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Top 10 U.S. towns to visit during the holidays

"All I want for Christmas is a vacation."

Let's take a trip during the holidays. Let's visit towns that offer beautiful holiday lights, festive decor and top notch Christmas markets and festivals. The U.S. has so many terrific towns to visit, but I have narrowed down the list to the top ten. I hope you get a chance to get away this holiday season and explore somewhere new. Happy Holidays!


Breckinridge, Colorado

During the month of December, festivities abound in this beautiful ski town, from the tree lighting to the Race of the Santas, a half-mile footrace featuring costume-clad runners. Hang out post-race to watch the town transform into a real life holiday card thanks to more than 13,000 feet and 250,000 LED holiday lights. The iconic holiday lights in downtown Breckenridge are one of the most photographed sights during the snowy months and continue to shine and spread hope all winter long. You can also enjoy fine dining on Main Street, holiday carolers and an international snow sculpture contest.

Where to stay:

The Lodge at Breckinridge

The Lodge at Breckenridge is a 57-room lodge on a forested cliff at 10,200 feet, offering Colorado charm and spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains, Breckenridge Ski Resort and the TenMile Range. At the property’s signature dining establishment, you’ll be surrounded by breathtaking mountain views and spectacular romantic sunsets as you dine on delectable dishes that are prepared fresh daily.

Gravity Haus

Enjoy the custom comforts of this award-winning boutique hotel, located directly at the base of Breckenridge mountain, in the heart of Breck. You can walk out the front door and explore Main Street in minutes. With 60 curated rooms made for ultimate relaxation, and countless amenities tailored to the modern outdoor enthusiast, Gravity Haus embodies the crafted Colorado experience. You can even relax in the dry sauna or soaking tubs in a mountain-side Japanese-inspired onsen.

Things to do in Breckinridge:

  • Snow sculpture contest

  • Santa Run

  • Skiing, Snowboarding and winter sports

  • Hike the Rockies

  • Watch the town light up

  • Dine on Main Street


North Pole, Alaska

North Pole is a small city in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska. Despite its name, the city is about 1,700 miles south of Earth’s geographic North Pole and 125 miles south of the Arctic Circle. North Pole’s biggest attraction is a gift shop named Santa Claus House, the modern-day incarnation of a trading post (gift shop) established in the town’s early days. This sprawling store holds endless aisles of Christmas ornaments and toys, a live Santa to listen to your Christmas wishes, and walls covered with Dear Santa letters from children around the world. Stroll through the magical winter wonderland to shop Santa’s Workshop for unique toys, North Pole apparel, and Alaska-made gifts. Sample fudge, cookies, and other treats to get into the Christmas spirit. Wander outside the property for some festive photo opportunities, including a nearly 50 foot tall Santa sculpture, a Christmas tree decorated year-round, and Santa’s sleigh. Located next to the main house, the Antler Academy is where Santa’s reindeer team lives. Visit the reindeer pen to learn about all their reindeer games as you pet and feed the animals.

Where to stay:

Aurora Villa

Elsewhere in America the word “aurora” is strictly metaphorical, but at Aurora Villa, it’s entirely literal — here, at the end of a country road a half-hour from Fairbanks, in the Alaskan interior, the Northern Lights are a regular feature of the night sky. (For better viewing, the hotel’s lights go out at ten o’clock, and there’s very little ambient light in the surrounding area.) Aurora Villa’s Nordic-style minimalism is, in some ways, incongruously stylish in a place where rustic lodges are the norm — but at this latitude, it stands under the same night sky as Iceland and northern Scandinavia.

Things to do in the North Pole, Alaska:

  • Visit Santa Claus House

  • See the Northern Lights

  • Dog Sledding and Mushing

  • Snowmobiling

  • Ice Fishing

  • Soak at Chena Hot Springs

  • Visit the Aurora Ice Museum

  • Visit Denali National Park



Nantucket, Massachusetts

Nantucket Christmas is a festive celebration that takes place on the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts, every year in December. It features various events and activities, such as the Christmas Stroll, Santa’s Village, tree and storefront decorating contests, craft fairs, concerts, and more. It is a popular destination for locals and visitors who want to enjoy the holiday spirit in a charming and historic setting.

Where to stay:

Faraway Hotel

4-Star Hotel

Faraway Nantucket boasts 6 buildings, a restaurant, and an outdoor courtyard in the heart of the downtown. Thus, there is no need for a car as it's within walking distance from the ferries and the beautiful shops, restaurants, and attractions that make the town a wonderful place to call home during your visit.

White Elephant

5-Star Hotel

An island landmark the iconic White Elephant has been named among the finest luxury hotels on Nantucket Island for decades. Steeped in island charm surrounded by the natural beauty of Nantucket timeless surroundings, this waterfront resort has grown to include chic rooms with abundant natural light spacious suites many with balconies and magnificent harbor views garden cottages luxurious residences and downtown lofts.


Things to do in Nantucket:

  • Shop for holiday gifts

  • Attend events (Christmas Stroll) on Main Street

  • Meet Santa

  • Attend the Festival of Trees

  • Visit Cisco Brewers

  • See the Lighthouses

  • Tour the Whaling Museum

  • Enjoy Carolers, craft festivals and more


Vail, Utah

Vail, Colorado is a magical mountain village in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, about 2.5 hours away from Denver, Colorado. It is known for its European-style architecture, quaint towns and more than 5,000 acres of skiing, Vail, Colorado is a must-visit.

Where to stay:

The Hythe

4-Star Hotel

The Hythe, a Luxury Collection Resort, Vail channels the exhilarating spirit of Vail, CO with a finely curated alpine experience. From cultivated European Swiss-inspired rituals to locally crafted details, discover the definition of legendary hospitality at this rarefied resort on Vail Mountain. Here, you will experience the adventurous side of Vail, with easy access to the Eagle Bahn Gondola, Lionshead Village and Betty Ford Alpine Village. Spacious accommodations are a tranquil retreat after a day of slope-side adventures. Luxe suites boast whirlpool jet bathtubs and two balconies showcasing spectacular mountain views. The resort is home to four food and beverage concepts, Well & Being Spa featuring Vail's only Himalayan Salt Lounge, and a four-season pool. Set amid the majestic snow-covered Rocky Mountains and a convivial apres-all-day atmosphere, The Hythe Resort is where old and new legends come to life in Vail, CO.

The Sebastian

5-Star Hotel

The Sebastian - A Timbers Resorts Hotel and Residence Club - is at the heart of the Vail Village in Colorado creating a year-round combination of luxury and comfort. The location is ideal secreted just off the main pedestrian walkway, steps from the ski slopes surrounded by boutiques, restaurants, galleries and apres-ski venues that are the essence of the Vail experience. Inside youll find that everything is stylish and exhilarating - an eclectic confluence of approachable chic and high mountain comfort. As the gateway to Vail Village - The Sebastians massive cobblestone porte-cochere leads to a soaring atrium, impressive meticulously crafted woodwork softened by rich velvet textures accentuates the spaces throughout setting the stage for the comfortable gathering spaces. Guests can unwind in fully equipped and cozy guestrooms and suites - many with panoramic Rocky Mountain views and several with private balconies. Locally grown and organic food can be enjoyed in Leonora - the on-site restaurant. For the ultimate in relaxation visit Bloom Spa or the pool area sure to invoke peace and tranquility in even the most stressed traveler

Things to do in Vail:

  • Enjoy the Magic of Lights Vail, a walk-through experience with 360-degree displays of colorful lights and live entertainment.

  • Celebrate New Year’s Eve with a silent disco, a torchlight parade, and a fireworks show.

  • Shop for unique gifts and souvenirs at the boutique and name brand shops in Vail Village and Lionshead.

  • Watch the Vail Ice Skating Spectacular, a free outdoor show featuring professional skaters and local talent.

  • Experience a sleigh ride at 4 Eagle Ranch, where you can also enjoy a western-style dinner and live music.

  • Have a memorable Christmas dinner at Sonnenalp, a luxury hotel that offers a four-course menu with traditional and contemporary dishes.


Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Going to the beach for Christmas can be great fun. The oceanfront Myrtle Beach Boardwalk is a centerpiece of the Winter Wonderland Festival and is covered in Christmas lights from Nov. 24 through the end of the year. The iconic Brookgreen Gardens in Pawleys Island is illuminated with hand-lit candles and millions of Christmas lights throughout the holiday season for Nights of a Thousand Candles. In Murrells Inlet, the Murrells Inlet Marshwalk is transformed into a festive display with their annual Wonderland of Lights.

Where to stay:

North Beach Resort & Villas

4-Star Hotel

Located on a 7.5-acre island between the Atlantic Ocean and Whitepoint Swash, North Beach Resort & Villas provides a magnificent oceanfront presence. The Towers are an impressive, sweeping masterpiece that is sure to awe. Surrounded by a spectacular 2.5-acre water escape that features an unprecedented array of water facilities from swimming pools, spas, a lazy river, a swim-up pool bar, and private cabanas. Second to none are additional five-star amenities located on the property.


Coral Beach Resort

Named ‘Best Family Resort by Travel Channel’, this family-friendly Myrtle Beach resort was designed for comfort and fun from our spacious room layouts to on-site amenities included with your stay. Soak up the sun on our expansive pool deck while the kids splash around our oceanfront waterpark and lazy river. After the sun sets, enjoy an evening of bowling and arcade games at our recently revamped entertainment zone. Hungry for more? The recently renovated Myrtle Beach hotel offers four unique dining options, making it easy to find a fast and affordable family meal.

Things to do in Myrtle Beach:

  • Stroll the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk

  • Drive through the Great Christmas Lights Show

  • Visit the Brookgreen Gardens on Pawleys Island for the NIghts of a Thousand Candles

  • Do some shopping at Broadway at the Beach and Barefoot Landing

  • Experience one of the many Christmas shows

  • Splash in the indoor water parks and pools

  • Watch the North Myrtle Beach Christmas Parade


Leavenworth, Washington

The town was built to resemble a traditional Bavarian village, and the nearby mountains, poetically named the Enchantments, are reminiscent of the Alps. You'll feel like you're really in Europe this Christmas. More than half a million lights go up across town in late November and don't come down until February. Activities also include gingerbread house displays, caroling, and frequent appearances by Santa.

Where to stay:

Pine River Ranch

Sleep in the comfort of our premier Leavenworth accommodations at Pine River Ranch. Leavenworth suite options offer the perfect blend of the look and feel of rustic charm with the comforts of a luxury suite that you can’t find at other hotel accommodations in Leavenworth. Enjoy Pacific Northwest décor, private bathrooms, Jacuzzi tubs, and private decks in all of the Leavenworth lodging suites at Pine River Ranch.

Abendblume

Nestled in the Cascade Mountains and the Bavarian town of Leavenworth, Washington, this elegant Austrian chalet boasts spectacular lodging. Many guest room accommodations have fireplaces, marble showers, spas and balconies. Here, the gracious hospitality is warm, personal and discrete.

Things to do in Leavenworth:


Natchitoches, Louisiana

Natchitoches is known for its small town historic district, its festivals, and its cultural heritage. Natchitoches celebrates Christmas with a six-week long festival that features over 300,000 lights, 100 set pieces, fireworks, live entertainment, and more. It is one of the oldest and most popular holiday events in the country, and has won many awards and accolades.

Where to stay:

The Queen Anne Bed & Breakfast

Welcome to the award winning Queen Anne Bed and Breakfast, where history meets comfort in the heart of Natchitoches, Louisiana. Experience this elegant Victorian inn and be transported back in time, but with all the modern amenities you need. The guest rooms are fit for royalty, with luxurious beds and private baths that will make you feel like you're living in a fairytale. The inn is located in the National Historic District, so you'll be surrounded by charming architecture and picturesque views. Take a seat on the upper or lower galleries and soak in the beauty of our gazebo and gardens. It's the perfect spot to relax with a cup of coffee. Get ready to indulge in an amazing breakfast, served in two courses that will leave your taste buds dancing with joy.

The Opus House

Located in Historic Natchitoches, within walking distance of NSU, shops, and restaurants, Opus House is a unique and cozy bed and breakfast option with impeccable service.

Things to do in Natchitoches:

  • The Village of Lights Christmastown, a walk-through light show with photos with Santa, gingerbread houses, and vendors

  • The Christmas Parade, featuring floats, bands, golf carts, and the Sweet Potato Queens

  • The Light Up the Night Christmas Boat Parade, where boats decorated with lights and themes sail on the Beaufort River

  • The Christmas Tour of Homes, where you can see historic houses decorated for the holidays

  • Natchitoches National Historic Landmark District

  • Lasyone’s Meat Pie Restaurant


Park City, Utah

A completely different feel for a weekend getaway is in Park City, a winter wonderland perfect for your next holiday trip. Whether or not you enjoy skiing, this lovely town has lots of Christmas activities and things to do for both young and old. Home to the US Ski Team, Park City boasts a distinctive title as one of North America's greatest ski towns, offering unparalleled terrain for winter sports.

Where to stay:

Waldorf Astoria Park City

5-Star Hotel

Situated at the base of Canyons Village, Waldorf Astoria Park City is the only luxury hotel with slope side access to the largest ski and golf resort in the United States. Steps from the hotel, the Frostwood Gondola provides access to Canyons Village, boasting over 7,300 acres of recreational terrain. Spend a day in the mountains hiking, biking or horseback riding, or take advantage of complimentary transportation to the Park City Base Area, Deer Valley Resort, and downtown Historic Main Street. Dine on fresh, local produce at Powder and enjoy the unique mountain-style décor with scenic views and weekend live music. Discover the award-winning Waldorf Astoria Spa. Luxuriate with pampering body treatments, relax within the serene surroundings, and enjoy a fabulous look crafted by expert salon stylists. This Park City hotel boasts a modern 24-hour Waldorf Astoria Fitness Center featuring the latest equipment and exercise classes. Discover a memorable, mountainside escape with an array of local attractions.


The St. Regis Deer Valley

5-Star Hotel

Experience unmatched luxury at The St. Regis Deer Valley. Adorned with distinctive furnishings and tasteful décor, this Park City, Utah, resort mimics the beauty of the location amidst the picturesque Wasatch Mountains. During the winter season, the hotel offers convenient ski-in/ski-out access with a private ski valet. In warmer months, thrill-seekers delve into mountain biking and hiking. Indulge year-round with a signature treatment or massage at Remède Spa, the resort's exclusive day spa. Enjoy an exquisite meal at any of three onsite dining establishments serving delectable American fare and handcrafted cocktails. Unwind in thoughtfully appointed hotel rooms and suites with plush bedding, immaculate marble bathrooms and private terraces overlooking the slopes. Live exquisitely in an atmosphere of great subtlety and refinement at The St. Regis Deer Valley.

Things to do in Park City:

  • Skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, dogsledding, bobsled rides at Utah Olympic Park

  • Sleigh ride in Park City

  • Ice Castles in Midway

  • The North Pole Express at Heber Valley Railroad

  • Tree Lighting Ceremony and Fireworks

  • Electric Parade and Festivities 

  • Main Street Snow Globe Stroll

  • Holiday shows at one of the theatres

  • See Santa come down the lift

  • Park City Mountain Torchlight Parade


Alexandria, Virginia

Alexandria, VA is a great place to visit during the holiday season. Good Housekeeping named Alexandria, VA, one of the best places to travel in December 2023 to enjoy the Scottish Christmas Walk Parade, Holiday Boat Parade of Lights and other events filled with holiday magic. You can also enjoy festive events, great dining, and local shops.

Where to stay:

Morris House Old Town

Embark on a historic getaway at Morrison House Old Town Alexandria, Autograph Collection. Settled in the heart of the city, the hotel provides an unrivaled location moments from the cobblestone roads of King Street, as well as destinations such as Waterfront Park, the National Science Foundation and George Washington's Mount Vernon. After a day of play, unwind in our spacious accommodations, where stylish decor, plush bedding and Italian marble bathrooms offer ultimate relaxation. Peer out your room's expansive windows to admire breathtaking views of the sites surrounding this charming hotel. The restaurant features upscale fine dining with a world view. A Mesoamerican influence captures the cuisine and culture that traveled the trade routes to and through Central and North America. Curated cocktails are celebrated through the use of fresh juices, local herbs and pure science.

Hotel AKA

Hotel AKA Alexandria brings a new level of style and sophistication to Old Town, a charming historic destination known for its boutique shopping, art galleries, and waterfront restaurants. Designed by world-renowned architect and designer Piero Lissoni, this tranquil urban retreat enhances your stay in Alexandria, Virginia — just 20 minutes from Washington, D.C. and a short 10-minute drive from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

From the moment you step inside the newly reimagined property, you’ll discover an inspired balance of modern minimalism and refined mid-century elements. The focal point is the floating staircase — a Lissoni signature — which shows off dark steel and unique lines as it ascends to the terrace level. The rooms and suites are no less impressive, offering residential-style comfort through luxurious amenities and furnishings by the world’s leading artisans.

Things to do in Alexandria:

  • Stroll down King Street for holiday lights and shopping

  • Annual Alexandria Scottish Christmas Walk

  • Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights

  • Shop along enchanting streetscapes

  • Enjoy Open-Air Holiday Markets

  • See the winter village at Cameron Run

  • Enjoy holiday events, festive concerts and shows

  • Celebrate New Years Eve with fireworks



St. Augustine was the capital of Spanish Florida long before the Mayflower arrived. With over 450 years of history, St. Augustine embodies historical cities in the States. With its Spanish architecture, horse drawn carriages, hidden courtyards and brick-lined streets it feels more like Europe than Florida. It also boasts a beautiful scenic harbor and pristine beaches. There is plenty to see and do in this charming Florida town.


Wheret to stay:

Hilton St. Augustine

4-star

Colorful cottage-style buildings, inspired by Spanish Colonial architecture, are nestled between Castillo de San Marcos and the Bridge of Lions. The Historic District and Saint Augustine Distillery are within a mile. Many rooms have balconies overlooking Matanzas Bay. Enjoy the outdoor pool, fitness center, and 24-hour snack shop. WiFi’s is also included.


The Collector Inn

5-star

The Collector sits on the edge of St. Augustine’s Old Town, within easy walking distance of the city’s most celebrated attractions. Named among the top 15 resorts in Florida, The Collector Inn dates back to the 1790s. The nine historic buildings are divided into 30 rooms and suites, in a style that’s perhaps best described as contemporary colonial, where modern luxuries and historical atmosphere go hand in hand. Despite its location in the center of town, The Collector feels like a little village unto itself, and the word “gardens” isn’t in the name just for decoration. Lounge in those gardens or sit around an outdoor fire pit or by the pool.

Things to do:

  • Nights of Lights: The St. Augustine historic district

  • Nights of Lights Trolley Tour!

  • St. Augustine’s Annual Christmas Parade

  • Holiday Tasting Tour

  • Sounds of the Season at Kelly Farms

  • Holiday Regatta of Lights:

  • Go on an adventure/historical tour

  • Shop, eat and drink on St. George Street

  • Enjoy the beach and watersports

  • Tour the Lighthouse and Castillo de San Marcos

  • Explore Colonial Quarter

  • Walk down the oldest street in the U.S. (Aviles Street)


What's next on your bucketlist?

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