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25 Best Places to Go for Christmas in the USA (2023)

Christmas is a festive season that’s already unique unto itself, but it never hurts to throw a little fun into the mix! We’ve asked some of our favorite travel writers to share what they think are the best places to go for Christmas in the USA (we’ve already covered the best places to celebrate Christmas around the world). These recommendations for where to go for the Christmas holiday in the United States have my family wanting to book tickets and visit every Christmas destination on the list!

25 Best Places to Go for Christmas

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Where to Go for Christmas in the USA

Holiday Events in the South

1. Atlanta, Georgia

As a native Atlantan, the Christmas season is easily my favorite time of year. There are so many different things to do around the city.

For Christmas light displays, there’s the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s popular Garden Nights, Holiday Lights and Lake Lanier Islands’ Lakeside Lights Spectacular. There’s also Stone Mountain Christmas, where a whole village is lit up with holiday cheer.

Photo: Green Global Travel

Be sure to take a day trip to Callaway Gardens. Their “Fantasy in Lights” was named one of the Top 10 Christmas Light Displays in the World.

If culture is your thing, there’s the German Christkindl Market at Atlantic Station and the frou-frou designer rooms of Christmas at Callanwolde. You’ll also want to check out the Alliance Theatre’s annual production of A Christmas Carol or the Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker.

Looking for something on the quirky side? Try the Victorian Holiday at historic Oakland Cemetery, the Ugly Sweater Run for charity at Piedmont Park, or Horizon Theatre’s campy Waffle Palace Christmas.

No matter how you prefer to celebrate the holiday, Atlanta is one of the USA’s best places to go for Christmas! – (Bret Love & Mary Gabbett of Green Global Travel)

2. Grapevine, Texas

What a better place to travel for Christmas than Grapevine, Texas, the Christmas Capital of Texas? This small town is big on holiday fun, with more than 1,400 events in 40 days. Christmas in Texas is amazing!

Holiday activities in Grapevine include musical light shows and holiday movie nights. There’s the Parade of Lights and the North Pole Express on the Grapevine Vintage Railroad, complete with a visit from Santa!

Day Trip from Dallas to Grapevine Christmas-Kids Are A Trip
Grapevine at Christmas does not disappoint!

Some of my favorite activities included making my own Christmas ornament at Vento Glass Blowing Studio and sampling the hot chocolate bar at Dr. Sue’s Chocolate. And a must is singing along to some of my favorite Christmas carols during a concert at the Palace Theatre!

For those looking for fun photos to commemorate the holidays, head to Liberty Park in downtown Grapevine, which gets decked out with fun decorations for the holidays. Sit with Santa, sneak a kiss at the Mistletoe Booth or pose with the oversized Christmas ornaments that are spread throughout the park. IT’s the perfect spot to snap a photo for your Christmas cards. 

Of course, you can’t go wrong with shopping in the many stores and boutiques in downtown Grapevine or just strolling along, taking in all the holiday decorations. And don’t miss the newest place to stay in Grapevine, Hotel Vin, within walking distance of everything! – (Karon at This Girl Travels)

3. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Head to the middle of the country to experience a holiday trip like no other. Oklahoma City at Christmastime is surprisingly modern, chic, and a foodie’s paradise.

To start off, visit the Holiday Pop-Up Shops, which offer incredible local shopping inside makeshift igloos. Bring your pocketbook!

Then, stop by Katiebug’s Sips & Sweets for gourmet hot chocolate or some of their famous homemade marshmallows.

Oklahoma City - FindingDebra.com - Kids Are a Trip
Photo: Debra Muccio

Finally, finish things off with a Christmas light extravagance, stroll or drive down Automobile Alley. It’s there you’ll spy the entire street lit with holiday lights strung from top to bottom!

For epic holiday fun, you can also head to Myriad Botanical Gardens. At Christmas, the glass conservatory glows with a light show will dazzle you, and an ice-skating rink will entice you outside.

But perhaps the most beautiful spot to visit during the holidays in OKC is none other than the Oklahoma City National Memorial. A Christmas wreath is set upon each chair honoring those who were killed in 1995 during the bombing.  – (Debra of Finding Debra)

4. Nashville, Tennessee

While a White Christmas is a rarity in Nashville, the holiday season in Music City is still bursting with all things holiday magic. It’s well worth a visit during the holiday season! There are tons of festive events, parades, and family-friendly holiday goodness. Here are a few of our favorites:

You’ll want to experience the Country Christmas at The Gaylord Opryland Resort, where the entire hotel is transformed into a winter wonderland. There are magical light displays throughout the hotel (free to the public), a holiday Seuss-themed playground made entirely of ice, holiday activities, music performances, and different events all season long!

Photo: The Wandering Rumpus

We also love Cheekwood’s Holiday Lights, where millions of bulbs are strung throughout the mansion and botanical gardens. Cheekwood also hosts Santa’s live reindeer, and some weekends, the jolly old elf himself makes an appearance, too! There are s’more’s pits, holiday carolers, stalls selling hot chocolate, and hot toddies for those (occasionally) chilly Nashville nights.

Holiday markets pop up throughout the city, and horse and carriage rides flock to local neighborhoods for more light viewing. You can attend a sweet family holiday parade downtown to start the season or plan a trip on the North Pole Express Excursion Train run by the Tennessee Central Railway Museum.  – (Sarah at The Wandering Rumpus)

5. Orlando, Florida (Walt Disney World at Christmas)

We absolutely love Walt Disney World during the holiday season. There’s something just so magical about seeing the theme parks and hotels all decked out for the holidays. Where else will you find so many Christmas attractions for kids?

Walt Disney World Christmas

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest times of the year to visit Disney World. Parks are decorated as early as November. We have found that the first couple of weeks of December is one of the least-crowded times to visit.

Don’t miss Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The parades are Christmas-themed, and there are special holiday treats. There are nightly fireworks set to festive holiday music and Christmas carols to keep you in the holiday spirit!

The weather in Orlando can be unpredictable at that time of year, but chilly in Florida is still a lot warmer than in many other places. Plus, seeing Cinderella’s Castle sparkle in holiday lights will warm up even the Grinchiest heart. We think it’s definitely one of the best places to go for Christmas in the US.  – (Corinne at Have Baby Will Travel)

6. Pawley’s Island, South Carolina

Located 70 miles north of Charleston and 25 miles south of Myrtle Beach, Pawleys Island is the perfect South Carolina getaway. From the laid-back lifestyle to untouched beaches, it’s amazing to be there with the little ones during the holidays!

The Brookgreen Gardens Nights of a Thousand Candles event, features hand-lit candles, holiday lights, and music. It’s a bucket list destination for anyone that loves Christmas! Brookgreen Gardens is a 9,100-acre sculpture garden and wildlife preserve.

Pawleys Island North Carolina-Kids Are A Trip

Atalaya Castle is next, but be sure to listen to the audio tour, which will help you appreciate it even more! We also recommend visiting Atalaya before Brookgreen Gardens, as the owners donated that land, and a lot of Anna Hyatt Huntington’s sculptures are there (it just adds more depth and understanding to the experience!).

Huntington Beach State Park is around the corner from Atalaya Castle, and every New Year’s Day, there’s a 2-mile hike led by a park ranger, which is great to do with kids! – (Dominique of Well Traveled Child)

7. Oxford, Mississippi

From a charming Holiday Village filled with gingerbread houses to a newly launched Peppermint Trail, the quaint town of Oxford, MS is the perfect place to spend the holidays.

Oxford Mississippi Christmas
Photo credit: Visit Oxford MS

As the temperatures begin to drop, this college town transforms into Santa’s workshop at the North Pole. Several family-friendly events and shows we recommend are:

  • Christmas Parade: Don’t miss the Oxford Christmas Parade with its festive Seuss-theme related floats, holiday music, and Santa’s arrival!
  • Holly Jolly Holidays: Holly Jolly Holidays captures the spirit of the season with festive experiences that include visits with Santa, ice skating, lighting of the tree and the Peppermint Trail, which is literally a trail of peppermints on the town’s sidewalks leading to some peppermint treats (think sweets, coffee, cocktails, and more).
  • Holiday Village:  Located at the Ford House, community members and civic groups show off their Gingerbread creations, while guests can also find a miniature village with a working train, a holiday-themed LEGO house, a mailbox for Santa, a decorated tree.
  • Peppermint Bear and the Toy Elves: Theatre Oxford join in the fun with their family-friendly musical, Peppermint Bear and the Toy Elves, which is sure to please all ages.

8. Alpine, Georgia

If you are looking for a small town to visit at Christmas, head to Alpine Helen in the Northeast Georgia mountains. This tiny town is so magical that two Lifetime Christmas movies have been filmed here.

From the day after Thanksgiving through mid-February, this picturesque Bavarian village is dressed up and illuminated. Visitors come from all around to see the festive shop windows and streets, savor authentic German beer and cuisine, and do some Christmas shopping.

Alpine Helen Christmas
Photo credit: Alpine Helen-White County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Take in the magic at the Annual Lighting of the Village in Edelweiss River Park. The town’s 20-foot Christmas tree is bedazzled with 8,000 lights and 800+ ornaments. Everyone gathers to listen to local musicians before Santa’s arrival!

Best Places to Celebrate Christmas Around the World

Don’t miss the Christkindlmarkt at the Marktplatz a traditional German event with everything from unique gifts to an assortment of food, drinks and candied treats.

Another holiday favorite is the Victorian Christmas in the historic settlement of Sautee-Nacoochee. At the Hardman Farm State Historic Site the manor is decked out in holiday décor and docents dress in their finest 1870s clothes. You will also find live music, wagon rides, caroling, and s’mores.

Holiday Celebrations in the Midwest

9. Chicago, Illinois

We think that the Windy City is one of the best places to go for Christmas with kids. Holiday festivities kick off with the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival the week before Thanksgiving. Ice skating is a huge attraction in the city. There’s a gorgeous outdoor rink at the Peninsula Chicago, and the skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park is one of the best.

Don’t miss the Chicago holiday season highlight the traditional German Christkindl Market in Daley Plaza. There’s a Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop with hand-crafted ornaments, some glühwein, and even Santa and the Christkind. Be sure to go on weekdays early in the season or first thing in the morning to avoid crowds.

Chicago Christkindlmarkt
Chicago Christkindlmarkt

Those looking for more cultured events should head to one of the local theaters for the Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, or It’s a Wonderful Life (performed as an interactive 1940s radio show!).

Want to get your girlfriends together? Try a holiday tea at The Drake, The Ritz, or the Russian Tea Room. The Thorne Miniature Rooms at the Art Institute are decorated for the holidays and are a fun treat for all ages.

Want to head outside? Don’t miss the Morton Arboretum’s Illumination: Tree Lights, with its completely decorated trees and holiday musical accompaniment.

And the Chicago Botanic Garden has Lightscape, an incredible display of lights that all ages will enjoy!

Both the Lincoln Park and Brookfield Zoo have excellent holiday light events to celebrate all season long, too. Chicago will always be one of our favorite places to take kids for Christmas! – (Kirsten of Kids Are a Trip)

10. Indianapolis, Indiana

More than 100,000 people will gather on Monument Circle the Friday after Thanksgiving to celebrate the lighting of 4,784 lights strung from the Indiana Soldiers and Sailors monument. Millions of sightseers will take in this brilliant spectacle throughout the holiday season, lit through early January.

Best Holiday Events in the U.S. Circle of Lights Indianapolis-Kids Are A Trip
Photo: Visit Indy

Travelocity named the Circle of Lights one of the top 5 “must-see Christmas trees” in the nation. We think it’s one of the best places to go for Christmas in the USA.

Other Indianapolis attractions include the Winterlights winter wonderland at Newfields, with its beautifully decorated gardens, and Christmas at the Zoo, the oldest holiday lights exhibit at a zoo. – (Patricia at Savvy Traveling)

11. Santa Claus, Indiana

During the holiday season, a visit to Santa Claus, Indiana, goes unmatched, with parades, pancake breakfasts, light displays, and endless festive events taking center stage during their Christmas Celebration.

Local organizations get caught up in the holiday spirit with special events such as Storytime with Santa, gingerbread house contests, cookie baking, and more!

Discover the charm of this holiday town by sending a special letter to Santa at the original Santa Claus Post office and then exploring how the town got its iconic name at the Santa Claus Museum and Village.

Peer inside the original church that’s been decked out for the holidays before snapping a photo of the impressive 22-ft solid concrete Santa Claus Statue.

Venture to Santa’s Candy Castle to attempt their Fire & Ice Challenge, which features their signature frozen hot chocolate and “Fire” popcorn! Then end the day roasting chestnuts over an open fire.

There are so many things to do in Santa Claus, Indiana, it’s the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit! – (Stephanie of Consistently Curious)

Holiday Events in the West

12. Colorado Springs, Colorado

If you haven’t visited Colorado Springs for Christmas, your family is missing out on so many holiday things to do. It’s one of the best Christmas towns, just 90 minutes from Denver, offering that getaway feeling without the long drive or flight. Yet for families not living in Colorado, their airport is small and easy to navigate without long security lines.

You can visit Santa and his elves at the North Pole, Home of Santa’s Workshop, a Christmas-themed mountain amusement park with rides and attractions. Open year-round, it is located on the Pikes Peak Highway, giving your family amazing views!

Colorado Springs gingerbread house
Gingerbread house at The Broadmoor

There are many festive things to do in Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region. Ride the Royal Gorge Railroad with Santa and do some gift shopping at the Holiday Market.

Take the kids to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the highest-altitude zoo in the US, for their electric safari with sparkling lights. Or experience a winter wonderland with a sleigh ride at the Lazy C Guest Ranch.

During the holidays, splurge on a room at The Broadmoor, where the entire property is bathed in Christmas lights, and the hotel lobby features themed holiday displays! And don’t miss the winter lights at the Broadmoor Falls for the perfect end to your holidays in Colorado Springs. –(Diana Rowe of Traveling in Heels)

13. Scottsdale, Arizona

One of our favorite places to spend the holiday season is Scottsdale, Arizona. There’s nothing quite like celebrating in the desert.

Experience a Southwestern holiday tradition at the Desert Botanical Garden’s Las Noches de Las Luminarias. It features over 8,000 hand-lit luminarias (small bags weighted with sand and a votive candle inside), live music, and festive drinks.

Another fun idea is climbing aboard Verde Canyon Railway’s Christmas Train for a magical ride to the North Pole.

Christmas at the Princess Scottsdale

Scottsdale resorts go all out with the decorations, but our favorite by far is Christmas at the Princess. The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess goes all out with holiday decor which covers everything from the lobby to the pool area and beyond.

Hang out by the ice rink, make s’mores, ride a Ferris wheel, and catch their choreographed light show. Don’t miss the all new Aurora Ice Lounge – an ice bar chilled to a cool 20 degrees, and so much more. If you are looking for an amazing Christmas hotel, this is the one to book!

14. Jackson, Wyoming

Jackson, Wyoming is a picturesque mountain town in the foothills of the majestic Teton Mountain Range in the valley known as Jackson Hole.

This charming ski town is even more magical around Christmas and popular among avid skiers and snowboarders. White lights are beautifully strung across the streets and illuminate the town square.

Jackson Hole Christmas
Photo: Parenthood and Passports

Winters in Jackson Hole can get extremely cold. Despite the cold temperatures, a stroll down the covered, wooden sidewalks in downtown Jackson is a great way to spend a brisk winter afternoon. Duck into a coffee shop, grab a hot cocoa, or shop for locally made crafts in one of Jackson’s many mom-and-pop shops.

At Christmas time, the historic Wort Hotel in the heart of Jackson is beautifully decorated with lit garland, poinsettias, and a large Christmas tree in the lobby. It’s the perfect place to stay for a cozy holiday getaway!

If visiting Jackson Hole with kids, we recommend going for a snow tubing adventure at Kings Tubes Park or taking a sleigh ride through the National Elk Refuge, where you’ll ride past hundreds of wild elk that roam the valley. –(Melissa of Parenthood and Passports)

15. Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Santa may swap his sleigh for an outrigger canoe when dropping off gifts for the children of Kailua Kona, but that doesn’t mean a Hawaiian Christmas is without traditional trappings! You’ll find the historic village decked out with lights, tinsel, and Christmas trees.

Visitors may spot penguins and other Arctic creatures sporting grass skirts as well. The Kailua-Kona Community Christmas Parade kicks off the season. It’s sure to be a sight as it travels along Ali’l Drive, Kona’s main drag.

Photo: Kristine Dworkin

If you need a little snow during your Christmas Holiday, head to Mauna Kea. There won’t be enough powder to ski or snowboard, but you’ll get your fill. Tour companies provide visitors with warm gear, so there’s no need to pack it!

Traveling during Christmas time doesn’t mean your family has to forgo the Nutcracker Ballet or Christmas Eve services either. The West Hawaii Dance Theatre and Academy, accompanied by the Kamuela Philharmonic Orchestra, presents a visually stunning family-friendly Nutcracker production.

Christmas Eve candlelight services at Mokuaikaua Church, Hawaii’s first Christian church, feature a “Silent Night” hula.  So, stop dreaming of an island Christmas and go enjoy it! Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas!). –(Kristine Dworkin from Trekaroo)

If you are looking for other places to explore in Hawaii, check out what to do in Kauai!

16. Las Vegas, Nevada

We think Las Vegas is one of the best family Christmas destinations in the USA. Many people think Las Vegas can’t be a Christmas destination, but it certainly is! You can find plenty of holiday spirit without the cold weather.

Walking around Las Vegas, you’ll feel the Christmas spirit everywhere. Even the light show at the Bellagio joins the festivities with holiday-themed music.

Christmas in Las Vegas

We recommend going ice skating at the LINQ Promenade. This would be the perfect time to ride the world’s largest Ferris wheel.

The Bellagio Conservatory changes its display to Christmas decorations, which will get your little ones excited for Santa. You can also take a trip to Magical Forest, where your kids can walk through tens of thousands of lights while enjoying some holiday treats.

Skip cooking this year and go to the many buffets on the strip. Everyone gets to eat what they want, and you don’t have to clean up the mess. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Families will love the Global Winter Wonderland in Las Vegas. It is the only time you can see the major attractions in the world in one place. Imagine seeing the White House, the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Egyptian Pyramids, the Taj Mahal, and the North Pole. You can see all of that and more at the Global Winter Wonderland, and it’s the perfect way to cap off your time in Las Vegas with kids! Vegas is the perfect place for families to go for Christmas. (It’s a Family Thing)

50 Best Places to Travel in December

17. Leavenworth, Washington

Leavenworth is just a few hours away from Seattle, but as you pass thru the Cascade Mountains, you will feel transported to another country. The town is consistently voted one of the best places to go with kids for Christmas.

Leavenworth Christmas town-Kids Are A Trip

Surrounded by snow-covered peaks, this Bavarian-themed town feels truly magical at Christmas time. Not only will you enjoy beautiful Christmas lights on all of the Bavarian buildings on Front Street, but there’s a dramatic light display throughout the city park.

Kids will enjoy taking advantage of the sledding hill under the twinkling lights. Once they’ve worked up an appetite, grab a German sausage at Munchen Haus and then head to the Gingerbread Factory for hot chocolate and the most delicious gingerbread cookies.

And don’t miss the 2-story Kris Kringl Christmas store to pick out a new ornament for your tree!Just outside of town, kids will love visiting the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm to meet the animals or taking a photo with Santa and his sleigh. –(Jen at Thrifty Northwest Mom)

18. San Francisco, California

San Francisco has no white Christmases thanks to its temperate winter weather. What the City by the Bay lacks in snow, however, it makes up for in holiday spirit! Christmas in California is always an incredible experience!

San Francisco’s holiday season begins after Thanksgiving with the enormous Union Square Christmas tree lighting. Union Square also erects a temporary ice-skating rink and plays home to Santa in the world’s second-largest Macy’s, which faces the square.

San Francisco Christmas

San Francisco is always a popular holiday travel destination, so the city’s finest hotels compete to outdo one another every year!

The Fairmont San Francisco builds an enormous 2-story gingerbread house in its lobby. The Westin St. Francis creates not one, but 2 castles of sweets in theirs. Many luxury hotels offer decadent holiday high teas on weekends, most of which are kid-friendly family traditions.

The holiday theater scene in San Francisco is always bustling as well. The San Francisco Ballet performs the Nutcracker annually, and the American Conservatory Theater’s yearly run of A Christmas Carol has been a tradition for over 40 years. –(Leslie at Trips with Tykes)

19. Seattle, Washington

While Seattle doesn’t always get a White Christmas, it’s definitely full of holiday cheer! There are so many kid-friendly Seattle Christmas activities that are totally worth a holiday vacation to Seattle. Enchant Christmas and Lumaze are two large-scale holiday light events with Christmas Markets.

There are also visits with Santa and epic light displays to check out. The Fairmont Olympic Hotel has the most adorable Teddy Bear Suite, where you can take Christmas photos of your kids in a room full of fluffy teddy bears. In their lobby, they have their annual Festival of Trees, plus a life-size gingerbread house you can walk through. It smells amazing!

Speaking of gingerbread, the Seattle Sheraton has their annual Gingerbread Village. It features incredible gingerbread displays based on a theme that changes every year (it’s been Star Wars and the Grinch in the past).

Westlake Center has an outdoor carousel and artists’ market with handmade gift items. And Pike Place Market has an outdoor Santa photo op that’s completely free! Seattle is one of the very best places to go for Christmas in the Pacific Northwest!  –(Marcie of Marcie in Mommyland)

20. San Diego, California

San Diego doesn’t disappoint during the holidays with its cool temperatures and extensive list of events.

Don’t miss December nights at Balboa Park which is free for the whole family. It features light displays, musical performances, delicious food, and more.

Another fun holiday event for families is Lightscape at the San Diego Botanic Garden. This illuminated trail only happens at night and spans one mile featuring over a million twinkling lights. So gather the kids and head to this magical display!

Best Christmas Events in the East

21. Boston, Massachusetts

Boston, MA is one of the best places to visit during the Christmas season in the United States.  This Northeastern seaside city can be a festive winter wonderland, but it most certainly will be magical during the holiday season.

Some of the best activities to enjoy include a showing of Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker at The Opera House, one of this iconic show’s most spectacular and kid-friendly performances.

Quincy Market Boston

Ice skating on the Frog Pond in the Boston Common is a favorite of locals, as is seeing the grandeur of a spectacular Christmas Tree in the same location.  Faneuil Hall is the site of another massive Christmas tree. Plus, it’s the location of Blink! Holiday lights and music show (a favorite if visiting Boston with teens).

For a festive holiday stroll and some last-minute shopping, the Boston Winter Holiday Market in Government Center is a great way to enjoy the season and get into the spirit while strolling the vendor stalls, live entertainment, and delicious foods.

One of the more special Boston holiday traditions includes a holiday tea where kids bring a toy for charity. The immensely popular Teddy Bear Tea at the Four Seasons collects bears for charity and offers little ones a joyful celebration, including special guests.

No Boston Christmas event is complete without a performance of the Holiday Pops concert, a fantastic event to get into the music of the season, led by the brilliant Keith Lockhart and performed by the world-renowned Boston Pops. Boston is a wonderful city to enjoy the holidays with so many Christmas festivities. –(Keri of Bon Voyage With Kids)

22. New York City, New York

People would always ask me if I’m going somewhere for the holidays. My answer would always be a definitive, “No!” I never understood why anyone in my great City of New York would want to go anywhere else during this time of year.

New York City is arguably one of the best Christmas vacations. Restaurants are decorated to the hilt, and the energy is unmatched.

There are quintessential destinations such as visiting Macy’s SantaLand to skating at Rockefeller Center’s most famous rink, under the most famous Christmas tree. The Christmas lights in NYC can be found on nearly every corner and are sure to put a smile on even a Grinch’s face!

NYC at Christmas

23. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The City of Brotherly Love always rolls out the red carpet for the holiday season. Christmas in Philly is magical for all ages. City Hall is dressed up and ready to welcome you to the annual Christmas Village, with an ice rink and carousel for the whole family to enjoy.

Anyone who grew up in Philadelphia will remember the old Wanamaker’s department store organ show. Thankfully, when Macy’s took over the shop, they continued the Christmas traditions with the Macy’s Christmas Light Show that happens throughout the day.

Take the kids to see the window displays before scouting out your spot within the store. We personally like the view from the second floor, but we get there early. The crowds do gather. While one parent holds a spot, the other can take the kids to see Santa.

Philadelphia Christmas
Photo: Keryn Means

Down on the river, the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest is where you want to be at night. Lights are up, hot cocoa is keeping frozen toes warm, and locals and visitors are skating around the pier as the DJ plays musical highlights from the decades.

Other events and holiday decor you don’t want to miss include the Franklin Square Holiday Festival and Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show, the official Christmas tree at City Hall.

There’s also the Comcast Holiday Spectacular, a super hi-res LED show combining the Pennsylvania Ballet’s The Nutcracker, a sleigh ride over the city, and a sing-along!

Looking for a day trip outside of Philadelphia? Head south to Longwood Gardens to see one of the most beautiful Christmas displays in the country. Each year the garden picks a new theme, and we hear this year will be “A Very Retro Christmas!”

Trees hang from the ceilings of the conservatory, and we can’t wait to pop in to take a look. Make sure you stay until after dark to see the lights throughout the garden. Bundle up the kids and grab hot chocolates in the cafe. Then stroll through millions of light displays across the grounds of this historic DuPont Estate. (Keryn Means of Twist Travel Mag)

24. Washington, DC

Christmas in Washington, DC is one of the best places to go for Christmas with the family. There’s always something to do, from Christmas markets to the tree lighting and boat parades, especially on the weekends!

DC Christmas Capitol

Book your hotel early if you want to come to the Nation’s Capital for the National Christmas Tree or U.S. Capitol tree (our favorite) lighting ceremony. If you want to tour the White House, grab your tickets ASAP. It books up early, and the process isn’t always simple.

Get a little exercise on the outdoor National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden ice skating rink. You can also see Mount Vernon by Candlelight. It’s a very unique view of George Washington’s home during the holidays, with 18th-century dancing, cider, cookies, and more. –(Keryn of DC Travel Mag)

25. Williamsburg, Virginia

Williamsburg, Virginia is one of our favorite places to travel for the Christmas holidays. The Historic Triangle area of Jamestown, Yorktown, and Williamsburg holds various events in the month of December to celebrate Christmas.

In the historic district, you can attend a tree lighting ceremony, cookies with Santa, and a lighted boat parade. There’s an annual Christmas market, an ice-skating rink, and holiday decorations all around!

You’ll even find special presentations at Colonial Williamsburg, the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, and the Jamestown Settlement showcasing colonial Christmas traditions.

Williamsburg Christmas Governors Palace
Entrance to Governors Palace decorated for Christmas.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg also has a special ticketed event from mid-November to early January called Busch Gardens Christmas Town. It is considered one of the largest light displays in the world.

In addition to the ten million lights, Busch Gardens offers most of its rides and special holiday shows, activities, and food. Busch Gardens Christmas Town is a must-see if you’re planning a visit to Williamsburg with kids during the holiday season.

From the historic areas to the modern sections, the entire Williamsburg area comes alive with Christmas spirit during December. It truly is one of the best places to go for Christmas in the USA. (Margie of DQ Family Travel)

Looking for other Christmas travel ideas? Don’t miss our favorite holiday celebrations in the Midwest and the Best Small Towns to Visit at Christmas!