The Top 10 Best Holiday Travel Destinations in the U.S.A

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The Top 10 Best Holiday Travel Destinations in the U.S.A

Written by Tim Croft Dec 05, 2023 10:05 AM

The holiday season transforms some American towns into magical winter wonderlands perfect for getting into the festive spirit. 

From Christmas villages that transport you back in time to famous big cities dripping in lights and holiday cheer - these are the top 10 best holiday travel destinations in the U.S.

New York City 

Probably the most iconic holiday destination in America, New York City becomes even more spectacular during the season. 

The gigantic Norway spruce Christmas tree illuminates Rockefeller Center with over 50,000 LED lights. Department store holiday window displays dazzle passersby with intricate animations synced to holiday music. Ice skating in Central Park makes you feel far from the bustling city. At the same time, Radio City Music Hall's "Christmas Spectacular" variety show delights audiences of all ages with some good old nostalgia. 

And a horse-drawn carriage ride through snowy Central Park will get even the biggest scrooges into the Christmas spirit.

McAdenville, North Carolina  

This tiny North Carolina town located an hour outside of Charlotte transforms into "Christmas Town USA" from early December through the 26th, when over 500 decorated trees and 265 evergreen trees create a spectacular canopy of lights viewable on self-guided driving tours. 

Neighborhood houses also get in on the action - creating the most elaborate Christmas light displays across roofs, windows, yards and trees for visitors to "ooh" and "ahh" at while driving slowly through the streets. 

The town looks straight out of a Hallmark Christmas movie!

Santa Claus, Indiana  

Believe it or not, there is an actual town in Southern Indiana called Santa Claus! And yes, there is a Santa Claus Museum and also the Holiday World & Splashin' Safari amusement park that's open during Christmas. 

About an hour from Louisville, you can write letters to Santa with the town's real working post office, then take a jolly Christmas trolley ride around the destination made for holiday magic. 

Make sure to stop by Santa's Candy Castle for hot chocolate, ice cream, and the North Pole's best-baked goods!

Branson, Missouri 

Dubbed America's Christmas Tree City, Branson sparkles during the holiday season with over 8 million lights, two drive-through LED light displays, and 140 festive shows befitting its nickname. 

Silver Dollar City theme park hosts their Old Time Christmas Festival with 1,000 decorated trees, holiday foods, and performances. Or check out classics like the Rockettes' Christmas Show, Jim Stafford's Great American Christmas Show, The Haygoods' annual holiday spectacular, and much more family-friendly festive entertainment fun!

Woodstock, Vermont 

This small Vermont town looks like a quaint Christmas village when covered in snow - with historic architecture all decorated up for the season. 

The annual Wassail Weekend held in early December gets visitors into the holiday spirit with horse-drawn carriage rides, pop-up street performers, cozy shopping at local artisan boutiques, and fantastic restaurants perfect for taking a break from the cold with hot cocoa or mulled wine in hand. 

Late December brings the family-friendly Woodstock Winter Festival at the Woodstock Inn, complete with free ice skating, cookie decorating, bonfires for s'more roasting, and even firefighters reading The Night Before Christmas!

Newport Beach, California 

Maybe snow isn't your thing, and you'd prefer a warm-weather holiday getaway instead. 

Newport Beach's "Christmas Boat Parade" has brought Southern California merriment to nearly 2 million spectators annually across over 100 decorated, sparkling boats sailing through the harbor since 1908. 

Enjoy seaside holiday light displays, tasty treats, live music performances, and other festivities going strong all month. You'll still feel the Christmas magic even with your shorts on!

Chicago, Illinois 

Want Christmas overload? Then Chicago is your kind of holiday destination! 

Intent on claiming the best holiday spirit in the nation, the Windy City drips in twinkle lights across every tree, street lamp, park, bridge, and mile of Magnificent Mile downtown shopping. 

ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo lets you view spectacular light displays throughout the grounds each evening paired with fun holiday-themed activities. 

Or check out the Chicago Winterland indoor holiday pop-up exhibit with INSTA-worthy rooms of lights, shopping, iceless curling, and more. Visitors can ice skate beside Chicago's city tree in Millennium Park's McCormick Tribune Ice Rink. 

With so much festive fun across Chicago, your inner Clark Griswold will glow all season long!

Leavenworth, Washington 

This Bavarian-style village brings Old World Christmas charm with horse-drawn sleigh rides, caroling, traditional foods, and Santa sightings - plus millions of holiday lights blanketing the town! 

Nestled within the Cascade Mountains, Leavenworth looks like a snowglobe wonderland brought to life. Enjoy live music, theater, and other entertainment while checking out the amazing decorations covering every shop and building downtown. 

It makes for a picture-perfect holiday getaway, whether enjoying a mug of gluhwein at a sidewalk café or strolling under twinkle-lit village lanes.

Nantucket, Massachusetts 

The quaint, coastal New England island town dazzles for the annual Christmas Stroll Weekend the first weekend of December. 

Historic inns like the Jared Coffin House place gingerbread house displays along cobbled downtown streets lit with 7 miles of festive lights. At the same time, shops and restaurants stay open late for holiday shopping opportunities. 

Carolers, live musicians, and even Santa parading, along with his reindeer, help celebrate Christmas with cheer. 

Local museums also host craft fairs, cookie decorating for kids, tree lighting, and community holiday spirit.

Santa Claus, Arizona 

Yes, there's another American town called Santa Claus! This one is in Northwestern Arizona.

Each year, the town of under 3,000 residents sees over 20,000 visitors during the holiday season, many from nearby Las Vegas looking to experience Santa's home turf. 

Kids can meet Kris Kringle in person and pose for photos by the giant statue of Santa and his reindeer when visiting Lake Havasu City's Santa Claus, Arizona. 

You might even catch the big guy himself paragliding onto town if you time it right!

From quaint, charming towns that could have inspired Santa's actual workshop to huge dazzling displays across famous American cities - these top 10 holiday travel destinations across the U.S. offer seasonal magic sure to delight friends and family of all ages. 

So pack your sleigh, update your itinerary, and get ready to hit the festive holiday road!