You might believe that “there’s no place like home for the holidays.” But what if you could spend Christmas at a beautiful, snow-filled place instead? From popular winter family vacation spots to charming towns that will make you feel like you’ve been transported to a set of a Hallmark Christmas movie, there’s nothing more magical than traveling somewhere new during the most wonderful time of the year. Luckily, to help you achieve maximum festive cheer this season, we’ve rounded up some of the very best places to spend Christmas in the U.S.A. this year.
Perhaps you’re looking for a romantic vacation spot for couples (think: cozying up in a snowy cabin), or a fun, family-friendly destination that the kids would love (chocolate theme park, anyone?). Or maybe you want to skip the cold weather altogether this season and relax on a sunny beach at a pretty coastal town instead. Whatever new holiday tradition you want to try this year, there are plenty of places to visit that pull out all the stops for Christmas — we’re talking sleigh rides, over-the-top Christmas decorations, picturesque holiday markets and more. So pack up your suitcases (and your holiday spirit) and get ready for a festive, fun-filled Christmas vacation in 2022.
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Looking for that quintessential New England holiday charm? You’ll feel like you stepped into a Hallmark Christmas card in the historic charming town of Woodstock, which annually hosts an iconic holiday celebration called Wassail Weekend (think carriage rides, twinkling lights, decorated homes and more!).
This Massachusetts town was once depicted in a 1967 Norman Rockwell painting (titled “Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas”) — and now, every holiday season, Stockbridge recreates the art, complete with vintage cars lined up on Main Street. Plus, the annual celebration also includes historic property tours, a holiday concert and more.
Every kid has dreamt of visiting Santa Claus at the North Pole — and as it turns out, you actually can! This quaint Alaskan town is home to the “Santa Claus House,” where you can also stroll down Santa Claus Lane, see live reindeer, and marvel at the world’s largest Santa statue. What could be a better way to celebrate Christmas?
Forget winter wonderlands — if you’d rather go somewhere warm and sunny this year, a tropical Hawaiian Christmas is exactly what you might need. You’ll find plenty of holiday cheer (without the cold!) in the island of Oahu, especially aboard the Waikiki Holiday Lights Trolley tour and the annual Honolulu City Lights event.
McAdenville, North Carolina
This beautiful ski resort town is a well-known haven for ski bunnies and travel enthusiasts, but it also holds plenty of Christmas activities during the holiday season, including an annual tree lighting, a fun-packed “12 Days of Aspen” event and holiday shows (like The Nutcracker) at the Opera House.
You may first think of Mardi Gras when you think of New Orleans, but the Crescent City also pulls out all the stops during the holidays, too. After enjoying the city’s dazzling light displays and bonfires, be sure to check out Celebration in the Oaks, which is said to be one of the most spectacular holiday lights festival in the country.
For those seeking a one-of-a-kind holiday experience, a must-go location is Taos, which offers a unique New Mexican spin on holiday traditions every year. The ski town celebrates the season with its annual Yuletide in Taos, which features holiday markets, bonfires and other ultra-festive events.
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston may be a great destination spot any time of the year, but it’s especially magical (and still warm!) around the holidays, when the city goes all out on the Christmas festivities. This year, you can enjoy the Holiday Festival of Lights from your car before strolling down the streets to shop, eat and marvel at the city’s historic mansions decked out for the holidays.
Around the holidays, there’s no more apropos destination spot than the Christmas Farm Inn & Spa. After enjoying skiing and plenty of other outdoor activities, be sure to hop aboard a sleigh ride for the festive Jingle Bell Chocolate Tour, where you can taste test handmade chocolate while enjoying the sights.
Leavenworth likens itself to a “swirling snow globe,” and you’ll definitely see why when you browse through photos of the Leavenworth Village of Lights. The Bavarian-style town has an annual tradition of hanging up beautiful Christmas lights downtown, and you’ll be able to take it all in this year (though there won’t be a big reveal at an official lighting festival as usual).
Head down south this December for Andalusia’s Candyland, the town’s ultra-festive holiday event held throughout the month. Admission is free of charge, but includes a small $4 fee for horse-drawn carriage rides. You can also enjoy the Snow Show, take photos with Santa, hop on the holiday train and more!
With a name like Santa Claus, you know this town is ready to welcome you and your family at Christmas. Nicknamed “America’s Christmas Hometown,” this city offers plenty of festivities for its annual three-weekend holiday celebration, including a Christmas-themed fireworks display and a drive-through light adventure called Santa Claus Land of Lights.
Newport Beach, California
There might not be any snow, but trust that this California destination offers plenty of holiday spirit at the annual Christmas Boat Parade. Each year, you can stop by the bay to witness a series of boats decked out in holiday decor. Before you head out, fill your cup with cocoa and walk along Balboa Island, where you’ll see houses decorated immaculately for the holiday season.
Jackson Hole is breathtaking year-round, but we’re partial to the city’s Christmas celebrations and decorations. Not only does the historic Town Square light up every year for the holidays, there are also plenty of festive activities like horse-drawn sleigh rides, a Santa Claus “drop in” and more.
East Coasters, we highly recommend Koziar’s Christmas Village for all the holiday fun you’ll ever need. This countryside town boasts a Christmas Village unlike any other. You can also take a Winter Wonderland tour, which takes you to Santa’s Post Office, a toy shop and an old-fashioned bakery (to name a few).
Get a taste of both American history and European Christmas celebrations in Alexandria, Virginia, a short drive south of Washington, D.C. You can enjoy the well-appointed row houses on King Street while Christmas shopping, then take a trip to nearby Mt. Vernon, George Washington’s historic home, for a candlelight tour and fireworks display. If you visit the weekend of December 3rd, you can take part in the town’s 50th Annual Scottish Christmas Walk Parade.
Experience the beauty of coastal Maine at the annual Kennebunkport Christmas Prelude, an incredibly New England celebration that takes place from December 2-12 this year. The schedule includes everything from Christmas markets and historic home tours to a literal lobster trap Christmas tree lighting.
Las Vegas might seem unusual for the holidays, but nearly every resort and casino puts on amazing Christmas events for the whole family, including an immersive display the Bellagio Conservatory, ice skating on the roof of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and even Santa scuba-diving at Mandalay Bay. The whole Strip glitters with lights and decorations, too.
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