City park Leavenworth Wa

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36 Best Christmas Destinations In The US For A Magical Holiday

If you’re considering shaking up your holiday plans this year, why not spend Christmas in a new location?

Even though there’s nothing like being at home for the holidays, there’s something special about spending Christmas away from home.

Why not travel to locations that go all out for the holidays by decorating with twinkling lights and letting the festive cheer radiate?

If you’re looking to experience some holiday cheer in the United States, then look no further. We’ve hand picked the best Christmas destinations in the US that we’ve visited offering that unique Christmas vibe.

From alpine towns that will make you feel as though you’re celebrating Christmas in the German Alps to an Alaskan town that’s literally called the North Pole, there’s something for everyone on this list.

Best Places To Visit During Christmas In USA

Many cities and towns across the United States come alive with festive decorations and holiday cheer during Christmas.

From the East Coast to the West Coast, there are countless destinations where you can experience the magic of the season. Let’s find the best place to spend Christmas in USA.

Quaint Christmas Towns and Cities In The U.S.

There are many charming small-town Christmas getaways in the USA.

These getaways are perfect for anyone who loves Christmas. Some Christmas getaways are even offbeat and unexpected. 

1. Leavenworth, Washington, A Bavarian Winter Wonderland

winter in leavenworth
One of the best places to go for Christmas in USA

Have you been dreaming of a Christmas in the German Alps but aren’t sure if you’ll be able to make it this year?

Leavenworth is a small town in the Cascade Mountains that has kept its Bavarian culture alive. This easily made our best Christmas vacations USA list and is a favorite that we frequently visit.

You’ll feel like you’re transported to Germany with the half-timbered buildings, German restaurants, mulled wine, breweries, gingerbread cookies, and Christmas markets!

If you’re looking for a festive and charming Christmas experience, Leavenworth in the winter is the perfect place for you.

The whole town glows with lights, setting the scene for all sorts of holiday fun, like chestnut roasting, gingerbread house competitions, advent calendar contests, and more!

2. Santa Claus, Indiana

winter in Santa Claus
Image Credit: SantaClauseInd.Org

In the town of Santa Claus, you’ll receive a warm welcome. Visit the Santa Claus Christmas Store for personalized ornaments and holiday decor.

Try the famous frozen hot chocolate at Santa’s Candy Castle, where you can even chat with an elf from the North Pole.

Explore the Santa Claus Museum & Village, which includes the historic 1880 Santa Claus Church, the original Santa Claus Post Office, and a 22-foot-tall Santa statue from 1935.

You can also ride a horse at Santa’s Stables or catch a movie at the Holiday Drive-In Movie Theater.

Santa Claus is also home to the world’s first theme park, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari. The park features rides, shows, and attractions themed after Christmas, Halloween, and the Fourth of July.

3. Mackinac Island, Michigan Is A Magical Christmas Vacation In The USA

Mackinac Island is a popular resort destination in Michigan, known for its beautiful scenery and relaxed atmosphere.

The island is busiest during the Christmas season, and many visitors come to enjoy the island’s festive atmosphere and participate in popular events like the Christmas Bazaar and New Year’s Eve celebrations.

It’s recommended to book lodging as early as possible during these events to avoid disappointment.

4. North Pole, Alaska

North Pole, Alaska, known for its year-round Christmas spirit, is just a short 20-minute drive from Fairbanks.

Located in central Alaska, North Pole is about 1,700 miles south of the geographical North Pole. This small town boasts a population of 2,243 residents and proudly carries the motto, “Where the Spirit of Christmas Lives Year Round!

Drive along Santa Claus Lane, where you’ll find streetlights decorated with candy canes. Visit the Santa Claus House, the “official” home of Santa Claus, where you can shop for holiday-inspired gifts.

Get a unique North Pole postmark on a letter from Santa to send to friends and family back home.

You can also meet live reindeer and take a photo with Santa Claus at the Santa Claus House, available year-round.

Put simply, it doesn’t get any more Christmas-y than it does in the North Pole, and the town’s residents make sure the spirit stays on year-round.

5. Charleston, South Carolina

christmas in Charleston SC
Image Credit: CarlasofCarolina

If you’re looking for a great place to visit during Christmas, Charleston, South Carolina, is a great choice.

The city is decorated beautifully, and there are plenty of things to do, including walking around downtown, sipping on hot chocolate visiting “The Battery” and the infamous Pineapple Fountain.

Charleston is also a great place to eat, with many excellent restaurants the Holiday Market is the perfect place to pick up Christmas gifts.

christmas in Charleston SC

Be sure to checkout the Tavern in Rainbow Row which is known as the oldest tavern in the country and if you’re a fan of oysters hit up Pearlz Oyster Bar. Looking for a cocktail? Our favorite spot is the upstairs lunge at Henry’s On The Market.

6. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Bethlehem PA for christmas
Image Credit: Peach State Pride

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is a charming small-town Christmas getaway. It has a rich history and is known for its Christmas lights and festivities.

Although it’s not the real Bethlehem, the small town in Pennsylvania certainly knows how to celebrate Christmas.

With its German-inspired Christmas City Village and traditional Christmas market, you will be spoilt for choice with ways to make your own personal Bethlehem magical this holiday season.

Today, Bethlehem is still known for its beautiful music and charming Christmastime atmosphere. It is a great place to visit during the holidays.

7. Helen, Georgia

helen GA for Christmas
Image Credit: Secret_Atlanta

Visiting Helen, Georgia during Christmas is a charming and cozy experience.

This Bavarian-style village in the Appalachian Mountains transforms into a festive winter wonderland during the holiday season.

Don’t miss the lighting of the town’s large Christmas tree, a cherished tradition that kicks off the holiday festivities, often with Santa Claus making an appearance, making it a family-friendly event.

Explore the Christkindlmarkt, a holiday market offering unique handmade gifts, ornaments, and delicious treats, perfect for finding special presents.

Helen also offers activities like horse-drawn carriage rides and scenic walks along the Chattahoochee River, allowing you to enjoy the natural beauty of the area during the holidays.

8. Hanover, New Hampshire

If you’re looking for a magical Christmas vacation in the USA, Hanover, New Hampshire, is the place to go.

This quaint college town is decorated with Christmas lights and decorations, making it the perfect place to get into the holiday spirit.

The Hanover Inn has an incredible gingerbread house display that you won’t want to miss.

And be sure to check out The Green at Dartmouth College, where you can see a huge decorated Christmas tree.

9. Burlington, Vermont, For One Of The Best Christmas Vacations In The USA

Image Credit: NewEnglandWithLove

Burlington, Vermont, transforms into a winter wonderland during the Christmas season.

The city’s picturesque Church Street Marketplace is adorned with festive lights and decorations, creating a magical ambiance for holiday shoppers and visitors.

Burlington’s annual Festival of Trees and the Church Street Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony are cherished traditions that draw both locals and tourists.

These events feature beautifully decorated trees and carolers, spreading holiday cheer throughout the city.

Lake Champlain, which borders Burlington, often freezes over during the winter, offering the opportunity for ice skating and other winter sports.

You can also enjoy a comforting cup of hot cocoa at one of the city’s inviting cafes or venture out to explore the local breweries, with Foam Brewery being a standout favorite among them.

Best Christmas Getaways For History

10. Kennebunkport, Maine

Kennebunkport, Maine
Image Credit: Kennebunkportmaine

Kennebunkport, Maine, is a picturesque coastal town that takes on a special charm during the Christmas season.

With its historic New England architecture, quaint streets, and stunning coastal views, it provides a festive backdrop for holiday festivities.

One of the highlights of Christmas in Kennebunkport is the annual Christmas Prelude festival, which typically spans over the first two weekends of December. This event is a beloved tradition that features a variety of activities, including tree lightings, holiday concerts, craft fairs, and a picturesque candlelit stroll through Dock Square.

Kennebunkport’s dining scene comes alive during the holiday season, with numerous restaurants offering special menus that highlight the area’s fresh seafood and classic New England dishes.

12. Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia One Of The Best Places To Spend Christmas in USA

Colonial Williamsburg for christmas

If you’re looking for a charming small-town Christmas getaway, look no further than Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. When it comes to the best US Christmas destinations this was an easy choice.

This historic college town is full of festive events and activities to enjoy during the holidays.

Best of all, many of the events are free to attend.

One of the highlights of Christmas in Colonial Williamsburg is the Grand Illumination, a beloved annual event.

During this celebration, candles and fireworks light up the night sky, setting the stage for the holiday season.

Visitors can enjoy musical performances, caroling, and a festive atmosphere reminiscent of colonial times.

Of course, no trip to Colonial Williamsburg would be complete without exploring the historic buildings and sites.

Many of the buildings are decorated for Christmas during this time of year and are free to enter.

Colonial Williamsburg for christmas

Be sure to check out the Governor’s Palace, Capitol Building, and Wythe House while you’re in town.

13. Alexandria, Virginia

Alexandria VA for Christmas

Alexandria, Virginia, is a great place to visit in the USA during Christmas time.

Old Town Alexandria, with its well-preserved 18th- and 19th-century architecture, is beautifully decorated for the holidays with twinkling lights, wreaths, and festive window displays. Making it one of our top picks for best US Christmas destinations.

One of the highlights of Christmas in Alexandria is the annual Scottish Christmas Walk Parade a cherished tradition that sets the stage for the holiday season with its festive display of Scottish pride.

Hundreds of participants from various Scottish clans don traditional attire, and the sound of bagpipes fills the air as they march through the charming streets of Old Town Alexandria.

Best Cities for Christmas Vacations in the US

14. Seattle, Washington Lights Up At Christmas

christmas in Seattle

The holidays are a great time to visit Seattle in the winter; it’s a festive affair filled with traditions and holiday cheer.

The city of Seattle comes alive at night with the annual lighting of the Christmas tree at Westlake Center, accompanied by musical performances and vibrant decorations.

Seattle’s shopping scene is bustling, with Pike Place Market and downtown shops offering unique gifts and artisanal goods.

Seattle’s culinary scene shines during the holidays, with a variety of unique Seattle restaurants and rooftop bars offering special holiday menus and festive cocktails, creating a cozy and unique dining experience.

If you’re looking for a snowy Christmas experience, I highly recommend making a day weekend trip to Mount Rainier or another National Park or spending a couple of days in Leavenworth.

Read Next: 31 Bucket list Things To Do In Seattle and Most Unique Things To Do in Seattle

15. New York, New York- One Of The Best Christmas Places To Visit

One of the most iconic, but one that should undoubtedly be on every Christmas itinerary for all the right reasons.

In a nutshell, you haven’t truly experienced a metropolitan Christmas until you’ve seen it through New York City’s sparkling lens.

Experience a festive Christmas in New York by taking a carriage ride through Central Park, ice skating at Rockefeller Center, seeing Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, taking a New York City dinner cruise or sipping seasonal cocktails and hot chocolate at the Winter Village in Bryant Park!

A little cliché? Maybe. But who cares!

16. Downtown Washington D.C.- Best Place To Spend Christmas For History Buffs

Christmas tree at Washington DC - United States
Christmas tree at Washington DC – United States – USA

Washington, D.C., during Christmas is a captivating blend of history and holiday spirit.

The National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony on the White House Ellipse is a highlight, attracting visitors from across the country.

The National Mall is adorned with sparkling lights, and Smithsonian museums offer special holiday exhibits.

Georgetown, a historic neighborhood in Washington, D.C., is a must-visit during the Christmas season.

Its charming streets come alive with the warm glow of twinkling lights, creating a magical ambiance for all who stroll along M Street and Wisconsin Avenue.

17. Boston, Massachusetts-One Of The Top Christmas Destinations In The US

boston MA for Christmas
Image Credit: Photo Walks Boston Tours

Boston, Massachusetts, offers a charming and historic backdrop for celebrating Christmas, blending its rich heritage with festive traditions.

One of the highlights of Christmas in Boston is the annual tree lighting ceremony on Boston Common, a cherished event dating back over a century.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace, transforms into a winter wonderland during the holidays.

The marketplace features a towering Christmas tree, dazzling lights, and festive decorations.

Visitors can enjoy holiday shopping at the various stores and boutiques, sample local cuisine from food stalls, and be entertained by street performers.

The city’s historic neighborhoods, including Beacon Hill, are adorned with festive decorations, and many residents take great pride in elaborately decorating their homes and gardens with twinkling lights and wreaths.

18. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Visiting Philadelphia at Christmas blends history with festive spirit. The historic district, including Independence Hall, is beautifully decorated.

Macy’s Christmas Light Show and the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s tree display are must-see attractions.

Neighborhoods like South Street and Rittenhouse Square come alive with holiday lights and decorations. Experiencing Christmas in Philadelphia wouldn’t be complete without a trip to LOVE Park’s Christmas Village.

This traditional German market offers nutcrackers, ornaments, and German-inspired treats. .

19. Chicago, Illinois

chicago Ill for Christmas
Image Credit: LifeviaChicago

Chicago is a great place to visit any time of year, but it’s especially festive during Christmas.

The city comes alive with lights, decorations, and holiday cheer. The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival is a great way to start the Christmas season in Chicago.

The festival features a parade of decorated boats, live music, and more.

One of the most iconic Christmas attractions in Chicago is the Christkindlmarket, inspired by the traditional German holiday markets.

Located in Daley Plaza, this market charming stalls selling handcrafted ornaments, unique gifts, and delicious European treats.

Visitors can enjoy mulled wine, bratwurst, and gingerbread cookies while immersing themselves in the holiday spirit.

20. Duluth, Minnesota

Duluth, Minnesota, is home to Bentleyville, one of the most magical light displays in the country.

During the holiday season, Duluth comes alive with a wide array of festive events and activities that will make you feel like you’re walking inside a real-life snow globe!

Duluth’s historic downtown area, with its Victorian architecture and storefronts, takes on a festive atmosphere during the holidays.

Many shops and boutiques decorate their windows and offer unique gifts, ornaments, and local crafts, making it an ideal place for holiday shopping.

Fun U.S. Christmas Getaways in the United States

21. Asheville, North Carolina

christmas in Asheville NC

Tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville, North Carolina, looks like a storybook that comes to life during the holidays.

One of the highlights of Christmas in Asheville is the Biltmore Estate, America’s largest privately-owned home.

During the holiday season, the Biltmore transforms into a winter wonderland with thousands of twinkling lights, beautifully decorated trees, and lavish decorations throughout the mansion.

Downtown Asheville, with its historic architecture and vibrant arts scene, comes alive with holiday cheer. The city’s streets are adorned with festive decorations, including twinkling lights and wreaths.

Independent boutiques, art galleries, and craft shops offer unique gifts and locally made treasures, making it an ideal place for holiday shopping.

22. Denver, Colorado

christmas in Denver

Denver is the perfect holiday destination to experience Christmas magic with its festive markets, annual events, and seasonal activities. Don’t miss the Denver Christkindl Market and European Holiday Market for a Bavarian-inspired Christmas vibe.

For picturesque Christmas mountain scenery, head to the Colorado Rockies, where you can enjoy activities like hiking and snowmobiling, as well as world-class skiing and snowboarding at various resorts.

Don’t forget to explore charming mountain towns like Vail, Aspen, Winter Park, Copper Mountain, Keystone Resort, Steamboat Springs, and Frisco for unique holiday experiences.

23. New Orleans, Louisiana

christmas in New Orleans

Christmas in New Orleans is a special time. The city comes alive with lights, music, and good food. There are many things to do and see during Christmas in New Orleans.

One of the best things to do is enjoy the French restaurants that offer special menus in honor of Réveillon celebrations.

This is a great opportunity to try some new and different foods. Another great activity is to see the amazing light displays at some of the hotels in New Orleans.

24. Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee, is a great place to visit during Christmas because there are tons of events and activities related to the season.

Nashville, known as the Music City, bursts with holiday spirit through a plethora of December concerts and shows. You can explore the Grand Ole Opry for festive performances tailored to the season, or discover local theaters presenting Christmas plays and musicals.

The legendary Ryman Auditorium frequently plays host to unique Christmas events and concerts, featuring captivating country music performances and captivating holiday-themed shows. Even in the absence of a specific event, a visit to this iconic venue is a delightful experience in itself.

Take a leisurely stroll through historic neighborhoods like Germantown, 12 South, and East Nashville to admire their festive decorations and charming, cozy ambiance.

25. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Christmas in Santa Fe is a special time. The city is already beautiful, but the Christmas season makes it even more so.

There are plenty of activities and attractions to enjoy during this time of year.

Taos Ski Valley and Ski Santa Fe are both close by, making Santa Fe a great destination for winter sports enthusiasts and those looking for winter adventure vacations.

And the annual Canyon Road Farolito Walk is a must-do for anyone looking to get into the Christmas spirit.

The walk features farolitos – paper bags filled with sand and decorated with a votive candle – lining the streets and walls of adobe buildings. It’s a magical sight that’s not to be missed.

Outdoors-Focused Places To Spend Christmas in The U.S.

26. Park City, Utah Enjoy Snow, and Skiing

christmas in Park City UT

Park City, Utah, is a great Christmas destination in the United States. Throughout the holiday season, Park City hosts a variety of Christmas-themed events, such as tree lighting ceremonies, holiday markets, and Santa Claus visits.

Park City’s Main Street is decorated with festive decor, twinkling lights, and beautifully decorated shop windows. A stroll down this historic street feels like stepping into a holiday movie scene.

The world-class ski resorts in Park City, including Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resort, are a major draw during the Christmas season. Whether you’re an expert skier or just a beginner I highly recommend hitting the slopes.

27. Yosemite National Park, California

If you are looking for an outdoors-focused Christmas trip, consider visiting Yosemite National Park in California. This world-renowned park is especially beautiful during the winter months when it transforms into a snowy wonderland.

There are plenty of activities to keep you busy during your visit, such as skiing and snowshoeing. And be sure to take some time to enjoy the festive decorations – Yosemite National Park goes all out for Christmas!

28. Whitefish Montana- One Of Our Favorite US Christmas Getaways

white fish mt for christmas

Whitefish, Montana, is a great destination to visit during Christmas time. The small town has a lot of charm and is nestled in the mountains, making for a picturesque setting. 

Once in Whitefish, there are plenty of activities to keep visitors busy. There are many boutique shops to browse, and the annual Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade is not to be missed.

Glacier National Park is also nearby and makes for a great day trip.

29. Breckenridge, Colorado

breckenridge Co for Christmas

Breckenridge is the perfect Christmas destination for anyone who wants to get away from it all. This charming mountain town is decorated with over 250,000 lights and snowflakes and is home to an amazing ski resort.

There are also lots of unique shops selling presents, making it the perfect place to find that special something for someone special.

31. Jackson Hole, Wyoming

The Jackson Hole Mountain Resort offers several events during the Christmas season, including fireworks and New Year’s Eve.

There are many lodges to choose from, including the luxurious Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa and the ski-in/ski-out Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole. Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park are nearby for those who want to see them at their wintery best.

32. Colorado Springs, Colorado

The Festival of Lights is a popular event that takes place in Colorado Springs every December. The festival features a variety of events, including a light show, caroling, and an ice skating rink. 

The Cog Train at Pikes Peak is another popular activity during Christmas in Colorado Springs. The train takes passengers up to the top of Pikes Peak to see the Christmas lights display.

Colorado Springs also has several other activities for Christmas, including skating at Acacia Park and visiting Santa’s workshop.

Warm Christmas Vacations Ideas

33. Newport Beach, California Throws A Great Holiday Celebration

new port beach CA for Christmas

The Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade is one of the longest-running Christmas festivals in the United States. The 113th annual parade will take place in the harbor of Newport Beach, California.

To get into the Christmas spirit, view the parade from Balboa Island. Lido House is a great place to stay during Christmas, with festive decorations and a nautical feel. The Ring of Lights is an annual holiday light display on the waterfront that is worth seeing.

34. San Antonio, Texas- Best Christmas Vacation Spot With Warm Weather

san antonio Tx for christmas

San Antonio is a beautiful city located in Texas with a lot of history. Christmas is a great time to visit San Antonio, and there are many things to do during this holiday season.

One of the best things to do is take a stroll around the Alamo. You can also skate around the Rotary Ice Rink or visit the Riverwalk, a great place to see the Christmas lights and watch performances by different groups. Make sure to plan your time carefully so you can enjoy all that San Antonio offers during Christmas!

35. Los Angeles – Best Christmas Destinations in the US

LA for Christmas

Los Angeles is a great place to visit during Christmas. The weather is usually in the 60s, which makes it perfect for exploring the city.

There are tons of Christmas-themed events and activities, such as the Hollywood Christmas Parade, the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, and the Los Angeles Zoo.

You can also find a number of holiday markets selling unique gifts and seasonal food. Traffic can be a pain, so plan your trip accordingly

36. Mobile, Alabama Great Place To Spend The Holiday Season

If you’re looking for a sunny escape during Christmas time, Mobile, Alabama, is the perfect spot. The city has mild winter weather and beautiful white sand beaches.

The Bellingrath Gardens and Home is a must-visit in Mobile at any time of year.

The gardens are decorated with millions of Christmas lights, and the Oakleigh mansion is also decked out in holiday lights. There are many restaurants in Mobile that offer a wide variety of cuisines.

So whether you’re looking to enjoy the outdoors or indulge in some good food, Mobile is a great place to visit during Christmas time.

More Options For Best Places To Visit For Christmas In USA

If you’re looking for a warm Christmas away from cold weather, Destin is a great option. The beach will be more than warm enough, and there are plenty of activities to enjoy, including parades and dolphin cruises. Restaurants and shops are abundant on Destin Harbor Boardwalk.

Taking a sunset dolphin cruise is a must-do while spending Christmas in Destin. Few tourists visit during this time, making it the perfect opportunity to really explore the city.

Get Out And Explore The Best Christmas Destinations USA

I hope this list of Christmas destinations will help you to get out and explore new and different areas. Let me know in the comments below if you have a favorite you think should be added to the list.

FAQs About The Best Christmas Holiday Destinations

What are uncrowded Christmas destinations in the USA?

Some uncrowded Christmas destinations in the USA are Asheville, Sedona, Mackinac Island, Michigan and Santa Fe

outside nomad jill wheeler author bio
Written by Jill Wheeler

Hi there! I’m Jill, a full-time travel blogger and passionate adventurer. I left the 9-to-5 grind to embrace the nomadic travel lifestyle and have never looked back. I love immersing myself in diverse cultures, and through my stories, photos, and tips, I hope to inspire others to embark on their own adventures. When I’m not exploring the world, you’ll find me skiing, mountain biking, or tasting the culture of breathtaking locations.

2 thoughts on “36 Best Christmas Destinations In The US For A Magical Holiday”

  1. MRS. Elaine A Thomas

    You missed some great Christmas destinations. It doesn’t get any better at Christmas than St. AUGUSTINE, Florida. And Christmas lights don’t get more impressive than The Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri. And nothing gets better than better annual stroll Dicken’s annual stroll through Skaneateles, NY

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