Going away for the holidays can make Christmas more relaxing while also giving you a chance to visit places you’ve never been to before. Whether you’re looking for a traditional snowy destination or a warmer place to spend the holiday, the following are some of the top Christmas vacation spots in the U.S.
Jackson, New Hampshire
Jackson is the place to go for a classic Christmas, especially if you stay at the famed Christmas Farm Inn and Spa. During your holiday vacation, you can visit ice castles, stroll through Santa’s village, take sleigh rides, drink hot cocoa and enjoy other festivities. Jackson also offers plenty of outdoor activities in the surrounding White Mountains, including downhill skiing, snowmobiling, and tubing. You’ll also find quaint shops where you can do some Christmas shopping.
For an exciting and memorable Christmas filled with family-friendly activities and attractions, plan a trip to Orlando. Visit Walt Disney World Resort for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, head to Epcot for the International Festival of the Holidays, and enjoy SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration. Universal Orlando Resort and Legoland also have holiday festivities and attractions for the whole family, including holiday parades and stunning holiday lights. Other areas of Orlando besides the theme parks also offer holiday fun, such as Leu Gardens, where Dazzling Nights takes place.
Step back in time when you visit Breckenridge for the holidays. This ski town turns into a Victorian-themed Christmas village with horse-drawn carriage rides, caroling, lighting displays, and more. Look for the perfect gifts at local shops, go sledding in Carter Park, and enjoy holiday dining with mountain views. During your stay, you can also keep busy with outdoor activities such as skiing, snowboarding, or snowmobiling.
Gatlinburg offers a great place to spend Christmas, with millions of light displays to see and holiday shows to attend. In addition to local events, such as the Tour of Lights and Christmas craft shows, the city also provides easy access to holiday attractions in Pigeon Forge and outdoor activities in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (open year-round with free admission). The numerous cozy, and cheap Gatlinburg cabins nestled throughout the foothills make an affordable stay during your Christmas vacation as well. The area gets enough snow for some great skiing, but temperatures aren’t too severe.
New York City, New York
Christmas in New York City offers a chance to enjoy holiday festivities in one of the most famous cities in the world. Go ice skating and see the giant Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza, do your Christmas shopping and check out the elaborate holiday window displays along Fifth Avenue, and catch live performances of the Nutcracker and Radio City’s Christmas Spectacular. Other holiday attractions include eye-catching lighting displays at the New York Botanical Garden, Central Park, and the Bronx Zoo.
For a Christmas with some European flair, spend the holiday in Solvang. This city puts on Danish-style Christmas festivities known as Julefest. Take candlelight tours through the city, have photos taken with Santa at Solvang Park, see nightly light and music shows, watch the Julefest Parade, and do some shopping at the artisanal night marketplace. Other holiday festivities in Solvang include Danish dance performances, Christmas lights and sights at Veterans Memorial Hall, the Makers Market at Elverhoj Museum of History and Art, and the Solvang Nativity Spectacular.
This quaint little town that starred as the setting for Jim Carrey’s Truman Show movie gets its larger crowds in the summer, but in winter things quiet down, and Southern Living magazine rates it one of the best Christmas destinations in the region. With no hotels or high rises along the sugar-white sand beach, and only pristine rental cottages for accommodation, the town hosts a smaller group of winter fans who come to enjoy the gourmet restaurants and eclectic shops. Decorated in lights and bows, the walkable town offers a totally relaxed and fun Christmas visit.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
For a more rugged Christmas, head to Jackson Hole, located near Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. The city’s historic Town Square features tons of holiday lights, chances to meet Santa, hot chocolate, and more. Get your holiday shopping done at the Holiday Art Bazaar, or go on a horse-drawn sleigh ride while watching elk herds nearby. Hotels and ski resorts in the area typically offer fun festivities for the holidays as well, such as cookie decorating and brunch with Santa.
Leavenworth offers a charming alpine village to stay in for Christmas. This Bavarian-style village is filled with specialty shops where you can find one-of-a-kind gifts, as well as restaurants serving traditional German food. Visit the Nutcracker Museum to learn all about this classic Christmas decoration, and purchase your own nutcracker at the Nutcracker Store next door. Take the kids to see Santa, listen to carolers sing, see impressive light displays, and make your own wreath at the Village of Lights.
Taos, New Mexico
This southwestern ski town provides a chance for you to wander through historic streets lined with adobes, gather around bonfires in the street to keep warm and enjoy other festive activities. Yuletide in Taos features an arts and crafts fair, a festival of trees, music group concerts, and a holiday party filled with sparkling lights, Santa, and sweet treats. You can also spend Christmas Eve watching the evening torchlight parade, which includes skiers coming down the slopes with festive flares.