You know what they say. There’s no place like home for the holidays. But if the kids are on Christmas break and you’re using your PTO, you might as well take a fun trip to someplace new. Visit one of the stunning Christmas towns below and step inside a winter wonderland full of lights, music and plenty of festive activities. Whether you live on the west coast, east coast or somewhere in-between, there’s likely a stunning destination nearby just waiting to be explored.
1. Woodstock, Vermont
There are few places quite as beautiful as Woodstock in winter. This charming little town looks like a postcard-perfect wonderland at Christmastime. Lights adorn beautiful historic homes and festive wreaths hang on nearly every door. Take a horse-drawn wagon tour to see the quaint covered bridges and snowy vistas and snowy scenes. Be sure to stop by during Woodstock Wassail Weekend to listen to carolers, light the tree and watch the Yule log burn.
2. New York City, New York
The Big Apple might not be a tiny town, but it’s not lacking in charm! There are decorations galore, including the giant Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, and the city lights are even prettier during the holiday season. Finish up your last-minute shopping at the specialty shops on Madison Avenue or take the kids ice skating in Central Park. Radio City and the New York City Ballet typically offer holiday shows, too, so there’s something for everyone in NYC.
3. Detroit, Michigan
If you’re headed to the mitten for Christmas, make a quick stop in the state’s capital. Metro Detroit is bustling this time of year and has many activities to offer the casual traveler. Take a carriage ride in Greenfield Village, go ice skating at Campus Martius or have supper with Santa at A Taste of History Restaurant. Love hockey? Catch a Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena. The Fox Theater and the DetroitInstitute of Arts often feature holiday events, too, so keep an eye on the calendar.
4. Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore, Maryland is an amazing mix of historical and modern, making it an extra special place to visit during the holidays. Take a trip to the charming coastal city in the weeks leading up to Christmas to listen to carolers, go ice skating at Inner Harbor or take a lunch cruise for the chance to enjoy great food and views of the Patapsco River. Remember to visit the Maryland Zoo to see beautiful and eco-conscious light displays — not to mention all the animals.
5. Orlando, Florida
Are you ready to visit the most magical place on earth? Surprise the kids with tickets to Walt Disney World and take a trip down to sunny Orlando. You probably won’t have a white Christmas, but your family is unlikely to complain. Stay up late and enjoy the park’s Very Merriest After Hours extravaganza for fireworks, Christmastime parades and holiday treats that are included with the price of admission. All the music and lights will have you in the holiday spirit in no time.
6. Park City, Utah
Does your family love to ski? Maybe you have some school-aged kiddos who are ready to strap on a pair and try it out. What better place for them to learn than Park City, Utah? This winter wonderland is home to Park City Mountain and Deer Valley, both of which offer acres of diverse alpine terrain. You can also watch the annual Torchlight Parade where skiers and snowboarders come down carrying torches to lead Santa into town.
7. Taos, New Mexico
If you’re road-tripping out west, be sure to make a stop in Taos, New Mexico. This small town offers all your typical holiday events, including tree lightings, concerts and craft fairs. However, it also emphasizes a rich celebration of heritage. The town’s Native American settlement of Taos Pueblo organizes rifle salutes, religious processions and luminaries throughout the month of December. Bonfires light the streets and Aztec dancers add some soul and magic to the air. This is an event you definitely won’t want to miss.
8. Leavenworth, Washington
Located along the eastern edge of the Cascade Mountains, Leavenworth, Washington, is a sight to behold at Christmastime. This charming Bavarian village will make you feel as if you stepped into a historic German town. The snow-capped mountains provide the most majestic alpine backdrop for holiday activities like caroling and sledding. Handbell concerts, harp music and arrays of sparkling lights set the mood and are sure to inspire a little holiday spirit in your whole family.
Planning the Ultimate Holiday Vacation
No matter where you go, it’s important to plan your holiday vacation well in advance. Hotels and resorts book up fast, especially during Christmastime so make reservations early. Make a list of must-see attractions and activities to ensure everyone has fun and remember to make time for gifts. With a little forethought and a bit of magic, you’re bound to have the most memorable holiday celebration yet.