You may think July is too early to start thinking about Christmas, but if you are planning to travel in December, now is a good time to start your preparations. As the holiday season approaches, the United States comes alive with an enchanting array of destinations that exude festive charm and magical allure. From dazzling lights displays to snow-covered mountains to European-inspired Christmas markets, the best U.S. destinations for the holidays offer an unforgettable experience for travelers seeking to embrace the spirit of the season.
Read on to embark on a holiday journey filled with joy, wonder, and the unmistakable magic that only this time of year can bring.
1. Breckenridge, CO
In December, Breckenridge, Colorado, transforms into a winter paradise, with its snow-covered streets and majestic mountain backdrop creating a picturesque setting for the holiday season. The town's charming Main Street is adorned with festive decorations, offering a delightful ambiance for visitors and locals alike. Adventurers can hit the slopes for world-class skiing and snowboarding, while those seeking a cozy experience can indulge in hot cocoa by the fireplace in one of Breckenridge's many charming lodges.
2. New York, NY
The Big Apple is famous for its iconic holiday displays, such as the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, elaborate department store window decorations, ice skating at Central Park, and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
3. Chicago, IL
Chicago embraces the holiday season with its magnificent Christmas lights, Christkindlmarket (a German-inspired Christmas market), and ice skating at Millennium Park's McCormick Tribune Ice Rink.
4. New Orleans, LA
Experience a unique holiday celebration with a New Orleans twist. Enjoy the "Reveillon Dinners" at historic restaurants, holiday concerts, and festive decorations in the French Quarter.
5. Aspen, CO
If you're looking for a winter wonderland, Aspen is the perfect destination. With its snow-covered mountains, charming holiday displays, and numerous winter activities, it's a magical place for the holiday season.
6. Leavenworth, WA
This picturesque Bavarian-style village goes all out with its Christmas Lighting Festival, transforming into a charming winter wonderland with carolers, sledding, and holiday-themed markets and events.
7. Branson, MO
Branson is known for its fantastic holiday shows and light displays, making it a fantastic destination for those who love Christmas music and entertainment.
8. Orlando, FL
Though you may not think of Florida as a great holiday destination, what with the lack of snow, but Walt Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando offer enchanting holiday experiences with special parades, decorations, and performances.
9. San Francisco, CA
San Francisco gets into the holiday spirit with Union Square's large Christmas tree, ice skating, and holiday-themed events throughout the city.
10. Williamsburg, VA
Colonial Williamsburg takes visitors back in time during the holidays, with traditional decorations, candlelight tours, and festive events.
11. Bethlehem, PA
Known as "Christmas City, USA," Bethlehem transforms into a magical place during the holiday season, featuring charming lights, a Christkindlmarkt, and horse-drawn carriage rides.
12. Duluth, MN
Featuring Bentleyville, a massive lights display, plus a Christmas village at Glensheen Mansion and the Christmas City Express, a 30-minute train journey along Lake Superior, Duluth is the perfect town to ignite the Christmas magic.
13. North Pole, AK
Though not the "real" North Pole, this town does the holidays right, with Santa Claus House, complete with live reindeer and candy cane street lights.
14. Frankenmuth, MI
Known as "Michigan's Little Bavaria," this town hosts a Christmas market, features fabulous lights displays, and is home to Bronner's, the largest Christmas store in the world.
Most of these cities and towns experience an influx of people at Christmastime, so plan your travels well in advance and be prepared for crowds as you mingle with locals and fellow travelers to enjoy the magic of the holiday season.
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