10 Ideal Places to Spend Christmas in USA
The "most wonderful time of the year" is quickly approaching, and even though holiday celebrations might look different this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, you can still find the festive spirit in destinations across the United States and the world. The best Christmas vacations offer cheerful decorations and festive events that capture the holiday spirit, all set against the backdrop of a beautiful destination. And with many ideal holiday destinations located across the country, you're never further than a road trip from a perfect December vacation.
While some destinations and hotels have released their holiday plans, these are subject to change due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, so be sure to check before planning your trip.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Take advantage of perfect skiing and delightful holiday events at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort this December. During the Holiday Roundup from Dec. 24 to Dec. 31, guests enjoy family-friendly events like New Year's Eve fireworks. There are several stunning slopeside lodges to choose from, including the luxurious Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa and the ski-in/ski-out Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole. And while there's plenty to do at the resort, Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park are nearby for any visitors who want to see these breathtaking spots at their wintery best, according to Travel and Leisure.
|Photo: Financial Times|
New York, New York
Movies and TV make New York City to be the quintessential place to spend your Christmas getaway. You can gaze at all the lights, ice skate at the Rockefeller Center or Central Park, see the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, or enjoy the laser light show at Grand Central Station. Also, don’t forget to check out the Christmas villages and markets, Local Adventurer reported.
|Photo: Cathy Pacific|
Christmas Town USA, North Carolina
Right outside of Charlotte, NC, this town is known as McAdenville most of the year, but each December, they change the name to Christmas Town USA. There are over 375 trees, 450,000 lights, and they hand out free hot chocolate and kettle corn to the first 1,000 attendees each night!
It’s free to view the Christmas lights since it’s literally the entire town.
Beaver Creek, Colorado
Hit the slopes and enjoy the ultimate winter wonderland experience at Beaver Creek in Colorado. The season offers festive activities the whole family will enjoy — check the resort's calendar for a full lineup of holiday events. Stay just 26 feet away from the closest chairlift at The Osprey at Beaver Creek, A RockResort, which offers luxurious accommodations and an outdoor heated pool, or book one of just 60 rooms at The Pines Lodge, A RockResort, which boasts incredible views and ski-in/ski-out access. Beaver Creek opens for the winter season on Nov. 24 with updated health and safety procedures.
|Photo: Rope Trotting|
If your idea of a "white Christmas" includes lounging on a warm, white-sand beach, head to one of the Caribbean islands accepting American tourists this holiday season, like Saint Lucia. You'll have to show a negative result from a COVID-19 test taken within five days of arrival and submit a travel registration form, but then you can relax at a COVID-19-certified property for the rest of your stay (find the full protocols on the Saint Lucia website). Luxurious Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, offers a full lineup of holiday activities from Dec. 21 to Jan. 1, including making gingerbread houses, visits from Santa, a traditional family Christmas dinner, and more. Of course, you can also spend your days lounging on the stunning beach or enjoying the many amenities and activities offered by the resort.
|Photo: Inspiring Travel Company|
One of the best places to visit at Christmas is Kauai, Hawaii. Kauai is a fantastic vacation place at any time of the year, but Christmas time is my favorite time to go. The beautiful green island is lite up with lights and Christmas decor is everywhere. The friendly locals and tourists all seem to be full of joy.
According to Savored Journey, the perfect warm balmy air makes for a relaxing place to enjoy the biggest holiday of the year, free from stress. If you want a Christmas tree, you can get a local tree or pack one with you in your suitcase!
It is so fun to wake up on Christmas morning to the sun (and a rooster crow!) The gifts under the tree can be simple, as the Kauai vacation is the biggest gift. Spending Christmas day on the beach with your loved ones feels like a dream.
If you want some adventure, Kauai has so many activities you can do- surfing, boogie boarding, going on a catamaran ride, hiking, beach walks… In the evening, there are many open-air restaurants to enjoy a nice a Christmas dinner out, or, if you have a kitchen, you can cook your traditional Christmas meal.
|Photo: Gio Cao Diem|
Highlands, North Carolina
If you're looking for a charming, small-town Christmas experience that feels like it's straight out of a Hallmark movie, head to Highlands, North Carolina, this holiday season. This picturesque town is located in the southern Appalachian Mountains, within the Nantahala National Forest, so it's the perfect place for a cozy escape. Old Edwards Inn and Spa and Half-Mile Farm (favorite hotels among Travel + Leisure readers) offer plenty of holiday cheer with festive decor and cozy accommodations.
|Photo: Kevin & Amanda|
If you won't have a chance to wander the charming streets of London or Munich this winter, you can get that European feel here in the United States. Solvang is a small city in California's Santa Ynez Valley that was founded by a group of Danes in the early 1900s. They created this adorable Danish community, now known for its Danish businesses and European architecture. Solvang typically hosts Julefest each holiday season, complete with festive events and decor — check the website for updates about this year's celebrations. You can also choose to stay in one of the city's beautiful boutique hotels, like The Landsby or the Winston.
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A popular ski destination among East Coasters, Stowe is within driving distance of several major northeastern cities. The ski season here is slated to start on Nov. 19, so this is an ideal place to go if you're looking for a white Christmas (and plenty of outdoor activities). Stay at The Lodge at Spruce Peak for beautiful mountain views and the only ski-in/ski-out access in town. You can find updated information about COVID-19 measures on the Stowe website.
|Photo: Mom Trends|
Florida Keys, Florida
With pleasantly warm December weather, the Florida Keys are an ideal escape for those looking to spend the holidays in a U.S. beach destination. Take a scenic road trip through the Florida Keys, stopping at islands en route to famous Key West. December is a popular time to visit these beautiful islands, so you may want to opt for a secluded stay at Sunset Key Cottages, voted the best Florida resort in T+L's 2021 World's Best Awards. To get to this charming resort, guests take a ferry from Key West to the 27-acre island. Upon arriving, you'll find serenity and quiet just a short ride from the attractions of Key West.
|Photo: Southern Living|
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe is a great place to visit at any time of year. In fact, it was ranked the number two city in the United States in T+L's 2021 World's Best Awards. Loved for its culture, food scene, and picturesque setting, the city typically also hosts a number of holiday events throughout December, although these are subject to change due to the pandemic. You can even find nearby winter sports at Ski Santa Fe — the tentative dates for the 2021-2022 season are Nov. 25 to April 3. As for a hotel, stay at the nearby Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe, which offers a range of festive amenities, or spend the night on the historic Santa Fe Plaza when you book a room at La Fonda on the Plaza.
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