If you’re thinking about getting away this holiday season and want to make sure your destination brims with that Christmas cheer, there are plenty of places all over the United States that take the spirit to the next level.
Even though many people think of Europe as the ultimate holiday getaway, there are plenty of cities and towns all over the USA that know how to do the season right.
From alpine towns that will make you feel like you landed in Germany to cute Christmas markets set next to a lake, here are some of the best Christmas destinations in the United States you need to consider for your winter escapade!
Best Christmas Destinations in the United States
1. North Pole, Alaska
Yup, there’s a town called North Pole, and when it comes to quintessential places to celebrate Christmas in, it definitely takes the cake!
Located in Alaska just a short drive away from the city of Fairbanks, North Pole is said to be the place where “the spirit of Christmas lives year-round.” As you stroll through its downtown, you’ll be treated to a world of streets decorated in gigantic candy canes, colorful twinkling lights, and just about every Christmas motif you can think of! Reindeer are a thing here, too, and there’s even a house that’s supposed to be the “official” home to Santa Claus!
As if that weren’t enough to convince you to visit North Pole, it also happens to be a wonderful place to experience the Northern Lights. Sightings inside the town are possible, but for even higher chances, you can head over to Chena Lake Recreation Area on the outskirts, where sightings are almost guaranteed!
2. Duluth, Minnesota
Duluth is perfect for those looking to get that “winter wonderland” vibe.
Set in Minnesota, this incredibly charming town is home to Bentleyville, one of the world’s most magical displays of light. During the holiday season, this locale becomes host to plenty of Christmas-themed events and festivities, most of which are taken to the next level and will make you wonder if you were somehow transported into the Grinch’s Whoville!
A few of the can’t-miss activities in Duluth include hopping on the scenic train along Lake Superior for all sorts of wintery views in nature and attending the annual Christmas Village, which takes place at the expansive gardens of the Glensheen Mansion!
If you’re there on a Tuesday, make sure to pop by the Fairlawn Mansion, as they open their doors to guests, and you can come and enjoy some of the most impressive Christmas light displays in the entire world!
- Don’t miss these incredible scenic drives in Minnesota, beautiful even in the winter!
3. New York City, New York
New York City is quite possibly one of the most classic Christmas destinations in the United States, and for good reason!
While here, the ultimate way to celebrate Christmas is by doing all the cliché activities – they’re famous for a reason, after all! A few of these include checking out the annual Winter Village at Bryant Park, admiring the gigantic Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center, enjoying the Empire State Building’s holiday light show, and going ice skating at Central Park.
Once you’re done ticking those things off the bucket list, you’ll find plenty more to keep you entertained, especially if you’re also in the mood to do Christmas in a more local way. One can’t-miss activity is spending a day going Christmas Market hopping – with so many spread all over the city, this is also a great chance to explore different neighborhoods!
The Union Square Holiday Market, the Columbus Circle Holiday Market, the Grand Central Holiday Fair, and The Market at Westfield World Trade Center are all incredible and definitely worth visiting.
If you’re into more local spots, you can head to the Turnstyle Holiday Market in Hell’s Kitchen, the Astoria Holiday Market, and the Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar, all of which are lesser known to visitors but are also an absolute treat to stroll through.
4. Leavenworth, Washington
Want to feel as though you were transported into Europe this holiday season? If you’re keen to experience a Christmas in Germany but don’t necessarily want to change continents, the town of Leavenworth in Washington is as close as you can get to the real thing!
This cozy village sits in the heart of the mesmerizing Cascade Mountains, and thanks to its German roots and heritage, you’ll get to feel as though you were inside an actual Bavarian village. The streets here are lined by quaint half-timbered houses with views of the mountains surrounding them – add a few twinkling lights and all sorts of Christmas décor and you may just get to feel like you walked into a snow globe!
Aside from simply marveling at the views, there are plenty of events taking place throughout December in town, including gingerbread house competitions, live music at the gazebo, Santa letter stations, and plenty more.
Moreover, there’s also a Christmas Market held annually that is inspired by those in Bavaria, with vendors selling all sorts of crafts and items to be back home. Of course, craft beer and European snacks are also included in the experience!
5. Denver, Colorado
If a big city experience is what you’re after, but you still want to have plenty of opportunities to get out in nature, Denver is sure to please!
With plenty of German heritage backing up the city, Denver turns itself into a world of fun seasonal events meant to spread the holiday cheer. Christmas markets are huge here, and you’ll find plenty of them scattered all over town. Two of the biggest ones are the Denver Christkindl Market and the European Holiday Market, which are organized by the German Cultural Foundation and look as authentic as it gets!
Aside from enjoying the city and its fantastic holiday events, Denver is also a great destination to visit if you want to experience a part of your Christmas vacation in nature. With the Rocky Mountains being just a stone’s throw away and plenty of incredible ski resorts, you can easily combine a cityscape with plenty of winter fun outdoors!
6. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
While it may not be the actual *Bethlehem*, this town of the same name in Pennsylvania sure knows how to celebrate Christmas the way it’s meant to!
Like many of the best Christmas destinations in the United States, Bethlehem still stays true to its German roots, which come in full fledge during the holiday season. While here, you’ll get to enjoy a plethora of festive activities, ranging from traditional Christmas markets to a Christmas City Village inspired by German towns. You’ll pretty much be spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing what to see and do during your time here.
Whatever you do, make sure you don’t miss out on checking the Christkindlmarkt, a classic Christmas market where you’ll find hundreds of stalls where you can buy goodies to bring back home, and plenty of treats to eat on the spot. There’s live music and entertainment, so you can expect to spend several hours here enjoying the ambiance!
7. Asheville, North Carolina
If you’ve ever wondered what popping inside a storybook would be like, Asheville in North Carolina provides an experience that definitely feels a little similar!
This charming city vibes feel fairytale-like, especially during Christmas, when thousands of twinkling lights, garlands, and ribbons blanket the historical city center.
Come December, Asheville becomes a mecca for holiday events, ranging from light festivals to contests, ceremonies, and more!
Plus, thanks to the fact that Asheville sits in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains, you’ll also have plenty of excuses to head out and enjoy the nature around you (skiing is, of course, on the menu!). There are also plenty of stunning scenic drives to enjoy in North Carolina.
8. Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
Tucked away in Wisconsin, Elkhart Lake is a gorgeous lake-side town that brims with holiday vibes as soon as the season starts.
While it may look like any town at first, Elkhart is a truly special destination on the list because it hosts one of the best Christmas Markets in the United States: The Old World Christmas Market.
It’s set right by the lake and while eating all the delicious treats and admiring the decoration is definitely reason enough to go, the shopping opportunities here are simply out of this world.
As you stroll through the stands, you’ll find authentic crafts by artisans from all over the world, giving you the chance to go window shopping (or actual shopping!) as though you were traveling through different corners of the world. Think hand-painted Russian dolls, chocolates from different corners of Europe, hand-carved nutcrackers and cuckoo clocks from Germany, and so much more!
I hope this list of the best Christmas Destinations in the United States helped you plan your holiday trip. No matter where you end up going, you’re guaranteed a truly special celebration at any of these places!
What are some other amazing Christmas destinations in the United States? If you know of any others, please feel free to recommend them in the comment section below!
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