Christmas is the most magical time of year. There are many USA Christmas destinations that embody the cheerful Christmas spirit each winter. Between the brilliant white snow, marshmallow-topped hot chocolates, and crackling fireplaces, Christmas time just exudes welcoming warmth and coziness.
Yet not all of the best places to visit during Christmas in the US are covered in a dusting of snow. Some embrace the winter sun and golden sand. While it’s not your typical kind of Christmas, it embraces that cheerful Christmas spirit, nonetheless. Which USA Christmas destination will you choose to visit this holiday season?
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11 of the Best Holiday Getaways in America
I know, I know. These getaways probably sound like the towns in your favorite holiday movies. But, these towns really do exist! Just book your trip and you’ll be able to have your own perfect Hallmark movie Christmas trip.
1. North Pole, Alaska
Everyone knows that the North Pole is essentially the home of the Christmas spirit because that’s where Santa Claus lives! While the actual North Pole is still 1,700 miles further north, it’s hard to imagine any town having more Christmas spirit than North Pole, Alaska.
Every detail in North Pole, Alaska has been thought out to embrace Christmas spirit. While there are of course the main highlights like the world’s biggest Santa Claus statue and the “official” home of Santa Claus himself, there are also little touches that make this little Alaskan town feel like a land filled with toy-making elves and magic.
Live reindeer wander around the area, streets are named with the holiday in mind, and candy cane-inspired light poles line the roads.
2. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Despite what the name of the town may imply, the town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania does not adopt a religious take of the Christmas holiday but instead embraces the modern interpretation with Santa Claus and Christmas markets.
The city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is actually home to one of the best Christmas markets in the US: Christkindlmarkt. Most popular in Europe, Christmas markets are essentially Christmas-themed areas where you can experience anything holiday-related that your heart could possibly desire.
In Bethlehem’s Christmas market, in particular, you can purchase handmade ornaments, watch ice carving demonstrations, and even enjoy breakfast with Santa Claus himself!
3. Asheville, North Carolina
The town of Asheville, North Carolina has recently started to make a name for itself as a travel destination, regardless of the time of year. But one of the best times to visit Asheville is during Christmas because it just so happens to be one of the best Christmas vacations in the US.
Much of the excitement surrounding Asheville as one of the most amazing USA Christmas destinations revolves around the Biltmore Estate, a historic house museum. Every winter, the Biltmore Estate is laden with over fifty beautifully decorated Christmas trees, 1,000 bright red poinsettias, and hundreds of thousands of sparkling Christmas lights. It’s simultaneously over-the-top and elegant.
But the Biltmore Estate isn’t the only place in town that’s overflowing with Christmas spirit. You can also hop aboard the Holly Jolly Christmas Trolley to see all of the sights adorned with holiday cheer and watch a national gingerbread house competition.
4. McAdenville, North Carolina
Asheville isn’t the only town in North Carolina that goes all out for the Christmas season. Nicknamed “Christmas Town USA,” McAdenville has holiday activities that are perfect for everyone.
A town can’t be given the name “Christmas Town USA” and not do everything within its power to bring Christmas to life, and the locals certainly worked to live up to the challenge.
With nearly 400 decorated Christmas trees, a Christmas Town 5K race, and the Annual Yule Log Parade and Festival, you can almost picture Santa’s elves tinkering at a workshop right around the corner. With over half a million people coming to visit this Christmas-themed town, McAdenville is definitely worthy of its nickname.
5. New York City, New York
Just about every Christmas movie from Home Alone to Miracle on 34th Street to Elf is set in New York City, making it one of the best USA Christmas destinations.
As you may expect from a city as big as New York, there is a massive NYC Christmas bucket list to tackle during the holidays. But first things first, you simply have to see the iconic Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza.
Then, from there, you can watch the Christmas Spectacular starring the Radio City Rockettes, wander through the shopping districts to see the city’s famous holiday window displays, be a little sophisticated and watch the Nutcracker Rogue ballet, and savor the best hot chocolate of your life at Dominique Ansel Bakery.
6. Park City, Utah
Park City, Utah is one of the more adventurous USA Christmas destinations. While most of the options on this list involve Christmas markets, hot chocolate, and parades, Park City, Utah embraces skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and dogsledding.
But don’t worry! If you’re still looking for all of the usual Christmas events, Park City has those too! So after you’ve spent your day on the slopes, you can take a romantic sleigh ride, attend an ugly sweater party, and participate in a Christmas Eve torchlight parade.
7. Newport Beach, California
If you live in a cold location that gets their fair share of snow, this frozen weather phenomenon can sometimes lose its magic. To rekindle the excitement of the holidays, consider visiting one of the warmer USA Christmas destinations, such as Newport Beach, California.
While Newport Beach may be warm, that doesn’t mean the Christmas spirit has dwindled. Rather, the Newport Beach locals just celebrate a little differently.
In addition to the houses decked out in colorful lights and hot chocolate topped with a slowly melting pile of marshmallows, Newport Beach is home to an annual Christmas Boat Parade. With dozens of over-the-top, Christmas-themed boats riding around Newport Harbor, you’re sure to feel the holiday spirit – even without the snow.
8. Orlando, Florida
Orlando, Florida is one of the best USA Christmas destinations for one main reason: Walt Disney World. After all, who wouldn’t want to celebrate Christmas at the happiest place on earth?
The most popular way to celebrate Christmas at Disney World is at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. This special Christmas-party type celebration is filled with both holiday spirit and Disney magic. Be enraptured by the A Frozen Holiday Wish show, watch your favorite characters on the Once Upon a Christmas Time parade, devour all the holiday-themed snacks you could desire, and finish off your night with Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Show.
While Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is the most popular way to celebrate Christmas at Disney World, it most certainly is not the only way. Stop by the Disney-built town of Celebration, experience the Epcot Candlelight Processional, delight in Christmas festivities from all around the world at the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, and wander through the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail.
9. Kennebunkport, Maine
While many USA Christmas destinations have designated festivities that last a night or two, Kennebunkport, Maine takes it over the top with its 11-day Christmas Prelude party. And, of course, they add a tad of New England flair.
During this 11-day celebration, there are so many different holiday things to do in Kennebunkport Maine. Some of the highlights include the Tree Lighting Ceremony in Dock Square, the Cape Porpoise Lobster Trap Tree Lighting, the adults-only Fire + Ice party, Santa’s arrival by lobster boat, and the annual Christmas fireworks display. In other words, be sure to stick around Kennebunkport as long as you can to revel in all of the wonderful festivities.
10. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
For some, all of the Christmas activities and people who attend them can be a bit overwhelming. If you relate to this feeling, Jackson Hole, Wyoming might be one of the best USA Christmas destinations for you!
Rather than huge parades and Christmas markets packed to the brim with people, Jackson Hole takes a bit more of a calming approach to its holiday season. Instead, you can fulfill your lifelong dream of riding in a one-horse open sleigh, participate in the quiet Town Square Tree Lighting Ceremony, and even ski with jolly old Saint Nick.
11. Santa Claus, Indiana
While Alaska may be home to a town known as the North Pole, Indiana is home to a town called Santa Claus. And while the North Pole may have sleigh rides and reindeer, the town of Santa Claus provides a different form of joy for children each year: letters from Santa.
As per the age-old tradition, every winter, children write letters to Santa Claus, asking for a few things that they would like to receive as gifts for Christmas. Many of these kids put their letters into the mail, awaiting either their gift or a response. For a long time, these letters went unread and unanswered, until the town of Santa Claus, Indiana stepped up to the tasks. Now, thousands of volunteer “elves” write back to the kids, which is a fantastic Christmas surprise.
If you choose to visit Santa Claus, Indiana, consider becoming a volunteer elf for a little while. You’re sure to put a smile on quite a few children’s faces. You can also visit a candy castle, enjoy a Christmas-inspired parade, and drive through a lovely holiday light show.
What are your favorite USA Christmas destinations? Let me know in the comments below!
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Friday 11th of December 2020
I love Salt Lake City at Christmas. The festival of trees takes a couple of days to go through, temple Square is always decorated with thousands of lights, then I have to decide if I want to listen to all the recitals around temple square or take the 40 minute trip and hear all the recitals at BYU. One year there was an all tuba recital playing christmas music. The mountains with the snow are gorgeous
Wednesday 16th of December 2020
Thank you for sharing your love for Christmas with me, Susan! Thank you for the Salt Lake City recommendations as well. :)
Saturday 17th of October 2020
Awesome tips. One place I love to visit during Christmas is Leavenworth, Washington. It's a little Bavarian town, nestled in the mountains, near Wenatchee. It's also beautiful in the summer time, when you can see the orchards filled with fruit on the way into the town. Hope you can visit it sometime.
Thursday 22nd of October 2020
Thank you so much for reading and for the great recommendation, Judene! :)
Saturday 12th of September 2020
I love the northern lights in your first photo. These all look like great places to go during the Christmas period!
Thursday 8th of October 2020
Thanks so much, Krista! Christmas getaways are the best!
Friday 11th of September 2020
I have always wanted to go on a Christmas trip to somewhere else in the US. I'll have to keep these places in mind.
Thursday 8th of October 2020
Thanks so much for reading, Kiara! I hope you're able to go on a Christmas trip this year.
Thursday 10th of September 2020
I love traveling for Christmas so this just gave me so many new ideas.
Thursday 8th of October 2020
Thank you so much, Franny! Enjoy your Christmas trip this year!