Wondering where to spend Christmas in the US? Whether you are dreaming of a white Christmas or a warm beach destination, this list of the best places to spend Christmas in the US will help you make up your mind!
I have asked the help of fellow travel bloggers with personal experience to share their amazing Christmas spent in different places in the country.
Whether you are looking for travel inspiration on where to spend your next Christmas holiday or you are just curious to read about Christmas celebrations around the US, I am sure you will enjoy this read.
If you are looking for some warm Christmas time check out Christmas in San Diego, or LA, Miami, or Texas. If you are more into the winter Christmas atmosphere with snowflakes and hot chocolate, have a look at NY or Colorado, among other amazing places to spend Christmas in the US.
Or just get a cup of coffee, sit back and go through the entire post to find what best resonates with your idea of the Christmas Holiday!
The best places to spend Christmas in the US
Christmas in the US-Grapevine, Texas
by Michelle from Totally Texas Travel
There are some fabulous Texas small towns that go all out for Christmas, but none do it as big as the ‘Christmas Capital of Texas,’ Grapevine.
Located just outside of Dallas, Texas, which makes this one of the easy getaways from Dallas, visitors can fly into Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and then take public transportation to Grapevine as it is only about 10 minutes north of the airport.
Grapevine host 40 day of Christmas festivities that includes over 1,400 events for you to choose from. The entire celebration kicks off with the annual Parade of Lights.
The Parade of Lights features over 100-lighted floats that make their way down Grapevine’s Main Street mesmerizing the crowd.
Downtown Grapevine comes alive with millions of lights, and fun, interactive decorations. Kids will love hopping aboard the North Pole Express, Grapevine’s Historic Railroad. This time of year, the rail cars are transformed into a winter wonderland.
Kids join Santa and Mrs. Clause on a 45-minute Holiday adventure complete with treats and storytime.
Adults will not want to miss the Christmas Wine Train to celebrate the holidays while in Grapevine! These adults-only wine trains give you a break from the hustle and bustle and allow you to enjoy a DJ, Santa, and some great Texas wine during your excursion.
Grapevine also offers Christmas-themed live performances and dinner events, a fun hometown Christmas exhibit, and more. Honestly, one visit here and you will see why Grapevine is ‘The Christmas Capital of Texas.’
Christmas in New Orleans, LA
by Michelle from That Texas Couple
If you are looking for one of the best places to spend Christmas in the USA, then you need to consider New Orleans, Louisiana. Granted there are loads of things to do in New Orleans any time of the year, but there is just something magical about New Orleans at Christmas.
Visitors to New Orleans can fly into Louis Armstrong Airport (MSY) and then take a ride service to their desired accommodation. We recommend staying in the historic French Quarter for this holiday!
New Orleans shows off during Christmas. Not only is the weather usually nice and mild, but the city is decorated to the nines as it welcomes visitors to celebrate the holiday.
The hotels in and around the French Quarter are each decorated with their own special holiday décor and many participate in the city’s Gingerbread Trail.
The Gingerbread Trail is an annual event where local chefs compete to create gingerbread masterpieces. After the gingerbread creations are voted on, they are then displayed in the local hotels. Following the Gingerbread Trail to see all of the masterpieces is a free event during the holidays!
Of course, that is not all the city has to offer. New Orleans is full of events year-round, and especially Christmas.
Visitors can check out the bonfires on the levee, enjoy Candlelight Caroling in Jackson Square, and hop on one of the vintage streetcars and make their way to the Celebration in the Oaks in City Park. The Celebration in the Oaks is a 25-acre holiday display where over 600 live oak trees are decorated in beautiful Christmas lights.
In addition to all of this, there are also special holiday meals at New Orleans restaurants, and numerous live holiday performances taking place.
Christmas in Williamsburg, Virginia
by Cortney Edwards, from Tin Can Living
Williamsburg, Virginia is a historic town with many popular tourist attractions. Williamsburg At Christmas has become an annual tradition for families around the world.
This cute town offers something for everyone! It is a quick drive from the Richmond International Airport and there are tons of great places to rest your weary head at night.
One fantastic hotel option is the Williamsburg Inn. This hotel has so much to offer guests during the Christmas season! The lobby is transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with tinsel and garlands. They have a holiday tea and a wonderful Christmas dinner.
When you are ready to venture out, the first stop on your itinerary should be the Williamsburg Holiday Market because it is simply amazing. There are unique gifts and holiday décor to bring out the Christmas spirit in everyone.
Williamsburg also has plenty of activities that are perfect for kids and adults alike! Colonial Williamsburg is also extra special during the Christmas holiday season.
You can take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the streets, watch as actors recreate history, and take your family to see how Williamsburg looked during colonial times. See the beautifully decorated streets during the holidays for an unforgettable Williamsburg experience.
The last stop on your trip should include a visit to Busch Gardens. The park has its annual Christmas Town celebration during the month of December.
The park is completely covered in lights and Christmas decorations that are sure to get you in the holiday mood! This is definitely a must-see when visiting this area.
Williamsburg is a great place to visit during the Christmas season and offers plenty of ways for you to get in the holiday spirit.
Christmas in Seattle
by Aimee from Snap Happy Trave
Seattle is one of the best cities in the U.S to spend Christmas, the ‘rainy city’ sure does have a bad reputation weather-wise but thankfully for unique things to do and great hotels this city has them both in abundance.
Seattle you may know as the birthplace of Starbucks, the very first Starbucks store was opened opposite Pike Place Market over 50 years ago so, if you’re a coffee-lover this is the city for you.
Speaking of the famous Pike Place Market, it’s a great place to go Christmas shopping as there are lots of one-of-a-kind stores here.
The Seattle Space Needle is where you will see the best views of the city and it’s especially pretty over Christmas when you can see the snow-covered Mount Rainier and Mount Washington in the distance.
The Space Needle is also home to the only revolving glass floor in the world, which is one of the best things to do in Seattle!
Edmonds Holiday Market is just a short drive from downtown and is home to over 50 Christmas-inspired vendors. It’s known to be one of the best Christmas markets in the city. Grab a cup of mulled wine and explore the market which winds down 5th Avenue.
The market is held on various weekends throughout November and December.
As for accommodation, the Fairmont Olympic Hotel is especially festive and the lobby is usually decorated with Christmas trees and fairy lights.
Christmas in Fairbanks, Alaska
Paula Martinelli by Paula Pins the Planet
A popular destination for the vast forests, wilderness, and abundant snowfall, Fairbanks is a perfect place for a white Christmas vacation. In the months of November and December, you can find a number of great events to put everyone who visits this destination in the holiday spirit.
Fairbanks is a must-visit destination in any Alaska Itinerary, and during Christmas time is when the magic happens.
While the temperature during winter frequently falls well below zero, and the days are short, is during wintertime that you can also find many other ways to spend your days, from stopping into an ice museum to visiting the hot springs, skiing, ice skating, snowmobiling, or learning how to ice fish with the locals.
One of the highlights in Fairbanks and the reason many visits at this time of the year is to chase the amazing Northern lights.
Fairbanks is one of the best places on the planet to see the aurora borealis, due to the low precipitation, the distance from the coast, and minimal light due to the low population density.
And since the North Pole is only 20 minutes away, make sure you plan to visit Santa Claus. If you have time, and the weather permits, you can also take a journey seven hours north to the Arctic Circle.
Christmas in Yosemite National Park
by Sarah McDonald, from Tiny Trailblazers
Yosemite is California’s most visited national park, drawing four million visitors a year to its famed waterfalls, mountains, and meadows. Most of these tourists flock to the park in the summer months, leading to crowded trails and a lack of parking spots.
But I’ll let you in on a secret: Yosemite is absolutely stunning in the winter. Glacier Point Road and Tioga Pass are closed, but most other trails are open. The crowds are long gone, it’s quiet and the views are, as always, superb.
For a cozy Christmas experience, stay at Tenaya Lodge. Tenaya offers guests several traditional Christmas activities, including a gingerbread house decorating workshop and a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings.
Work up an appetite with a few laps around the ice rink at Curry Village, an outdoor rink located in the heart of Yosemite Valley, under Half Dome. Warm-up with a hot chocolate by the fire pit once you’re done.
If it’s snowing, head over to the Badger Pass Ski Area, where you can ski, snowboard, or tube down the mountain. Yosemite is a great destination year-round but is especially magical at Christmas time.
Yosemite National Park is located around a three-hour drive east of San Francisco. The nearest airport is Fresno, a 90-minute drive away. Don’t forget to take snow chains, and pack plenty of warm layers.
Christmas in Hawaii
by Candice from CS Ginger
Hawaii is a great place to spend Christmas in the United States. Throughout all of the islands, you will find lots of Christmas parades and holiday events to help you get in the holiday season while spending time on the beautiful islands of Hawaii.
There are even Santa appearances where he arrives in an outrigger canoe.
One of the best places to go in Hawaii is the Big Island. There are so many fun things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii like scuba diving with manta rays, touring Volcanoes National Park, and enjoying their beautiful beaches.
During the Christmas season, be sure to see if you’ll be in town for the Keaau Christmas Parade feature parade floats, carolers, and performances. Another fun parade is the Pahoa Christmas Parade. You can even see snow on the Big Island at the summit of Mauna Kea.
The largest and most common airport to fly into is the Kona International Airport. It is a smaller airport located just outside Kona, Hawaii.
You will have great weather in December during the holidays. Temperatures range from 70 to the mid-80s in the winter months with little rain.
Christmas in Washington DC
Carolin from Happy when abroad
The festive season is probably one of the best times to experience the U.S. capital.
Christmas shopping, Christmas ballet, Christmas markets, you name it: the whole city exudes the Christmas spirit!
There are all kinds of decorations for visitors to discover – such as the festively decorated Christmas trees and holiday markets that are set up all over the city.
Without a doubt, the most famous Christmas tree in Washington DC is the “National Christmas Tree“, which stands in front of the White House and is ceremoniously lit each year by the President himself at the official lighting ceremony.
The holiday markets are very popular among tourists and locals alike, and many people buy their Christmas gifts at these authentic markets. However, you will not only find beautiful Christmas gifts at the Holiday Markets.
The stores and boutiques on the shopping streets in districts such as Georgetown or U Street entice with colorfully decorated displays.
To soak in the festive atmosphere as well as possible, I would recommend staying at least 2 days in Washington DC. The best way to reach the city is by plane, by bus or by train.
From New York City, for example, the capital can be easily reached in about four hours by car and bus, or in about one hour by plane.
Washington DC is also relatively budget-friendly and popular among young people as there are lot of hostels, many places to go out at night, and free entrance to almost all museums across the city.
Besides the Christmas activities, you should not miss visiting the main attractions such as the Capitol, the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Washington Monument.
Christmas in Las Vegas
by Francesca, from Travel Heal Love
Have you ever thought of spending Christmas in Las Vegas? You might not think it is a place where to celebrate the festive season, but it really is a lot of fun!
In fact, the all-around-the-world-famous Strip has got an amazing Christmassy spirit and you will see all the various hotels and casinos trying to impress the visitors with gigantic Christmas trees, endless decorations, and colorful lights.
This period of time is great also because the paths of the Strip will be less crowded and you can walk around more freely. Also, during this time all the resorts and hotels are open and promote Christmas events.
Let’s be honest though, Las Vegas may be less crowded at Christmas, but there are still a lot of people there, so it is better for you to book in advance all the restaurants and the events you want to participate in.
Among all the activities you cannot miss in Las Vegas during Christmas time there is ice skating at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, going for Christmas shopping in all of the amazing brand stores available, the Bellagio Fountains moving at the sound of Christmas carols, a ride on the high roller to enjoy the Christmas lights from above the city, and many more.
If you want to enjoy the Christmas holiday in an unusual way and still enjoy all the fun Las Vegas has to offer you might definitely consider getting there. You will have a wonderful time and will not regret it!
Christmas in Vail, Colorado
Meg Atteberry, Fox in the Forest
Famous for its world-class winter sports, Vail is a quintessential place to spend Christmas because it simply knows how to do the holidays right.
Imagine European-style Christmas markets, twinkling lights in every corner, and fun holiday-themed activities to entertain visitors after a day spent conquering the slopes, all backdropped by snow-capped peaks and mountain views so good you will think you’re walking inside a fairytale!
Aside from its mountain vibes and fantastic winter sports, Vail is also home to some of the best things to do in Colorado that aren’t skiing.
A must-have experience to have while in Vail is attending the annual Holidaze, a tree-lighting ceremony where you’ll also find an array of fun activities and live entertainment to celebrate the season.
Vail is best for those looking for a luxurious stay. The Manor Vail Lodge is a great choice for a cozy, secluded experience in the mountains.
However, if you’re on a budget and still want to get the Vail experience, Cohabit in the nearby town of Avon is a great pick.
There is a small airport located a short drive away from Vail (Eagle County Regional Airport). However, getting to Denver International Airport is usually easier. From there, you can either rent a car a drive under three hours to get to Vail or take a shuttle.
Christmas in Leavenworth, WA
Debbie Fettback, World Adventurists
The Leavenworth Christmas Lighting Festival is one of the most magical ways to celebrate the Christmas season. With towering mountains that feel like they should be in Switzerland, to the German-inspired Bavarian village, Leavenworth is a holiday dream.
Hosted along the main road of downtown Leavenworth, the town twinkles with half a million lights. On December weekends, there’s a countdown to the lights turning on.
You will feel the magic as you hear carols sung by the Village Voices Choir, listen to live Christmas music, and catch a glimpse of the man in red, St. Nikolas.
You can also visit Santa’s reindeer at the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm. Cuddle up in warm blankets and hear the bells jingle on a sleigh ride. You do not know Christmas magic until you have included real reindeer!
Leavenworth is a perfect winter getaway for families, a romantic time for couples, or a great escape with friends.
Fill your belly with all the German treats you crave, and some of the freshest gingerbread. Be prepared to have to wait in some lines and make reservations for restaurants.
The holiday season is one of the busiest times in Leavenworth. Hotels reserve up fast, so if you want to go for some holiday cheer, plan your accommodations early. If you cannot find suitable accommodation in town, Wenatchee is only a half-hour drive away.
Christmas in Moab, Utah
by Daria Bachmann from The Discovery Nut
If you want to spend Christmas in one of the most scenic places in the United States without the crowds, head to Moab, a town in Utah’s red rock country.
Moab is a popular outdoor destination thanks to several national parks and countless opportunities for recreation. Summer is the busiest time in Moab with thousands of travelers from all over the world descending on the area, and it can be extremely hectic.
Winter is a slow time in Moab when this place becomes the usual self – a quiet high desert town. During this time, temperatures drop and it’s not uncommon to see the dusting of snow on top of bright red rock formations.
Arches National Park is particularly popular during this time, as the famous Delicate Arch creates an otherworldly view when covered by snow – attracting scores of photographers.
Head to the nearby La Sal mountains for some backcountry skiing with the best places being Corkscrew Glades on Tuk No Mountain.
Or try to do some bouldering in Big Bend – winter is a great time to do it because of the sun exposure and cooler temperatures which make it easier to grip on the rocks.
Prices on hotels and other accommodations in Moab tend to be lower in winter than they are in summer, which makes a huge difference from some of the most popular Christmas destinations where you can expect to pay hundreds of dollars for a nightly stay at a simple hotel.
To get to Moab, you can fly into the Moab Airport or take a flight to Salt Lake City and take a drive from there. Since many places in Moab can’t be accessed by public transportation, renting a car is a great idea.
Christmas in Denver Colorado
by Krystianna from Volumes & Voyages
Denver, Colorado, is one of the most underrated places to spend Christmas! Located just at the foothills of the Rockies, winter in Denver is unlike any other.
Not only are there fewer tourists, which means lower accommodation costs, but there are tons of holiday events hosted.
Some can’t-miss winter activities in Denver include going to the German Christmas Market downtown, ice skating at one of the city’s many pop-up rinks, and catching the famous Parade of Lights.
There are also many other great things to do in the city that are more enjoyable with fewer tourists, like attending a Denver Nuggets game or enjoying green chiles at a local restaurant like D’Corozan, which is truly a hidden gem.
Denver is the perfect destination for those who also love the outdoors! A quick day trip can bring you to places like Boulder, Golden, or even Rocky Mountain National Park, which doesn’t require visitor permits in December.
Weather during this time of year in Denver can be a bit iffy. Some years, it’s super cold, and there’s a foot or two of snow, but other years it can be in the 50s the entire month. So, when packing, prepare for any type of cooler weather.
The easiest way to get to Denver is to fly into Denver International Airport. From there, take the train to Union Station downtown, which is most likely near where you’ll be staying.
Christmas in Chicago, Illinois
by Patti, The Savvy Globetrotter
My hometown of Chicago is one of the best places in the US to spend Christmas whether visiting solo, with family or friends, or as a couple.
You will find many festive attractions and events during the holiday season including Christmas markets, holiday light displays, tree lighting ceremonies, holiday shows, and more!
One of the most popular activities during the Christmas holidays in Chicago for both visitors and locals is visiting Christkindlmarket, an outdoor Christmas market, where you can shop for decorations and gifts while sipping warm beverages and enjoying traditional German food. You can even pick up their annual commemorative souvenir mug.
There are many holiday light displays in Chicago and the suburbs – my favorites include the after-dark illuminated trail at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
Families should visit the Museum of Science and Industry to see a large tree surrounded by smaller trees and displays which represent holiday traditions from cultures around the world.
Adults can enjoy holiday-themed drinks at one of the many festive pop-up bars located throughout the city.
Everyone will enjoy riding (and even spotting) the specially decorated CTA holiday train and bus. Make sure to stop by Millennium Park (home to The Bean) to take photos in front of the large Christmas tree.
Christmas in Cleveland
by Marianne from The Journeying Giordanos
Cleveland, Ohio is one of the best places to spend Christmas in the US. Family-friendly and less crowded than many of the larger cities, it is also home to the iconic Christmas Story House!
When visiting Cleveland at Christmastime, head to Public Square. Check out all the Christmas lights, a skating rink, fun installations like a life-size Elf-on-the-Shelf and a Santa booth, and even the infamous Christmas windows at Higbee’s.
The Christmas Story House is also a must-see for any fan of the movie. Immerse yourself in one of the most iconic Christmas movies of all time with a guided tour of the house and museum. After the tour, pop over to the huge gift shop for some great movie memorabilia.
There are several great hotels to stay at right in downtown Cleveland. The Renaissance Cleveland Hotel is perfect for a romantic getaway, or for a more family-friendly experience, try the Drury Plaza Hotel Cleveland Downtown.
Cleveland also has some great places to eat. Try The Bourbon Street Barrel Room for southern comfort food, The South Side for burgers, or the West Side Market for grabbing a quick bite.
With all the great things Cleveland, Ohio has to offer, it is definitely one of the best places to spend Christmas in the US.
Christmas in Los Angeles, California
by Bernadette of Live a Relaxed Life
For a winter trip in the US that doesn’t require a coat or multiple layers of clothing, California is the place to be.
It is called “Sunny California” because of its temperate weather and during December the temperature in Los Angeles hardly dips below 60 degrees. Plus, the City of Angels has all the fun spots to visit that are connected to Hollywood and the entertainment industry.
It may be odd to some to see holiday decorations up and people walking around in flip flops and shorts but that is LA’s unique charm!
Newport Beach hosts the Christmas Boat Parade and it is Instagram heaven! The 113-year-old tradition is made up of over 100 yachts covered in Christmas lights and decorations. It is a 5-night event and all you have to do is head to the Newport Harbor to get a chance to see a distinctly-LA activity.
Hollywood and the entertainment industry call Los Angeles home and a must-do are to head to Hollywood Boulevard to see the Walk of Fame and Graumann’s Chinese Theater to check out the footprints and handprints of famous celebrities from blockbuster movies.
The newly opened Oscar Museum is a mecca for film fans who can see memorabilia from their favorite shows and movies.
And the big-name studios are dotted around town, so going on a studio tour may be the chance to see a famous actor. Now that may be an unbelievable Christmas gift for a lucky fan!
Christmas in Key West, Florida
by Disha Smith from Disha Discovers
Key West, Florida is one of the best places to spend Christmas in the US. Instead of a traditional white Christmas, you’ll have a different version — one with beautiful, white sand and lit-up palm trees.
The tropical paradise is well-known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant culture, and spectacular Christmas celebrations. Whether you’re going solo or with family or friends, you’re bound to have an unforgettable Christmas here.
One of the best things to do during Christmas in Key West is to do the Holiday Lights and Sights Tour. You’ll weave in and out of decorated streets and learn more about the history of this city on a lit-up trolley.
Christmas in Key West wouldn’t be complete without watching the Key West Lighted Boat Parade. This festive event features boats of all shapes and sizes decked out in holiday lights.
You can even go sailing with Santa! The proceeds are donated to charity and you get to enjoy the sunset while sipping hot chocolate or champagne. Plus, you get to meet Santa.
Last but not least, you can celebrate Christmas on a catamaran with Fury Water Adventures. You’ll get a delicious breakfast and a Christmas lunch. You’ll be able to kayak, parasail, jet ski, and more.
Some other fun things to do in Key West include taking a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park, visiting the Southernmost Point monument, and seeing Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park. You also can’t leave Key West without visiting Mallory Square and Duval Street.
You can get to Key West by flying into Key West International Airport. A better option is to fly into Miami and do the infamous Miami to Key West drive. You’ll be able to see several iconic spots in the Keys and you’ll have a car to get around within Key West.
Christmas in Orlando, Florida
by Amanda Emmerling, Toddling Traveler
Orlando, Florida is one of the best places to spend Christmas in the US for the beautiful weather and diversity of activities.
Whether you’re enjoying Christmas at the amusement parks or exploring the surrounding towns, there are so many fun things to do in Orlando at Christmas.
One of the highlights of spending Christmas in Orlando is the annual Christmas party at Magic Kingdom. It has festive foods, special characters and even snow on Main Street.
Disney Springs also boasts the Christmas Tree Trail, which takes you along a path of Christmas trees themed after different Disney movies.
For more of a small-town feel, Celebration is a picturesque town in Orlando that can’t be missed. It has Christmas concerts, ice skating on plexiglass, carriage rides, and a nightly “snow” in the center of town. There are also several great places to see Christmas lights in Orlando.
One of the best places to see the city lit up at Christmas is from the top of The Wheel; a huge Ferris wheel at Icon Park.
While Orlando might not have the traditional cold weather and snow, the warm weather in December also makes it a great escape around the holidays.
Orlando also has an amazing selection of house rentals for a home away from home around the holidays. Reunion is an especially great area to rent a home for proximity to the parks and all Orlando has to offer at Christmas.
Christmas in Mammoth Lakes
by Jessica Schmit from Uprooted Traveler
Mammoth Lakes, California is a charming town, nestled in the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, with endless outdoor adventure and breathtaking beauty, especially in the wintertime.
While Mammoth is just a five-hour drive north of Los Angeles, it can feel like a completely different world. In fact, while you’re visiting, you have a great chance of getting a white Christmas- even if the city itself isn’t decorated with a blanket of snow, the nearby mountains are usually covered with powder.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mammoth is home to world-class ski resorts, like Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain– come December, the ski conditions are usually incredible and no matter what level of skier you are, the Sierra Nevadas provide a stunning backdrop as you glide down the slopes.
If you’d prefer to get up close and personal with snow in a different way, there are plenty of other wintery outdoor activities to enjoy, like getting out on the more than 140 miles of snowshoeing trails in the neighboring Inyo National Forest.
And after all those adventures in the fresh powder, what could be better than soaking in the many gorgeous natural hot springs in Mammoth Lakes, where you can warm up, relax your aching muscles, and take in the panoramic mountain views.
While most visitors head to Mammoth to explore its outdoor beauty, the town itself is absolutely worth exploring, especially at Christmastime. If you’re looking for some festive activities, head to the Village at Mammoth Lakes, an upscale outdoor shopping center with craft breweries, trendy restaurants, and outdoor apparel stores.
In December, the area is not only covered with countless Christmas lights but also plays host to several events to celebrate the season.
The biggest event usually happens the weekend after Thanksgiving, with a tree-lighting ceremony, live carolers, and maybe even a visit from Santa himself!
Throughout the season there are plenty of other events, ranging from a full-blown holiday parade to a magical fireworks show.
Regardless of whether you’re looking to get lost in a winter wonderland or maybe get cozy in a picturesque mountain town, Mammoth Lakes is the perfect place to have a Christmas getaway.
Read more about California
Christmas in San Francisco
by Noel Morata from Travel Photo Discovery
San Francisco is unique and fun during the Christmas holiday season with the bridges lit up and the Bay Bridge displaying cool graphic images on the span of the bridge during the holidays.
Large art installations are projected in many parts of the city with an art theme, not specifically Christmas but are projected at night time around different parts of the city.
And San Francisco officially starts the holidays with a Santa Day where you will see everyone in the city dressed as Santas and hanging out at all the public squares, bars, and restaurants and shopping in all the major shopping districts.
You’ll find holiday and harvest festivals, Christmas ballets and pageants and so many other shopping venues decorated with a holiday theme and the large square at Union Square hosting an ice skating rink, huge Christmas tree ceremony and Christmas shows at the main square.
It really is a festive time to visit the city and all the famous streets of San Francisco are lit up beautifully for the holiday season.
Christmas in Lake Placid, New York
by Kelly of Travel New York Now
Once winter arrives and Mirror Lake freezes over, your adventure in Lake Placid begins! The city is best known for being the site of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics so you know it is a good place to visit for winter sports.
The former Winter Olympic Village is transformed for the Holiday Village Stroll, an annual event that will surely put you in the Christmas spirit.
The event boasts of ice skating, an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, a visit from both The Grinch and Santa Claus, and Santa’s Fire Truck Parade. There is a Jingle Bell Walk/Run where some participants dress in Christmas-themed costumes so you may get to see a Gingerbreadman, Elf, or Santa on the race route.
A lot of the things to do are centered around Mirror Lake where visitors can ice skate, play hockey, take a dog sled ride, or ride a toboggan sled down a 30-foot high tower. The lake has a surface area of over 120 acres so there is plenty of room for all sorts of winter fun.
For the truly adventurous, they can try ice climbing which is the winter version of mountain climbing. Donned with ice shoes and ice axes, those brave enough can climb the face of a frozen waterfall. There are a number of tours that offer ice climbing, and that will probably be the safest way to conquer this challenge.
Whiteface Mountain has plenty of slopes for skiing and snowboarding for beginners to experts. Non-skiers can also enjoy a gondola ride for a scenic view of Lake Placid and the surrounding area. Also on the mountain is Whiteface Castle which is worth a visit to see the architecture and the vistas.
Lake Placid is five hours by car from New York City and eight hours by train. Winter is no joke and it gets really cold so visitors need to bring the right winter clothes and gear.
Christmas in Beacon, New York
by Kelly of Girl With The Passport
For a dose of small-town American charm, Beacon in New York has that and so much more during the winter. While the city has plenty to do outdoors it also has a lot that visitors can do indoors to beat the cold December air.
Beacon is two hours away from New York City by train and the train stop in town is nearby the Dia Beacon.
The museum building was once a Nabisco box printing factory. Now it is a contemporary art museum, with pieces from the 1960s to the present. You can easily spend a couple of hours viewing and admiring larger-than-life sculptures, paintings, light exhibits, and more.
From the Dia, it is a 20-minute walk through the quiet neighborhoods to reach Main Street where all the cafes and shops are located. Pro-tip, go on the second Saturday of the month when shops are open until 9 pm. Otherwise, most businesses close at 6 pm.
A unique experience is to go and visit the Mount Gulian Historic site that is all dressed up for Christmas. The 18th-century Dutch manor homestead gives a glimpse of what Christmas looked like in the 1700s. This is your chance to get a dose of holiday charm and a history lesson too!
If you happen to visit on a Sunday, the Beacon Farmer’s Market is open until 2 pm. Vendors are from the local community and during the winter season, it is held indoors. So there is no reason not to go and see which veggies or freshly-made treat you can enjoy.
For those that like to hike in the winter, Mount Beacon is an easy enough hike that has wonderful views of the town and the surrounding valley.
It has two summits with the first one filled with the ruins of an old casino and the second one has a fire tower for those who aren’t afraid of heights. The hike can get slippery so it is best to go during a time when it hasn’t rained much.