of rain in December.

It’s a great place to escape the frigid temperatures up north.

For great rates for accommodation in Orlando, please take a look at the interactive map below.

best places to visit in the USA in December

Frankenmuth, Michigan

By Kris of My Michigan Travel

Frankenmuth, Michigan  is a small town known for its German heritage and adorable Bavarian-inspired architecture. Michigan’s “Little Bavaria” is fantastic year round, but it is one of the best places for Christmas spirit in the USA in December.

One of its top attractions is Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, which claims to be the world’s largest Christmas store. Inside, you’ll find a dizzying array of more holiday decorations and accessories than you could imagine. The store is always popular, but it’s absolutely bustling during the lead up to the holidays. You can shop for ornaments, trees, lights, and more, or take photos with one of the many larger-than-life displays.

Frankenmuth also hosts a traditional Christkindlmarkt during November and December. It features outdoor shopping booths like you’d find throughout Germany and the rest of Europe. You can stroll along the booths selling handmade gifts, décor, and food items. Grab a hot cocoa to sip for warmth! The only thing missing is the gluhwein (hot spiced wine).

Once you’re done, you can fill up on Frankenmuth’s famous family-style chicken dinners. Two competing restaurants – Zehnder’s and Bavarian Inn – serve warm, hearty food like fried chicken, mashed potatoes, stuffing, buttered noodles, cranberry sauce, and more. You can wash it down with Hofbrauhaus beer straight from Munich if you’d like.

The closest international airport is Detroit-Metro. Frankenmuth is about an hour and a half north unless you hit rush hour traffic.

Average temperature in December is 32 o F. You can expect around 4.2 inches of snow. that rarely stays on the ground for long.

Kris says, “There are numerous hotels to choose from, but the Bavarian Inn Lodge and Zehnder’s Splash Village are the most fun.

Bavarian Inn is located across the famous wooden bridge and features multiple pools, waterslides, an arcade, and an indoor mini golf course.

Zehnder’s, located right next door to Bronner’s, has a whole indoor water park in case you’re missing sunny summer days.”

best cities to visit in the United States in June

Los Angeles, California

By Francesca of Homeroom Travel

Los Angeles is one of the best cities in the USA to visit for Christmas.

During the winter season, there are lots of enjoyable things to do. Do not miss the Descanso Gardens: Enchanted Forest of Lights. This 150-acre botanical garden puts on a huge walk-through light show every Xmas season. Another recommendation is to visit Universal Studios . The park is totally decked out in Christmas decorations and there are fun Christmas-themed snacks. 

For music lovers, a Christmas concert at the Walt Disney Concert Hall makes for a fun evening. The LA Philharmonic normally puts on several Christmas sing-along concerts throughout December. 

The Christmas season in Los Angeles is fun. It is a warm escape but still feels like Christmas because there are massive amounts of decorations everywhere. There are entertaining events all across the city which makes for a unique winter escape.

To get to Los Angeles, you will want to fly into Los Angeles International Airport. This airport is located in Western Los Angeles and it will take about 30 minutes (without traffic) to get to various places across Los Angeles. 

During the winter months, the average weather is in the high 60s, which makes it the perfect escape for people who do not like the cold.

Francesca says, “To be in the best location, stay in Downtown Los Angeles. The Westin Bonaventure or the Millenium Biltmore are two great hotel choices.”

best Christmas city destination in America

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

By Paulina of On The Road

Milwaukee is a wonderful city for a Xmas destination. Top things and places to enjoy in December include Christkindlmarket which is less crowded than other Christmas markets. It hosts small wooden huts filled with treasures. You can also eat some yummy Christmas delicacies. Another one is the German Christmas Market, popular for all things German. This includes beer, food, BBQ, and mulled wine.

Do not miss “the Ward” on the first Friday of December, which is one of the most famous neighborhoods of Milwaukee. It has exciting fireworks, live reindeer, and Santa. The Holiday Lights Festival is also fantastic for its variety of shows. 

Wisconsin shines in lights and becomes the happiest during this time of the year. The Christmas markets make it special and bright. That is why Milwaukee is one of the best places to visit in the USA during Christmas.

Milwaukee is easily reached by air. The Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport is just 10 minutes from downtown. If you are keen for a road trip, you can drive from Chicago, which would take about a day.


The temperature of Milwaukee in December can range from 39.2 degrees Fahrenheit to -37.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wisconsin sees the highest snowfall during the months of December (around 3.6 inches), January and March. Therefore, pack heavy clothing for outdoor activities. 

Paulina says, “For an affordable stay, you can stay in downtown Milwaukee at County Clare Inn.

best places to visit in the United States in December

Sedona, Arizona

By Jenifer of The Evolista

During Xmas, Sedona is a fantastic holiday escape.

It hosts the festival of lights at Tlaquepaque where they have 6,000 luminarias that adorn the courtyards and walkways. Cheerful holiday displays dress up windows of galleries and restaurants, while live music and a visit from Santa add to the fun. In fact, there are multiple holiday events held in Downtown Sedona all month long.

No matter what time of year you visit, Sedona is well known for 2 things – some of the most amazing hikes and the presence of an energy vortex.

Discover both the healing energy and the best views on Sedona Vortex hikes . Devil’s Bridge is another terrific hike to a natural bridge that’s sure to be a hit for your holiday card photo. The best part is that these hikes are easy enough for most everyone and you get spectacular red rock vistas.

After flying into Phoenix airport, a 2 hour drive will get you to one of the best places to visit in the USA for Christmas.

Christmas in Sedona is festive and fun with average highs in the mid 50s, perfect for some of the prettiest hiking in the USA. While less than 4 days of rain is expected during the month, you might get lucky with a temporary sprinkling of snow on the gorgeous red rock landscape. 

Jenifer says, “Enchantment Resort is a luxurious resort with a spa that’s perfectly located at Boynton Canyon, one of the prettiest spots in town. In addition to their beautiful accommodations, they host multiple activities like guided hikes and mountain bike rides.”

best place to visit in the USA in December

Denver, Colorado

By Michelle of Moyer Memoirs

Denver is one of the best places to visit in the USA during the holiday season because it holds many festive events. There are light displays up and down the 16 th  Street Mall in downtown Denver, including the Mile High Tree. This 110-foot-tall immersive art display lights up with the holiday music. It is lovely to see and hear while strolling around the walk-thru exhibit.

Near the 16 th  Street Mall, the Christkindle Market is a holiday tradition for small businesses that sell hand-crafted artistic gifts and holiday treats. It is reminiscent of German Christmas markets with little wooden huts showcasing their wares, complete with live entertainment and authentic Bavarian pretzels and Glühwein.

Denver has many sites that are open year-round to enjoy even in the cold winter weather, including some great hikes. The Red Rock Amphitheatre should definitely be on your  Denver itinerary . It is only a short drive from downtown and offers beautiful trails in the crisp air of the holiday season.

To get here, the Denver International Airport (DIA) is 25 miles from the heart of downtown. 

December is normally the coldest month of the year with an average temperatures ranging from 46°F to 23°F.  Although it is chilly, it is very dry and the sky will most likely be clear, blue, and sunny. 

Unlike the snowy mountains around the city, it doesn’t snow much in the city of Denver. Typically, snow falls are a few days during December with barely an inch of accumulation.

Michelle says, “If you are staying in downtown Denver, the Curtis Hotel is a uniquely themed boutique hotel.  It has a different theme for each of its 13 guest room floors. The lobby is also themed and very entertaining.  It is a great location for walking around the 16 th  Street Mall and downtown Denver.”

best Christmas getaway in the united states

Chicago, Illnois

By Dymphe of Dymabroad

One of the best places for Christmas getaways in the United States is Chicago as there are lots of special things going on in the city.

For example, you can visit the Christkindlmarket. This is a very popular annual Christmas market taking place at Daley Plaza. You can shop for unique handcrafted Xmas gifts and eat delicious Christmas treats.

Besides that, going holiday shopping along the Magnificent Mile during this time is lovely. One of the best places is the shopping mall “Water Tower Place” which has lots of holiday decorations. To be immersed in lights, head over to Lightscape at the Chicago Botanic Garden where you can walk along beautifully lit up trails.

Beyond the Christmas celebrations, Chicago has many amazing attractions to experience . Two of the best museums are the The Art Institute of Chicago and the Field Museum, both on Lake Michigan and near Millennium Park.

The Art Institute is one of the largest museums in North America and houses an impressive collection of impressionist art from some of the greatest artists of all time, such as Picasso, Monet and Van Gogh. You can get lost in the Field Museum’s amazing exhibits, including exploring Egyptian pyramids.

At Skydeck at Willis Tower, you have incredible panoramic views of the city. In Millennium Park, you can see the famous Cloud Gate sculpture. Also, during December, Millennium Park displays a huge Christmas tree and it is one of the most Instagrammable places in Chicago .

To get to Chicago, you can fly into O’Hare International Airport. From the airport, it takes about 30 minutes to drive to Downtown Chicago.

When visiting the city in December, you can expect an average temperature of 37°F and about 1.5 inches of rain and 2 inches of snowfall.

I have been to Chicago over twenty times. On my most recent trip, I stayed at the Fairfield Inn And Suites Chicago Downtown River North. I was very pleasantly surprised by the amazing location, comfortable beds and the excellent value.

best places to visit snowy winter wonderlands in united states

Lake Placid, New York

By Michael and Nicole of Affordable Family Travel

Lake Placid is a wonderful place to spend Christmas. Lake Placid provides the perfect Christmas atmosphere with its snow-covered mountains, a visit with Santa, and snuggling up by a warm fire at one of the lovely lodges in the village.

Enjoy the Lake Placid Village Holiday Stroll and pick up some last-minute gifts at any of the many great shops in the village. Head over to Santa’s Workshop in North Pole, NY only 20 minutes away where you can meet Santa and his reindeer. The Park offers rides, shows, and of course, Christmas treats.

Lake Placid was home to 2 Winter Olympics so winter is a great time to see the village in all of its glory.

The average temperature in Lake Placid, NY in December is 31 degrees Fahrenheit and they receive an average of 11 inches of snow during the month.

Michael and Nicole say, “Mirror Lake Inn is a quaint hotel with lake view rooms and a large fireplace in its common area. They have a spa and the town’s only 4 Diamond Restaurant. If you are looking for a  budget Lake Placid trip , Hampton Inn is located across the street from the lake with outdoor fire pits and an indoor pool.”

If you are looking for a Christmas destination in the United States, you have lots from which to choose. Whether you prefer a city or small town experience with or without lots of snow, or you wish to enjoy a tropical Christmas escape with gorgeous beaches and plenty of yuletide cheer, you will be thrilled with your choices in America.

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41 Magical Places to Visit During Christmastime

There's plenty of holiday cheer to go around at these spots in America, including NYC and Christmas Town USA.

preview for The Best Winter Vacation Ideas

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There's no better way to capture the magic of the holidays than to see it right before your eyes. Sure, you're able to take in some of it in your hometown thanks to your neighbors' festive decorations and local tree lighting ceremonies, but if you want to see what Christmas cheer America really has to offer, head out of town for a bit and visit one of these top Christmas places.

From magical New York City to Santa Claus, Indiana, any of these spots would make the perfect December getaway . All that's left to do is buy your tickets or fill up the car, and start packing. Just don't forget to bing the presents!

If you're looking for more vacation ideas, check out our 2024 Family Travel Awards .

Woodstock, Vermont

best places to spend christmas

Looking for that quintessential New England holiday charm? You'll feel like you stepped into a Hallmark Christmas card in the historic charming town of Woodstock, which annually hosts an iconic holiday celebration called Wassail Weekend (think carriage rides, twinkling lights, decorated homes and more!).

Solvang, California

best places to spend christmas

If you want to feel like you've traveled to Europe without leaving the country, you'll love the charm of this small city in California and the festive Danish-style holiday celebration they host every year called Julefest .

New York City, New York

best places to spend christmas

Is there anything more iconic than Christmastime in New York? You'll of course want to take in the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza (where you can also ice skate!), before marveling at the gorgeous Christmas window store displays along Fifth Avenue. Don't forget to catch The Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular show!

RELATED: Fun and Festive Things to Do on Christmas Day in NYC

Vail, Colorado

best places to spend christmas

For the ultimate winter getaway, head to the ski town of Vail, Colorado. You can spend the perfect snowy Christmas season at the ski slopes before strolling the idyllic winter wonderland of Vail Village. There, you can visit the Kris Kringle Market and witness the big tree lighting ceremony.

Seneca Falls, New York

best places to spend christmas

If your favorite Christmas movie is It's A Wonderful Life, you need to visit Seneca Falls — the town believed to have been the real-life inspiration for the film’s fictional town of Bedford Falls. Each December, Seneca Falls holds a festival to celebrate the Christmas classic , complete with a movie screening, a meet-and-greet event with the cast, a parade and more.

Stockbridge, Massachussets

best places to spend christmas

This Massachusetts town was once depicted in a 1967 Norman Rockwell painting (titled "Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas") — and now, every holiday season, Stockbridge recreates the art, complete with vintage cars lined up on Main Street. Plus, the annual celebration also includes historic property tours, a holiday concert and more.

North Pole, Alaska

best places to spend christmas

Every kid has dreamt of visiting Santa Claus at the North Pole — and as it turns out, you actually can! This quaint Alaskan town is home to the “Santa Claus House,” where you can also stroll down Santa Claus Lane, see live reindeer, and marvel at the world’s largest Santa statue. What could be a better way to celebrate Christmas?

Hershey, Pennsylvania

best places to spend christmas

What better way is there to celebrate Christmas than with tons of chocolate? The whole family will love spending the holidays at Hersheypark ' s Christmas Candylane , where you can enjoy holiday rides, visit Santa (and his reindeer!) and take in more than 5 million lights decorating the fun-filled chocolate theme park.

Oahu, Hawaii

best places to spend christmas

Forget winter wonderlands — if you’d rather go somewhere warm and sunny this year, a tropical Hawaiian Christmas is exactly what you might need. You’ll find plenty of holiday cheer (without the cold!) in the island of Oahu, especially aboard the Waikiki Holiday Lights Trolley tour and the annual Honolulu City Lights event.

McAdenville, North Carolina

best places to spend christmas

McAdenville is known as " Christmas Town USA " — which, of course, makes it the perfect holiday season destination. Every winter, the small town transforms into a twinkling wonderland adorned with thousands of lights and Christmas decorations, drawing thousands of visitors every year.

Aspen, Colorado

best places to spend christmas

This beautiful ski resort town is a well-known haven for ski bunnies and travel enthusiasts, but it also holds plenty of Christmas activities during the holiday season, including an annual tree lighting, a fun-packed "12 Days of Aspen" event and holiday shows (like The Nutcracker ) at the Opera House.

New Orleans, Louisiana

best places to spend christmas

You may first think of Mardi Gras when you think of New Orleans, but the Crescent City also pulls out all the stops during the holidays, too. After enjoying the city's dazzling light displays and bonfires, be sure to check out Celebration in the Oaks , which is said to be one of the most spectacular holiday lights festival in the country.

Taos, New Mexico

best places to spend christmas

For those seeking a one-of-a-kind holiday experience, a must-go location is Taos, which offers a unique New Mexican spin on holiday traditions every year. The ski town celebrates the season with its annual Yuletide in Taos , which features holiday markets, bonfires and other ultra-festive events.

Branson, Missouri

best places to spend christmas

There are light displays galore, as well as the massive event called An Old Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City . But perhaps our favorite Branson holiday activity is hopping on the Polar Express, where you and your kids can witness the Chris Van Allsburg classic come to life.

Charleston, South Carolina

best places to spend christmas

Charleston may be a great destination spot any time of the year, but it's especially magical (and still warm!) around the holidays, when the city goes all out on the Christmas festivities. This year, you can enjoy the Holiday Festival of Lights from your car before strolling down the streets to shop, eat and marvel at the city's historic mansions decked out for the holidays.

Jackson, New Hampshire

best places to spend christmas

Around the holidays, there's no more apropos destination spot than the Christmas Farm Inn & Spa . After enjoying skiing and plenty of other outdoor activities, be sure to hop aboard a sleigh ride for the festive Jingle Bell Chocolate Tour , where you can taste test handmade chocolate while enjoying the sights.

Chicago, Illinois

best places to spend christmas

There's nothing like winter in The Windy City, which celebrates the holidays with much cheer. From the Christkindltmarket to ice skating at Maggie Daley Park and a Christmas tree exhibition , there are plenty of holiday activities to enjoy. BOOK NOW

Leavenworth, Washington

best places to spend christmas

Leavenworth likens itself to a "swirling snow globe," and you'll definitely see why when you browse through photos of the Leavenworth Village of Lights . The Bavarian-style town has an annual tradition of hanging up beautiful Christmas lights downtown, and you'll be able to take it all in this year (though there won't be a big reveal at an official lighting festival as usual).

Cleveland, Ohio

best places to spend christmas

You might recognize this home from the beloved Christmas movie A Christmas Story . Ralphie's iconic house has been restored as a museum , and now you can go inside and even stay the night . And yes, leg lamps are available for purchase (but remember, they're very fragile ).

RELATED: Here's Where 'A Christmas Story' Was Filmed 37 Years Ago

Andalusia, Alabama

best places to spend christmas

Head down south this December for Andalusia's Candyland , the town's ultra-festive holiday event held throughout the month. Admission is free of charge, but includes a small $4 fee for horse-drawn carriage rides. You can also enjoy the Snow Show, take photos with Santa, hop on the holiday train and more!

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The 15 Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA

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Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA

The month of December is a magical time of year, so it’s no surprise that you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to amazing places to spend Christmas in the US. From over-the-top holiday festivals in storybook towns to huge Christmas markets and parades in big cities, there’s bound to be a place for you to have the Christmas experience of your dreams!

Whether you want to chase auroras in Alaska , ski through a winter wonderland in Colorado , or see the towering National Christmas Tree in Washington, DC , we’ve got you covered.

With so many amazing US Christmas destinations, you might not know where to begin. So we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best places to spend the holidays for you. We’ve got a mix of classic white Christmas destinations and warm weather locales, small towns and big cities, so you have plenty of options when it comes to where you want to get into the holiday spirit!

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase or booking through one of our links we may earn a small commission (don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you).

The 15 Best Places to Spend Christmas in the US

1. solvang, california.

Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA: Solvang, California

Solvang is a charming Danish town in Southern California . It’s just 35 miles north of Santa Barbara, and its storybook spirit makes it the perfect pick if you’re wondering where to spend Christmas.

Solvang is also called the “Danish Capital of America,” and as this moniker implies, you can expect to find authentic European architecture and cuisine in this unique Christmas destination. You’ll even spot recreations of Denmark’s famous landmarks throughout the village!

Best Places to Visit in the USA for Christmas: Solvang, California

Over the holidays, Solvang transforms into a classic European Christmas market. All the town’s famous windmills light up at night, along with the rest of the village. Christmas trees line the streets, and shops are overflowing with all the seasonal ornaments, treats, and decor you can imagine.

You have to go to Solvang Bakery and pick up one of their famous gingerbread houses. Then, check out Jule Hus . This local landmark opened in 1967, and it’s full of sparkling, unique, and quirky Christmas ornaments to bring home.

2. North Pole, Alaska

What Places Have Shoulder Season in the USA for Christmas: North Pole, Alaska

There is a real city called North Pole in Alaska . While it’s located just southeast of Fairbanks and not at the magnetic north pole, the city has firmly embraced the Christmas spirit since its founding in 1953.

The city’s main attraction is the aptly named Santa Claus House . This former post office is now a sprawling Christmas store that’s full of toys and holiday décor. Plus, the letters to Santa that line the walls are a charming touch! You’ll be able to find Santa roaming the aisles, too, ready for any Christmas wishes.

Where to Vacation in the USA for Christmas: North Pole, Alaska

If you’re looking to get outside, a hike through the snow-blanketed landscape of the Chena Lake Recreation Area is a unique experience. You can also enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling trails, and even ice fishing!

Plus, an amazing perk of being so far north is the possibility that you’ll catch the Northern Lights. December is in the middle of aurora season, and North Pole is a prime place to watch the show.

3. Vail, Colorado

Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA: Vail, Colorado

For the outdoor enthusiast, Vail, Colorado , has a lot to offer. You might be torn between Aspen and Vail, but we picked Vail for this list because it has a livelier atmosphere and is easily one of the best Christmas destinations in the US!

With a bevy of upgrades to Vail Ski Resort over the past few years, Vail has been improving its already world-class facilities. The runs are perfectly groomed and offer a huge variety of terrain types. From picturesque glades on the mountain to the sprawling Back Bowls to Blue Sky Basin’s backcountry, you’ll find it to be a skier’s paradise.

Best Places to Visit in the USA for Christmas: Vail, Colorado

Vail offers a ton of activities off of the mountain, too! Check out the beautifully lit outdoor ice skating rinks, go on a holiday sleigh ride, or go for a few rounds of Ice Bumper Cars.

Shops and restaurants will be adorned with holiday decorations, and you can book the perfect Christmas dinner right in the village. If the ice and activity start to get to you, the many spas and resorts dotting Vail offer some well-deserved R&R!

4. New Orleans, Louisiana

What Places Have Shoulder Season in the USA for Christmas: New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is hands down one of the best places to go for Christmas. Between the steamboats and streetcars adorned with lights and tinsel, the riverside bonfires, and the historic holiday home tours, you’re guaranteed to have an amazing experience.

The city’s iconic Christmas Eve Bonfires on the Levee originated with the early Cajun settlers in the area. This rich cultural history is responsible for many of New Orleans’ holiday traditions. 

Every year, you can see hundreds of bonfires lighting up the river. Plus, there might even be fireworks shows. If it’s your first time in the city, it might be helpful to book a guided tour to navigate the crowds because the event takes place about 30 miles outside of New Orleans.

Where to Vacation in the USA for Christmas: New Orleans, Louisiana

Another local tradition is the Celebration in the Oaks in City Park, where a train will take you through the park’s 25 acres, filled with centuries-old oak trees draped in lights and a bevy of other holiday displays.

Some of the city’s beautiful historic mansions open up for the public to view. All decked out in grand Christmas opulence, these homes are even more magical at this time of year. You can even carry on the spirit with a traditional multi-course Réveillon dinner, which is served at restaurants across the city just for the holidays.

5. Seneca Falls, New York

Seneca Falls is widely known to be the inspiration behind the town of Bedford Falls, which was portrayed in the classic holiday film It’s a Wonderful Life . The town has embraced its popular depiction and now holds an annual It’s a Wonderful Life Festival – a truly unique way to celebrate Christmas!

The festival generally takes place over three days in early December. The entire town transforms into a real-life Bedford Falls. Movie cast members and special guests attend, plus there are special screenings of the film and exclusive presentations that peel back the curtain on the legendary production.

The town’s Bridge Street Bridge (aka the “It’s a Wonderful Life Bridge”) is a must-visit if you’re a fan of the film, where you’ll also see mementos of loved ones hung up by locals and visitors. Throughout the month of December, the town hosts all sorts of holiday brunches, Christmas caroling, and festive pop-up events, too!

6. Cleveland, Ohio

Must Visit Places in the USA for Christmas: Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland is one of the most underrated places to travel in the US. It’s got beautiful historic buildings, interesting attractions, and delicious food, all without the big city price tag. Plus, when it comes to US Christmas destinations, Cleveland’s holiday events have something to offer all types of travelers.

A holiday concert is always a great way to celebrate yuletide, especially so in Cleveland. The city’s Severance Hall is an art deco masterpiece, and the Cleveland Orchestra is world-class.

If you’re in town in late November, you can start the holidays right at the Winterfest kickoff. This annual event is a lot of fun, featuring live concerts, a pop-up market, and more, all topped off with a fireworks show. 

Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA: Cleveland, Ohio

If you miss the Holiday Lighting Ceremony in November, don’t worry. This event is celebrated through February.

Other special events include the winter lights displays at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo , the Festival of Trees at the gorgeous Allen Theatre , and an igloo village at Merwin’s Wharf, offering a very unique, private dining experience.

7. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

What Places to Visit in the USA for Christmas: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Bethlehem is one of the best US cities to visit in December. Unsurprisingly, it’s also known as “Christmas City USA.” Between its festive holiday markets, the Live Advent Calendar, and unique history, you’ll have a lot to see and do during the holiday season.

Every year, the city puts up candles in every window – an original local tradition – bathing the streets in a warm glow. There’s also no shortage of light displays, dazzling Christmas trees, and yuletide decor that’ll immerse you in holiday cheer.

The city’s most well-known attractions are the two markets that open up just for the holidays. The Christmas Huts on Main event invokes the German tradition of Weihnachtsmarkt, where you’ll find handmade jewelry, treats, and gifts to bring home.

What Places Have Shoulder Season in the USA for Christmas: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Meanwhile, Christkindlmarkt is an indoor extravaganza where you’ll be able to browse thousands of artisan goods, enjoy live performances, and even ice skate. This is one of the best holiday markets in the US – don’t miss it!

If that’s not enough, every single day from December 1-23, you can participate in the Live Advent Calendar at the city’s historic 1810 Goundie House, with activities that range from musical acts, arts and crafts sessions, giveaways of seasonal snacks, and more.

8. Leavenworth, Washington

Must Visit Places in the USA for Christmas: Leavenworth, Washington

Leavenworth is a beautiful alpine village modeled in the style of a Bavarian village. If you’re looking for a European holiday experience but want to stay closer to home, Leavenworth is easily one of the best places to go for Christmas in the US.

The spectacular Village of Lights event illuminates Leavenworth every year. The sight of trees covered trunk to branch in glowing lights, beaming eaves on every building, and even a horse-drawn carriage draped in ornaments all create a fantastical Christmas experience that you won’t soon forget. 

Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA: Leavenworth, Washington

You’ll be able to enjoy holiday arts and crafts along with nightly shows featuring carolers, local choirs, and other musicians.

Of course, you’ll also be able to go shopping at a Bavarian-style Christkindlmarkt, visit the quirky Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum , go on a sleigh ride through town, or hit the slopes at Leavenworth Ski Hill. We could keep going, but maybe it’s best you discover this alpine Christmas village for yourself.

9. San Francisco, California

What Places to Visit in the USA for Christmas: San Francisco, California

San Francisco is another one of the top Christmas destinations in the US if you want some big-city excitement and world-class arts and culture all wrapped up in a big holiday bow. There are plenty of events to enjoy, and even typical SF things become a little more magical at this time of year.

First, you have to go to Union Square. Classic Christmas lights line the park, and the surrounding shops are decked out in all their yuletide glory. You can ice skate in the glow of aurora-colored lighting, do the classic Winterwalk, and take a look at the historic buildings nearby.

What Places Have Shoulder Season in the USA for Christmas: San Francisco, California

The Great Dickens Fair in nearby Daly City is an iconic event that is held from November through December and features a ton of food vendors, local goods, and 1800s fair games. Make sure to try the buttered rum, which is a famous seasonal treat.

If you’re bringing little ones, the California Academy of the Sciences offers exclusive Christmas activities, and you might want to pop into the Walt Disney Family Museum for a special exhibit. There’s also a real two-story gingerbread house that the Fairmont Hotel puts up every year. This is also a prime place to warm up with an afternoon tea.

10. Williamsburg, Virginia

Must Visit Places in the USA for Christmas: Williamsburg, Virginia

This small town is known for its pastoral charm, culinary delights, and family-friendly attractions. During the holidays, that charm is multiplied, with snow blanketing the cobblestone streets and wreaths strung up all across town.

Exploring Williamsburg during the holidays involves a lot of eating, shopping, and ice skating. Between local boutiques, fine dining restaurants, the Christmas Market, and the town’s many breweries and wineries, you’ll have your pick of fun spots to check out in town. 

Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA: Williamsburg, Virginia

We’d recommend making a trip to Colonial Williamsburg . The beautiful grounds and historic boutiques are a draw by themselves, and each year the events calendar is packed with holiday festivities, including the Mistletoe Market, Yule Log Celebration, and of course, the iconic Grand Illumination ceremony.

The Busch Gardens Christmas Town gives the famous theme park a festive air. Special ice shows, visits from Santa Claus, and a dazzling 10 million lights make this a great place to spend the day. Plus, all the theme park attractions will still be open!

11. Washington, DC

What Places to Visit in the USA for Christmas: Washington, DC

Washington, DC, is an amazing place to visit during the holidays because the capital turns into one big Christmas tree. Exaggeration or not, you can’t miss the several massive evergreens dressed up for the holidays. Plus, expect all of the Smithsonian Museums to get in on the holiday cheer, too!

The National Christmas Tree is a must-see. Artists from across the nation make all the ornaments, so they change every year. You’ll find an even taller Christmas tree right on the US Capitol’s West Lawn – a tree that’s probably made its way across the country since it was hand selected from one of the country’s national forests.

What Places Have Shoulder Season in the USA for Christmas: Washington, DC

Every year, Mount Vernon by Candlelight hosts seasonal tours of George Washington’s historic property, and the weekend before Christmas, you can even watch a special fireworks show!

You can also check out the United States Botanic Garden ’s annual holiday exhibit, the festive ZooLights at the Smithsonian event, and the world’s largest light maze at Enchant Christmas — to name just a few of the many things Washington, DC, has to offer every holiday season.

12. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California 

Must Visit Places in the USA for Christmas: Carmel-by-the-Sea, California 

If you’re wondering where to spend Christmas, consider a trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea . With its seaside charm, 100 art galleries, and dozens of cute boutiques, this picturesque coastal town offers an appealing alternative to the classic white Christmas destinations.

We’d recommend starting your holidays with a trip to Carmel Plaza, where you can catch an outdoor concert and take in all the holiday decorations lining the streets. Then, get all your holiday shopping done.

Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA: Carmel-by-the-Sea, California 

Between the luxury boutiques, designer stores, and curated specialty shops, you’re sure to come across a special find. For decor, we’d really recommend Carrigg’s of Carmel , and there’s no better place for fine jewelry than Fourtané . 

Make sure to stop by the Cottage of Sweets , a 100-year-old fairy-tale cottage packed with special British desserts. Classic cottages and inns are sprinkled all throughout Carmel, giving it a delightful storybook feel perfect for the holidays.

13. Atlanta, Georgia

Best Places to Visit in the USA for Christmas: Atlanta, Georgia

Celebrate Christmas, Southern style, by visiting Atlanta for the holiday season! This is one of the best places to spend Christmas in the US, where you can enjoy endless twinkling lights, an amazing arts and culture scene, and some of the most unique food in the country.

Going to Atlanta means going to a show. Seasonal productions include the Atlanta Ballet’s The Nutcracker performance, holiday shows from the world-famous Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and of course, A Christmas Carol at the Alliance Theatre .

What Places to Visit in the USA for Christmas: Atlanta, Georgia

If you’re looking for a light show, check out Stone Mountain, where you can go tubing, walk around in a massive holiday light garden, and enjoy an outdoor concert. Lake Lanier puts on a similar lighting spectacle, as does the Atlanta Botanical Garden , and they’re all well worth a visit.

Atlanta’s got fantastic seasonal pop-up bars: the Miracle bar is a local favorite, leaning fully into the holiday cheer with unique cocktails and over-the-top decor, and also check out Ponce City Market with its unique igloos and themed holiday bar, or have a tiki-inspired Christmas at Sippin’ Santa .

14. Grapevine, Texas

Known as the Christmas Capital of Texas , the little town of Grapevine thrives during the holidays, and families will especially enjoy the all-ages events taking place all over town throughout the season! 

The Grapevine Christmas Passport makes exploring the city super fun, and it’ll help you discover all there is to do. The passport takes you to different spots around historic Grapevine, and you’ll finish the day with handmade souvenirs and great memories.

The North Pole Express is a very unique experience – you’ll get to enjoy holiday treats and a special show, all in a restored 1925 train carriage, which will take you to the magical Christmas Village Forest. This is the perfect way to show the little ones where Santa lives.

If you want more of a date-night experience, grab tickets for the Christmas Wine Train . There are plenty of tasting rooms and fantastic restaurants all over town, many serving up local Texan flavors with a twist.

15. Asheville, North Carolina

What Places Have Shoulder Season in the USA for Christmas: Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville is another one of the top Christmas destinations in the US, and the centerpiece of the experience is the gorgeous Biltmore Estate . But there are plenty more Asheville winter activities to get you into the holiday spirit. There are festive annual events, winter waterfall tours, and plenty of seasonal shopping.

The Biltmore Estate is spectacular at this time of year. The grand house and grounds are decorated with over 100,000 lights and 100 Christmas trees, the largest of which is raised by Santa every year in the estate’s banquet hall in a winter kickoff.

Where to Vacation in the USA for Christmas: Asheville, North Carolina

On Candlelight Christmas Evenings, you can explore the grand manor to the sounds of live music, then roam through the walled gardens and the observatory. Stop by the Biltmore Winery, and enjoy a glass of wine under illuminated trees.

Visit Biltmore Village for your shopping or check out one of Asheville’s many holiday markets. You might also enjoy the Winter Lights show at the North Carolina Arboretum , and don’t miss the National Gingerbread Competition displays at The Omni Grove Park Inn !  

Book a stay at Biltmore Estate

There you have it! The 15 best places to visit for Christmas in the USA. What’s your favorite US destination to visit during the holidays?

Planning a trip to the US? Check out our favorite books and travel guides!

best cities to visit in usa during christmas


Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA

About the Author:

Valerie Wheatley

Val grew up in Portland, Oregon but moved to Oahu on a whim back in 2013. She sold her house and all of her belongings and bought a one-way ticket. Since then she’s taken two around-the-world trips and has visited 60-ish countries while living out of a duffel bag. Val started documenting the Wandering Wheatleys travels back in 2013 as a way to update friends and family about her whereabouts and to relay humorous daily interactions. The only readers were her mom and her mother-in-law but that didn’t stop her! These days you’ll find Val dreaming up future trips, creating new travel content, managing a team of amazing travel enthusiasts, and chasing around her two adorable but naughty kids.

View all posts

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Rush Crek Lodge in Yosemite

The best Christmas vacations in the USA for an epic holiday

Bring on the yuletide and holiday cheer while discovering a new destination on a Christmas vacation in the U.S.

Clara Hogan

Nearly half of Americans are planning to travel over the holidays this year—while most of us head to a family member’s house for festivites, others take advantage of the time off and use the chance to go on a vacation to a new place.;

If that description fits your thinking this holiday season, hats off to you—and we've got you covered. We have rounded up the absolute best Christmas vacations in the U.S. to fulfill all motivations. Looking for snow? Hit up these beautiful cold-weather winter destinations . Want to leave the snow behind? Check out our favorite beaches in the US . If you still want to experience the magic of Christmas, just elsewhere, consider any of these quaint and  quiet Christmas towns.

Whether you want quality family time, a little romance with your boo or some solo to unwind out of office, the best Christmas vacations in the US will help you end your year on a high note.  

RECOMMENDED: The best Christmas cities to visit in the U.S.

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Best Christmas vacations in the USA

Stowe, VT

1.  Stowe, VT

If The Sound of Music is part of your holiday ritual, you’ll want to spend Christmas in Stowe, because after Maria, Captain and the children crossed the Alps at the end of the movie, they emigrated here. Stay at their Trapp Family Lodge , built to look Austrian and set on 2,500 beautiful acres. Ski out the front door, catch a sleigh ride, snowshoe out to the sugar house for a tour of where maple syrup is created, and enjoy memorabilia on display – you may even see a Trapp grandchild leading the history tour. On Christmas Eve, family members sing with guests. Stowe itself is charming, with a children’s lantern parade, a holiday bazaar and a free outdoor skating rink. A red gondola takes you to the top of the mountain for epic skiing and snowboarding.

Jefferson, NH

2.  Jefferson, NH

The main draw in Jefferson is the adorable Santa’s Village, which is open weekends through November and up to December 17-18. This themed amusement park offers pure joy for young and young-at-heart all year, including locating elf statues throughout the park, feeding actual reindeer, and sliding down the Yule Log Flume ride. Lodge at the fancy  Omni Mount Washington Resort  nearby where presidents have stayed, with its spectacular White Mountain views and access to 60 miles of cross-country ski trails and plenty of alpine skiing and riding. Finally, ride the  Cog Railway , which operates even in winter to create that unforgettable memory.

McAdenville, NC

3.  McAdenville, NC

There’s a reason Hallmark movies are often set in small towns; these are the places where celebrating is off the (stocking) hook. In McAdenville, known as Christmas Town USA, you can walk or drive through an incredible lighting phenomenon: evergreen trees around a lake are draped with lights, the 1883 bell tower gleams, more than 100 homes are decorated to the hilt, and an elementary school student each year gets to turn on the lights at the Tree Lighting Ceremony. Another important component is the Yule Log Ceremony, in place since 1949, where children pull the yule log through town on a sled—scrambling to get a hold on the finite rope—then it’s ignited at an open fireplace to start the festivities.

Yosemite National Park, CA

4.  Yosemite National Park, CA

The splendor of this national park blanketed in snow cannot be overstated. From skating under the graceful swoop of Half Dome, to taking a sleigh ride or just turning in a circle in dazed disbelief at the views, Yosemite is worth the trip. Plus, Badger Pass Ski Area is the oldest downhill ski area in the state. Come December, the beloved family-friendly Rush Creek Lodge (and sister property Evergreen Lodge ) offers special holiday meals, Christmas crafts, live music, plenty of eggnog and a chance to get a picture (and even do trivia with!) Santa. Other lodging is available in the park; there’s even a Thomas Kinkade painting called ‘ Christmas at the Ahwahnee ’ documenting that majestic hotel’s glowing lights in the snow.

Kissimmee, FL

5.  Kissimmee, FL

With a lake beach for wading and a walkable historic downtown, this affordable town is just 10 miles from a certain ‘merriest place on earth,’ but has its own draw. The Ice! experience at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center is a wonderland of two million pounds of carved ice sculptures and slides. This year’s theme is A Charlie Brown Christmas , and the hotel features six lanes of indoor snow tubing. To enter the frosty nine-degree environment, you’ll don a provided blue parka (because who’ll bring a winter coat to Florida?) to zip down the all-ages frozen chutes and walk through 20,000 feet of immersive iciness. The hotel itself has a huge Christmas tree and lighting display, while in Kissimmee there’s also a drive-through animated light show.

The Grand Canyon, AZ

6.  The Grand Canyon, AZ

Exhilarate in having the park mainly to yourself and enjoy spectacular weather conditions that may create cloud inversions, where clouds rest in the canyon below the rim. Snow may be present for incredible sunrises, and there’s even a Polar Express train ride put on by the Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel. The El Tovar Hotel offers a luxurious Christmas Day meal so you don’t have to cook, or you can cross-country ski through the pine forest, a true winter wonderland. The North Rim is closed to car traffic during this season, but you can be intrepid and hike there from the South Rim for a Christmas memory that will resonate in your head for years.

Santa Claus, IN

7.  Santa Claus, IN

This isn’t the only US town named Santa Claus, but we love what they offer here. Kids can go into the town’s original post office to write letters to Santa, which elves will answer, in a tradition going back more than 100 years. Take pony rides through Santa’s Stables, visit the Santa Claus Museum and Village, snap a photo with the 22-foot statue of Santa, and, of course, stop in at Santa’s Candy Castle for a sweet tooth treat. The village isn’t far from President Abe Lincoln’s boyhood home if you want to stop by and pay respects to the wooden hutch there made by Abe’s dad. And for faster thrills, don’t miss the Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, a theme park with coasters and other rides.

Manistee, MI

8.  Manistee, MI

Ah, the sound of sleighbells... The sound of ‘jingle bells’ as horses pull a sleigh along through the snow arouses all that nostalgia for a Christmas we may have never even experienced! But you can in Manistee, at the Victorian Sleighbell Parade & Old Christmas Weekend, where Belgian draft horses pull an upright 30-foot Christmas tree through the streets. There are bagpipers, carolers, luminaria, reindeer, Victorian bell ringers, a festival of trees, a night parade, lumbering dioramas, hot chestnuts for sale: we’re dazed.

New York, NY

9.  New York, NY

For Christmas in the city, the kind of montage you see in your head, nothing beats New York. Skating at Rockefeller Center, watching the Radio City Rockettes perform their annual Christmas Spectacular, hovering around the incredible toy displays at FAO Schwartz, seeing the New York City Ballet perform the Nutcracker, being part of the bustle of shoppers amid the glow of lit skyscrapers... it’s just magical. A light drifting of snow and yellow cabs working their way through traffic; maybe it’s stereotypical but it still gets our hearts going like ten lords a'leaping.

Cleveland, OH

10.  Cleveland, OH

Each year, Cleveland kicks off festivities with a Winterfest (ice skating, pop-up stores, food trucks, carriage rides) and tree lighting. There’s also a Riverfest with a beer garden, igloo village, skating rink and Santa visits. The zoo has a holiday lights display, and drive-through light displays throughout the city. But the thing we love most is the house used in the movie A Christmas Story . Tour the decorated home (crawl under the sink for a glass of milk?) and stop across the street for a museum where costumes and paraphernalia are displayed. Also, stop by Higbee’s, the department store with the traumatizing Santa slide. We sure hope Ralphie gets that official Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle (breathe)!

Canandaigua, NY

11.  Canandaigua, NY

Here, you can tour the historic Granger Homestead and Carriage Museum, decked out for a Victorian Christmas, with the Festival of Trees: tons of Christmas trees inside decorated by different civic groups. Outside, the Christkindl Market has heated tents with more than 100 booths of traditional crafts and goods. You can eat traditional German foods like strudel, schnitzel and the typical fair food. Our favorite is the tent where you can sit and warm your hands with a piping mug of Gideon’s Grog, a version of German glühwein, made with Sangria and spices, then mulled (you get to keep the branded mug), while a festive red trolley shuttles people from the parking lots to the action. Many other cities offer the traditional German Christkindl Markets, but this one is said to be one of the best in the U.S.

Portland, OR

12.  Portland, OR

The Rose City is an activities-packed destination year-round, and come Christmas, that's no different. The sheer number of events that will get you in the holiday spirit is impressive. Looking to shop local? Stop by Crafty Wonderland , the city's biggest arts and craft market, or check out the  Wild Arts Festival , an art show and book fair. Family-friendly activities abound from ZooLights to the Christmas Festival of Lights , featuring awe-inspiring light displays and more than 150 indoor concerns throughout the month to the annual Christmas Ships Parade , where festively decorated yachts and sailboats light up the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. Adults can also check out Brew Lights (yes, Zoo Lights, but with booze) and the Holiday Lights Wine Walk . One thing's for sure: a Christmas vacation to Portland will never leave you wondering how to fill an itinerary. 

Solvang, CA

13.  Solvang, CA

This small community founded by Danish immigrants in 1911 is filled with Danish architecture, a windmill and bakeries. The town makes a big fuss over Christmas with its month-long Julefest celebration with tree lighting, a citywide hunt for ‘nisse’ (gnomes!), a St. Lucia candlelight procession with floats, a JuleFEAST communal dinner under the stars, and the traditional, beloved Skål Wine and Stein Stroll with beer and wine from 15 makers and a gløgg (kinda like mulled wine) competition. The visitors bureau says Julefest is like ‘a walk through a vintage postcard and a Hallmark movie simultaneously.’ New this year is a Christmas Light Show called Aurora Dronealis with 100 drones moving in choreographed patterns to holiday music.

Duluth, MN

14.  Duluth, MN

Check out the Christmas City of the North Parade at night with festive lights ablaze, then take a 30-minute ride on the Christmas City Express Train with hot cocoa and good cheer. The historic Glensheen estate, built with last-century iron mining money, is dressed for the holidays. The biggest draw, however, is the Bentleyville Tour of Lights, billed as ‘America’s largest free walk-through lighting display.’ Walk through the beautiful lights, sit and roast a marshmallow at a bonfire, and get a free knit cap and cookies after visiting Santa if you can convince anyone you are 10 and under.

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Acorn Street in Boston MA with Christmas decor hanging from the buildings on the left and an American flag in the distances. Boston is one of the best Christmas vacations in us

25 Best Christmas Vacations in the USA

Whether your idea of the perfect holiday getaway is to be surrounded by snowy mountains, twinkling city lights, or sandy beaches, one thing is for sure: there are plenty of unforgettable options for Christmas vacations in the USA that fit your travel style!

In fact, there are many wonderful places to visit in December that choosing just one can be overwhelming (trust me, we’ve learned that the hard way).

Determined to take a festive getaway this December but aren’t sure where you want to go?

We teamed up with several other travel bloggers to create this bucket list of the best Christmas vacations in the USA, from classic white Christmas destinations to beach getaways that will have you pulling out your bathing suit and abandoning your heavy coat at home.

No matter what kind of vacation you’re looking for, there’s a US Christmas getaway here for you!

Table of Contents

Coolest Cities for Christmas Vacations in the US

Charming small-town christmas getaways in the usa, nature-focused christmas trips in the united states, best us destinations for christmas at the beach.

Woman in a green coat looking up at the Rockefeller Christmas tree with colorful lights. NYC is a classic Christmas vacation usa

Some links in this post may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please see our disclosure policy for more detail.

Washington D.C.

From Lara of Both Feet on the Road

If you are looking for the best USA Christmas trips, a visit to the National Christmas Tree in Washington D.C. has to be added to your bucket list!

For nearly 100 years, the lighting of The National Christmas Tree near the White House has been a tradition.

With famous singers, the enormous tree, and spectacular lighting ceremonies are a must for all Christmas lovers in Washington D.C.

However, even if you’re not there at the opening lighting ceremony, you can admire the gigantic Christmas tree from mid-December until the beginning of January.

US Capitol Building with a Christmas tree in front of it. The ground is snowy. Washington DC is one of the best christmas trips in the us

The National Christmas Tree is surrounded by handmade Christmas ornaments representing all U.S. states and territories, and every night there are different musical performances around the tree.

The lights or on between 4:30 P.M. and10:00 P.M., so make sure you also visit in the evening for the best experience.

Besides ticking “visiting the National Christmas Tree” off your bucket list, there are a number of other great festive things to do in Washington D.C. around Christmas.

Including visiting one of the many Christmas markets, the festive lights at the National Zoo, the Georgetown GLOW, the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree, the Union Station tree, the Library of Congress Tree, The City Center Tree, or the Botanic Garden Tree.

All of these and more feature beautiful festive decorations to help you get in the holiday spirit!

Where to Stay in Washington DC

  • CitizenM Capitol : Another stunning example of CitizenM hotels is this location in Washington DC Capitol. Expect all the style and comfort these hotels are known for.
  • Riggs Washington DC : Located in the former home of Riggs National Bank this iconic building is now home to a classic and beautiful hotel. Rooms are huge and comfortable and offer views of Penn Quarter.

front facade of us white house with snow on the lawn in winter in usa

Chicago, Illinois

From Diana of Travels in Poland

Chicago is a beautiful place to visit for Christmas in the United States. 

As a city that tends to be quite cold in the winter, the chances of snowfall or cold weather are pretty much guaranteed. 

The city itself goes all out in creating a festive atmosphere for its residents as well as out-of-town visitors.

Chicago has an official tree lighting ceremony at Millenium Park every year. Typically the tree lighting is accompanied by musical performances. 

Millennium Park is also a short walk away from the German Christkindlmarket at the Daley Plaza which mirrors Christmas markets in Germany. 

There are dozens of booths, representing different parts of Germany in food and artisan items.

people ice skating in downtown chicago at night, one of the best places to visit in winter in usa

Chicago also has ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo as well as the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. 

The latter has about one million lights adorning Michigan Avenue and creates an illuminated atmosphere during the Christmas season.

Not too far away is the Winter Wonderfest at Navy Pier where visitors can experience a festive and decorated pier with numerous holiday attractions geared towards kids and families. 

The Museum of Science and industry also hosts an exhibition where trees are decorated to showcase the way other countries and cultures celebrate the holidays. 

Regardless of what one may choose to do, being in Chicago during Christmas is magical and an experience unlike anywhere else.

Where to Stay in Chicago, Illinois

  • CitizenM: Stylish, colorful, trendy, and ultimate comfort. This hotel on the Chicago Loop is the perfect spot for your winter in Chicago.
  • Hotel Felix: Located in River North this modern hotel is a great choice for your trip. Rooms are earthy and comfortable, and you are a short distance from Chicago Theatre, perfect for getting home easily after an evening show.

skyline of chicago in winter with lake visible in the distance

New York, New York

From Anisa of Two Traveling Texans

New York City does Christmas better than any other city in the world. 

The fabulous decorations, holiday markets, ice skating rinks, and special events all over the city are worth the trip: if NYC can’t put you in the holiday spirit nothing will!

When it comes to decorations, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is the most famous, but you should also check out the holiday windows at the big department stores like Saks, Macy’s, and Bergdorf. 

If you want to venture outside Manhattan, the residents of the Dyker Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn go all out with decorating their homes!

If you are looking to buy gifts, check out the Bryant Park Holiday Market.  You will find lots of boutique shops, delicious food, and even ice skating. 

christmas tree in front of stock exchange in nyc, one of the best places to visit in usa in december

Speaking of ice skating, there are several rinks in Manhattan.  The Rockefeller Center rink will generally be the most crowded, but you can also go to the one in Central Park.

One of the most popular Christmas traditions in NYC is the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular. The dancing and special effects are inspiring. 

Another special event is the Holiday Train Show at the NY Botanical Gardens. You can see miniature versions of many iconic landmarks. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg, there is so much to see in New York during the holiday season . 

Where to Stay in New York

  • The Plaza Hotel : For a memorable place to stay, this is one of the most classic and luxurious hotels in New York. It is located right by Central Park, the Rockefeller Center, and some of NYC’s most popular museums.
  • The Renwick: Offering stylish residential style accommodation, this beautiful hotel is equipped with plenty of amenities and high class comfort. It is also a short walk to the Empire State Building and Bryant Park for exploring.

Empire State Building or Top of the Rock: Girl with Binoculars on Empire State Building

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

From Stephanie of Oklahoma Wonders

Oklahoma City might not be the first place you think of for a Christmas getaway, but there are a lot of special winter activities that take place here during the holiday season.

If you love theater and ballet, your first stop should be the Civic Center Music Hall to see the Oklahoma City Ballet’s annual performance of The Nutcracker.

This show tends to sell out early, so make sure to buy your tickets in advance.

If you’re after beautiful Christmas lights, head to “Downtown in December” which is one of Oklahoma City’s most popular festivals .

This event also includes an outdoor ice skating rink, snow tubing, and free rides on the water taxi in the Bricktown Canal, as well as one-off parties like the tree lighting ceremony and Mistletoe Market. 

lake hefner lighthouse during a brilliant orange sunset in okc

You can also see great Christmas Lights in Nichols Hills. If it’s a White Christmas, add a drive around Lake Hefner.

If you’re a sports fan, you’ll love attending a game at the Chesapeake Energy Arena to see the Oklahoma City Thunder.

OKC’s NBA team is often selected to play on Christmas Day, but even if they aren’t at home on Christmas you can typically see a game in the days before or after Christmas.

If you’re in town on New Year’s Eve, you can head down to Bricktown’s Opening Night Festival, the most popular New Year’s Eve party in the state.

Lake Hefner in OKC after a snowstorm, with icicles in the trees

Boston, Massachusetts

New England’s largest city is absolutely beautiful year-round, but during the holiday season, Back Bay sparkles a little brighter (with seemingly endless rows of Christmas lights), the already-stately brick homes of Beacon Hill are given a festive facelift, and Christmas trees dot the city.

You’ll definitely want to pack your warmest clothes and heaviest coat to explore Boston in winter, but the city’s incredible beauty shines bright in December, making Boston one of the best Christmas vacations in the United States.

While you’re there, be sure to go ice skating in City Hall Plaza, check out the Boston Pops holiday show, and, if you’re into the classics, the Boston Opera House’s gorgeous Nutcracker performance.

It’s hard to say where the best Christmas light displays are in the city–there are simply too many impressive neighborhoods to count–but the Boston Common, Fanueil Hall, Quincy Market, the North End, and of course, Back Bay and Beacon Hill as mentioned above, all deserve a wander.

And, of course, many of the classic things to do in Boston , from exploring the Freedom Trail to museum-hopping, are still a delight (if a bit chilly) in December.

Where to Stay in Boston

  • Found Hotel Boston Common: This boutique hotel in the Theatre District is perfect for exploring Boston. Rooms are bright and comfortable, and there is access to public transport a short walk from the hotel.
  • Revere Hotel Boston Common: Also in the Theatre District and close to Boston Common is this stylish hotel with a stunning rooftop terrace and bar, perfect for crisp afternoon drinks. Rooms are spacious and have a coffee machine for those of you who need coffee the moment you wake up.

Commonwealth Avenue in Boston MA under a blanket of snow with Boston Public Garden visible in the background

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

From Derek of Robe-Trotting

Philadelphia is a wonderful city break to turn into a festive USA Christmas trip.

During the holiday season, Philadelphia comes alive with decorations and lights on every street. A Christmas Market springs up in LOVE Park, a wonderful photo spot all year long, as well as on City Hall’s Dilworth Plaza.

There’s a gorgeous Christmas tree in the City Hall courtyard and an ice-skating rink and hot chocolate stand on the plaza.

Another great destination is the ice-skating rink and Christmas vendors around Penn’s Landing. It’s larger and often less crowded than the City Hall festivities.

Another great stop for Christmas fun in Philly is the Macy’s Department Store on Market Street. Inside you’ll find the normal holiday shopping, but on the third floor is Dicken’s Christmas Village.

It’s a self-guided tour of animatronic scenes from Charles Dicken’s classic, A Christmas Carol. There is also a light show and, of course, Santa Claus himself to entertain the whole family.

If you have more time in the city, explore festivities with some  day trips from Philadelphia .

historic street in philadelphia pa in winter with cobblestone lane in the center, philly is one of the best usa december travel destinations

About 30 minutes outside of the city you can visit Longwood Gardens for its seasonal Christmas displays.

Longwood Gardens is a massive botanical gardens complex that celebrates the art of horticulture.

For the Christmas season, they dazzle with lights, poinsettias, and even festive performances.

If you drive about two hours west, you can visit the Sweet Holiday Celebration at Hershey Park.

The beautiful amusement park reopens for Christmas with rides and a beautiful light display.

Whether you’re downtown or just outside of the city, Philadelphia is a festive place to visit for the Christmas season.

Where to Stay in Philadelphia

  • Morris House Hotel : Located right by Washington Square and a short walk from Independence Hall, Morris House Hotel is both a National Historic Landmark dating to the 18th century and a popular boutique hotel!
  • Home2Suites By Hilton : The Home2Suites concept of combining the appeal of a hotel and an Airbnb into one property was excellent (our spacious room had a kitchenette), and the customer service is great.

Christmas tree display at Longwood Gardens near Philadelphia, one of the best christmas vacations in us

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

From Paulina of Paulina on the Road

One of my favorite Christmas trips in the US is exploring the largest city in Wisconsin: Milwaukee!

Already throughout the year, Milwaukee has plenty of things to offer to its visitors.

From spectacular museums such as the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Harley Davidson Museum and great restaurants….there is something to do in Milwaukee for every type of traveler.

During the holiday season the entire city lightens up and it’s just the perfect setting for long walks. 

Some of the  best things to do in Milwaukee during winter include taking a brewery tour, going Christmas shopping in Mayfair Mall, and visiting Milwaukee Winter Farmer’s Market. 

Long exposure of a street scene in Milwaukee at blue hour during the Christmas season, a Christmas tree is visible in the left side of the photo

The mission of the Milwaukee Winter Farmers Market is to connect neighborhoods to fresh, local food – from farm to market to table.

The Milwaukee Winter Farmers Market brings together about 50 weekly vendors in the Mitchell Park Domes. The best thing is that you can taste some homemade dishes, too!

If you want to learn more about Milwaukee’s brewing tradition, you might consider doing a brewery tour of some of the best ones.

Milwaukee’s most famous breweries include (but aren’t limited to!), Pabst Brewing Company, Miller Brewing Company, or Sprecher Brewing Company.

It’s a must on any trip to Milwaukee, at Christmas, or any other time of year.

Where to Stay in Milwaukee

  • The Plaza Hotel : If you’re looking for a memorable place to stay, this is a great choice for your stay in Milwaukee. The Plaza is conveniently located midway between Lake Michigan and the Downtown Riverwalk, so it’s within walking distance of many of Milwaukee’s top attractions. The rooms also have full-sized kitchens to give you more dining options during your vacation.
  • The Pfister Hotel: For stunning old world charm and a Victorian art collection on site this is the hotel to book. The entrance way is spectacular and the charming martini bar on the 23rd floor is historic. Many rooms also have views of Lake Michigan.

woman holding a glass of beer from a flight at a milwaukee brewery

Los Angeles

From Jodie of Ala Jode

Combining beaches, city life, and fun for the whole family, Los Angeles is a great place to enjoy a Christmas holiday getaway.

The weather in southern California in December is mild and sunny, making it a great time of year to visit, and LA boasts some of the best weather in the state.

Despite the sunny weather, your trip to LA won’t be lacking any festive spirit.

The city knows how to do Christmas in style (what else would you expect from the home of Hollywood?), and puts on a real show. 

As well as the Christmas spectaculars put on by local theme parks, LA has a number of Christmassy events to enjoy.

View of LA skyline from Griffith Park with stockings and holiday decor in the foreground--you can expect decor like this when visitin LA on a USA Christmas trip

Little ones will love riding the Holiday Light Festival Train in Griffith Park, while all ages can enjoy the Christmas lights that stretch from Beverly Hills to West Hollywood.  

For foodies, you can also enjoy one of the many Christmas Eve menus available around the city.

If you’re traveling to Los Angeles as a group, the annual Christmas pub crawl is a must!

It’s completely free to join and will take you to some of the best restaurants and bars along Long Beach – just make sure you bring your ID (and your Santa costume!).

Where to Stay in Los Angeles

  • Hotel Erwin: With views over the Pacific Ocean and Venice Beach Boardwalk, you will be hard pushed to find a hotel with more iconic views. Rooms are stylish and comfortable and most have balconies to take in the views. You can also lounge in the rooftop bar for a dreamy LA afternoon.
  • Palihotel Melrose: For something a little more city based this beautiful hotel in Hollywood spares no expense in charming details, homey comforts and stunning decor. The location is also excellent in the heart of the Melrose Shopping District.

Skyline of Los Angeles CA with palm trees in the forground, one of the best places to visit in the US

Detroit, Michigan

From Chelsea of The Portable Wife

Detroit may not be at the top of everyone’s travel bucket list, but it’s a truly magical city to visit at Christmastime.

Between the vibrant downtown events, enchanting historic village, and a high chance of snow, you won’t regret a Christmas trip to the Motor City.

Downtown Detroit has undergone a large-scale revitalization in the past decade, with the Campus Martius area getting a major makeover.

This award-winning urban park transforms into a winter wonderland in December, with open-air ice skating, artisan craft stalls, and a towering Christmas tree.

The surrounding streets are also lined with twinkling lights and illuminated branches, making a simple evening stroll into a festive experience.

Just outside the city center lies Greenfield Village, the famous living history museum depicting how Americans have lived and worked since the late 1700s.

Large Christmas tree in Detroit MI at night, one of the best christmas vacations in us

While nearly two million tourists come here every year to see historical places like Henry Ford’s home and the Wright Brothers’ bicycle shop, the Holiday Nights event draws in the Christmas crowd.

Every weekend in December, Greenfield Village dials the holiday magic up to 11.

Visitors can step back in time as they ride in decorated Model T cars, pass by carolers dressed in historical outfits, and skate beneath the stars.

All of the historic buildings are decked out in garland and lights, and the smell of roasted chestnuts wafts through the air.

It’s one of the closest places you can get to a European winter break   without leaving the country!

skyline of detroit michigan in winter with lake frozen over in the foreground

San Antonio, Texas

From Ketki of Dotted Globe

San Antonio , located in southern Texas, is famous for its rich history and Spanish colonial heritage.

It is home to many Spanish frontier missions including the famous Alamo, the beautifully landscaped Riverwalk, and many famous museums.

The city has amazing markets including the Farmer’s Market in Pearl District and the Historic Market Square which has a variety of Hispanic goods.

San Antonio is also a great destination for a family vacation, featuring much-loved spots like Six Flags: Fiesta Texas and the San Antonio Zoo.

san antonio riverwalk decorated with christmas lights at night, one of the best places for christmas vacations in usa

While San Antonio is a year-round destination, it is especially lovely to visit San Antonio in winter , when the Riverwalk trees and bridges are decorated with a million lights.

There is nothing more romantic than taking a stroll along the Riverwalk during this wonderful time of the year.

The Riverwalk restaurants have music and great Mexican food while the neon-lit riverboats add to the ambiance.

Christmas magic is present all over the city and even the horse carriages near the Alamo are decorated with fairy lights.   

Don’t miss the many holiday lights at the UNESCO-listed San Antonio Missions or 18th-century San Fernando Church, either.

san fernando cathedral at night in december with christmas tree in the foreground

Leavenworth, Washington

From Marissa of Postcards to Seattle

When you’re looking for a getaway around the holidays, head right to Washington State’s small town of Leavenworth.

Located in the heart of the Cascade Mountains, you’ll feel like you’ve gone to Germany with the Bavarian theme here.

All the storefronts have a European feel to them, and you’ll be delighted to find multiple sausage stands and beer gardens.

Christmas is the best time to visit Leavenworth , as the entire town is decorated in lights.

You can find traditional German music and Christmas carols playing with musicians dressed in Lederhosen during the weekends.

leavenworth washington decorated in christmas lights in america at night

Mulled wine and spiced nuts are also sold this time of year for a special treat that makes you feel like you’re visiting traditional German Christmas markets.

Kids will love sledding down the hill in the middle of town during the day.

You can also visit the Gingerbread Factory and the Nutcracker Museum to take home a few souvenirs.

Speaking of nutcrackers, the whole family can go on a nutcracker hunt during this time of year to find a list of nutcrackers hiding around the museum.

You won’t want to miss out on visiting Leavenworth in the winter .

Small street in Leavenworth Washington decorated for Christmas, with a Christmas tree on the left side of the photo

Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

From Darcy of Plan, Ready, Go

Christmas is a great time to visit Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia.

Colonial Williamsburg is the world’s largest living history museum, and they pull out all the stops at Christmas.

Not only is the entire historic center of the town beautifully decorated for the holidays, but there are also many special Christmas events to choose from to fill out your Colonial Williamsburg itinerary .

Colonial Williamsburg Christmas events include the Grand Illumination held on the first Sunday of each December in addition to a host of special concerts, historical re-enactments, dramatic presentations, special guided tours, and more.

Many of the special events are free though there are some that require the purchase of additional tickets.

Detailed information about each event is always available on the Colonial Williamsburg website , or you can stop by the Visitor’s Center for a complete schedule of each day’s events and activities.  

Although the hours are limited, the historic center of the town is open on Christmas Day.

There are a wide variety of special Christmas Eve and Christmas Day meal options hosted at the Colonial Williamsburg resorts and historic taverns such as the Christmas Day brunch buffet at the Williamsburg Lodge.

Horse and carriage in colonial Williamsburg that is moving away from the camera on a paved road

Helen, Georgia

Situated in Georgia’s idyllic Blue Ridge Mountains, Helen, Georgia offers a taste of Bavaria in the heart of the American South!

Featuring Alpine architecture and an outsized list of things to do ranging from browsing the boutiques and shops along Main Street to hiking along the Chattahoochee River, Helen makes for a quirky, charming, and unforgettable Christmas holiday destination.

It has even been used as a filming location in a few Lifetime Christmas movies (and likely in more to come)!

Dreaming of visiting German Christmas markets but not able to make it across the pond this year?

Head to Helen, where 2 weekends feature a traditional German Christmas market, perfect for doing your shopping and eating plenty of treats.

And, while the weather will be cold enough that it will feel like Christmas, you won’t need more than a warm coat to comfortably visit outdoor attractions like Anna Ruby Falls.

bavarian architecture in helen, one of the cutest small towns in georgia usa to visit

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

From Tori of

A little over an hour away from both New York City and Philadelphia , Bethlehem sits in Pennsylvania’s gorgeous Lehigh Valley.

Affectionately known as Christmas City, Bethlehem is an absolute must for anyone looking for a Christmas-inspired trip in America.

Take a day trip or spend the weekend and enjoy Christmas markets, holiday shopping, festive treats, drinks, decor, and more.

There is no shortage of magic and festivities when visiting Bethlehem, Pennsylvania during the Christmas holiday season.

Though small, downtown Bethlehem truly captures the magic of Christmas.

Visitors can peruse Christmas City Village, an outdoor market with handmade goods and European-inspired fare.

Stroll the city’s cobblestone streets or take a narrated carriage ride through the historic city, tree displays, and twinkling lights.

Heart-shaped Christmas ornament with an American flag painted on it hanging from a tree. This post rounds up the best christmas vacations in us

Don’t skip the iconic Moravian Bookstore, the oldest continually operated bookstore in the country.

Pay a visit to (or even spend the night at) Historic Hotel Bethlehem , which displays over 35,000 lights and decorations during the holidays.

A short way from downtown, tourists and locals alike flock to Christkindlmarkt, a German-inspired Christmas market set behind the famous Bethlehem SteelStacks.

Listen to live Christmas music, enjoy demonstrations such as glass-blowing, or finish up holiday shopping.

Look no further than Bethlehem, PA, America’s very own Christmas City, for a charming holiday getaway.

historic building in bethlehem pennsylvania covered in snow during winter

Asheville, North Carolina

From Stephanie of Explore More Clean Less

Asheville, North Carolina is a quiet, quirky city with stunning mountain views and wonderful Christmas events!

Weather is typically mild and snow is rare, making it a nice escape from northern winds.

The city’s main tourist attraction, the Biltmore Estate , goes all out with a replica gingerbread house and more than 55 decorated trees throughout the house and grounds.

There are special tickets for candlelight tours with live choral singers but visiting during the day is special too!

The North Carolina Arboretum puts up a huge winter lights display that makes for a lovely night (but buy tickets early!) drinking hot cocoa.

Strolling through the garden is extra special when it’s decorated with over half a million twinkling lights in different, creative displays.

interior of asheville biltmore house library, one of the best 3 day itinerary asheville nc stops

Kids will love the festive model train and free crafts to make while watching the animatronic winter animal show!

Downtown Asheville puts up lots of lights while musicians play holiday music on the street, perfect for dinner and a stroll before you check out the famous National Gingerbread House Competition at the historic Omni Grove Park Inn !

Browse the content entries from young kids up through professional adults after you grab some cookies from the life-size gingerbread house concession stand.

The mild weather won’t keep you from hiking to see waterfalls or mountain views, so be sure to pack a hat and make time to take an  easy hike around Asheville  before you head home.

Or, if you want to see if you get lucky and are able to see some snow, consider extending your trip and heading up to one of North Carolina’s mountain towns that sits at a higher altitude.

Skyline of Asheville NC at sunset with Blue Ridge Mountains in the background, one of the best weekend trips in the south

The Rocky Mountains, Colorado

From Meg of Fox in the Forrest

When it comes to beautiful mountain scenery, it doesn’t get much better than the Colorado Rockies.

Of course, you can find world-class skiing and snowboarding at one of Colorado’s many ski resort towns.

However, there are lots of other activities to enjoy when you need a break from the slopes.

Enjoy one of the many beautiful Colorado winter hikes , take a dip in a famous hot spring, visit one of the state’s 4 national parks, or take a snowmobiling tour.

There are lots of different mountain towns that make the perfect place to spend Christmas in Colorado.

vail colorado as seen from above at sunset in winter in colorado

For those that like an upscale feel, check out Vail or Aspen.

There’s plenty of family-friendly fun to be had at Winter Park, Copper Mountain, Keystone Resort, and Steamboat Springs.

Those that want plenty of options simply must base themselves out of Frisco or Dillion where you can access Loveland Ski Area, Arapaho Basin, Keystone, Breckenridge, and more.

There’s no wrong answer when it comes to spending Christmas in Colorado.

With so many different places to choose from, you’ll find plenty of winter-filled adventures that are suitable for almost any budget.

If you love having a white Christmas and you’re looking for an iconic mountain landscape, look no further than the Colorado Rockies.

Woman in a blue jacket hiking in the Colorado Rocky Mountains at sunset in winter. The Rocky Mountains are one of the best christmas getaways in the usa

Yosemite National Park, California

From Allison of She Dreams of Alpine

If you’re looking for a natural winter wonderland, Yosemite National Park is an absolutely magical place to visit during Christmas time.

Most people think of Yosemite as a summer destination, with visitors coming from all over the world to take in the awe-inspiring views of giant granite walls and hike the best trails in Yosemite .

However, a little-known secret about Yosemite is that it becomes uniquely breathtaking in the wintertime.

Seeing the iconic monoliths of Half Dome and El Cap dusted with snow is a very special experience.

Yosemite Valley with a coating of snow in the mountains

Also, winter in Yosemite features fewer crowds and a more relaxed atmosphere, as everyone gets into the holiday spirit.

If you visit Yosemite for Christmas, you’ll have lots of fun winter adventure options to choose from, from snowshoeing to ice skating to skiing at Badger Pass Ski Area.

Plus, the Majestic Yosemite Hotel, Yosemite Valley Lodge, and Big Trees Lodge all celebrate the season with Christmas festivities and grand holiday dinners.

Grab your winter gear and head to Yosemite National Park for a magical and merry Christmas experience you’ll never forget!

winter in yosemite national park with snow on the ground and evergreen trees, mountains visible in the distance

Whitefish, Montana

From Jenn and Ed of Coleman Concierge

Everybody dreams of a classic White Christmas in the US.

It brings back memories of a simpler time when people still carol in the streets, and miracles wait around every corner.

That spirit of Christmas past is alive and well in Whitefish, Montana.

The Whitefish Christmas season officially begins on the first Friday in December with the Whitefish Christmas Stroll.

Carolers are singing, bells are ringing, and chestnuts are roasting on open fires.

What’s more, snow is already falling on the slopes of Big Mountain, which are visible from the decorated streets of the quaint, historic downtown.

Whitefish Montana covered in snow with a ski slope visible in the background. Whitefish is one of the best christmas vacations in usa

It’s a white Christmas, “just like the ones you used to know”.

The freshly fallen Christmas snow is perfect for Whitefish’s primary winter passion, skiing.

Big Mountain is perhaps the best place to learn to ski in America.

Besides having the perfect skiing snow from the moist Pacific air hitting the Rocky Mountains, Big Mountain also has an incredible learn-to-ski package where you get two half-days of skiing, including lessons and rentals for under $100.

There are many   things to do in Whitefish for every season , but Christmas is special. 

view looking up big mountain in whitefish montana with skiers coming down

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

From Sarah of Lets Grow Cook

The Wyoming town of Jackson is a simply awesome place to spend Christmas.  

Not only do you have 3 ski areas on your doorstep (Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Snow King Mountain Resort, and Grand Targhee Resort), but the scenery, in general, is quite simply stunning.

To the north of the town are the jagged peaks of the Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park is also close by.  

At Christmas, Jackson’s town square, quite normally adorned with shed elk antlers has them lit up for the festive season.  

Christmas lights display in Jackson Hole Wyoming with a pair of antlers hanging in the center

Those elk antlers have been shed by elks overwintering at the nearby National Elk Refuge, which makes a magical place to take a horse-drawn sleigh ride to see these magnificent creatures up close.   

Even Santa makes an appearance in the town square every day from December 15 th  until Christmas Eve when he becomes otherwise occupied!

Before Santa leaves, though, he does begin his journey by rappelling out of the Jackson Hole aerial tramway at 4:30 P.M. on Christmas Eve – another great reason to spend Christmas in Jackson!

The downhill skiing and snow sports here are simply beyond compare, but if it’s a more gentle exercise you want, then taking a snowshoe tour through the National Park with the Park Rangers is a simply superb experience and an unforgettable addition to a Christmas holiday vacation!

grand teton mountains covered by snow with elk in the foreground, one of the best national parks in winter usa

Colorado Springs, Colorado

From Oksana and Max of Drink Tea & Travel

If you want to combine holiday cheer with outdoor adventures, Colorado Springs is a great destination, where you’ll find a city alive with holiday spirit.

The outdoor skating rink is a big hit and people come from miles around to attend the annual Festival of Lights .

If you happen to miss the Festival of Lights, you’ll still have a chance to check out some beautiful displays at the Cheyenne Zoo or the Broadmoor Hotel. 

Just outside the city is Pikes Peak, one of the highest mountains in the area and a great place to explore year-round.

However, Pikes Peak’s Cog Train takes on another dimension during the holiday season.

aerial view of colorado springs attractions with garden of the gods in the foreground and snowcapped pikes peak in the background

If you chose the Santa Train you’ll be accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Claus and their elves for the ride. It’s a great activity for the little ones.

The Garden of the Gods is another famous Colorado Springs attraction.

It is a great place to go for a hike if you would rather bliss out in nature for a few hours.

However, don’t miss stopping by the Garden of the Gods Trading Post during the Christmas season.

It has become an iconic holiday shopping destination for the area and a must-see when visiting Colorado Springs in December!

Colorado Springs decorated for the holidays with multiple Christmas trees, as seen at night

Monument Valley, Arizona/Utah

From Anna of My Travel Scrapbook

Monument Valley might seem like an odd place to go for Christmas cheer in the USA!

Monument Valley is known for its iconic desert landscape of orange buttes where cowboys roam.

Yet for a few months of the year, Monument Valley is sometimes covered in a light layer of snow.

What an unusual place to celebrate Christmas cheer by seeing such an iconic US sight in the snow!

Monument Valley is located in Navajo Nation which straddles Utah and Arizona, and is prominently featured on many American Southwest road trip itineraries !

Monument Valley in winter with snow covered the ground and parts of the monuments

There are many things to do and see in Monument Valley. You can visit famous movie spots such as Forrest Gump point and John Wayne point, eat local Navajo dishes, hike around the beautiful mesas and discover Navajo petroglyphs.

In winter, you will want to bundle up on the   hikes in Monument Valley  as it can get quite cold up on the plateau!

To warm up after your Christmas visit to Monument Valley consider staying at the Desert Rose Resort in nearby Bluff, Utah.

They have an amazing pool meaning you can enjoy the winter landscape from the warmth of the swimming pool!

As it is low season, you will also avoid the summer crowds and have an amazing time at Monument Valley in winter!

sunrise at monument valley in american southwest in winter

Key West, Florida

From Pauline of Beeloved City

Key West is particularly famous for being the most southern point in the continental USA.

Part of the Florida Keys , it’s one of the best places to go for the perfect Christmas vacation. 

With an average temperature of 67°F, December is one of the best times of the year to go to Key West and Florida in general.

The weather is dry and warm, making it the perfect sunny escape in the United States! 

Key West is surrounded by coral reefs. It’s the ideal place to go on a diving or snorkeling trip.

If you want to explore the mangroves and maybe see some manatees, another option is to go paddleboarding or kayaking!

Palm-tree lined path leading to Caribbean Sea beach in Key West Florida, one of the best southern weekend getaways

After that, you can head to the Southernmost Point Buoy, it’s a very nice photo spot! 

Key West is also home to The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum which was the official residence of the famous author.

If you are looking for shops and bars, bustling Duval Street will be the place for you!

There is live music everywhere, it’s a very nice place to relax and enjoy a drink. 

In the evening, head to Mallory Square for the sunset celebration. You will get to enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world!

front facade of a house in key west florida decorated for christmas in usa

Galveston, Texas

From Patricia of Travel Fam Live

Galveston can be a great escape around the holidays, Christmas in particular.

This barrier island is located about 50 miles from Houston and it’ll offer an array of activities in a warm environment perfect for enjoying a laid-back Christmas on the beach in the United States.

With the festivities starting at the beginning of November, there is always something to see or do around the Island.

Founded in the early 1800s, Galveston has so much history and historical sites that would enhance anyone’s Christmas.

Around Thanksgiving weekend, all the City’s Christmas trees are lighted and Galveston becomes a magical place.

And the best part is that if you are lucky, you might be able to enjoy the beach even in December. 

The East End Victorian Homes Tour takes place at Christmas and is a tour of some of the luxurious homes built by the first European settlers to come to Galveston (check the calendar for this year’s date and time).  

front facades of historic victorian homes in galveston texas with palm trees in the foreground

Dickens on the Strand is a well-known festival organized by the Galveston Historical Foundation that brings you back to the Charles Dickens era.

There is a parade, costume contest and a ball to celebrate the event, complete with attendees dressed in Victorian fashion as they stroll up and down the Stand.

Dickens on the Strand has been happening for almost 50 years on the first weekend of December.

Other Galveston holiday events include the Moody Gardens Festival of Lights, A Lone Star Christmas, Ice Land at Moody Gardens, and many others. 

Plus, most of the typical things to do in Galveston are still doable in December, too!

Beach in Galveston Texas with a flock of seagulls on it

Oahu, Hawaii

From Anne of Travellers Archive

Spending a couple of days in Oahu, Hawai’i , will quickly let you fall in love with the island, its vibe, and its uniqueness.

The best thing to do on Oahu is to leave Honolulu behind and head up North along the North Shore, which is one of the most famous surf areas in the world.

It’s not only the place where surfing was actually born but also an area where huge waves roll in and international pro surfers would quickly take their board for a ride in their “living room”.

The best way to experience the North Shore is by car during a very easy and chilled day trip. 

waikiki beach as seen from above, one of the best attractions oahu hawaii

From here follow the Kamehameha Highway and make your way up to the old surfing village of Haleiwa, where you’ll find little shops and an amazing lunch spot – Haleiwa’s Joe.

Once filled up with fresh fish burgers follow up North and enjoy the constant views of the coastal landscape with amazing surf spots passing by, such as Sunset Beach, Waimea Bay, and Banzai Pipeline.

Usually, when the swell is up, you can simply stop on the side of the road and join hundreds of other visitors watching the pros take their waves.

This will quickly turn into an unforgettable Christmas experience.

Waimea Beach in Oahu Hawaii with a large rock on the left side of the shot and people sitting on both the rock and sand

Destin, Florida

From Disha of Disha Discovers

Some people enjoy staying home for Christmas. Others like to get away and have a vacation.

If you fall into the latter category, Destin, Florida is a great place to escape for a warm USA Christmas on the beach.

Destin truly feels like one of those picturesque towns you see in a Hallmark Christmas movie.

While others are dealing with cold weather, you’ll be hanging out on the beach in a t-shirt and a light jacket.

If you’re worried about not having a white Christmas, don’t worry too much. The gorgeous white sand on the beaches is just as white as snow.

group of boats parked at crab island destin florida

Also, Destin offers several Christmas activities throughout the month of December with everything from tree lightings to parades.

Aside from Christmas activities, there are plenty of other great things to do in Destin.

The Destin Harbor Boardwalk is filled with restaurants and shops. It’s fun to walk around and sample fresh seafood from all of the eateries.

Another memorable thing to do in Destin is to take a sunset dolphin cruise. It’s a magical experience, especially at sunset.

The best part about spending Christmas in Destin is that there won’t be very many tourists around.

By then, peak season has died down and you can enjoy everything Destin has to offer without tons of people around.

Two photos of Christmas decor in the US: Acorn Street in Boston on top and an ornament hanging from a tree on the bottom, black and red text on a white background reads "25 best usa christmas trips"

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About Kate Storm

Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

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25 Best Christmas Towns in America to Visit This Holiday Season

Add some of these charming towns on your holiday bucket list.

christmas towns for a winter getaway

If you're looking to hit the slopes, consider lively and fun ski resorts , like Vail, Colorado. It's the Drummond family's favorite destination for a hard-earned vacation from the ranch. If a more refined type of Christmas charm is what you're after, the famous Gilded Age mansions in Newport, Rhode Island, offer grand holiday displays that will make you feel like you're living in the lap of luxury. In all of these locations, you'll also find sweet and cozy winter cabin rentals , Christmas inns and hotels to stay in. Some might even offer a Christmas train ride or the ability to visit a charming Christmas tree farm ! Scroll through these top Christmas towns in the U.S. and start planning.

Park City, Utah

park city utah

The stunning scenery of this mountain town is only the beginning! Kick off the holiday season with Park City's Electric Light Parade , featuring cars and the town trolley decked out with lights. Then, visit Snowfest at Park City Resort for a variety of festive events. Gather to watch Santa come down the ski lift , then enjoy the annual Torchlight Parade , which lights up the mountain as resort staff ski down with giant flares.

Nantucket, Massachusetts

brandt point on nantucket

You won't want to miss Nantucket's annual Christmas Stroll . Held at the beginning of December, the holiday tradition dates back to the 1970s and includes live entertainment, craft shows, food and drink tastings, tours, Santa’s Village Marketplace, a visit from Santa himself, and decorations galore! You'll also want to stop by the Whaling Museum's annual Festival of Trees to see Christmas trees uniquely decorated by community members.


Jackson, Wyoming

jackson, wyoming

It's a real life winter wonderland! Settled at the base of the Teton mountain range, this quaint town offers plenty of fun seasonal activities, like skiing, horseback riding through the snow, and snowmobile tours . Another unique attraction is the monumental arches of elk antlers lining the square that are decked out in festive lights for the holiday.

Branson, Missouri

branson, missouri

For a country Christmas done right, head to this lively town in the Ozarks! You'll get to experience the Ozark Mountain Christmas , a month-long festival with holiday music, lights, shows, parades, and more! While in the area, you can also head to Silver Dollar City theme park to enjoy An Old Time Christmas extravaganza or hop aboard the Branson Scenic Railway's Polar Express Train Ride .

Bozeman, Montana

christmas towns bozeman montana

Get your fill of majestic natural beauty and twinkling Christmas lights by visiting the city of Bozeman. Nestled between the Rocky Mountains, this city hosts one of Montana's largest Christmas markets, the Holiday Market Jubilee , where you can find local hand-made gifts for everyone on your list.

New Orleans, Louisiana

christmas towns new orleans, louisiana

New Orleans is famous for its extravagant Mardi Gras parties and parades but this port city also knows its way around a Christmas celebration! Many of its gorgeous public spaces and attractions get spruced up during the holidays, like the historic Roosevelt hotel . Just look at that stunning lobby!

Sante Fe, New Mexico

christmas towns sante fe, new mexico

Trade in your white Christmas this year for a unique holiday experience in the American West. The Canyon Road Farolito Walk is one of Santa Fe’s most beloved holiday traditions. You'll feel merry as you stroll the historic neighborhood streets lined with twinkling paper bags.

Solvang, California

christmas towns solvang california

Located in the heart of Santa Barbara County's wine country, this picturesque Danish village is brimming with holiday charm every Christmas. Attend the town's annual Nordic-inspired Julefest , a month-long celebration with food, entertainment, a parade, a night market, and plenty of string lights.

San Francisco Bay Area, California

christmas towns san francisco, california

There's so much to see in the Bay Area but during the holidays, The Great Dickens Christmas Fair is the place to be! Located in the historic Cow Palace Exhibition Hall, this immersive experience allows visitors to step back in time to Victorian London. Enjoy music halls, theater groups, pubs, and charming shops overflowing with artisan holiday treasures.

Pawhuska, Oklahoma

christmas towns pawhuska oklahoma

Ree Drummond's hometown of Pawhuska is pure magic at Christmas time. The downtown area is lit up with glittering Christmas lights and a big, beautiful tree. Don't forget to stop by The Merc—you'll know it when you see the Christmas-red Drummond Ranch truck parked out front!

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

christmas towns pittsburgh pennsylvania

Pittsburgh kicks off its Christmas celebration early with Light Up The Night, a full-day event that happens the Saturday before Thanksgiving. The festivities include a tree lighting, holiday market, and a spectacular fireworks finale.

Franklin, Tennessee

christmas towns franklin tennessee

Franklin transports you back in time with their annual Dickens of a Christmas festival! Victorian-era musicians create the ambiance while actors and dancers bring to life characters from classics like A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist . While you stop by the warm whiskey lounge, kids can snack on old-fashioned sweets and treats.

Boothbay, Maine

christmas towns boothbay maine

Boothbay and its charming harbor town host the extensive "Boothbay Lights." Activities include Gardens Aglow community lighting contest (New England's biggest!), a lighted fire truck parade, and fireworks. The most exciting moment for the little ones is when Santa and Mrs. Clause arrive on lit-up tug boats for the boat parade!

Savannah, Georgia

christmas towns savannah georgia

Savannah is a gorgeous destination all year round, but especially during Christmas. The city market comes alive with full-blown holiday spirit, and they have not one but two lit-up Christmas parades: An old-fashioned car parade and a boat parade!


Snowmass, Colorado

christmas towns snowmass colorado

You may know Snowmass as part of the four ski areas rolled into Aspen, but it has its own village full of Christmas cheer (in addition to fantastic skiing). This winter wonderland village is nestled in the mountains and earns its name for the blankets of snow delivered throughout the cold months. There's ice skating, dog sledding, and a picturesque interactive light and art display.

Rhinebeck, New York

christmas towns rhinebeck new york

This small Hudson Valley town pays homage to its Dutch heritage with the yearly tradition of Sinterklaas, a celebration where children are honored for bringing light during the darkest months! It's an all-day non-denominational festival perfect for the whole family and features food, performances, and crafts.

Lahaska, Pennsylvania

christmas towns lahaska pa

Peddler's Village in Lahaska is home to a host of unique specialty shops that all light up for the holidays in a dazzling display. There are plenty of festive events throughout season, too, including Santa visits, parades, and an annual gingerbread house competition.

Burlington, Vermont

christmas towns burlington vermont

Church Street Marketplace in Burlington is ablaze with 250,000 glittering lights during the holiday season. Do some Christmas shopping as you stroll through the marketplace overlooked by a stunning 50-foot holiday tree.

Essex, Connecticut

christmas towns essex connecticut

There's no shortage of things to do in Essex during Christmastime. You can ride the North Pole Express , attend the annual Holiday Train Show , or catch a magical light display at the holiday village. If you're having too much fun to go home, book a stay at the historic Griswold Inn , where parts of the Hallmark Channel movie Christmas at Pemberley Manor were filmed!

New York, New York

christmas towns new york city

It may not be a small town, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a more festive place to visit during the holidays than the Big Apple! Go see the famous Rockefeller Christmas tree , take a spin around the ice skating rink, or catch a Rockettes' Christmas Spectacular show.

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Erin Cavoto is the Editorial Assistant at, covering food, holidays, home decor, and more.

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17 Best Places to Spend Christmas in USA This Year

  • In the City / Las Vegas / North America / NYC / Orlando / San Diego / USA / Washington DC

Trying to decide where to spend the holidays? Check out these magical spots.

With the holidays around the corner, most of us think of visiting home, but it can be one of the most magical times to visit other cities. It’s not just Europe that knows how to do Christmas right. Whether you make it a family trip or explore solo, here are the best places to spend Christmas in the US to help you plan your holidays.

17 Best Places to Spend Christmas in USA

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Last Updated: March 13, 2024

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  • Best Places to Spend Christmas in USA
  • More Christmas Destinations in the US
  • Map of Best US Christmas Destinations

Top 10 American Christmas Traditions

  • Best Places to Have a White Christmas
  • Tallest Christmas Tree in the US

Planning Checklist

17 best places to spend christmas in usa.

On our last visit to New York, I was disappointed that we left just as they were starting to put up the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. Now that we live in NYC, we’re determined to have the full holiday experience.

1. New York City, New York →

Can’t-Miss Spots:   Rockefeller Center , Rockettes Radio City Christmas Spectacular, 5th Ave Window Displays,  Central Park , Dyker Heights in Brooklyn What to Eat:  99 Places to Eat in NYC Where to Stay:  Search for hotel deals

Movies and TV make New York City to be the quintessential place to spend your Christmas getaway. You can gaze at all the lights, ice skate at the  Rockefeller Center  or  Central Park , see the  Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall , or enjoy the laser light show at Grand Central Station. Also, don’t forget to check out the Christmas villages and markets.

See More: 11 Magical Ways to Spend Christmas in NYC

Lotte New York Palace with One of the Most Beautiful Christmas Trees in NYC

2. Christmas Town USA, North Carolina

Can’t-Miss Spots:  US National White Water Center in Charlotte What to Eat:  Haberdish ,  Cellar at Ducksworth’s ,  Soul Gastrolounge Where to Stay:   Get a hotel in Christmas Town USA

Right outside of Charlotte, NC, this town is known as McAdenville most of the year, but each December, they change the name to Christmas Town USA. There are over 375 trees, 450,000 lights, and they hand out free hot chocolate and kettle corn to the first 1,000 attendees each night! 

It’s free to view the Christmas lights since it’s literally the entire town.

Local Tip: Prepare yourself for a lot of traffic.

McAdenville Christmas Lights + 15 Best Places to Spend Christmas in the US and Best Christmas Towns in the World |

3. Washington DC

Can’t-Miss Spots:   National Christmas Tree , US Capitol Christmas Tree, Downtown Holiday Market What to Eat:   49 Best Places to Eat in Washington DC Where to Stay:  Book a hotel in DC

What better way to spend Christmas than with the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C. This tree is just south of the White House and has been lit every year since 1923. Surrounding the tree are 56 smaller trees representing the 50 states, 5 territories, and the District of Columbia.

See More: 101 Things to Do in Washington DC

National Christmas Tree in Washington DC + 15 Best Christmas Destinations in the US and America at Christmas |

4. Chicago, Illinois

Can’t Miss Spots:   Christkindlmarket ,  Millenium Park Ice Skating ,  Tree Lights at Morton Arboretum , Winter WonderFest What to Eat:   Alinea ,  Penumbra ,  Girl and the Goat Where to Stay:  Search Chicago Hotels

The Windy City has their own giant tree, millions of lights fill the Magnificent Mile, and there’s a German Christmas market filled with everything you can think of.

See More: 15 Spectacular Day Trips from Chicago

How to Spend Christmas in Chicago + 15 Best Places to Spend Christmas in USA and Best Places to Visit During Christmas |

5. Orlando, Florida →

Can’t Miss Spots:  Lake Eola Park Tree Lighting Ceremony, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, Epcot International Festival of the Holidays What to Eat:  Cork & Fork ,  Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa ,  Seito Sushi Where to Stay:  Orlando Hotel Deals

Enjoy the mild winters in Orlando and visit one of the most magical places on earth! It’s no wonder that it also makes it one of the best places to spend Christmas in the US. Disney World gives their parks an extra dose of cheer during the holidays, and it doesn’t hurt that you can visit the beach in just a couple of hours.

See More: 101 Things to Do in Orlando FL

Christmas at Disney World (15 Best Places to Celebrate Christmas in the US).

6. Las Vegas, Nevada →

Can’t Miss Spots:  Bellagio Gardens ,  Ethel M Gardens ,  Cosmopolitan Ice Rink What to Eat:  49 Best Places to Eat in Las Vegas Where to Stay:  Best Vegas Hotels

The city that is always full of lights shines even brighter during the holiday season, and each hotel does its own take on the season. Don’t forget to stop by  Bellagio’s botanical gardens . We think they have the best decorations on the Strip.

See More: 5 Ways to Celebrate Christmas in Las Vegas

bellagio christmas 2022

7. North Pole, Alaska →

Can’t Miss:  North Pole Sign, Christmas in Ice Contest,  Winter Festival  What to Eat:  Little Richard’s Family Diner ,  Pagoda Restaurant ,  North Pole Crepery Where to Stay:  Get a hotel in the North Pole

Did you know you can spend Christmas at the North Pole without leaving the United States? Thousands of letters are sent to the Santa Claus House every year, and he even writes back. You may even be able to catch the Aurora Borealis!

North Pole Alaska + 15 Best Places to Go For Christmas in USA // Best Place to Spend Christmas in the USA |

8. Vail, Colorado →

Can’t Miss:  Kris Kringle Market, Vail Holidaze Tree Lighting, Vail Village What to Eat:   Almresi Vail ,  Vintage ,  Mountain Standard Where to Stay:  Vail Hotels and Rentals

Get a guaranteed white Christmas by visiting this ski town. They get so excited about the fresh powder that they celebrate with live concerts during Snowdaze.

See More: What to Do in Vail Colorado in the Summer

christmas in vail colorado

9. Nantucket, Massachusetts

Can’t Miss:  Christmas Stroll, Whaling Museum What to Eat:   Nautilus ,  Island Kitchen ,  Nantucket Lobster Trap Where to Stay:   Book your Hotel

If you want to spend your holidays in New England, Nantucket is the perfect spot. The annual Christmas Stroll is a special event where you can shop among dozens of decorated Christmas trees, do a wine tasting, enjoy carolers, or take home tours.

Check out the Whaling Museum, with 80 decorated trees, if you love Christmas trees.

brant point lighthouse nantucket christmas

10. Asheville, North Carolina →

Can’t Miss:   Biltmore Estate , National Gingerbread House Competition, Winter Lights at the N.C. Arboretum What to Eat:   49 Best Places to Eat in Asheville NC Where to Stay:   Best Places to Stay in Asheville NC

A couple of years ago, we drove up to Asheville to experience a candlelight Christmas at the Biltmore Estate with Jacob’s side of the family. 

It was magical. The entire estate is decked out in holiday decor but the highlight is the large Christmas tree in the Banquet Hall along with 55 other intricately decorated trees.

You can immerse yourself in all the Biltmore Estate holiday events, but Asheville is also a fun city to explore on its own.

See More: 9 Things to do at Biltmore + A Biltmore Estate Christmas

Biltmore Christmas Packages

11. Carmel by the Sea, California

Can’t Miss:  Holiday Tree Lighting and Carmel Plaza Holiday Party What to Eat:   Dametra Cafe ,  La Bicyclette ,  Sur at the Barnyard Where to Stay:  Book a hotel in Carmel By the Sea

This quaint coastal town is perfect for any wine lover. Enjoy the lights, walk along the beach, and stop into any of the dozens of spots to do a wine tasting.

See More: 11 Can’t Miss Things in Big Sur

Christmas in Carmel By the Sea California (15 Best Places to Celebrate Christmas in the US) + Places to Visit for Christmas |

12. Park City, Utah

Can’t Miss:  Historic Main Street Lights, Electric Parade, Torchlight Parade What to Eat:   High West Saloon ,  Riverhorse on Main ,  Vessel Kitchen Where to Stay:  Find Hotel Deals

This ski town starts it celebration in late November with its Electric Parade where they light up everything! Enjoy the slopes, walk through town, and if you’re around on Christmas Eve, keep your eye out for Santa. He spends the day skiing the slope the leads a parade down the PayDay trail.

See More: Snowboarding in Park City Mountain Resort

Christmas in Park City Utah + 15 Best Places to Celebrate Christmas in the US and Places to Visit at Christmas |

13. Williamsburg, Virginia

Can’t Miss:  Christmas Town Busch Gardens, Jamestown What to Eat:   Amber Ox Public House ,  Food for Thought ,  Maurizio Ristorante Where to Stay:  Stay in Williamsburg

Williamsburg is full of history. Visit Jamestown to celebrate the holidays like the colonists, or if you’re looking for something more up-to-date, Busch Gardens has its very own Christmas Town.

Christmas in Williamsburg Virginia (15 Best Places to Celebrate Christmas in the US).

14. La Jolla in San Deigo, California →

Can’t Miss:   Ice Skate at the Del , La Jolla Christmas parade What to Eat:   Tacos El Gordo ,  Puesto ,  Oscars Mexican Seafood Where to Stay:   Luxury ,  Mid-range

Celebrate the holiday season in a wetsuit surfing the waves, enjoying farm-to-table food, or shopping at the high-end and beachy shops in La Jolla. Don’t forget to check out the annual Christmas parade too!

Our favorite thing to do is to ice skate near the beach at Hotel del Coronado.

See More: 101 Things to Do in San Diego

La Jolla Christmas Parade (15 Best Places to Celebrate Christmas in the US).

15. Brandson, Missouri

Can’t Miss:  Old Town Christmas at Silver Dollar City, Branson Landing, The Polar Express What to Eat:   Billy Bob’s Dairyland ,  Billygail’s Cafe ,  Gettin Basted Where to Stay:  Search hotels in Branson

The historic downtown shopping center is the place to be during the holiday season in Branson. The Branson Scenic Railway is transformed into the Polar Express. And since it’s known as the Live Music Show Capital of the World, there is plenty to keep you busy!

See More: 11 Things You Can’t Miss in Kansas City Missouri

Silver Dollar City Christmas + 15 Best Places to Celebrate Christmas in the US and Christmas Vacations in USA |

16. Jackson Hole, Wyoming →

Can’t Miss:   Grand Teton  and  Yellowstone  National Parks, National Elk Refuge Sleigh Ride, Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris What to Eat:   Persephone Bakery ,  Gather ,  Snake River Brewing Where to Stay:  Best Jackson Hole Hotels

If you’re looking for a real winter wonderland experience, Jackson Hole is the place to go. You can fill your time with one of many winter activities, like skiing, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, and more. Plus, you’ll be right next to  Grand Tetons National Park  and  Yellowstone National Park .

Keep a watch out for Santa skiing at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort!

See More: 11 Incredible Things to do in Jackson Hole in the Winter

jackson hole wyoming in winter

17. Leavenworth, Washington

Can’t Miss:  Downtown Leavenworth, Leavenworth Reindeer Farm, Christkindlmarkt What to Eat:   Munchen Haus ,  Andreas Keller German Restuarant ,  Watershed Cafe Where to Stay:  Book a Leavenworth Hotel

We’ve only been out to Leavenworth in the summer for bouldering, but this small Bavarian town becomes the Village of Lights during the holidays. The buildings and trees covered in over a half a million lights. It’s a lot of fun for the whole family, and you can even meet reindeer or walk through the traditional German Christmas market.

Fun Fact: Leavenworth doesn’t have any historical ties to Bavaria but it was instead a great way to reinvent the city and promote tourism.

See More: 15 Best Day Trips from Seattle Washington

Leavenworth WA Christmas in USA + 15 Best Places to Spend Christmas in USA

Map of Best Christmas Destinations

More Places to SPend Christmas in USA

  • Ann Arbor, MI  – KindleFest, Sing-along with Santa, Holiday Parade
  • Atchison, KS  – Christmas parade, Winter Wonderland pageant, sleigh rides.
  • Chippewa Falls, WI  – Irvine Park Christmas Village, Wonderland Parade, Christkinldmarkt
  • Crown Point, OH  – Festival of Lights
  • Duluth, MN  –  Bentleyville light display
  • Elkhart Lake, WI  – Old World Christmas Market, horse-drawn wagon rides, breakfast with Santa
  • Frankenmuth, MI  – Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, Christkindlmarkt
  • Minneapolis-St Paul, MN  – Holidazzle, SantaCon, Holiday Tours at Governor’s Residence.
  • Red Wing, MN  –  Holiday stroll , sleigh rides, parades
  • Santa Claus, IN  
  • Zoar, Ohio  –  Zoar Village
  • Atlantic City, NJ  – Tropicana tree lighting ceremony, the  Irish Pub decorations
  • Bernville, PA  –  Koziar’s Christmas Village
  • Bethlehem, PA  –  Christkindlmarkt , carriage rides, Outdoor Village’s igloos, Lehigh Valley Zoo Winter Light Spectacular
  • Cape Cod, MA  –  Train to Christmas Town , decorated lighthouses.
  • Cape May, NJ  – West Cape May Christmas Parade, Winter Wonderland at Congress Hall, trolley rides
  • Corning, NY  – Parade of Lights, Centerway Square tree
  • Essex, CT  – Holiday Train Show,  North Pole Express
  • Lake Placid, New York  – Village Stroll, Main Street decorations, free lift at Whiteface Mountain if you dress like Santa.
  • Mystic, CT  – Lighted Boat Parade, Holiday Carnival, Downtown Holiday Stroll & Luminaria, Festival of Lights,  SantaCon
  • New Hope, PA  –  North Pole Express
  • Newport, RI  –  Christmas in Newport festival , Showfish Igloo Dining Experience
  • Ogunquit, ME  – Christmas by the Sea
  • Stockbridge, MA  – the town re-creates the Norman Rockwell painting, “Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas.”
  • Woodstock, VT  –  Woodstock Inn, Wassail Parade
  • Andalusia, AL  –  Christmas in Candyland
  • Annapolis, MD  – Lights on the Bay
  • Austin, TX  – Austin Trail of Lights
  • Bardstown, KY  – My Old Kentucky Home Candlelight Tour,  Barton 1792 Distillery’s Making Spirits Bright tours
  • Beaufort, NC  – Beaufort Christmas Parade,  Crystal Coast Christmas Flotilla
  • Beaufort, SC  – Annual Christmas Parade
  • Blue Ridge, GA  –  Santa Express and Santa Pavilion
  • Canton, MS  – Canton Christmas Festival, historic downtown lights, carousel rides
  • Charlottesville, VA  – Lighting of the Lawn, The Barracks Road Annual Holiday Parade, Wells Fargo Holiday Heritage Parade
  • Delray Beach, FL  – Old School Square Christmas Tree
  • Denton, NC  – Christmas on the Farm
  • Franklin, TN  –  Dickens of a Christmas Festival
  • Fredericksburg, TX   – Christkindlemarkt, German Christmas Pyramid, parades
  • Greenville SC  – Santa’s electric sleigh rides, Maine St skating rink, Festival of Trees competition
  • Helen, GA  – Lighting of the Village, Hardman Farm, Christkindlmarkt
  • Lewisburg, WV  – Greenbrier Resort lights and decorations
  • Myrtle Beach, SC  – Nights of a Thousand Candles
  • Natchitoches, LA  –  Festival of Lights
  • Oxford, MS –  Gingerbread Village, Ornament auction, parade
  • St Augustine, FL  –  Nights of Lights ,  Holiday Regat t a of Lights
  • Thomasville, GA  – Victorian Christmas
  • Altadena CA  –  Christmas Tree Lane
  • Anchorage, AK  – Holiday Lights in the Garden, Zoo Lights
  • Aspen, CO  –  12 Days of Aspen , Ullr Nights
  • Breckenridge, CO  – Lighting of Breckenridge, Race of the Santas, Ullr Fest
  • Colorado Springs, CO  – Santa Express Train, Miramont Castle, Acacia Park ice rink, Festival of Lights Parade
  • Durango, CO  – Polar Express
  • Lake Tahoe, CA  – Heavenly Holidays Family Festival, Merry Wonderland, Borges sleigh ride, carriage rides.
  • Mammoth Lakes  – Village Night of Lights, December Full Moon Snowshoe Tour
  • Nevada City, CA  – Victorian Christmas
  • Newport Beach, CA  –  Boat Parade
  • Ogden, UT  – Electric Light Parade, Christmas Village
  • Prescott, AZ –  Courthouse plaza lights, Sharlott Hall Museum open house
  • Seattle, WA  – Enchant Christmas
  • Sheridan WY  –  Christmas Stroll
  • Sierra Madre, CA  – Kersting Court giant snowman made from snow trucked in from the mountains.
  • Solvang, CA  – Julefest, Lights on Copenhagen Drive, Solvang Park, Alisal Road
  • Taos, NM  – Luminarias at Taos Pueblo
  • Telluride, CO  – Schmid Ranch, Ullr’s Ceremonial Ski Burn, Holiday Prelude, Torchlight Parade

In case you didn’t know, Christmas is celebrated on December 25 and commemorates the birth of Jesus. Today, traditions are a blend of religion and culture.

  • Christmas Cards  – they started in England in 1843. Prior, they sent private notes to wish each other Merry Christmas, until Sir Henry Cole decided to hire an artist to design a card. Did you know Christmas is the number one card-selling holiday of the year?
  • Carol Singing  – songs about Christmas, typically religious in nature. Some popular carols are Jingle Bells, O Holy Night, Away in a Manger, and O Little Town of Bethlehem.
  • Lights  – cities will decorate their buildings and trees, and people will decorate their homes with Christmas lights. Originally, they lit candles to signify the light of Jesus, which was then  replaced by electric lights .
  • Drive Around to See Christmas Lights  – My family used to drive us to the most festive neighborhoods.
  • Hide the Christmas Pickle  – hanging a pickle on the tree and the first person to find it gets an extra present.
  • Cookies and Milk for Santa  – this tradition dates back to Norse mythology but became popular in America during the Great Depression to show gratitude.
  • Meals  – Traditionally is similar to Thanksgiving with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce.
  • Ugly Sweater Party  – This party trend started in Vancouver, but now everyone is in on it.
  • Gingerbread Houses  – You can decorate them with the family or one of my friends likes to throw parties where you compete on who can build the best.
  • Cookie Swaps  – This date back to the 1800s, which traditionally were ladies-only events where you bring your own favorite cookies to the event and exchange them so you can take home a variety.

The  Christmas in America song  actually talks about many of these traditions.

Where Does it Snow on Christmas in the US?

Though it’s never a guarantee, to get the highest chances of a white Christmas, these are the best spots that have had a history of snowing on Christmas Day.

  • Alaska  –  Anchorage, North Pole
  • California  – Lake Tahoe (also in NV), Mammoth Lakes,  Yosemite
  • Colorado  – Aspen, Crested Butte, Steamboat Springs, Telluride
  • Idaho – Sandpoint
  • Illinois  – Chicago
  • Massachusetts   – Boston
  • Michigan – Marquette, Munising, Sault Ste Marie
  • Minnesota – Duluth, International Falls, Minneapolis-St Paul
  • Montana  – Bozeman, Missoula, Whitefish
  • New Mexico  – Red River
  • New York  – Lake Placid,  NYC , Utica
  • North Dakota – Bismarck
  • Washington  – Winthrop
  • West Virginia – Snowshoe
  • Wyoming  –  Jackson Hole

What is the Tallest CHristmas Tree in the US?

Last year, Enid Oklahoma had a tree that stood 140 feet tall. Just to give you a reference, the Rockefeller tree is only 77 ft and the National Christmas Tree is 30 ft. They’ve had the tallest Christmas tree for the past 6 years (to the best of their knowledge).

Prior, the  world’s tallest cut Christmas tree  on record was 221 ft at Northgate Shopping Center in Seattle in the 1950s.

  • Get comprehensive insurance for your trip.
  • Download these helpful language apps .
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  • Get airport lounge access .
  • Buy a travel charger to keep your devices charged.
  • Get a new backpack for your trip.
  • Pack the appropriate shoes for your trip.
  • Don’t forget your in-flight essentials .

Are we missing any amazing Christmas destinations in the US? Have you spent any time in any of these cities during the holiday season? What did you think? Did you feel more of the Christmas spirit? Does your city belong on here? We would love to explore more ideas and see how your hometown does the holidays (you can link them in the comments section below).

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15 Best Places to Spend Christmas in USA

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“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes ” – M. Proust

Esther and Jacob

Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.

Follow on Instagram (E + J) , YouTube , TikTok , and Pinterest.

This Post Has 4 Comments

Thanks, Lyla!

St Augustine FL is a great place to go for Christmas time. Celebration begins at Thanksgiving and ends Jan 1. The lights and festive evenings with fireworks. We love going there.

That sounds amazing, Marla! We’ll have to check it out!

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  • Last Updated On
  • May 30, 2023

51 Best Places to Visit During Christmas in The USA

Claire Allard

The best time to travel is during the festive weeks of December.

And the USA is the perfect place to go.

There are many places to celebrate Christmas, whether you want a white one or a sunny holiday. 

They range from romantic vacation spots for couples to fun, family-friendly destinations for kids.

Every destination makes your vacation feel extra merry and bright.

All the stores hang their decors, trees are perfectly trimmed, and parks even turn into makeshift ice skating rinks. 

As a seasoned writer, I travel to the USA yearly to visit Christmas destinations.

And I know how overwhelming it can get during the holidays.

So, I’ve curated a list of places to visit during these times.

I’ve also ranked them based on family-friendliness, festive atmosphere, attractions, affordability, accessibility, and accommodation options. 

Now, the best places to visit during Christmas in the USA are in the palm of your hand with this list.

Best Places To Visit During Christmas In The USA Compared

People can’t get enough of the beautiful places in the USA. Here’s a quick guide to the ones you should visit during Christmas: 

Editor’s Choice

best cities to visit in usa during christmas

The Sherry Netherland

If you want a view of New York City, stay at The Sherry Netherland. 

  • Family-Friendliness: 4/5
  • Festive Atmosphere: 5/5
  • Attractions: 5/5
  • Affordability: 3/5
  • Accessibility: 5/5
  • Accommodation Options: 5/5

#2nd Best Choice

best cities to visit in usa during christmas

Marriott’s Willow Ridge Lodge

Marriott’s Willow Ridge Lodge is ideal for a quiet and relaxing Christmas.

  • Family-Friendliness: 5/5
  • Festive Atmosphere: 4/5
  • Attractions: 4/5
  • Affordability: 4/5
  • Accessibility: 3/5

#3rd Best Choice

best cities to visit in usa during christmas

Montage Laguna Beach

Montage Laguna Beach is a luxurious beach resort perfect for a sunny Christmas.

  • Accommodation Options: 4/5

Here are the top 51 Christmas destinations in the USA.

1. The Sherry Netherland (Editor’s Choice)

 The Sherry Netherland

781 5th Ave New York, NY 10022 (212) 355-2800 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Ratings Criteria

  • High-quality amenities
  • Convenient location
  • Limited activities on-site

It’s a historic hotel built in 1927.

It’s one of the top boutique hotels in the city to stay at if you’re traveling with kids.

The upscale lodging and the five-star service make the holidays extra special in New York.

The Sherry Netherland is in the middle of everything, so going around the city will be easy.

Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue shopping are both nearby.

Visit the Rockefeller Center with your family during Christmas. 

A giant Christmas Tree will be lit from 5 AM to 12 AM.

On Christmas Day, the lights are on for 24 hours.

2. Marriott’s Willow Ridge Lodge

Marriott's Willow Ridge Lodge

2929 Green Mountain Dr Branson, MO 65616 (417) 348-3100 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

  • Comfortable accommodations
  • Activities for families on-site
  • Difficult to locate

Marriott’s Willow Ridge Lodge is ideal for a quiet and relaxing Christmas.

There are many family-friendly amenities available in the resort’s villas.

All the rooms are clean, and the amenities are always up-to-date.

So, spend some time relaxing by the indoor and outdoor pools after a full day in the Entertainment Capital of the World.

And visit the activity area with your family to play a few sports. 

Teens even have a den, and a playroom is allotted for young children.

Hang out by the campfire and make s’mores with your family.

For sure, that’ll be an experience they’ll never forget.

3.  Montage Laguna Beach

 Montage Laguna Beach

30801 Coast Hwy Laguna Beach, CA 92651 (866-271-6953 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

  • Ocean facing pool
  • Exclusive access to a wide selection of amenities
  • Lack of security

It’s the ideal place to soak up the sun.

Its best features include an ocean-facing pool and a sun terrace.

All rooms even have a deep marble soaking tub.

And three restaurants are already available on-site.

There’s no need to travel elsewhere during the holidays once you stay here. 

On the premises, you’ll find poolside cabanas, boutique shops, and art galleries.

Plus, you can enjoy the holiday season with their seasonal vacation packages and events.

Wake up early and watch as the sun rises by the beach.

Christmas means you’ll witness the gorgeous sunrise and sunset skies.

4. Enzian Inn

enzian inn

590 US Hwy 2 Leavenworth, WA 98826 (800) 223-8511 Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Enzian Inn is an excellent alternative to Marriott’s Willow Ridge Lodge and Montage Laguna Beach.

You’ll be transported to the Alps during the holidays when you’re just in Washington.

At Enzian Inn, you’ll be surrounded by magnificent mountains, rich green forests, and fresh, clear skies.

There’s an indoor and outdoor pool available on-site.

Other amenities include ping-pong tables, a racquetball or basketball court, and a complimentary round of golf.

Moreover, it’s just a 5-minute walk from the city center of Leavenworth.

Play mini golf with your kids at Enzian Inn.

There’s an 18-hole mini golf course available on the premises.

5. Newport Beach, California

Newport Beach, California

Newport Beach, CA Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Planning on spending the holidays in California but don’t know where to go for Christmas vacation?

Then, put Newport Beach at the top of your list of best places to visit at Christmas.

Every December, the city beckons travelers with its famed Christmas Boat Parade.

Drop by the bay, and witness a parade of boats embellished with Christmas decor.

And it lifts everyone’s spirits with awe-inspiring fireworks and other fun-filled activities.

After catching the parade, explore Balboa Island and be mesmerized by its finely decorated houses.

Shopaholics will find their bliss at Fashion Island.

Here, visitors may explore more than 150 boutiques, restaurants, and beauty spas.

Of course, you can snag a variety of Christmas gifts at this shopping haven.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Balboa Bay Resort

6. Whitefish, Montana

Whitefish, Montana

Whitefish, MT Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Are you dreaming of a white Christmas?

Why not spend your holidays in this cozy mountain town in Montana?

With cheery decorations and tons of snow, the Christmas spirit is so alive in Whitefish.

The town’s holiday celebrations start early too, with the popular Whitefish Christmas Stroll kicking off on December’s first Friday.

White Mountain Resort is the best place to celebrate Christmas in this quaint town.

The resort, on Christmas Eve, hosts a torchlight parade filled with merry activities.

It includes Santa Claus meet and greets and loads of sparkling torchlights.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Kandahar Lodge at Whitefish Mountain Resort

7. Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, IL Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Chicago surely knows how to celebrate the holidays, featuring a lineup of exciting events.

The Christmas season in Windy City starts before Thanksgiving day with a light festival showcasing musical performances and parades.

And every venue and restaurant in this city has something on its sleeve to enchant its guests.

On top of it all, it’s packed with Christmas attractions, including Millennium Park’s ice skating rink and Navy Pier’s Wonderfest.

Pack a pair of gloves, sweaters, and warm jackets for this Christmas getaway since the city is rather cold and gets a ton of snow.

And, while in Chicago, stroll Michigan Avenue at night and be captivated by the street performers and lighted garlands.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago

8. Park City, Utah

Park City, Utah

Park City, UT Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

There’s no shortage of enjoyable and lighthearted family-oriented activities in Park City in December.

Stroll down the city’s historic streets, and you’ll catch a multitude of lively events and wonderful Christmas lights.

Even better, the city offers world-class skiing and scores of snow.

Perfect for all types of winter family vacations .

Plan a visit to Park City Resort on your trip to this mountain.

The resort offers a variety of entertaining holiday-themed surprises and activities daily from mid-December to early January.

Our favorite Yuletide activities from the resort include fireworks and the torchlight parade.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Park City Peaks

Related: Best Ski Resorts in Utah

Related: Best Ski Resorts for Families

9. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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Don’t let the chilly weather stop you from visiting this Midwestern city in December.

With European-style markets and holiday festivities, Milwaukee is a hotspot for Christmas and winter fun.

Bring warm layers for your trip to Milwaukee in December.

I suggest that you pack fleece layers, comfy, waterproof shoes, a thick winter coat, a windbreaker, and thermal undergarments.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: The Pfister Hotel

Related: Best Midwest Ski Resorts

10. Key West, Florida

Key West, Florida

Key West, FL Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Want to try something different for this Christmas season?

Forget winter wonderlands.

Spend your holiday season in Key West, where the daytime temperatures average around 76 degrees in December.

You can spend your Christmas break in Key West, diving, snorkeling, and swimming in its crystal clear waters.

Surprisingly, you’ll still feel the Yuletide spirit in Key West, with bright lights and decorated palm trees.

You’ve got to experience the Lighted Boat Parade.

Held annually at Schooner Wharf Bar and Galley, it’s a jovial event with magnificent boats and kid-approved festivities.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Parrot Key Hotel & Villas

11. Williamsburg, Virginia

Williamsburg, Virginia

Williamsburg, VA Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

There’s a lot to love about Williamsburg.

For decades, this city has been known for its historic representations, excellent attention to detail, and ability to make things fun.

And the holiday festivities are no different.

In December, the city becomes a holiday paradise with its Christmas reenactments, parades, and special performances.

The city overflows with holiday concerts too, at this joyous time of the year.

Be captivated by festive fireworks, heart-warming shows, and world-class ice skaters at Busch Gardens Christmas Town.

You can wander around this area and relish the sights of more than 10 million lights.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Williamsburg Lodge, Autograph Collection

Related: Dining in Williamsburg

12. Leavenworth, Washington

Leavenworth, Washington

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Leavenworth is an attractive destination at any time of the year.

But this mountain town becomes so picture-perfect and magical at Christmas that you’ll feel like you’re in a snow globe.

With its Bavarian-style buildings, snow, and holiday lights, it looks like the North Pole or a Christmas movie set.

And it’s the epitome of a white Christmas with its sleigh rides, a reindeer farm, and a nutcracker museum.

Love holiday lights?

Experience one of the town’s lighting ceremonies every Sunday and Saturday in the first three weeks of December.

You can also listen to the choir singing carols and enjoy a cup of hot gluhwein while watching the sparkling lights come alive.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: PostHotel Leavenworth

13. Washington DC

Washington DC

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There’s more to the nation’s capital than its iconic museums and monuments.

In winter, the city lures families and travelers with its mind-blowing performances and over-the-top decorations.

Not to mention, it displays a slew of majestic holiday trees, including the National Christmas Tree.

Take a short trip to Mount Vernon, and tour George Washington’s estate by candlelight.

Led by costumed guides, this tour lets you discover how Christmas was celebrated in the 18th century.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Riggs Washington DC

14. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, OK Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

OKC’s Downtown in December is an astonishing series of Yuletide attractions and events in the heart of the city.

Entertaining and exciting, this series draws visitors with its parties, shopping, performing arts, snow tubing, and twinkling lights.

There’s also a merry holiday run and complimentary water taxi excursions.

And the best part is most events are free for everyone.

Take a short 40-minute drive to Shannon Springs Park and be mesmerized by its breath-snatching light displays.

In this 43-acre park, you may view more than three million lights, see the 170-foot Christmas tree, and walk across a gorgeous lighted bridge.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Omni Oklahoma City Hotel

15. Oahu, Hawaii

Oahu, Hawaii

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December is the start of Oahu’s bustling peak tourist season.

Still, it’s one of the best places to travel during Christmas, especially for those seeking a sunny Yuletide escape.

Along with its warm weather and fantastic whale-watching opportunities, it also has numerous festive Christmas activities.

You can fill your Christmas vacation days in Oahu experiencing lively events, like the Honolulu City Lights and Waikiki Holiday Lights Trolley tour.

If you’re staying in Oahu until New Year, check out Hilton Resort ’s free and spectacular fireworks displays.

Also, book your accommodations months before your vacation to ensure availability.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hilton Waikiki Beach Hotel

16. Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson, WY Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Jackson Hole is awe-inspiring and exciting throughout the year.

But we love it more in December when the city is awash with Christmas decorations and celebrations.

The historic Town Square is bright and merry at this time of the year, with its twinkling lights.

And, there’s a festive diversion for everybody in winter in Jackson Hole, like Santa Claus sightings and horse-drawn sleigh rides.

For adventure seekers, the town is a premier destination for snowboarding, skiing, and other wintry experiences.

With wind chills and consistent snow, you must pack some winter essentials for your trip to Jackson Hole.

Pack gloves, a waterproof ski jacket, warm base layers, and sturdy boots with first-rate grip for icy terrain and streets.

Sunscreen is also essential to ward off sunburns sneaking up even during cloudy days.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: The White Buffalo Club

17. Boston, Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts

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Boston has everything you need to make your Christmas vacation unforgettable.

You can experience its lovely winter markets, catch the holiday shows, and marvel at the snowy landscapes.

Visitors and residents have access to numerous activities, including ice skiing or skating at City Hall Plaza and Holiday Cruises.

A favorite holiday spot in Boston is Quincy Market, praised for its live music and massive trees garnished with Yuletide lights.

Since it’s rather cold in Boston in December, you should bring gloves, durable boots, coats, and sweaters on your holiday getaway.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: The Newbury Boston

18. San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

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Everything is big in Texas, and San Antonio’s holiday festivities and events are no exception.

The holiday-themed events and Christmas-inspired dishes during this season are enormous in San Antonio.

And, Instagram-loving travelers will have a swell time walking the River Walk bridges decorated with a thousand twinkling lights.

With its rich Spanish influences, the city also offers one-of-a-kind holiday events.

You’ll never run out of things to do in San Antonio with kids during Christmas.

Our favorites include the lively holiday train, Seaworld San Antonio, and the festive San Antonio Zoo.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Thompson San Antonio Riverwalk

19. North Pole, Alaska

North Pole, Alaska

North Pole, AK Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

It’s every child’s dream to visit the North Pole and see the legendary Santa Claus.

And you can make that dream a reality with a visit to this quaint and charming Alaskan town.

Once there, you may see the “Santa Clause House” to fulfill your kiddo’s dream.

Afterward, visit Santa Claus Lane, where you can admire the world’s biggest Santa statue and marvel at live reindeer.

Add a dose of adventure to your holiday escape by driving to the nearby Chena Lake Recreation Area.

It offers an assortment of outdoor activities, including ice fishing, skiing, snow-machining, skiing, and snow-machining.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hotel North Pole

20. Aspen, Colorado

Aspen, Colorado

Aspen, CO Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

In the mood for a wintry outdoor adventure but not sure where to travel for Christmas?

Here’s a piece of advice for you: head to Aspen.

With an acclaimed apres-ski scene and 76 runs, this mountain town is a paradise for skiers and adventure junkies.

Moreover, it’s home to a ton of luxury resorts with luxe spas and cozy fireplaces, making it a solid pick for relaxation-seekers.

Head to its downtown area, and experience the 12 Days of Aspen event.

It’s a lively 12-day annual event featuring cookie decorating competitions, caroling, and free Santa Claus meet and greets.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: The Gant

Related: Best Colorado Ski Resorts for Families

21. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans, LA Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

A mecca for entertainment, the Crescent City is known for its energetic and frenzied Mardi Gras.

But, guess what?

New Orleans also knows how to put on an animated and fun holiday celebration.

The city impresses holiday vacationers with its bonfires and flashy light displays.

Furthermore, the city’s signature historic homes, like the Old Ursuline Convent, are decked out in holiday decorations.

Stay near the French Quarter to get easy access to Saint Louis Cathedral’s Christmas concerts.

When in NOLA, stroll the downtown streets and be fascinated by the carolers singing classic holiday medleys.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Maison de la Luz

22. Taos, New Mexico

Taos, New Mexico

Taos, NM Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Searching for unique places to spend Christmas?

Trust me, you’ll have a blast exploring this New Mexico ski town in December.

Taos offers an extraordinary spin on Christmas traditions each year, with unique events blending Native and Christianity beliefs.

A highlight here in December is the “Yuletide in Taos”, an annual celebration with festive events, bonfires, and holiday markets.

On Christmas Day, visit the plaza and witness a ceremonial, ancient Native American dance that honors winter.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: El Monte Sagrado Resort & Spa

23. Branson, Missouri

Branson, Missouri

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If you’re on the hunt for magical, family-friendly Christmas places to visit, head to Branson.

Every holiday season, this Ozark Mountain destination turns into a winter wonderland.

With a holiday vacation in Branson, you’ll be amazed by its drive-through light displays, ice skating rinks, and more than 1,000 Christmas trees.

You can’t leave Branson without experiencing the award-winning Silver Dollar City Old Time Christmas.

It’s a colorful annual festival with a magical setting that includes 40-holiday productions, a light parade, and over six million twinkling lights.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Grand Crowne Resort by Capital Vacations

24. Jackson, New Hampshire

Jackson, New Hampshire

Jackson, NH Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Resting in the White Mountains, this town has the recipe for a Hallmark-like holiday vacation.

Not only does it boast a cozy winter setting, but it also has enchanting light displays and family-friendly festivities.

The Christmas Farm Inn celebrates the holiday season year-round.

But, in December, the inn goes up a notch with tours featuring luscious chocolates and sleigh rides.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Christmas Farm Inn and Spa

Related: Best Places to Visit in December in the USA

25. Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland, OH Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Holiday vacation goers usually come to Cleveland to tour the famed “A Christmas Story” house, which is now a museum.

For big-time fans of the movie, you can spend the night at this museum.

But, “the Forest City” has a lot to offer other than this Christmas-themed attraction.

For a fun day with the family, check out the Christmas activities and festive blooms at the Cleveland Botanical Garden.

Experience the city’s Winterfest, and lay eyes on the bright holiday lights throughout Downtown Cleveland.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Metropolitan at The 9, Autograph Collection

26. Andalusia, Alabama

Andalusia, Alabama

Andalusia, AL Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

The ultimate Christmas town in Alabama tantalizes families with its ultra-festive Yuletide event: Candyland.

Held throughout December, this winter wonderland offers ice skating, snow tubing, train rides, and play cottages for children.

Santa Claus and other holiday characters will make an appearance near Springdale House on weekends.

For entertainment, go to the Springdale stage, and watch live carols and concerts.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Holiday Inn Express – Andalusia, an IHG Hotel

27. Santa Claus, Indiana

Santa Claus, Indiana

Santa Claus, IN Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

The name says it all.

The most Christmassy town in Indiana welcomes families with an assortment of events for its three-weekend Yuletide celebration.

Known as “America’s Christmas Hometown”, the city comes to life with its drive-through lights exhibit and fireworks displays.

You can’t leave this city without visiting the Santa Claus Museum and Village.

Through its exhibits, this attraction will teach you about the history of this charming town.

And it even lets kiddos write a letter to Santa Claus.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Comfort Inn

28. Kennebunkport, Maine

Kennebunkport, Maine

Kennebunkport, ME Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Kennebunkport is one of the most spellbinding places to visit near you at Christmas.

Even though it’s well-known for its coastal beauty, this town becomes a holiday hot spot in December.

Holiday visitors may enjoy the Christmas Prelude celebration, an extravagant holiday event that fills the town with the Christmas spirit.

The event includes everything, from Christmas tree lighting to home tours and holiday markets.

Take the Prelude Trolley Ride with the whole family.

For a small fee, this ride will give you a memorable experience and lets you enjoy tasty homemade cookies and hot chocolate.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Kennebunkport Inn

Related: Best Restaurants in Kennebunkport

29. Stowe, Vermont

Stowe, Vermont

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No list of best Christmas vacations in the USA is complete without Stowe.

For years, this four-season destination has been drawing holiday vacationers with its mountain views and slopes.

In addition, this town offers an extensive list of holiday activities, including live Yuletide music, a bazaar, and wagon rides.

In early December, the Spruce Peak Performing Center hosts heart-warming “A Christmas Carol” shows.

The center puts a modern spin on this timeless classic with Latin rhythms and dancing gravediggers.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Trapp Family Lodge

Related: Best Vermont Ski Resorts for Families

30. Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada

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Although it seems an unusual choice, Vegas is one of America’s best cities to visit at Christmas for families.

Every casino and resort in Sin City offers fabulous Yuletide events, including Mandalay Bay ’s scuba diving.

The entire Vegas Strip also glitters with dazzling decorations and lights at this time of the year.

You don’t need to pack a thick winter jacket on your Christmas vacation to Las Vegas.

Nevertheless, we recommend bringing a light sweater to beat the city’s cold December evenings.

Also, bring light and comfortable clothes, as it’s a little warm during the day, with temperatures reaching 70 degrees.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Mandalay Bay

31. Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, TN Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Think Nashville is just for country, rock n’ roll, and folk music enthusiasts?

Visit Nashville in December, and you’ll uncover a dynamic holiday-loving city full of Christmas activities.

From Christmas villages to irresistible holiday lights, the city offers a plethora of incredible diversions in December.

The Gaylord Opryland is large enough to be a town and has tons of lights to light up a city.

And it’s packed with activities to appease everyone, including ice bumper cars, ice tubing, and ice skating, so it’s one of our favorite places to visit for Christmas.

For moms, spend time exploring over nine acres of entertainment, shopping, dining, spas, and indoor gardens.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center

32. Bowling Green, Kentucky

Bowling Green, Kentucky

Bowling Green, KY Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Who says you can’t have an Arctic-like experience in the heart of Kentucky?

With a pit stop at Bowling Green’s Reindeer Farm, you’ll have a taste of the Arctic without spending a fortune on flights.

As you visit this farm, you’ll have ample opportunities to write a letter to Santa, drink cocoa, watch Xmas movies, and feed reindeer.

Of course, the city has a host of other entertaining Christmassy spots, such as The Club at Olde Stone and Twinkle at the Track.

We can’t get enough of the SoKY Market Ice Rink.

It’s an affordable and kid-approved ice skating rink where you can skate with holiday characters like the Grinch and Santa Claus.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hyatt Place Bowling Green

33. Fayetteville, Arkansas

Fayetteville, Arkansas

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Fayetteville has three features that guarantee a rocking holiday vacation: scores of exquisite lights, fabulous shopping, and yummy food.

Plus, its town square has the perfect backdrop for a Hallmark holiday movie in Arkansas.

Couples seeking a romantic experience may take a helicopter tour above the lights or ride a horse-drawn carriage.

Families, meanwhile, may reconnect at the square as they search for Santa’s lost reindeer.

After a day of sightseeing in Fayetteville, make your way to Sassy’s and fill your grumbling stomach with their barbecue.

Suited for families, their barbecue goodies are budget-friendly, juicy, and hearty.

For those in need of caffeine, Onyx Coffee Lab is your best bet.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Graduate Fayetteville

34. Mystic, Connecticut

Mystic, Connecticut

Mystic, CT Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Everyone knows Mystic is one of Connecticut’s favorite summer towns.

But did you know that it’s an appealing holiday destination as well?

Well, who doesn’t love to spend the Christmas season by the sea?

And this alluring seaside town comes to life in December when it’s garnished with festive decorations.

Held annually, the town’s illuminated boat parade is a can’t-miss event and looks like a scene from a Christmas movie.

Likewise, the shops and stalls in Olde Mistick Village burst with charm and seasonal cheer in December.

Stroll along Olde Mistick Village’s walkway, and feast your eyes on more than 5,000 whimsical lights.

And you can accompany this unique experience by listening to the live bands and enjoying hot beverages.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hampton Inn & Suites Mystic

35. New Castle, Delaware

New Castle, Delaware

New Castle, DE Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Escape the crowds in big cities, and spend a cozy, soothing, and satisfying holiday vacation in New Castle.

Though underrated, this town is filled with holiday charm, thanks to the historical society’s undying efforts to preserve colonial traditions.

Every year, the town hosts Spirit of Christmas, an enticing event with plenty of opportunities for Yuletide old-fashioned fun.

You can enjoy the tree lighting ceremonies, caroling, and historic house tours.

And most of these diversions are open for everyone for free.

Mid-December is the most exciting time to visit the town.

At this time of the year, the town’s streets are full of costumed characters walking around entertaining out-of-towners.

There are exciting events during these times as well, including the annual Fezziwig’s Ball.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott New Castle

36. Wyoming, Iowa

Wyoming, Iowa

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Despite its small population and size, Wyoming still deserves a spot on our roundup of the top holiday destinations in America.

Iowa’s bewitching Christmas City is famous for its dramatic canopy of Yuletide lights spanning four blocks along its Main Street.

As a bonus, there are about 38 lighted holiday trees tied to several light poles lining the streets.

Hit the road, and drive for about 50 minutes to Cedar Rapids.

The second-largest city in Iowa has more restaurants and accommodation options than Wyoming.

There are also cheerful Christmas events in this city.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Cobblestone Inn & Suites – Monticello

37. Baldwin City, Kansas

Baldwin City, Kansas

Baldwin City, KS Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Families will have countless sweet memories after a holiday trip to Baldwin City.

Besides its dazzling lights and decor, the city also is home to the Snowglobe Express.

Billing itself as the world’s merriest train, this 12-mile ride takes you to Snowglobe from the Baldwin City Train Depot.

Upon arrival, you may check out Santa’s fabulous herd of Reindeer.

Moms and dads can join the quirky and fun sweater run in early December.

Smorseville, a life-size Christmas village, is worth a visit too.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Lawrence, KS

38. Detroit, Michigan

Detroit, Michigan

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All roads in Michigan lead to Detroit during the joyful season.

Midtown Detroit, every December, opens up the doors to its cultural institutions for anyone who wants a free peek.

Even better, the city offers family craft activities, holiday shopping, horse-drawn carriage rides, and carolers.

And best of all, the city showcases performances from over 200 area dance, theater, and music groups.

So if you’re interested in winter getaways in Michigan , Detroit is the place to be.

The Detroit Metropolitan Airport gets extremely busy during the Christmas season.

To steer clear of crowds, fly to the nearby Bishop International Airport in Flint.

We also recommend downloading a travel-related app that lets you track flight details in real-time on an Android or iPhone.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: MGM Grand Detroit

39. Natchez, Mississippi

Natchez, Mississippi

Natchez, MI Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Natchez isn’t usually the first place that comes to mind when you think of the best places to spend Christmas in the USA.

After all, it’s a picturesque town famous for its eye-catching antebellum mansions and historic attractions.

But, amazingly, Natchez knows how to celebrate the Yuletide season in a big way with its convivial events and activities.

After Thanksgiving Day, the city begins its holiday festivity with its month-long event featuring kiddie rides, food trucks, and choral music.

The event also includes glittering lights and a gigantic Christmas tree on the city’s Main Street.

Take a self-guided tour of the filming locations of “Every Time a Bell Rings”, a popular Christmas motion picture filmed in the city.

While there, check out The Towers Mansion, which offers one-of-a-kind Christmas exhibits.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Magnolia Bluffs Hotel, BW Premier Collection

40. Minden, Nebraska

Minden, Nebraska

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Nebraska’s Christmas City is the state’s twinkliest town in winter.

With magical celebrations and holiday decorations, Minden will make your holidays for Christmas bright and merry.

From the day after Thanksgiving to Christmas, the city is busy hosting fun, family-friendly activities, like a craft fair, art shows, and ice skating.

Look for bake sales and concerts at schools and churches for more intimate local experiences.

Also, experience the downtown square’s acclaimed pageant in December.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Holiday Inn Express Kearney, an IHG Hotel

41. Garrison, North Dakota

Garrison, North Dakota

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Nicknamed “the Christmas Capital of North Dakota”, this town takes the “A Christmas Carol” story to a new level.

From Thanksgiving to early December, the town is loaded with themed attractions inspired by this classic book every weekend.

They call this festivity the Dicken Village Festival, and it has been hosted by the town for over 20 years.

The festival features tree decorating contests, craft shows, carriage rides, vendors, and special items.

Join the town’s renowned fruitcake-throwing competition.

It’s fun and open for everyone in separate divisions and age groups.

There are prizes, so begin practicing your toss.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Extended Stay Americas Suites – Minot

42. Providence, Rhode Island

Providence, Rhode Island

Providence, RI Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

For some holiday cheer in Rhode Island, enjoy a holiday trip to Providence.

You can indulge in the timeless New England Christmas traditions and sophisticated shopping, culinary, and arts scene.

There are also neighborhood Yuletide markets and theaters that provide festive shows in Providence.

Stay at a traditional bed-and-breakfast on your holiday trip to Providence.

These options are cheaper than brand-backed hotels and are charming since they occupy late 19th-century mansions.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Graduate Providence

Related: Best Ski Resorts in New England

43. Pierre, South Dakota

Pierre, South Dakota

Pierre, SD Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

There’s no better place to spend the holidays in South Dakota than its state capital.

Thanks to its friendly business owners and residents, the state capital lights up each year with its colorful bulbs and outstanding displays.

And the city hosts a series of festivities to commemorate the holidays, including the Pierre Parade of Lights and special shopping events.

Visit the city’s Capitol building anytime from late November to early January.

There’s an enchanting Christmas tree and about 100 stunning decorated trees within the vicinity.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: My Place Hotel-Fort Pierre, SD

44. Shepherdstown, West Virginia

Shepherdstown, West Virginia

Shepherdstown, WV Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Christmas in Shepherdstown begins after Thanksgiving with Santa’s arrival and a flashy parade.

Then, the fun continues until Christmas day with its horse-drawn carriage rides, nativity scenes, and roasted chestnuts.

On top of it all, the town exudes a Hallmark-movie-worthy atmosphere.

The mountain town provides childcare for parents who want to shop at local shops.

So, take advantage of this service, and shop for gifts for the little ones without them getting a sneak peek.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Clarion Inn Conference Center Harpers Ferry

45. Ashland, Oregon

Ashland, Oregon

Ashland, OR Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Ashland loves to celebrate the holiday season in a big and spectacular way.

In fact, the city shifts gears and gets into the festive spirit as early as November.

Expect a range of Christmas-themed events and attractions during this season.

Our favorite Yuletide events in Ashland include the Festival of Light and Santa’s Parade.

If you’re searching for a cheap place to eat with the family, look no further than Creekside Pizza and El Tapatio.

It’s a laid-back pizzeria with mouth-watering build-your-own pizza, rotating brews, and a pool table.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Winchester Inn

46. Cape May, New Jersey

Cape May, New Jersey

Cape May, NJ Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

The country’s first summer resort turns into a winter wonderland in December.

The town’s exquisite Victorian homes are decorated splendidly, and guests may tour these spots by candlelight.

And the town has trolley rides for those who want to see the town’s holiday outdoor displays.

Spend time exploring the pedestrian-only Washington Street Mall.

With its strolling carolers, greenery, and splendid lights, it’s a fantastic spot for people-watching.

Santa Claus sightings are common at this promenade too.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Grand Hotel Cape May

47. Boise, Idaho

Boise, Idaho

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Even with its cold temperatures, December is an exciting time to spend a getaway in Boise.

Ideal for families, Boise is packed with fun Christmassy activities at this time of year.

You can admire breathtaking holiday lights, go ice skating, and even cut down a Christmas tree in Boise National Forest.

Amp up your Instagram game by experiencing the Scentsy Commons Christmas Lights display.

Stretching over 43 miles, this attraction has more than 400 trees beautifully decorated with holiday lights.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: The Grove Hotel

48. Duluth, Minnesota

Duluth, Minnesota

Duluth, MN Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

Endless merry events, ales, and trails make Duluth one of America’s best Christmas destinations.

For those traveling with kids, the city has a nice holiday activity list, including Lake Superior train rides and skating rinks.

Sturdy winter boots are a must for December visitors in Duluth.

These boots will keep your feet dry and protect them from the bitter cold, slush, and salt.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Pier B Resort

49. Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore, MD Visit Website Social Media Open in Google Maps

You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Europe on your December trip to Baltimore.

As you wander around Baltimore, you’ll spot lively decorations, sparkling lights, and markets offering a taste of Europe.

Additionally, the city boasts an array of holiday events suited for the entire family, including the Meadowlark Botanical Garden Winter Walk of Lights.

Our favorite wintertime market in Baltimore is the Christmas Village.

Inspired by German markets, this spot has dozens of local craftsmen and local artists selling captivating items, like jewelry.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Sagamore Pendry Baltimore

50. Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona

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Don’t let its desert setting fool you.

In December, the Christmas spirit permeates this city with ice skating, cookie decorating, snowy scenes, and magical light displays.

Furthermore, the city’s leading hotels offer Christmas-themed events throughout the season, including breakfast with Santa at The Phoenician .

For a memorable vacation, see the magical Zoolights.

The Phoenix Zoo, every year, puts a tantalizing exhibit of Christmas lights transforming the animal displays into a winter wonderland.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: The Phoenician, a Luxury Collection Resort, Scottsdale

51. Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta, Georgia

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Atlanta is, no doubt, one of the best places to visit during Christmas in the USA.

From glistening lights to open-air ice skating rinks, the city dazzles with a multitude of holiday attractions and events.

Moreover, flights and accommodations are easy on the wallet in December since it’s the off-season.

Traveling with kids?

Don’t forget to check out the Winter Wonderland event at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History.

It’s an educational, family-friendly experience featuring trees and exhibits highlighting holiday traditions around the world.

The displays are available from mid-November to early January.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: The Ritz-Carlton Atlanta

Vacationer’s Guide 

Comparing destinations: which one is right for you.

For the ideal Christmas vacation, you must consider a few factors.

These include your family’s preferences and your budget.

If you crave the hustle and bustle of a city adorned with festive lights, The Sherry Netherland is the spot for you.

Its convenient location allows guests to visit nearby landmarks like Madison Avenue, Fifth Avenue, and the Rockefeller Center.

The only drawback is there are limited activities to do on-site. 

For those looking for a quieter holiday, the comfortable lodgings and family-friendly activities at Marriott’s Willow Ridge Lodge make it an enticing place.

It features an activity area where guests can play shuffleboard and basketball.

And there are also specific areas for teens and kids to hang out. 

But, the destination itself is hard to locate. 

For a sunny Christmas, go to Montage Laguna Beach. 

It’s like a mini paradise with several amenities available to guests.

You can swim on the beach or just chill by the poolside cabanas. 

Unfortunately, security is lacking in the premises. 

Enzian Inn is an excellent alternative to these resorts. 

Holidays surrounded by magnificent mountains pair well with hot chocolate with the family. 

Since it’s a popular destination, some facilities need updating.

How I Picked The Destinations

I am an experienced travel writer and a parent.

Christmas vacations are always memorable, so I travel to the USA yearly to rate its must-visit holiday destinations.

Additionally, I interview locals and fellow parents traveling.

I also consult review sites and include the information shared by other travelers in my research. 

Our Rating Method

I rate these destinations based on the following criteria.

  • Family-Friendliness: This criterion assesses the family-friendliness of each destination. Are there activities and attractions for kids of all ages? Are there entertainment options for the whole family? Is it convenient for families with young children? I consider these factors when rating family-friendliness. 
  • Festive Atmosphere: I use this to assess every location’s festive atmosphere. Are the decorations colorful, grand, and whimsical? Is there a parade and other holiday-related events? Is there a Santa meet and greet for the kids? I ask myself these questions when evaluating the festive atmosphere. 
  • Attractions: This is used to assess the quality of attractions. Are there Christmas-themed events for the whole family? Does the location have amusement parks, museums, or historical sites? These are the factors I consider when rating attractions. 
  • Affordability: I use this criterion to assess the affordability of each destination. Are the hotel rates budget-friendly during the Christmas season? Are there affordable dining options? Are there attractions or events that you can check out for free? I consider these factors when evaluating affordability. 
  • Accessibility: I use this to rate accessibility. Is it easily accessible by public transportation? Are there free parking spaces near popular areas? Does it have an efficient public transport system? I ask myself these questions when assessing accessibility. 
  • Accommodation Options: I use this to evaluate the available accommodation options. Are there hotels, vacation rentals, or bed and breakfasts near popular locations? Are there rooms with kitchen facilities? Are there hotels with pools? I use these factors to rate this criterion. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What are the best places to visit in the usa during the holidays.

The Sherry Netherland, Marriott’s Willow Ridge Lodge, and Montage Laguna Beach are the best places to visit during the holidays.

Where Is The Most Magical Place To Spend Christmas In The USA?

The most magical place to spend Christmas is The Sherry Netherland in New York. 

best cities to visit in usa during christmas

Each of these destinations offers a unique Christmas experience for the family.

During our stay, we swam in Marriott’s Willow Ridge Lodge’s indoor and outdoor pool.

The kids also got to stay at the teenagers’ den and the kids’ playroom.

And then, at night, we sat by the campfire and made some s’more.

Christmas was different at Montage Laguna Beach.

We’ve never had a sunny Christmas.

We spent our days tanning by the beach and simply having fun under the sun.

It’s something we want to experience again.

Similarly, our stay at Enzian Inn was also unique.

We loved how we were surrounded by nature.

So, we spent our entire vacation using the resort’s facilities.

Playing basketball with the kids is my favorite memory.

Still, going to The Sherry Netherland on Christmas day tops the best places to visit during Christmas in the USA.

The twinkling lights adorned every corner, and the palpable holiday spirit brought the city to life.

It boasted classic luxury that made our stay warm and inviting. 

Just steps away from Central Park and Times Square, the hotel was a perfect base to immerse ourselves in the city’s holiday cheer.

Plus, visiting the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree was the cherry on top, making our holiday experience truly unforgettable.

best resorts with childcare travel photo

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17 Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA

Celebrating Christmas away from home can be a fun way to spend your holiday time off, whether on a Christmas spirit-filled vacation with your family, or by getting away from it all.

There are many great places to spend Christmas in the USA, and we’ve compiled the best of them in this post to inspire you to choose somewhere you haven’t been to celebrate this year.

Christmas in Washington DC

A big part of enjoying a Christmas holiday away from home is ensuring there will be services open and things to do while you’re there. So, with the help of the travel blogging community, we’ve compiled 17 of the best destinations for Christmas in the United States .

Whether you’re traveling as a family, a couple, or even alone, you will find these destinations to be packed with fun things to do, as well as the services you need to have a great holiday.

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Table of Contents

Where to Spend Christmas in the USA

Kauai, hawaii.

Contributed by Whitney of Designs for Travel

Kauai, Hawaii

One of the best places to visit at Christmas is Kauai , Hawaii.  Kauai is a fantastic vacation place at any time of the year, but Christmas time is my favorite time to go.  The beautiful green island is lit up with lights and Christmas decor is everywhere. The friendly locals and tourists all seem to be full of joy. 

The perfect warm balmy air makes for a relaxing place to enjoy the biggest holiday of the year, free from stress.  If you want a Christmas tree, you can get a local tree or pack one with you in your suitcase!

It is so fun to wake up on Christmas morning to the sun (and a rooster crow!)  The gifts under the tree can be simple, as the Kauai vacation is the biggest gift.  Spending Christmas day on the beach with your loved ones feels like a dream. 

If you want some adventure,  Kauai has so many activities you can do- surfing, boogie boarding, going on a catamaran ride, hiking, beach walks… In the evening, there are many open-air restaurants to enjoy a nice Christmas dinner out, or, if you have a kitchen, you can cook your traditional Christmas meal.

Kauai is a special place to visit any time of the year, especially at Christmas time.  Click here for the  Ultimate Kauai Vacation Guide .

>> Check out these 10 Things to Do in Hawaii for a Unique Vacation .

Las Vegas, Nevada

Contributed by Dhara from It’s Not About the Miles

Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas is a fabulous destination to visit at Christmas, not only because of the many special holiday events but also because winter is the perfect time of year to explore the surrounding desert.

One of the most  popular things to do in Las Vegas  is to experience the sights and sounds of the Bellagio fountain show. If you visit at Christmas, you have a special treat in store: the music is holiday-themed! Watching the streams of water dance to the sound of Christmas tunes at night with fellow revelers is very special.

You can take in a performance of the Nutcracker, or spend an evening listening to holiday classics with the Las Vegas Philharmonic . View the lights at the Cactus Garden at the Ethel M Chocolate Factory . Participate in all kinds of holiday fun activities at the LINQ (where the High Roller is).

Touring the resorts to gawk at the festive holiday displays is a must! At the Bellagio Conservatory , where the display changes seasonally, you’ll see enchanting red-and-green themed decorations. Giant polar bears and a train that goes around a snowy mountain are fun for everyone. The Wynn features a colorful holiday carousel and multiple elegant white-and-gold holiday scenes.

Most restaurants in Vegas feature special holiday buffets and Christmas Day meals. Bouchon , Chef Thomas Keller’s restaurant at the Venetian, is a great place to enjoy a special holiday meal. The desserts are to die for! Make sure you reserve ahead of time.

With pleasant daytime temperatures and fantastic winter sunsets, the holidays are a great time to explore the desert around Vegas. Do a day trip to the Valley of Fire, or even to Death Valley National Park . Closer to the Strip, there are myriad hiking trails at Red Rock Canyon.

With everything there is to do in and around Las Vegas , a holiday trip is a must!

Salt Lake City, Utah

Contributed by Jessica from Bring The Kids

Solitude Utah

Salt Lake City is a fantastic place to spend Christmas this year.  It has all of the perks of city life, but is surrounded by mountains, so you can realistically be at some of the best skiing in the world within 30 minutes of leaving the airport.  If you’re hoping to avoid the crowds and get some great skiing in, check out Solitude Resort . 

You can stay right at their base village and on Christmas day, the kids can get out and ski with Santa. Solitude Resort is fantastic for families since it has beginner trails near the base that are great for kids, but it also has some great steep sections for experts as well. And of course, don’t forget about the epic Utah powder that you’ll be bound to have if there’s fresh snow.

Solitude has a little bit of everything with skiing, snowshoeing, and Nordic skiing all in one place. If you stay in their village, be sure to enjoy the heated outdoor pool and hot tubs, which are magical in the snow. Downtown Salt Lake is really close, and a trip there would not be complete without seeing the iconic Christmas lights at Temple Square and the candy displays across the street at City Creek.

For the perfect night out with the kids in the city, take the whole family to see Ballet West perform The Nutcracker and finish off the night with the best hot chocolate ever at Hatch Family Chocolates .  Salt Lake City is one of the most family-friendly destinations in the Western United States, and since it’s so easy to head up to Solitude for skiing, you’ll surely have a fantastic White Christmas there.

→ Book your holiday at Solitude Resort .

Boston, Massachusetts

Contributed by Jen Ambrose and Ryan Victor of  Passions and Places

Boston at Christmas

With its charming cobblestone streets, a busy calendar of festive events, and the high likelihood of a white Christmas, Boston is a magical place to spend the holidays.

Ice skating at Frog Pond, located in the Boston Common, is one of the top Christmastime activities in the city. You can also take in some of the best holiday lights at the Common, as well as at the Boston Public Garden and Christopher Columbus Park.

Faneuil Hall gets completely decked out for the season as well, and you can shop for decor and gifts at the marketplace or watch the free holiday light show in the evenings.

When it gets too cold, pop into The Thinking Cup or Equal Exchange Cafe for a hot chocolate, or better yet, head to the (indoor!) Boston Public Market . There, you can get your cocoa at the Taza Chocolate Factory stand, and grab a snack to go with it from Q’s Nuts or Union Square Donuts. The market hosts frequent activities and events, so check their schedule for festivities.

Throughout December, you can also catch Christmas-themed performances, like the Holiday Pops, the Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker, and Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity. Lastly, make time to savor some of the city’s best neighborhoods.

Stroll aimlessly through Beacon Hill, shop (or window shop) on Newbury Street, and eat at the best Italian restaurants in the North End. No matter where you go in Boston, you’re guaranteed to feel the holiday spirit.

New York City, New York

Contributed by Sean Lau of Living Out Lau

New York City at Christmas

In most places in the United States, winter means a time of inactivity and dullness. The weather is too cold for any outside activity to take place. All of the foliage is gone and the trees are stripped naked, showing nothing but bleakness and lifelessness.

However, New York City offers the contrary. Wintertime, especially Christmas, is a period of liveliness, joy, and celebrations. From the street lights to the buildings, every street is filled with Christmas decorations and excitement. Travelers from all around the world are coming to one of the best cities in the world to celebrate this special time of the year.

One of the most popular activities for Christmas in New York City is seeing the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree – one of the biggest Christmas trees in the world. It is the place where everyone gathers around the take photos and fully embraces the Christmas spirit.

When visiting New York City for Christmas, make sure you go ice skating in Bryant Park. Located in the center of New York City , Bryant Park is remodeled every year during winter to include an ice skating rink in the center. Here you will find a place for everyone in the family to enjoy as well as amazing views of New York City .

San Francisco, California

Contributed by Jenn & Ed Coleman of Coleman Concierge

San Francisco, California

Everything that makes San Francisco an amazing destination gets amped up during Christmas time. Start with San Francisco ‘s walkable neighborhoods filled with seasonable ethnic foods, work in holiday light tours, and finish the trip off with unique celebrations. You find so much more than Santa and snow in the City by the Bay.

San Francisco’s neighborhoods are the heart and soul of the city. Every  San Francisco walking tour includes the corridor from Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf. Make sure you visit a bakery in Little Italy for traditional Italian Christmas cookies, or, for the kosher crowd, there’s America’s largest Chinatown.

The shopping districts of Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf a filled with gift ideas, and you’ll never go wrong with a cup of Ghirardelli hot chocolate.

As night falls on the city, holiday light tours come to life. You can travel by motorized cable car, double-decker bus, or even a vintage fire engine to see San Francisco’s lit up in Christmas splendor.

Speaking of celebrations, San Francisco goes all out for the holidays. From Sausalito Lighted Boat Parade to a Santa Run at Crissy Field, there’s something for everyone. Our favorites are the Dickens Fair (imagine a Christmas Carol comes to life) and the Italian Christmas Market at Museo Italo Americano.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Contributed by Paulina of Paulina On the Road

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

If you are thinking of places to visit during Christmas time, you probably won’t come up with Milwaukee, Wisconsin! Well, let me convince you of the opposite!

First, you need to be prepared to survive the cold temperatures of Wisconsin. That means you’ll need to pack plenty of warm clothes if you are planning to spend Christmas in the Dairy State.

There is nothing better than having a walk at nightfall to enjoy the beautiful winter lights. Indeed, the entire Milwaukee downtown is festively illuminated. Wisconsin Avenue, Miller Brewing, and Third Ward is probably the best place to enjoy the winter lights.

Next, head to a classical Christmas show. It is great fun that you can enjoy with the entire family. The “Nutcracker” Ballet is hosted every year by Milwaukee Ballet and brings together 150 students.

You can’t leave without having visited the traditional Christkindlmarkt which is a legacy of German immigration during the last century. These are only a few of the best  things to do in Milwaukee during winter.

Key West, Florida

Contributed by Lori Sorrentino of Travelin Mad

Key West, Florida

Key West, Florida is a great place to spend Christmas and then ring in the New Year! Winter temps in the Florida Keys hover comfortably in the mid-80s (F), and the warm ocean currents are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and diving the most beautiful reef in the western hemisphere.

Christmas is a fun and festive time in the Conch Republic. There are non-denominational celebrations on Smathers Beach to start your day, then spend the rest of the day celebrating Key West-style — relax by the pool then head to Key West Bight to see the hundreds of boats strung with holiday lights.

Later in the day, it’s time for a pub crawl along famous Duval Street, savoring some fresh Florida seafood and key lime pie, and finally enjoying a fiery Christmas sunset celebration at Mallory Square. Being in Key West over the holidays is so unique, from enjoying the many tropical parties, making memories with friends, and being on the water.

Taking a sunset cruise (with Champagne or a side of snorkeling) is a perfect way to be on the water and relax island-style. As Christmas week comes to an end, the party is just heating up, and ringing in the New Year is a Key West tradition! This is one of the most anticipated times of the year with some of the most unique and outrageous countdown celebrations you’ll ever see.

Whether you see Sushi, Key West’s favorite drag queen lowered in her champagne shoe at Bourbon Street Bar, a conch shell dropped at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, or the pirate wench lowered from the mast of a tall ship at the Schooner Wharf Bar,  Key West, Florida is one of the best destinations for a truly unforgettable holiday celebration!

>> You might be interested in these 10 Unique Things you can only do in Florida.

Atlanta, Georgia

Contributed by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett of Green Global Travel 

Atlanta, Georgia

How much do we love Christmas in my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia? So much so that we pretty much refuse to travel between mid-November and New Year’s Day! For those who have never visited our bustling city, Atlanta has grown by leaps and bounds in the years since we hosted the 1996 Summer Olympics.

With a booming metro area population of around 6 million people, sprawling suburbs that encompass some 8,376 square miles, and the #1 busiest airport in the world (Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport), the ATL has a lot going on all year round. So naturally there are a ton of different Atlanta Christmas Events that appeal to residents and visitors alike.

If you love Christmas lights anywhere near as much as we do, start with the Atlanta Botanical Gardens’ “Garden Nights, Holiday Lights,” which is unlike any other holiday light display we’ve ever seen. We also love Lake Lanier Islands’ “Magical Nights of Lights” (where we went on our second date) and Callaway Gardens’ “Fantasy In Lights,” which  National Geographic  rated among the Top 10 Christmas Light Displays in the World.

Being in the Deep South makes a real “White Christmas” in Atlanta a once-in-a-lifetime miracle. But for a taste of a man-made winter wonderland, visit Stone Mountain Christmas’ “Snow Mountain” (which has slides, snowball fights, and more) and Battery Atlanta’s massive outdoor ice skating rink.

Atlantic Station – an outdoor shopping mall in Midtown– boasts Atlanta’s first authentic German Christkindl Market, with singing, dancing, European holiday food and beverages, and seasonal gifts sold in open-air booths.

For families with young kids, there’s the Children’s Christmas Parade riding the iconic Pink Pig at Macy’s in Lenox Square, the annual production of  Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer  at the Center of Puppetry Arts, the Georgia Aquarium’s Festival of the Season, and much more.

In short, no matter your age or inclinations, you’ll find lots of holiday-themed activities and attractions to choose from. And since winter temperatures here are generally mild, the weather is usually nice enough that you’ll want to get out and do them!

Yosemite, California

Contributed by Allison of She Dreams of Alpine


Yosemite National Park , located in the state of California , is one of the most iconic and well-known national parks in the entire United States. In the summer months, people flock from all over the world to visit Yosemite, to see the tall granite walls in Yosemite Valley and hike some of Yosemite’s best hiking trails . And while Yosemite is certainly stunning in the summer months, it transforms into a breathtaking, snowy-wonderland in the Winter.

Yosemite’s most iconic features, like Half Dome and El Capitan, are dusted in snow and display another beautiful side to Yosemite that fewer people have the opportunity to witness. Unlike the summertime, winter in Yosemite has a more relaxed and slow-paced vibe. There are less crowds and more moments to enjoy the park to yourself.

During the wintertime in Yosemite National Park, you can go snowshoeing, ice skating and even skiing at Badger Pass Ski Area. During Christmas time, the Majestic Yosemite Hotel, Yosemite Valley Lodge and Big Trees Lodge all hold Christmas festivities and big holiday dinners in celebration of the holiday season.

There are all kinds of activities, including gingerbread house decorating, ornament making gatherings, and much more. When you come to Yosemite in the winter you will be pleasantly surprised by its charms and will leave wishing you had more time to explore this beautiful winter wonderland.

Chicago, Illinois

Contributed by Theresa Goodrich of The Local Tourist

Christmas in Chicago

Christmas in Chicago is a truly magical experience. The city gets decked out for the holidays and you can hear carols around every corner. The festivities begin the weekend before Thanksgiving when Mickey and Minnie lead the Magnificent Mile Lights Parade. The fest heralds the decoration of one of the most famous shopping districts in the country, turning it into a fairy tale land of lights.

Daley Plaza, in the heart of the Loop, becomes a traditional German Christmas market, with roofs of red and white, handmade gifts from around the world, and plenty of gluhwein and sauerkraut. Millennium Park is home to the city’s Christmas tree, an evergreen that’s donated by a different family each year. On Fridays, you can gather near the tree at Cloud Gate for caroling with local choirs.

A visit to the Walnut Room on the seventh floor of Macy’s, formerly Marshall Fields, has been a family tradition going back generations. Families dine around The Great Tree laden with gifts, taking time to visit Santa and Mrs. Claus before or after their meal.

One of the most enchanting experiences is ice skating with the Chicago skyline as your backdrop. There’s a skating rink in Millennium Park, and its neighbor Maggie Daley Park has a skating ribbon. Warm up with a cup of hot cocoa after you’ve glided on the ice and you’ll have experienced a true Chicago Christmas.

Walt Disney World, Florida

Contributed by Mikkel Mihlrad of Sometimes Home

Orlando in December

Lake Buena Vista, just next to Orlando, the home of Walt Disney World is one of the best places to celebrate the holidays. The best part of it is Walt Disney World is open 365 days a year, including shopping, restaurants, hotels and parks. So you won’t be bored and, in fact, you’ll have more than enough options of what to do, see and try for your holiday.

One of my favorite things Walt Disney World does for holidays is special events and parades. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is at the Magic Kingdom. This Christmas spectacular runs from early November through the third week of December and includes things like a special holiday-inspired parade, a special fireworks show with Cinderella’s Castle as the central icon of the pyrotechnics display, and warm hot chocolate and cookies at several stations around the park. This is a separate ticketed event, outside of the normal park tickets, so be sure to purchase them separately and in advance in case it sells out!

There’s plenty else to do around Walt Disney World besides parks , however. Another fun-themed activity is the Winter Summerland miniature golf course. It’s themed with snow, Christmas lights and Santa Clause (in summer shorts) no matter the day of the year. But it’s especially fun during December! And don’t forget the hotel hopping to see the incredible  decorations everywhere in every nook and cranny of Walt Disney World.

Oahu, Hawaii

Contributed by Noel Morata of This Hawaii Life

Oahu, Hawaii

Visiting Hawaii is the perfect Christmas holiday destination and Oahu is a great starting point. Most mainland travel to Hawaii lands at the capital city of Honolulu and there’s plenty to see and do in Oahu during the holiday season.

There is a month-long Christmas lights display at Honolulu Hale, there’s a fabulous Christmas parade, pageants and plays, Christmas fairs and other special events to celebrate the whole holiday season in Hawaii.  

Waikiki also has many food choices with many food courts, restaurants, outdoor dining venues, bars and cafes, and even some food truck courts that cater to all different types of prepared food dishes. With a plethora of take out foods, local foods like bento boxes and plate lunch specials to fun happy hour places, you’ll have plenty of choices in dining out and different price points to cater to all tastes.

If you are looking for central accommodation on the island, think about staying in Waikiki as a base to explore Honolulu and the different parts of the island.

Washington, DC

The nation’s capital is a charming place to spend a Christmas holiday. There are lights displays, Christmas caroling, and even a few Christmas markets to enjoy.

The National Christmas Tree gets lit at a ticketed ceremony at the beginning of December, but then it and the Pathway of Peace is lit up for anyone to see every day thereafter, through January. Every night in December, you’ll find musical groups singing carols on the Ellipse in front of the White House.

One of my favorite things to do at Christmas in DC is see A Christmas Carol performed at Ford’s Theater. Tickets sell out fast for this show because of how beloved it is by locals. The show runs until January 1.

Another fun event at Christmas time is Enchant Christmas , which is the World’s largest Christmas light maze and market at Nationals Park that runs through December 29. There’s an ice skating trail, life-sized illuminations, and plenty of shopping and eating. In Georgetown, you can’t miss the annual Glow DC event, which runs from Dec 6 – Jan 5, 5-10pm. It’s a one-of-a-kind curated exhibition of outdoor public light art installations.

Aspen, Colorado

Snowmass in Aspen, Colorado

Even if you’re not a skier headed to the ski resorts in Aspen, it’s one of the best places to spend Christmas in the USA because it’s a true winter wonderland. Not only is there always plenty of snow covering everything, there are winter activities for everyone.

If you’re a skier, you’ll love the convenience of The Little Nell Hotel, at the base of Aspen Mountain, which offers ski-in, ski-out access, right next to the Silver Queen Gondola at Snowmass, which is the premiere 4-mountain ski area in Colorado with over 300 trails. Every Friday, Elk Camp on Snowmass hosts a winter party with a bonfire and hot cocoa.

Skiing and snow sports are only one small part of what Aspen has to offer winter guests. There’s an official Christmas tree lighting in early December in the courtyard of The Little Nell. And their restaurant, Element 47, offers special holiday menus.

Charleston, South Carolina

Contributed by Heather Trimm of Trimm Travels

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina is a top destination in the United States. So, why not consider visiting at Christmas? There are so many options for everyone including girls’ trips, couple’s getaways, and family vacations making Charleston at Christmas the perfect choice for a holiday celebration.

Some of my favorite things to do around the city are walking around downtown to see the many Christmas decorations, visiting the Citadel and seeing their bulldog monument wearing his Christmas best, and driving through the Holiday Festival of Lights. Be sure to stop to toast s’mores during your visit to the festival!

Perhaps, my favorite activity of all was driving out to Magnolia Plantation and seeing not only the plantation house beautifully decorated but the gorgeous, whimsical decorations in the gardens as well. But, do go early in the morning (preferably at opening) to avoid the crowds.

Definitely consider Charleston in your Christmas travel plans. It’s a smaller city that packs a large punch when it comes to spreading Christmas cheer!

Scottsdale, Arizona

Contributed by Cat of For Two, Please

Scottsdale, Arizona

For those who fancy a warm Christmas without snow, Scottsdale, Arizona is a great place to spend the winter holiday. The temperatures in December typically range from 41°F/5°C (at night) to 68°F/20°C (during the day). Light jackets are all you need to pack for vacation.

There is a variety of fun things to do in Scottsdale to get you in the holiday spirit. Every December, Fairmont Scottsdale transforms into a desert wonderland with sparkling lights. Ride on the Princess Express Train, grab a drink at the frosty ice bar, or roast marshmallows around a campfire – all the fun can be found at the “Christmas at the Princess” events hosted at Fairmont. Visitors are welcome to join the celebration during the entire month of December.

Las Noches de las Luminarias at Desert Botanical Garden is another holiday tradition one can’t miss. Using projection, lighting, and sound, you will watch the cacti, succulents, and rocks be brought to life and put on a show you’ve never seen before. The event runs throughout the entire month of December.

Don’t want to get out at all? Consider Illumination, Symphony of Light. Dubbed the country’s largest drive-through light show, the extravaganza, running from mid-November to the end of December, features millions of lights, synchronized with holiday songs. It is a one-of-a-kind holiday attraction that will make your Christmas unforgettable!

Tips To Make The Most Out Of Your Vacation

Regardless of the kind of activities you want to do during Christmas and the number of people you plan to bring with you, there will always be a perfect destination for you. This article has provided many options to help narrow down the choices.

However, if you want to make the most out of your holiday vacation, it’s best if you spend more time researching these places. As a traveler, you should understand the culture of the place you’re going to visit and adjust accordingly.

The more you know about the place you’re visiting, the easier it’ll be for you to find your way around. Check into public transportation, find interesting restaurants, and research the top things to do at Christmas in that city. It might take an extra hour, but it’s worth it!

Aside from the destination, you should also exert time in choosing your accommodation. While luxury resorts and hotels are common when traveling, consider staying in spaces that’ll require you to rent from timeshare owners . Timeshare accommodations come in a wide variety and are actually cheaper than hotels and resorts.

For Christmas travel, be sure to book your accommodations months in advance. Christmas is a busy travel travel time and accommodations get filled up fast.

And, most importantly, always prepare an appropriate budget for the trip. This task will come easier after you’ve conducted research on the destination. When you know what attractions to visit and how much your accommodation is, it’ll be very easy for you to prepare a budget.

When you’re thinking about spending Christmas away from home, you want everything to be perfect. These great United States Christmas destinations have what you need to make a great family holiday trip.

Is there a place away from home that you like to spend Christmas in the U.S.? Tell us about it in the comments.

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(Photo credit: The photos in this article was contributed by the individually listed website owners and are copyrighted images.)


Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited over 75 countries. Her work has been published in numerous guidebooks, websites, and magazines.

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The 30 Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA

Christmas in USA

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. All hosted affiliate links follow our editorial policies .

[Updated 12/11/22]    Although many of our blogging friends enjoy traveling to Christmas destinations around the world, we personally prefer to spend Christmas in the USA with our families. 

We really get into the Christmas holidays in the USA, embracing American Christmas traditions ranging from decorating our house (both inside and outside) with lights, wreaths, and garland to making homemade Christmas gifts. 

But now that my daughter is in college, we’ve begun to discuss other places to visit during Christmas (including seeing Mary’s dad’s family in New Jersey and Connecticut). 

So this year we decided to chat with some of our blogging friends to get their opinions on the best places to spend Christmas in the USA .

They contributed tips on spending the holidays in big cities like Atlanta, NYC, and San Diego, and introduced us to tiny towns like Grapevine, TX and Leavenworth, WA.

We even learned where to go for a white Christmas in North Pole, Alaska and Stowe, Vermont. 

So if you’re planning to spend your Christmas in America this year and love to travel, we hope you’ll enjoy these mini-guides on 30 best places to spend Christmas in the USA!

READ MORE: 25 Fun Christmas Eve Traditions Around the World

Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA Guide

  • North Pole, Alaska
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Palm Springs, California
  • San Diego, California
  • San Francisco, California
  • Boulder, Colorado
  • Washington, DC
  • Key West, Florida
  • Orlando, Florida
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Dahlonega, Georgia
  • Helen, Georgia
  • Savannah, Georgia
  • Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Minneapolis/St.Paul, Minnesota
  • Bozeman, Montana
  • Lake Tahoe, Nevada
  • NYC, New York
  • Asheville, North Carolina
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • McAdenville, North Carolina
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Grapevine, Texas
  • Stowe, Vermont
  • Alexandria, Virginia
  • Richmond, Virginia
  • Williamsburg, Virgina
  • Leavenworth, Washington
  • Seattle, Washington

READ MORE:  The 25 Best Places to Spend Christmas in Europe

Christmas in North Pole Alaska - Santa Claus House - Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA

1. Christmas in North Pole, Alaska

If you’re looking for the best places to visit for Christmas in the USA, not many can measure up to spending Christmas in North Pole, Alaska . 

Located a 20-minute drive from Fairbanks International Airport, the beautiful town of North Pole is home to the permanent residence of Santa and Mrs. Claus, the Santa Claus House .

The building’s candy cane-colored structure, combined with a ginormous statue of St. Nick (which was shipped in pieces and assembled on site), makes the Santa Claus House the focal point of the charming town. Even the roundabouts here mirror the candy cane theme.

The attraction is open 365 days a year, and you’ll quickly forget what time of the year it is with just a few steps into Santa’s abode. There’s even a mini lounge/restaurant if you need a break to take it all in or grab a bite to ear while resting your legs.

You can grab a souvenir photo with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and buy a few Christmas decorations for your family and friends. Then make your way to the “Antler Academy” next door to see the live reindeer  there.

If you’re spending a few days in North Pole/Fairbanks (which is highly recommended), the Pioneer Park and Chena Hot Springs/Northern Lights tour are a must. Spending a few days in the area definitely increases your chances of seeing the magical Aurora Borealis.

The weather here in December is fairly tolerable, but be aware that weather in Alaska is always fairly cold. Make sure to layer your travel clothes and bring an insulated jacket to keep you warm. Winter boots are also a plus because of the snow we often receive.

If you can’t stand the cold, a  rental car with auto-start and insulated seats will be your best friend. For safety, we recommend getting an all-wheel-drive vehicle, or you can opt for a guided Fairbanks City tour from Get Your Guide. -Louisa Moje of La Passion Voutee

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Christmas in Arizona

2. Christmas in Phoenix, Arizona

Spending the US Christmas holidays in Phoenix is one of the best places to spend Christmas in the USA because you can celebrate, but with warm desert weather and outdoor fun (and no need for bundling up).

For Christmas light displays and light shows, there are a bunch of options. Zoo Lights at the Phoenix Zoo is a holiday staple.

Tempe’s Fantasy of Lights Parade kicks off the holiday season the day after Thanksgiving, with a free parade that sees about 35,000 people (so get there early!), followed by a boat parade in December.

Tlaquepaque’s annual Festival of Lights has over 6000 luminarias in the beautifully decorated Sedona arts village, and World of Illumination claims to be the largest Christmas light show in the world.

But it’s best to do what the locals do and check out the incredible light displays individual homeowners put up. Valley residents go so over the top that news channels usually put together a map of the best in the area.

Visitors are very welcome but do be aware that you’re driving through private neighborhoods and be respectful in terms of volume.

The best part of planning Phoenix as one of your Christmas trips isn’t the events, it’s the weather. You can expect warm, sunny days with crisp nights. Take advantage of it by exploring downtown (don’t miss the artsy Roosevelt Row area, especially for First Fridays) or head out on hikes.

Try Camelback Mountain if you want tough hiking trails , or South Mountain or Papago for something more casual, but still scenic. -Jessica Elliott of How Dare She

READ MORE:  90 Christmas Traditions Around The World

Christmas in Palm Springs California - Best places to spend Christmas in the USA

3. Christmas in Palm Springs, California

Looking for a great Christmas destination? Consider Palm Springs, California ! Daytime temperatures are in the balmy 70s here, and snow is a rarity on the desert floor. But that doesn’t mean it’s not one of the best places to go in the US for Christmas .

The city kicks off its California Christmas season with the annual Festival of Lights parade, complete with Santa Claus, marching bands, and floats decorated with holiday lights. Held in downtown Palm Springs in early December, it’s an event you won’t want to miss.

There are many fabulous light displays in and around Palm Springs, and you’ll want to drive around to view all of them. RoboLights is the biggest show of them all, with more than 8 million lights in a one-acre plot that features all kinds of sci-fi exhibits year round.

In nearby Cathedral City, an entire street gets bedecked in so many lights and Christmas decorations that it’s called Candy Cane Lane!

If you’re really missing snow, don’t fret. Just get tickets for the aerial tramway to the upper station on Mount San Jacinto. There, you are very likely to see snow, along with a lit Christmas tree. -Dhara of It’s Not About the Miles

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Christmas in San Diego, California by Maria Hasse - - Best places to spend Christmas in the USA

4. Christmas in San Diego, California

Visiting San Diego, California  for the holidays is arguably one of the best Christmas vacations in the US, especially if you’re looking to escape the cold.

December temperatures here are usually in the mid 50s to low 60s and sunny. But they’re also known to reach the mid 70s, which is the perfect temperature to go out and explore the myriad hiking trails in San Diego .

San Diego will offer you a seemingly paradoxical US Christmas. Did you get a surfboard and snow skis as presents? No problem! In San Diego, you can try them both out in one day.

Maybe that explains why we celebrate the start of the Christmas season in San Diego with the arrival of “Surfin’ Santa,” rather than Christmas Carols.

What better way to celebrate the American Christmas holidays than with an ice skating rink right on the beach ? There’s perhaps no cooler Christmas experience than hitting the ice while looking at palm trees and hearing ocean waves crash in the background.

Another fun Christmas event that’s usually held the first weekend in December is December Nights in Balboa Park, which is our biggest San Diego Christmas Market.

Here you will find beautiful Christmas lights and decorations, booths selling treats and gifts, and traditional Glühwein as well as American Christmas food. Parking is a nightmare, so I would highly recommend taking either public transportation or Uber/Lyft. 

Did you know that Theodore Seuss Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss ) lived most of his life in San Diego? Each year, the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park puts Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! on its schedule, and I highly recommend it. – Maria Haase of Maria Abroad

READ MORE:   30 Symbols of Christmas: The History & Meaning of Traditional Christmas Decorations

San Francisco, Macy's Union Square by Constance - - Best places to spend Christmas in the USA

5. Christmas in San Francisco, California

Spending a festive Christmas in San Francisco, California is amazing. Not only are the temperatures here fairly mild during the holidays, but the “City by the Bay” is one of the best Christmas cities in the US thanks to its excellent array of winter attractions. 

Macy’s is responsible for much of the city’s festive decorations. Every year on the day after Thanksgiving (a.k.a. Black Friday), the retailer sponsors the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Union Square.

The entire area becomes lit up with Christmas decor, from the palm trees surrounding the square to Christmas wreaths hanging from the windows at Macy’s. Union Square basically becomes a magical Christmas wonderland. 

You can also get festive by ice skating at the Union Square rink, or adopting a puppy or kitten from Macy’s ground floor windows. But please adopt responsibly, and remember that these new family members will be with you, not just for a season, but for a lifetime. 

So why not explore San Francisco for a quick weekend this holiday season?   -Constance of The Adventures of Panda Bear 

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Christmas Boulder Colorado - Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA

6. Christmas in Boulder, Colorado

Boulder is one of the best places to go for Christmas in the USA. Why, you may ask? Because there are so many things to do in Boulder in winter , especially around the holidays! 

The city lighting is impressive, with more 275,000 colorful LED lights and lighted ornaments illuminating Boulder’s Central Park. Since 1947, the giant star on Flagstaff mountain has shone throughout the holiday season, until just after the New Year.

It’s worth visiting downtown Boulder just to see the Christmas lights and walk around Pearl Street Mall, where the Lights of December Parade is held every December. If you’re traveling with kids, the mall is also where children can visit Santa during St. Nick on the Bricks.

Skiing at the Eldora Mountain is one of the most typical things to do in Boulder around Christmas and New Year. It’s so special going down the slopes skiing at that time of year, and having a hot chocolate at the Eldora Mountain Resort to warm up afterwards.

There’s also special Afternoon Tea at different hotels (with special holiday beverages), and a huge Christmas tree at the Boulderado Hotel . If you have a sweet tooth, try the chocolate truffles made from Boulder microbrewery beer at Piece, Love, & Chocolate.

If you’re looking for the best places to celebrate Christmas in the USA, Boulder, Colorado is a delightful winter wonderland. -Sara Rodríguez of Mindful Travel by Sara

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Christmas in Washington, DC by Maggie McKneely - Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA

7. Christmas in Washington, DC

If you ask me, Washington, DC is one of the best places to visit for Christmas in the USA! The nation’s capital goes all out for the holidays, celebrating in a way only DC can.

This includes decking the halls of the White House. During Christmas time, visitors can tour the Presidential residence and see the annual White House gingerbread cake, dozens of lavishly decorated Christmas trees, and an 18 th -century nativity scene.

Tip: make tour reservations through your Congressman’s office at least 3 months in advance, as these tours fill to capacity early.

There’s also the National Christmas Tree and its surrounding 56 mini trees (one for each US state and territory ). The U.S. Capitol building also has its own decorated Christmas tree , which is located just below the east steps.

Other must-dos for Christmas in DC include attending The Messiah at the National Cathedral, “Enchant DC” (the world’s largest light maze, hosted at Nationals Park), and Zoolights at the Smithsonian Zoo.

Weather in DC can be unpredictable in December. It can be 80º on Christmas Day, or it can be in the 20s and snowing. Highs are usually in the 40s and 50s, but check the forecast before going on a sightseeing tour !   -Maggie McKneely of Pink Caddy Travelogue

READ MORE:  Countries that Don’t Celebrate Christmas

Key West Holiday Boat Parade, Florida by Lori Sorrentino - Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA

8. Christmas in Key West, Florida

If you’re looking for a tropical Christmas in the USA, the Conch Republic of Key West, Florida is truly the place to be.

Imagine swimming, snorkeling , and taking a Champagne sunset cruise on a schooner in the warm waters. You’ll be pinching yourself to believe that it’s really Christmastime, because the average temperature here in December is a comfortable and sunny 76ºF.

The holiday season kicks off with the traditional Key West Christmas Parade down Duval Street in early December, and continues straight through the New Year.

If you love the charming Key West architecture, check out a private walking tour , a trolley tour, or the Historic Inns Holiday Tour. The Nutcracker Key West at the Tennessee Williams Theater is also popular: It sells out quickly, so it’s best to buy your tickets early.

But our absolute favorite way to get into the holiday spirit is at the Key West Bight Before Christmas.  This is the traditional Lighted Boat Parade, with their festive bright lights glowing as they pass the judges in Key West Bight.

Key West is truly unique, and one of the most memorable and best places to spend Christmas in the USA.   -Lori Sorrentino of Travlinmad

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Christmas in Orlando by LiveLoveRunTravel - Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA

9. Christmas in Orlando, Florida

A white Christmas may be the norm for many Americans, but Christmas in Orlando  always means the possibility of shorts and flip flops.

Even without the snow, Orlando is one of the best places to visit during Christmas, and goes all out in terms of decorations, from the myriad theme parks to local neighborhoods.

The theme parks all have special holiday events and decorations, such as Grinchmas at Universal Studios and massive gingerbread creations at many of the Disney hotels.

Many of the local communities also host special events and cover their houses, yards, and streets with festive Christmas decorations. There are also several outdoor skating rinks that pop up around the area. 

For something a little more unusual, check out the Winter Park Boat Parade. Boat owners deck their boats in Christmas lights and other Christmas decorations to show off once the sun sets. Jolly ol’ St. Nick usually makes an appearance on one of the boats.

Orlando’s winter is considerably milder than the rest of the country, with highs reaching the 70s most days.

There are occasionally waves of cold fronts, but in Orlando the cold doesn’t usually last more than a day or two in December. Most days are sunny, clear and beautiful.

Even if you tend to prefer a white Christmas, give Orlando a try for the holidays one year. You may find that a green Christmas isn’t so bad after all! -Christine Wheeler of Live Love Run Travel

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Christmas Things To Do in Atlanta -Botanical Gardens - Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA

10. Christmas in Atlanta, Georgia

READ MORE: Atlanta   Christmas  Events: 50+ Things to Do

Best Christmas towns in USA -Horse Carriage Rides for Dahlonega GA Christmas

11. Christmas in Dahlonega, Georgia

Today,  Dahlonega GA  is a popular tourist town with an amazing array of historic sites, shops, restaurants, and wineries. But it’s an especially great place for Christmas vacations

Southern Living recently called it a “perfect Christmas Town,” in part due to 19th century buildings on the town’s historic square, which offers loads of Christmas lights and holiday cheer.

Dahlonega’s Old Fashioned Christmas celebration starts with the Lighting of the Square on the day after Thanksgiving, followed by the Dahlonega Arts Alliance Christmas Market the day after that. 

Santa is typically available for free photos by the Dahlonega Square Christmas tree on the first four weekends after Thanksgiving, as well as being the highlight of the Dahlonega Christmas Parade in mid-December. 

Visitors can also see the Festival of Trees at Hancock Park, watch a Christmas show   at the Holly Theater, or take a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride through Downtown Dahlonega.  –Bret Love & Mary Gabbett of Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide

READ MORE: The 20 Best Cultural Festivals Around the World

Holiday destinations at Christmas - Helen GA Gazebo at Unicoi Hill Park

12. Christmas in Helen, Georgia

Christmas in Helen GA  always begins the day after Thanksgiving with the Lighting of the Village ceremony. Local choirs perform before the downtown  Helen  Christmas light s are unveiled, then Santa and Mrs. Claus pose for free photos in Riverside Park.

The traditional German Christmas Market opens in the  Helen  Square and the Festhalle parking lot on Thanksgiving weekend, and the annual Helen Christmas Parade finds costumed characters, decorated floats, and marching bands moving through the heart of town a week later. 

Christmas in Savannah’s Historic District - best destinations for Christmas Holidays

13. Christmas in Savannah, Georgia

If you want to feel like you’ve stepped onto the set of a Hallmark Christmas movie, Savannah is one of the most enchanting destinations for Christmas holidays.

The coastal city’s Historic District looks extra magical when its Southern-style mansions are all aglow with twinkling lights and draped in holiday greenery.

Some of the most popular seasonal events include the Savannah Christmas Market, the Gingerbread Trail, and the Holiday Boat Parade.

The Tour of Homes is a popular fundraising event that grants ticket-holders entry into mansions decorated like a Southern Living magazine cover.

The most cheerful areas of Savannah during the holiday season include River Street, Broughton Street, and the City Market.

Plant Riverside is considered Savannah’s Entertainment District, so you can expect lots of colorful LED lights and live shows in that area.

For a more traditional ambiance, stroll through Savannah’s Historic District and stop in Cathedral St. John to see its elaborate nativity scene and trees made from hundreds of poinsettias.   -Erin Clarkson of Savannah First-Timer’s Guide

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14. Christmas in Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu is the primary gateway to the islands of Hawaii, and it’s also the perfect place to enjoy an unconventional Christmas on the beach.

As one of the warmest winter destinations in the US , Honolulu boasts beautiful weather in December (with average high temperatures of around 77°F), as well as the unique chance to spot surfing Santas.

Within the city itself, there is no shortage of holiday festivities. The stunning Honolulu City Lights takes place in Honolulu Hale throughout December and features gorgeous Christmas decorations as well as a festive parade. This is one of the most unmissable Christmas events in Honolulu.

The annual Festival of Lights Christmas Boat Parade is also a spectacular event to attend. Head to the Hawaii Kai Towne Center in Honolulu to witness many splendidly decorated boats cruising by the marina in the evening.

One insider tip is to not miss “The Nutcracker” annual Christmas ballet performance at the Blaisdell Concert Hall. This ballet showcases Oahu’s interesting history, as well as many aspects of Hawaiian culture. – Jiayi of The Diary of a Nomad

READ MORE:  Hawaiian Mythology (Intro to Hawaiian Gods, Goddesses and Legends)

Chicago Zoo Lights - best family Christmas vacations

15. Christmas in Chicago, Illinois

Starting with the Christmas Parade on North Michigan Avenue the weekend before Thanksgiving each year, the season for Christmas in Chicago lasts through the first week of January. 

While the week of Thanksgiving and Christmas are filled with school break tourists, the time between those two holidays is a bit less hectic and crowded.

Each winter, Chicago schedules Christmas trains on each of its lines (which are named by colors). These trains are completely transformed for the season, from themed seat cushions and workers dressed like elves inside to fully wrapped cars and Santa with his reindeer outside.

The cost of riding these festive trains is exactly the same as the regular ones.

Each year, the Lincoln Park Zoo puts on a Christmas light display that covers its entire 35 acres. Zoo admission is free. But for Christmas 2021, entry to the zoo lights is $5/person, making it one of the best family Christmas attractions in Chicago.

Visitors should use public transit or a rideshare service to get to the zoo, because parking is both difficult and expensive.

Right in Chicago’s downtown Loop, the annual Christkindlemarket offers festive shopping, snacks, and beverages. The annual market mug is a collector’s item for many locals, and entry to the Bavarian-themed market is free. -Brodi Cole of Our Off Beat Life

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Christmas in Minneapolis loppet - Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA

16. Christmas in Minneapolis/St.Paul, Minnesota

If you are wondering where to go for a white Christmas in the USA, chances are good that Minneapolis & St. Paul  will grant you your holiday wish. The Northland is known for its cold, snowy winters, and locals love to brag about all the fun to be had if you bundle up a bit.

There’s twice the fun to be had in the Twin Cities at Christmastime. In Minneapolis, the outdoor Holidazzle festivities include light installations, fireworks, food, a kid zone, skating rink, beer garden, movies, and a tented craft marketplace .

St. Paul prides itself on the displays in Rice Park. There are Christmas markets at the historic Landmark Center or Union Depot (complete with a North Pole Express Holiday Train), the long-running  Black Nativity  production, and popular  Hmong New Year celebrations.

Across dozens of the Twin Cities’ world-famous stages, live music and theater performances brighten the season and bring people together. Start your Prince tour at First Avenue, or take in a show (and great Mississippi River views) at the Guthrie Theater.

For a taste of Minnesota’s Scandinavian heritage, visit the American Swedish Institute’s holiday displays, or check out Ingebretsen’s Nordic Marketplace for gifts and deli items.

Best of all, embrace the outdoors for a complete holiday experience. Try ice skating, sledding, skiing, or simply walking around the cities’ beautiful lakes . It’s invigorating, and deserving of a warm libation afterwards.   -Kristin Henning of Travel Past 50

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Christmas in Bozeman Montana - Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA

17. Christmas in Bozeman, Montana

If you’ve ever imagined spending the holidays in the American west, the winter wonderland of Bozeman, Montana is truly one of the best places to visit during Christmas.

Bozeman really shines during the winter. A blanket of snow usually covers the town throughout December, and temps hover around freezing. Main Street gets decked with bright, colorful lights that shimmer against the picturesque mountain backdrop.

Several local parks maintain ponds for ice skating and pick-up hockey games. And you can go dashing through the snow in Santa’s sleigh just north of town.

There are also two world-class ski areas within an hour’s drive– Bridger Bowl and Big Sky–the latter of which is one of the largest ski resorts in the country.

Both resorts put on a torchlight parade and fireworks show for the holiday season, with Big Sky doing it up for Christmas Eve and Bridger celebrating on December 30th.

Bozeman is just over an hour from the north entrance of Yellowstone, where you can combine your holiday festivities with a 5-day Winter Wolf & Wildlife Watching tour from Get Your Guide.   -Ryan Victor of Passions and Places

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Christmas in Lake Tahoe - Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA

18. Lake Tahoe, Nevada/California

For a wintery scene right out of a fairytale, why not head to the lake for Christmas this year? Located on the border between Nevada and California, Lake Tahoe offers many different ways to celebrate the season.

South Lake Tahoe offers an excellent opportunity for party people, with casinos, nightlife, plenty of Christmas lights, and holiday food. You can even ski or snowboard across the state line at Heavenly Resort . For nature lovers, there is a 1/2-day Photographic Scenic Tour .

Drive to the iconic Emerald Bay viewpoint for unbeatable lake views, and enjoy a mellow winter hike in Tahoe’s Desolation Wilderness.

If you’re not a fan of big crowds, head to the North Shore of Lake Tahoe. Here the vibe is more laid-back and local, but that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of things to do.

Visit the old Olympic Village and go ice skating at Squaw Valley’s old Olympic rink. If you love burritos, you’ve got to stop by T’s Rotisserie in Incline Village on your way to the Mount Rose Pass sledding hill.

With 14 world-class ski resorts, excellent snowmobiling tours, and top-notch snowshoeing and backcountry skiing, Lake Tahoe is one of the best places to visit in December in the USA. Most locals enjoy cutting down their own Christmas tree ($10 permit required).

Whichever side of the lake you visit, expect wintery weather. One of the best tips for visiting Lake Tahoe in winter is to either rent an all-wheel drive vehicle or carry snow chains.

Snowstorms are measured in feet here, so bundle up and get ready for a wintery Christmas you’ll never forget. -Meg Atteberry of Fox in the Forest

READ MORE: Holiday Gift Guide (Includes 75+ Christmas Gift Ideas)

NYC Christmas: Free Walking Tour: Rockefeller Center Angels - Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA

19. Christmas in NYC, New York 

One of the best family vacations for Christmas is to see Christmas in NYC.

Christmas in New York City is truly magical, and we love starting the season by watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. For us, the holiday season doesn’t truly begin until the Macy’s Santa and his reindeer make their way into Herald Square. 

But of course the Big Apple is home to plenty of other holiday attractions that make it one of the best places for Christmas in the USA. Of course, there’s the massive (70 to 100-foot-tall) Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center, as well as the ice skating rink at its base. 

In just a few hours you can do an easy self-guided walking tour of all the major NYC Christmas window displays. From Bloomingdales and Bergdorf Goodman south to the incredible displays at Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s, it’s a can’t-miss Christmas attraction.

Along the way there’s also Radio City Music Hall, the Winter Village at Bryant Park, and the incredible FAO Schwarz toy store.

The latter opened a new 20,000-square-foot location at 30 Rock in 2018, three years after its previous owners (Toys R Us) closed the 150-year-old flagship store on 5th Avenue.

READ MORE: NYC Christmas Window Displays (Free Walking Tour)

Best place to go for Christmas -Biltmore Estate Asheville NC

20. Christmas in Asheville, North Carolina

Christmas holidays destinations - Charlotte Motor Speedway Christmas Lights

21. Christmas in Charlotte, North Carolina 

As the largest city in North Carolina, Charlotte is a great place to consider if you’re wondering where to go for your Christmas vacation.

The city is home to numerous museums, theaters, and the Carrowinds amusement park, and their holiday celebrations are second to none. 

Carrowinds hosts their annual WinterFest throughout the month of December, with ice skating, live entertainment, holiday shopping, and seasonal activities the whole family will enjoy.

Truist Field (home to the Charlotte Knights minor league baseball team) also hosts an event called the Light The Knights Festival. You’ll have the opportunity to meet Santa, go ice skating, enjoy live music, and more.

In addition to these two festive NC Christmas events , the Charlotte Motor Speedway hosts an enormous 3.75-mile drive-thru Christmas light display , with over 4 million lights!

They’ll also have a Christmas Village set up, with an indoor movie theater, craft vendors, and the Lil’ Donut Express. 

Several Christmas parades and holiday shows can also be found throughout the city of Charlotte during the month of December, which means you’ll never run out of things to do for the holidays!   –Samantha Dickens

READ MORE: Top 20 National Forests in America for Camping & Hiking

Christmas towns in USA - McAdenville, NC

22. Christmas in McAdenville, North Carolina

Located along the south fork of the Catawba River in a small suburb of Charlotte, McAdenville is known as one of the merriest Christmas towns in North Carolina . 

With a population of 900, this tiny town sees an influx of visitors who flock to the city each Christmas to get a taste of old-fashioned hospitality and holiday spirit. 

They’re best known for “Christmas Town USA,” a citywide Christmas celebration that dates back to 1956, which put them on the map as one of the South’s best Christmas holiday destinations.

The annual Christmas event gained national attention in 1980 thanks to a feature on the CBS Morning Show , then earned major accolades in Southern Living . Now, Christmas Town USA has become a beloved NC Christmas tradition. 

Visitors are welcome to drive through the town to see the lights, or park and immerse themselves in the down-home Christmas cheer on foot, with carolers milling about.

This year will mark their 67th year of putting on this extravagant Christmas light display, tree lighting ceremony, and Yule Log Parade. The lights typically stay up until December 26th.   –Samantha Dickens

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Christmas in Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square - Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA

23. Christmas in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Center City Philadelphia might not be the first place that leaps to mind for a place to celebrate the Christmas season, but there are plenty of things to do there for the holidays. 

You can visit a German-style Christmas Market with over 80 vendors in Philly’s famed Center City Love Park, across the street from a Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market with over 45 vendors.

There’s a huge, high resolution screen musical Christmas show in the lobby of the Comcast Center, and a live performance of the Pennsylvania Ballet’s Nutcracker performed in the historic Academy of Music (Philly’s version of the La Scala Opera House).

Don’t miss a chance to have dinner at Parc, a festive, Parisian-style bistro on Philadelphia’s genteel  Rittenh ouse Square , which is beautifully illuminated for the season.

We also love the daily free Christmas light show and organ concert in the Grand Court of the historic Wanamaker Building near City Hall, which has been a Philly tradition since 1956.

While in the area you can go ice skating on a pop-up rink in front of the historic City Hall, and end the evening with a Christmas sound and light show projected onto City Hall itself.

During your time in Philadelphia, you should also take a walking tour of the most historic square mile in the United States!   -Suzanne Fluhr of Boomeresque

READ MORE: 15 Recycled Christmas Cards Crafts for Kids

Christmas in Texas - Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA

24. Christmas in Grapevine, Texas

They say everything is bigger in Texas, and the holiday season is no exception.

In fact, Grapevine– the self-proclaimed Christmas Capital of Texas– is a great place to celebrate Christmas in America. Both locals and visitors can participate in more than 1,400 different Christmas events in just 40 days.

Activities and events range from photos with Santa and a nightly light show spectacular to Christmas parades and holiday shows. The best part? There’s something for all ages.

Bring the kids, and embark on the North Pole Express for a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Or gather your best friends and set out on a Christmas Wine Train, complete with wine, hors d’oeuvres, and lively holiday music.

At the Gaylord Texan Resort & Spa , you can see many of your holiday favorites come to life in ICE!, a fascinating display carved from 2 million pounds of ice.

Weather here varies from mild and frosty to downright cold temps, so do check the forecast before heading out to explore. -Karon Warren of This Girl Travels

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Christmas in Vermont - Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA

25. Christmas in Stowe, Vermont

Vermont in winter is truly like a snow globe come to life. It’s basically what you most likely envision when you think of American Christmas traditions with a classic snowy scene.

Not only is a white Christmas in Vermont almost guaranteed, but there are so many charming villages and spots throughout the state that practically scream Christmastime!  

If you’re into winter sports, you can definitely find lots of those here. But for holiday-themed activities, you’ll want to do traditional things like cutting down your own Christmas tree at a local farm and going riding in a horse-drawn sleigh .

Don’t miss the Christmas lights that adorn Church Street, the main shopping thoroughfare in the hip city of Burlington, and maybe take a Classic Beer Tour that includes lunch. Exploring the city is one of our favorite things you can do in Vermont.

Vermont is not a very big state, so you can see a whole lot of it during a fairly short visit. I definitely recommend visiting picturesque Stowe, which is one of the best Christmas towns in the USA  (and also happens to have has its own popular  beer tour ).

Tucked in the mountains of Vermont, this is a perfect small town destination, with its white-steepled church and quaint Main Street. It looks particularly amazing at Christmas, when it’s usually covered in snow.   -Amy Hartle of New England With Love

READ MORE: What Is Ecotourism? (The History & Principles of Responsible Travel)  

Christmas in Alexandria, Virginia - Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA

26. Christmas in Alexandria, Virginia

Imagine brick-paved streets lined with 18th century buildings, shop doors graced with Christmas greenery, and everyone clad in their finest tartan kilts.

In Alexandria, Virginia , you’re likely to hear a Scottish brogue among the southern drawls. This charming city located across the Potomac from Washington DC celebrates the Christmas holidays with a combination of both American and Scottish traditions.

While it’s fairly unlikely that Alexandria will have a white Christmas, there’s usually enough of a chill in the air that you’ll want a hot chocolate to warm up you while you watch the Annual Scottish Walk Christmas Parade.

Alexandria’s Scottish clans , all decked out in traditional tartan kilts, celebrate the arrival of the Christmas season and herald the way for Santa Claus himself.

After the Scottish Walk, the sounds of bagpipes fill Alexandria’s streets as all the pipe and drum bands gather at Market Square for the Mass Band Concert.

Over at the Carlyle House, they celebrate the holidays with a nod to Alexandria’s colonial past. A Soldiers’ Christmas features re-enactors from the First Virginia Regiment.

They set up camp to show how Christmas traditions in the USA were celebrated in the 18th century, complete with a small colonial Christmas feast that concludes with a 5-gun salute.

After a day of shopping in Alexandria’s 160 indie shops and boutiques, everyone heads to the waterfront. There, after sunset, the Potomac River lights up with the Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. – Brianna Simmons of Casual Travelist

READ  MORE: The 10 Best Places to Visit in Scotland

Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA - The Jefferson Richmond VA by FuninFairfaxVA

27. Christmas in Richmond, Virginia

Christmas in Virginia sparkles with a fun mix of modern celebrations and historic sites decorated in the spirit of the holidays.

Stay at The Jefferson Hotel to surround yourself with elaborate decorations and historic luxury. Here, a huge Christmas tree, festive garlands, and holiday lights set the stage for free concerts, special teas, and visits with Santa.

Richmond’s eclectic neighborhoods add more holiday fun with carriage rides, holiday markets, and special performances making it one of the best places in the USA to visit at Christmas.

One of the best things to do in Richmond , the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden twinkles with more than 1 million lights at the walk-through GardenFest of Lights.

Nearby, the Gilded Age mansion at Maymont reflects the Victorian splendor of Christmas in the 1890s. Downtown Richmond shines in December, with a giant Christmas tree and decorated buildings during RVA Illuminates.

Time your visit right and you can also watch the Richmond Boat Parade of Lights on the James River. -Julie McCool of Fun in Fairfax VA

READ  MORE: List of National Parks By State (An Epic Guide to “America’s Best Idea”)

Best Christmas vacations USA - Colonial Williamsburg

28. Christmas in Williamsburg, Virginia

Named by Country Living as one of the “Best Christmas Towns to Visit,” Williamsburg VA has an endless assortment of holiday activities and attractions that are perfect if you’re wondering where to go for Christmas.

Thanks to Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens, the historic city has become a major tourism hotspot. They’re also among the best places in Virginia to celebrate the holiday at Xmas!

During the holiday season, Colonial Williamsburg offers Christmas events daily, using historical elements that will transport you back to the 18th century.

At Busch Gardens, which is billed as “the World’s Most Beautiful Theme Park,” rides and rollercoasters are transformed with over 10 million dazzling Christmas lights during their Christmas Town celebration. Visitors can enjoy amazing holiday shows, delicious Christmas treats, and myriad shopping opportunities.

For the third year in a row, the Williamsburg Christmas Market offers more than 30 different vendors over the course of four weekends. There will be also photo opportunities with Santa, live music, and food available from local restaurants.   –Samantha Dickens

READ  MORE: Top 10 Living History Museums in America

Christmas in Leavenworth, Washington (Bavarian Village) - Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA

29. Christmas in Leavenworth, Washington

Just 2.5 hours east of Seattle lies the small, Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth. Flanked by mountains, with a river passing between them, this tiny town is straight out of a classic US Christmas postcard. 

The German-inspired facades of downtown were a way to revitalize a once-dying logging town. It’s inarguably beautiful during the winter season: Snow clings to the rooftops, and almost every building is illuminated by lights. It’s like a Christmas village come to life!

On December weekends, visitors and locals alike stand on the main street to watch the shops turn on their Christmas lights. Carols are sung, and a parade passes through.

For more holiday spirit, you can wander through the Nutcracker Museum, warm up with German brats and local beers, and enjoy live music in a magical setting.

Because it’s on the other side of the Cascades from Seattle, Leavenworth enjoys lots of sunshine all year round. Winter brings snow to this lovely little mountain town, making it one of best places to travel for Christmas in the Northwest.

Outside of Christmas festivities, there are many other  things to do in Leavenworth . You can go snowshoeing, skiing, sledding, and drink in the beautiful snow-capped pines. Or grab a coffee and walk around Blackbird Island, which can be easily reached via a small bridge.

You can’t leave the town without sampling the local craft beers from Icicle Brewery. Order a soft pretzel with housemade cheese sauce and grab a seat outside by the fireplace to mingle with other travelers and locals alike.

If you’re planning to attend a Christmas lighting ceremony, give yourself plenty of time to get there. Highway 2, which connects Seattle to Leavenworth, is a mostly single-lane road that can get backed up with traffic on busy weekends, especially during the holiday season. -Katie Diederichs from Two Wandering Soles

READ MORE: Best Coffee In the World (A Gourmet’s Guide to 30 Types of Coffee)

Wild Nights at the Seattle Woodland Zoo by Sean O'Neill - Best Places to Spend Christmas in the USA

30. Christmas in Seattle, Washington

Looking for one of the best places to travel for Christmas this year? In my opinion there’s no better place than Seattle, Washington. Emerald City residents love to celebrate, no matter what time of year it is. But during the festive season the city really comes to life at night.

So what makes Seattle one of the best places to spend Christmas in the US? There are very few cities in America where you’re less than an hour from the ocean and the mountains. So if you love winter sports and other outdoor activities, the city will feel like heaven on Earth.

The best holiday-related things to do in the area are watching the light show at Woodland Zoo, the annual Macy’s holiday parade, and the star lighting event.

If you travel with children, check out the Winterfest at the Seattle Center for a winter train around the village, ice rink, ice sculpting, and caroling. For an extra treat, the Gingerbread Village at the  Seattle Grand Sheraton is a place the kids will love.

The best part of visiting Seattle in December is that it has the perfect Christmas weather. This is the coldest time of year there, and if you’re lucky you may have a white Christmas.

The bottom line is that Seattle is one of the best places to spend your Christmas. While it may not be nearly as warm as an African Christmas , you’re still guaranteed to have tons of fun!   -Lydia of Africa Wanderlust

READ MORE: Animals in Kenya: A Guide to 40 Species of Kenya Wildlife

Main Street Christmas Light Show Extravaganza, Macon

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23 Best Places to Go for Christmas on the East Coast, USA (2023)

The holidays are around the corner and for many of us, Christmas travel means heading to grandma’s house — you know, over the river and through the woods. For others, a holiday destination means a nice hotel resort on a beach somewhere. Today, I wanted to share ideas for places to go for Christmas on the east coast that will put you in the holiday mood.

These are East Coast Christmas vacations that offer something extra special. I know when I’m looking for Christmas getaways near me, I’m thinking of parades of boats, horse-drawn sleigh rides, botanical gardens dripping in twinkling lights, and special holiday events.

These East Coast Christmas towns are postcard-worthy venues for catching the holiday spirit. And if you are looking for even more holiday inspiration, be sure to check out our posts on the best Christmas hotels , and ideas for celebrating the holidays in Philadelphia , Chicago , and London . If you are on the West Coast, see the best Christmas towns in California .

Best Places to Go for Christmas on the East Coast

Dates are subject to change and we recommend visiting the destination website to find out more details before planning your Christmas vacation.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. All opinions are my own.

Starting in the north and moving south, here are our picks for the top places to go for Christmas on the East Coast of the USA from the best Christmas towns on the East Coast to great Christmas resorts.

1. Kennebunkport, Maine

Welcome to Kennebunkport sign

Kennebunkport is a charming coastal town in Southern Maine, famous for its lobster rolls, Docks Square shopping, and the Bush Family compound. While visitors flock here in the summer, Kennebunkport (KPT) goes out of its way to shine in the winter too. It is no surprise that it was voted the #2 Christmas town in America by HGTV.

In Kennebunkport, you can watch Santa Claus arrive by lobster boat during the annual Christmas Prelude , and there are many other festivities hosted throughout the holiday season. For two consecutive weekends in early December, Kennebunkport’s Dock Square, nearby Kennebunk, and Cape Porpoise are aglow with holiday-themed events from tree lightings to parades, crafts to caroling, and fireworks to Santa’s arrival. 

You really won’t want to miss the lobster trap tree lighting! Nothing says Christmas in Maine more than an Instagram post of a “Christmas tree” made out of lobster traps covered with holiday lights.

Where to stay: If you are staying overnight, the Boathouse Waterfront Hotel is right in the heart of the action.

2. Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Portsmouth NH Holiday

The waterfront, historic town of Portsmouth is always a joy to visit, with its cobblestone streets, charming shops, bountiful restaurants, and harborfront. But Portsmouth really turns festive around the holidays with a Vintage Christmas . This month-long celebration is chock full of events from the Vintage Christmas kickoff party to the Annual Gingerbread House contest, Christmas tree lighting and Illuminated Holiday Parade, and the Annual Candlelight Stroll.

There are also special performances of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas , and Family Holiday Pops by the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra, making Portsmouth a great East Coast Christmas vacation. Visitors can then enjoy a winter skate on the outdoor ice-skating rink at Puddle Duck Pond.

While you are in town, I’d highly recommend a seafood meal at Row 34! See my full guide on things to do in Portsmouth NH .

Where to stay: For families, the Hampton Inn and Suites in Downtown Portsmouth is very convenient. For couples, I’d recommend the AC Hotel Portsmouth Downtown .

3. Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

Omni Mount Washington

Winter brings ski season to New Hampshire but there is also plenty of holiday fun to be had in the White Mountains . While Ice Castles typically doesn’t open until early January (depending on the weather), Santa’s Village is decked out in nearly one million lights and open for visitors on weekends from mid-November through December 23rd. There are Christmas carols in the air, decorations galore, and even visits to Santa and his reindeer.

The Santa Express train ride on the Hobo Railroad is perfect for families, as everyone on the train meets Santa & Mrs. Claus, and all young children will receive a gift from Santa on the train. The Mount Washington Cog Railway also offers a winter ride to their Waumbek Station, complete with hot cocoa and marshmallows and sometimes a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.

At the Omni Mount Washington, you can enjoy winter activities including skiing, snowshoeing, snow tubing, sleigh rides, and even zip lining. The hotel gets decked out for the holidays and hosts special events including holiday concerts.

Where to stay: The Omni Mount Washington is the natural pick but for something more unique, Huttopia White Mountains now offers cozy cabins that are perfect for winter stays.

4. Woodstock, Vermont

Horse drawn carriage in parade

Woodstock, Vermont has to be one of the most charming towns in New England and a perfect place to get into the holiday spirit during a series of holiday events starting in November and running through mid-December. The festivities kick off with a Gingerbread contest in late November, with the houses on display at Woodstock Scoops.

Next up, enjoy the Christmas spirit at Billings Farm on multiple weekends in December. Billings Farm is decorated with festive lights and Victorian Christmas traditions. Families can enjoy hot cider and toast s’mores by the fire pit.

The main event is the Wassail Weekend . This yearly celebration is filled with decorated historic homes, horse-drawn carriage rides, breakfast with Santa, and twinkling lights throughout the town square. Riders dressed in Victorian Era costumes and horses draped with sleigh bells lead the way in the Wassail Parade.

Visitors can also enjoy musical performances ranging from Christmas with the Celts to Cello by Candlelight, choirs, and sing-alongs.

Where to stay: If you are making a weekend of it, there is no better place to stay than the Woodstock Inn & Resort . For something more unique, try winter glamping nearby at Highwood Retreat .

5. Great Wolf Lodge in Fitchburg, Massachusetts

Snowland Suite at the Great Wolf Lodge

Snowland at the Great Wolf Lodge is a true kid’s delight! Celebrate the holidays with special cookie deliveries from Wiley the Wolf, eat in the life-size gingerbread house, grab some free hot chocolate, decorate cookies, and participate in special activities like the Polar Wolf Walk.

Make your stay extra special by booking a Snowland Suite, with special holiday decorations and your very own tree. Of course, there are Great Wolf Lodge hotels throughout the USA, including ones in the Poconos, Pennsylvania; Concord, North Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; and Williamsburg, Virginia . Check out the video we made during our stay during the holidays at the Great Wolf Lodge in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.

6. Boston, Massachusetts

Columbus Park lit up for Christmas in Boston

Like most large cities, Boston puts on its shine for the winter holidays. But unlike some cities, you may just see some snow while you are there. Starting in late November, you can join in one of the many tree or holiday lighting ceremonies around town — from the Boston Common to the Columbus Park Trellis to Copley Square to the State House. You will find trees sparkling brightly in the Boston Common, the Public Garden, Commonwealth Avenue Mall, Copley Square, Prudential Center, the North End, Downtown Crossing, and along the Seaport waterfront. 

European-style Holiday Markets also pop up across the city in December, featuring everything from vintage kitsch to New England crafts. Some popular markets can be found in SoWa in the South End, Snow Port at the Boston Seaport, and Old South Church’s Christmas Fair. The Theater District welcomes holiday shows, ice skating is open at Frog Pond, and many hotels offer special events and holiday displays.

Where to stay: If I was staying overnight, I’d pick either the Boston Harbor Hotel or the Newbury Boston , with its wood-burning fireplaces.

7. Newport, Rhode Island

Newport Mansions at Christmas

I know that summer seems like the ideal time to visit the Yachting Capital of the World, but Newport turns out quite nicely for the holidays as well. Many of the historic Newport Mansions are decked out for Christmas in Newport, with special events like costumed caroling and garden club competitions. The Breakers even puts on an amazing outdoor lights spectacle complete with a 50-foot long tunnel of lights.

Downtown, you can enjoy the holiday decorations while shopping or enjoy festive ice skating. Warm up afterwards in front of the fire at the historic Whitehorse Tavern or over a cup of chowder at the cozy Black Pearl on Bannister’s Wharf. Go ice skating or rent an igloo at the Newport Harbor Island Resort, or take a lantern tour of the town.

Where to stay: If you are staying in town, curl up by a fire at the Vanderbilt . See more of my recommendations for Rhode Island Christmas events .

8. Bethlehem, Connecticut

Nicol Nepala with Santa and Mrs. Claus

Any town called Bethlehem is duty-bound to host some sort of Christmas celebration, right? Bethlehem, Connecticut is no exception and is one of the more charming Christmas towns in America. On the first weekend in December, this small town in Western Connecticut hosts an annual Bethlehem Christmas Town Festival .

The weekend is filled with musical performances, a tree lighting, photos with Santa, horse-drawn hayrides, craft fairs and gift bazaars, along with plenty of food and refreshments. Visitors can enjoy strolling carolers, holiday characters, a train ride, scavenger hunt, Santa’s workshop, and a bell choir concert. The more ambitious can even join the “Santa Made Me Do It” 5K road race.

Where to stay: If you are looking to stay the weekend, there are a few luxury options nearby including The Mayflower Inn & Spa (for Gilmore Girl’s fans), the unique Winvian , and the more affordable Litchfield Inn .

9. New York, New York

Angels and tree in Rockefeller Center

Is there any better place to spend Christmas than New York City? It is worth battling the crowds and the cold to be part of the magic that is Christmas in NYC.

The whole city is decorated, but you must check out the store windows along Fifth Avenue and the giant holiday decorations on Sixth. There are many Christmas markets to enjoy, many with tasty treats, including Christmas markets in Union Square, Bryant Park, and Columbus Circle.

A visit to “the tree” in Rockefeller Center is a must, but you will get a better picture and a much shorter line for ice skating at Bryant Park. Also, buy tickets in advance to see the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall or sign up for one of the Christmas Lights tours from On Location Tours. See my complete guide for visiting New York City with kids .

Where to stay: There are no shortage of hotels in New York that get decked out for the holidays, but some of the best are the Lotte New York Palace , The Plaza New York (a must for Home Alone 2 fans), Dream Downtown (grown ups will love the outdoor ice bar), The Standard East Village (where you can hang out in a heated yurt), and The Peninsula New York . Even if you only visit for a day trip, pop into any of the grand New York hotels to warm up and enjoy the holiday displays.

10. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Hotel Bethlehem lights

I can’t leave out a town that is dubbed “Christmas Town USA”, which is Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Once a steel town and now a college town, Bethlehem has eastern European roots which are evidenced with its European-style Christmas markets at both Bethlehem’s Christkindlmarkt and Christmas City Village. You can also shop at the Moravian Book Shop, the oldest continuously-operating book store in the world.

When you have stocked up on gifts, visit the Lehigh and Keystone Valley Model Railroad Museum or take a Christmas City Historical walking tour. At nighttime, Downtown Bethlehem really lights up for the holidays, and I’m a big fan of having dinner and drinks at Social Still in Bethlehem. Stop for breakfast at The Flying Egg.

Where to stay: There is no better place to stay than the Historic Hotel Bethlehem .

11. Indiana, Pennsylvania

Little-known Indiana, Pennsylvania is not just the Christmas Tree Capital of the World, it is also Jimmy Stewart’s home town. This little town does Christmas in a big way with a six-week “It’s a Wonderful Life” festival.

You can visit the Jimmy Stewart Museum, take a horse-drawn hayride through the trees at the Fleming’s Christmas Tree Farm, take in a Jimmy Stewart-themed show, and enjoy the It’s a Wonderful Life parade and festival.

Where to stay: Hilton Garden Inn Indiana

12. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia Christmas Village hand painted houses

New York gets a lot of attention as being a great “big city” holiday destination but I’d argue that Philadelphia gives it a run for its money. Christmas Village in JFK Plaza features food stalls and shops from more than 60 vendors and Winterfest down at the RiverRink you can go ice skating or enjoy the outdoor fire pits.

Visitors can also skate right beside City hall at the Rothman Rink or check out the Holiday Festival at Franklin Square, with a light show featuring over 50,000 lights coordinated to music. You also have to take in the neighborhood light displays at “Miracle on South 13th Street.”

Christmas Lights display at Longwood Gardens via

One of my favorite attractions is outside the city at nearby Longwood Gardens , which is one of the premier botanical gardens in the U.S., covering 1,000 acres filled with flowers, lights, miniature train displays, lights and fountain shows, and special holiday events.

Where to stay: If you are making a weekend of it, my favorite place to stay in Old City is the Kimpton Monaco .

13. Hershey, Pennsylvania

Hersheypark at Christmas

It is hard to beat the sweetness of the holidays in Hershey, PA . Christmas Candylane in Hersheypark features more than 70 rides amidst the twinkling lights. You can even meet some of Santa’s reindeer!

After a chilly night at the park, grab some chocolate and take a drive through the Hershey Sweet Lights, two miles of drive-through light displays to put you in the holiday mood on your winter vacation. During the day you can enjoy sweet temptations like chocolate tastings at the Hershey Story Museum and chocolate making at Hershey’s Chocolate World.

Where to stay: Make a sweet Christmas getaway with a stay at the Hershey Lodge or The Hotel Hershey .

14. Annapolis, Maryland

Market Square Annapolis

Annapolis has been named one of the best towns for the holidays by Travel & Leisure . The city’s downtown is decorated with garland and lights to put you in the holiday mood while visiting some of its cute boutiques to do your holiday shopping.

The month of December is filled with back-to-back events including the Annual Chocolate Binge Festival, where you can sample all sorts of chocolate — sign me up! On the second Saturday of December, the Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade features beautifully decorated boats in the Annapolis Harbor.

In Annapolis, the capstone holiday event is the Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman football game. The season draws to a close with a family-friend New Year’s Eve Celebration at the City Dock ending with festive fireworks.

Where to stay: For local flair, stay at The Graduate Annapolis .

15. Williamsburg, Virginia

At Jamestown Settlement,

Williamsburg, Virginia is one of the best towns to visit for Christmas. Strap on some skates and glide across the ice at Liberty’s Ice Pavilion, then warm up with some hot cocoa or warm cider as you stroll through the streets of Colonial Williamsburg , which you will find walking tours on colonial decorating, live musical and theatrical performances, and discussions on holiday traditions.

Christmastide in Virginia takes place at both the Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown where you can see what Christmas was like in the 17th- and 18th-centuries through festive interpretive programs, fancy cooking, caroling, and musical entertainment.

For a little excitement, Busch Gardens theme park gets in the festive spirit with holiday theming, festive foods, and holiday shopping during a special limited-capacity event. Downtown Williamsburg offers the Williamsburg Christmas Market on the weekends, with live entertainment and over 20 vendors.

Where to stay: For a Christmas hotel with a lot to offer, stay at the Williamsburg Inn .

16. Harrisonburg, virginia

In early December, charming Harrisonburg in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley , transforms into a Winter Wonderfest , where locals and visitors can mingle and enjoy carriage rides, photos with Santa, holiday shopping, performances, and more. In the evening, there is even a holiday parade followed by the official tree lighting. A local favorite is the holiday cookie tour offering delicious cookies from area bakers. 

Make a weekend of it and spend time exploring Shenandoah National Park or taking a day trip to Charlottesville . Ski season also kicks off at nearby Massanutten Resort, where you can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and snow tubing for some wintry fun.

Where to stay: In addition to the ski slopes, nearby Massanutten Resort features an indoor waterpark and countless family activities. You may also consider Hotel Madison near the downtown area because they do a tree decorating contest and have lovely trees throughout the property.

17. Asheville, North Carolina

Banquet hall at Biltmore decorated for the holidays with two large christmas trees and two red chairs in front of a large fireplace

There are many reasons to visit Asheville, North Carolina for its outdoor adventures and great food and drink. But the holiday season brings another reason, Christmas at Biltmore . In early November, America’s Largest Home is decorated with hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights, fragrant wreaths, fresh greenery, and thousands of glittering ornaments. This time-honored tradition dates back more than 125 years when George Vanderbilt celebrated the first Christmas with family and friends in his new home – Biltmore House.

Today, guests can enjoy a daytime tour past a wintry forest of trees and through the Biltmore House festooned with 67 hand-decorated Christmas trees, more than 14,000 ornaments, 45,000 holiday lights, 250 candles, 1,000 feet of garland, and 150 traditional poinsettias.

Or, guests can choose to visit in the evening Candlelight Christmas Evenings when the house glows with candlelight and firelight, taking visitors back in time with an experience reminiscent of the Vanderbilt’s first Christmas spent in Biltmore House in 1895. Musicians are stationed throughout the house to perform seasonal favorites. Outdoors, a 55-foot Norway spruce tree glowing with more than 60,000 tiny lights takes center stage on the front lawn and four-hundred hand-lit luminaries line the walkway to Biltmore House. Antler Hill Village is alive with a bonfire, visits from Santa, wine tasting, and holiday dining.

Where to stay: Make the most of the holiday experience with an overnight stay at The Inn on the Biltmore Estate .

 18. Wilmington, North Carolina

Enchanted Airlie Wilmington North Carolina

The holiday season starts early in Wilmington , North Carolina as Thanksgiving week kicks off Flotilla Week in Wrightsville Beach. Flotilla Week is jam-packed with special activities from Friday’s tree lighting ceremony, a visit from Santa, Festival in the Park, the Holiday Flotilla procession of decorated boats, a massive fireworks display, and the annual Airlie Gardens’ Enchanted Airlie.

Enchanted Airlie turns its 35-acres of walking trails in the nighttime forest with nearly one million colorful lights, holiday displays, and seasonal music. 

Where to stay: If you go, make it a beach vacation with a stay at the Blockade Runner Beach Resort .

19. Charleston, South Carolina

Illumination tree lighting ceremony

The A nnual Holiday Festival of Lights takes place in James Island County Park from mid-November through late December. Charleston’s most popular holiday event features two million shimmering lights with a three-mile driving tour each evening, making it one of the best places to visit for Christmas in the south.

After the drive, visitors can partake in the many family attractions and activities including roasting marshmallows, train rides, lakeside lights, an amazing dancing light display, an enchanted walking trail, an old-fashioned carousel, Santa’s Sweet Shoppe, and many gift shops.

There is also an Annual Christmas Parade of Boats, which takes place in the Charleston Harbor. This Low Country holiday tradition features a display of lighted and festive boats.

In Downtown Charleston, Explore Charleston, Southern Living and Historic Charleston Foundation produce a series of events to celebrate the holiday season including a Holiday Decor and History Walking Tour, Southern Living Illumination Holiday Village and more, all scattered in different locations.

Where to stay: Many hotels in Charleston offer festive holiday packages , including the Francis Marion Hotel in the Historic District, which offers a package that includes a carriage ride and two mugs filled with cocoa. Other festive choices include The Charleston Place , Mill’s House , and the Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina, as they are all beautifully decorated and give you a great sense of Holiday spirit. 

20. Jekyll Island, Georgia

Holiday lights on trees on Jekyll Island

Jekyll Island may be a popular summer destination but it gives visitors a good reason to come celebrate the holidays on this Golden Isle for a Christmas getaway weekend during Holly Jolly Jekyll . The Historic District, home to historic “cottages” of former Jekyll Island Club members like the Rockefellers, transforms into a holiday wonderland with over one million lights, 45,000+ lights on the Great Tree, 350+ lights displays, two nights of fireworks, and numerous Santa sightings and so much more.

Jekyll Island will be transformed into the brightest isle on the coast with attractions like Peppermint Land, Holidays in History, Mailbox on Main, and fireworks displays. Guests can enjoy seeing all of the lights through an open-air trolley tour on select nights throughout the season which provides a unique experience where the whole family can sit back and relax, enjoy complimentary beverages, and more. Visitors can find more information and purchase tickets online.  

If you visit around Thanksgiving, you can also take part in the island’s Cold Stunned Plunge event to raise money for the Jekyll Island Authority’s Georgia Sea Turtle Center.

Where to stay: If you are staying for the weekend, stay at the historic Jekyll Island Club Resort or hit the beach at the Westin Jekyll Island.

21. Helen, Georgia

Horse drawn carriage in Helen GA

When you can’t make it to the German Christmas Markets, head to Helen, Georgia instead! This alpine village with Bavarian-inspired architecture is perfect for a Christmas getaway in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In fact, it is so picturesque that Lifetime has even filmed Christmas movies in Helen.

The Lighting of the Village takes place in late November and then 8,000 lights and 800 ornaments illuminate the tree and the town until the end of February. If you can time your visit to coordinate with the Christkindlmarkt, it is the perfect spot to shop for unique gifts and decorations and sip some delicious Glühwein.

Special events take place throughout the season, including the Annual Christmas Parade in mid-December. This small-town parade with fire trucks, horses, dirt-buggies, unique floats, candy, and even an appearance from Santa. If you want to step back in time, check out the Victorian holiday traditions at Hardman Farm State Historic Site where you can tour the farm, hop on a horse-drawn carriage ride, and enjoy yummy sweets.

Where to stay: Holiday Inn Express & Suites is perfect for families and located in the heart of downtown.

22. St. Augustine, Florida

Flagler College lit up at night for Nights of Lights

From late November through early February, the country’s oldest city shines brightly with the glow of 3 million tiny white lights during St. Augustine’s “ Nights of Lights ” celebration.

There are many ways to enjoy the lights, from Old Town Trolley tours, carriage rides, harbor tours, or guided walks. (See more things to do in St. Augustine .) During the Annual Holiday Regatta of Lights, a parade of colorfully-decorated boats fill the bay.

Where to stay: Stay in the heart of everything at the Casa Monica Resort & Spa , or enjoy personal hospitality at the St. Francis Inn Bed & Breakfast.

23. Orlando, Florida

Lorax at Universal Orlando

Of course, the theme parks really know how to go big for the holidays. With special events, holiday theming, and fantastic holiday decorations, you may want to spend your holidays with Mickey and crew at Christmas at Disney World , or Harry Potter and his friends at Universal Orlando .

Just keep in mind that the holiday week is the busiest for the parks and they often reach capacity by early in the morning (although that may be a little different these days.) If you can, plan a pre-holiday visit in the first two weeks of December.

If you will also be in South Florida around the holidays, be sure to check out Santa’s Enchanted Forest , the world’s largest holiday theme park in Doral.

Where to stay: The Gaylord Palms Resort & Conference Center goes above and beyond the typical holiday decor with its annual ICE! event, featuring a dazzling display of larger-than-life sculptures, thrilling ice slides, and awe-inspiring tunnels.

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Planning a Christmas getaway? Try one of these 23 places to go for Christmas on the East Coast. We have selected the best Christmas towns to get in the festive mood this season!

Tamara Gruber is the Founder and Publisher of We3Travel. A former marketing executive and travel advisor, Tamara is an award-winning travel writer and recognized expert in family travel. Tamara is a member of SATW and the Adventure Travel Trade Association, and serves on the Board of the Family Travel Association. She is also the publisher of and the co-host of the Vacation Mavens travel podcast.

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Publish Date: October 4, 2023

5 thoughts on “23 Best Places to Go for Christmas on the East Coast, USA (2023)”

Keep me posted on upcoming Events foR the christMas holidays!

We’re heading to Charleston for Christmas this year, so I’m excited to hear about the festival of lights. Will definitely be checking that out!

What a great trip!! Have a wonderful time and happy holidays!

So many wonderful lights! I love christmas lights – they give everything a magical glow. Kids love the magic of christmas in any form. We’ll add these places to our bucket list.

They add a little joy and we could all use that!

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Money Talks News

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The Best US Cities to Celebrate Christmas

Posted: May 10, 2024 | Last updated: May 10, 2024

According to a recent report, Miami has the most Christmas tree farms per capita of any US city, while Seattle was named the most generous. Meanwhile, Atlanta took the #1 overall spot thanks to its festive lights, outdoor skating rink, and mild winters.

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10 Cheery & Cheap Places to Travel During Christmas Time in the USA

Ho ho ho...the holidays are heading your way! If you want to travel at this time of year t0 make the season merry and bright, you might see the prices and start hitting the breaks on the Santa's sleigh. We understand. The cost of travel at Christmas time can sky rocket all the way up to the North Pole. If you know the right places to go though, you'll have plenty left in your wallet to put presents under the tree, wherever that may be.

Check out our favorite cheap places to travel for Christmas where you can experience the magic of the holidays without breaking the bank. Before you do though, learn more about HomeExchange and how it's a great way for budget travelers to save year round.

1- Solvang, California

solvang cheap places to travel christmas usa

Christmas in California could be pricey. Who doesn't want a bit of sunshine in winter? Solvang is a nice little secret though, nestled on the central coast next to the Santa Barbara Wine Country. It has everything you need for a cosy Christmas. This traditional Danish Village complete with a windmill feels like it's right out of a Christmas fairytale. Pick up delicious Danish pastries for your holiday celebrations, and some great local wines to go with your Christmas feast! The surrounding nature is green rolling hills covered with mistletoe this time of year too. Come to Solvang for a unique opportunity to have a Scandinavian style Christmas in the USA without forking over a fortune to go to Europe!

2- Leavenworth, Washington

leavenworth cheap places to travel christmas usa.

Bundle up and head to this small Bavarian-inspired town in Washington that transforms into a magical winter wonderland during the holidays. Leavenworth even has an enchanting Nutcracker Museum! Take a cozy Christmas stroll through the quaint village adorned with lights, and stop to enjoy live holiday music and performances. With a bit of luck, the surrounding Cascade Mountains will be covered in snow so you can go for a sleigh ride, cross-country skiing adventures, and snow shoeing! Like any great "German" town is also has its own Christkindlmarkt (Christmas Market) with local craftsman selling treasures and bratwurst, beer, and ginger bread cookies. Yum!

3- Portland, Oregon

cheapest christmas vacations portland

As you arrive to Portland at the holidays as see the large neon signs that welcomes visited with a seemingly flying reindeer, you know you've come to the right place for Christmas! Portland is popular stop for budget travellers looking for all the great stuff big city have to offer with the big budget. At the holidays it's really lovely and still won't break the bank. Start your holiday season by attending the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Pioneer Courthouse Square. The Oregon Zoo hosts a popular event called ZooLights, where the park is adorned with more than a million sparkling lights.

There is a Christmas Ships Parade on the Willamette and Columbia rivers. Decorated boats, adorned with colorful lights, sail along the waterways, creating a stunning spectacle. Find a cozy spot along the riverbank, sip on hot cocoa, and enjoy the beautiful procession. It doesn't spot there! Ice skate at the Christmas Village, Enjoy the Lights at Peacock Lane, attend holiday concerts and so much more.

4- Asheville, North Carolina

cheap places to travel christmas asheville

Asheville biggest draw year round is it's beautiful Biltmore Mansion. They never miss the opportunity to go all out for a holiday here and Christmas is no exception. It's a must-visit during the Christmas season and America's largest privately-owned home. Transformed into a winter wonderland during the holidays, its grand halls are beautifully decorated with trees, garlands, and thousands of ornaments. The Candlelight Christmas Evenings at the Biltmore Estate are the epitome of holiday enchantment, illuminating the mansion with the warm glow of candlelight for an unforgettable festive ambiance.

Strolling through the estate's gardens, you'll also find stunning light displays that add to the festive atmosphere. The rest of the town is not to be missed either, offer more holiday charm beyond the walls the the beautiful Biltmore.

5- Fredericksburg, Texas

cheap places to travel at christmas usa

Another one of our favorite cheap places to travel at Christmas in the US is also a colonial German town. It's true that the Germans really know how to get their Christmas on with those amazing markets and more this time of year. Fredericksburg in the heart of Texas has amazing reasons to visit year round, but Christmas is a really special time here. The traditional German-inspired Christmas market, Christkindlmarkt is held annually in Marktplatz. Nearby the main street is covered in decorations and twinkle lights and many of the shops stay open late during the Christmas season. The local Pioneer Museum hosts an annual Christmas Event that is really worth seeing. Meanwhile, the surrounding hill country is peacefully serene in winter at the vines sleep and the rolling hills are a rich green.

6- Williamsburg, Virginia

cheapest christmas vacations williamsburg

For a Colonial Christmas, come to Williamsburg for an unforgettable holiday. One of the highlights of visiting Williamsburg at Christmas is the Grand Illumination. This annual event marks the official start of the holiday season in Colonial Williamsburg. The town comes alive with fireworks, music performances, and the lighting of countless candles in the windows of historic buildings. The historic area is beautifully decorated with traditional wreaths, garlands, and lights.  You can attend concerts of traditional holiday music, participate in hands-on crafts and workshops, and shop the local annual Christmas Market. The nearby Busch Gardens hosts a popular annual event called Christmas Town. The amusement park is transformed into a winter wonderland.

7- Branson, Missouri

cheapest christmas vacations portland branson

Come to the Ozarks for an original Christmas destinations. The Ozarks are truly underrated at any time of year. Christmas time can be very special here, certainly in a town called Branson .  The Shepherd of the Hills Adventure Park hosts the Trail of Lights, a drive-through light display where you pass through lighted tunnels, animated scenes, and thousands of twinkling lights. Similarly, the nearby Silver Dollar City , a renowned theme park in Branson, hosts an annual event called An Old Time Christmas with over 6.5 million lights! Branson is renowned for its live entertainment, and at Christmas the curtain call features so many great holiday shows. There is a holiday parade, local festivals, and great shopping in the town as well as sweet spots for dining to do your holiday feasting. Plus, the surrounding natural beauty of the Ozarks in the midst of window really is majestic.

8- Newport, Rhode Island

cheapest christmas vacations newport

For a coastal Christmas our favorite is Newport, Rhode Island . You might come for the annual Christmas Boat Parade , but you'll discover this town is more than just its maritime past. It's famous for gorgeous mansions that really go all out at the holidays. You can explore their extraordinary holiday decor as they deck the halls with even more gilded glamourr, lights, wreaths and more. The iconic Newport Mansions, such as The Breakers and Marble House are open to the public to enjoy their festive splendor! The Preservation Society of Newport County hosts the annual Christmas at the Newport Mansions event with period-inspired ornaments, and stunning Christmas trees.

Enjoy live holiday music, special exhibits, and seasonal tours that provide a glimpse into the extravagant lifestyle of Newport's elite during the Gilded Age. The Newport Skating Center is also a great holiday activity here.

9- Santa Fe, New Mexico

santa fe cheap places to travel at Christmas

Santa Fe is known for its enchanting and romantic ambiance, with its adobe architecture, narrow streets, and rich artistic heritage. Surprisingly, the city's style lends itself to the spirit of Christmas, something you might not expect here in the high desert. The city's Canyon Road, lined with art galleries, becomes particularly enchanting during Christmas, with luminarias (candles in paper bags) lining the street. The historic Plaza is beautifully adorned with lights and decorations as well. Santa Fe also showcases its rich Hispanic heritage farolitos (small bonfires) and processions known as Las Posadas this time of year.

The surrounding mountains offer opportunities for winter sports like skiing and snowboarding, so you can make it a white Christmas with a bit of snowy mountain magic. Who knew New Mexico could be so enchanting this time of year?

10- Charleston, South Carolina: Christmas with Southern Charm

cheap christmas vacation charleston

While Christmas comes out of the North Pole, heading south for the holiday has its charms as well! Charleston really turns on its charm at Christmas time, making an already extraordinary (and affordable city) that much more amazing. There are tons of seasonal activities this time of year. One of our favorites also happens to be free. Take a leisurely stroll through Charleston's Historic District , where the streets are adorned with magnificent holiday decorations. If you're lucky, you can even catch carollers while you admire the festive wreaths, garlands, and twinkling lights that accentuate the city's historic charm. Charleston City Market is transformed into an enchanting Christmas market in December, and there is an annual Christmas Boat Parade, candlelight tours, and so much more. Come to Charleston for Christmas and you are sure to be charmed!

For Cheap Places to Travel at Christmas in the USA, Try HomeExchange

cheap places to travel at christmas home exchange

Don't let the price of holiday travels detract from the magic of the season. If you want to get away at this time of year, your budget doesn't have to stop you. All of the above are fabulous affordable destinations with so much to offer at the Christmas Season. But the best way to save on spending the holidays away from home, is with HomeExchange .

Instead of forking over a fortune for hotels and pricey vacation rentals, you can find an ideal home away from home from your Christmas vacation through our network. Exchanging with like minded travellers is easy on your wallet and rewarding too, as you find yourself with your loved in a warm environment while discovering a new place. Register for free today and you'll see the possibilities are unlimited for cheap places to travel for the holidays in the US when you save so much on accommodations through home swapping.

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best cities to visit in usa during christmas

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9 places to nosh on bagels in southern Maine

From old-school spots to foodie favorites, there's a 'hole' lot to try.

best cities to visit in usa during christmas

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best cities to visit in usa during christmas

Bread and bagels at The Works Cafe in downtown Portland. Photo by Aimsel Ponti

From New York-style boiled bagels to Montreal-inspired wood-fired ones, there’s lots of great bagels in southern Maine and several shops have the accolades to back that up.

In 2023, Bon Appetit named bagels from Rose Foods and Rover Bagel among the best in the country.

Two years before that,  Food & Wine Magazine put Rover, Forage and Scratch Baking Co. on its list of best bagels in the U.S.

Whether you like yours toasted with cream cheese or as the bread for your breakfast sandwich, you can find plenty of styles and flavors from Biddeford to Brunswick.


The offerings at Beach Bagels include a French toast and marble bagel, and the cream cheese menu comprises spreads like strawberry, olive and honey walnut. Along with breakfast sandwiches, Beach Bagels has hearty breakfast options like omelets and pancakes. Best of all, you’re steps away from a beach stroll. Just don’t let the seagulls steal your bagel. Advertisement

WHEN: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily WHERE: 34 Old Orchard St., Old Orchard Beach. ______________

Dutchman’s opened in 2022 as a pop-up housed at Nomad pizza in Brunswick’s Fort Andross building. It’s since become a permanent fixture there and uses the pizzeria’s wood-fired ovens to bake its bagels. The hand-shaped, honey-boiled bagels come in plain, roasted garlic, poppy and a bagel-of-the-day flavor.

WHEN: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday to Sunday WHERE: Fort Andross, 14 Maine St., Brunswick. ______________


Making bagels at Forage Market involves a two-day aging process. The bagels are naturally leavened with wild yeast starter and baked next to a hardwood fire. There are usually five flavors available, including sesame and garlic. Breakfast sandwiches (including vegan options) are available. Forage also has a location in Lewiston. Advertisement

WHEN: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday WHERE: 123 Washington Ave., Portland. _____________


There are 10 or so Mister Bagel locations in Maine, including South Portland and Falmouth. It all began with the Portland location, which was the first bagel shop to open in Maine. The late Rick Hartglass started Mister Bagel in 1977, and it is still a family business. Music fans will appreciate the breakfast sandwich menu, which includes The David Bowie (bacon, egg and American cheese), the Jimmy Buffett (egg with roast beef and cheddar) and The Lady Gaga (avocado, salt and pepper, with or without egg).

WHEN: 6:30 a.m. to noon Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to noon Saturday and Sunday WHERE: 599 Forest Ave., Portland. ______________

At Rose Foods, the menu varies depending on the day, but there are usually six to eight flavors available. For example, should you pop in on a Friday, you’ll find a poppy and onion bialy (a cousin of the bagel that is not boiled). Rose Foods also makes a number of bagel sandwiches, including the Classic Nova with Nova lox and the Classic Whitefish. Advertisement

WHEN: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily WHERE: 428 Forest Ave., Portland.



At Rover Bagel, you’ll find wood-fired plain, poppy, sea salt, sesame and everything bagels available most of the time, and the spread game here is strong with cream cheese options like lemon-thyme-honey cream and chili-garlic.

WHEN: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, 8 a.m. to noon Sunday WHERE: 10 West Point Lane Suite 10-204, Biddeford (Pepperell Mill).

______________ Advertisement


You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced the line of devoted fans waiting for Scratch Baking Co. to open, especially on weekend mornings. Along with the popular Maine sea salt, plain and other everyday flavors, Scratch has a daily special bagel. There’s honeyed rosemary on Wednesday and jalapeno cheddar on Thursday. Scratch is also famous, at least to locals, for its P-Cheese spread. It’s a pimento cheese recipe made with cheddar, mayo, roasted red peppers and seasoning and was passed down to co-owner and head baker Allison Reid by her grandmother, Mern.

WHEN: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday, 7 a.m. to noon Sunday WHERE: 416 Preble St., South Portland. ___________


The Maine Bagel is a drive-thru with several breakfast and other kinds of sandwiches available. With a bagel list that features egg and bialy among the standards, the family-owned spot is the perfect place to stop on your way to Pine Point Beach. The Maine Bagel really shines with a dozen kinds of cream cheese spreads, including raisin-walnut, lox, strawberry, cranberry-nut and bacon-chive.

WHEN: 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. WHERE: 117 Route 1, Scarborough. Advertisement


The Works Cafe is an institution on the edge of the Portland’s Old Port. It opened in 1990 as Bagel Works before it changed its name in 2002. The original shop in this regional chain opened in Manchester, Vermont, in 1988, and there are 11 locations around New England, though just the one in Maine. Gone are the ’90s-era banana-walnut bagels and cold pizza cream cheese, but The Works Cafe is still a reliable place to grab a salt, multigrain or cinnamon raisin bagel, among others. The menu also has bowls, sandwiches and smoothies.

WHEN: 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily WHERE: 15 Temple St., Portland.

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