Best Christmas Destinations In America

Photo of Brie Shimada
18 December 2015

With the most wonderful time of the year comes the perfect opportunity to travel to the most breathtaking Christmas destinations this nation has to offer. Toss out that ‘home for the holidays’ mentality because this year, you’ll want to book a trip to one of these magical places that will make your Christmas unforgettable!

Christmas In NYC | © Anthony Quintano/Flickr

New York City

New York City boasts some of the best holiday traditions of America, shooting it to the top of this Christmas destinations list. Between the gigantic illuminated tree in Rockefeller Center and the festive window displays of New York City’s world-renowned department stores, this city lights up into a winter wonderland that makes tourists swoon each year. New York City is home to the much anticipated holiday attraction called the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which is a Broadway-style show put on by the well-acclaimed Rockettes at the famous Radio City Music Hall. But it’s not just the shows that draw tourists to New York City, for the shopping is absolutely incredible. A few of New York City’s most spectacular Christmas markets include the Chelsea Market, Astoria Holiday Market, Columbus Circle Holiday Market, and the Union Square Holiday Market. A Christmas in New York City is for those who love snow, ice skating, shopping, and all things that sparkle.


A trip to Chicago guarantees a white Christmas, making it the perfect setting to enjoy all of the traditional big city winter activities. Some of the most popular holiday sightseeing excursions include viewing the millions of sparkling lights on the Magnificent Mile, checking out the Christmas Around The World exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry, showing off your figure eights at the outdoor ice-skating rink at Chicago’s Millennium Park, and of course, making a stop at the infamous Christkindlmarkt where you can find authentic German Christmas crafts, toys, food, and drink! If you even feel like seeing a show while you’re in town, be sure to buy your tickets for the Joffrey Ballet’s iconic production of The Nutcracker. With so much to do and so much to see, there’s nothing quite like experiencing a Christmas in Chicago!

Christmas In Colorado | © brian gautreau/Flickr


For many travelers, Christmas evokes the holiday sights of snowy slopes and chic ski resorts, which is why Colorado is the ideal destination for Christmastime. Colorado is home to NORAD, the governmental agency that tracks Santa’s gift-giving course on Christmas Eve, as well as some of our favorite towns to spend the holidays in including Georgetown, Durango, and Aspen. Georgetown is a hidden gem that puts on a wonderful celebration during this season, including a tree lighting ceremony, a Letter Day, and their Georgetown Christmas Market that runs for two weeks. Durango is one of the most magical places to spend Christmas because it is home to The Polar Express, where you can enjoy a truly memorable train ride based off of Chris Van Allsburg’s classic Christmas tale. The Christmas festival, 12 Days Of Aspen, is why you should spend Christmas here because from December 20-31st, Aspen will be hosting concerts, theatre performances, street entertainment, free ice skating, shopping and restaurant specials, and so much more. Colorado makes visitors feel like they’re spending the holidays in a postcard with all the extravagant celebrations for one of the favorite times of the year.

San Francisco

A Christmas in San Francisco is filled with magic and warm holiday cheer that invites so many people to the city during this most wonderful time of the year. A cable car ride is a must when visiting San Francisco, so what better way to spend your crisp Christmas night then with illuminating holiday sights throughout the city on the Holiday Nights & Sights Cable Car Tour. And you won’t want to miss the the San Francisco Ballet’s sparkling production of The Nutcracker set right here in the ‘City By the Bay,’ where you can witness the astounding beauty and talent of these worldly dancers. While you’re also in this magnificent city, you’ll want to lace up your ice skates and glide on the ice in the heart of Union Square where Macy’s glorious 83-foot-tall tree stands. For Christmas dinner, The Culture Trip recommends dining at Fisherman’s Wharf for some of the best seafood you’ve ever tasted. Give thanks from the Golden Gate and celebrate your Christmas in San Francisco!

Christmas In Hawaii | © Dave Dugdale/Flickr


Have a merry Christmas in paradise by traveling to the 50th state for the holidays. Along with the amazing year-round weather, you can enjoy all of the traditional sightseeing and activities like surfing, ziplining, and snorkeling that make Hawaii such a distinguished place to travel to, as well as Christmas celebrations on every island. Holiday festivities include the vibrant boat parades that are held at the Honolulu Harbor and Hawaii Kai on Oahu, the Kailua-Kona Christmas Parade on the Big Island, concerts performed by the Maui Symphony Orchestra on Maui, the December Celebration of Christmas in Music concert on Kona, and the Kauai Festival of Lights in Kauai. No matter what island you’re celebrating on, attending a luau is a must for Christmas Day. The people of Hawaii love to jubilate, and the holiday season is no exception. Mele Kalikimaka!

By Brie Shimada

Brie Shimada, a Sacramento native, is currently studying Communication Studies at San Francisco State University. She can either be found capturing photos of the city, reading a good book at Blue Bottle, or shopping local at one of the many farmer’s markets in San Francisco.

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