The Best Places to Visit in the U.S. During Christmastime

by Jessica Montevago
The Best Places to Visit in the U.S. During Christmastime

Filled with nostalgic charm, Woodstock, Vermont transforms into a Christmas card. Photo: Woodstock Inn & Resort. 

Travel advisors can pass along the magic of the holiday season to their clients by suggesting trips to any of these Christmas-themed destinations in the U.S.

1. Nantucket, Massachusetts
This Massachusetts destination may draw to mind summer getaways, but charming cobblestone streets lined with decorated trees and storefronts on Main Street make it a perfect holiday destination, as well.

Thousands of visitors flock to the island every year for the renowned Christmas Tree Lighting and Christmas Stroll Weekend. The extravaganza kicks off with a wondrous Christmas Market filled with gifts and baubles. Santa Claus arrives via Coast Guard cutter for a parade. The day wraps up with a sing-along with Victorian Carolers.

Where to go for Christmas
Brant Point Lighthouse. Photo: Shutterstock

2. Wellsboro, Pennsylvania
Wellsboro has a unique bit of Christmas history that dates backs to the start of World War II. In 1939, a blockade disrupted the shipment of imported goods from Europe, including glass Christmas ornaments. As the holiday season was approaching, American retailers needed to meet the demand for more than 250 million ornaments. It was a factory in Wellsboro that would step in, with Max Eckardt’s Shiny Brite brand.

In honor of their history, Wellsboro puts up two dozen displays of these historic, locally made ornaments. The town also hosts a festive weekend filled with a live Nativity, holiday-themed game night, and more.

Where to go for Christmas
The Penn Wells Hotel is located in the center of the downtown historic district. Photo: Linda Stager

3. Christmas Town USA, North Carolina
For the past 63 years, McAdenville has changed its name each December to Christmas Town USA. With it comes a full transformation, with 375 evergreen trees and nearly all the community homes covered in red, white and green lights.

Visitors can walk along the romantic, wreath-lined route through the center of town. During the Yule Log Parade, the log is pulled through the streets to the memorial Yule Log Fireplace at Legacy Park, and placed upon the fire.

Where to travel for Christmas
Christmas lights around the lake. Photo: Shutterstock

4. Woodstock, Vermont
Filled with nostalgic charm, this New England town transforms into a Christmas card with historic decorated homes, carolers serenading townsfolk, and horse-drawn sleighs. Visitors can experience the traditions of a 19th century Vermont Christmas, with a tour of the festively decorated 1890 Billings Farm House and farm barns. Everyone gathers for the lighting of the tree and Yule log, as sleigh bells jingle during the Wassail Parade.

Where to travel for Christmas
General Store dressed up for the holidays. Photo: Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock

5. Delray Beach, Florida
It might not be a snow-covered winter wonderland, but there’s no shortage of Christmas spirit in Delray Beach. At the center of the aptly named Old School Square (a historic district revived as a cultural center), a 100-foot-tall Christmas tree opens to reveal a wonderland inside, with toy trains running around miniature scenes depicting holiday traditions. During the month-long celebration, visitors can take their pick from festive activities, including carols by candlelight, a holiday boat parade, and gingerbread house decorating.

6. Williamsburg, Virginia
Holiday celebrations get a colonial twist in Williamsburg, with caroling by torchlight, fife and drum performances, and the Grand Illumination, a celebratory fireworks and historic gun-salute display. More than 2,000 wreaths are hung in the town’s historic center, where holiday-gatherers can stroll with a resident adorned in 18th-century dress as their guide to the Christmastide season.

Where to travel for Christmas
Fife and drum corps march in Illumination of the Taverns. Photo: Steve Heap/Shutterstock

7. Helen, Georgia 
This alpine village honors its Bavarian roots with the Christkindlmarkt, a traditional German Christmas market, with booths where visitors can shop for gifts, decorations, and sweet treats. Or, visitors can take a step back in time and experience a Victorian Christmas at the Hardman Farm Historic State Site and learn about Victorian holiday traditions from docents dressed in their finest 1870s garb.

8. Ogden, Utah
Guests are transported to Santa’s workshop at Ogden’s Christmas Village, where dozens of miniature cottages are modeled after Chris Kringle’s North Pole Village. No trip to the North Pole would be complete without a ride on the Polar Express; holidays revelers can take a ride on a mini-locomotive, as it travels through a tunnel, featuring holiday artwork done in glow-in-the-dark paint.

Best places to spend christmas
Photo: Shutterstock

9. Branson, Missouri 
On cold winter nights, it’s fun to stay in the car and take a drive to view an epic holiday light display. This year, Branson’s Promised Land Zoo will be home to a new, two-mile drive-through display. The Zoo is also home to the region’s only live reindeer herd, giving patrons the opportunity to pet, feed, and take photos with Sven, Rudolph, and Prancer. The on-site Christmas village also includes a petting zoo with living nativity animals, visits with Santa, and a Christmas shop.

Best places to spend christmas
The holiday light display will be two miles long. Photo: Shutterstock

10. New York, New York
What the city lacks in quaint, small-town coziness, it makes up for in glitz and glam. Visitors can take a walk along Fifth Avenue for spectacularly decorated holiday window displays at department stores. The Bryant Park Winter Village has free ice skating, 170 pop-up kiosks and food vendors, and an outdoor beer garden. There are also holiday markets at Union Square and Columbus Circle. Oh, and of course there is the world-famous, 75-foot-tall Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center.

Best places to spend christmas
Ice skating at Bryant Park. Naveed Ashraf/Shutterstock

Tip of the Day
The professional travel advisor’s job is to equip the traveler with the necessary information to enable a good decision that will reflect that person’s own risk tolerance.
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