December is a magical time of year in many places in the USA. Christmas festivities are in full swing and you can feel the joy and excitement that this brings. There are beautiful Christmas lights and decorated Christmas trees, and of course, decadent Xmas treats tempting you almost everywhere. Some of us live in hot sunny climates and daydream about winter wonderlands filled with sleigh rides, snowy visits to Santa workshops and hot chocolate. While others live in these winter wonderlands and can’t wait to discover Christmas delights on beaches, by hotel pools, and while walking in t-shirts and shorts along city streets or country paths. If you are not sure what you want, you have come to the right place. Here are the 23 best places to visit in the USA for Christmas.
This post may contain affiliate links. That means that I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you buy something through my site. This helps me run my website and produce the articles that I hope you find helpful.
How These Reviews Are Organized
In this article, I have asked 23 travel bloggers where they have found the best Christmas events in the United States. Unsurprising, they are located in all four corners of the continental USA, as well as Hawaii. As you expect, most big cities have over the top extravaganzas. However, many small cities and towns will blow your socks away with their beauty and Christmas spirit. In addition, when not gazing at gingerbread houses or watching Xmas parades, all of these places offer amazing every day attractions and experiences. As you will see, I haven’t made it easy for you to choose where to go.
Many places in the United States start hanging Christmas lights, setting up Xmas trees, and opening Christmas markets in mid to late November. This is an ideal time to travel to enjoy these events without crowds and to take advantage of lower costs from travelling in low season. If you are interested, please take a look at my article 20 Best Places To Visit In USA In November. For those of you who are looking for a little more adventure with even more cost savings, consider visiting Europe. Here are 24 Best Places To Visit In Europe in November.
23 Best Places To Visit In USA For Christmas
New York City, New York
By James Ian of Travel Collecting
Christmas in New York City is a magical experience. There are so many amazing things to see and do making New York City one of the best places to visit in the USA for Christmas.
All of the department stores decorate for the holidays, and you can do an easy walking tour around Midtown Manhattan taking in all of the holiday windows. Along the way, visit Santaland at Macy’s and stop at Bryant Park or Rockefeller Center and go ice skating surrounded by the iconic New York skyscrapers!
There are also decorated Christmas trees throughout the city. The largest and most famous is the real tree in Rockefeller Center that is topped with an enormous Swarovski crystal star. Other interesting trees are the one at the Met, which is surrounded by an antique Italian creche; the animal origami-covered tree at the American Museum of Natural History; and the bright blue tree at Bryant Park. Stop at the Bryant Park Holiday Village for a hot chocolate or hot toddy while you’re there.
NYC is a great place to stock up on gifts. There are outdoor holiday markets at Union Square, Bryant Park and inside Grand Central Terminal that sell hand-crafted gifts.
Finally, there are a couple of classic shows to enjoy. Kids and kids-at-heart will love the iconic Rockettes in the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. It has real-life camels, the high-kicking Rockettes and, of course, Santa. Another show not to miss is the annual season of The Nutcracker by the New City Ballet at Lincoln Center.
Flights And Weather
There are three international airports that serve New York City. JFK is a 35-minute drive from Midtown Manhattan if there is no traffic (which there almost always is). The much smaller La Guardia is 25 minutes from Midtown with no traffic. The third airport, Newark, is actually in nearby New Jersey and is also about half an hour with good traffic from Midtown.
The average temperature in New York City in December is 45°F. It can snow in December, though it isn’t that common and the average December snowfall is only 4.4 inches.
There are so many hotels to choose from in New York City. Without question, choosing a hotel is one of the most overwhelming tasks when planning a trip there. I have stayed at several. On my last trip, I stayed at the Kimpton Hotel Eventi which I loved. The hotel was luxurious but still reasonably priced and the location was fantastic for many amazing attractions. We were easy walking distance to the High Line and Macys, and easy subway rides to Times Square and Broadway Shows. Even better, everyday they offered complimentary wine and cheese!
By Erin Clarkson of Savannah First-Timer’s Guide
Savannah is charming any time of year, but something about the Christmas season makes it feel extra magical. From the hundreds of twinkle lights draped across Broughton Street to the seasonal greenery in the squares to the carolers that stroll through the Historic District…Savannahians just know how to celebrate the season!
A few of the most popular seasonal events include the Holiday Boat Parade, the Gingerbread Trail, and the Holiday Tour of Homes. Make sure to also visit the beautiful Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist. It is filled with red poinsettias and an elaborate nativity scene.
The most festive areas of town during the holiday season include River Street, Broughton Street, and City Market. Don’t forget to stroll down Jones Street, which is considered one of the prettiest streets in America. Be sure to check out all the beautiful Christmas decorations in Savannah’s Historic District. They are very classic in nature and look like something straight out of a Dickens novel.
Two of the most popular dining spots for the holidays are The Olde Pink House and the 17hundred90 Inn & Restaurant. Since Savannah is one of the best places to visit in the USA for Christmas, make sure that you make reservations at least a month in advance for The Olde Pink House!
Flights And Weather
If you’re planning a visit, the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) is the closest option. From there, it’s just a short 15-mile drive to the Historic District. You won’t need to stuff your suitcase with heavy winter coats, since the average temperature in December falls in the upper 60s to low 70s.
Erin says, “The Marshall House is a fantastic place to stay. The hotel is in a very convenient location on Broughton Street. I’s very easy to walk to restaurants, landmarks, and shops.”
Asheville, North Carolina
By Bret Love & Mary Gabbett of Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide
With its incredible array of outdoor attractions, critically acclaimed restaurants, and thriving cultural scene, you could argue that Asheville is one of the best places to visit in the USA at any time of year. But the mountain scenery and art deco architecture are especially attractive when surrounded by the festive lights and decorations of the holiday season.
Despite its location in the mountains, the town offers surprisingly mild temperatures in December, with average highs of 50ºF and lows of around 31ºF. While a white Christmas in Asheville is not completely out of the question, it is certainly not guaranteed.
Regardless of the snow (or lack thereof), it’s a beautiful place to visit around the holidays. In addition, there are plenty of things to do in Asheville for Christmas. For starters, you’ll want to see Christmas at Biltmore Estate (the largest privately-owned home in the US), which starts with the raising of a 35-foot-tall tree in the Banquet Hall in early November. You can take daily tours of the lavish Estate all decked out in the festive colors of the season. Their nighttime candlelit tours make for an excellent date night.
You’ll also love Winter Lights at the North Carolina Arboretum. Thousands of shimmering Christmas lights make up shining displays along their wooded edge and gardens. Last year, there were several new nature-themed displays, including a giant daisy “garden,” winter wildlife and colorful butterfly displays, and an insect lantern exhibit.
Of course, there are also lots of other Asheville attractions and activities that you can do all year round. This includes driving the Blue Ridge Parkway to visiting iconic landmarks like Mount Mitchell State Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But these unique Xmas events are what makes Asheville, North Carolina one of the best places to visit in the USA for Christmas.
Although it’s one of the larger towns in the Blue Ridge Mountains (population approximately 92,000), Asheville does not have its own international airport. You can fly into Charlotte Douglas International Airport, which is located about 120 miles to the southeast. But Delta, American, United, and Allegiant Airlines all offer direct flights into Asheville Regional Airport from major US cities like Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, and NYC.
Brett and Mary say, “If you love those competitive cooking shows, you won’t want to miss the 29th Annual National Gingerbread Competition at the Omni Grove Park Inn (one of our favorite Asheville hotels). This is a 12-day Xmas event featuring some of the most elaborately decorated Gingerbread Houses you’ve ever seen.”
By Lori Sorrentino of Naples Florida Travel Guide
If you’re dreaming of something other than a white Christmas this year, a tropical holiday can be just as magical, and a wonderful break from the freezing cold! Hop a flight to southwest Florida and head to the Paradise Coast of Naples where Christmas is every bit as festive as the north. However, average winter temps hover pleasantly in the mid-80’s (F).
Holiday parades along the southern Gulf Coast are anything but typical. Santa usually arrives on a party boat decked out in holiday lights and rocking Christmas tunes. The annual Christmas boat parades herald the start of the holiday season, and there are several you can attend throughout December.
The annual tree lighting ceremony also kicks off the holidays the first week of December. During a two-day celebration, there is a long table on 5th Avenue, a skating rink, and a stunning live Nativity scene. The magical scene reappears throughout Christmas week as well.
Throughout the holidays, shops in the downtown create unique displays and artificial snow machines add a bit of traditional Christmas. But the real reason that Naples is one of the best places to visit in the USA for Christmas is that all this holiday cheer can be enjoyed along with a trip to the amazing beaches for which the city is known. And while the water might be a bit chilly for locals, the mid-60s temps (F) will suit most visitors just fine!
Getting to Naples is easy. Fly into Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) in Fort Myers, then drive or Uber the 30 minutes to Naples.
Lori says, “The Inn On Fifth is in the center of downtown Naples and one of the best luxury stays in Naples. For the best value, we highly recommend Bellasera Resort.”
By Elizabeth of the Fearless Foreignor
Branson, Missouri is one of the best places to visit in the USA during the Christmas season. It has a lot of holiday events, shows, and activities that don’t take place the rest of the year.
Branson is known for their high quality theater productions. During the holiday season almost all of the shows turn into a seasonal spectacular with Xmas songs, holiday story lines, and festive backdrops.
The theme park, Silver Dollar City, should also be on your list of places to visit. The whole park is decked out in millions of lights. The Christmas in Midtown light spectacular is a highlight of the park, as well as the nightly holiday parade, Christmas sing along train, and Christmas shows.
In December, the average high temperature is 48°F and average low temperature is 26°F. Branson has had as much as 8.4 inches of snow! However, it rarely snows that much. Usually it is only an inch or two and melts quickly during the day. Accordingly, don’t expect Branson to be a winter wonderland, but on the plus side, the temperatures won’t be so low that you can’t be outside enjoying all the holiday festivities!
Many people who visit Branson drive. However, there are several small airports around Branson for those who prefer to fly. The closest, just 20 minutes south of downtown Branson, is the Branson Airport (BKG). Kansas City International Airport (MCI) and St Louis Lambert International Airport (STL), both about 4 hours away, are the closest international airports.
However you reach Branson, Branson at Christmas time is the perfect place to visit during the Christmas season!
Elizabeth says, “The Camden Hotel and Conference center is only minutes away from many of the shows and attractions in Branson. In addition to good prices and clean rooms, it offers delicious free desserts every night!
Las Vegas, Nevada
By Roxanna Keyes of Gypsy With A Day Job
If you are considering a Christmas season vacation, Las Vegas is a perfect choice. The city has everything for a holiday break: warm activities, cold activities, shopping venues, bright decorations and cheerful events. Even if you are not a big Vegas fan, during the holidays it will warm your heart. If it is your first trip to Las Vegas, you will be pleasantly surprised.
Start your trip with a walk on the strip to get into the spirit. Every resort spruces up its already lavish decor with seasonal tributes. You’ll find trees of every size, bulbs and baubles, and festive events at every turn. In particular, take a detour and explore the Wynn, Palazzo, Bellagio, and Aria resorts!
Once you’re fully in the mood, finish your Xmas shopping. You are spoiled for choices. For high end, try The Shops at Crystals, The Forum Shops, or the Grand Canal Shops. For main-stream options try Fashion Show, and for bargains, Las Vegas North Premium Outlets is the best choice.
If shopping exhausts your cheer, the normal Las Vegas attractions are available, and outdoor adventures abound in the surrounding area. Consider getting back to nature and doing some hiking at the stunning Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, only 30-40 minutes drive away. However, if what you really want is more extravagant Christmas events, drive the Las Vegas Motor Speedway light show, walk the Christmas cactus garden at Ethel M. Chocolate Factory, or ride the Holiday Express at Springs Resort.
Flights And Weather
To get to Las Vegas, fly into the McCarran International Airport. The Vegas strip is only 20 minutes away by Uber or Lyft. Avoid taxis as they charge a premium for airport pick up. In December, you will find the average high temperatures around 59 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring a jacket though, as it cools to the low 40s at night.
Roxanna says, “We recommend staying at the Venetian, or sister resort, the Palazzo. The lavish opulence is appropriate for the city, as is the impeccable staff and luxe resort offerings. More importantly, every room is a comfortable suite with clear sitting, dining and sleeping areas.”
By Karee of Our Woven Journey
Leavenworth, Washington is a small, Bavarian-themed city nestled just east of the Cascade Mountains. Its charm draws nearly one million visitors a year, with many of them coming to experience Christmas in the village.
Much of the ambiance is due to the half-million Christmas lights that decorate the city. Over 20,000 people come each weekend to see the lighting ceremonies that happen every Saturday and Sunday during the first three weekends of December.
Since Leavenworth is small, you’ll be able to walk to most of the shops and boutiques that line the streets. Be sure to start at the Nutcracker Museum and the Hat Shop as they are both very popular!
The average temperature for December is 34°F. The snow season starts in October and lasts through March, with December getting at least a couple of inches. You’ll want to be sure to dress properly for this winter wonderland!
If there is snow on the ground when you visit, plan to take a sleigh ride through the beautiful, evergreen forest. There are several places that offer rides and reservations are needed, so plan for this attraction.
Is feeding a real-life reindeer on your bucket list? You can make it happen at the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm! You’ll need to buy tickets ahead of time since this is also a very popular thing to do.
Leavenworth is worth visiting any time of year, but for those wanting to experience the magic of Christmas, Leavenworth is one of the best places to visit in the USA for Xmas.
If you’re planning a trip to Seattle, Leavenworth is a great day trip to add to your agenda. It’s only about a two-hour drive, although you could easily spend more than one day there. Sea-Tac International is the main airport for those flying in from out of state.
Karee recommends the Bavarian Lodge. Located across from the Village center, it offers luxurious accommodations with incredible views of the Village and surrounding mountains. It also includes complimentary full breakfast buffet, heated outdoor pool, and two hot tubs.
By Terri of Female Solo Trek
Baltimore’s nickname is “Charm City” but during Christmas, it becomes “Jolly Charming City”. It is one of the best places to visit in the USA during the Christmas season.
Fly into Baltimore International Airport for a quick 12-mile drive to the neighborhood of Hampden. This tight knit Baltimore neighborhood is famous for its “Miracle on 34th Street!” Now in its 73rd year, this outdoor holiday exhibit causes traffic jams and happy smiles. Parents dress their dogs as well as kids in reindeer antlers and Christmas sweaters. As cars crawl down 34th Street, passengers see traditional Baltimore rowhouses and porches transformed into twinkling holiday homes. More information on the 2021 Miracle on 34th Street program can be found at Christmas Street.com.
Hampden has also hosted the Mayor’s Christmas Parade in the past. In 2015, there were 25,000 people along the 2.5 mile route. The performers included 160 marching units, bands, floats, local TV and radio personalities, over 100 Harley Davidson motorcycles, the Mummers of Philadelphia, Miss Yuletide and Miss Yuletide Jr. Santa Claus flew in for the festivities.
Don’t miss the Baltimore Parade of lighted Boats at historic Fells Point. Also, check out The Farmers Market which offers an array of wreaths and Christmas gifts.
If you can spare an extra day, take the MARC train to Washington DC’s Union Station and check out the Capitol Christmas tree. It is in walking distance!
Terri says, “If money is no object, book your stay at the Four Seasons waterfront luxury hotel.” Its location is amazing and offers beautiful rooms.
By Noel Morata of This Hawaii Life
Christmas in Oahu is special and different on the island than the mainland. You get all the fun decorations, colorful displays, Christmas fairs and events but with a more tropical vibe, colors and gusto. The weather in Oahu is perfect and ranges from the mid 70s to mid 80s with low humidity, wonderful breezy weather and blue skies.
In December, you can experience:
- a fun Christmas parade;
- Xmas lights and decorations at all the major venues and shopping centers;
- a decorated night boat parade;
- Christmas fares and holiday markets;
- firework displays at the Hilton resort; and gorgeous store decorations.
However, all of these Christmas attractions have Hawaiian and tropical flare to wow you. Hot tropical flowers, birds and local imagery are included in traditional Christmas themes and colors to create a unique look, making it one of the best places to visit in the USA for Christmas.
Beyond the Christmas cheer, you can also enjoy iconic Oahu attractions like hiking Diamond Head, visiting Pearl Harbor, and exploring downtown Honolulu.
Visitors to the island fly into Honolulu International airport and most visitors stay around the tourist districts of Waikiki and downtown Honolulu. It’s approximately 25 minutes by taxi or ride share.
Noel says, “There are many options to stay around Waikiki from boutique to luxury brands. However, the iconic place to have a real Oahu experience with beautiful decorations for the holidays would be to stay at The Royal Hawaiian fronting Waikiki Beach”
By Maggie McKneely of Pink Caddy Travelogue
Christmas in Washington, DC is unlike any other place in the US! The nation’s capital goes all out for the holiday season, and it celebrates in a way only DC can. Like decking out the White House. Yes, THE White House. During Christmas time, visitors can tour the Presidential residence and see the annual White House gingerbread cake, the dozens of differently decorated Christmas trees, and an 18th-century nativity scene. (Tip: make tour reservations through your Congressman’s office 3 months in advance). Regardless of your political affiliation, a tour of the White House at Christmas is an amazing experience.
Another can’t miss experience is seeing the National Christmas tree and its surrounding 56 mini trees (one for each state and territory). The annual lighting has been a DC Christmas tradition since 1923 when President Calvin Coolidge lit the first tree. The Capitol also has its own decorated tree located just below the east steps.
Other must-dos include attending a performance of Handel’s Messiah at the National Cathedral and visiting the special Christmas exhibit at the U.S. Botanic Garden (they recreate DC landmarks using just plants!)
If you’re traveling with kids, definitely check out “Enchant DC” (the world’s largest light maze, hosted at Nationals Park), and Zoolights at the Smithsonian Zoo.
Directions And Weather
The best airport is Ronald Regan National Airport (it is international, despite the name). It’s right across the river from downtown DC. The driving time is 15 minutes, or you can take the metro directly from the airport. The temperature in December can vary greatly. It can be in the 20s or in the 70s, but the average is in the 40s-50s. Light snow is possible in December but not common.
Maggie says, “The Willard is one of the most historic hotels in DC and is right next to the White House. It’s luxury, but you’ll be able to say you spent the night in the same place as every important world leader and diplomat who visits DC.”
By Daniela of Fox In The Forest
As one of the most beautiful places in Colorado, Vail is one of the best places to visit in the USA for the Christmas season if you want a winter wonderland. With plenty of skiing adventures, European-inspired villages, and a whole lot of alpine goodness, spending Xmas in Vail should be on everyone’s travel bucket list.
With temperatures ranging from 24°F to 3°F, Vail is a premier ski destination during the winter months, but if you want to explore beyond the slopes, there are plenty of Christmas-inspired activities to keep you entertained during your visit.
For a day spent in the mountains, a sleigh ride with a cup of hot chocolate in hand is a must, as well as a gondola ride to the top to get a first-hand view of the beauty of Vail Valley. To get you into the holiday spirit, you should visit the Kris Kringle Market, an outdoor Christmas market that will have you feeling as though you’ve landed in Europe. Closer to Christmas Eve, the annual Winterfest is an amazing event, with illuminated ice sculptures and Christmas lights that light up the entire town!
Vail is serviced by two airports: The closest one is Eagle Regional Airport (around a 40-minute drive) as well as Denver International Airport, which is around 120 miles east of Vail (around a two hour drive).
New Orleans, Louisianna
Ashlee Fechino of The Happiness Function
New Orleans, Louisiana, has an exciting Christmas season. When most people think of New Orleans, they usually think of Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) in spring. However, it is one of the best places to visit in the USA in December. Reasons being – New Orleans has some of fantastic lights and food to experience!
Many restaurants offer French food menus in honor of Réveillon celebrations which only happen during the month of December. Additionally, there are incredible Xmas light displays at hotels such as The Roosevelt Hotel, Hotel Monteleone, and The Bourbon Orleans.
During the month of December, NOLA typically has mild weather for folks wanting to escape the cold. Temperatures average 65 degrees Fahrenheit with lows in the mid-40s, perfect for sightseeing and exploring the town. However, be sure to pack some layers for the evening. You don’t want to miss walking around Bourbon Street (a.k.a. the French Quarter) and catching some live music on Frenchman Street!
If you are looking for a little more adventure and the weather is on the warmer side, don’t miss taking a swamp boat tour or visiting the historic Oak Alley Plantation. There are multiple tour companies to accommodate transportation to and from hotels on different days of the week or rent a car and do it yourself. They are both easy to reach from New Orleans.
The French Quarter is a quick 30-minute taxi ride from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY).
Ashlee says, “Plan to stay at the historic Hotel Monteleone. Hotel Monteleone is famous for its Carousel Bar along with an impressive Christmas light display. Be sure to eat at Criollo inside – the turtle soup is a must! Hotel Monteleone is one block from Bourbon Street.”
By Brianna Simmons of The Casual Travelist
Alexandria, Virginia is a beautiful historic town located just across the Potomac River from Washington, DC. While there are tons of things to do in Alexandria any time of year, it is one of the best places to visit in the USA at Christmas time.
During the first weeks of December, this all American Colonial town celebrates the holidays with a Scottish flair. While you’re wandering the brick paved streets exploring the 18th century buildings, you’re as likely to hear a Scottish brogue as a southern drawl. Each year Alexandria celebrates its Scottish heritage with the annual Scottish Christmas Walk Parade. Here, Scottish clans parade through town dressed in their finest tartans while bagpipes herald the arrival of Santa Claus.
After welcoming Santa in Scottish style, head over to the Carlyle House to see re-enactors from the First Virginia Regiment set up camp to show how Christmas was celebrated in the Eighteenth century.
Flights And Weather
You can fly into any of Washington DC’s airports but Ronald Regan National Airport is the closest at only 5 miles away. While weather can be variable, December temperatures average 45oF during the day and 30oF at night.
Brianna says, “The Alexandrian Hotel is in the heart of Old Town Alexandria and a great place to base your visit”
By Adria Saracino of The Emerald Palate
Seattle might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of Christmas, but the city has a ton of holiday spirit. Plus there are less tourists and snowy destinations only an hour away, so winter is the perfect time to visit one of the best places to visit in the United States for Christmas.
No matter the weather, there are a ton of Christmas activities in Seattle. For example, there are typically more than 50 holiday craft fairs around the greater Seattle area. The Pacific Northwest has a huge DIY culture, so handmade gifts are easy to come by.
Experiences more your thing? Check out one of the dozens of holiday shows in the city. Head to the classic Nutcracker Ballet or check out the reimagined hip hop and burlesque versions. Another option is to head to Winterfest where they transform the area underneath the Space Needle into a winter wonderland with events, shows, and craft markets.
It’s not Christmas without dazzling decorations, and Seattle has a ton. You can head to Zoo Lights to see fun light installations among the animals. Or you can go to a drive through neighborhood exhibit at the Lights of Christmas Festival or Dazzle.
Directions And Weather
You can experience Christmas in Seattle by flying into Sea-Tac International Airport and then driving 30 minutes to the city. Winter temperatures are usually in the low 40s to 50s, but if you’re lucky to visit during a winter storm you are in for a treat. The city is extremely hilly and the local government is against using salt because it damages the road and is bad for the environment. So even with what east coasters might think of as a light dusting, the city shuts down for an unofficial snow day. And if it really snows like it has for at least a few days the past few years, you can expect to find people cross-country skiing, sledding, and snowboarding in the streets!
Adria says, “Everywhere you turn there will be Christmas festivities in Seattle, but if you want to stay in the middle of it all, get a hotel in downtown Seattle. One great option is the swank Fairmont Olympic Hotel with its Festival of Trees that transforms the lobby into a winter forest. Another option is the more affordable Sheraton Grand, which hosts a huge Gingerbread Village installation in its lobby popular with kids.
Christine Wheeler of Live Love Run Travel
When looking for the best place to visit in the USA for Christmastime, make sure to put Orlando, Florida, on your list. There are plenty of things to do in Orlando at Christmas, from the theme park holiday events to local events unlike those you’ll see anywhere else.
Temperatures range greatly with average temperatures in the mid-70s. Some days can be in the 30s or 40s and others can still get into the upper 80s. Overall, there is less rain and generally cooler weather. It’s a great place to escape the frigid temperatures up north.
The theme parks are a popular Xmas destination, but you can also enjoy touring the hotels at Disney without paying for theme park entry. For example, check out the massive Christmas Tree and the huge gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian.
Gaylord Palms also goes over the top at Christmas with their famous ICE! display and other Christmas shows and activities, including some that are free. The theme changes each year, but there are things for all ages to enjoy.
Light Up UCF is another fun and family-friendly place to enjoy at Christmas. With light shows, free movies, and ice skating, it’s a great spot to enjoy for both kids and adults.
Christmas in Orlando is a special time even without the cold and the snow – in fact, that may be the best part of visiting Orlando at Christmas!
Flights And Weather
To get to Orlando, fly into Orlando International Airport. From there, you can be in downtown Orlando, at the theme parks, or in many of the areas holding Christmas events in about 30 minutes.
Winter in Orlando is one of the best seasons to visit. No hurricanes and humidity (or less humidity at least), and cooler days. You can actually enjoy your time outdoors and not have to deal with the daily thunderstorms found in summertime.
For great rates for accommodation in Orlando, please take a look at the interactive map below.
By Kris Morton of My Michigan Travel
Frankenmuth, Michigan is a small town known for its German heritage and adorable Bavarian-inspired architecture. Michigan’s “Little Bavaria” is fantastic year round, but it is one of the best places to travel to in the USA in December.
One of its top attractions is Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, which claims to be the world’s largest Christmas store. Inside, you’ll find a dizzying array of more holiday decorations and accessories than you could imagine. The store is always popular, but it’s absolutely bustling during the lead up to the holidays. You can shop for ornaments, trees, lights, and more, or take photos with one of the many larger-than-life displays.
Frankenmuth also hosts a traditional Christkindlmarkt during November and December. It features outdoor shopping booths like you’d find throughout Germany and the rest of Europe. You can stroll along the booths selling handmade gifts, décor, and food items. Grab a hot cocoa to sip for warmth! The only thing missing is the gluhwein (hot spiced wine).
Once you’re done, you can fill up on Frankenmuth’s famous family-style chicken dinners. Two competing restaurants – Zehnder’s and Bavarian Inn – serve warm, hearty food like fried chicken, mashed potatoes, stuffing, buttered noodles, cranberry sauce, and more. You can wash it down with Hofbrauhaus beer straight from Munich if you’d like.
Directions And Weather
The closest international airport is Detroit-Metro. Frankenmuth is about an hour and a half north unless you hit rush hour traffic. Average temperature in December is 32oF. It may snow a little but rarely stays on the ground for long.
Kris says, “There are numerous hotels to choose from, but the Bavarian Inn Lodge and Zehnder’s Splash Village are the most fun. Bavarian Inn is located across the famous wooden bridge and features multiple pools, waterslides, an arcade, and an indoor mini golf course. Zehnder’s, located right next door to Bronner’s, has a whole indoor water park in case you’re missing sunny summer days.”
Los Angeles, California
By Francesca Makana of Homeroom Travel
Los Angeles is one of the best places in the USA to visit for Christmas.
During the winter season, there are lots of enjoyable things to do. Do not miss the Descanso Gardens: Enchanted Forest of Lights. This 150-acre botanical garden puts on a huge walk-through light show every Xmas season. Another recommendation is to visit Universal Studios. The park is totally decked out in Christmas decorations and there are fun Christmas-themed snacks.
For music lovers, a Christmas concert at the Walt Disney Concert Hall makes for a fun evening. The LA Philharmonic normally puts on several Christmas sing-along concerts throughout December.
The Christmas season in Los Angeles is fun. It is a warm escape but still feels like Christmas because there are massive amounts of decorations everywhere. There are entertaining events all across the city which makes for a unique winter escape.
Flights And Weather
To get to Los Angeles, you will want to fly into Los Angeles International Airport. This airport is located in Western Los Angeles and it will take about 30 minutes (without traffic) to get to various places across Los Angeles.
During the winter months, the average weather is in the 60s, which makes it the perfect escape for people who do not like the cold.
Francesca says, “To be in the best location, stay in Downtown Los Angeles. The Westin Bonaventure or the Millenium Biltmore are two great hotel choices.”
By Paulina of On The Road
Milwaukee is a wonderful Xmas destination. Top things and places to enjoy in December include Christkindlmarket which is less crowded than other markets. It hosts small wooden huts filled with treasures. You can also eat some yummy Christmas delicacies. Another one is the German Christmas Market, popular for all things German. This includes beer, food, BBQ, and mulled wine.
Do not miss “the Ward” on the first Friday of December, which is one of the most famous neighborhoods of Milwaukee. It has exciting fireworks, live reindeer, and Santa. The Holiday Lights Festival is also fantastic for its variety of shows.
Wisconsin shines in lights and becomes the happiest during this time of the year. The Christmas markets make it special and bright. That is why Milwaukee is one of the best places to visit in the USA during Christmas.
Directions And Weather
Milwaukee is easily reached by air. The Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport is just 10 minutes from downtown. If you are keen for a road trip, you can drive from Chicago, which would take about a day.
The temperature of Milwaukee in December can range from 39.2 degrees Fahrenheit to -37.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Wisconsin sees the highest snowfall during the months of December, January and March. Therefore, pack heavy clothing for outdoor activities.
Paulina says, “For an affordable stay, you can stay in downtown Milwaukee at County Clare Inn.”
By Jenifer Byington of The Evolista
After flying into Phoenix airport, a 2 hour drive will get you to one of the best places to visit in the USA for Christmas. Christmas in Sedona is festive and fun with weather in the low 60s that is perfect for some of the prettiest hiking in the USA. While less than 4 days of rain is expected during the month, you might get lucky with a sprinkling of snow on the gorgeous red rock landscape.
During Xmas, Sedona hosts the festival of lights at Tlaquepaque where they have 6,000 luminarias that adorn the courtyards and walkways. Cheerful holiday displays dress up windows of galleries and restaurants, while live music and a visit from Santa add to the fun. In fact, there are multiple holiday events held in Downtown Sedona all month long.
No matter what time of year you visit, Sedona is well known for 2 things – some of the most amazing hikes and the presence of an energy vortex. Discover both the healing energy and the best views on Sedona Vortex hikes. Devil’s Bridge is another terrific hike to a natural bridge that’s sure to be a hit for your holiday card photo. The best part is that these hikes are easy enough for most everyone and you get spectacular red rock vistas.
Jenifer says, “Enchantment Resort is a luxurious resort with a spa that’s perfectly located at Boynton Canyon, one of the prettiest spots in town. In addition to their beautiful accommodations, they host multiple activities like guided hikes and mountain bike rides.”
By Michelle Moyer of Moyer Memoirs
Denver is one of the best places to visit in the USA during the holiday season because it holds many festive events. There are light displays up and down the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver, including the Mile High Tree. This 110-foot-tall immersive art display lights up with the holiday music. It is lovely to see and hear while strolling around the walk-thru exhibit.
Near the 16th Street Mall, the Christkindle Market is a holiday tradition for small businesses that sell hand-crafted artistic gifts and holiday treats. It is reminiscent of a German Christmas market with little wooden huts showcasing their wares, complete with live entertainment and authentic Bavarian pretzels and Glühwein.
Denver has many sites that are open year-round to enjoy even in the cold winter weather, including some great hikes. The Red Rock Amphitheatre should definitely be on your Denver itinerary. It is only a short drive from downtown and offers beautiful trails in the crisp air of the holiday season.
Flights And Weather
To get here, the Denver International Airport (DIA) is 25 miles from the heart of downtown. It is a hub for Frontier and United Airlines and with airline flights to over 200 destinations around the world.
December is normally the coldest month of the year with an average temperature of 30°F. Although it is chilly, it is very dry and the sky will most likely be clear, blue, and sunny. Unlike the snowy mountains around the city, it doesn’t snow much in the city of Denver. Typically, snow falls are a few days during December with barely an inch of accumulation.
Michelle says, “If you are staying in downtown Denver, the Curtis Hotel is a uniquely themed boutique hotel. It has a different theme for each of its 13 guest room floors. The lobby is also themed and very entertaining. It is a great location for walking around the 16th Street Mall and downtown Denver.”
By Dymphe of Dymabroad
One of the best places to visit in the USA for Christmas is Chicago. There are lots of special things going on in the city. For example, you can visit the Christkindlmarket. This is a very popular annual Christmas market taking place at Daley Plaza. You can shop for unique handcrafted Xmas gifts and eat delicious Christmas treats.
Besides that, going holiday shopping along the Magnificent Mile during this time is lovely. One of the best places is the shopping mall “Water Tower Place” which has lots of holiday decorations. To be immersed in lights, head over to Lightscape at the Chicago Botanic Garden where you can walk along beautifully lit up trails.
Beyond the Christmas celebrations, Chicago has many amazing attractions to experience. Two of the best museums are the The Art Institute of Chicago and the Field Museum. The Art Institute is one of the largest museums in North America and houses an impressive collection of impressionist art from some of the greatest artists of all time, such as Picasso, Monet and Van Gogh. You can get lost in the Field Museum’s amazing exhibits, including exploring Egyptian pyramids.
At Skydeck at Willis Tower, you have incredible panoramic views of the city. In Millennium Park, you can see the famous Cloud Gate sculpture. Also, during December, Millennium Park displays a huge Christmas tree and it is one of the most Instagrammable places in Chicago.
Flights And Weather
To get to Chicago, you can fly into O’Hare International Airport. From the airport, it takes about 20-30 minutes to drive to Downtown Chicago. When visiting the city in December, you can expect an average temperature of 37°F and about 2.5 inches of snowfall.
I have been to Chicago over twenty times. On my most recent trip, I stayed at the Fairfield Inn And Suites Chicago Downtown River North. I was very pleasantly surprised by the amazing location, comfortable beds and the excellent value.
Lake Placid, New York
By Michael and Nicole Sweeney of Affordable Family Travel
Lake Placid is a wonderful place to spend Christmas. Enjoy the Lake Placid Village Holiday Stroll and pick up some last-minute gifts at any of the many great shops in the village. Head over to Santa’s Workshop in North Pole, NY only 20 minutes away where you can meet Santa and his reindeer. The Park offers rides, shows, and of course, Christmas treats.
The average temperature in Lake Placid, NY in December is 31 degrees Fahrenheit and they receive an average of 23 inches of snow during the month. Lake Placid provides the perfect Christmas atmosphere with its snow-covered mountains, a visit with Santa, and snuggling up by a warm fire at one of the lovely lodges in the village.
Lake Placid was home to 2 Winter Olympics so winter is a great time to see the village in all of its glory.
Michael and Nicole say, “Mirror Lake Inn is a quaint hotel with lake view rooms and a large fireplace in its common area. They have a spa and the town’s only 4 Diamond Restaurant. If you are looking for a budget Lake Placid trip, Hampton Inn is located across the street from the lake with outdoor fire pits and an indoor pool.”