Ready to have yourself a merry little Christmas, but not sure where to go for the holidays? These 11 best places to spend Christmas in the U.S. will have you feeling holly and jolly in no time!
The resort town of Aspen is an ideal spot for couples, adult groups, and families who want a luxurious Christmas vacation among snowy mountains. With everything from rental properties to resort stays available for lodging, winter activities like skiing and tubing, excellent shopping at local boutiques, and incredible restaurants, you’ll have everything you need for your winter vacation!
Christmas Things to Do in Aspen
Check out the Aspen Chamber’s 12 Days of Aspen, where you’ll find holiday events ranging from Santa visits and local performances of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to holiday cookie decorating and Christmas dinner buffets. Head over to the The Little Nell for the annual tree lighting ceremony featuring cookies, hot cocoa, and puppies dressed like reindeer. Make your way to the St. Regis for festive events like ice skating with Santa’s elves at Silver Circle Ice Rink or the unveiling of a seven-foot-tall gingerbread house. Or take a sleigh ride to Pine Creek Cookhouse, where you can grab lunch or dinner with great views.
If you’re looking for the best Christmas towns in America, you can’t leave Branson off the list! Silver Dollar City is known for its family-friendly and senior-friendly dinner theatre, outdoor adventures, museums, and shopping. But when December approaches, Branson transforms with the magic of the holiday spirit. It’s impossible to explore the city without running into carolers, a Christmas show, or holiday light tours!
Christmas Things to Do in Branson
Visit Silver Dollar City theme park to immerse yourself in An Old Time Christmas, where you’ll find lights, live music, parades, and appearances from holiday character favorites like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Enjoy cookies, hot chocolate, and views of the Ozark foothills with a 40-mile roundtrip ride on the Branson Scenic Railway‘s Polar Express. Drive along the winding Trail of Lights in Shepherd of the Hills Homestead to see over a million multi-colored Christmas lights! And, of course, you can’t celebrate Christmas in Branson without seeing a show! Take your pick from holiday extravaganzas like the Andy Williams Ozark Mountain Christmas Show, Grand Jubilee Christmas Show, or Christmas Wonderland.
All aboard the train to Christmas town! Durango is a great place to visit for the holidays, thanks to its snow-covered mountains, friendly community, and activities for all ages. Whether you plan to go skiing, dog-sledding, snowmobiling, or snowshoeing, Durango has all of the outdoor winter recreation you could want on a holiday vacation! Or if you want to stay inside with a cup of hot chocolate by a fire, there are plenty of cozy cabins, vacation rentals, hotels, and bed-and-breakfasts that can accommodate you!
Christmas Things to Do in Durango
Check out Noel Night, Durango’s annual Christmas party featuring live music, pop-up shops from local businesses, delicious food, and more. Visit the Animas Museum to experience its Old-Fashioned Christmas Bazaar. Catch a family-friendly Christmas performance from the Durango Choral Society or the Bar D Wranglers. Experience the local winter wonderland from a horse-drawn sleigh ride with Rapp Corral. Grab the kids and hop on the The Polar Express, where the whole family can drink hot chocolate and read books in their pajamas before meeting Santa! Or take a trip on the Cascade Canyon Train into the San Juan National Forest so you can cut down your own Christmas tree. (Don’t worry! It’s good for the forest!)
Frequently ranked as one of the best Christmas towns in the U.S., Frankenmuth is the perfect vacation spot for the holidays. Michigan’s Little Bavaria (as it’s often called) embraces small-town German charm and the traditional Christmas spirit with holiday things to do and see like sleigh rides, nativity scenes, dazzling light displays, and pop-up markets. If you love everything Christmas, Frankenmuth is the place to be!
Christmas Things to Do in Frankenmuth
In December, the regularly-scheduled Frankenmuth Farmers Market transforms into a Christkindlmarkt full of homemade goods, cider, and garlands. Enjoy some schnitzel at The Old Christmas Station Restaurant, which oozes winter wonderland warmth all year. Wait until the weekend and dine on fried chicken and buttered noodles with Santa and Mrs. Claus at Zehnder’s! After a delicious meal, head to the famous Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, the world’s largest Christmas store. Or venture to the Silent Night Chapel to see a replica of where the famous “Silent Night” hymn was first performed in Germany.
Like Frankenmuth, Leavenworth is full of Bavarian-style buildings, German traditions, and incredible light displays, making it one of the best places to spend Christmas! But the postcard-perfect backdrop of Washington’s winter wonderland isn’t the only reason to visit Leavenworth over Christmas. There’s also plenty to do in and around the city, including Nordic skiing, ice climbing, brewery and distillery tours, spa trips, and more!
Christmas Things to Do in Leavenworth
Tour the Nutcracker Museum, an entire building dedicated to some of the oldest-known nutcrackers. Check out the Kris Kringl and Nussknacker Haus shops, both of which are filled with Christmas wreaths, sculptures, and ornaments for even the pickiest decorators. Don’t miss out on Leavenworth’s crown jewel, the Christmas Lighting Festival featuring hand bells, Glühwein (mulled wine), and over half a million lights. Catch the Village Voices Christmas Concert to hear traditional holiday favorites. And be sure to reserve a table at Kingfisher Restaurant at the Sleeping Lady resort for a Christmas dinner you won’t forget!
Newport Beach, CA
Though the West Coast might not scream “Christmas” to you, if you’re looking for a great place to spend Christmas in California, Newport Beach is the ideal spot! This SoCal community goes all out with Christmas events like holiday movie screenings, holiday lights walking tours, and holiday parades. More importantly, the waterfront resorts, golf courses, mall and boutique shopping, and top-rated restaurants make Newport Beach a great place to get away for rest and relaxation over the holidays!
Christmas Things to Do in Newport Beach
Don’t miss out on Newport Beach’s claim to fame—the annual Christmas Boat Parade! This event brings the joy of Christmas lights to the ocean, as local boat owners deck out their watercraft with holiday decorations! Settle in with some popcorn at the Lido Theater while watching classic holiday movies like It’s a Wonderful Life. Make your way over to the Crystal Cove State Park Historic District for the annual Christmas at the Cove tree lighting and holiday bazaar on the beach. Or sip on coffee and hot chocolate while walking around the Sherman Library and Gardens’ Night of a Thousand Lights event.
New York City, NY
It should come as no surprise that New York City is one of the best places to spend Christmas! It’s been the setting of Christmas movies like Elf and Home Alone 2, and it’s well-known for its incredible holiday window displays at department stores like Barneys and Bergdorf Goodman. From the moment the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade ends up until the famous Ball Drop in Time Square on New Year’s Eve, NYC is the ultimate headquarters for winter holiday events and the Christmas spirit!
Christmas Things to Do in NYC
Make a reservation to meet Santa at the beautifully decorated Macy’s Santaland. Get in some holiday shopping at the Bryant Park open-air market, where you can find everything from home goods and jewelry to candy and cookies. Or if you want a pop-up holiday market surrounded by historic NYC architecture, head over to Grand Central Terminal to peruse the unique selection of items in the Holiday Fair. Get tickets to the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall, starring the high-kicking Radio City Rockettes. And, of course, you have to visit the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and ice skating rink!
North Pole, AK
Have you ever mailed a letter to the North Pole and received a response from Santa Claus? Chances are it came from a local volunteer in the tiny town of North Pole, Alaska (where all of these letters end up)! This snowy city is the premier destination for Christmas lovers near and far—and with a name like “North Pole,” it’s an obvious contender for best Christmas town in America! Though making a trip to Alaska for the holidays might seem a bit daunting, this is definitely one vacation for the holiday bucket list!
Christmas Things to Do in North Pole
Stop by the Santa Claus House, where you’ll find a variety of holiday ornaments, Christmas cookies, Santa’s sleigh, and a 50-foot-tall statue of Santa. Check out the ice sculpture contests, winter playgrounds, and more at the Christmas in Ice festival. Take part in the annual Winterfest, which features a holiday bazaar, a candlelighting ceremony, fireworks, and the crowning of the King and Queen of the North Pole. Or experience the true winter wonder with a Northern Lights tour!
Looking for a family-friendly Christmas vacation? You can never go wrong with Orlando! With its warm weather, theme parks, and affordable kid-friendly resorts, it’s ideal for a quick holiday trip. And even though there’s no snow around to get you in the winter wonderland spirit, Orlando has plenty of things to do for Christmas, including tree lighting events, festivals, holiday shows, and more!
Christmas Things to Do in Orlando
Spend a day at Universal Studios, where you can find light displays, holiday-themed snacks, and your favorite characters at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter or the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular. Or head over to Disney World for the rides, restaurants, and the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. Prefer holiday events outside of theme parks? Watch the Orlando Ballet put on a performance of The Nutcracker, or listen to the Singing Christmas Trees at First Baptist Orlando, where choir members stand in as ornaments on two towering trees. Or check out Christmas at Gaylord Palms, which offers snow tubing, acrobatic shows, ice sculptures, gingerbread cookie decorating, and visits from Santa!
Santa Claus, IN
“America’s Christmas Hometown” is the nickname of this small city in Indiana, so it’s no wonder that it’s one of the best Christmas towns in the U.S. Santa Claus embraces the holiday spirit even when it’s not December, so when Christmas finally rolls around, residents and local businesses go all out with their holiday events. The city also offers cozy bed-and-breakfast stays, winery tours, and affordable dining, so it’s a great option for a holiday vacation on a budget!
Christmas Things to Do in Santa Claus
Venture to Santa’s Candy Castle for handmade chocolate and candies, as well as yummy frozen hot chocolate. Find last-minute gifts among the thousands of unique holiday items at Santa’s Toys. Get your fill of rides, carnival games, and shows at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari. View nine miles of residential holiday light displays at the Festival of Lights in Christmas Lake Village. See an adapted version of Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas tale with the local production of Scrooge’s Christmas. Or settle in for a Christmas dinner buffet with special guest Santa on weekends at Santa’s Lodge.
A visit to this charming New England town will feel like living in a holiday movie! In December, residents of Woodstock rock their festive apparel, block the streets with parades and Christmas markets, and churn out savory baked goods. Woodstock also offers fun things do to like skiing and snowboarding, museum visits, theatre performances, and more. If you’re looking for the best places to visit for Christmas, it’s hard to beat this Vermont town.
Christmas Things to Do in Woodstock
Try a cup of wassail (spiced apple cider with brandy) and enjoy live music at the Wassail Weekend annual Christmas celebration. Explore some of the most beautiful, historic places in town via horse-drawn carriage on the Annual Holiday House Tour. Stay at the Woodstock Inn and chow down on their annual Holiday Feast, which includes turkey, prime rib, and 22 different desserts. Do some holiday shopping at F.H. Gillingham and Sons, a general store packed with local goods like artisanal jams and cheeses. Or travel back in time to Billings Farm to experience 1800s Christmas traditions and authentic ornament-making.
Whether you decide to travel to one of these excellent Christmas towns or stay home to host a holiday party of your own, we hope you have a great holiday filled with the magic of the season!