Our research is editorially independent but we may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

15 Best Christmas Vacation Destinations in the United States

While they say there’s “nothing like home for the holidays,” sometimes it’s fun to mix things up. If you’re thinking about heading elsewhere this Christmas, there are some great options to consider, from storybook small towns to exciting cities buzzing with holiday cheer. These destinations, in particular, should be at the top of your list.

New York City, New York Rockefeller Center in New York City, NY
Credit: Rockefeller Center in New York City, NY by © June M Sobrito | Dreamstime.com

New York City, New York

New York City at Christmas is a bucket list experience for those seeking an exciting city destination. It’s especially spectacular during the holidays with all the lights and usually at least a dusting of snow. You’ll have opportunities for ice skating at Rockefeller Center with its giant Christmas tree and horse-and-carriage rides through Central Park that provide an old-fashioned twist as well. You’ll be able to shop ’til you drop while enjoying the impressive holiday window displays, attend the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, a Broadway-style show hosted by the famous Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, or New York City’s Nutcracker by the New York City Ballet.

Woodstock, Vermont Christmas lights in Woodstock, Vermont
Credit: Christmas lights in Woodstock, Vermont by © James Kirkikis | Dreamstime.com

Woodstock, Vermont

One of the most quintessential postcard-perfect towns to celebrate Christmas is Woodstock, Vermont, with its covered bridges, at least a light dusting of snow, and plenty of pine wafting through the air. This historic city knows how to do the holiday right, starting with Woodstock Wassail Weekend – a pre-holiday festival with 19th-century Norse cultural traditions. It includes a parade with over 50 horses and riders that don period dresses and Christmas costumes, along with wagon and sleigh rides, carolers serenading and the lighting of the tree and yule log. An old-fashioned celebration with a big feast is hosted at the Billings Farm & Museum, and all the local shops with their beautifully decorated windows stay open late during the event.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania Penn Square in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Credit: Penn Square in Lancaster, Pennsylvania by © Jon Bilous | Dreamstime.com

Lancaster, Pennsylvania

A small town in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Lancaster boasts a festive atmosphere amongst Amish farms. There are carriage rides, singing carolers and plenty of gift shopping available at the Lancaster Central Market. Watch the tree lighting ceremony with tuba accompaniment or hop aboard the Strasburg Rail Road for cookies and milk while Victorian-dressed actors read “The Night Before Christmas,” then explore one of Lancaster’s other top attractions.

Newport, Rhode Island Christmas decorations at the Gilded mansions in Newport
Credit: Christmas decorations at the Gilded mansions in Newport by Preservation Society of Newport County

Newport, Rhode Island

Beloved for its beautiful coastline, Newport is a charming city with stunning beaches, waterfront hotels, and plenty of New England charm. During Christmas, the Holidays at the Newport Mansions provides the perfect mix of opulence and Christmas magic, with Newport’s Gilded Age mansions decked with ornamented trees, holiday lights, wreaths, dining tables set with period silver and china, and more. You can also bundle up and see the Illuminated Boat Parade at the harbor, where colorful boats compete for the best decorated. Christmas in Newport is another notable event featuring multiple activities, like concerts, tree lighting, craft fairs, and candlelit house tours.

Breckenridge, Colorado Breckenridge, Colorado in Winter
Credit: Breckenridge, Colorado in Winter by © Sean Pavone | Dreamstime.com

Breckenridge, Colorado

It’s like stepping into a snow globe when you visit this famous ski town during the holidays. The town is transformed into a breathtaking Victorian-style Christmas village throughout December, starting with the Lighting of Breckenridge, which includes hundreds of Santas racing down Main Street, picking up milk and cookies as they go, caroling and the Blue River holiday lighting on the first weekend of the month. There are horse-drawn carriage rides and plenty of opportunities to shop for gifts, and if you stick around for New Year’s Eve, you can watch the torchlight parade down the mountain, followed by fireworks.

Branson, Missouri An Old Time Christmas
Credit: An Old Time Christmas by silverdollarcitypress.com

Branson, Missouri

Known for being America’s Christmas Tree City, Branson is one of the best small towns in the U.S. for Christmas. It’s here that you can experience a month-long holiday extravaganza with live music, festive displays of lights, and fun-filled parades. This Midwest city and country music capital offers drive-thru light displays in addition to an illuminated nativity scene atop Mount Branson, while An Old Time Christmas features the largest Christmas display in the area. The Branson Scenic Railway’s Polar Express Train Ride is a favorite with families, with hot chocolate, cookies and a reading of the original story from Santa himself.

St. Augustine, Florida Night of Lights, St. Augustine
Credit: Night of Lights, St. Augustine by Sean Pavone/shutterstock.com

St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine is one of the most charming Christmas towns in Florida. It’s perfect if you’re looking for a warm-weather holiday getaway, while its lack of snow is replaced with an uber-festive annual Night of Lights festival. The city is glowing with lights, candles, and Christmas decor, and you can see it all aboard the Old Town Trolley’s Famous Night of Lights Tour. The city also has other family-friendly events, including colorful boat displays at the Regatta of Lights. Participate in the much-loved Holiday Tour of Inns, or bring the kids to the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum on Luminary Night to say hello to Santa.

McAdenville, North Carolina Christmas Town U.S.A.
Credit: Christmas Town U.S.A. by © Alex Grichenko | Dreamstime.com

McAdenville, North Carolina

This Charlotte suburb with less than 700 residents is known as Christmas Town USA. For more than six decades, McAdenville has put on an impressive display for the holidays that includes 265 evergreen trees with a half-million dazzling lights, with over 160 houses elaborately decked out in a variety of decor. Yahoo and Time magazine once named it among the “top 10 destinations to visit during the holidays”, and many news stations broadcast live from town around Christmas, too. You’ll find lots to do in nearby Charlotte as well, from a variety of holiday-related events and world-class museums to outstanding shopping and dining.

Leavenworth, Washington Leavenworth, Washington in winter

Leavenworth, Washington

A&E Network once crowned Leavenworth the “Ultimate Holiday Town USA.” Located along the eastern edge of the soaring Cascades, this charming Bavarian village with an impressive snow-capped mountain backdrop will make you feel as if you’ve stepped into a historic German town. The Christmas Lighting Festival, held from early December through just before Christmas, includes old-fashioned caroling and an array of sparkling lights. On Fridays, St. Nikolas himself welcomes children with songs and fruit.

Durango, Colorado Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
Credit: Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad by durangotrain.com

Durango, Colorado

Durango – located near the Four Corners area where Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico all meet – is the Christmas town behind The Polar Express, the popular book that became a movie starring Tom Hanks. Families can enjoy sipping hot chocolate while riding the train to the “North Pole” to pick up Santa, and this Western town offers all sorts of other holiday-related events, while Purgatory Ski Resort is just a short drive away for skiing and boarding enthusiasts.

Solvang, California Christmas in Solvang
Credit: Christmas in Solvang by © Hannator92 | Dreamstime.com

Solvang, California

A Denmark-like destination, Solvang is a Danish village nestled in California. You’ll find unique celebrations in this small town, with around 150 boutiques decked out in traditional Christmas decor selling all kinds of Danish goods such as clogs, high-quality toys and porcelain and lace. After you’ve spent a few hours shopping for gifts, attend the annual Julefest celebrations. Everyone in the family can get into the holiday spirit with its parade of dancers, vintage car displays and horse-drawn carriages. Don’t miss the live nativity pageant that brings to life the Christmas story.

Park City, Utah ski lift and snowy mountains in Park City
Credit: ski lift and snowy mountains in Park City by © irene skvorzowa - Dreamstime.com

Park City, Utah

One of the top places to go for a ski escape during the holidays offers lots of festivities for Christmas, beginning in November with the annual Electric Parade. Park City’s procession includes locals who light up cars, trucks and bikes while cranking up holiday tunes as they traverse down Main Street. On Christmas Eve, you can hit the slopes alongside Saint Nick, who spends the day skiing before leading a torchlight parade down the PayDay trail. Throughout the season, kids and adults of all ages will be dazzled by the nearly 13-foot-tall life-size gingerbread house that’s made with 11,000 cookies.

Frostburg, Maryland Allegany County, MD at Christmas
Credit: Allegany County, MD at Christmas by Allegany County, the Mountain Side of Maryland

Frostburg, Maryland

Dubbed “The Mountain Side of Maryland,” the small town of Frostburg is just three hours from Washington and Baltimore and about two-ish hours from Pittsburgh. This charming destination in Allegany County is a delightful place to visit during the holidays, especially on the first Saturday of December when the whole town shows up for the annual Storybook Holiday event. You can have breakfast with elves at the historic Hotel Gunter, then catch the city’s Christmas parade, which winds its way down Maine Street led by Jack Frost. At night, City Place hosts the beautifully lit Festival of Trees event (which includes a cookie and hot cocoa reception!), while the historic Frostburg Palace Theatre will be showing the ‘Miracle on 34th Street.’ For more sweet treats, try Frosty the Snow Shake at Princess Restaurant.

North Pole, Alaska North Pole Alaska
Credit: North Pole Alaska by bigstock.com

North Pole, Alaska

What could be better than a visit to the North Pole? In this Alaskan town, you can drive down streets like Kris Kringle Drive, Mistletoe Lane or Santa Claus Lane. National newscasts are frequently broadcast live from the Santa Claus house as well. This is also the aurora season, which means you’ll have a good opportunity to view one of Mother Nature’s most awe-inspiring shows: the stunning Northern Lights.

Mackinac Island, Michigan Mackinac Island main street
Credit: Mackinac Island main street by Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau

Mackinac Island, Michigan

Hop on a ferry to this enchanting Michigan town with just 500 residents, where everyone celebrates the holidays just like they did a century ago. Here, people travel by horse and buggy, as motorized vehicles have been banned for the past century. At Christmas, Santa actually visits every child to hear their Christmas wishes. The annual Christmas bazaar features unique crafts and decor filled with green, red, and lots of lilac – a favorite local color.

Travel Deals

10-Day Tour of Northern Italy Highlights & Cinque Terre


Hotel Greystone Miami Beach | Up To 25% Off


Jamaica | Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall All-Inclusive Resort

$349+ pp/pn

MADE Hotel New York | Save Up To 15%


BOGO | Air & 8-Day Rome, Florence & Venice by Rail


New England Cruises Up to 40% Off & $25 Deposit


Mexico | Hyatt Ziva Cancun All-Inclusive Resort

$454+ pp/pn

2nd Guest Flies Free | 7-Day Eastern Caribbean Cruise


Celebrity Cruises | Balcony, Ship Credit, Plus Bonuses


Air & 6-Nt Venice, Florence & Rome Vacation by Rail


7-Day Italy Guided Tour: Rome, Spoleto & Florence


Top Business Class Airline Deals | Up To 70% Off


Air & 8-Day Iceland Fully-Guided Tour w/ 4 Activities


Air & 4-Nt Bavaro Beach, Punta Cana All-Inclusive


19 Santa Barbara Hotels Offering a Third Night Free