The Best Christmas Attractions in the US: Festive Towns, Magical Cities, and MORE!

by Erika Robertson
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The season of freshly baked cookies, sweet hot cocoa, shiny wrapping paper, and beautiful ornaments is quickly approaching. Christmastime is not only magical and fun, it is a popular time for vacations and getaways. For many, choosing how to spend the month of December can be a source of stress instead of excitement. Knowing where to travel, what attractions are the best for you, and which destinations to add to the itinerary doesn’t have to be stressful.

Finding yourself trying to plan the perfect festive adventure, and not sure where to start? We’ve gathered some of the most Christmas-themed destinations that you may not have heard of, but will definitely be adding to your future travel plans. Many of these American cities and states may surprise you!

people walking in snowy city near Christmas tree photo credit: Elena Mozhvilo via Unsplash
Photo Credit: Elena Mozhvilo via Unsplash

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Embrace the Christmas Spirit in Juneau, Alaska

There are a wide variety of festive outings in Alaska that both adults and kids will love. While you’re playing in the snow and working up an appetite in Juneau, venturing to the Alaska Governor’s mansion for an open house complete with seasonal cookies and local fudge is sure to bring a smile to everyone’s face.

Santa makes his appearance at the Winter Park Resort, complete with photos and a chance for your little ones to share their Christmas wishes. Downtown Juneau has beautiful light displays all December, with unique shops that are perfect for gifting and adding to your personal decor collection. Dining out options are a breeze, with a wide variety of cuisines and festive menu options for the most wonderful time of the year. It is the perfect seasonal getaway to feel like you’re living in a holiday movie.

Say “Mele Kalikimaka” with the Sun in Hawaii’s Paradise

Surprisingly, there are hundreds of holiday events happening in Hawai’i that will make you feel right at home. While you’re soaking up the rays of the sun, you can indulge in your Christmas favorites. The classic song “Mele Kalikimaka,” which is Merry Christmas in Hawai’ian, will make it on your playlist routine every year after your visit to the islands.

There is no shortage of outdoor fun, including the Kailua-Kona Christmas parade that shows off lighted trains and adorable characters, music and dancing. The Festival of Lights boat parade on Oahu is a classic event that brings all of Honolulu and the island together for Christmas fun. Opportunities to take photos with Santa are readily available in malls and shopping centers as well, with some having the iconic Hawai’ian outfit or an island design. Christmas Luau is the perfect blend of Hawai’ian and holiday traditions, making it a must for foodies and families.

mini snowmen outside photo credit: Artem Kniaz via Unsplash
Photo credit: Artem Kniaz via Unsplash

Be California Dreaming with Sugarplum Fairies

Looking for a coastal getaway in December? California has plenty of culture and venues to excite you to plan your perfect holiday itinerary. Take it easy and relax into the California vibe by starting with beach visits or morning sightseeing before diving into the myriad of Christmas cheer. If you’re near Lake Tahoe, it is a visually stunning town to spend your days. The tall redwood trees are lit and the small town feel makes the season that much more cozy and welcoming with Christmas cheer. Menorah lighting, gingerbread-making classes, and Noel Nights for ice skating are just a few of what Lake Tahoe has to offer.

Solvang is a Danish town in Santa Ynez county that boasts colorful and quaint architecture. There are windmills and old-fashioned signs and other decor to make you feel like you’ve been teleported to another decade. From the beginning of the month, the entire town prepares for Christmas with tree lighting, a parade, and the hunt for Solvang Nisse, a gnome that is hiding somewhere in the town.

Enjoy an Old School Holiday in America’s First State

Virginia is not only the first state in the country, but it is home to unforgettable Christmas experiences. Virginia Beach is in the southern part of the state, but is home to some magnificent holiday events. On the beach itself, you can see a light show as you drive along the coast (on the road, not the sand) with plenty of recognizable characters and fun photo opportunities. The Virginia Beach Christmas Market is your go-to for fabulous take-home gifts and souvenirs to commemorate your trip.

Finding yourself closer to the northern city of Richmond? Get ready for a no-holds-barred Christmas spectacular! From lighted streets and festive music emanating from every business to the scent of cinnamon and apple in the air, you’re sure to find plenty of the holiday spirit all around you. The Dominion Gardenfest of Lights has every tree, bush, and plant adorned with carefully placed lights to add extra sparkle to your visit.

Take in the Light and Magic in Missouri

You won’t believe what hidden gem is waiting for you in Branson. This seemingly small Missouri town transforms in December, and it’s worth a visit. Silver Dollar City is an 1880’s themed amusement park that features over 6.5 million lights, parades, rides, and more. It is visually stunning and makes for perfect family photos.

Strap on your ice skates for some laps around a skating rink with a unique feature – it is under the Branson Ferris Wheel! Enjoy music and an energizing ride on your skates as you see visitors enjoying the view from up high. There are plenty of freshly made treats available as you skate and walk along Branson, including pastries and seasonal delights, to quell a hungry stomach. Light displays are in no shortage in Missouri, and will be a cornerstone to your holiday adventure during your stay.

Enjoy a Bavarian Christmas in Frankenmuth

Frankenmuth, MI is known as Michigan’s Little Bavaria, and it offers a magical experience in Michigan during the Christmas season. From the moment you arrive, you will be immersed in the charm and beauty of a Bavarian Christmas. The streets are adorned with twinkling lights, and the air is filled with the sound of Christmas carols.

One of the highlights of a Bavarian Christmas in Frankenmuth is a visit to Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. This world-famous store is a paradise for Christmas lovers. You can find everything from traditional German nutcrackers to unique handmade ornaments. It’s the perfect place to find that special Christmas decoration to add to your collection.

Another must-see attraction in Frankenmuth during the holiday season is the Bavarian Inn Lodge. This hotel is decorated from top to bottom with festive Christmas décor. You can cozy up by the fireplace, enjoy a warm cup of mulled wine, and indulge in delicious Bavarian cuisine.

So now that you’re equipped with a few festive Christmas attractions in the US, it’s time to start your planning!

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