There’s no better way to get in the Christmas spirit than to explore a new city from a Christmas point of view.
Make use of the vacation part of Christmas vacation and plan a getaway to a festive city. There, you can take part in local Christmas festivals, see spectacular light shows, and wander through the stalls at a European-style Christmas market. Where are the most festive places in the country? Look no further than this list.
From the northeast to the southwest, and from big cities to small towns, here are the top cities to spend the holidays in across the USA.
- New York City, NY
New York City is without a doubt the ultimate Christmas destination. NYC offers many of the nation’s most famous holiday attractions, from the Rockefeller Christmas tree, ice skating at the Rockefeller center, the Nutcracker Ballet, and the ball drop in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. NYC also has a Holiday Train Show, and a light show at the Botanic Garden, and the world’s largest gingerbread village, GingerBread Lane.
- Mystic, CT
The location of the film, Mystic Pizza, Mystic Connecticut is a charming coastal town, the ideal place for a small New England Christmas, and by the sea no less. Take a Lantern Light Tour of the Seaport Museum, watch the Holiday Boat Parade, or stroll through the historic village during the Festival of Lights.
- Bethlehem, PA
Nicknamed “Christmas City”, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania lives up to its namesake by embracing the Christmas season. Experience the Christkindlmarkt or the authentic German-inspired Christmas City Village, take a carriage ride through the historic downtown, and take part in the city’s most unique tradition, its nightly Live Advent Calendar.
- Alexandria, VA
Alexandria, Virginia is just a 20 minute drive away from DC, but has more authentic charm than the capital itself. Walk down the quaint streets of Old Town and stop at a charming cafe or visit the Holiday Market. Be sure to do some sightseeing at the nation’s capital, too, especially the National Chritsmas tree and ice skating at the National Mall.
- Chicago, IL
The Windy City is one of the most enchanting places to spend the holidays. The city streets will be decked out in Christmas decorations and lights, in perfect contrast with the gray, wintery lakefront. Some must-see attractions include Michigan Avenue and the Macy’s window displays, the Christmas trees around the world exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry, and authentic European Christkindl Market.
- Telluride, CO
Nothing beats Christmas in the snow-covered mountains. The mountain town of Telluride boasts a number of festive activities. From the lighting of the ski tree on Noel Night, to the Mountain Village Holiday Prelude which includes ice skating, train rides, and more, to the Christmas Eve Torch Parade where the whole mountain is lit up in fire light.
- Northfield, MN
Visit Northfield for a cozy small town Christmas in the heart of Minnesota, a true winter wonderland. The arboretum will be covered in snow, and main street will be decked out in holiday lights. Be sure to get tickets to the Christmas festival at St. Olaf College, involving a scandinavian banquet and a nationally acclaimed Christmas concert.
- St. Augustine, FL
Spend the holiday season in the Sunshine State with a stay in St. Augustine. The city embraces the holiday season with its award-winning Night of Lights Festival, which runs for two months straight. You can also take a historic trolley tour to see the decorations, and be sure to check out the Holiday Regatta of Lights, in which decorated boats put on a light show.
- San Antonio, TX
For a merry Texas Christmas, San Antonio is a must-visit city. There are numerous light shows, ice skating, the historic Alamo mission, and of course, the famous riverwalk will be illuminated with holiday lights. Everything along the San Antonio river will be lit up, from the branches of the trees, to the water itself.
- Honolulu, HI
A Hawaiian Christmas is a once in a lifetime experience and the vibrant island life will certainly be a welcome change of scene. Live out the lyrics to Bring Crosby’s carol, as you look at the Christmas displays at the Royal Hawaiian Center, or enjoy live Christmas music as you stroll down the Waikiki Beach Walk.
Whether you choose to embrace the winter season by heading to a snowy location, or head south to escape the cold, these cities are home to some of the best must-see destinations for the holidays.