Are you looking for travel inspiration? This post on the Best places to visit in the USA in December is a collection of travel stories from US-based travel writers that will help you decide where your next trip in the US will be.
Just like I ditched Italy to discover the rest of the world, we all normally tend to ignore the beauty that we have right under our nose and take it for granted instead.
The recent pandemic outbreak has “forced” us to think otherwise.
And if you live in the USA, trust me you will have nothing to be sorry about.
This immense beautiful country, with its spectacular parks, modern cities and quaint historical towns, has it all. Not to mention the Caribbean island of the US Virgin Islands.
If you live in the US, even if you couldn’t leave your country for the rest of your life, you wouldn’t have enough time to see all its spectacular sites.
In this post, I have included a collection of the best places to visit in the USA in December according to world travelers and expert bloggers.
The idea is to inspire you to find the perfect destination for your December vacation in the USA.
Asheville – North Carolina
by Kelly Johnson @ Snap Travel Magic
If you’re a solo traveler looking for a winter getaway, look no further than Asheville, North Carolina.
Tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is especially gorgeous during the winter. As a solo traveler in December you can stay busy with unique winter events, hikes, and decorated, hip downtown areas.
Fly into Asheville Regional Airport and rent a car. Stay in West Asheville or downtown Asheville for proximity to restaurants and breweries.
Or, rent a cabin off of the Blue Ridge Parkway for some amazing views.
Get into the winter spirit and see holiday lights at the N.C. Arboretum. Or, take a look at the National Gingerbread House Competition and Display at the Omni Grove Park Inn, stay for a drink, and an amazing sunset.
If you’re looking for entertainment, go see the Nutcracker performance or an adults-only Christmas comedy show. History buffs can enjoy Christmas at the historic Biltmore Estate.
Make sure you also take advantage of the hundreds of hikes and outdoor activities in the region.
Hike in Dupont State Forest to see some frozen waterfalls, the most beautiful are Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, and High Falls.
If views are more your thing, check out Bearwallow Mountain or Looking Glass Rock for awe-inspiring winter vistas.
Hit the slopes for some skiing, snowboarding, and tubing at Cataloochee Ski Area or Wolf Ridge Ski Resort.
After exploring Asheville in the cold, warm up in one of the traditional spas in the area.
For something unique, relax in a salt cave at the Salt Spa Asheville, or take a dip in a saltwater flotation tank for some sensory deprivation at Still Point Wellness.
Other relaxing activities include relaxing in a hot tub with a view at Shoji Resort and Spa or take a hike and relax in the natural hot springs off of the Appalachian Trail.
Big Sur – California
by Ale @ Sea Salt & Fog
Big Sur stretches almost one hundred miles along the California coast, starting around San Simeon and ending at Carmel. The area is known for its dramatic, jaw-dropping cliffs with gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean.
The best way to see Big Sur is via road trip on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). PCH is a two-lane highway that weaves its way through the cliffs.
This isn’t a drive you rush through; this is a drive you enjoy. The coast can get chilly, so prepare in advance for your trip by packing the right things for your California adventure.
Make your first stop a visit to Hearst Castle for beautiful architecture, grand rooms, and stunning grounds.
Stop at the Elephant Seal Vista Point to see giant marine animals lounging in the sand.
Nearby, the Ragged Point Inn grounds offer sweeping cliffside views.
For coastal access, you can stop at Sand Dollar Beach, or Lime Kiln Beach.
To see a stunning waterfall, make your way up to McWay Falls. You can’t access the falls, but you get some beautiful views from the lookout area.
For food, stop at Nepenthe. It’s pricey, but you get stunning views in recompense.
Point Lobos offers easy hikes and is a local jewel.
Past here you’ll hit Carmel, an upscale beachside community with great shops and restaurants. Treat yourself to a relaxing couple of hours at the Refuge, a silent spa with hot and cold plunge pools – it’s a must-do.
For solo travelers, visiting Big Sur in December is a great way to enjoy the area with thinner crowds.
The drive up the coast in December is solitary and slower-paced.
Take your time, and stop at places that seem interesting to you.
There’s plenty of pullouts along the way.
You really don’t need anyone with you when you have the awesome beauty of the Big Sur coast.
Boston – Massachusetts
by Krystianna @ Volumes & Voyages
One of the best places for solo travelers to visit in December is Boston, Massachusetts.
Located right on the coast, Boston is one of the most beautiful cities. Luckily, there’s something there for every type of solo traveler, so whether you’re a sports fan, history fanatic, or you just like exploring new places, this is the destination for you!
Boston is easily accessible by car, and since it’s a big city, it’s also accessible by buses (like Peter Pan or Greyhound) as well as the Amtrak which you can take directly to South Station near Copley Square. The city also has its own airport, Boston Logan, which can be reached by most other airports in the United States.
There are so many great things to do in Boston, especially in December. The best thing to do in December in Boston is to attend the Christmas tree lighting in Faneuil Hall. This normally occurs at the beginning of the month and is also usually during the week. So many people attend, and there’s a lot of Christmas festivities! Oftentimes, there’s even live music to help keep you occupied until the tree is officially lit.
There are also a good amount of ice skating ponds that travelers can visit in December. The most popular of these is Frog Pond.
There are of course more affordable options too, like the new pop-up rink in front of 401 Park in the Fenway/Kenmore area. Both of these rinks also have night shows where professional skaters in the city will put on shows for the public!
In December, be sure to also do some of the normal fun sightseeing in the city too. Visit Newbury Street for some shopping, explore the Prudential Center, and eat Italian food in the North End. If you’re visiting and you won’t have a car, an insider tip of mine is to definitely purchase a visitor Charlie Card to save yourself money on public transportation!
Boulder – Colorado
by Oksana & Max @ Drink tea and travel
Located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Boulder is an excellent destination for solo travelers on the lookout for a December getaway. The city is vibrant and the surrounding natural attractions are second to none. Pair that with a social atmosphere and you have the perfect solo destination.
If you are a snow bunny, you’ll want to check out the great number of nearby ski hills. Located just 21 miles from Boulder is Eldora Mountain Resort. This local haunt has 11 lifts and is particularly well suited for beginners. Solo travelers will enjoy taking a group lesson here.
Another way to explore the surrounding mountainscape is on foot. There are over 150 miles of trails surrounding Boulder which are open all year-round. However, the weather can be unforgiving in December so we would recommend solo visitors trek with a local hiking group or a guide.
Back in the city, you’ll find the bar and restaurant scene lively during the winter season. There are a burgeoning craft beer scene and plenty of tours to explore local brew houses with a guide and a pack of new friends. You’ll, likely, end up at Pearl Street Mall which is particularly well known for its plethora of shops and dining options.
If you want to do something festive we suggest grabbing a ticket to the Nutcracker at the Boulder Ballet and Boulder Philharmonic. Otherwise, the Lights of December holiday parade takes place in the first week of December.
The residents don’t hibernate in the winter so there is always something going on!
Most people visit Boulder by flying into Denver and then driving the 40 minutes northeast. We discovered Boulder on our Colorado road trip and it fast became one of our favorite places in the state.
Bryce Canyon – Utah
Janine @ Le Wild Explorer
Utah has some of the best National Parks in the United States and Bryce Canyon is no exception. December is the perfect time to visit this wonder because not only will you beat the summer crowds you’ll also see the park when it’s most beautiful. Bryce Canyon National Park is absolutely breathtaking any time of the year but seeing it with snow is something special.
Bryce Canyon National Park is known for its orange-red hoodoos, which are natural tower-like rock formations. The snow-capped hoodoos are definitely a sight to see. The color contrast really adds dimension to the already scenic backdrop and wintertime is definitely a photographer’s dream.
You don’t need to be a hiker to enjoy the park. It’s easy to drive to different viewpoints or enjoy a short, leisurely walk. Sunset Point is a popular viewpoint where you’ll see Thor’s Hammer and an amazing view of hoodoos spires. And if you’re in need of a short hike opt for the Navajo Trail Loop. It’s the most popular hike in the park. However, if you are an outdoor enthusiast I would recommend doing the Fairytale Loop Hike. This strenuous hike is over eight miles long and the elevation change is a butt-kicker but the scenery and views are well worth it.
The closest airports to the park are McCarran International Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) in Utah. It’s a 4-hour drive from either airport and renting a car from these locations is easy. I recommend booking in advance to ensure you have a rental. You don’t need a special off-road vehicle to visit Bryce Canyon but if you’re planning on visiting any other spots along your trip do some research if you need vehicle clearance.
Key West – Florida
by Kenny Chow @ Knycx Journeying
The Florida Keys is an archipelago that stretches 180 kilometers at the tip of Florida – and at the tip is a small island that you must have heard and also, is a great place to visit in December as a solo traveler.
It takes about 4 hours driving from Miami to Key West, and there are also shuttle services connecting Key West from the Miami Airport.
Once you get there, just rent a bike or a scooter and explore the tiny island that is merely 13.6 sq.km big with an abundance of historic and cultural impacts.
There are a couple of shops around Mallory Square with bike rentals.
Besides, some motels or tourist agencies usually have bikes lining outside at the entrance for rent – like Island Safari Rental Inc. right at the corner of Greene Street and Telegraph Lane.
December is a good month to explore Key West because of its weather.
The cooling temperature and sunny days are perfect to go out, even on your own.
Navigating the streets with your bikes and just check out the numerous iconic cultural features on the island as you please. For example, all the most popular “southernmost” spots from the southernmost point, the southernmost café, to the southernmost shop.
Ride along Duval Street, the main tourist and shopping street on the island where you will see a number of historic Art Deco buildings, catch a movie at the historic movie theatre, and taking pictures of the Goods Store, Joe’s bar, and other old houses.
Be aware that you will also see a lot of chicken roaming on the street while you ride! Finally, relax in one of the local cafes and enjoy their signature dessert, the key lime pie, which should be white in color if it’s authentic.
Don’t worry, their pie portion is perfect for one!
Lake Geneva – Wisconsin
by Paulina @ Paulina on the road
Solo travelers love visiting Lake Geneva because of its colorful season, and also because the shore path is stretched twenty-one miles. So, if you are thinking, that this is the only highlight, then it is recommended that you consider it again.
There are plenty of things to do for solo travelers: golfing, enjoying the city’s best spas, or hiking.
Lake Geneva has a lot of history on its own. You would get a glimpse of that when you visit the Geneva Lake Museum of History.
The museum arranges a scavenger hunt, where you team up to find a treasure. Imagine the fun, you are going to have when you participate in such activities, and on top, you’ll get to know plenty of people!
Lake Geneva is particularly great to visit in December. From Holiday Open Houses to Santa Cruises and tree lighting ceremonies, and obviously Christmas Parades, adorable Christmas shops, and visits from Santa, Lake Geneva is the winter wonderland to visit in Wisconsin.
When you are out for a winter vacation, relaxation is the most important thing. In Lake Geneva there some fantastic foot and body massage parlors that will calm your mind and soul. Some of the best hotels in Lake Geneva are the Grand Geneva Resort and Spa and the Geneva Inn.
Both the hotels have spacious rooms, and the staff is fabulous! If you are around Christmas to spend your holidays, then these are the hotels that you should stay in. You’ll instantly feel at home when being received with a warm welcome and often even with champagne.
Their beds are so cozy that it will be tough for you to get up in the morning and you’ll never want to leave Lake Geneva.
However, the biggest event in December is Winterfest. Did you know that Winterfest is the setting for the “United States National Snow Sculpting Championship”, where snow sculptor teams and artists from around the country gather to compete?
Malibú – California
by Monica @ This Rare Earth
When most people hear “Malibu, Ca” they picture a ritzy and upscale area like Beverly Hills. Surprisingly, that’s not what Malibu is all about.
Malibu is a quiet and sleepy seaside area that still very much has a small-town vibe, despite being located within LA County. Mom and Pop restaurants and shops line the beautiful coastline, with just a few major restaurant chains sprinkled in, and you’d be surprised to hear that most parking for beach-goers is free.
In December, though the ocean water may be quite cold, the views are spectacular and the air temperature is often still warm. It’s the perfect place to spend some quality solo time and relax in nature.
My favorite beach for exploring in Malibu is El Matador State Beach, because of the stunning rocky cliffs that you can wander in and around. Bring tennis shoes if you want to climb to the top of these rocks, but check the tide beforehand; many of the cliffs are inaccessible once the waves roll in at high tide.
You can often catch wildlife at El Matador as well, such as sea lions, pelicans, starfish and sea anemones, to name a few. They are often on the sand or, for the underwater wildlife, in small tide pools.
Pro Tip: Stay until sundown if you can, because this is the most beautiful place to watch the sunset along the Southern California coast, in my opinion!
If you enjoy hiking, the nearby Leo Carillo State Park offers a few trails that are accessible all year round. Leo Carrillo SP is conveniently located less than 3 miles north of El Matador State Beach.
Malibu is in the northern-most corner of LA county, and the absolute best way to get there is by car on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), or Highway 1, for the incredible ocean views along the way.
Moab – Utah
by Kaisa @ Glam Granola Travel
Moab, Utah, is one of the coolest destinations for solo travelers in the Southwest. Its claims to fame are numerous: mountain biking, off-roading, river sports on the Colorado river, and let’s not forget Moab is home to two of Utah’s Mighty Five National Parks. It’s an outdoorsy adventure-seeker’s paradise in a red rock oasis, especially in December.
Moab is inherently perfect for the solo traveler because most of the activities it’s known to foster a welcoming community of like-minded outdoor enthusiasts. Feeling social? You can join a snow biking trail ride, or check out the Holiday Arts and Crafts Fair.
The Moab Brewery is also a great gathering place to meet people. The people in Moab come here because they are passionate about something. Maybe they’re passionate about biking, kayaking, hiking, or their jeep, but they’re always welcoming and wanting to chat. This is even more authentic and true in the winter, when even the very mild snowfalls keep away the tour busses.
There is also ample opportunity for solitary activities in Moab, as my extremely introverted friend who just moved there will tell you. He spends most of his time on overnight mountain biking trips, enjoying the solitary expanse of red rocks and canyons on all sides.
Canyonlands National Park is much quieter than the always-busy Arches, so if you want a peaceful experience far away from humans it will be your best bet. Of course, never, ever adventure in the wilderness alone unless you know what you’re doing (as the mountain biker in 127 Hours learned the hard way—just outside Moab).
The famous Delicate Arch hike in Arches National Park is insufferably crowded most of the year, but in December you should have it at least somewhat to yourself! Also, one place many folks skip but is absolutely worth the short drive, is Dead Horse Point State Park. Camp here if you can, as the views are just ridiculous!”
Mobile – Alabama
by Wendy Werneth @ The Nomadic Vegan
The laid-back coastal city of Mobile, Alabama is often passed over in favor of nearby New Orleans, but it actually offers many similar attractions in a smaller, more compact and safer environment. Even though Mobile is now part of Alabama, at one time it was the first capital of the French Louisiana Territory.
This French heritage can be seen in its architecture, such as the wrought-iron balconies overhanging the streets, and in its annual Mardi Gras celebrations.
Thanks to its location on the Gulf Coast, Mobile has a very mild climate for most of the winter.
While cold snaps do sometimes blow through and last for a few days, it’s also possible that you could be walking on the nearby beaches of Dauphin Island or Gulf Shores in shorts in the middle of December.
Just outside of Mobile are the Bellingrath Gardens and Home, which are worth a visit at any time of year but especially in December. For the whole month, the 65-acre gardens are covered in 3 million lights for the yearly celebration known as Magic Christmas in Lights.
Another seasonal attraction at this time of year is Christmas at Oakleigh, hosted in the historic Oakleigh mansion built-in 1883. In addition to the special Christmas decorations, living history reenactors also dress up in period costumes and share the story of Oakleigh’s rich history.
And of course, while you’re in town you’ll also want to dine at some of Mobile’s best restaurants. Local eateries cater to all budgets and tastes, and a growing number of them now offer vegan and vegetarian options. Mobile is conveniently located at the intersection of I-10, which runs across the country from east to west, and I-65, which starts in Mobile and heads north all the way to Chicago. It’s therefore easy to reach by car from pretty much anywhere in the US, and there’s also a Greyhound Bus terminal in town.
New Orleans – Louisiana
by Derek and Mike @ Robe Trotting
New Orleans is one of America’s most exciting and unique cities, which makes it a perfect destination to travel alone at any time of the year.
It’s a city with delicious food, lively nightlife, and beautiful architecture. The mild climate and lively atmosphere make it especially wonderful to experience in December.
Getting to New Orleans is best done by flying into Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. From there, a 25-minute drive will take you into the city and the center of the action. There’s a lot to do in New Orleans for a solo traveler and one of the best places to start is the always-vibrant French Quarter.
There you will find the famous party atmosphere of Bourbon Street with walk-up drink windows, street performers, and wandering brass bands.
One of the most important New Orleans travel tips is to experience live music. Even if you aren’t a fan of jazz, you can enjoy all kinds of local music in the city. Check out Frenchman Street for a more authentic music scene where the locals go to unwind.
Another way to take in the music scene is to book a river cruise with a live band or performers. From jazz to cabaret, a Mississippi River cruise is the ideal way to experience the music of New Orleans when traveling solo.
New Orleans has many other activities that are perfect to join along like the World War II Museum, tours of the Battle of New Orleans battlefield from 1812, and touring the cemeteries or a ghost tour.
The unique history and culture of New Orleans make it a great American destination.
You’ll notice the French, Spanish and Caribbean influences as you stroll around the incredibly walkable city with comfortable weather in December.
New York City – New York
by Sean Lau @ Living Out Lau
If you are planning on traveling solo in December, then consider New York City, a.k.a “The City That Never Sleeps”.
While many cities in the USA tend to get duller in the winter, the Big Apple is quite the opposite.
As you stroll down the different boroughs of New York City, you will see festive spirits and winter decorations. Locals and tourists are out enjoying the numerous winter attractions that New York City has to offer.
One of the best winter-exclusive activities is unquestionably ice skating in Bryant Park.
Located between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas and between 40th and 42nd Streets in Midtown Manhattan, Bryant Park is a green space like any other park, that is, until winter.
The park becomes a winter wonderland, with decorations and a massive ice skating rink. If you meet others while traveling alone, it’s a great place to hang out with your new friends.
Another top place in NYC during December is the Rockefeller Christmas Tree.
At over 20 meters tall, the Rockefeller Christmas Tree is one of the tallest Christmas trees in the world. The tree is lit 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Even if you are seeing the tree alone, the festive crowd will make you feel like you are not alone!
As one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, NYC is filled with other solo travelers all year round.
By staying in a youth hostel such as Jazz on the park Colombus Circle, solo travelers can find places to socialize and make friends from other parts of the world. Its location next to Central Park is ideal for anyone who is looking to be closer to nature but not too far from the action as well. Solo traveling doesn’t have to mean you are alone all the time!
Oahu – Hawaii
by Jackson Groves @ Journey Era
The island of Oahu is one of the top destinations in the USA year-round with its temperate weather, surfing culture, beautiful beaches, and exciting hikes. While the rest of the country is enduring cold weather in the festive season, there is no better place for a solo getaway then the ‘Aloha State’.
You can expect the weather to be in the low 80’s for your vacation to Oahu in December, which is perfect for hanging out at the beach and surfing while it snows in many states on the mainland. It is more likely to rain than in the summer, the downpours are usually short and accompanied by rainbows.
The rain also means you’ll see lots of tropical flowers in bloom, which is a big drawcard for Oahu.
There’s so much to do on Oahu you simply will never get bored.
The island has so many incredible hikes you will be blown away with some of the views. The most popular hikes are The Stairway to Heaven in the center of the island and the Diamond Head hike near Waikiki.
Oahu is home to some of the best beaches in the world. Every time you get into the water it’s likely you will come across a green sea-turtle or even a spinner dolphin if you are lucky. The warm water of the Pacific Ocean makes a snorkel in December possible.
The waves on the North Shore are known as some of the most to-rated surfing spots in the world. There are waves for beginners or seasoned professionals. In fact, in December you can catch the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing event at Sunset Beach on the North Shore.
The North Shore of Oahu is the perfect place for solo-travelers with a laidback surf vibe setting the tone of the town.
Waikiki is the other good option with lots of hostels on offer, which are always a good choice for solo travelers looking to meet other tourists.
Oklahoma city – Oklahoma
by Debra @ Finding Debra
Put Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on your calendar in December for a surprising trip you won’t soon forget. To get there, fly into the state’s largest airport, Will Rogers World Airport, or take an epic road trip along historic Route 66 which takes you right into OKC. Solo travelers will want to head to Myriad Botanical Gardens for a night to remember, where a glass sphere conservatory is the location of a magical holiday venue complete with light show and the outdoor ice skating rink is found at the base of high rise buildings – what a view! End the evening with a drink at The Jones Assembly, a restaurant found in the heart of historic Film Row. It’s there you’ll discover holiday decor and an atmosphere reminding you of New York City during the holidays. You might even spy a full-size movie theater screen on a back wall playing Christmas favorites. Drive or stroll down Automobile Alley twice. Once for the holiday lights, as you’ll discover an entire street full of buildings aglow in the sidewalk to rooftop lights. Second for the shopping. Shops like Plenty Mercantile make this street the epicenter for fulfilling your holiday shopping needs. Prepare for an emotional must on your to-do list as you visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial. The site is more beautiful this time of year as a wreath is meticulously placed on each chair honoring those whose lives were lost on that fateful day in 1995. All this walking in OKC with a chill in the air will have you ready for a little pampering at Udånder, a full-service Scandinavian steam and sauna spa. Treat yourself to a Danish foot soak. Must-Do Insider Tip: Head to an empty lot that has been turned into a holiday wonderland with igloos! They are called the Holiday Pop-Up Shops. Do a little shopping and grab a gourmet hot chocolate at Katie Bug’s camper.
San Diego – California
by Sharon Gourlay @ Dive Into The Philippines
San Diego is a great place to visit in December especially if you want to go somewhere to defrost!
With a mild winter, average daily maximums are 65 degrees Fahrenheit. As an added bonus, December is low season for tourists which means you may also be able to nab a bargain and won’t have to worry about crowded attractions.
However, the main reason you should visit San Diego is its variety of attractions, diversity of cultures, and great food. It’s an easy city to visit, to get around and to enjoy.
Its range of attractions varies from natural ones, such as great beaches and hiking trails, to world-class museums and historic sites.
As a visitor, a place definitely worth heading is Balboa Park. Here you will find a range of museums and performing arts centers. It’s all set in a big park so you can learn about whatever areas interest you at the museums and watch a show in one of the centers.
La Jolla Cove is another place worth heading where you can see sea lions in their natural habitat. You can get up close to them by kayaking or by stand up paddleboarding.
Another interesting place to explore is the USS Midway where you can explore the aircraft carrier USS Midway.
There are many different paths you can take that wind their way around the ship so you can see many different areas like the cabins, mess halls, onboard surgery, captain rooms, and engine room. It’s fascinating.
For a local experience, make sure you head to a Padres game at Petco Park. You won’t just get to see a great game of baseball but there are great views of San Diego from the stands.
San Diego has an international airport and it’s also possible to fly into Los Angeles and drive down from there.
San Francisco – California
by Chrysoula @ Travel Passionate
If you’re looking for somewhere with character and culture to visit this December, look no further than San Francisco, California. San Francisco is the perfect year-round destination for solo travelers as there are plenty of activities to enjoy indoors and out that can keep you entertained whatever the weather.
With an excellent selection of museums and galleries including the San Fransisco MoMA, the Asian Art Museum and the California Academy of Science, there is something for everyone to enjoy, no matter your interests.
When you’re not discovering the arts in a museum or two you can take in the views of the city with a ride across the Golden Gate Bridge or a walk along Fisherman’s Wharf. This is where you’ll want to stop off to dine on classic San Fransisco clam chowder and watch the friendly seals and sea lions play in the quay.
Of course, you can’t talk about visiting San Fransisco and not mention Alcatraz, and if it’s your first time visiting the city then this is a must. The tour of the island tells you about the history of the prison and the fascinating stories of the penitentiary inmates.
The real joy of San Fransisco is that it’s such an eclectic, welcoming place. With lively hostels, friendly cafes, a great public transport system and pretty much everything you need within walking distance in the city center, it’s ideal for those traveling alone.
Take a ride on the streetcar, visit the famously winding Lombard Street or simply sit in a bar chatting to locals about the latest tech start-ups to come out of Silicon Valley.
Although you will basically never run out of things to see and do while in San Fransisco, it’s good to note that the city also boasts excellent shopping, a range of decent spas, and some lovely parks and gardens too.
Sanibel Island – Florida
by Lori Sorrentino @ Travlinmad.com LLC
Just off the coast of Ft. Myers, Florida in the southeastern United States lies the island of Sanibel, a barrier island off the coast of Ft. Myers that was cut in two by a hurricane years ago, separating it from Captiva Island by a narrow inlet that flows from the Gulf of Mexico.
Getting to Sanibel is easy. Regional Southwest International airport (RSW) is just minutes away, and it makes one of the best Florida road trips for the adventurous traveler. Sanibel Island has a laid-back tropical vibe, and December is the perfect time to visit when the weather is a balmy 75-80 degrees (F). You won’t find high rise hotels, fast food, or glitzy nightclubs. Known as the Shelling Capital of the US for the thousands of colorful seashells that wash upon its shores each day, Sanibel beaches are largely uncrowded with gorgeous, soft white sand. The Sanibel Lighthouse beach has great shelling and one of the best photo ops on the island. Besides shelling, solo travelers can enjoy small group boat tours of surrounding islands, or exploring the entire island by bike — a dedicated bike path runs the entire length of the island so you can get anywhere on 2 wheels. Shopping and dining will also satisfy everyone, from high-end shops and restaurants to fun ice-cream shops and waterfront tiki bars. Insider Tip: Don’t miss the J. N. “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge. Though largely hidden from view, a visit here is a must for nature lovers. Kayaking is a popular way to explore the refuge, where large groups of wading birds, pods of manatees, and even the occasional alligator or two can be seen.
Savannah – Georgia
by Sydney @ A world in reach
If you’re looking for the perfect US city to take a solo trip to in December, look no further than beautiful Savannah, Georgia. This charming southern city has December high temperatures in the 60s, making Savannah a perfect place to escape the cold.
If you’re flying to Savannah, you can fly into the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport. The airport is served by most of the major US airlines; you can also find flights to Savannah on budget carriers such as Allegiant Air and Frontier Airlines. Driving to Savannah is also an option – I-95 along the east coast runs through the city.
Savannah is most frequently visited in the summer, which means insane crowds and insanely humid weather. December weather is mild and much more tolerable, making it the perfect time to spend a long weekend in Savannah and explore the city.
Additionally, the city becomes festive during this time of year for the holiday season, so exploring the city while it is decorated for Christmas is an added plus! Make sure to check out the ice skating rink at the civic center.
Another fun way to explore Savannah is by taking a ghost tour – some of the tour companies even offer special holiday tours! You also can’t visit Savannah without taking a walk through the gorgeous Historic District, admiring the antebellum architecture and historic squares.
Stroll through the district before ending in Forsyth Park, a great place to relax and people-watch after a long walk.
Savannah is home to many delicious restaurants, and the Olde Pink House is one of the best places to sample delicious southern cuisine.
Reservations are recommended, but if you’re traveling solo, skip the wait by dining at the Planters Tavern, the bar located downstairs.
Grab a drink (the Pink Lady is excellent!) and order some delicious food from the same menu as the Olde Pink House.
Seattle – Washington State
by Alex @ Alex on the map
I can’t think of a better city than Seattlefor solo travelers. Not only is it super accessible with one public transportation line (that goes directly to the airport and back), but it also is mostly walkable when you get to the downtown area. You can get there by flying or driving from any of the other major cities in the Pacific Northwest. Also a plus? Very rarely do you have a ton of snow in Seattle!
Along with some amazing light displays and a number of Christmas trees, you have the opportunity to experience both big events and smaller, local ones, as well. Seattle is known for being a crafter’s paradise, and you can find plenty of unique gifts for loved ones at the holiday bazaars set up on Dayton Avenue. With over 120 booths, there’s no way you won’t find something you want to buy.
For something a little different and off-the-beaten-path, check out Argosy’s Christmas Ship Festival. Located on Alaskan Way Pier 55, the Spirit of Seattle takes passengers throughout the Puget Sound.
All dressed up and ready to go, you can enjoy themed drinks and fun cheer as you get to explore the Seattle-Tacoma area. If you can’t get on the main boat, you can book one of the smaller ones that follow.Of course, you have to head down to Pike Place Market. Along with live music, there’s a tree lighting, cookie decorating, and more great shopping. While it can be easy to immediately jump to cities like New York as the best places to celebrate Christmas as a solo traveler, there’s a lot to see and do in Seattle in December.With the mild weather, you also don’t have to worry about bundling up in order to experience it.
Sedona – Arizona
by Vicky @ Buddy The Traveling Monkey
One of the best places to visit in the USA in December is Sedona, Arizona. A weekend in Sedona is perfect because of its mild winter temperatures, dramatic landscapes, and amazing culinary scene. Getting to Sedona is an easy two-hour drive from Phoenix unless you stop along the way to take photos.
One of the top things to do in Sedona is go hiking. There are plenty of trails but two of the most popular are the Bell Rock Hiking Trail and the Crescent Moon Ranch Hiking Trail. Neither was difficult so you can easily do them as a solo traveler. Both were well marked and both offered beautiful scenery.
Sedona also has wineries and great restaurants where you can treat yourself to delicious wines and dishes. Oak Creek Vineyards & Winery is a great place to do a wine tasting. You can sit outside on their patio and sip while taking in the surrounding vistas. To eat, you absolutely can’t go to Sedona and not go to Mariposa. It’s one of the best restaurants in Sedona and has amazing views. Here’s a tip: order the Pulled Pork Tostadas!
The weather in Sedona in December is absolutely gorgeous, and one of the main reasons people visit during this time of year. Temperatures are mild, with highs in the 60s and lows in the 30s. It doesn’t snow in Sedona, although once in awhile visitors might see a light dusting of snow atop the iconic red rocks.
Many people from up north travel down to Sedona in December to get away from frigid temperatures. With that said, Sedona is still open enough that it doesn’t feel crowded. You can easily explore and shop around town or head out on a hike. Either way, Sedona is a fun place to visit.
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St. Pete – Florida
by Pauline Vergnet @ Beeloved City
Located on the Gulf of Mexico, St Petersburg FL is the perfect destination for solo travelers, especially in December! December is one of the best months of the year to visit Florida. The weather is warm and dry, making it very pleasant (especially when it’s cold everywhere else!). The easiest way to get there is by flying to Tampa.
From the airport, cross the Sunshine Skyway bridge and drive down to St Petersburg.
I highly recommend renting a car. There are many things to do in and around St Pete!
Having a car will make your life way easier and allow you to discover stunning places.
As a solo traveler, you will want to spend some time in the city. St Pete Downtown is very lively and people are super friendly!
You can walk around and discover the beautiful street art murals, museums, and art galleries.
You will also find a lot of cafes and restaurants, all along the central avenue.
If you fancy playing games, go to Park and Rec on 4th street south.
They have plenty of arcade and outdoor games.
It’s a very lively bar and you will quickly find people to play with you! In the afternoon, you should hit the beach!
You will be spoiled with options! You can head to St Pete Beach, Treasure Island, or Clearwater beach.
If you are looking for a quieter place, Fort De Soto, Caladesi and Honeymoon Island will be perfect for you!
In the evening, go to Jannus Live.
This outdoor music venue is very unique! It’s located in the historic district and hosts amazing gigs every night!
Another option is to grab a pizza at Britt’s on Treasure Island and head to the beach nearby.
This white sanded beach is beautiful and quiet. Most of all, it’s an amazing sunset spot. You can eat your delicious pizza while watching the sunset and the dolphins!
You will also find a couple of tiki bars, perfect to grab a cocktail!
For further reading
- US itineraries: 7 spectacular road trips for solo travelers
- 5 unmissable things to do in Monterey California
- The most amazing 10-day California Road trip itinerary
- 10 unusual things to do in San Francisco
- 25+ unmissable things to do in California