Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year and what better way to enjoy the seasonal festivities than by exploring a plethora of the best Christmas towns in USA. Whether you are visiting the US from overseas or simply looking to enjoy a few alternative destinations from within the State, we reached out to many of the most knowledgeable travelers around the globe to share their favorite US destinations to enjoy the Yuletide spirit.
From iconic cities such as New York City and Seattle to lesser known, yet equally spectacular, smaller towns, we hope this selection of locations will get you all in the Christmas spirit and ready to enjoy a warm cup of Hot Cocoa and seasonal decorations. The US may be a melting pot of unique landscapes and cultures but when it comes to Christmas, there are many common ideologies that exist yet each destination offers their own unique approach which makes all of the following places you cannot afford to miss.
Let’s take a look at this festive array and by the time you finish reading this, we are convinced you will be in full festive spirit!
Best Christmas Towns in USA
Destinations across the US vary in terms of how they choose to celebrate the festive season. While some locations may prefer to take a subtle approach, others may go all out with their decorations and welcome visitors with open arms to celebrate the seasonal festivities. Whether it’s experiencing Christmas lights at the beach along the Gulf Coast or heading to the Big Apple to enjoy the awesome festive window displays on 5th Avenue, we are excited to introduce a collection of destinations that we think should be on your radar for the holiday season.
- Bend, Oregon
- Boston, Massachusetts
- Breckenridge, Colorado
- Coronado, California
- Disneyland, California
- Fairbanks, Alaska
- Grand Rapids, Michigan
- Grapevine, Texas
- Houston, Texas
- Kansas City, Missouri
- Key West, Florida
- Leavenworth, Washington
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- New York City, New York
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Phoenix, Arizona
- Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania
- Providence, Rhode Island
- Sacramento, California
- San Antonio, Texas
- San Diego, California
- San Francisco, California
- Savannah, Georgia
- Seattle, Washington
- Woodstock, Vermont
Celebrate a special Christmas in central Oregon with a visit to Bend! Even in the winter, Bend offers plenty of opportunities to play outside, from skiing Mount Bachelor to snowshoeing in one of the Sno-Parks. Smith Rock State Park is also still open to explore by hiking, mountain biking, or rock climbing. Plus, you’ll probably encounter fewer crowds in the colder weather.
Make sure to pay a visit to the Old Mill District, the hub of the Christmas celebration in Bend. Special mailboxes are set up for children to drop off letters for the North Pole, and Santa himself makes an appearance every Friday & Saturday in December before Christmas to pick up the letters and wave to all the revelers.
Stay at Sunriver Lodge to immerse yourself in holiday spirit. The lodge is done up in lavish decor from sparkling lights to wreaths to Christmas trees. You can even take a special sleigh ride – jingle bells included!
You’ll definitely have a merry Christmas enjoying all the things to do in Bend, Oregon during the holiday season!
By Allison from She Dreams of Alpine
If you are dreaming of a white Christmas, chances are high that the city of Boston will be blanketed in snow. Wrap up warm though because Boston at Christmas can get very cold in the evenings. All that snow does come with icy winter weather!
There are plenty of things to do in Boston during Christmas time. There are several Christmas trees on display but the Boston Common Christmas tree is the main official one. One of the highlights of the winter season is skating on Frog Pond on the Common. There are Christmas markets in the city like the Snowport Winter Village in the Harbor or lots of shopping in the city stores such as at Prudential Center.
If you are not up to walking around to see the Christmas lights displays, take a Boston Christmas Trolley Tour. The guides are cheerful and sing Christmas songs while driving along the city streets. The Trolley Tour stops to see the Blink! Christmas Tree light show at Faneuil Market Place. If you have your own transportation, make sure to visit the Christmas lights in the suburb of Somerville which are widely recognized as fantastic.
The Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker is widely popular as is the Christmas concert at the Boston Pops orchestra. For something uniquely Boston, make sure to see the annual Black Nativity, the Christmas story written by Langston Hughes to Gospel music.
By Shobha George from Martha’s Vineyard Tourist
Dreaming of a White Christmas? Breckenridge is the quintessential winter wonderland and one of the most beautiful towns to visit in Colorado during Christmas. Located about 1.5 hours away from Denver, Breckenridge offers all of the classic winter activities such as skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing.
But what makes Breckenridge special is it’s incredible atmosphere. Picture a quaint mountain resort blanketed by snow and adorned by thousands of Christmas lights. The Christmas season begins with the Lighting of Breckenridge that takes place on Breckenridge Main Street. This event kicks off a slew of festivities that take place through December such as various contests, carol singing and Christmas treat tasting.
One of the most popular activities on Christmas is skating with Santa. The event takes place on Christmas Eve at The Stephen C. West Ice Arena is open to the public for Skate with Santa from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
While there are plenty of events throughout December, if you stay around until the New Year eve, you will also have a chance to witness the torchlight parade down the mountain.
If you want to spend Christmas in Breckenridge, make sure to book your accommodations in advance because this is by far the busiest time here. Check out Lodge at Breckenridge or BlueSky Breckenridge for your stay.
By Daria Bachmann from The Discovery Nut
Coronado is the perfect Christmas destination if you want a sunny Holiday. This beautiful island is just across the bay from San Diego in sunny Southern California. The Weather in Coronado in December is near perfect, not too hot and not too cold.
Here are some fun things do to in Coronado for Christmas:
- Ice Skating by the Sea: The famous Hotel Del Coronado sets up an Ice Skating Rink on the Beach. Definitely a unique experience to go ice skating under palm trees and with the ocean as a backdrop! Also make sure to check out the inside of the Hotel and see if you are in town for one of their fun Holiday events. It’s a bit pricy, but so worth it!
- San Diego Bay Parade of Lights: This Holiday boat parade around the San Diego Bay is a Holiday favorite of locals and tourists alike and attracts over 100000 visitors each year.
Definitely put the island of Coronado on your Christmas destination short list! You won’t be disappointed!
By Maria Haase from San Diego Explorer
Disneyland, the happiest place on earth captures the festive season like no other place. Disneyland goes all out for their decorations particularly down Main Street and Santa arrives early in December with a purpose built area for photos with the whole family.
A highlight is definitely the Christmas Fantasy Parade is definitely worth a visit just to see that. Some of the special holiday magic you can expect to see at Christmas time are – Believe….. In Holiday Magic fireworks display, a stand out of any Disney visit but they go just that little bit further during December.
The ‘it’s a small world’ Holiday will dazzle with a festive yuletide version of a classic we’ve all grown to love. The transformation of the wintertime Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle. Best of all is Mickey and Minnie and all the characters we adore are dressed in the best festive outfits. Every area has an amazing Christmas dazzle about it.
Be mindful of crowds during the festive season. Friday’s and weekends will be crowded the closer you get to Christmas Day. Use the Disney crowd calendar during your planning stages. Disneyland can be expensive, however it depends how many days you are visiting and if you stick to one park or purchase a park hopper pass. California Adventure Park has all festive feels as well so don’t miss that either.
By Sally Lucas from Our3KidsVTheWorld
Winter in general is a magical time to visit Fairbanks, Alaska, but visiting during Christmas takes the vibes to a whole new level. The entire city cloaks itself in twinkling fairy lights and tinsel, from storefronts to street lamps to even statues around town. You can either book a cozy cabin in the woods, or opt to stay more central at Bridgewater Hotel, a locally owned hotel close to some of the best restaurants in the city and all of the holiday action!
There are many things to do in Fairbanks in winter, with something festive for every travel style. For those looking to relax with a glass of mulled wine and a Christmas album, you can unwind at the Chena Hot Springs Resort and sink into the natural pools until only your Christmas hat remains dry. Those looking for adventure can dress up like elves and book a snowmobile tour or dog sled ride, which coincidentally Chena Hot Springs also offers, however their kennel is made up of retired and rescued sled dogs, providing an ethical and enjoyable experience.
If you have kids or want a lighter activity, check out the Running Reindeer Ranch, a family-owned farm, for reindeer walks, reindeer yoga, and even a one-of-a-kind market with exclusive reindeer items like reindeer milk soap. To completely max out on Christmas, head to the small town of North Pole, just outside of Fairbanks, and visit Santa’s workshop, one of the biggest Christmas decor stores in the entire world. You may even catch ol’ Saint Nick himself!
To end your holiday celebration, head to Cleary Summit for a view of the dancing Northern Lights.
By Kay from The Awkward Traveller
Grand Rapids, Michigan
When visiting Grand Rapids, Michigan at Christmas, be sure to visit the Downtown Market. This market is a culinary delight with bakers, groceries, butchers and fantastic restaurants. It’s a great place to take Holiday cooking classes or learn how to make holiday cocktails! Or fill a basket of freshly made goodies for the foodie on your Christmas list!
Visitors to Grand Rapids can ride the Santa Train throughout the month of December or attend the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony at Rosa Parks Circle in early December. Perhaps the most breathtaking Christmas adventure is driving though the Christmas Lite Show at the Fifth Third Ballpark. The drive is about two miles long and features over one million twinkling lights and several lighted tunnels. Visitors can also ride the open-air train through the sparkling lights for a more festive Christmas experience.
When staying overnight, the Amway Grand Plaza is recommended as it is located right downtown and close to the action. It is also an outstanding Grand Rapids hotel that guarantees a wonderful stay. Visitors can walk to several restaurants and shops from the Amway Grand Plaza hotel.
By Sherry & Chris from Traveling Michigan
If you are looking for a fabulous U.S. town to experience Christmas in, then you have to make your way to Grapevine, Texas. Located just outside of Dallas, Grapevine isn’t called ‘The Christmas Capital of Texas’ for nothing!
This small Texas town is packed with things to do to get you in the holiday spirit. Begin your celebration by staying at one of the holiday-themed hotels like the Gaylord Texan Hotel, which comes alive during the holidays. Adorned with 1.5 million lights, a rotating Christmas tree, and a life-sized gingerbread house, The Gaylord Texas is nothing less than spectacular during this season.
The town of Grapevine hosts 40 days of Christmas celebrations with numerous events happening daily. Kids will love the North Pole Express that takes place on Grapevine’s Vintage Railroad. Here they can ride the vintage train while enjoying Christmas treats and festivities along the way. Don’t worry adults, Grapevine has you covered as well with their Christmas Wine Trains. The wine trains allow adults to enjoy wine, snacks, and festivities aboard the vintage railway.
Of course, Grapevine’s Main Street and all of the fabulous boutique shops and eateries are decorated for the holiday season, just begging you to come in. Other festivities and events include a North Pole General Store, a Christmas-themed murder mystery dinner, Christmas movies at the historic Palace Theatre, and more!
As you can see, Grapevine is overflowing with the Christmas spirit, making it a great place to experience Christmas in the U.S.
By Michelle from That Texas Couple
While it might not be an obvious choice, Hawaii is actually one of the best places to experience Christmas. It’s everything people love about Christmas, but with an island twist.
Santa arrives on a surfboard, people wear red and green Aloha shirts, and greetings of “Mele Kalikimaka” fill the air. And Christmas trees are filled with ornaments featuring hula dancers, tropical fish, and palm trees. And on Christmas Day, families go surfing at the beach and build snowmen out of sand.
There are also lots of Hawaii Christmas events, the most popular being Honolulu City Lights on Oahu. And Ala Moana Center celebrates the Japanese tradition of Fukubukuro on New Year’s Day. Besides holiday activities, there are so many fun things to do in Hawaii during winter for the ultimate Christmas vacation. For people looking for a festive place to stay, the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki usually has lots of Christmas activities and Friday night fireworks.
By Marcie Cheung from Hawaii Travel With Kids
One of the best U.S cities to experience Christmas is definitely in Houston, Texas.
For instance, during Christmas, you’ll have many neighborhoods decorate their houses with lights which makes for a great way to spend the night exploring around. Also the downtown area of Discovery Green will be transformed into a gigantic ice skating rink where visitors can skate, jam to music, or even eat some delicious foods at this amazing event.
Another amazing thing you can ever do is to stroll around to the Moody Gardens Festival of Lights, which feature a mile-long trail of more than 2 million lights and lighted scenes themed to holiday music that take you around with spectacular views of Galveston Bay. Visitors who come here will be able to see “Star the Dancing Tree of Light”, concession areas, hot chocolate, fireside s’mores and other festive foods, mistletoe, along with a variety of different pho opportunities.
With that being said, if visitors are needing a place to stay to enjoy these festive activities, one best place to stay at is the Post Oak. It is conveniently located in the middle of the city which means getting to any and all of these festivals or events will be such a breeze.
By Wayne Dang from Daily Tourist
Kansas City, Missouri
Throughout the year, you can expect to find visitors coming to Kansas City for jazz and national sports teams, the Royals and the Chiefs, along with the wonderful Kansas City barbeque, craft breweries, and strip steaks. More than just a sport and foodie heaven, Kansas City offers a lot to be discovered at Christmas.
When the holidays approach, this midwestern city pulls out all the stops. Enjoy shopping for some Christmas gifts at the European style Christmas market, the Strawberry Swing Holiday Market. Take in the beautiful views while ice skating at Crown Center Ice Terrace and get into the holiday spirit with Christmas shows at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre and the MTH Theater at Crown Center.
To find the best Christmas lights, drive through the mile-long display, ‘Winter Magic’ at Swope Park and over half a million lights at ‘Christmas in the Park’ at Longview Lake Park. Stay at Raphael Hotel to be up close and personal with the most iconic Kansas City holiday lights display; it has been going for the last 91 years in the Country Club Plaza.
By Maria from Maptrekking
Key West, Florida
Key West, Florida is the perfect place to experience Christmas and then ring in the New Year — if you’d like to try a tropical Christmas island-style!
Winter temps in the Florida Keys average in the mid-80’s (F), and the warm ocean currents are great for swimming, snorkeling, boating, or fishing one the pristine reef.
Christmas is a festive time of year in the Keys, where locals decorate palm trees with seashells and other treasures from the sea. There might even be a chill in the air when Santa arrives on Christmas Eve, but that will blow through to another sunny day in time to hit the beach.
Start your Christmas day with a non-denominational service on the beach at Smathers or Higgs Beach, a Christmas parade on Duval Street, a pub crawl, relaxing by the hotel pool, and celebrating sunset at Mallory Square.
Stay at Heron House or one of the cool airbnbs in Old Town Key West. Book months in advance, and be prepared to stay through the New Years holiday — a 5-day minimum is typical for Key West this time of year.
By Lori Sorrentino from Travlinmad.com
Leavenworth, Washington is a Bavarian themed town with heaps of Christmas spirit and fun holiday activities for the entire family to enjoy.
Each December, the festive mood is brought to life when the Bavarian-style buildings and Front Street Park are decked out in Christmas lights. The lights dazzle 7 nights a week, but on Saturdays and Sundays of the first three weekends in December there’s a special Christmas lighting festival. The festival features musical performances, roaming carolers, hot spiced wine, and even a visit from Santa.
Taking inspiration from Germany, Leavenworth also hosts a traditional Christkindlmarket. You can shop for handmade gifts by local artisans, indulge in German food and drink, and enjoy a live Bavarian band.
For more Christmas cheer, pop into the Gingerbread Factory for some treats, browse the year-round Christmas store, or admire over 7,000 nutcrackers at the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum. At the end of the day, retire to the Bavarian Lodge just steps away from the merry action in Front Street Park.
By Rhonda Krause from Travel Yes Please
With holiday lights turning up, Milwaukee becomes the most beautiful place during the best time of the year. If you want to visit a beachy destination during Christmas, you should imagine Milwaukee. The sandy summertime surrounding might surprise you. The city is perfect for cheap beachy vacation during Christmas.
Milwaukee is home to over 1000 acres of beaches and parkland including the Travel Channel’s top 11, Bradford Beach. In addition to these beaches, Milwaukee has that perfect wintery, crisp air during Christmas and promises snow during that time. The incredible combination of its city life and fresh air makes it a worth visit.
Rent a cheap Airbnb in Milwaukee for an affordable stay and enjoy your wintery vacation. There’s a lot you can see and visit including Christkindlmarket, the German Christmas Market, Holiday lights festival, the grand celebration at the Pabst Mansion, Jungle Bus rides, and more.
By Paulina from Paulina on the Road
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana is most famous for its fabulous celebration of Mardi Gras every February. But even many Americans don’t realize that it’s also one of the best cities in the US in which to experience Christmas.
New Orleans is famous for food like gumbo, beignets, and jambalaya, but it deserves to be just as famous for its lavish Reveillon dinners every December. Reveillon meals used to be served in private homes to celebrate the start of Christmas. Nowadays, most restaurants serve these special tasting menus throughout the month. Commander’s Palace has arguably the most delicious Reveillon dinner in the city.
Of course, New Orleans also has special Christmas activities, not just delicious food. If you’re looking for Christmas decorations, the Historic New Orleans Collection sponsors a special Christmas-only tour of some of the French Quarter’s most beautiful homes.
Further Uptown, enjoy one of the best holiday lights festivals in the country at Celebration in the Oaks in City Park. Finally, don’t miss the Preservation Hall Christmas jazz concert. It’s the only time of year when they play “When the Saints Go Marching In” for free. For an added treat, stay at Le Pavillon with its world-famous nightly peanut butter and jelly buffet.
By Stella Jane from Around the World in 24 Hours
New York City, New York
New York City is incredibly festive over the holidays. The city is decorated with Christmas trees. The most famous is the gigantic live tree at Rockefeller Center, which is topped with an enormous Swarovski crystal star, but there are many others. These include the tree at the Met, which is covered in antique angels and surrounded by a Neopolitan Baroque crèche and the tree at the Museum of Natural History, which is adorned with origami paper animals.
The windows of the department stores are decorated for the holidays, and doing a walking tour of the window displays is something adults and kids alike will love. There is also the sound-and-light show on the façade of Saks Fifth, fantastical light sculptures on Randall’s Island and the Bronx Zoo, and over-the-top holiday decorations on the houses in Dyker Heights (well worth the trip to Brooklyn).
You can also get in the holiday spirit ice skating at Rockefeller Center, Bryant Park or Central Park and visiting the Holiday Train Show at the Botanical Gardens. There are so many ways to experience Christmas in New York City.
By James Ian from Travel Collecting – of course, a trip to New York City is the perfect place for a little retail therapy prior to Christmas…our tip is to experience Christmas shopping in Lower Manhattan to avoid most of the crowds along 5th Avenue.
Philadelphia with its shimmering lights and Christmas markets is a perfect Christmas destination. There is so much to do and enjoy in the cold winter nights.
The Christmas Village in Center City is an authentic German market With both international and local vendors offering wide variety of gifts, ornaments and eatables. Ice skating at the Olympic-size Blue Cross River Rink Winterfest overlooking the Delaware River is popular mostly in the evening with a majestic Christmas tree sparkling bright. Rothman Ice Rink at Dilworth Park is another spot to enjoy skating.
One can’t miss the huge Philadelphia Holiday tree sparkling with lights and ornaments at the City Hall. Macy’s has a unique way of being part of the Christmas celebrations by some spectacular decorations. There is a huge wall display of a Christmas tree made with thousands of lights. The store even creates Dickens Village based on the Christmas theme.
The Ritz-Carlton is one of the best hotels in Philadelphia to stay close to all the celebrations.
By Neha from Travelmelodies
Celebrating Christmas in a warm climate is something everyone should experience at least once and Phoenix is the perfect place to take in the holidays.
One of the great things about having a warm Christmas is that most people really get into decorating their house with Christmas lights. Phoenix averages highs of 70 degrees during the day although it gets much colder overnight. There are several neighborhoods such as Scottsdale that really decorate their houses for Christmas. For a more romantic activity you could visit Papago Park where they line the paths with 8,000 luminaria bags. It is stunning to see the park lit up with the lights.
A great activity to do with the kids is to have breakfast with Santa at the Phoenician. The Phoenician is one of the best places to stay in Scottsdale. Their holiday breakfast is a great way to celebrate with a Christmas brunch, decorating Christmas cookies and of course getting a photo with Santa.
Whatever you decide to do, take advantage of the warmer weather and get outside.
By Nicole from American SW Obsessed
Pocono Mountains, Pennyslvania
If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas in the United States, one of the best regions to visit is the Pocono Mountains in northeast Pennsylvania. The weather is reliably cold and there is a good chance you’ll also find a snowy Christmas in the Poconos. Even if the weather doesn’t fully cooperate with your holiday vision, you’ll surely find December snow on any of the premier ski resorts in the Poconos.
Visitors to the Poconos can spend the winter holidays on the slopes of Camelback Mountain, Montage, Big Bear or Jack Frost and Big Boulder ski resorts. Besides great skiing conditions, each has lovely dining, lodging and entertainment facilities. The natural beauty of the Poconos is another reason to visit for Christmas. You can visit the frozen waters of Lake Wallenpaupack and its ribbons of trails that are perfect for a winter hike or snowmobiling ride.
With glacial lakes and Pocono cabin rentals that seem like they’re ripped from a Christmas movie, the entire region is simply stunning. With outdoor activities and natural attractions abounding, the Poconos are an ideal Christmas destination in the United States.
By Derek and Mike from Robe Trotting
Providence, Rhode Island
Providence, Rhode Island is a highly underrated US city, particularly during the holiday season. Despite being the country’s smallest state, Rhode Island has a myriad of winter and Christmas-time offerings to satisfy travelers of varying interests.
Providence offers winter farmers markets which are held indoors. The Hope Artiste Village offers handcrafted gifts, local treats such as honey, farm-grown root vegetables, preserves, and plenty of Christmas cheer. Or, stop by PVD Flea for another of Providence’s best holiday markets.
If traveling with children, why not check out the Alex and Ani Skating Center for ice skating and ice bumper cars? That’s right, ice bumper cars! The kids will have a blast and you can warm up with hot wine or spiked cider. Fun for everyone? A seal cruise and nature tour!
Each year from the months of November to April, migratory harbor seals make their way to Rhode Island en route to warmer waters. Despite the chilly temperatures, you can take a cruise around the harbor to see these little cuties in their natural habitat. Providence has a number of hotels, one of its best being the Dean Hotel. Built around the history and culture of Providence, the Dean is a smaller boutique hotel located downtown with easy access to all of Providence’s best winter activities.
By Jade Laurenza from The Migrant Yogi
While hikes and climbing gears are a great pleasure, you’ll agree that nothing beats celebrating the festive season with great people.
Sacramento is one of the most interesting places to enjoy Christmas and the annual Christkindlmarkt is a great way to experience the place in its glory.
The Christkindlmarkt is an adaptation of the German Christmas Market that first took place in 1434. This event pulls a massive attendance and you need to see the amount of food and drinks available. You can try the various German Christmas treats or the Mull Wine (Glühwein), Christstollen bread, Lebkuchen (cookies), Nurnberg sausage (this one tastes quite good) or you can opt for other sweet edibles. There are over twenty booths containing different items and games.
In addition, Santa will make an appearance along with the Christ Child (inspiration behind the event) The event starts on the sixth of December from eleven in the morning till five in the evening and the address to the location is, Sacramento Turn Verein 3349 J St Sacramento, CA 95816 USA. Make sure to pack enough to keep yourself warm because while Sacramento has mild winters, it’s mornings and evenings can get chilly.
By Chisom Evare from The Awesome Traveler Blog
San Antonio, Texas
Christmas in San Antonio is filled with great activities and holiday displays larger-than-life that will get you and your beloved ones in the holiday spirit!
Start off your Christmas experience by taking a riverside stroll at the Fiesta de las Luminarias. This paper lantern festival is an unmissable sight for anyone celebrating the holiday season in San Antonio. If you want to experience the San Antonio River from a more up close and personal perspective than the river banks, join the Ford Holiday Boat Parade. For that, you will need to gather your caroling team and snag a boat so that you can spread some holiday cheer as you cruise under the impressive cypress trees decorated with Christmas lights.
Are you traveling with the little ones? Then head over to Texas’ most massive underground cavern, the Natural Bridge Caverns. Here you can celebrate Christmas unlike anywhere else in the world! Hear the echo of carols underground and even catch a glimpse of a spelunking Santa.
If you’re still looking for a place to stay? Then you will want to check out the Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk. It’s next to all the fun and in the heart of the town!
By Bruna Venturinelli from Maps ‘N Bags
San Diego, California
Located on the Pacific coast of California, San Diego is not only a popular romantic city in California but also one of the best US cities to experience Christmas. In spite of being an expensive US city, San Diego offers plenty of free activities during the holiday season. If you want to take a break from the snow and extremely cold weather, San Diego can be the ideal Christmas destinations for you.
There are plenty of Christmas events in San Diego that will keep you busy during the holiday season. Balboa Park December Nights are probably the best free activities that you can enjoy in San Diego during the holidays. Visitors can explore the popular museums of San Diego from 5 pm to 9 pm free of cost. You can walk around the place and enjoy carolers, live music and dance performance, multicultural cuisines, and a lot of Christmas activities.
You can watch the best Christmas lights in the South Bay neighborhood of Chula Vista which is also known as “Christmas Circle.” If you are with your kids, you should not miss Surfin’ Santa Arrival at Seaport village. Enjoy the classic San Diego styled Santa sightings, lively parade along with music and photo opportunities with Surfin’ Santa.
Mother Goose Parade in the East County city of El Cajon. The largest parade in San Diego County, the event features floats, clowns, Santa Claus, marching bands, equestrian teams, and celebrity appearances.
While the sun sets over the ocean, head towards the ‘ice skate on the beach’ at the Hotel del Coronado. It is one of the few places where you can enjoy some winter activities in San Diego. Skating by the sea can be really a fun experience. If you have a plan to stay in San Diego, Omni San Diego Hotel is highly recommended for its perfect location and the best in class service.
By Trijit Mallick from BudgetTravelBuff
San Francisco, California
San Francisco is one of the most popular places to visit on the West Coast of the USA for a Christmas vacation. The city has many holiday-related themes and events throughout December and looks simply beautiful at Christmas.
Of course, a Christmas time visit to the city should begin at Union Square. This is the heart of San Francisco’s holiday events. At Union Square, you will find a majestic and beautiful Christmas tree. Other things to do in the square include checking out the holiday decor in the stores, ice skating at the rink, and checking out the sugar castle at the Westin Hotel, adjacent to the square.
The city also holds many holiday-themed events and the usual tourist attractions of Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Lombard Street all look very pretty with the holiday decor. For nature lovers, combine a road trip down the Pacific Coast Highway to see the holiday decor in Half Moon Bay or Monterey and also spot the gray whales migrating in December.
By Ketki Sharangpani from Dotted Globe
If you’re looking for a picturesque Christmas destination, Savannah is about as charming as it gets! From River Street to City Market to Forsyth Park, the entire Historic District really gets into the holiday spirit.
A few of the most popular seasonal events include the Holiday Boat Parade, the Holiday Open House in City Market, the Gingerbread Trail, and the Holiday Tour of Homes.
When planning your Christmas bucket list in Savannah, make sure to include a visit to the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist, a stroll down Jones Street to see the beautiful historic homes all aglow for the holidays, a shopping spree on Broughton Street (be sure to check out the official city Christmas tree while you’re there!), and a stop by City Market to purchase souvenirs from local retailers.
If you’re in need of Christmas presents, don’t miss The Paris Market; their holiday window displays are the best in town! If you work up an appetite from a long day spent exploring, The Olde Pink House restaurant is beloved by both locals and tourists alike. For a more casual spot, Treylor Park offers a selection of Southern favorites with a unique twist.
By Erin Clarkson from Savannah First-Timer’s Guide
Seattle, WA may not come to mind when you think of Christmas, but this city has a ton of holiday cheer. You can get to snowy destinations within one hour or explore holiday activities right in the city.
For example, there are more than 50 holiday markets in Seattle every year. A popular one is in Westlake Center downtown. The area is transformed into a snowy wonderland with Christmas lights, ice skating, and outdoor booths with vendors selling their handmade goods. Seattle Center near the Space Needle also sets up an intricate lighting display with performances and vendors each year at Winterfest.
Seattle is a big theater city, so there are also a lot of holiday performances. More traditional theater goers will enjoy the annual Nutcracker ballet show. If you want something quirky, check out the Hip Hop Nutcracker, Burlesque Nutcracker, or Figgy Pudding, an annual caroling competition.
If you’re looking for cool places to stay in Seattle near all the downtown holiday festivities, the Inn at the Market or Thompson Seattle are along the waterfront and provide incredible views of the Puget Sound. Or check out Hotel Ballard, which is closer to the zoo and its annual Zoolights installation.
By Adria Saracino from The Emerald Palate
Could there be any place better suited to Christmas than cozy, snowy, charming Vermont? The answer is no, and the town of Woodstock, VT shows you exactly why.
Woodstock is a classic Christmas destination. Not only has it been recognized as one of the best places to visit at Christmas but also as one of the most beautiful small towns in America. With a quaint Main Street and a bevvy of holiday-related activities, the scene is set for a classic, Currier–and-Ives-style Christmas celebration.
Even without holiday festivities, Woodstock, Vermont is filled with charm and appeal. Snow falls regularly in this central Vermont town, and the downtown area is small enough to be very walkable. This means you can leave your car at the hotel or inn and get (almost) everywhere you need to go by foot.
Speaking of accommodation, you’ll want to consider booking a room at The Woodstock Inn. It boasts the perfect central location, and is also a luxurious, beautiful resort that is well-known and loved.
When you’re not busy with nearby winter activities like sledding, skiing (head to Suicide Six or Killington/Pico) you can enjoy the events of the town’s Wassail Weekend. This grand Christmas celebration takes you back into the 19th century, with bell-harnessed horse-drawn sleighs, old-fashioned carolers, and an iconic parade.
You don’t want to miss the holidays here in Woodstock, definitely one of the top spots for celebrating Christmas in New England.
By Amy Hartle from New England With Love
Christmas is an awesome time of the year to explore new destinations and we hope you will agree that there is plenty of inspiration in this post to justify organizing a festive trip in the near future. Whether you choose to visit any of these this year or in the future, you can be sure that each destination will be looking at new ways each year to increase the festive spirit and encourage locals and visitors alike to enjoy the seasonal joy in their location.
We would like to thank all of the amazing contributors to this post for sharing such inspiring ideas as to why we should have each of these destinations on our radar in the future!