Planning a Christmas vacation can be overwhelming. With so many destinations to choose from, how do you know which one is the best place to go? Not only do you want to find somewhere that is festive and fun, but also a place that has all the amenities you need for a relaxing holiday.
Looking for something traditional? Consider visiting one of the many charming small towns throughout the United States. Want an out-of-the-box Christmas holiday or something a little more adventurous? There are plenty of unique destinations that offer exciting activities and holiday festivities.
If you’re still unsure where to go this Christmas, we’ve compiled a list of the best destinations for Christmas vacations in the United States. Whether you’re looking for a White Christmas, or want to escape the cold and head to somewhere warm and sunny, we’ve got you covered.
So put on your Santa hat and get ready to explore some amazing places this Christmas!
Table of Contents
- Best Destinations for Christmas Vacations in the United States
- 1. New York City, New York
- 2. Breckenridge, Colorado
- 3. North Pole, Alaska
- 4. Chicago, Illinois
- 5. Washington, D.C.
- 6. Whitefish, Montana
- 7. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- 8. Los Angeles, California
- 9. Detroit, Michigan
- 10. Leavenworth, Washington
- 11. Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia
- 12. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
- 13. Boston, Massachusetts
- 14. Yosemite National Park
- 15. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
- 16. Monument Valley, Arizona
- 17. Solvang, California
- 18. San Antonio, Texas
Best Destinations for Christmas Vacations in the United States
1. New York City, New York
There’s no place like New York City for a festive Christmas break! The Big Apple comes alive during the holidays, with sparkling lights and decorations adorning every street corner.
Tourists can visit iconic landmarks like the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and Times Square to get into the holiday spirit. Or, for a more unique experience, check out Dyker Heights in Brooklyn, where you’ll find some of the most over-the-top Christmas light displays in the city.
If you’re looking for festive activities to do, don’t miss the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, a holiday stage show featuring the world-famous Radio City Rockettes. Ice skating in Central Park is also a must-do during winter visits to NYC! Whether you’re a pro out on the ice or a beginner taking your first steps, it’s sure to be a memorable experience.
If you’re traveling with kids, be sure to visit Santa at Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square. And no matter your age, you’re sure to love sipping on hot cocoa while taking in the holiday window displays at iconic department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor.
We haven’t forgotten the classic NYC attractions and activities that are a hit all year round, like a visit to The Empire State Building or a cruise to the Statue of Liberty. You can’t go wrong with a Christmas celebration in New York City!
Pro tip: If you’re planning on visiting more than one NYC attraction, opt for the New York City PASS. It will give you access to some of the city’s top attractions, like the Empire State Building Observatory and the American Museum of Natural History, at a discounted rate.
2. Breckenridge, Colorado
Those looking for a true winter wonderland should head to Breckenridge, Colorado for some fun Christmas festivities. This charming mountain town comes alive during the holidays, with twinkling lights and decorations on every street.
One of the best ways to take in the holiday sights is by taking a ride on the Breckenridge Gondola. The gondola cars are decorated with festive lights, and you’ll get stunning views of the town and its surroundings. For those wanting a bit more adventure, test out your ski skills on the slopes at the Village at Breckenridge Resort.
There’s also plenty to do on the ground in Breckenridge: Stroll down Main Street to do some holiday shopping, or take a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the snow for a truly magical experience.
And don’t miss the chance to visit the outdoor skating rink in Town Square! After a day of exploring, cozy up with a cup of hot chocolate or take part in one of the many holiday-themed events happening around town.
Whether you’re looking for a festive town to wander or are wanting to hit the slopes, Breckenridge is one of the best Christmas vacation destinations.
See Related: Best Things to Do in Colorado & Places to Visit
3. North Pole, Alaska
Who knew that you could actually visit the North Pole? Well, technically it’s not THE North Pole, but the town of North Pole, Alaska comes pretty close! This festive destination is decked out in holiday cheer year-round, with Christmas lights and decorations everywhere you look.
One of the best ways to take in the sights is by going on a walking tour of the city. The city is home to many iconic Christmas landmarks and is exactly what you would picture when thinking of Christmas in Alaska.
Other can’t-miss activities include visiting Running Reindeer Ranch, where you can feed and pet real reindeer, and taking a stroll down Santa Claus Lane, a street lined with adorable houses decorated for the holidays.
Be sure to also check out the town’s Santa Claus House, a Christmas-themed gift shop that’s been around since 1952. With its massive selection of holiday decorations and gifts, it’s a great place to find presents for loved ones (or yourself!). Also located at the Santa Claus House is Santa’s workshop, where you can meet the man himself!
No matter what you do during your visit, you’re sure to get into the Christmas spirit at North Pole, Alaska.
See Related: Tips & Things to Know Before Going to Alaska
4. Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is a great place to spend Christmas, with plenty of festive activities and attractions to enjoy. Start your vacation by visiting the city’s iconic Christkindlmarket, an outdoor holiday market featuring German-style Christmas gifts and decorations.
For a truly unique experience, take a ride on the Chicago Polar Express Train. The train takes you on a journey to “the North Pole” (actually just a small town outside of Chicago), where you’ll meet Santa and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies.
If you’re looking for some outdoor fun, head to Millennium Park to go ice skating or take a stroll through the winter wonderland that is Maggie Daley Park. And don’t forget about the city’s world-famous Christmas lights display on Michigan Avenue!
When you need a break from all the holiday fun, head to one of Chicago’s many museums, like the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art or the Immersive Van Gogh Experience. Or, take in a show at one of the city’s renowned theatres, like the Goodman Theatre or the Cadillac Palace Theatre.
When it comes to where to stay in Chicago, there are plenty of options, both in the downtown area near all the action and in other neighborhoods like Lake View or Lincoln Park. Some top Chicago hotel choices include the Palmer House Hilton and the Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park.
You’re sure to find something to love about Christmas in Chicago – it’s one of the best choices when it comes to places to spend Christmas in the US this year.
See Related: Best Day Trips From Chicago, Illinois
5. Washington, D.C.
What better way to get into the holiday spirit than by visiting our nation’s capital? Washington, D.C. is filled with festive attractions and activities to enjoy during the Christmas season.
One of the best things to do is simply stroll around and take in all the sights. Many of the city’s landmarks, like the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, are decorated with beautiful Christmas lights. And don’t forget about all the decorated trees and wreaths on display throughout the city! A guided Washington, DC highlights tour is one of the best ways to see it all.
Another great activity is taking a Christmas horse-drawn carriage ride around the city. For an extra special experience, opt for one of the Santa-themed rides! And no trip to D.C. at Christmastime would be complete without seeing the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. This massive tree, which is decorated with lights and ornaments, is a sight to behold!
You can also visit some of the city’s famous Christmas markets, like Union Market or Eastern Market. These bustling markets are filled with holiday-themed crafts, decorations, and yummy treats. It’s a great way to support local businesses and get into the holiday spirit!
If you’re looking for something more active to do, go ice skating at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Ice Rink or visit one of D.C.’s many museums, like the Smithsonian National Museum of American History or the African American Museum.
Whether you’re looking for festive things to do or are just passing through on your way to other destinations, there’s no doubt that Washington D.C. is one of the best places to visit during Christmas time in the United States!
See Related: Best Day Trips from Washington DC By Train
6. Whitefish, Montana
One of the most underrated destinations when it comes to where to spend Christmas in the United States, Whitefish, Montana is a charming and scenic small town that offers plenty of festive activities to enjoy during the holiday season.
Start your vacation by joining the Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade, which takes place at the Whitefish Mountain Resort. This fun event includes fireworks and live music, as well as a torch-lighting ceremony!
This event takes place just after sunset, so grab your egg nog and bundle up for a magical night under the stars. While you’re in town, be sure to go nordic skiing at Glacier Nordic Center or take a horse-drawn sleigh ride through Whitefish Lake.
And of course, you can’t leave town without visiting the local holiday markets to do some shopping and enjoy some seasonal treats! Another must-do activity during Christmas time in Whitefish is going to Whitefish Lake for some ice fishing.
Whether you’re an experienced angler or simply want to try it out for the first time, this fun outdoor activity is the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit. When the conditions are right, you can even go ice skating around the lake!
For some Christmas shopping, head to the Village at Whitefish. This quaint outdoor shopping center is filled with charming local boutiques and shops where you can find unique gifts for your friends and family.
And, of course, no trip to Whitefish would be complete without a visit to Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort. This world-famous ski resort offers plenty of fun winter activities to enjoy, from snow tubing to skiing. For a more relaxing Christmas getaway, book a stay at Grouse Mountain Lodge and indulge in the beautiful mountain views from your balcony.
If you’re looking for a fun and festive Christmas getaway in the United States, be sure to check out Whitefish, Montana. There’s truly something for everyone here!
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Livingston, Montana
7. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is a historic city that offers plenty of festive Christmas activities to enjoy during the holiday season. If you’re looking for a fun Christmas getaway or a White Christmas experience, look no further than this iconic city!
A visit to Philadelphia’s famous Christmas Village is a must while here during the holidays. Located at City Hall, this quaint outdoor market features over 150 vendors selling all sorts of holiday gifts and treats.
From handmade crafts to delicious baked goods, you’re bound to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. Enjoy a cup of rich hot chocolate as you stroll through the market and marvel at all the shops!
Another highlight of Christmas in Philly is the Macy’s Christmas light show at Macy’s Center City. This impressive light display features more than 100,000 LED lights choreographed to festive holiday music. It’s truly a sight to behold!
If you’re looking for a more active way to spend your Christmas vacation in Philadelphia, head over to Fairmount Park. This expansive park is home to plenty of hiking trails and outdoor recreation areas that are perfect for enjoying the winter weather.
You can also visit one of the city’s many renowned museums, like the Penn Museum or The Barnes Foundation. Or, for a more unique experience, take a horse-drawn carriage ride around the city! This is a great way to get a feel for Philadelphia’s rich history and see all the main attractions up close.
You’ll pass the city’s most famous attractions, including Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell Center, and the Museum of American Revolution.
Philly is an extraordinary place to visit any time of year, but the holiday season here is definitely extra special.
See Related: Best Museums in the US You Need to Visit
8. Los Angeles, California
I know what you may be thinking – vacationing in California during the winter sounds like a crazy idea! But with SoCal’s warm, sunny weather and endless array of fun holiday activities, Los Angeles is the perfect destination for a Christmas getaway.
One of the most magical things to do in LA during the holidays is visiting Griffith Park and watching their annual Holiday Lights Train. This delightful nighttime event features an unforgettable ride through a dazzling display of over 2 million lights.
Bring your hot chocolate and snuggle up with your loved ones as you enjoy the holiday cheer! Another must-visit attraction in LA during Christmastime is Universal Studios Hollywood’s Grinchmas celebration.
This fun, family-friendly event features live performances of Dr. Seuss’ classic holiday story, as well as fun activities like Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Fun Town and Whobilation. No matter your age, you’re sure to have a great time at Grinchmas!
If you want to get out and explore the many neighborhoods of LA during your trip, why not take a stroll down Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills? This upscale shopping district is the perfect place to find some amazing holiday gifts and treats.
This Hollywood sightseeing celebrity homes tour is a popular activity for those interested in pop culture. And don’t forget to look up – you may even spot a celebrity or two! With its warm weather, beautiful beaches, world-class restaurants, and endless entertainment options, Los Angeles truly is the ultimate Christmas destination for those who want to escape the winter blues.
See Related: The Ultimate Weekend in Los Angeles Itinerary
9. Detroit, Michigan
Looking for a fun and festive Christmas getaway in the United States? Look no further than Detroit, Michigan! This charming city is bursting with holiday cheer and offers plenty of exciting activities to enjoy during your stay.
One of the highlights of a trip to Detroit during Christmastime is the Winter Blast festival. This annual event features ice skating, sledding, bonfires, and plenty of delicious hot food to keep you warm. And don’t miss the spectacular fireworks show on Saturday nights – it’s truly a sight to behold!
Another can’t-miss attraction in Detroit during the holidays is the Parade of Lights. This popular Christmas parade features floats decked out with twinkling lights and holiday decorations, as well as live performances by local marching bands.
It’s the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit! The Detroit Zoo also hosts their own version of the Parade of Lights, where you can watch a menagerie of animals light up the night with their own festive decorations.
Of course, no trip to Detroit is complete without a visit to Campus Martius Park. This lively public space hosts concerts, festivals, and other special events throughout the year – and it certainly doesn’t disappoint during the holiday season.
Whether you’re looking for a fun place to ice skate or just want to enjoy some hot cocoa near the fire pits, Campus Martius Park is the ideal destination for an unforgettable Christmas vacation.
And after exploring all that Detroit has to offer, why not treat yourself to some delicious local cuisine? Some must-try restaurants in this vibrant city include Slows Bar BQ for classic barbecue, Pegasus Taverna for authentic Greek food, and Detroit Institute of Bagels for a fresh-baked bagel made from scratch.
With its festive attractions, delicious food, and charming neighborhoods, Detroit is the perfect place for a Christmas getaway.
See Related: Things to Do in Michigan & Best Places to Visit
10. Leavenworth, Washington
Another hidden gem on the list of best Christmas getaways, Leavenworth, Washington is the perfect destination for anyone looking to get in the holiday spirit.
Located just a few hours from Seattle and Portland in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Leavenworth boasts all of the hallmarks of a classic Christmas town – from quaint shops and cozy cafes to twinkling lights and bustling Christmas markets.
One of the best ways to kick off your Christmas getaway in Leavenworth is by attending the town’s Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. This festive event features live music and performances, as well as an appearance from Santa Claus himself!
Another can’t-miss activity in Leavenworth during Christmastime is visiting the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum. Here, you’ll find over 9,000 unique nutcrackers from all over the world (50 different countries to be exact!), as well as a number of fun interactive displays.
And be sure to stop by Icicle Village Resort for a free sample of their famous hot spiced wine – it’s the perfect way to warm up after a day of exploring!
Of course, no trip to Leavenworth would be complete without spending some time at the Leavenworth Christmas Market. This beloved local tradition features over 150 artisan booths selling unique handcrafted items, including jewelry, home decor, and handmade clothing.
Whether you’re searching for a special gift for a loved one or just want to do some holiday shopping for yourself, the Leavenworth Christmas Market is the perfect destination. Be sure to try some traditional German Engelwein wine and hearty Bavarian fare while you’re in Leavenworth.
See Related: Best Things to do in West Seattle, Washington
11. Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia
For a blast from the past this Christmas, head to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. A living museum that transports visitors back to the 18th century, Colonial Williamsburg is the perfect place to spend the holidays if you’re looking for a unique Christmas experience unlike any other.
During Christmastime, Colonial Williamsburg doesn’t disappoint. Wander through the charming cobblestone streets and shop for souvenirs at authentic 18th-century shops, or head over to the Governor’s Palace to see the extravagant decorations adorning this grand building.
And don’t miss Colonial Williamsburg’s annual holiday parade, which winds its way through the streets of the city and includes performances by actors in colonial garb and dozens of themed floats!
Colonial Williamsburg is also home to the Governor’s Palace yuletide tour, one of the must-see holiday traditions in this charming city. Take a guided tour of the palace to learn all about how 19th-century Americans celebrated Christmas during this time period, and explore the beautifully decorated rooms with their elaborate seasonal displays.
This quaint town is a great choice Christmas vacations for families, couples, and solo travelers alike – so if you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind holiday getaway that is filled with Christmas cheer and a bit of history, look no further than Colonial Williamsburg.
See Related: Best Beaches in Virginia to Visit
12. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
For a truly magical Christmas experience, look no further than Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Located just an hour from Philadelphia and two hours from New York City, Bethlehem was named after the town in Palestine that is believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ and has been named one of the “20 Most Beautiful Towns in America” by Forbes Magazine.
Bethlehem is home to dozens of charming historic buildings and museums, as well as a number of popular annual Christmas events that are fun for the whole family. One of these is Christkindlmarkt, an outdoor European-style holiday market that features over 150 vendors selling unique handcrafted items.
Visitors can shop for ornaments and holiday decorations, sample local treats like warm spiced wine, and even meet Santa! Other popular Christmas events in Bethlehem include the First Night Christmas Parade, a dazzling nighttime procession that winds its way through town accompanied by live music and festive floats, as well as the annual Musikfest celebration, which features concerts by local musicians at venues across Bethlehem.
See Related: Best National Parks in the USA to Visit
13. Boston, Massachusetts
Christmas holidays in Boston are a magical time of year!
The city comes alive with holiday cheer, thanks to its many festive events and attractions. One of the most popular things to do in Boston during the holidays is to take a ride on the Swan Boats in the Public Garden
. This famous attraction is a beloved Boston tradition and offers visitors a charming holiday-themed ride around the park during Christmastime.
If you’re looking for a more active Christmas, be sure to check out one of Boston’s popular winter runs. The Reindeer Run in December is an annual 5k fun run that features costumed “reindeer” and “elves” and is a great way to get your family into the holiday spirit.
No Christmas in Boston would be complete without a trip to the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Boston Common, one of the city’s most popular gathering spots. The event typically takes place during the first week of December and includes live music performances, as well as a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus!
The holiday magic that fills the atmosphere in Boston during the Christmas season is simply unmatched. It is truly one of the best Christmas vacations to take in the US this year!
See Related: Best Boston Tours | Food, Walking, and Sightseeing
14. Yosemite National Park
Can you imagine a more magical Christmas destination than Yosemite National Park? Located in Northern California, this stunning national park is home to cascading waterfalls, breathtaking vistas, and miles of hiking trails – not to mention dozens of incredible outdoor activities that are perfect for the whole family.
Visitors can celebrate the holidays at a number of festive events during their stay, including the annual Yosemite Winter Festival, which includes fun events like ice skating, sledding, storytelling, and snowshoe tours.
Additionally, visitors can take a ride on the historic Wawona Stable Stagecoach and spend an evening watching old Christmas movies under the stars. For an out-of-the-ordinary Yosemite experience, head to Ahwahnee Lodge for the annual Bracebridge Dinner Show.
This spectacular medieval-inspired feast, which is held in the grand dining room of this historic hotel, features a holiday meal like no other and is not to be missed! The elegant hall, medieval feast, and live musical performances are sure to get you into the Christmas spirit.
When visiting Yosemite in winter, taking a scenic drive around the park is one of the best ways to experience its beauty. Along the way, be sure to stop at Tunnel View – a stunning overlook with panoramic views of Yosemite Valley and Bridalveil Falls.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also try snowshoeing or cross-country skiing in the park, or go on a guided winter group tour to see the park covered in a blanket of fresh powder.
No matter how you choose to celebrate Christmas in Yosemite, it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience!
See Related: Best Things to Do in Northern California
15. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
One of the best destinations when it comes to Christmas trips in the US is Jackson Hole, Wyoming. This charming mountain town offers visitors a unique holiday experience that’s perfect for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers!
Located on the western edge of the majestic Teton Range, Jackson Hole has a wide variety of Christmas activities perfect for experiencing the season’s magic.
Visitors can go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing at one of the many scenic trails in and around town. Alternatively, you can head to nearby Grand Targhee Resort where you’ll find three terrain parks, two half-pipes, and tons of snow tubing slopes to choose from.
For a day trip from Jackson, take a guided tour to Yellowstone and experience the magic of Christmas in the beautiful Yellowstone National Park.
For a truly unique Christmas experience, be sure to check out the annual Winter Fest in Jackson. The festival includes everything from winter movie screenings and sleigh rides to festive ice sculptures and live musical performances.
During the holiday season, one of the most popular activities in Jackson Hole is taking a horse-drawn sleigh or wagon ride through town. Sip on hot cocoa while you take in stunning views of Grand Teton National Park and the stunning winter landscape.
Whether you’re visiting with your family or a group of friends, Jackson Hole is the perfect destination for a magical Christmas getaway!
See Related: Best Things To Do in Cody, Wyoming
16. Monument Valley, Arizona
For those that aren’t a fan of the cold weather and snow, a Christmas vacation in Monument Valley may be just what you’re looking for.
Located on the border of Arizona and Utah, this iconic desert landscape offers visitors an unforgettable mix of stunning red rock formations and wide-open skies that are truly breathtaking.
Visitors can spend their days exploring the many stunning trails within Monument Valley National Park on a guided landmark tour or enjoying a number of outdoor activities like rock climbing and horseback riding.
But perhaps the best way to experience this iconic destination is by taking a guided tour through the park. During your visit, you’ll get to see unforgettable sights like Eagle’s Nest Butte, Totem Pole, The Mittens, and many more!
Located just a short two-hour drive from Monument Valley lies Antelope Canyon, one of the most stunning slot canyons in the world. With its rich red rock walls and mesmerizing patterns, this incredible natural landmark is a must-see for anyone visiting Arizona during the holiday season.
It’s definitely worth making the trip to see this beautiful place, whether you’re spending Christmas with family or a group of friends. Kayenta Monument Valley Hotel is a great choice of hotel for those looking to stay near the action. Located just 5 miles from the entrance to Monument Valley, the hotel offers guests easy access to all the best attractions in town.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Jerome, Arizona
17. Solvang, California
Solvang is a quaint little town in California that’s perfect for anyone looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and truly experience a traditional Christmas.
Founded by Danish immigrants, Solvang is home to many charming shops and restaurants that are reminiscent of those found in old-world Denmark. A walk through this town is like taking a step back in time!
While visiting Solvang, be sure to check out the Danish Windmill and Hans Christian Andersen Museum. Here you’ll find an assortment of beautiful antiques and historical artifacts that showcase the unique Danish heritage of this charming town.
For families visiting the city, a visit to Ostrichland USA is a must! Here you can get up close and personal with a variety of exotic birds and even feed the ostriches. During your visit, be sure to stop at one of Solvang’s many Christmas-themed festivals.
From the Winterfest Parade, to the annual Solvang JuleFest and Festival of Trees, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this festive little town! Perhaps the best part about visiting Solvang during the holidays is being able to experience all the city has to offer at Christmas time!
In December, you’ll find an array of festive decorations and light displays, as well as a number of fun holiday events and activities like ice-skating, strolling carolers, and even live reindeer! Solvang is one of the best Christmas vacations to take for those who want a unique, small town experience.
Spend a night or two at the Hotel Corque for a truly unforgettable holiday getaway. Whether you choose to stay in a charming hotel room or migrate to one of the beautifully decorated and spacious suites, this historic landmark is the perfect place to experience Solvang at its best.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Auburn, California
18. San Antonio, Texas
Believe it or not, the holiday season is one of the best times to visit San Antonio, Texas! This charming city comes alive during the holidays with its festive decorations and incredible Christmas light displays.
One of the most popular destinations in San Antonio is the River Walk, a winding network of canals lined with restaurants, bars, and shops. During Christmastime, the River Walk is decorated with thousands of twinkling holiday lights and festive decorations, making it the perfect place for a romantic stroll or family gathering.
The two best places to see the lights include the Arneson River Theatre stretch and near the famous Aztec Theatre. Another must-see spot during your visit to San Antonio is the famous Alamo, an iconic location that played an essential role in Texas’ independence from Mexico.
This historic landmark also features a number of fun holiday events and activities, including an annual living nativity scene and even real reindeer! So if you’re looking for a festive holiday getaway with plenty of things to do and see, look no further than San Antonio.
With its charming Spanish colonial architecture, festive decorations, and endless selection of Christmas events and activities, there’s no better place to celebrate the holidays than in Texas’ most beloved city!