28 Best Places to Visit in December in the USA

There are plenty of reasons to travel around America in December. December is the month of Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and the USA celebrates these holidays in full force. In many places around the country you can experience the festive cheer, decorations, attend holiday-themed events, and enjoy a good old mug of hot chocolate.

Winter sports are ramping up, and nearly all ski resorts are open by the middle of the month! Though if you aren’t into snow and cold, there are still plenty of places to visit in December in the US for warm weather lovers. Many southern and coastal states enjoy a mild winter climate and one can have a vacation to Florida that requires sunscreen and a big floppy sun hat.

The best news is that December is an off-peak travel month, which means you can often find cheaper flights, hotel rates, and travel packages compared to peak season prices! Let’s dig into the best places to travel in December in the USA!


Best Places to Visit in December in the US


1. Las Vegas, Nevada 

Best Places to Visit in December in the US - las vegas

Las Vegas is very hot most of the year but in December, the temperatures drop to a more comfortable average of 60°F.  The other great thing about going there in December is there are fewer crowds which means it’s easier to get tickets for fabulous shows including Cirque de Soleil and world-class musical acts.

Head to the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden to see the holiday lights at the Majestic Holiday Magic display and walk along LINQ Promenade adorned with beautiful Christmas trees. Attend the Flamingo Holiday Festival at the Flamingo Hotel and do some ice skating on the swimming pool turned outdoor rink at the Cosmopolitan. 


2. Nantucket, Massachusetts

Nantucket, Massachusetts

December in Nantucket is enchanting.  The weather is cool outside but all around the island, the holiday festivities are ramping up!  Spend an evening shopping downtown and admiring the beautiful Christmas lights that adorn the storefronts. 

Visit the Whaling Museum and see dozens of trees decorated by local artists and check out the lighted tree in the little boat in the harbor on Easy Street.

The Nantucket Christmas Stroll takes place during the first week of December and features many events including wine tastings. The Yuletide Craft Fair features works by local artists and concerts. 


3. Asheville, North Carolina

biltmore estate - Best Places to Visit in December in the US
Biltmore at Christmas / credit: The Biltmore Company

It’s the biggest private home in the country and also one of the most Christmasy places to visit in December but there’s more to Asheville during the holidays than the stately Biltmore Estate.  This little city in the center of the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains offers a mix of history, culture, outdoor adventure, and holiday cheer. 

The weather is cool but still nice enough to enjoy exploring nearby wilderness areas such as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Linville Gorge, and the Pisgah National Forest. After a day spent outdoors, enjoy a hot meal at one of the amazing restaurants or kick back with a cold one at one of the local craft breweries.

Get in the Christmas spirit at the annual tree-raising at the Biltmore Estate and other popular events including Winter Lights and the National Gingerbread Competition.


4. Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia

Nice weather and a festive atmosphere are two of the top reasons to visit beautiful Savannah in December. Enjoy warm temperatures around 62°F as you wander the downtown area and admire the holiday decorations such as the huge tree on Broughton Street. 

Browse the Christmas markets on the riverfront and check out the lavish nativity scene at the Basilica of St. John the Baptist.  Some of the popular events that take place in December include the Holiday Boat Parade and the Gingerbread Trail. 


5. Lake Tahoe, Nevada

Squaw Valley

There’s more to Lake Tahoe than just spectacular scenery! Of course, in the summer there’s the lake itself with swimming and kayaking. You won’t be doing any of this in December, but the area transforms into something completely different when the temperatures turn cold and the snow falls!

With early-season snowfalls, you’ll enjoy downhill skiing at Heavenly Mountain Resort, Kirkwood Mountain Resort, and Squaw Valley. If skiing isn’t your thing, why not book a spa day at one of the gorgeous facilities? Or you could go ice skating at the Northstar Village or go for a ride on the Giant Ferris Wheel during the last week of December.

Get in the holiday mood by attending a Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony and attend the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at the Chapel of the Transfiguration.  


6. Park City, Utah

Park-City-at-Sunrise

If you want to combine a ski vacation with holiday festivities, Park City is the perfect place for you in December. One thing is almost guaranteed here and that’s that you’ll have a white Christmas!

Enjoy world-class downhill skiing at some of the best ski resorts in Salt Lake City including Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resort. Catch some thrills on the bobsled track at Utah Olympic Park, go for a ride on the Heber Valley Railroad’s North Pole Express, and explore downtown and admire the huge snow globes and festive décor. 

Be sure to check out holiday events such as Snowfest at Park City Mountain!


7. Marco Island, Florida

Marco Island, Florida

If warm temperatures and plenty of sun with a holiday vibe are what you’re looking for in a December vacation, Marco Island is just the place for you.

The tourists fleeing the cold weather from the north haven’t arrived yet so you’ll enjoy fewer crowds as you kayak the waters around the island, enjoy an exciting airboat adventure and relax poolside with a tropical drink in hand.

Check out the Marco Island Boat Parade which features lots of Christmas music and boats decorated with lights and make sure to take in one of those incredible sunsets the area is known for. 


8. Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Best Places to visit in December in the US / Portsmouth, New Hampshire

The beautiful scenery of Portsmouth can be enjoyed any time of year but in December, you’ll also enjoy a Christmasy atmosphere. This small coastal town comes alive before the holidays and is one of the best places to visit in December in the US!

Join the Candlelight Stroll at the Strawberry Banke Museum and see Christmas décor from the 1800s. Embark on a sleigh ride at the Stonewall Farm, followed by a relaxing evening sipping on the best hot chocolate around at L.A. Burdick Chocolates. 


9. San Diego, California

San Diego, California

Although the temperatures in San Diego aren’t tropical like they are in the summer, they’re comfortable enough in December to enjoy a winter break away from the much colder temperatures elsewhere.

Many Christmas-themed events take place in the city and surrounding areas including the Holiday Market at Petco Park, the Boat Parade of Lights, Del Mar Fairgrounds Snow n’ Glow, the Encinitas Christmas Parade, and even holiday-themed pub crawls.

Go on a whale-watching cruise, explore the Old Town District on the Lights and Sights Tour, and enjoy winter activities in the nearby mountains where snow is possible this time of year. 


10. Chicago, Illinois

christmas in chicago

It gets very cold in Chicago in December and yes, cold enough to snow!  So if you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy one in Chicago! 

Do some holiday shopping at the traditional German Christmas market, join in on the caroling with the Holiday Sing-Along that takes place on Friday evenings in Millennium Park, and take in a live performance of A Christmas Carol at the Goodman Theater. 

Go ice skating in Millennium Park with the city’s skyline in the background and check out some holiday lights at the Lincoln Park ZooLights, the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, and Holiday of Lights at the Museum of Science and Industry. 


11. Phoenix, Arizona

best places to visit in december

December weather in Phoenix is quite nice compared to the weather in many other places! Temperatures often reach a warm 70°F which is perfect for hiking along the many trails in the area.

The conditions are also perfect for checking out the Christmas light displays around the city including the one at the Desert Botanical Garden. Visit the Heard Museum and check out the annual Holidays at the Heard event and find a cozy café where you can relax and enjoy some hot coffee or cider after a long day of exploring the city. 


12. Washington, DC

Washington, DC

Washington DC is an amazing place to go for holiday events and winter activities.  Early in December, the Christmas trees at the White House and Capitol building are lit up in a festive ceremony.

Don’t worry if you miss it because the trees are lit up every night throughout the month! Visit the U. S. Botanical Garden and see a spectacular model train exhibit and a garden adorned with lovely poinsettias.

When the snow falls, head to Capitol Hill to enjoy some sledding or enjoy outdoor ice skating at the National Sculpture Garden.  Do some last-minute shopping at the Downtown Holiday Market and check out the beautiful light displays at the National Mall.


13. New York City, New York

New York City, New York

Magical. That’s the word used time and time again to describe New York City in December. Temperatures are low enough this time of year for snow so you can almost bank on having a white Christmas in the Big Apple.

If you’re with your loved one stroll through Central Park after a fresh snowfall, as it’s one of the most romantic things to do in NYC. Or head to bustling Times Square and feel the holiday energy all around. Check out the Christmas markets at Union Square and Bryant Park and watch the famous Christmas tree light up in Rockefeller Center. 

Since you’re there taking in the tree ceremony anyway, why not enjoy some ice skating at the outdoor rink? Be sure to check if the Nutcracker Show is playing on Broadway during your visit!


14. Kennebunkport, Maine

Kennebunkport, Maine

By December 1st, the Christmas season is in full swing in Kennebunkport! This little New England coastal town is said by many to be one of the best Christmas towns in the country! Just watch the excitement unfold around town in the weeks leading up to the big day and you’ll see why!

Even when the temperatures dip to near freezing, the local people are out getting everything ready. Check out some of the vibrant displays including the one on the Port of Kennebunkport.  You’ll even see some creative maritime-inspired décor adorned with festive lights and trinkets.

Watch for the various parades, tree lighting ceremonies, and firework displays that take place throughout the month, and keep your fingers crossed for a light dusting of snow to complete the ambiance! 


15. Big Sky Resort, Montana

. Big Sky Resort, Montana

If you’re after a ski holiday one of the best places to visit in December in the US is Big Sky, Montana. The best December skiing in the country and winter and Christmas-themed events all month…what more could one ask for in a December vacation?  The weather might be cold but a white Christmas is almost guaranteed and there’s plenty of hot chocolate and cozy places to hang out after a day on the slopes.

The biggest event in December is the Christmas Stroll which features wagon rides, caroling, group hikes, live entertainment, fireworks, and the Big Sky Winter Market. 


16. Aspen, Colorado

Aspen, Colorado

With sweeping views of the snow-covered Rocky Mountains, some of the best skiing in the country, and a festive atmosphere that makes it a favorite destination to celebrate the Christmas holidays, Aspen is nothing short of a winter wonderland in December.

Go on a sleigh ride through city streets and see the decorations on the homes and storefronts, go ice skating at the Silver Circle Ice Rink, and go tubing at Aspen Snowmass.  Kick back in one of the cozy cafes after a day spent outdoors in the cold and enjoy a hot meal and some hot chocolate. 


17. Alta, Utah 

Alta, Utah 

If skiing is the most important thing for you on your next December vacation, Alta delivers almost 100% of the time! This top ski resort has some of the best snow in North America and it starts early. By Christmas Day, almost 100% of the slopes are open. 

A top event in December is the Torchlight Parade which takes place on New Year’s Eve. If you’re a seasoned skier, bring a light or wear a headlamp and join in on the festivities!


18. Miami, Florida

Miami, Florida

It’s the warmest city in the country in December and it’s also just as lively in the low season as it is in the summer.  I’m talking about Miami, where temperatures soar to 80°F.  Spend your days soaking up sand and sun on South Beach or browsing lively Christmas markets.

Visit the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and see the NightGarden, attend festive events at the Deering Estate, and check out Santa’s Enchanted Forest. Many festivals take place including Art Basel and Luminosa Chinese Lantern Festival. 


19. Austin, Texas

 Austin, Texas

In December, the weather in Austin Texas is just right!  With temperatures averaging 62°F, it’s cool enough to be comfortable but warm enough to enjoy time outdoors.

Learn about local history at the Bullock Texas State History Museum, spend a day surrounded by nature at McKinney Falls State Park, and head out for a night on the town to check out the lively nightlife and live music scene. Later in the month, Austin gets into the holiday spirit with one of the best Christmas light displays in the region. 

The Trail of Lights features more than two million lights and 150 Christmas trees and displays. Even the downtown bars get in on the holiday fun with Christmas themes throughout the season.  


20. Sedona, Arizona

Sedona, Arizona - one of the best places to visit in the American Southwest

One of the best places to visit in December in the US is this small Arizona town in the American Southwest. It’s not all that common but snow falls on Sedona in December so you just might get that white Christmas you dream of, but instead of your typical views you’ll see orange rock covered in fluffy white snow. But if you dream of sunny weather with mild temperatures, you’ll get plenty of that!

You’ll also get fewer crowds, cheaper prices on accommodations, and Christmas events such as the Red Rock Festival of Lights.  Head out into the high desert terrain surrounding Sedona and do some hiking and sightseeing.  By day, admire the red rock cliffs and rock formations, and by night, enjoy a clear, night sky full of stars. 


21. Boston, Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts

The weather might be cold in Boston come December but the Christmas season is just warming up! Enjoy lively Christmas markets like the one at City Plaza Government Center and brilliant displays such as the Christmas tree at Faneuil Hall and the huge menorah at Copley Square.

Go ice skating on a frozen pond at the Boston Common and rent an igloo for an evening.  Popular events in December include the SoWa Winter Festival and the biggest New Year’s Eve arts festival in the country. 


22. North Pole, Alaska

aurora in Alaska
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If you want an authentic taste of winter in a Christmasy environment, there’s really no better place than in the North Pole.  This small Alaskan town sees freezing temperatures that hover around 1°F in the daytime! 

You won’t be spending too much time outdoors in those temperatures but there are plenty of opportunities to get into the holiday spirit.  After all, the town is named after Santa’s true home town and it mirrors it in every way.  Walk or drive along Santa Claus Lane and admire the extravagant Christmas decorations that light up the street.

Visit Santa Claus House, where you can do some last-minute shopping in the gift shop and enjoy some delicious pastries.  If you’re traveling with kids, they’ll love having their photo taken with Santa in front of the building. 


23. Maui, Hawaii

Maui, Hawaii

If seeking somewhere warm, planning a trip to Hawaii should be at the top of your to do list. There’s nothing like Hawaii in December, and with fewer crowds and daytime temperatures climbing into the 80s, the island of Maui is the best choice if you’re seeking a laid-back, warm-weather vacation.

Long sandy beaches, spectacular sunrises, and lively Christmas markets are top attractions this time of year.  Enjoy world-class snorkeling, take a scenic cruise along the Road to Hana and see the renowned black sand beaches and go whale watching to see humpback whales. 

Get into the holiday spirit by attending the lighting of the largest Banyan Tree in the country and if you’re traveling with youngsters, take them to a Christmas Luau where they’ll enjoy a traditional Hawaiian dinner with Santa. 


24. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

 Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Bethlehem is the perfect place to visit in December, especially if you love everything Christmas. The town gets into the holiday spirit so much that it has earned the nickname Christmas City USA

Explore the bustling Christmas market in search of last-minute gifts, join a local guide in festive attire for a tour of the city, and visit The Christmas City Village.  A popular attraction in the city for book lovers is the historic bookstore that started in 1745 and is still in business. 


25. Duluth, Minnesota

Duluth, Minnesota

Duluth’s position on Lake Superior means the weather can be cold in December but that doesn’t stop visitors from enjoying the winter beauty and festive atmosphere. You know Christmas is on the way when you see the Bentleyville Tour of Lights shining brightly in Bayfront Festival Park.

Walk through this elaborate display of more than four million lights and enjoy complimentary hot chocolate. Visit Glensheen Mansion and tour the grounds that are transformed into a Christmas wonderland and head to Canal Park where you’ll enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride.

Go for a lively ride along the lakeshore on the Christmas City Express and spend a day outdoors skiing on Spirit Mountain. 


26. Leavenworth, Washington

Leavenworth, Washington

Leavenworth is one of the best small towns in the US, and offers an excellent escape for those seeking a European vibe in America. Nestled in the Cascade Mountains, this charming town boasts a hint of Bavarian charm and a wide range of attractions to suit all interests.

During December, the town is one of the most Christmasy in all the United States with Christmas cheer everywhere. We recommend all visitors check out the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm!

Foodies and wine connoisseurs can indulge at Icicle Ridge Winery or explore the array of restaurants and bars along Front Street. Meanwhile, history aficionados can visit the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum and the Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center.


27. Frankenmuth, Michigan

Frankenmuth, Michigan

One of the best places to spend Christmas in Michigan! Frankenmuth is a small Michigan town that is home to the world’s largest Christmas store. Visiting is one of the top things to do in Frankenmuth, especially during the winter season.

Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland is a renowned destination with a collection of over 6,000 ornaments to peruse and purchase, securing its spot at the pinnacle of Michigan’s Christmas attractions. Although open all year, it exudes an extra special ambiance during the holidays, with miles of dazzling lights illuminating the premises and a captivating chapel to explore.

Besides visiting Bronners the whole town comes alive during December, with Christmas lights galore, santas on the street, and holiday cheer in the air!


28. Whitefish, Montana

Whitefish, Montana

Located in the Rocky Mountains of northwest Montana, Whitefish is a sought-after resort town encompassed by sprawling peaks, valleys, and plenty of snow, making it a beloved December destination.

Whitefish Ski Resort, one of the top ski destinations in America, contributes to the town’s popularity during the winter season, which really gets ramped up in December!


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About Natasha Alden

Natasha is the co-founder of The World Pursuit. She is an expert in travel, budgeting, and finding unique experiences. She loves to be outside, hiking in the mountains, playing in the snow on her snowboard, and biking. She has been traveling for over 10 years, across 7 continents, experiencing unique cultures, new food, and meeting fantastic people. She strives to make travel planning and traveling easier for all. Her advice about international travel, outdoor sports, and African safari has been featured on Lonely Planet, Business Insider, and Reader’s Digest.

Learn more about Natasha Alden on The World Pursuit About Us Page.