Christmas is one of the most magical times of year in the United States. You’ll find charming small towns that feel like you just walked into a Hallmark Movie and bustling cities that are mainstay holiday attractions.
There are many places you can spend the holiday season, but I asked travel bloggers where they thought were the BEST places to spend Christmas and we hand selected destinations all over the country that are absolutely worth the trip.
So which city will be your next Christmas destination? Will you choose the big city with fancy light displays, towering Christmas trees and endless activities? Or will you go for the small town setting of snow, cute walkable towns and fun local activities?
Best Places To Spend Christmas In The USA
One of the best places to visit during the Christmas time is a small mountain town called Whitefish. Located in Montana, this town has so many things to offer in terms of what you can see and do.
For instance, there is an annual Christmas stroll happening in the month of December where the town folks all come out and kicks off some wintery festivities. There you’ll be able to get hot chocolate, snacks, caroling, and activities for everyone right in the middle of main street.
Another thing that’ll be of interest is the annual Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade at Whitefish Mountain Resort. During this parade, you’ll have Santa Claus come greet the children while the crowd of people is silenced by the spectacular event of lighted torches swooshing down the hillside. It’s an event that will have children and adults believing in the spirit of Christmas.
But Christmas time isn’t just about the town, instead, you can find many great things to do around the city as well. Whitefish Mountain Resort is only minutes away and offers a chance for people to do some fun winter activities.
With things like snowboarding, skiing, sledding and more are all available for you to do. Or you can make your way to Glacier National Park and surround yourself with lush alpine meadows, rugged mountains, forested backdrops, and a huge alpine feature that takes over the sky.
Whatever the case may be, Christmas time in Whitefish will definitely not disappoint.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Philadelphia is one of America’s great east coast cities and a perfect Christmas destination. There are so many things to do in Philadelphia at Christmas, and Christmas Markets are a good place to start.
One of the city’s best markets is located in the shadow of Philly’s historic City Hall building. It’s called the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market and is located in Dilworth Park where you’ll find local designers and artisans selling handmade crafts and gifts. Food vendors also sell Philadelphia food classics like soft pretzels along with seasonal favorites like hot cocoa and mulled wine. This Christmas market also includes an outdoor ice skating rink and pop up Winter Garden tent for refreshments.
Down the street you’ll find the Macy’s Department Store on Market Street which hosts an hourly light show and a Dickens’ Christmas Village display on the third floor. The elaborate display is free to visitors and a holiday favorite among locals and visitors to the city.
Another great place for holiday lights is Franklin Square, there you’ll find the Christmas Electrical Spectacle. For a community-organized light display, head to an offbeat area of the city in South Philadelphia at 13th and Tasker Streets. There you’ll find the homes on the 1600 block of 13th Street showing off their annual Christmas light display, Miracle on 13th Street, It’s a local’s favorite and a put on solely by the residents of this festive block.
One place to cap your Philly festivities is with a drink at Tinsel Bar, the seasonal pop up Christmas pub. It’s located in the Gayborhood section of the city at 12th and Sansom Streets and the perfect place to get into the Christmas spirit with a glass of spirits
New York, New York
New York City has forever been a top place to spend Christmas in the USA. One of the coolest things about visiting is all the free things to do in New York.
The Rockefeller Christmas Tree is an icon in the city among the lavish decorations. The Christmas displays alone are enough to get you in the holiday spirit! The Saks Fifth Avenue light show is incredible!
One thing you should not miss in New York during Christmas is seeing the Christmas Spectacular starring the Radio City Rockettes and the Nutcracker.
The nations Capital is more than politics, incredible free museums and a bustling city. During the Christmas season, something magical happens.
The National Tree goes up by the White House and it is a beacon of light for the city. In the earlier parts of December you can come by and see the lighting.
GLOW each year is put on in Georgetown and it is a series of art installations throughout the area of lights that you can walk to and enjoy outside. Double bonus if you have snow. You will also find Christmas markets, ICE and ballets and shows within the city.
Christmas is one of the best time to visit Washington, D.C. because it is not as packed as spring and summer.
Don’t forget to grab one of the best Washington, D.C. souvenirs to bring home: the annual White House ornament!
Owego, New York
Jackson, Wyoming is an enchanting small town with a true Wild West feel.
With wooden sidewalks, locally-owned shops, and a relaxed vibe, Jackson makes for a great place to visit any time of year. But this rugged mountain town in Western Wyoming becomes truly special in winter. Christmas lights are strung across the streets, and the famous antler arches in the town square are wrapped with warm, white lights that set the whole park aglow.
In the heart of downtown, the oldest hotel in Jackson, The Wort Hotel, is beautifully adorned with poinsettias and a large Christmas tree in the lobby. While many people flock to Jackson for winter sports like skiing and snowmobiling, the town’s cozy feel adds a festive flare to any Christmas vacation.
For a fun and memorable holiday, take a horse-drawn sleigh ride past herds of wild elk in the National Elk Refuge, watch a holiday performance at the Jackson Hole Playhouse, and if visiting Jackson Hole with kids, visit Santa in the Jackson Town Square.
Parenthood and Passports
Savannah is beautiful any time of year, but you’ll find it particularly charming during the Christmas season. The city goes all out with holiday decorations and seasonal events! Don’t expect anything tacky, though; the decorating style in Savannah is very traditional.
You’ll find greenery and ribbons decorating the squares, while simple wreaths and candles grace the beautiful mansions throughout the Historic District. If you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse inside one of the historic homes on Jones Street, you’ll likely spot classically styled Christmas trees in the windows and Magnolia branches draped over the stairways and mantels. You might even see carolers wandering from door to door!
Broughton Street is one of Savannah’s most festive areas during the Christmas season. That’s where you’ll find string lights draped from one adorable shop to the next and the town Christmas tree located next to Levy Jewelers.
The Paris Market always goes above and beyond with their imaginative holiday window displays. Head to the always captivating River Street to watch the annual lighted boat parade. It’s where Santa makes his first appearance of the season! You can pick up holiday snacks at River Street Sweets while you’re there. (The pralines are incredible.)
Finally, be sure to visit the breathtakingly beautiful Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Members fill the sanctuary with poinsettias and greenery, and there’s an elaborate nativity scene for guests to wander through.
Winter temperatures in Savannah are generally mild, so pack sweaters, hats, and gloves for layering — but leave the heavy winter coats at home.
Savannah First Timer
For many travelers, the Christmas holidays conjure up travel visions of snow falling, Christmas markets, and a roaring fire, but if you’ve ever dreamed of a tropical Christmas, then we have just the place. Located in southwest Florida near the Everglades, Naples, Florida is an equally dreamy place to spend the holidays!
Naples Florida is a unique place to spend the Christmas holidays. Be sure and stay through New Years to see the fabulous fireworks display off the historic Naples Pier!
Top Colonial Williamsburg Christmas events include the Grand Illumination held in early December and the Firing of the Christmas Guns on Christmas Eve. You also shouldn’t miss the great variety of special concerts, historical re-enactments, dramatic presentations, guided tours of the decorations and more. Many of the special events are free though there are some that require the purchase of additional tickets.
The historic center of the town is open on Christmas Day although the hours that sites are open are limited. There are also some great Christmas Eve and Christmas Day meals hosted at the Colonial Williamsburg resorts and historic taverns. They can be quite popular so be sure to make your reservations early if possible.
Plan, Ready, Go
If you are looking to visit Disney at Christmas, you are in for a real treat! There are so many fun things to do and see, and it is truly the most magical time of the year!
One of the best things to do is Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but that does cost quite a bit of money. If you aren’t in the mood for spending, the Christmas Tree Trail at Disney Springs is 100% free for anyone, no ticket needed, and it is so fun!
You can see all the Christmas trees decorated with themes from Disney movies!
Saint Augustine, Florida
Saint Augustine, Florida is truly one of the best places to spend Christmas! Christmas in Florida means better weather, no rainy season or hurricanes, and all sorts of fun things to do and see!
One of the best things to do is to visit Saint Augustine for Night Of Lights which happens from November to Feb. The entire down is decked out in millions of Christmas lights and other Christmas decor and it is just so much fun! The event is 100% free which makes it even better!
Leavenworth, Washington is one of the best cities in the Pacific Northwest to experience a white Christmas.
This Bavarian-styled town is nestled in the Cascade Mountains, about two hours east of Seattle, and every winter season all the streets are decorated with tinsel and Christmas lights hang from every storefront; Leavenworth didn’t earn the title of “Village of Lights” for nothing!
Leavenworth also has some of the best cabins in Washington, which are especially cozy around Christmas with beautiful A-frame silhouettes and bubbling hot tubs to end your night of festivities. Since it is America’s little Bavaria, German food and beer are a must at Andreas Keller Restaurant.
Once you’ve had your fill of delicious food to keep you warm, get in the Christmas spirit at the Nutcracker Museum and the Gingerbread Factory. You can even pick up hand-carved wooden toys and puzzles and countless local-owned Christmas boutiques. Or, for the more adventurous, there’s always skiing at Mt. Stevens!
However, the highlight of everyone’s experience in Leavenworth has to be the lighting ceremony, illuminating the town in half a million Christmas lights. It is a magical and memorable getaway, especially with a cup of warm cider in your hands!
The Awkward Traveller
Carmel by the Sea, California
The picture-perfect little town of Calistoga, California makes a cozy winter getaway. Located at the far north end of Napa Valley, the whole area seems under the radar, in the best way. Now is a great time to make plans to support this welcoming community as they recover from an especially devastating wildfire season.
Of course, you can’t visit wine country without tasting a few local vintages. Thankfully, there are more than 60 wineries to explore around Calistoga. Tank Garage Winery’s downtown tasting room is a fun place to start.
There are also many opportunities to get outside and enjoy the scenery this region is known for, like Bothe-Napa State Park’s hiking trails. And you can’t forget about the spas that gave the city its “Mud City” nickname. Calistoga Motor Lodge’s Moon Acre Spa offers a laid-back, whimsical mud treatment experience. Looking for a great meal? You have plenty of options in Calistoga. Start at Napa Valley’s best happy hour at Johnny’s on Lincoln Avenue and then head to Evangeline’s for New Orleans-inspired food in a beautiful historic building.
Calistoga loves to get dressed up for the holidays. While the annual lighted tractor parade celebrating the area’s heritage is sadly canceled in 2020, you can bet the whole town will still feel festive. When in doubt, follow the city’s motto: “relax, you’re in Calistoga.”
Wandering Road Blog
Christmas in Fredericksburg is magical! Here, the holiday spirit takes over the streets, and exciting events take place all month long! Located about an hour and a half outside of both Austin and San Antonio, this tiny central Texas town is a tourist hotspot in its own right.
Of course, when planning a Christmas or winter trip, Texas won’t be the first state that comes to mind. But some of the state’s most interesting culture is actually tucked away in these roadside stops. In the heart of the Texas Wine Country, Fredericksburg boasts everything between traditional German architecture and excellent wineries.
Besides, this German town in Texas is a place that looks straight out of a holiday Hallmark movie! The Christmas lights, decoration, and attractions together make Fredericksburg a perfect Christmas destination!
Experience the holidays’ vibes shopping along a Main Street decked out in its holiday finest, or why not, sipping Texans wine in a unique Christmas winery journey.
Just don’t forget to head over the Marktplatz to marvel at the 30-foot Christmas Tree shinning in the night. Oh, and you might want to take your camera with you and photograph the 26-foot-tall German Christmas Pyramid right next to it–it is an incredible spectacle you won’t forget.
Maps ‘N Bags
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