Top 5 Travel Destinations in the U.S. to Celebrate Christmas
Updated: Sep 7
What comes to mind when you think of the Christmas season?
For many, sharing memories at home with family or friends tops the list. But for a growing number of people, this is the best time of year to get away to a special destination. It’s never too early in the year to start planning your trip for Christmas. No matter how you celebrate the season, no one can deny it is a magical time of year.
Here are the top 5 places in the U.S. to celebrate the holidays:
1) New York, New York
There are so many places in New York City that transform into magical places to visit. When it snows, a horse-and-carriage ride in Central Park is the epitome of romanticism. The park turns into a true Winter Wonderland. Ice skating at Rockefeller Center may be cliché, but is well worth it, since the infamous giant Christmas Tree (noted to be among the tallest in the world) will be up and twinkling. Walk up and down 5th Avenue, with all manner of extravagant window displays done up for the holiday season.
Enjoy a theatrical Christmas laser light show at Grand Central Station. For show and theater-goers, the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular and the NYC Ballet’s Nutcracker are a tradition. Meanwhile, at the Plaza Hotel, the man dubbed as the “real Santa” awaits to hear your Christmas wishes. Many hotels in the area offer special packages that include some of these iconic holiday events.
Rockefeller Center at Christmas photo credit: https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/when-is-the-2018-rockefeller-center-christmas-tree-lighting.html/
2) Taos, New Mexico
High on a desert plain is this gem of a village that does Christmas in its own charming way. A rich mix of cultural traditions ensures a holiday vacation like no other. Visit historic Ledoux Street, with its luminarias (paper lanterns) lighting up your path on an evening stroll. Have an opulent Christmas dinner at Byzantium on this street.
Experience ceremonial reenactments of Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter, called posadas, and the dramatic Native American traditional Christmas Eve celebration, taking place over the main square of Taos Pueblo. For skiers, the fantastic Taos Ski Resort is about 18 miles away.
San Geronimo de Taos Mission Church photo credit: https://santafe.org/blog/taos_pueblo_winter/
3) Orlando, Florida
There’s just something about Disney World that unleashes the kid in all of us. Whether you are bringing your little ones along, or it’s just you and your significant other, Disney at Christmas is magic ten-fold. Even though you are in sunny and balmy Florida with no snow in sight, the world-renowned theme park spares no expense to make sure you have the ultimate Christmas experience.
Take the kids to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Just be sure to make reservations well in advance, as it is Disney World’s most popular event during December. Epcot Center has their Holiday Candlelight Processional. Magic Kingdom may well be the most decked-out park of them all, with millions of lights decorating every corner. The Haunted Mansion even closes for a few weeks in November in preparation for its transformation into The Nightmare Before Christmas ride.
4) Park City, Utah
This world-class ski destination kicks off the season in late November with its Electric Parade, where they light up just about everything! This is a great place to take the entire family, as there are plenty of attractions to keep the kids enthralled. Among them, the life-size gingerbread house. At 13 feet tall, it takes about 11,000 cookies to make the structure at Montage Deer Valley.
On Christmas Eve throughout the day, keep your eye out for Santa. He’ll be skiing the slopes, walking the streets and leading the parade with a torchlight down the PayDay trail. Even if you are not a skier, Park City has lots of shopping and dining to keep even the most bah humbug person in your party entertained. Attend the Park City Holiday Spectacular Sing-a-long, and they are guaranteed to crack a smile.
Historic Park City at Christmas photo credit: https://historicparkcityutah.com/events/electric-parade-and-festivities
5) North Pole, Alaska
You can visit this location along Highway 2 just southeast of Fairbanks any time of year. The town is decked out all-year-round, and it should be, just because of its name. It is best to come in the winter, however, when the snow really makes the decorations sparkle. Here is where you can do some serious decoration shopping yourself, visit live reindeer and see the one-and-only Santa Claus.
Step into Santa Claus House and marvel at the letters to Santa lining the walls. Thousands write their wishing letters to the Claus House every year, and every letter gets a response. The streets are given such illustrious names as Kris Kringle Drive and Mistletoe Lane.
Santa Claus House photo credit http://www.alaska.org/detail/santa-claus-house
Whichever destination you choose, your holiday season is sure to be a delight and will create memories you will cherish yourself and with your travel companions. Make it a tradition and go to a different place each year!