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October 8, 2013

17

Where to spend Christmas in America – Top 10 places

by Jason Dutton-Smith
Aspen Colorado

Christmas is a time to celebrate and enjoy the festive season with family and friends, reflecting on the year that was with hopes of joy for the future. For some, this special season is a time to travel and explore, discovering the many ways Christmas is celebrated around the world. Here we look at ten great destinations to spend Christmas in the U.S.A. where the blessings of Christmas can be celebrated and observed.

1. New York City – New York

It’s an obvious choice but one well worth exploring. For those who have never experienced a white Christmas, the first one is always special.

Americans know how to decorate for Christmas and the colourful decorations along New York’s famous streets create a gorgeous holiday setting. Factor in the crisp winter air and a white, fluffy snowfall and the scene is set for a very merry Christmas indeed.

Search and book New York City Helicopter flight tours here.

Search and book New York City Helicopter flight tours here.

Enjoy ice skating in beautiful Rockefeller Plaza while admiring the gigantic, glittering Christmas tree towering above. Central Park is a winter wonderland too. Take a romantic horse drawn carriage ride through the snow blanketed park or strap on your ice skates and go for a spin on one of the park’s large frozen lakes. And what Christmas would be complete without seeing the famous Rockettes perform at the historic Radio City Music Hall! Be dazzled as they perform a high kicking Christmas themed extravaganza.

From Times Square to the decorations along Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue and everywhere in between, the sounds and sights of Christmas are around every corner in New York City.

Central Park Bridge - New York City

Central Park Bridge – New York City

 

2. Chicago – Illinois

Another magical white Christmas destination is the city of Chicago. One of the most famous streets in America is Michigan Avenue, showcasing a dazzlingly decorated street scene.

Of course the famed Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue means that you are also on one of the most famous and most extravagant shopping thoroughfares. And while Lake Michigan may be cold and icy the festivities on offer around the city are warm and inviting.

Search and book Chicago tours and activities here.

Search and book Chicago tours and activities here.

Try the Christmas high tea at the historic Drake Hotel or have lunch beside the stunning Christmas tree at Macy’s famed Walnut Room. Be sure to visit Daley Plaza where the annual German Christmas Markets are held and enjoy festive treats such as spiced mulled wine and hot roasted chestnuts while admiring the city’s elegantly decorated Christmas tree.

Head up to Lincoln Park and the Lincoln Park Zoo. This lovely park offers beautiful winter settings for a leisurely stroll and the Lincoln Park Zoo goes all out in festive lights, decorating for Christmas.

Chicago Skyline from River

Chicago City skyline

 

3. Aspen – Colorado

There are few winter wonderlands that compare to Aspen. It’s not uncommon to see the rich and famous in this beautiful mountain retreat and with famed hotels such as the St Regis, this is one extravagant location for a white Christmas.

You don’t need to be a millionaire though to visit Aspen. This charming town nestled within the Rocky Mountains of Colorado offers some of the best skiing in the world.

Add to that incredible views, festive parties and fireworks and Aspen makes for a vibrant Christmas getaway like no other. Book well ahead though as both flights and accommodation sell out fast. Stay on for New Years Eve and look out for the rich and famous.

Aspen Colorado is a Christmas winter wonderland.

Aspen Colorado is a Christmas winter wonderland.

 

4. Miami – Florida

We venture down to Florida and the famed Atlantic coast city of Miami. The warm tropical environment is a top spot for Christmas on the beach. South Beach offers a mix of art deco hotels and more restaurants and bars then you can imagine.

The beaches of Miami are long and wide and patrolled from one end to another. Rent a beach chair and umbrella for the day and enjoy the Florida sunshine with a picnic on the beach.

While normally packed full of tourists escaping the cold northern climate, Miami is a unique place to explore the Latin way of celebrating Christmas. Street parties, celebrations and activities are a way of life here and New Years Eve celebrations are sure to be an event.

South Beach, Miami is popular year round.

South Beach, Miami is popular year round.

 

5. Honolulu – Hawaii

Parades, City of Lights tours and festive activities adorn this tropical island at Christmas. When western settlers first arrived, Christmas was unknown by the local indigenous Polynesians but it did coincide with a celebration of their own. It was the same time of year they gave thanks to the God’s for the bountiful year that passed and for the one that was to come.

Over time these two traditions merged forming a unique Hawaiian way of celebrating Christmas. Waikiki Beach on Christmas Day will see Santa Claus in a traditional canoe paddle in over the headlands and onto the beach.

The hotels and resorts that line Waikiki Beach have their own celebrations with food menus to match. Food is an important part of their gatherings and Christmas is no exception. The historic and stately Moana Surfrider Hotel, situated right on Waikiki Beach has one of the best know Christmas lunch and dinner buffets around.

The famous Waikiki Beach, Hawaii.

The famous Waikiki Beach, Hawaii.

 


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6. Los Angeles – California

If you’re arriving from Australia then it’s a good chance that you will be transiting through Los Angeles – the most popular gateway  the U.S.A. So why not stop over and partake in a sunny, Southern California style Christmas.

Although nick named tinsel town, LA also offers a sub tropical climate and while the nights are cool the days are generally bright and sunny. Beach celebrations around Santa Monica Pier and Venice beach are always popular and draw visitors from around the world.

Search and Book Los Angeles Tours and Activities here.

Search and Book Los Angeles Tours and Activities here.

Disneyland transforms into a winter wonderland, only without the cold. The magic of Disneyland is still able to conjure up a magical snowfall for their guests every night.

On the other side of town at Universal Studios, the Grinch and the Whos of Whoville reign supreme and take over with parades and entertainment. And on the topic of parades, the Hollywood Boulevard Christmas Parade kicks off the Christmas season the first Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Santa Monica Pier, Los Angeles

Santa Monica Pier, Los Angeles

 

7. Las Vegas

Las Vegas isn’t usually thought of as a family holiday destination, but the truth is, it has many great activities for all. Ultimately this is a town that never sleeps, never closes, always celebrates and loves a good themed party.

The weather is as extreme as the towering casinos that surround you. While the days and evenings are cool the sun is always out in this desert mirage.

Like most cities in America though, you will not see all the Christmas trimmings lining the streets, but most casinos get into the season in their own way with specially designed restaurant menus, Christmas themed shows and carollers decking the halls. Don’t worry about anything being closed though, Sin City never closes!

The famed neon Las Vegas welcome sign.

The famed neon Las Vegas welcome sign.

 

8. Charleston – South Carolina

The historic town and charm of Charleston really turns on the Christmas spirit and they know how to celebrate in style. Marking the annual Christmas events calendar are the City of Lights tour, Christmas Parades, progressive dinners, markets, Christmas Carols, theatre shows and exhibitions.

Charleston is filled with historic, antebellum plantation homes with several  now national museums. During the festive season they are often draped with traditional Christmas heirloom decorations and opened to the public for a glimpse into the world that was.

Once US Ambassador to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett, famously cultivated the traditional Christmas flower the Poinsettia which he bought back to Charleston from Mexico. December 12 is now a Congressionally commemorated ‘National Poinsettia Day’ to commemorate his work.

Charleston, South Carolina, Antebellum Homes

Charleston, South Carolina, Antebellum Homes

 

9. Maine

There is a saying in Maine, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing.” Any time of year in Maine is a special treat and a spectacular white Christmas is almost assured.

Maine is dotted with small towns along the coast line and ferries operate year round for the island populations. Just a half hour outside of Portland, lays the town of Hollis Centre. For nature lovers the wildlife is still abundant here and cross country skiing and snow shoeing around the well groomed tracks of the local friendly farms is a wonderful way to experience the land for locals and tourists alike.

Of course the famous Maine lobster is a feature on all Christmas menus, as is creamy white clam chowder served in an edible bread bowl. Movie marathons, sleigh rides, Christmas markets and ornately lit up light houses and main streets provide a stunning and visually unique way to spend Christmas.

Generally this time of year offer cheaper accommodation and great bargains. Maine makes for the perfect location for a quieter winter getaway.

Cape Neddick Lighthouse - Maine

Cape Neddick Lighthouse – Maine

 

10. The Grand Canyon

While not the obvious place to spend Christmas, if you enjoy the outdoors, wildlife, hiking and truly incredible scenery then this is a great destination.

During the summer the crowds and lines are intense, along with the heat. But during the Christmas winter months the crowds are elsewhere and the hiking trails are reasonably quite but just as stunning. It does get cold in this area and some of the higher elevations see snow fall, but the days are generally bright and sunny.

The weather can be unpredictable so layers may need to be shed when hiking and some road closures are to be expected. But pack a small picnic, explore a hiking trail and enjoy the day overlooking this amazing canyon. Of course renting a small log cabin to enjoy the full canyon and outdoors experience is a must.

The south rim lookout over the Grand Canyon. Image: Jason Dutton-Smith

The south rim lookout over the Grand Canyon. Image: Jason Dutton-Smith

 

Do you have a favourite Christmas spot in America you have been to or want to experience? Let us know below in the comments field.

17 Comments Post a comment
  1. Amanda Johnson
    Oct 8 2013

    Well Ogden, Utah is my favourite place in the US to celebrate Christmas but I’m biased 🙂

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Reply
  2. Oct 24 2013

    I’m spending Christmas in China this year with no snow, no Christmas tree and no traditional Christmas food. I kinda got used to it as I’ve been always on the road expect the last Christmas which I spent in Poland with my friends and family. I wish I could be in New York this Christmas, my little dream I want to make come true one day 🙂

    Reply
    • Oct 27 2013

      Hi Agnes, I have no doubt your dream of a New York Christmas will come true. You guys know how to follow dreams 🙂

      Reply
  3. Journeymart
    Nov 22 2013

    It is time to celebrate Christmas and if you are going to celebrate your Christmas in USA than New Your city is most suitable place in USA

    Reply
  4. Cristi
    Aug 10 2014

    A couple of years ago, My spouse and I spent our Christmas in Yellowstone. on a winter wild life adventure with National Geographic. OH MY STARS! Fabulous!

    Reply
    • Sep 21 2014

      WOW Cristi that sounds fantastic! We just talked about Yellowstone and a few other parks we want to visit soon 🙂 On the list!

      Reply
  5. Warren
    Sep 18 2015

    I’ll be spending Christmas in my new home town San Francisco. Looking forward to a cooler change from the standard Australian sweltering Christmas season.

    Reply
  6. April Yap
    Dec 6 2016

    It would be amazing to experience snow in America. I would love to visit Rockefeller Plaza this holiday season. I love ice skating and it would be wonderful to look at their Christmas Tree.

    Reply

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