best xmas parades to see in usa
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16 Best Places To Watch Christmas Parades In The USA (2024)

Last Updated on March 13, 2024 by Nicole

There are some amazing places to visit in the United States to celebrate the Christmas season. These cities and towns offer beautiful Christmas trees, light displays, musical performances, and fantastic holiday markets. And of course, if it’s truly a special Christmas destination, it will also hold at least one spectacular Christmas parade. These special events happen all over America in the months of November and December. In some of these destinations, the holiday season brings a snowy winter wonderland while in others, you will be sitting beneath palm trees shading from the warmth of the sun. So where should you go? Here are 16 of the best places to watch Christmas parades in the USA.

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Other Options

If after reading this article you are looking for more Christmas inspiration, then check out 20 Best Places To Visit In The USA In November and 23 Best Places To Visit In The USA For Christmas. These articles highlight other amazing Christmas parades and Christmas festivities, like magical Christmas light displays, Christmas markets, and beautifully decorated Christmas trees.

If you would like to try and save money, travel in November when it is low season and there are normally cheaper flights and accommodation. In addition, there will be fewer crowds to deal with.

If you have always wanted to explore the best Christmas places in Europe, please see 24 Best Places To Visit In Europe In November and 24 Best Places To Visit In Europe For Christmas.

For those of you who wish to only travel to snow filled destinations, then you should read 24 Best Snowy Winter Wonderlands In the USA.

On the other hand, if your only desire is to sit on beautiful beaches, then check out the following:

Finally, if you need a bit of gift giving inspiration, then these might help:

  • 38 Best Christmas Stocking Stuffers For Adventure Seekers And Travelers; and 
  • 60 Best Christmas Gifts For Men.

Best Christmas Parades In The USA

Here are 16 of the best places to see Christmas parades in the United States. They are located in both warm and cold destinations, and in small and big cities and towns.

Travel experts highlight why these are the best Xmas parades and offer tips to fully enjoy them, from where to park your car and stand, and when to arrive. In addition, if there are other special events such as fantastic Christmas lights, Christmas trees, or other festivities, those are included as well. Finally, helpful information such as the expected weather, airports nearby, and amazing hotels, is also provided.

best Christmas parades to see in the USA
Chicago, Illinois (Photo courtesy of Brodi from Our Offbeat Life)

Chicago, Illnois

By Brodi from Our Offbeat Life

Chicago is one of the best places to watch Christmas parades in the USA for a few reasons. First, instead of having just one parade, Chicago has two! 

The first Christmas parade starts off the busy winter holiday season for the Windy City the weekend before Thanksgiving. It’s called the Windy City lights festival and takes place on Michigan Avenue around sundown on Saturday. This parade attracts millions of people so arrive early to secure a good spot. 

At the end of the parade, Santa is on a sleigh float and uses his magical Christmas powers to light the Christmas lights on Michigan Avenue as he glides past them. It’s a lot of fun to see for adults and kids alike. 

The second parade is held on Christmas Day on State Street. Like most traditional parades, this one is held early in the morning. The second half of the route generally has smaller crowds and it’s easier to find a good spot. 

In addition to the Christmas parades, visitors should check out the light displays at the Lincoln Park Zoo and ride the Chicago Holiday Train. It’s a unique Xmas tradition sponsored by Chicago’s Transit Authority (CTA) and only costs the same price as riding the subway.

And of course, when you have had enough of Christmas events, there are dozens of amazing things to do all year round in Chicago.


Average temperatures range from 32°F – 43°F in November and December. There is about a 25% chance of some rain or snow so make sure you pack warm waterproof clothes.

Best Way To Reach The Destination

Reaching Chicago is easy. You can either drive on one of the multiple interstate highways that pass through the city, take the Amtrak train, or fly into one of the two international airports that service the city. Both Midway and O’Hare airports have CTA subway lines connecting them to downtown Chicago. 

Hotel Recommendation

Brodi says, “If you’re visiting from out of town or the suburbs, stay at the Hilton Chicago. It’s just off Michigan Avenue by the Chicago River. You can easily walk or take the CTA to any major tourist attraction in the city from there.

best places to see Christmas parades in the usa
Ocala, Florida (Photo courtesy of Vicky from Buddy The Traveling Monkey)

Ocala, Florida

By Vicky from Buddy The Traveling Monkey

One of the best places to visit to see a fantastic Christmas parade is Ocala, Florida, located in Central Florida.

The whole city turns out for the Christmas parade as well as people from all around the county. The majority of the parade route is on East Silver Spring Boulevard. The roads around the route start to close around 3 PM.

The parade starts at 5:30 PM, but you should arrive at least an hour early. Some people even put out chairs on sidewalks the morning of the parade to save their spot. Locals really take the parade seriously! So definitely give yourself time to find a parking spot and then walk along the parade route to find a good place to watch it.

There are a lot of floats, with Santa making an appearance at the end. The parade lasts about an hour and a half.

There are a lot of fun things to do in Ocala and the Christmas parade is just one of them. To continue with the Christmas celebrations, head over to Downtown Ocala Square. There is a lovely gazebo and it’s decorated in festive lights and Christmas decorations. There is live music in the evenings and a giant Christmas tree.


During the day, in December, Ocala usually has highs in the 70s but at night temperatures can drop down to the 40s. So, in addition to bringing chairs, bring a blanket to keep warm.

Best Way To Reach The Destination

You can easily fly into many nearby cities such as Gainesville, Orlando, Tampa, or Jacksonville to reach Ocala.

Hotel Recommendation

Vicky says, “The perfect place to stay for your Christmas visit would be the Hilton Garden Inn Ocala Downtown. It’s right on the square so you’d be able to see all of the beautiful holiday lights right from your window!”

best xmas parades in america to watch
Anaheim (Disneyland), California (Photo courtesy of Katie from Family Travel Folio)

Anaheim, California

By Katie from Family Travel Folio

A Christmas Fantasy Parade at Disneyland starts out with a ballerina and teddy bear on a stack of story books, followed by toy soldiers marching down Main Street and dancing elves. The excitement increases as a float with Mickey & friends appear. Next up: dancing snowmen and a beautiful blue and white trimmed Christmas tree. 

Anna and Elsa wave as they pass on their cavalcade, and the parade continues to switch between classic characters, princesses, and traditional Christmas stories. Clarabelle leads bakers and gingerbread men in front of the gingerbread house float with Goofy and Pluto.

Cinderella’s stepsisters and Lady Tremain parade by right before a gazebo-style float with princesses and their princes. After their regal entourage, the theme switches to a couple of Toy Story floats. A Christmas tree follows this decked out in red and gold as the parade transitions to dancing reindeer and the grand finale float of Santa on his sleigh in front of his home at the North Pole.

The parade route goes from It’s a Small World through to the end of Main Street. If you want a good spot with no one in front of your group, you do have to line up at least 30-45 minutes early. The most popular spot is in front of the castle, and many guests snag spots on the few benches a few hours early. You may bring a blanket to sit on for the parade and fireworks, but no chairs. Don’t worry if you’re too busy on rides to get a prime spot, because you can easily step up behind those sitting on the curb alongside Main Street for a decent view.

Christmas time is always special at the Disneyland Parks. Christmas decorations are everywhere, characters are in their seasonal costumes, and festive treats fill the menus. If you stay in the park until closing, Disneyland often has soap “snow” fall down on Main Street 2 minutes before closing.


The weather in Anaheim can get upwards of 70℉ and down to about 45℉. Plan on wearing layers and bring a jacket or sweater for the evening. Toddlers or babies would benefit from a warm hat when the sun sets, but the winter weather change isn’t typically drastic in southern California.

Best Way To Reach The Destination

LAX in Los Angeles is often the most popular airport; however, the closest one is the John Wayne Airport (SNA). You could also fly into Long Beach, Burbank, Ontario, or even San Diego depending on your full trip itinerary.

It might be a better investment to take a shuttle or taxi service than to pay a rental car and parking. Disneyland is directly off the #5 freeway, and Disney Way or Ball Road are popular exits for Disneyland parking.

Hotel Recommendation

Katie says, “If you’re looking for a purely magical experience, there are many reasons why a Disney Resort hotel is worth the money, but the biggest one is location. There is literally an entrance from The Grand Californian Hotel into California Adventure.

There are also many hotels nearby within walking distance from which to choose. Just look for the “Good Neighbor Hotel” seal of approval by Disney.”

best places to watch the best Christmas parades in america
Duluth, Minnesota

Duluth, Minnesota

By Kassidy’s Journey

Sitting right on Lake Superior, Duluth Minnesota is a beautiful place to visit during any time of year. However, Duluth becomes a winter wonderland filled with holiday lights, Christmas celebrations, and more in the winter months around Christmas time. If you are looking for a snowy destination in the United states to watch a fantastic Christmas parade, Duluth is one of the best places to go.

The Christmas City of the North parade is no exception to the wonderful celebrations that take place around this snowy city. Typically held on the Friday before Thanksgiving at 6:30 pm, this parade kicks off the holiday season in Duluth.

Floats decorated in holiday lights, people dressed up in festive outfits, local marching bands, and a finale of a Santa Claus appearance are just a few of the fun parts of the Christmas City of the North Parade.

The parade begins at Fitgers and travels down Superior Street, just up from Lake Superior and Canal Park. Because of the popularity of this parade, it’s recommended to arrive early to snag a spot. 

To make this the perfect Christmas-packed trip, make a stop be the Bentleyville Tour of Lights, an amazing light show with free treats and visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Alternatively, head just a bit further south and check out some of the epic holiday and winter activities that the Twin Cities have to offer. It isn’t the North Pole, but it’s pretty close!


The parade route is very close to the shores of Lake Superior, meaning that there will likely be a chilly wind. Average temperatures are around 25 degrees in December. It’s important to dress warmly so pack a set of hand warmers, grab a cup of hot cocoa, and bundle up!

Best Way To Reach The Destination

The closest airport is the Duluth International Airport, right in town.

Hotel Recommendation

Kassidy says, “When you’re looking for a place to rest your head at night, book a stay at the Pier B Resort. The incredible views of Lake Superior will surely make your stay worthwhile.”

best american xmas parades to visit and watch
New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana

By Katie from 

New Orleans is known for doing things uniquely and Christmas is no exception. The Christmas Parade in New Orleans follows the customs of other festivals held in the “Big Easy”, like Mardi Gras, with lots of different exciting activities and traditions leading up to the big day on December 25th. 

Parades in New Orleans are a big deal, with over 1.4 million people visiting for the annual Mardi Gras festival held in February. New Orleans entertains millions of visitors in their city every year by putting on a great show, and staying incredibly organized by breaking the production of the parade down into small organizations called “Krewes”. 

There are more than 50 Krewes for Mardi Gras, but the Christmas Parade only has two – the Krewe of Jingle and the Krewe of Krampus. 

Krampus is an old European folk figure who would scare the kids who were bad and hand out coal on Christmas. Today he’s become known as the “anti-Santa”. 

The Krewe of Jingle hosts the main Christmas parade in New Orleans, and the Krewe of Krampus organizes a darker, gothic version. Think “Nightmare Before Christmas” style. Both parades are held in early December on different days and they’re both as unique as New Orleans. 

Other amazing Christmas activities in New Orleans include attending one of the many Jazz and Gospel concerts held at St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter, attending the “Running of the Santas” (for adults only!), and taking in the gorgeous holiday lights at the LUNA Fête light show in Lafayette Square. 

If you are a first time visitor, make sure you read about safety, where to eat, shop and stay, and money saving tips in this article – 40 Best Travel Tips For First Time Visitors To New Orleans. If you are visiting with teens, make sure you check out this amazing itinerary that your kids will love – An Exciting Five Day New Orleans Itinerary.

If you are visiting with teens, make sure you check out this amazing itinerary that your kids will love, including how to spend a spectacular New Year’s Eve – An Exciting Five Day New Orleans Itinerary.


The average temperature in New Orleans in December ranges between 50 degrees Fahrenheit and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. There is approximately 4 inches of rainfall in December.

Best Way To Reach The Destination

The French Quarter is a quick 30-minute taxi ride from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY).

Hotel Recommendation

Consider staying at the historic Hotel Monteleone. Hotel Monteleone is famous for its Carousel Bar and a fantastic Christmas light display. It is also only one block from Bourbon Street.

best places to see Christmas parades in the usa
New York City, New York (Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

New York City, New York

By Nicole from Go Far Grow close

The holiday season in New York City is a special time. There are so many amazing things to see and do including watching one of the oldest and best Christmas parades in the United States.

Although the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade is not officially called a Christmas Parade, Santa makes an appearance at the very end. It is also the official start of the Christmas Season in New York. The three-hour parade is held in Manhattan on Thanksgiving day, ending outside Macy’s Herald Square. It takes place from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. 

All of the large department stores decorate for the holidays. Tour around Midtown Manhattan looking at all of the holiday windows. Bloomingdales, Saks, and of course, Macy’s should be on your list. Afterwards, visit Santaland at Macy’s.

You can also spend an evening looking at decorated Christmas trees throughout the city. The most famous one is at Rockefeller Center.

If it has snowed out, head to Central Park. You won’t be able to take a sleigh ride, but horse drawn carriage rides are offered and will surely delight everyone in your family. If you are feeling particularly energetic, go ice skating at Wollman Rink in the southern part of Central Park. 

NYC is also the perfect place to go Christmas shopping. There are both outdoor and indoor Christmas markets at Union Square, Columbus Circle and Grand Central.   

For money saving and safety tips, transportation and hotel recommendations, please see 50 Best New York City Tips For First Time Visitors.

If you are traveling with teenagers and are looking for amazing things to do all year round, please check out 10 Unbeatable New York City Attractions With Teens and An Action Packed 3 Day New York City Itinerary With Teens.


There are three international airports that serve New York City, all of which are around 30 minutes from Midtown Manhattan without traffic. They are JFK, La Guardia and Newark. 

Best Way To Reach The Destination

The average temperature in NYC in December is 45°F.  It snows on occasion but it rarely stays long on the ground. The average December snowfall is 4.4 inches. 

Hotel Recommendation

Nicole says, “There are so many great hotels to choose from in New York City and it can be overwhelming. However, one favorite of mine is the Kimpton Hotel Eventi.

The hotel was luxurious but still reasonably priced. We were within walking distance to Macy’s and the High Line, and quick subway rides to Broadway Shows and Times Square. Even better, everyday the hotel offered complimentary wine and cheese!”

best places in the united states to see Christmas parades
Helen, Georgia (Photo courtesy of Jillian from Adventure Dragon)

Helen, Georgia

By Jillian from Adventure Dragon

One of the best places to go to see Christmas parades in the USA is a small town in Georgia hidden away in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Helen, Georgia is known for its fairytale-like architecture. The charming style of these buildings has made Christmas in Helen the most popular time to visit.

The annual Helen Christmas Parade is held at the beginning of December each year, typically on the second Saturday of the month. The procession follows Main Street to the Festhalle on Edelweiss Street in downtown Helen. There are elaborate floats, festive costumes, and locals who give out candy as they march.

The highlight of the whole parade, however, is Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, who ride their sleigh throughout town to spread holiday cheer. A bonfire follows the parade, and kids are even welcome to roast s’mores with Santa.

If you’d like to attend other holiday events in Helen, the town also hosts an annual German Christkindlmarkt where you can shop for festive food, candy, gifts, and decor. Before you leave, stop by the Hansel and Gretel Candy Kitchen to take home some fresh fudge for Christmas.


Although it’s a mountain town, temperatures in December typically only drop below freezing at nighttime. During the day, you can expect temperatures to stay, on average, between 45 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. A light sweater or jacket should be enough to keep you warm.

Best Way To Reach The Destination

From the Atlanta International Airport, Helen is just a two-hour drive north.

Hotel Recommendation

Jillian says, “Accommodation in Helen is cheaper than many other top tourist towns in the United States. For roughly $50 to $100 a night, you can easily find a nice place to stay throughout the majority of the year.

The charming Alpine Village Inn is a local favorite that is very reasonably priced.

For a little extra, you can even stay inside a riverfront castle at the Castle Inn, or stay inside a real, working windmill at the Heidi Motel and Windmill Suites.

best places to visit in America to see Christmas parades
San Diego, California

San Diego, California

By Maria from San Diego Explorer

San Diego, located on the southern-most tip of the West Coast, is known for year-round spring weather. Accordingly, it is likely not your first destination that comes to mind to go see one of the best Christmas Parades in the United States. However, that would be a mistake.

On two weekends in December, the famous Parade of Lights, a holiday boat parade along the shores of San Diego Bay, draws over 100,000 visitors. Eighty (80) festively decorated boats make their way from Harbor Island along the San Diego Waterfront to Coronado. Each year, there is a different theme. In previous years, those have included Comic-Con on the Bay, Tropical Island Christmas and other fun themes. 

The San Diego Parade of Lights is a free event. Just bring a chair, a blanket and something warm to drink and come early to secure a spot right on the water. North and South Embarcadero are popular spots to watch the parade.

If you want a more pampered experience, you can also reserve a table at one of the waterfront restaurants along the Bay, such as Brigantine or Miguel’s at Portside Pier, The Fish Market, Top of the Market, or Tom Ham’s Lighthouse. 

Aside from the Parade of Lights, there are many other fun things to do in San Diego for Christmas, including December Nights in Balboa Park (a Holiday market), pictures with Surfin’ Santa, ice skating on the beach and more. 


In December, expect temperatures to range from 51°F to 67°F with lots of sunshine and little rain. However, it is cool at night so bring a light jacket or sweater.

Best Way To Reach The Destination

Flying into San Diego International Airport puts you right into the center of the city with easy access to downtown and the historic district of the city.

Hotel Recommendation

Maria says, “A great place to stay to watch the Parade of Lights would be one of the waterfront hotels, such as the Grand Hyatt, Marriott Marquise, or Hilton Bayfront. Ask for a bay-side room and you might be able to watch the parade from your room or balcony.”

best places to visit in united States to see Christmas parades
Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore, Maryland

By Nicole from Go Far Grow Close

Baltimore’s nickname is “Charm City” and during the holiday season, it becomes “Jolly Charming City”. It is one of the best cities in America to watch Christmas parades and celebrate all things Christmas.

Head over to Hampden, a tight knit Baltimore neighborhood famous for its “Miracle on 34th Street”. This outdoor holiday exhibit causes traffic jams and delightful smiles. People dress their dogs and kids in reindeer antlers and Christmas sweaters. As cars slowly proceed down 34th Street, passengers see traditional Baltimore rowhouses and porches transformed into Christmas spectacles.

Hampden also hosts the Mayor’s Christmas Parade. In past years, there were 25,000 people along the 2.5 mile route. The performers included Miss Yuletide and Miss Yuletide Jr., marching units, bands, floats, local TV and radio personalities, the Mummers of Philadelphia, and over 100 Harley Davidson motorcycles. Of course, Santa Claus flies in for the festivities as well.

In addition, Baltimore offers the Baltimore Parade of lighted Boats at historic Fells Point in addition to the Farmers Market which offers an array of wreaths and Christmas gifts. Normally held on the first Saturday of December, onlookers bundle up to watch a parade of boats sprinkling with Christmas lights glide by in the darkness. They blast music of all sorts to go along with their holiday themes. They pass through Canton and the Inner Harbor as well.

If that is not enough Christmas cheer, take the train to Washington DC’s Union Station and check out the Capitol Christmas tree. It is within walking distance of the train station.


Average Temperatures in Baltimore in December range from 35°F to 47°F so make sure you dress warmly. There is around 2.9 inches of rain expected in December with the possibility of a little snow.

Best Way To Reach The Destination

Fly into Baltimore International Airport for easy access to the holiday celebrations.

Hotel Recommendation

If you are looking for a treat, book your stay at the luxurious Four Seasons waterfront hotel. Its location is amazing and offers beautiful rooms.

christmas boat parades
Newport Christmas boat parade (Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Newport Beach, California

Watch beautifully decorated yachts, boats, kayaks and canoes sail along the harbor in this hundreds’ year old Christmas tradition. Normally held mid December over a 5 day period, this is a cherished tradition by not only residents of Newport Beach, but all of greater Los Angeles.

There are two ideal viewing spots to cozy up and watch boats “jingle on the waves”. First, you can go to the largest public viewing area on the route at Marina Park where it offers parking, a playground, and picnic area. Alternatively, you can go to the Dine & Watch waterfront where you can also choose from lots of dining options within walking distance of many public viewing spots.

Another option is to purchase tickets to watch on another boat from the water.

When not enjoying the parade, make sure you walk around admiring all the waterfront homes, businesses and yacht clubs who participate in the Ring of Lights Competition. This annual decorating competition adds to the festive feel of the boat parade and gives locals and visitors of Newport Beach a chance to explore the beautiful and festive displays.

In addition, Newport offers a nightly tree lighting at Fashion Island. A 90-foot-tall, white fir tree is lit every evening amidst a magical winter wonderland with snowfall, choreographed light displays, Santa sightings and sparkling red and green decor.


Expect average highs of 66°F and evening lows of 49°F. There will be around 2 inches of rain over 4 days in December.

Best Way To Reach The Destination

John Wayne Airport in Orange County (SNA) is only 10 minutes by car. Alternatively, you can fly into LAX and drive one hour.

best places to visit to see best Christmas parades in usa
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Prescott, Arizona

By Dee from Vanilla Papers

Prescott is known as “Arizona’s Christmas City” and one of the best Christmas towns in the USA. In addition, its annual Christmas parade is full of small town charm and community spirit. 

This central Arizona city has a historic downtown and a white-columned courthouse that really gets decked out for the holidays. Prescott is full of stately Victorian homes, nearby forest hiking trails and some great vintage shopping. 

An array of annual events puts everyone in the holiday spirit. First, the annual Christmas Lights Parade is one of the best things to do in Prescott to experience a nostalgic, small-town holiday. It is held in late November and includes music, caroling and a reading of The Night Before Christmas.

Then, the annual Christmas Parade and Courthouse Lighting follows. This is Prescott’s main holiday event and is usually held on the first Saturday of December. It brings together the entire community with colorful floats and holiday cheer.

The parade usually moves down Willis and in a square around the Yavapai Country Courthouse. Secure a spot around the courthouse (Montezuma, Goodwin, Gurley and Cortez streets) for the best views. The celebration include festive floats, fire trucks, horses, a high school marching band, Santa, and a motley assortment of alpacas, classic cars and more. 

The parade is followed that evening with a courthouse lighting ceremony. The building becomes illuminated by hundreds of lights and a beautifully decorated Christmas tree in the plaza. You may even hear a Christmas carol or two.

There are lots more Christmas events in Prescott to put anyone in the holiday spirit. The Sharlot Hall Museum has an annual Frontier Christmas event – it’s usually after the courthouse lighting, and includes live music and Victorian-inspired crafts. 

And then there’s the Acker Night music showcase – a unique holiday event held in early December that promotes Prescott’s thriving local music scene, from punk rock to cowboy ballads.


Prescott does get chilly with highs of 51° and lows of 23° at night – so bundle up and wear layers to stay comfortable.

Best Way To Reach The Destination

Fly into Phoenix, rent a car and drive. You should reach Prescott in a couple of hours.

Hotel Recommendation

Dee says, “If you’re looking for a hotel in Prescott, there are some great historic gems that ooze charm and Wild West history.

Hotel Vendome is a 20-room boutique hotel built in 1917 with clawfoot tubs, a wine bar and a beautiful veranda in the heart of downtown. It has some local lore and ghost stories too. 

Hassayampa Inn is elegant and nostalgic with a restored 1920s style lobby and all the modern amenities.”

best xmas parades to see in usa
Santa at the Christmas parade (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Winter Park, Florida

By Christine from Live Love Run Travel

Winter Park, Florida, is located just on the outskirts of Orlando. It’s a cute town with a thriving private college, lots of cute shops, and beautiful homes and lakes.

Each year, Winter Park puts on one of the best Christmas parades in America. It is also known to be one of the best things to do at Christmas in Orlando. This parade has been held for over 60 years. It brings out locals and visitors alike to line the streets for the oldest continual community parade in Central Florida.

Held in downtown Winter Park typically during the first weekend of December, it features marching bands, fire trucks, police cars, local politicians and dignitaries, and of course, Santa Claus. Kids love the parade because of the candy thrown their way and the chance to catch an up close glimpse of Santa.

Get there early and bring your own chairs to find a spot along the route. While mornings in Florida can be cool, you may want to wear layers so you can take off your jacket as the day warms up.

If a normal parade isn’t your thing, you can also check out the boat parade on the Winter Park chain of lakes. It is usually held the following weekend. If you miss out on both of these, you can take one of the nightly Christmas cruises to enjoy the Christmas lights and decorations from a different vantage point.


Highs in December in Winter Park are around 75F and lows are around 55F. Thankfully the chance of rain is low at this time of year.

Best Way To Reach The Destination

To visit Winter Park, fly into Orlando International Airport or Sanford International Airport. Winter Park is about 30 minutes from either one. If you are visiting the theme parks, expect a 30 minute to one hour drive to Winter Park from them.

Hotel Recommendation

Christine says, “There are lots of cute hotels in Winter Park, but one of the best is The Alfond Inn just across from Rollins College. This hotel is dog friendly and full of local artwork. It’s a beautiful hotel with a rooftop pool if you are not a Florida local and used to cooler water.”

best Christmas parades to see in America
Christmas Parade (Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Kennebunkport, Maine

By Alicia from Travels With The Crew

Kennebunkport, Maine is one of the best places to be on the first two weekends of December as the Annual Christmas Prelude celebration is in full swing with many special events to enjoy.

There is something for everyone to help get you into the holiday spirit like handicraft markets, a trolley ride, warm cider, caroling and more. But my favorite event at the Annual Christmas Prelude is the Christmas Hat Parade.

The Christmas Hat Parade features people of all ages wearing the most creative and festive hats. Some are even decorated with blinking lights! You will see basic Santa Claus hats and elaborately designed hats as well. A favorite one year was the lobster trap hat!

To get a good view of the parade you will need to line up near Dock Square 20 minutes before the parade begins. Although it is crowded, you shouldn’t have an issue finding a good spot.

For those with lots of Christmas spirit, you can even enter the Christmas Hat Parade yourself by filling out this form.

No matter what you do during the Holiday Prelude, you’re sure to have a wonderful time in Kennebunkport. It’s the perfect place to kick off your holiday season!


December is cold with average temperatures between 24°F and 38°F. Plan on a white Christmas with over 10 inches of expected snowfall in December.

Best Way To Reach The Destination

The nearest airport to Kennebunkport is Portland (PWM) Airport which is 21.6 miles away. Boston Logan International Airport is only 74.4 miles.

Hotel Recommendation

Alicia says, “If you’re looking for a place to stay during the Holiday Prelude, there are many great options in Kennebunkport. But if you stay at the Kennebunkport Inn you will be right in the middle of town and all the festivities. You can even watch the Christmas Hat Parade from the large porch.”

best places to watch christmas parades in usa
Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (Photo courtesy of Natalie from Cosmos Mariners)

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

By Natalie from Cosmos Mariners

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, is located just over the harbor from Charleston. It is a rapidly growing, upscale community that is known for its waterfront restaurants on Shem Creek and its historic Old Village. 

In December, however, this area turns into a holiday dream as the Mount Pleasant Christmas Parade takes place. One of the best things to do in Mount Pleasant at any time of the year, this parade has run each year since 1995. It now sees more than 100 floats, marching bands, schools, and businesses participate. 

Held each year on the second weekend of December, the Mount Pleasant Christmas Parade starts at the intersection of Coleman Boulevard and Simmons Street. It follows Coleman Boulevard over Shem Creek to the end at the intersection of Coleman Boulevard and Patriots Point Boulevard. 

The judging table is located next to Kickin’ Chicken, about halfway down the parade route. This spot is where the parade participants will be the most outgoing as they try to impress the judges so try to find a spot to watch here. 

While the parade participants are most enthusiastic around the judges’ table, another great place to watch the parade is at the start near the Farmers’ Market pavilion. The parade participants will still have lots of candy to hand out this point. In addition, everyone is very excited to start walking after waiting in the long line of floats. 

To get the most out of the Mount Pleasant Christmas Parade, you should make a day of it. Many local families plan a tailgate and start setting up after lunch. This way, you’re not rushed into finding parking nor are you at risk for getting caught in the traffic as the streets are closed down for the parade. 

It can be chilly, so bring a scarf or blanket. Charleston rarely gets snow, but you will want watch to the end as Santa closes out the parade. He is on a fire truck so you won’t want to miss that! If you still want more Christmas fun, Mount Pleasant also offers a holiday farmers’ market and a tree lighting at Towne Center. 


Average Temperatures in Mount Pleasant in December range from 46°F to 62°F. You should expect about 2.7 inches of rain in December.

Best Way To Reach The Destination

To get to Mount Pleasant, fly into Charleston International Airport. From there, it is a 20 minute drive.

Hotel Recommendation

Natalie says, “The Comfort Inn and Suites Patriots Point is the best place to stay as you can easily walk to the parade route.”

best places to watch Christmas parades in the Usa
Photo courtesy of

Estes Park, Colorado

By Jolayne from simplyjolayne

Estes Park, Colorado, located approximately 1.5 hours from Denver, is often referred to as the Gateway to the Rockies. During the summer months, the streets are bustling with tourists. However, Estes Park offers a quaint, yet delightful tourist vibe all year long. 

The main street of Estes Park is lined with cute shops, boutiques, and cafes if you are looking for the perfect memento or dining experience in spring, summer, winter or fall. And if you have a sweet tooth for fudge, ice cream or salt water taffy, well, they’ve got you covered there too.

The Estes Park “Catch the Glow” Christmas Parade takes place annually on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Be sure to find your spot along Elkhorn Avenue for the 5:30 pm start time. You’ll find all of your standard parade features with marching bands, hand-crafted floats, fire trucks… and a surprise guest.

Be sure to bundle up with puffy jackets, snow pants, gloves and a hat. Hand warmers would be helpful too. Estes Park is in the heart of the Rocky Mountains and temperatures will be chilly.


Estes sees temperatures from 14°F to 32°F in December. It will be cold but there shouldn’t be much rain or snow.

Best Way To Reach The Destination

Estes is located approximately 1.5 hours from Denver International Airport.

Hotel Recommendation

Jolayne says, “If you plan to spend a few days in Estes Park, check, Airbnb, or VRBO, for a cozy cabin to rent. Most hotels are locally owned with limited name-brand hotel chains to choose from.”

best places to see christmas parades in america
Vero Beach, Florida (Photo courtesy of Carley from Home to Havana)

Vero Beach, Florida

By Carley from Home to Havana

The Vero Beach Christmas Parade is a quintessential small-town event and one of the best Christmas parades to see in the USA. It makes the most of the sunny, balmy weather to get families outside to celebrate the holidays. Tracing a route along the beachside roads, the parade includes countless floats lit with Christmas lights and features all the Christmas characters you’d expect, like Santa, reindeer, and more.

Prior to the start of the parade, there is an annual Candy Cane 3K race that runs along the parade route. If running doesn’t sound like your definition of a festive way to celebrate the holidays, just watching the race is fun! Runners dress up as Santa, elves, and all other kinds of Christmas characters. Many families participate, mostly walking or jogging with dressed-up little ones in strollers.

Make sure to get there early in the day, even though the parade doesn’t kick off until sundown. Parking will be hard to fin on the residential streets near the beach, so the best way to secure your spot is by getting there early. Make a day out of it. Visit the beach and nearby restaurants, then choose a prime spot to watch the parade later on.

Try to visit Cravings or the Lemon Tree for lunch. For a treat, head to Countryside Citrus on Ocean Drive for fresh orange juice slushies mixed with vanilla soft-serve for dessert.


Average temperatures in Vero Beach in December ranges from 54 degrees Fahrenheit to 74 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooler temperatures are normally only at night. It is one of the driest months of the year with only 1.8 inches of rainfall expected.

Best Way To Reach The Destination

Orlando International Airport is only 78 miles away.

Last Word

There are many American towns and cities that offer some kind of Christmas celebrations in November and December. However, not all of them offer amazing Christmas parades and other special events.

Whether you are looking for a magical Christmas parade during the day or at night, or along streets or on the water, these 15 best places to watch Christmas parades in the USA offers something for everyone.

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