Are you looking to travel for the holidays but you’re not sure where you want to go? From festive light displays and fireworks to ice skating rinks and mountain resorts, you can’t go wrong with any of these incredible holiday destinations! Whether you want a white Christmas or a warm Christmas- we’ve got you covered with these 12 cheerful and festive Christmas destinations in the USA!
If you’re looking to experience a white Christmas- you’ve got a great chance of getting snowed on in Denver, Colorado! Denver is a magical Christmas destination with numerous holiday activities for the whole family. The Denver Christkindl Market is a traditional European holiday market that is a must-visit. You can also go ice skating and shopping downtown and check out the holiday lights display at the Denver Zoo. If you’re looking for a festive place to stay, book a room at the Gaylord Rockies Resort with their Buddy the Elf “Mission: Save Christmas” pop-up experience. The resort also has snow tubing, ice bumper cars, ice skating and campfires with s’mores right on site!
New York, New York
There’s really no better Christmas destination in the US than New York City! It’s the quintessential Christmas experience! Ice skate in front of the giant Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, then grab tickets to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular with the world famous Radio City Rockettes. The Bryant Park Holiday Market is full of fantastic holiday shopping, sweet treats, and more ice skating. You’ll want to spend some time walking around the city taking in the incredible window displays at the major department stores, and if you’re looking for holiday light displays you’ll want to head over to Brooklyn where the Dyker Heights neighborhood has a world renowned light display!
Chicago is another great Christmas destination for those hoping to see some snowflakes while they take in all the holiday sights. Chicago is known for it’s German inspired Christkindlmarket, with two locations- one downtown at the Daley Plaza and one at Wrigleyville. The city’s giant Christmas tree is lit up at Millennium Park, where you can also go ice skating next to the tree and light displays. You can start (and finish!) all of your Christmas shopping on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile while enjoying the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, then head over to the Lincoln Park zoo for a dazzling light display featuring more than 2.5 million Christmas lights! Also be sure to check out Navy Pier’s “Light Up the Lake” with an indoor ice skating rink, holiday beer garden, train rides, shopping, and visits with Santa.
Want to visit the little town of Bethlehem? Then head to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to visit a German inspired Christmas Village and Christkinlmarkt in this adorable town. Enjoy local artisans selling handmade crafts and gifts, live holiday music, glass blowing demonstrations, and visits with Santa Claus. You can also take a narrated carriage ride through the historic city streets to see the Christmas tree and light displays. The Moravian Bookstore, the oldest continuously operating independent bookstore in the US, offers holiday chocolate and beer tasting while selling holiday merchandise- making it a great place to stop and do some Christmas shopping. Hotel Bethlehem puts on a dazzling light display, and you can head just a bit north of town to the Lehigh Valley Zoo for even more holiday lights on display.
Chances are you won’t find snow in Branson, Missouri- but you will find heaps of holiday spirit! This little town in the Ozark Mountains goes all out for Christmas, making it a popular Christmas destination for families in the US. Head to the Silver Dollar City amusement park for the Old Town Christmas Festival and Midtown Light Spectacular with over 6.5 million Christmas lights set to musical displays. Branson’s Lights of Joy and the Trail of Lights are two more drive trough holiday light displays you won’t want to miss. You can also catch on of Branson’s many Christmas shows including Dolly Parton’s Stampede, A Shepherd’s Christmas Carol, Grand Country Music Hall, the Presleys’ Christmas Jubilee.
Detroit may not be at the top of everyone’s holiday travel bucket list, but it really should be! Head downtown to the urban winter wonderland at Campus Martius Park where you’ll find the city’s giant Christmas tree, ice skating rink, an open air holiday market and the festive Cadillac Lounge- an indoor gathering spot with adult beverages, hot cocoa, s’mores and board games for the whole family to play. In the neighboring town of Dearborn, you’ll want to snag tickets to Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village. Step back in time in this historical village that is decorated for the holidays. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride or a ride in a historic Model-T, go ice skating, and snack on chestnuts roasted over an open fire while you listen to story tellers and carolers throughout the village. It’s a truly magical holiday experience!
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Colorado Springs is a fantastic place to celebrate the holidays, especially if you love Christmas lights! The popular Festival of Lights Parade takes places in early December and there are also incredible light displays at the Cheyenne Zoo and the Broadmoor Hotel. Go ice skating downtown, or take a ride on the Santa Express Train though Colorado’s beautiful Royal Gorge with Santa and his elves! Train tickets include a visit with Santa as well as cookies and cocoa- plus the beautiful winter scenery that will have you feeling like you’re visiting the North Pole! Colorado Springs’ Great Wolf Lodge is a wonderful destination for families celebrating Christmas in the area, with it’s own life-size gingerbread house, visits with Santa and holiday fun for all ages.
If you’re looking for a truly unique way to spend Christmas, and a white Christmas at that, consider the small mountain town of Darby, Montana. Located about an hour and a half south of Missoula in Montana’s Bitterroot Mountains, Darby is home to the Triple Creek Ranch which offers a magical holiday experience. Book a cabin in the mountains and spend your holiday riding horses, snowshoeing, downhill and cross country skiing, ice fishing, and dog sledding. The ranch offers real and artificial Christmas trees for your cabin- and you can bring along your own decorations or they will decorate your tree for you. After filling your day with all sorts of outdoor fun in the mountains, curl up by the fireplace to enjoy a real cowboy Christmas in Montana!
Newport Beach, California
If a white Christmas isn’t your thing, you may want to check out the holiday celebrations in Newport Beach, California. Newport is famous for it’s Christmas Boat Parade, one of the longest running holiday parades in the US- operating since 1097. Hundreds of yachts and ships are decorated for the holidays and parade through Newport Harbor. You can watch the boat parade from shore or from the water on one of five nights. You can also head out on the Holiday Lights cruise anytime during the month of September where you’ll see all of the decorations in Newport Bay from the water.
Park City, Utah
Park City, Utah is another holiday location that offers a high likelihood of a white Christmas! Kick of the holiday season in Park City with the tree lighting ceremony in the Canyons Village, then catch the Park City Electric Parade on downtown’s historic Main Street. You can ride the North Pole Express with the Herber Valley Railroad where you’ll be treated to live holiday music, hot cocoa, Christmas cookies and even a gift from Santa! Park City also offers winter wonderland activities including ice skating, sleigh rides, dog sledding and world-class skiing- complete with a Christmas Eve torchlight parade where skiers traverse down the mountain with giant flares and torches to light up the night.
Love history and Christmas? Why not celebrate both in historic Williamsburg, Virginia? Williamsburg gets all decked out in holiday decorations with activities the whole family will enjoy. Start your stay with the Grand Illuminations complete with the Procession of the Yule Log, holiday songs and stories, an appearance by Father Christmas and fireworks over the Governor’s Palace and Capitol building. Yorktown celebrates a special Christmas tree lighting as well as the Yorktown Lighted Boat Parade, Mistletoe Market and holiday shopping in the Christmas Market on Main. The Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown celebrate Christmastide, where you can celebrate the holidays with historic Christmas traditions from the 17th and 18th centuries. Many of the hotels and taverns in town offer special holiday meals on Christmas day!
St. Augustine, Florida
We’re going to finish off our list of awesome Christmas destinations in the US with one more warm weather destination for those of you who don’t want to wear eight layers of winter clothing to celebrate the holidays! St. Augustine, Florida is a warm yet festive place to celebrate Christmas. St. Augustine’s annual Christmas parade kicks off the holiday season in early December. The Nights of Lights includes a walking path of over 20 city blocks in St. Augustine’s historic downtown district that are decorated with over 3 million white lights. You can walk the light path, or hop on the Old Town Trolley for a trolley ride through the light displays. The Lighthouse Illuminations display consists of 21 Christmas trees, each decorated in it’s own special theme. You can also enjoy the Holiday Regatta of Lights that lights up the St. Augustine’s Matanzas Bay between the Bridge of Lions and Castillo de San Marcos.
If you’re looking for more travel this winter, be sure to check out our Favorite Family-Friendly Ski Resorts in the USA next!