The Most Enchanting Christmas Destinations in the U.S.
Looking for the best US destinations for Christmas? Look no further! Get ready to immerse yourself in a winter wonderland as we take you on a journey to some of the most enchanting and picturesque towns and cities across America. From the charming Danish village of Solvang to the historic streets of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, we've curated a list of the most quaint and captivating places to visit during the holiday season. Get ready to be swept away by the magic and beauty of these unforgettable Christmas getaways!
Quaint Christmas Towns and Cities In The U.S.
There are numerous delightful small towns in the USA that offer wonderful Christmas getaways.
These getaways are perfect for those who have a deep love for Christmas. Some of these Christmas getaways may even be unique and unexpected.
1. Leavenworth, Washington, A Bavarian Winter Wonderland
Considered one of the best places to visit for Christmas in the USA, Leavenworth offers a taste of the German Alps without having to travel there.
Experience the preserved Bavarian culture in this small town located in the Cascade Mountains. The half-timbered buildings, German restaurants, mulled wine, breweries, gingerbread cookies, and Christmas markets will transport you to Germany.
For a festive and charming Christmas experience, make sure to visit Leavenworth during the winter. The entire town sparkles with lights, creating a magical atmosphere for various holiday activities such as chestnut roasting, gingerbread house competitions, advent calendar contests, and more.
2. Santa Claus, Indiana
Image Credit: SantaClauseInd.OrgIn the town of Santa Claus, you'll experience a warm welcome and a variety of Christmas delights.
Visit the Santa Claus Christmas Store for personalized ornaments and holiday decor. Don't miss the chance to try the famous frozen hot chocolate at Santa's Candy Castle, where you can even chat with an elf from the North Pole. Explore the Santa Claus Museum & Village, which includes the historic 1880 Santa Claus Church, the original Santa Claus Post Office, and a 22-foot-tall Santa statue from 1935. Additionally, you can ride horses at Santa's Stables or watch a movie at the Holiday Drive-In Movie Theater.
Santa Claus is also home to the world's first theme park, Holiday World & Splashin' Safari. This park offers rides, shows, and attractions themed after Christmas, Halloween, and the Fourth of July.
3. Mackinac Island, Michigan Is A Magical Christmas Vacation In The USA
Mackinac Island is a popular resort destination in Michigan, known for its beautiful scenery and relaxed atmosphere.
The Christmas season is the busiest time on the island, with visitors flocking to enjoy the festive atmosphere and participate in popular events such as the Christmas Bazaar and New Year's Eve celebrations. To avoid disappointment, it is recommended to book accommodation early during these events.
4. North Pole, Alaska
North Pole, Alaska, known for its year-round Christmas spirit, is just a short 20-minute drive from Fairbanks.
Located in central Alaska, North Pole is approximately 1,700 miles south of the geographical North Pole. Despite its small population of 2,243 residents, the town proudly embodies the motto "Where the Spirit of Christmas Lives Year Round."
While exploring Santa Claus Lane, where streetlights are adorned with candy canes, be sure to visit the Santa Claus House. This "official" home of Santa Claus offers holiday-inspired gifts and the opportunity to get a unique North Pole postmark on a letter from Santa. You can also meet live reindeer and take a photo with Santa Claus year-round.
In the North Pole, the spirit of Christmas is ever-present, making it the ultimate destination for Christmas enthusiasts.
5. Charleston, South Carolina
Image Credit: CarlasofCarolinaIf you're seeking a delightful Christmas destination, consider Charleston, South Carolina.
The city is adorned with beautiful decorations, creating a festive ambiance. Enjoy activities such as strolling around downtown, sipping on hot chocolate, and visiting iconic landmarks like "The Battery" and the Pineapple Fountain.
Charleston is also known for its exceptional dining scene, with numerous excellent restaurants to choose from. For Christmas shopping, the Holiday Market offers a wide selection of gifts.
Don't miss out on the oldest tavern in the country, the Tavern in Rainbow Row, and the renowned Pearlz Oyster Bar for oyster lovers. Visit Henry's On The Market for a cocktail, with the upstairs lounge being a favorite spot.
6. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Image Credit: Peach State PrideBethlehem, Pennsylvania, is a charming small-town Christmas getaway. With its rich history and Christmas lights, this town knows how to celebrate the holiday season.
Although it may not be the real Bethlehem, this small town in Pennsylvania embraces the Christmas spirit wholeheartedly. The German-inspired Christmas City Village and traditional Christmas market offer a plethora of ways to make your own personal Bethlehem magical during the holiday season.
Today, Bethlehem is renowned for its beautiful music and charming atmosphere during Christmastime. It is an excellent destination to visit and experience the holiday spirit.
7. Helen, Georgia
Image Credit: Secret_AtlantaVisiting Helen, Georgia during Christmas offers a charming and cozy experience.
This Bavarian-style village in the Appalachian Mountains transforms into a winter wonderland during the holiday season. Witness the lighting of the town's large Christmas tree, which marks the beginning of the holiday festivities. This event often includes Santa Claus himself, making it a family-friendly celebration.
Explore the Christkindlmarkt, a holiday market that offers unique handmade gifts, ornaments, and delicious treats. Helen also offers activities such as horse-drawn carriage rides and scenic walks along the Chattahoochee River, allowing you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the area during the holiday season.
8. Hanover, New Hampshire
For a truly magical Christmas vacation in the USA, look no further than Hanover, New Hampshire.
This quaint college town embraces the holiday spirit with Christmas lights and decorations adorning the streets. Don't miss the incredible gingerbread house display at the Hanover Inn or the opportunity to see the huge decorated Christmas tree at The Green at Dartmouth College.
9. Burlington, Vermont, For One Of The Best Christmas Vacations In The USA
Image Credit: NewEnglandWithLoveBurlington, Vermont, is a must-visit destination for a magical Christmas vacation.
During the Christmas season, the city's picturesque Church Street Marketplace is adorned with festive lights and decorations, creating a truly enchanting atmosphere for holiday shoppers and visitors. The annual Festival of Trees and the Church Street Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony are cherished traditions that spread holiday cheer throughout the city with beautifully decorated trees and carolers.
Lake Champlain, which borders Burlington, often freezes over during winter, providing opportunities for ice skating and other winter sports. Indulge in comforting hot cocoa at one of the city's cozy cafes or explore the local breweries, with Foam Brewery being a standout favorite.
Solvang proudly declares itself as "the most Christmassy town in the USA," making it a sensory delight for visitors during the holiday season.
This charming Danish-themed town in California celebrates Julefest throughout the month of December. Visit Jule Hus, an exquisite store offering Christmas ornaments and gifts. Located in the picturesque Santa Ynez Valley near Santa Barbara, Solvang is an ideal vacation spot on its own or combined with other charming towns in the area, such as Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, Los Alamos, Ballard, and Buellton.
Downtown Solvang, known for its windmills and Danish architecture, is a shopper's paradise, with many stores adorned with individual Christmas trees, wreaths, poinsettias, and more. The town also glows with lights at night, adding to its festive atmosphere. Don't miss the opportunity to visit authentic Danish bakeries, where you can enjoy holiday-themed sweet treats and the delightful scent of gingerbread.
Witness the town tree lighting ceremony in early December to see the Christmas lights illuminate the streets. Join the fun of searching for nisse (Danish elves) hidden all over downtown, providing enjoyment for both children and adults. Solvang is the perfect place to browse beautiful window displays and shop for unique Christmas-themed ornaments, decor, and gifts.
To complete your stay, don't miss the Hotel Corque, a boutique hotel located conveniently close to shopping and dining in downtown Solvang. Its well-appointed rooms and views of Solvang Village create a cozy and festive atmosphere after dark.
Known as the Christmas Capital of Texas, Grapevine comes alive during the holiday season, offering a range of family-friendly events throughout the town.
The Grapevine Christmas Passport adds an element of excitement to exploring the city, guiding you to different locations around historic Grapevine. At the end of your journey, you'll have handmade souvenirs and unforgettable memories.
Experience the enchanting North Pole Express, a unique adventure featuring holiday treats and a special show onboard a restored 1925 train carriage. The train will transport you to the magical Christmas Village Forest, where you can see where Santa lives.
For a romantic date night, don't miss the Christmas Wine Train. Grapevine boasts numerous tasting rooms and fantastic restaurants, many of which offer local Texan flavors with a twist.
If you're searching for an incredible destination to visit during Christmas time, Woodstock, Vermont, should be on your bucket list.
Woodstock becomes truly magical in December, with holiday decorations adorning the town. Take a leisurely stroll down the main street, where you'll be captivated by the stunning architecture of the 18th and 19th-century buildings, particularly when they're covered in snow.
Don't forget to visit the iconic covered bridges, including the Middle Covered Bridge and the Taftsville Covered Bridge, both located near Woodstock and considered some of Vermont's most beautiful.
Woodstock offers several festive events to enjoy. One of the most popular is the Wassail Weekend, held at the Billings Farm, a dairy farm and museum. This weekend event recreates the historic New England Christmas charm and includes activities such as horse-drawn wagon rides, sleigh rides, fire pits, Christmas movie nights, and more. Enjoy the holiday spirit!
For a truly memorable stay, choose the Woodstock Inn & Resort, a classic New England hotel located on the Village Green. Be sure to indulge in their Christmas buffet while you're there.
Lewisburg, West Virginia
Every year, Lewisburg transforms into a winter wonderland with Christmas lights and carriage rides. It's the perfect peaceful getaway for those seeking a low-key escape. For a touch of opulence, head to the nearby Greenbrier, a historical 18th-century resort that dazzles visitors with over-the-top decorations and family programming.
Seneca Falls, New York
Seneca Falls is widely known as the inspiration behind the town of Bedford Falls depicted in the classic holiday film It's a Wonderful Life. The town embraces its association with the film by hosting an annual It's a Wonderful Life Festival, offering a truly unique and enchanting Christmas celebration.
The festival, which spans three days in early December, transforms the entire town into a real-life Bedford Falls. Movie cast members and special guests attend the event, and there are screenings of the film and exclusive presentations that provide insights into the legendary production.
Make sure to visit the town's Bridge Street Bridge, known as the "It's a Wonderful Life Bridge," where mementos of loved ones are hung by locals and visitors. Throughout December, the town hosts a variety of holiday brunches, Christmas caroling, and festive pop-up events to spread the holiday spirit.
Ogunquit, Maine, was once an artists' colony, attracting travelers for its beautiful beach. However, during the holiday season, the town offers a different kind of charm. Prices are lower, and there is an overall sense of calm with just enough festivity to keep things lively. The annual Christmas by the Sea festival is a highlight, featuring a bonfire on the beach and visits with Santa. Ogunquit is also conveniently located near two popular Christmas shopping destinations: the Kittery Outlets and Freeport, home to the famous L.L. Bean Flagship store. For unique local shopping, a visit to the Harbor Candy Shop on Main Street is a must, with its selection of gift boxes that make perfect stocking stuffers.
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, Texas, is a fantastic destination at any time of year. However, during the Christmas season, it becomes even more delightful. The city's famous Riverwalk, with its twinkling lights and festive decor, is a must-see. Take a boat ride along the illuminated river and explore the shops that line the Riverwalk, where you can find holiday gifts, ornaments, and arts and crafts. San Antonio is also known for its top-notch eateries along the Riverwalk, so be sure to enjoy a meal while you soak in the festive atmosphere. Other attractions include the Natural Bridge Caverns, where you can experience Christmas carols sung by live choirs underground, and the Lightscape at the San Antonio Botanical Garden, a dazzling display of lights unique to Texas. Families traveling with kids should visit the Texas Transportation Museum for Santa's Railroad Wonderland. And of course, don't miss the opportunity to sample tamales, a popular Christmas treat in San Antonio.
Where to stay: Consider staying at the historic Crockett Hotel, which is conveniently located near The Alamo and the Riverwalk, making it easy to explore the sights, do some shopping, and enjoy delicious meals.
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville, North Carolina, is a top Christmas destination in the United States. The city truly comes alive during the holiday season, offering a wide range of events and festivities. With daytime temperatures around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it's the perfect time to explore the waterfalls and nature trails nearby. Don't miss the annual Gingerbread competition, which showcases creative displays from talented bakers. If you're lucky enough to have snow, consider taking a snowshoeing tour with Hike Bike Kayak Asheville. For skiing enthusiasts, the Cataloochee Ski Area is just a short drive from Asheville. The North Carolina Arboretum hosts a spectacular winter lights show, featuring over a million glowing LED lights. And of course, a visit to the world-famous Biltmore is a must during the Christmas season. The mansion is decked out with over 25,000 decorations and 100,000 lights, creating a truly magical experience.
Where to stay: The Foundry Hotel, located just 5 minutes from downtown Asheville, is a cool hotel housed in a former steel factory. It offers a unique and stylish accommodation option.
Celebrate Christmas in Atlanta, Georgia, and experience the Southern charm and hospitality. The city offers endless twinkling lights, a vibrant arts and culture scene, and delicious food. Don't miss the seasonal productions, such as the Atlanta Ballet's The Nutcracker and holiday shows by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. A visit to the Alliance Theatre to see A Christmas Carol is also a must. For a dazzling light show, check out Stone Mountain or Lake Lanier. Atlanta is known for its fantastic seasonal pop-up bars, including the popular Miracle bar and unique holiday-themed bars at Ponce City Market and Sippin' Santa. Explore Atlanta's rich history and enjoy the festive atmosphere.
Charlottesville, Virginia, offers a quiet and charming Christmas experience. As college students prepare for finals and head home for the holidays, the city becomes quieter. Before they leave, be sure to visit the University of Virginia campus for the annual Lighting of the Lawn event. Another fun tradition is the gingerbread display competition at the Ronald McDonald House. Explore the local charm and enjoy the festive atmosphere.
Newport, Rhode Island
For a classy and elegant Christmas experience, head to Newport, Rhode Island. The town encourages a traditional candlelit vibe with its beautiful white lights. Take a tour of the Mansions of Newport, including iconic Gilded Age architectural gems like The Breakers, The Elms, and The Marbles. Marvel at the sumptuous trees, fine china, and exquisite decorations. Enjoy a meal at one of Newport's finest restaurants, such as The Dining Room at Castle Hill Inn. With smaller crowds, it's the perfect time to indulge in Newport's culinary delights.
Park City, Utah
Park City, Utah, is a winter wonderland during the holidays. The season kicks off with the Electric Light Parade, featuring illuminated cars, bicycles, and the town trolley. Admire the glittering lights of the town Christmas tree in Miner's Park. Visit Stein Eriksen Lodge and marvel at their annual giant gingerbread display. Experience the magic of Park City's holiday celebrations.
Boston, Massachusetts, transforms into a magical city during the Christmas season. Historic brownstone buildings are adorned with twinkling lights, and the air is filled with live holiday music. Explore the small boutiques along Charles Street in Beacon Hill for unique gifts. Don't miss Rouvalis Flowers, where you can see seasonal arrangements with evergreen boughs, holly, and poinsettias. Visit Boston Common to go ice skating on the Frog Pond and admire the beautifully lit Christmas tree. Take a stroll through the Boston Public Garden to see the famous Make Way for Ducklings statues dressed in knit scarves and hats. Experience the European-inspired Holiday Market at Snowport on the Seaport side of Boston. Enjoy the festive atmosphere and discover one-of-a-kind treasures.
Where to stay: Stay at the historic Omni Parker House Hotel, which has been a beloved institution since 1855. During Christmas time, the hotel hosts dramatic readings of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.
Beaufort, North Carolina
Celebrate Christmas on the water in Beaufort, North Carolina. While there may not be snow on the ground, the mild climate allows for enjoyable outdoor activities. Take a kayak tour or join a boat tour along Taylor's Creek. The Crystal Coast Christmas Flotilla is a highlight, featuring a stunning boat parade with twinkling lights. Experience a unique coastal Christmas celebration.
Prescott, Arizona, also known as "Arizona's Christmas City," offers a charming and festive atmosphere. The downtown area is decorated with white-columned buildings and Victorian homes that evoke a sense of nostalgia. Explore the historic streets filled with independent bookstores, antique shops, and quirky boutiques adorned with fairy lights. Don't miss the courthouse plaza, where you can find twinkling lights and a towering Christmas tree. The Annual Christmas Parade and Courthouse Lighting is a favorite event that brings the local community together. Visit the World's Largest Gingerbread Village event and marvel at the hundreds of handcrafted creations. Prescott is the perfect destination for a wintertime getaway.
Where to stay: The Hassayampa Inn offers historic charm and a restored 1920s-style lobby. It is a wonderful accommodation choice in Prescott.
Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
Escape to Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, for a tranquil Christmas vacation. With white-sand beaches and temperatures in the 60s, it's the ideal destination for a peaceful getaway. Visit the Annual Holiday Market at The Artists Warehouse for unique gifts. Kitchen Garden Books and Antiques is another great spot to find one-of-a-kind treasures. Enjoy the serene beauty of Santa Rosa Beach.
Laguna Beach, California
Laguna Beach, California, offers a different kind of Christmas experience. While there won't be snow, you can still enjoy the beauty of the ocean and the beach. Explore the gallery-lined streets and immerse yourself in the arts and crafts festival, Sawdust Winter Fantasy. Stay at the elegant Montage Laguna Beach, where you can enjoy holiday programming and easy access to the picturesque Christmas Cove. Celebrate Christmas with a coastal twist in Laguna Beach.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas, Nevada celebrates Christmas with style, featuring extravagant holiday decor and even snowfall on demand. With daytime temperatures in the low 60s Fahrenheit, it is the perfect place to spend Christmas in the USA. Many Vegas resorts along the Strip are beautifully decorated with holiday-themed displays, such as the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens. Each year, the displays change, creating an enchanting experience for visitors. The Bellagio fountain show is another must-see holiday experience, where you can enjoy a mesmerizing dance of water and light set to holiday-themed music. The LINQ promenade also offers a tall Christmas tree, shopping, seasonal food and drink, and the opportunity to watch a light show on the High Roller, the giant observation wheel. If you love ice skating, head to The Cosmopolitan's ice rink, considered one of the best in the US. For more family fun, check out the lights at the Ethel M's Chocolate Factory Holiday Cactus Garden or enjoy the made-to-order snow and holiday train at the Springs Preserve. And don't forget to indulge in the delicious holiday menus at Vegas restaurants and buffets. To make the most of your visit, book a stay at one of the resorts along the Strip, such as the Bellagio or The Venetian. If you have extra time, consider adding some day trips to your itinerary or explore the nearby national parks during the winter months.
Sun Valley, Idaho
Sun Valley, Idaho is the epitome of a winter wonderland with its snow-capped mountains and log cabin homes. Chosen by Swiss developers as America's first destination ski resort, Sun Valley offers a paradise for skiers of all ages and abilities. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, visitors can enjoy activities like snowmobiling and fat-biking in Smiley Creek, or even go paragliding over the Sawtooth Mountains. The island also offers one of the largest natural ice rinks in the country, perfect for ice skating. During the Christmas season, Sun Valley hosts annual events such as the Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, carols at the library, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and a European-style winter market. Families can gather on Christmas Eve to watch the Ice Show & Torch Parade, a spectacle of skiers carrying torches down the mountainside, followed by a fireworks show. To experience Sun Valley's Christmastime splendor, book a stay at the storied Sun Valley Lodge, adorned with garlands and twinkling lights during the holidays.
Quaint Christmas Towns and Cities In The U.S.
There are several charming small-town Christmas getaways in the USA that offer unique experiences. Leavenworth, Washington, transports visitors to the German Alps with its Bavarian culture, including half-timbered buildings, German restaurants, mulled wine, breweries, gingerbread cookies, and Christmas markets. Santa Claus, Indiana, welcomes visitors with personalized ornaments and holiday decor at the Santa Claus Christmas Store, frozen hot chocolate at Santa's Candy Castle, and attractions like the Santa Claus Museum & Village and Holiday World & Splashin' Safari theme park. Mackinac Island, Michigan, offers a magical Christmas vacation with its festive atmosphere, Christmas Bazaar, New Year's Eve celebrations, and beautiful scenery. North Pole, Alaska, embraces the Christmas spirit year-round, featuring Santa Claus House, reindeer encounters, and a unique North Pole postmark for letters from Santa. Charleston, South Carolina, enchants visitors with its beautifully decorated downtown, historic sites like The Battery and Pineapple Fountain, excellent restaurants, and the Holiday Market. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, known for its Christmas lights and German-inspired Christmas City Village, offers a charming small-town experience. Helen, Georgia, transforms into a winter wonderland with its Bavarian-style village, Christmas tree lighting, Christkindlmarkt, horse-drawn carriage rides, and scenic walks along the Chattahoochee River. Hanover, New Hampshire, and Burlington, Vermont, both feature picturesque decorations and events that create a magical Christmas atmosphere.
Healdsburg is a charming town located in Sonoma County, California. It is renowned for its excellent restaurants and exceptional wineries. When visiting Healdsburg, make sure to stop by Flowers Vineyards and Winery for an exquisite taste of their pinot noir. Another must-visit winery is Aperture Cellars, known not only for their exceptional wines but also for the breathtaking views. If you have the opportunity to venture to Napa, don't miss the chance to purchase a few bottles from Faust. These bottles will serve as a delightful souvenir to bring back to Montage Healdsburg, a luxurious hotel with a cozy and inviting atmosphere. The hotel is beautifully decorated during the holiday season, complete with Christmas trees and roaring fireplaces, creating the perfect ambiance for a festive getaway.
Paso Robles, California
Paso Robles, located on the Central Coast of California, transforms into a vibrant holiday destination where the color red takes center stage. Here, you can indulge in the rich flavors of pinot noir, cabernet, and syrah. Leading up to Christmas, wineries in Paso Robles offer low-key tastings, musical performances, and a variety of gift options for your holiday shopping needs. Make sure to visit Parrish Family Vineyard, which offers a delightful tasting room experience. For a magical trip back in time, make your way to Hearst Castle, located just 40 miles away. The castle's elaborate Christmas decorations are a sight to behold and make the drive well worth it.
San Francisco, California
San Francisco, known for its big-city excitement and world-class arts and culture, is a top destination for Christmas in the US. One of the must-see attractions in San Francisco during the holiday season is Union Square. The park is adorned with classic Christmas lights, and the surrounding shops are beautifully decorated, creating a festive atmosphere. Skating under the aurora-colored lighting, exploring the Winterwalk, and admiring the historic buildings nearby are some of the delightful experiences you can enjoy. For a truly magical experience, don't miss the Great Dickens Fair in nearby Daly City. This iconic event, held from November through December, offers a plethora of food vendors, local goods, and fair games reminiscent of the 1800s. Make sure to try the famous seasonal treat of buttered rum. If you're traveling with children, the California Academy of Sciences offers exclusive Christmas activities, and a visit to the Walt Disney Family Museum is a must for a special exhibit. The Fairmont Hotel also puts up a real two-story gingerbread house, making it the perfect place to warm up with an afternoon tea.
San Diego, California
If you're seeking a warm-weather Christmas getaway, look no further than San Diego, California. With its average temperature of 65 degrees even during winter, San Diego offers a pleasant climate for your holiday escape. There are numerous family-friendly activities to enjoy during this time of year. Take a stroll through Old Town San Diego, adorned with enchanting Christmas decorations. For surfing enthusiasts, San Diego's incredible waves make it the ideal destination for beginners and experienced surfers alike. If you prefer to relax on the beach, head to La Jolla Cove, where you can bask in the coastal scenery and observe sea lions and seals sunning themselves on the rocks. For a dose of holiday spirit, visit Balboa Park, where they adorn the park with Christmas lights and host a Christmas light festival called December Nights. The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights is another captivating event, with illuminated and decorated boats parading through the bay, creating a festive spectacle. Don't forget to explore the city's culinary scene, which offers a variety of delicious hidden food spots. Visit the holiday market at Petco Park, admire the towering Christmas tree at Liberty Station, or enjoy ice skating at the Rady Children's Ice Rink. When it comes to accommodations, consider staying at Pendry San Diego in the vibrant Gaslamp Quarter. The hotel's Nason's Beer Hall is beautifully decorated for the holidays, creating a winter wonderland, and the hotel organizes special events for children during the holiday season.
Christmas is a special time to visit Chicago, as the city fully embraces the holiday spirit. From dazzling decorations adorning storefronts to magnificent light displays lining pedestrian streets, Chicago becomes a winter wonderland during this time of year. The city offers a plethora of indoor and outdoor public events, ensuring there's something for everyone to enjoy. Don't miss the opportunity to stand beneath the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, a cherished tradition for visitors to New York City. Ice skating beneath the tree is a quintessential winter activity. Marvel at the Saks Fifth Avenue light show, the Cartier Display, and the Radio City Christmas Ornaments. The city's renowned museums, such as the Art Institute of Chicago, also join in on the holiday cheer. To immerse yourself in the local experience, savor a hot dog from Portillo's or indulge in a deep-dish pizza from Pequod's. Explore Logan Square and catch a film at The Logan Theater, a vintage movie theater dating back to 1915. For a cozy and relaxing break, visit Gaslight Coffee Roasters and savor a delicious espresso drink in their warm and rustic cafe. To experience the best of Chicago during Christmas, consider staying at The Peninsula Chicago, an upscale hotel located along the Magnificent Mile. This prime location allows you to easily access the city's best Christmas decorations and attractions.
Washington, DC, is a captivating destination to visit during the holidays. The capital city transforms into a magical Christmas wonderland, with numerous evergreens adorned in festive decorations. The National Christmas Tree, a must-see attraction, features ornaments created by artists from all across the country. Another tall Christmas tree can be found on the West Lawn of the US Capitol, hand selected from one of the country's national forests. The holiday cheer extends to the Smithsonian Museums, which also participate in the festive celebrations. Make sure to explore the annual holiday exhibit at the United States Botanic Garden, attend the enchanting ZooLights at the Smithsonian event, and get lost in the world's largest light maze at Enchant Christmas. One of the highlights of the holiday season is Mount Vernon by Candlelight, where you can take a seasonal tour of George Washington's historic property. Additionally, you can experience the joy of watching a special fireworks show before Christmas. Immerse yourself in the Christmas spirit by staying in the heart of the historic district at St. George Inn. This charming hotel provides the perfect base to enjoy the Christmas celebrations in Washington, DC.
St. Augustine, Florida
While it may not experience snow, St. Augustine, Florida, captivates visitors with its charming Christmas atmosphere. This historic city transforms into a winter wonderland during the holiday season, offering a wide range of activities and attractions for all to enjoy. From mid-November to the end of January, the bustling downtown area is adorned with millions of sparkling white lights, creating a truly magical experience. The Night of Lights festivities kick off with the lighting of the official tree, followed by parades, live nativities, Christmas markets, and glittering boat regattas. Take the opportunity to immerse yourself in the city's rich history by exploring the Castillo de San Marcos and the Colonial Quarter, where you can witness reenactments of life in the 18th century by costumed rangers and volunteers. The St. Augustine Lighthouse offers breathtaking views, especially when illuminated at night. Don't miss the chance to attend Luminary Night at the Maritime Museum, where Santa is sure to make an appearance. You can also opt to explore the lit-up historic district from the comfort of the Old Town Trolley, complete with magical glasses, warm cookies, and cider. Another unique way to experience the lights is by taking a boat tour, with options ranging from luxury schooners to the pirate ship Black Raven. For the perfect stay in St. Augustine, consider booking a room at St. George Inn. This centrally located hotel allows you to fully experience the Christmas celebrations in the city.
New York City, New York
New York City is undoubtedly one of the most enchanting destinations for a Christmas vacation in the USA. The city comes alive during the holiday season, offering a multitude of magical experiences. From dazzling window displays to the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, there is no shortage of festive attractions in New York City. Standing beneath the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a must-do activity, as is ice skating in its vicinity. Marvel at the best Christmas decorations in NYC, including the renowned Saks Fifth Avenue light show, the Cartier Display, and the intricate decorations on the Upper West Side. Christmas window displays are also a beloved tradition in the city, with Macy's Herald Square, Bloomingdale's on Fifth Avenue, and Bergdorf Goodman being top contenders. Indulge in the Christmas spirit by visiting the Christmas market at Bryant Park, which features an ice rink, a Christmas tree, and numerous food vendors. To enhance your stay, consider booking a room at The Plaza Hotel, one of the most iconic hotels in the city. Located near Central Park and Fifth Avenue, it offers easy access to the best Christmas decorations in town.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
If you're seeking a truly enchanting Christmas getaway in the western United States, look no further than Jackson Hole, Wyoming. This charming town transforms into a magical wonderland during the winter season, making it the perfect destination for a holiday escape. You can reach Jackson Hole by flying directly into its unique airport, which is located within the Grand Teton National Park. Alternatively, you can fly into Salt Lake City and enjoy a scenic 4.5-hour drive to Jackson Hole. Downhill skiing is a popular activity in Jackson Hole, with Jackson Hole Mountain Resort being the most renowned option. However, there are also two smaller ski areas to explore. If skiing isn't your cup of tea, there are plenty of other outdoor activities to enjoy. Embark on hikes, snowshoeing adventures, or cross-country skiing expeditions in the nearby Grand Teton National Park. For a less chilly experience, take a scenic drive to admire the park's beauty. For a more adventurous outing, book a snowmobiling trip to explore the unplowed roads in the national park or visit local hot springs. Continuum Hotel, situated at the base of the slopes in Teton Village, provides the perfect accommodation for your stay, complete with an outdoor heated pool and jacuzzi. Jackson Hole truly offers a winter wonderland for a memorable Christmas vacation.
Croix, US Virgin Islands
The Caribbean islands are the perfect destination for a Christmas getaway, and St. Croix's Crucian Christmas Carnival is one of the largest events on the island. People from all around the world come to join in on the festivities.
The picturesque island of St. Croix is the perfect place to enjoy warm weather during your Christmas escape.
Crucian Christmas is not just a one-day event, it lasts the entire month. St. Croix has a rich history, and this festival is a continuation of that legacy. Dating back to 1912, Crucian Christmas is a time to relax and celebrate the culture with parades, art fairs, local cuisine, and more.
The main celebrations take place in Frederiksted, on the west side of the island. Opening night is known as J'ouvert, and it's the perfect opportunity to try local food vendors and admire the art created by talented local artists.
The two largest celebrations on the island are the Children's Parade and the Adult Parade, both of which are extravagant events featuring cultural costumes, dancing in the streets, drinks, and lots of fun.
In addition, December marks the beginning of the tourist season in the US Virgin Islands. The weather is ideal for outdoor celebrations and excursions.
One of the most popular excursions on the island is a visit to Buck Island National Reef National Monument. You'll have the opportunity to explore the uninhabited Buck Island, home to Turtle Beach, which is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. While snorkeling, you'll be amazed by the breathtaking coral reefs, colorful fish, and diverse marine wildlife in the Caribbean.
Lastly, no visit to St. Croix is complete without hiking the Carambola Trumbull Trail to the natural tide pools located in the northwest part of the island.
Christmas is a unique and beautiful time to visit St. Croix. You'll have the chance to enjoy its natural beauty, as well as immerse yourself in its rich history and vibrant culture.
Where to stay: For a wonderful stay in St. Croix, check out the Sand Castle on the Beach, located right in Frederiksted near all of the Christmas activities.
Suggested by Rachel of Caribbean Uncovered
Annapolis, a military town located along the Chesapeake Bay, knows how to celebrate the holiday season in style. The city sparkles with Christmas lights, especially on boats and along the water's edge. On select Thursdays leading up to December 25, the charming downtown shops stay open until midnight, offering a special shopping experience. This event is aptly named Midnight Madness, and in addition to late-night deals, you can enjoy treat giveaways and an abundance of Christmas decorations.
Natchitoches, pronounced "nack-a-dish" and named after its native people, is one of Louisiana's oldest settlements. During the holidays, the entire city lights up with impressive displays, and family-friendly festivities take place every weekend from Thanksgiving through Christmas. However, the standout event is the boat parade, where string lights and fireworks create a mesmerizing reflection on the Cane River.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Christmas time is the perfect season to visit the vibrant city of New Orleans. Known for its festive atmosphere year-round, New Orleans truly comes alive during the holidays.
Experience the magic of holiday lights in New Orleans.
If you're looking to escape the cold, the mild winters of the US Gulf Coast make New Orleans the perfect winter destination.
The city's beautiful architecture and rich history will captivate history enthusiasts. Food lovers will delight in the wide variety of culinary traditions found in New Orleans.
December temperatures in New Orleans typically range from highs around 64 degrees Fahrenheit to lows in the 40s. However, occasional cold fronts can bring unexpected drops in temperature, so it's advisable to pack some warm layers just in case.
While in New Orleans, be sure to visit the elaborately decorated Roosevelt Hotel, where the lobby transforms into a winter wonderland with stunning light displays. Grab a drink at the iconic Sazerac Bar, and try a festive cocktail or a classic New Orleans favorite like the Sazerac.
Take a stroll through the Garden District to admire the Christmas decorations adorning the historic homes. The most beautiful neighborhoods in the city can be found in the garden district, and their festive decorations add an extra touch of charm.
Don't miss the lighting of the bonfires on the levee, a Cajun tradition. Rows of bonfires are set up along the levees of the Mississippi River, and on Christmas Eve, they are lit to guide Papa Noel.
While the bonfires are not located within the city of New Orleans, a short drive to St. James Parish will grant you the opportunity to witness this magical sight.
Indulge in a Reveillon dinner, another French tradition that still thrives today. Many restaurants in the city offer special Reveillon menus for this celebratory meal served on Christmas Eve. Check out the released menus as the holidays approach and make a reservation in advance.
Where to stay: Book a stay at the Windsor Court Hotel, located close to the French Quarter. The hotel lobby features fabulous holiday decorations, including a dramatic Christmas tree, twinkling white lights, and abundant poinsettias.
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More Options For Best Places To Visit For Christmas In USA
If you're in search of a warm Christmas away from the cold weather, Destin is a great choice. The beach offers plenty of warmth, and there are numerous activities to enjoy, including parades and dolphin cruises. The area is also known for its abundance of restaurants and shops along Destin Harbor Boardwalk.
Taking a sunset dolphin cruise is a must-do activity during your Christmas stay in Destin. With fewer tourists visiting during this time, you'll have the perfect opportunity to explore the city.
Best Christmas Getaways For History
10. Kennebunkport, Maine
Image Credit: KennebunkportmaineKennebunkport, Maine, is a picturesque coastal town that takes on a special charm during the Christmas season.
With its historic New England architecture, quaint streets, and stunning coastal views, Kennebunkport provides a festive backdrop for holiday celebrations.
One of the highlights of Christmas in Kennebunkport is the annual Christmas Prelude festival, which typically spans over the first two weekends of December. This beloved tradition offers a variety of activities, including tree lightings, holiday concerts, craft fairs, and a picturesque candlelit stroll through Dock Square.
During the holiday season, Kennebunkport's dining scene comes alive with numerous restaurants offering special menus that showcase the area's fresh seafood and classic New England dishes.
12. Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia One Of The Best Places To Spend Christmas in USA
If you're seeking a charming small-town Christmas getaway, look no further than colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.
This historic college town offers a plethora of festive events and activities during the holiday season. Best of all, many of the events are free to attend.
One of the highlights of Christmas in Colonial Williamsburg is the Grand Illumination, an annual event beloved by locals and visitors alike. During this celebration, candles and fireworks illuminate the night sky, creating a magical atmosphere. Visitors can enjoy musical performances, caroling, and a festive ambiance reminiscent of colonial times.
No trip to Colonial Williamsburg would be complete without exploring the historic buildings and sites. Many of these buildings are decorated for Christmas, and you can enter them for free. Make sure to visit the Governor's Palace, Capitol Building, and Wythe House while you're in town.
13. Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria, Virginia, is a wonderful place to visit in the USA during Christmas time.
Old Town Alexandria, with its well-preserved 18th- and 19th-century architecture, is beautifully decorated for the holidays with twinkling lights, wreaths, and festive window displays.
One of the highlights of Christmas in Alexandria is the annual Scottish Christmas Walk Parade, a cherished tradition that showcases Scottish pride. Hundreds of participants from various Scottish clans don traditional attire and march through the charming streets of Old Town Alexandria, accompanied by the sound of bagpipes.
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is known as "Christmas City USA" for a reason. This charming city comes alive during the holiday season with festive holiday markets, the Live Advent Calendar, and a unique history to explore.
Every night, the city places candles in every window, a local tradition that creates a warm and inviting atmosphere. You'll also find an abundance of light displays, dazzling Christmas trees, and festive decorations that will immerse you in the holiday spirit.
Two popular markets open up exclusively for the holidays: the Christmas Huts on Main, inspired by the German tradition of Weihnachtsmarkt, where you can find handmade jewelry, treats, and gifts, and Christkindlmarkt, an indoor extravaganza featuring thousands of artisan goods, live performances, and ice skating. Don't miss out on these fantastic holiday markets.
In addition, from December 1 to 23, you can participate in the Live Advent Calendar at the historic 1810 Goundie House. Each day offers different activities, including musical acts, arts and crafts sessions, giveaways of seasonal snacks, and more.
Chris McLennan/Vail Resorts
Vail, Colorado, is a winter wonderland during the holiday season. The ski season is in full swing, with fresh powder, village tree lighting ceremonies, and New Year's Eve festivities. Vail is not only one of the best Christmas towns in the U.S., but it's also known for its excellent coffee and cocktails. Start your morning with delicious beverages from local favorites Yeti's Grind and Loaded Joe's. In the evening, sip on well-crafted drinks at Root & Flower. For a memorable New Year's celebration, dine at Flame, the fine dining restaurant within Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail, and enjoy a nightcap at The Sebastian - Vail, a Timbers Resort. When it's time to rest, the charming and alpine-chic Lodge at Vail, a RockResort, offers a delightful stay with a heated outdoor pool and cozy fire pits.
Breckenridge is another fantastic destination for a Christmas getaway in Colorado. The town comes alive with festivities as ski season reaches its peak. From tree lighting ceremonies to the Race of the Santas, a half-mile footrace featuring costumed runners, there's always something exciting happening in Breckenridge. After a day on the slopes, indulge in the house-made beers at Breckenridge Brewery or enjoy martinis and flights at Base Nine Bar.
North Pole, Alaska
While it may not be located at the magnetic North Pole, the city of North Pole in Alaska fully embraces the Christmas spirit. Founded in 1953, the city is home to the Santa Claus House, a former post office turned sprawling Christmas store. You'll find toys, holiday decor, and charming letters to Santa lining the walls. Don't miss the chance to meet Santa himself as you explore the aisles filled with Christmas wishes. Additionally, North Pole offers outdoor activities such as a hike through the snow-blanketed Chena Lake Recreation Area, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling trails, and even ice fishing. And if you're lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the mesmerizing Northern Lights, as December is in the middle of aurora season.
Connie Coleman/Getty Images
Leavenworth is a unique American town that transports you to Germany in the heart of the Washington Cascade Mountain Range. With its Bavarian-style architecture and the nearby Enchantments, which resemble the Alps, you'll feel like you're in Europe during Christmas.
Late November marks the start of the town's transformation, with over half a million lights adorning every corner until February. You can enjoy the beautiful light displays between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. every night. The weekends are especially festive, with activities such as gingerbread house displays, caroling, and appearances by Santa. Leavenworth truly offers a magical Christmas experience.
Ryan Bonneau/Telluride Tourism Board
Telluride is a charming and eccentric town that truly comes alive during this time of year. The highlight is the Ski Tree, an actual tree made entirely out of old skis. It becomes illuminated during the annual tree lighting event, accompanied by a bonfire made from more old and broken skis. No matter the season, you'll enjoy the vibrant nightlife in Telluride. Make sure to have a cocktail at the Timber Room in the Madeline Hotel and Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection, and stop by the New Sheridan Hotel's Historic Bar, which has maintained its original mahogany-paneled look since 1895.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Courtesy of Brookgreen Gardens
Winter is the ideal time to visit this family-friendly beach town, as it offers lower rates and a delightful festive atmosphere. Myrtle Beach is known for its holiday-specific attractions, such as Brookgreen Gardens' annual display of 2,700 hand-lit candles and Ripley's Aquarium's Festival of Trees. Don't miss the beautiful decorations at the Carolina Opry Theater, especially the renowned "The Christmas Show of the South."
Cleveland is a hidden gem for Christmas travel in the US. It boasts breathtaking historic buildings, intriguing attractions, and delectable cuisine, all at affordable prices. When it comes to Christmas destinations, Cleveland offers something for every type of traveler.
A holiday concert in Cleveland is an unforgettable experience. The city's Severance Hall is a stunning example of art deco architecture, and the Cleveland Orchestra is renowned worldwide.
For those visiting in late November, the Winterfest kickoff is a must-attend event. It features live concerts, a pop-up market, and culminates in a mesmerizing fireworks show.
If you miss the Holiday Lighting Ceremony in November, fret not. This event continues to be celebrated throughout February.
Other special events include the winter lights displays at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, the Festival of Trees at the Allen Theatre, and the unique dining experience offered at Merwin's Wharf's igloo village.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
David J. Murray/Clear Eye Photo
Portsmouth is a charming waterfront town in New England with a rich history dating back to the 1600s. During winter, the town becomes a festive wonderland, especially at the 10-acre Strawbery Banke Museum. In December, you can enjoy the open-air skating at Puddle Dock Pond or take a stroll along candle-lit paths to admire the beautifully decorated historic homes. New Hampshire also offers the added perk of tax-free shopping statewide, making it the perfect opportunity to buy classic toys and children's books in Portsmouth.
Atlantic City, New Jersey
A casino and boardwalk might not be the first things that come to mind when you think of Christmas, but Atlantic City offers a unique holiday experience. 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 are just some of the festivities you can enjoy while soaking up the city's vibrant atmosphere.
Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May is a picturesque Jersey Shore town with a strong Victorian influence, making it a delightful destination during the holiday season. Take a leisurely stroll along the Washington Street Mall, adorned with beautiful garlands and festive lights. While there, don't miss a visit to The Original Fudge Kitchen for some delicious fudge and saltwater taffy gift boxes. For a truly enchanting experience, consider staying at Congress Hall, which transforms its Grand Lawn into a winter wonderland complete with festive activities, especially enjoyable for families.
Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism
Nantucket's annual Christmas Stroll is a highlight of the holiday season. This tradition originated in the 1970s as a way to provide locals with a convenient shopping experience closer to home. Now, on the first weekend of December, visitors can enjoy a charming downtown filled with Christmas trees, wine and cocktail tastings, and organized walking tours. Be sure to browse the beautiful ornaments, decor, and gifts at Murray's Toggery Shop and Jessica Hicks. Additionally, the Whaling Museum's annual Festival of Trees showcases creatively decorated Christmas trees by community members.
Orlando is an exceptional choice for a memorable Christmas experience in the USA. With mild winter weather and world-class theme parks, it offers the perfect combination of fun and festivity.
Christmas decorations at Magic Kingdom
Immerse yourself in the holiday spirit by visiting the enchanting Walt Disney World, where all the parks are beautifully decorated for Christmas. Experience the magical projections on Cinderella's Castle at Magic Kingdom and join Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party for a special parade and fireworks. At EPCOT, indulge in the International Festival of the Holidays and savor holiday foods from around the world. Universal Orlando Resort also offers fantastic holiday experiences, including Grinchmas at Seuss Landing and the spectacular Universal's Holiday Parade Featuring Macy's famous balloons. Don't miss the illuminated Hogwarts Castle in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Downtown Orlando also embraces the holiday season, with Lake Eola showcasing a tall Christmas tree and festive decor. Explore the city's holiday spirit at various events and attractions.
Where to stay: The Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek is a remarkable resort nestled amidst a serene nature preserve, yet conveniently close to the theme parks.
The charming Bavarian-style village of Helen is an extraordinary destination for a Christmas getaway in the USA.
Every building in Helen is designed in the enchanting Bavarian style, creating a fairy tale-like atmosphere that becomes even more magical during the Christmas season.
Downtown Helen PC: Alpine Helen White County Convention and Visitors Bureau
A highlight of visiting Helen during Christmas is the Georgia Mountain Coaster, an exhilarating ride that reaches speeds of up to 28 miles per hour. Experience the thrill of the coaster while enjoying the stunning Christmas lights that adorn the town.
Throughout the season, Helen hosts incredible Christmas events. The annual lighting of the village takes place the day after Thanksgiving, marking the beginning of festivities. Enjoy Christmas music, hot cocoa, and the chance to meet Santa and his elves.
On select weekends, the Christkindlmarkt lines the town streets with stalls selling local goods, unique Christmas decor, and handmade gifts that are perfect for your loved ones.
The Christmas Parade, held in mid-December, showcases local performers and culminates with the appearance of Santa Claus.
While in Helen, make sure to explore the beautiful surrounding mountains and nature. Hike up Mount Yonah or explore Duke's Creek Trail to witness picturesque waterfalls. For a shorter walk, visit Anna Ruby Falls, or take a shuttle to the top of Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia.
Where to stay: For the best accommodations in Helen, consider the Valhalla Resort Hotel, located just a few minutes outside of downtown.
Solvang proudly proclaims itself as "the most Christmassy town in the USA," offering a truly delightful holiday experience.
This charming Danish-themed town in California celebrates Julefest throughout December.
Jule Hus offers exquisite Christmas ornaments and gifts
Located in the picturesque Santa Ynez Valley near Santa Barbara, Solvang offers a fantastic vacation destination. Explore the town's unique shops, many of which are beautifully decorated for Christmas with individual trees, wreaths, and poinsettias. At night, the town's buildings illuminate, creating a festive and magical ambiance. Don't miss the opportunity to visit authentic Danish bakeries, indulge in holiday-themed sweet treats, and savor the scent of gingerbread.
The town's Christmas tree lighting takes place in early December, providing a dazzling sight. Join in the hunt for elves, known as nisse, hidden throughout downtown. Both kids and adults will enjoy this joyful activity. Explore the various stores offering exquisite Christmas-themed ornaments, decor, and gifts, even if just to admire the lovely window displays.
The Santa Ynez Valley as a whole boasts an impressive selection of wine tasting rooms, wineries, and restaurants serving delectable farm-to-table cuisine. Each town in the valley has its own unique charm and downtown area to explore.
Where to stay: Hotel Corque is a boutique hotel located close to shopping and dining in downtown Solvang. The well-appointed rooms and views of the lit-up Solvang Village after dark make for a wonderful stay.
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In conclusion, the United States offers a wide array of charming and picturesque Christmas towns and cities for everyone to enjoy. From the Scandinavian-inspired Solvang, California to the lively Newport, Rhode Island, each destination captures the magic and spirit of the holiday season in its own unique way. Whether you're looking for vibrant city lights or cozy small-town festivities, there are plenty of options to choose from. So, pack your bags and get ready to create unforgettable memories in these enchanting destinations. Merry Christmas and happy travels!
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