Christmas time, considered by many to be the most wonderful time of year, is also one of the most fun seasons to travel with family.
From coast to coast, we’ll walk you through some of the best Christmas vacations geared to family fun in the United States. We practically guarantee these getaways can get the whole family excited this holiday season!
1. Take a Sleigh Ride in Vermont
Aside from its breathtaking fall foliage, Vermont is also known as a winter wonderland. What better way to take in the scenic, snowy landscape than a horse-drawn sleigh ride with your family? Many farms and ski lodges offer sleigh rides and plenty of other activities. Find a rental with a hot tub or a fireplace — or both! — so you can enjoy some much-needed family time.
2. Hit the Slopes in Colorado
If you want to hit the slopes this holiday season, Colorado boasts some of the best ski resorts in the country. While many of these resorts offer special packages for the holidays, you can also save big by going with a vacation rental. In addition to exhilarating outdoor activities like skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, or tubing, your family can get cozy at night around a fire, roast s’mores, build a gingerbread house, and watch classic Christmas movies.
3. Celebrate the Holiday Season at Disney World
If you’ve never celebrated Christmas at a theme park, Walt Disney World in Orlando is the perfect place to start. There are numerous holiday-themed activities and events planned across the parks, including Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. And while you’re in Florida, be sure to hit some of the amazing beaches, which are just a short drive from Orlando.
4. Lace Up Some Skates at Rockefeller Center
There’s nothing like Christmas in New York City. Somehow, this bustling city seems to come alive even more during the holiday season. And nothing screams the holidays in the Big Apple like an outing to Rockefeller Center! You won’t want to miss the landmark’s famous Christmas tree or a whirl around its iconic ice skating rink.
Other attractions you absolutely should not miss out on during your Christmas trip to NYC include catching the Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular, seeing the holiday lights strung up at the Bronx Zoo, taking a carriage ride through Central Park, and visiting the holiday window displays of the city’s department stores and other spaces.
5. Visit a Holiday Market in Chicago
Chicago’s Christkindlmarkets are the most authentic German Christmas markets of their kind outside of Europe. These popular outdoor markets in Daley Plaza and Wrigleyville feature more than 40 holiday-themed vendors and host numerous special events, including live music and other entertainment. Together, these markets draw more than one million guests each year.
While you’re in town for the holidays, make sure to stop by the Museum of Science and Industry’s Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Lights exhibits. Collectively, they feature more than 40 uniquely decorated Christmas trees representing numerous cultures and gorgeous light displays.
6. Soak Up the Sun in Hawaii
A white Christmas isn’t for everyone. If that sounds like you and your family, why not forget the snow and head to the beaches of Hawaii for the holidays? Trade in the hot chocolate, snowball fights, and sledding for fruity cocktails, sandcastles, and snorkeling off the beaches of Oahu. That sounds like a good deal to us! You’ll still find plenty of classic Christmas traditions, though, such as the Honolulu City Lights, a joyful month-long celebration every December.
7. Explore the Outdoors at Yellowstone National Park
If you’re looking for a truly unique Christmas experience, pack up the family for a road trip to one of the most beloved national parks in the country. Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful both remain open during the holiday season. The park also offers a special holiday dinner, a retreat at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch, as well as an annual tree lighting and candlelight event. While campsites and lodges shut down during the winter, you can find some cozy accommodations in the nearby city of Jackson or plenty of RV rentals.
8. Deck the Halls in Branson, Missouri
Branson might be a small town, but it’s big on Christmas spirit! In fact, it’s known as America’s “Christmas Tree City,” as area businesses and residents display more than 700 interesting and creative trees. Families can also enjoy Silver Dollar City’s An Old Time Christmas festival, which boasts more than 6.5 million dazzling lights and more than 30 live shows on outdoor stages. And don’t forget to take a train ride on the Polar Express!
9. Attend the Great Dickens Christmas Fair
If you’re looking to make new holiday traditions, head to California for the San Francisco Bay area’s annual Great Dickens Christmas Fair and Victorian Holiday Party. Spanning five weekends from the middle of November to the week before Christmas, this creative event at the Cow Palace Exhibition Halls celebrates the expansive literary world of celebrated author Charles Dickens. Start planning your Victorian costumes and practicing your caroling now!
10. Marvel at the National Christmas Tree
For nearly 100 years, the National Park Foundation has decorated and lit the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C. Each year, as part of this timeless tradition, the tree is adorned with one-of-a-kind ornaments created by Americans that capture the spirit of all 50 U.S. states, territories, and the District of Columbia. While the tree lighting ceremony is streamed online, there’s nothing like seeing this impressive tree in person with your family.
11. Chop Your Own Christmas Tree in Pennsylvania
If you’ve never picked and cut down your own Christmas tree, you’ll want to head to the wintry woods of Pennsylvania to check this one-of-a-kind experience off your bucket list. In addition to a bevy of choose-and-cut Christmas tree farms, there are plenty of other outdoor activities to enjoy with your family, like sledding, snowshoeing, skiing, and building snowmen.
You also won’t want to miss Hersheypark Christmas Candylane, which features more than five million Christmas lights and other festive experiences for chocolate lovers.
12. Experience the Bull Run Festival of Lights
This dazzling light display is a family favorite in Virginia. Ooh and ahh with friends and family as you drive through the two-and-a-half-mile-long stretch of illuminated holiday scenes. In the holiday village, you’ll also have the opportunity to warm up from the crisp winter weather around a fire pit, check out local crafts, enjoy a winter carnival, and visit with Santa Claus.
Get Into the Holiday Spirit
Christmas getaways are a great way to create lasting memories with your family. As you plan your vacation for this upcoming holiday season, turn to VacationRenter to help you find the ideal accommodations for everyone in the family.