Merry and Bright: 7 Best Christmas Vacations in the USA
Spend the Holidays Somewhere New
They say there’s nothing like being at home for the holidays, but home is all a matter of perspective when you’re a travel lover. Even if you only have a little time off over the holidays, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy exploring an unfamiliar destination.
There are many amazing holiday travel destinations from around the world, but if you want to stick to this corner of the world we have your top picks. Consider venturing to one of these enchanting Christmas destinations in the USA, each known for coming alive during the holidays and inspiring the spirit of the season in the hearts of everyone who visits.
Set at the eastern edge of the Cascade Mountain Range in Washington State, Leavenworth is a Bavarian village that’s transformed into a virtual snow globe of Christmas magic during the holidays. Often ranked the top Christmas town in the entire U.S., it all begins over Thanksgiving weekend when the outdoor holiday market, Christkindlmarkt, opens up in Front Street Park.
It’s everything you’d think of when it comes to a holiday market and more, with its authentic Bavarian food, music, Bavarian and Christmas-themed entertainment, and all sorts of handmade arts, crafts and other gift items.
In early December, the Christmas Lighting Festival, held throughout much of the month, begins. It includes plenty of caroling, costumed characters and an endless array of dazzling holiday lights throughout.
Every Friday during the festival, St. Nikolas himself even welcomes children with song and fruit. With the entire town lined with its Bavarian-style buildings lit aglow with holiday lights and blanketed with snow, it’s impossible not to get into the holiday spirit here.
If you’re looking for an old fashioned holiday surrounded by a spectacular winter wonderland, there are few better Christmas vacations in the US than the historic town of Woodstock. It’s just as magical as you’d imagine, with the ground usually covered with a least a light dusting of snow, and the scent of pine wafting through the air.
Woodstock knows how to do it up right, hosting a pre-Christmas festival known as Wassail Weekend, which includes a parade with more than 50 horses and riders, all in holiday costume and period dress. Visitors can also take part in sleigh rides, wagon rides and a massive feast.
Plus, all of the beautifully decorated local shops stay open late so you’ll still be able to pick up that last minute gift too.
This world famous ski town becomes a magnificent Victorian-style Christmas town for the holidays, kicking off with the Lighting of Breckenridge on the first weekend in December. This event includes the Running of the Santas, in which hundreds of supersized red-clad elves take to the streets, all just as ski season gets into high gear.
Throughout the month, visitors can expect to find lots of shopping opportunities, delicious eats and the chance to enjoy carriage rides that feel as if you’re gliding through an old fashioned holiday painting.
If you’re still here for New Year’s Eve, you’ll get to watch the torchlight parade make its way down the mountain followed by a fireworks display.
The North Pole, Alaska
The North Pole offers the chance to visit the ultimate Christmas town, the very place where Santa himself is said to live. It’s always Christmas here, with holiday decorations found 365 days a year.
Drive down streets such as Santa Claus Lane and Kris Kringle Drive, mail postcards from Santa’s official zip code, and even watch news broadcasts live from the Claus house. While it may be Christmas all year long, the North Pole becomes even livelier over the holidays, with the annual North Pole Christmas In Ice Contest bringing ice sculptors from all corners of the globe.
If you want dazzling lights and breathtaking holiday themes without having to brave winter’s chill, Orlando may be the place to go. Not only will you get to enjoy pleasant temperatures, but the city’s most noted attractions, such as Disney World and Universal Studies, offer enough entertainment, kid-friendly cuisine and other delights, to keep the entire family happy for weeks.
Celebrate more unique holiday traditions from across the globe with Epcot’s Holidays Around the World that runs through the end of December. Watch the streets of Universal Studios burst to life with colorful floats and balloons in its Macy’s Holiday Parade.
And don’t forget to attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Walt Disney World, featuring live entertainment, fireworks and a holiday parade that comes complete with Santa, Mickey and other popular Disney characters.
Historic Williamsburg is the place to go if you want to enjoy the holidays like early American colonists. Experience 18th century holiday events that are often centered around lively song, with fiddles, flutes and harpsichords capturing the spirit of the season like they did some three centuries ago.
Create decorations inspired by one of the museum’s historical collections, enjoy holiday meals and watch costumed characters roast wild turkeys and prepare puddings, experiencing firsthand just how the settlers observed Christmas.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Steamboat Springs is a picture-postcard winter wonderland around the holidays, with some of the most breathtaking mountain scenery on the planet.
Take a horse-drawn sleigh ride, keeping warm under cozy blankets while gliding through the fresh powder and sipping hot cocoa. Then warm up at Strawberry Park Hot Springs, soaking in the soothing warm springs surrounded by a beautiful snowy landscape.
The town also hosts a number of events, including the Holiday Festival, where you can watch Santa ride down the slopes on horseback before meeting him and his reindeer friends at his workshop. It concludes with a torch light parade, fireworks and night skiing.