32 Top December Destinations In The U.S. You Need To Visit

If you’re thinking about going away this December, you might wonder where to go.

After all, it’s a time for you to take some time away with friends and family. Of course, you need to pick a place that fits the season.

32 Top December Destinations In The U.S. You Need To Visit

That’s why we’ve found 32 of the top December destinations in the U.S. and why you should visit them.

Whether you’re looking for a Winter Wonderland or maybe you just want to go somewhere a little bit warmer than usual.

Regardless of why you want to visit, we have a little something for everyone here.

Anchorage, Alaska

If you want to visit Alaska, then Anchorage is one of the best places to visit. Even though it is cold, you’ll find that it’s not that crowded, but there’s still plenty to do.

Anchorage is one of the best places to visit if you want to enjoy the snowy weather.

You can view the Northern Lights, and go skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, sledding, mushing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, fat tire biking, and ice climbing.

However, if you’re not adventurous, you can still enjoy some of the other great experiences Anchorage offers.

You could always take a trip on the Aurora Train and explore some of the other local destinations, (see also: 26 US Destinations To Explore In April)such as Wasilla, Talkeetna, Healy, and Fairbanks.

But if you’re here to enjoy the season, then consider checking out some of Anchorage’s famous events.

Anchorage is known for being a central point of winter events in Alaska. Of course, the New Year’s Eve event downtown is one of the best to see in December.

Aspen, Colorado

When you think of Aspen, you’re most likely thinking of the ski resorts you’ll find there. But there’s more to Aspen than a ski trip.

If you’re not that big a fan of skiing, but your family is, why not make an arrangement to do some other fun activities while you’re out there?

You could always go on a guided snowmobile tour to go through Maroon Bells, Snowmass, or even take a lunch tour.

But if you’re not a fan of snowmobiling, you could also be chauffeured on a snowcat to check out Aspen’s famous restaurants: Cloud Nine and Lynn Britt.

Of course, you may not be visiting to check out the culinary options of Aspen, so you could go snowshoeing instead. You can easily arrange a guided tour, and everyone of all abilities is welcome.

There are also sleigh rides that you can take with your family, where you take a carriage that can include a fun touch to your winter vacation.

Or, of course, you could take a relaxing tour up higher and look around from above on a gondola.

We can’t forget the Snowmass Snow Tubes and Alpine Rollercoaster available for families who want to have an adrenaline rush.

This is a popular experience for all ages, and so long as you’re over 38’’ tall, your entire family will love this experience.

Boulder, Colorado

Top December Destinations In The U.S. - Boulder, Colorado

If you’re looking for a new place, we recommend heading over to Boulder to enjoy holiday fun and relaxation.

Colorado has plenty of mountains, so it should surprise no one that Boulder is just as popular as Aspen for anyone who wants to participate in outdoor activities.

In Boulder, you’ll find there are numerous wintery activities to participate in; skiing, snowboarding, and sledding are all highly popular pastimes.

However, if you don’t want to go down the slopes, you can also have a scenic drive up the Flatirons so you can see the beautiful snowy landscape of the Rocky Mountains.

Of course, there are more relaxing activities, such as visiting Pearl Street Mall to go and do your own Christmas shopping.

Or, you could go and visit the Planetarium to enjoy the night sky in the warmth. You can also go and visit one of the craft beer breweries or even wander around the C.U. Campus.

Breckenridge, Colorado

As our third choice from Colorado, we recommend visiting Breckenridge if you want to play in the snow.

You can enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride or go dog sledding instead. Of course, nothing can stop you from also sledding on your own.

Naturally, it’s an excellent area to go skiing and snowboarding, as Colorado is one of the best places to go skiing.

You can also explore the scenery by taking some snowshoes out and exploring the local scenery. There’s no doubt that there are some brilliantly fun places to explore while you’re out here.

You can also take the family ice skating, as there are born indoor and outdoor skating rinks to spend time in.

But if ice skating isn’t your thing, don’t worry because you can also sit back and enjoy some hot chocolate while watching everyone else.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Top December Destinations In The U.S. - Bryce Canyon National Park

If you want to visit Bryce Canyon in the winter months, then this is one of the best times of year to visit.

December marks the beginning of winter, and it’s also one of the quietest times of the year to visit. You can do so here if you want to enjoy the park without the hustle and bustle.

The Bryce Canyon Winter Festival and the Christmas Bird Count are two of the biggest events.

The Christmas Bird Count has taken place since the 1900s, and in this activity, you can collect data on the different populations and habitats of birds in the canyon.

It’s a fun and educational event for the whole family, while the Winter Festival is a more relaxing experience.

Of course, it’s not all about educational trips. You can do several winter activities that are best suited for the cold December temperatures.

You can go snowshoeing, hiking, and cross-country skiing. These events are even more fun when you consider how beautiful the Canyon is when covered with snow.

Burlington, Vermont

There are several things to do in Burlington in December, whether you want to stay warm or enjoy the scenery.

It’s a popular place for tourists who want to go skiing and snowboarding, and you can even relax on a peaceful spa day.

Adults can enjoy the various breweries and distilleries located in town, but don’t worry, there are fun events for the whole family to enjoy too.

If you want a night out, you can always go to the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, as they perform all year round.

During the day, you can take your kids to the local vintage arcade: The Archives, where adults can enjoy cocktails while the kids enjoy old-school games.

However, if you want the kids to have a more educational experience, you can also take them to Lake Champlain, where they’ll love the Science and Nature Museum.

You’ll be able to find plenty of places to enjoy some food, so why not go out in the evenings for a meal and do some Christmas shopping at the Marketplace?

If you’re looking for specific events, you can find out from the Church Street Events Calendar, and hopefully, you’ll be able to enjoy the Winter Lights or even the Penguin Plunge.

Death Valley National Park, California And Nevada

Death Valley National Park, California And Nevada

It’s best to head over to Death Valley in the winter to beat the crowds and enjoy a quieter trip into the valley.

If you visit in the warmer months, it can be a bit too hot for some, but Death Valley is completely different in December.

The weather can be difficult to gauge, so you should dress for the weather, as you can experience heavy rain.

Although snow is rare, you can still use snowshoes to travel to Telescope Peak to get the best sights.

When the weather is better, we recommend exploring the sand dunes, and when the weather’s good, you can see the reflections from the water pools found in Furnace Creek.

However, the rarest sight that you wouldn’t see any other time of year is Lake Manly, which only fills after heavy rain.

You’re more likely to experience this in December, as rain is a much more common occurrence at this time of year.

Then, you can always finish off your trip with a view of the sunrise or sunset at Zabriskie Point.

Galveston Island, Texas

Galveston Island is hailed as a winter wonderland in December, and it’s no wonder why.

There’s so much to do and see as you travel to this beautiful island. Galveston Island is the place to be if you want to experience the perfect Christmas paradise.

You can travel on the Polar Express, where you can see some of the sights across the island.

There’s an annual Festival of Lights, and you can even see the Christmas Tree Decorating Contest, which takes place every year.

While these are all better suited for the whole family, you can also visit the Christmas-themed Pop-Up Bar to have some delicious drinks in the evening.

Of course, you can also encourage the family to participate in the Santa Hustle 5K, a festive community half-marathon for which you can sign up.

There are plenty of places to explore, and if you want to have a more relaxed evening, you can check out some of the performances at the Grand 1894 Opera House.

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Top December Destinations In The U.S. - Joshua Tree National Park

It’s a great idea to visit Joshua Tree in December, as it’s a little cooler than it normally would be in the other seasons.

It’s not as busy so you can explore the different trails, so it won’t be as busy when you explore Keys View and head to Skull Rock.

You can also travel on some of the hidden valley nature trails and explore the old Wall Street Mine.

So instead of suffering through the heat, you could easily travel here when the weather is cooler and more pleasant to enjoy.

Key West, Florida

You could always travel down to Key West in Florida if you’re looking for a warmer festive holiday.

There are plenty of tours that you can take, where you can see the sights and partake in a festive night tour.

Other tours, such as a festive ghost tour and the Key West ghost tour, are also available. Plus, there is an annual house and gardens tour and regular sunset cruises throughout the year.

Of course, there are plenty of festive activities for you to participate in, not only the holiday sights and festive nights tour.

You’ll find numerous parades, such as the Lighted Boat Parade and the Holiday parade, or, if you’re there for New Year’s Eve, you can check out the New Year’s Eve Conch Shell Drop or the New Year’s Eve Shoe Drop Celebration.

Lake Tahoe, California

If you want to go to California but still experience some snow, why not visit Lake Tahoe?

It’s the perfect place to enjoy winter activities and one of the most popular places in the state to enjoy cooler weather.

By visiting Lake Tahoe, you can go skiing and snowboarding, with cross-country skiing available for anyone who wants to go off track.

However, if you don’t enjoy skiing or snowboarding, you can take the family sledding, snowmobiling, or even go on a snowshoeing hike around the Lake.

Leavenworth, Washington

Top December Destinations In The U.S. - Leavenworth, Washington

If you’ve ever wanted to visit Germany for Christmas but can’t afford it, you could always visit Leavenworth in Washington.

Leavenworth is the next best thing, having taken Germany’s influence regarding the festive season.

Everything about Leavenworth in December is all in preparation for the holidays, so why not visit?

In this winter wonderland, you can take your kids to the park to play in the snow while you have some locally made German Engelwein.

You can even visit the Christkindlmarket, and check out the Nutcracker museum, and find some Christmas decorations.

If you want to add some extra treats to your day, you could even head to the Gingerbread Factory or visit the Hat Shop.

Of course, if you’re looking for more activities, you can always go ski jumping and dog sledding, or have fun on a horse-drawn sleigh ride.

Then, you can finish off the day with a great snowshoe hike, and taste some wine on your journey.

But don’t forget to check out the Lighting Ceremony, and don’t hesitate to join in with some holiday singalongs.

Los Angeles, California

While you might not think that L.A. is the most festive place to be this time of year, it’s one of the best places to go with your family.

Not only is it the home of Disneyland Resort, Universal Studios, and Six Flags, which are all amazing places to visit in the winter, but there are many other places to visit too.

You could go to the Dodger’s Holiday Festival, or see the Hollywood Christmas Parade, where you might even see some of your favorite celebrities dressed up to celebrate the festive season.

But even just going to visit the LA County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens to view the lightscape is a worthwhile experience.

Even if you’re not a fan of these, you can also check out the Tournament of Roses Parade, and explore Descanso Gardens to relax.

Mammoth Lakes, California

Top December Destinations In The U.S. - Mammoth Lakes, California

If you’re looking for a more active adventure in California, then why don’t you head over to Mammoth Lakes?

At Mammoth Lakes, you can go ice skating, and you can go skiing and snowboarding too. You can either go Nordic skiing or enjoy a cross country adventure instead.

If you’re not that big on skiing or snowboarding, then don’t worry.

There are plenty of other activities to do, such as going on a snowshoeing hike, taking out a snowmobile and going on a tour, or choosing a snowcat tour instead.

However, if you want a more chilled out adventure, you can also go tubing with the family, or even go sledding.

Maui, Hawaii

Although not everyone would associate a trip to Hawaii for the holidays, if you’re looking for a warmer festive trip then Maui (see also: Wailea Or Ka’anapali: Which Is The Best Place To Stay On Maui)is the perfect place.

It’s not that busy during December, and you can always go and get some inspiration for gifts by visiting the Unique Gifts Gallery, and you may even be able to buy something from the gift and craft fair.

They have several events take place during December, such as the holiday Luau, several tree lighting ceremonies, a holiday lights stroll, and so many places to have a Christmas meal.

They even have a Christmas 5K that takes place every year, so if you want to be active you can.

If you still want to do some less festive activities, you could always book a whale watching tour, and visit the chamber orchestra chorus.

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is fun to visit any time of year, but December is one of the best times to visit.

Not only do they celebrate Christmas, but they also host celebrations for Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Years.

You could visit earlier in the month to do some Christmas shopping, or you could stay for Christmas to check out the Holiday parade, home tour, and concert.

You can see the lights, and go through the drive through celebrations in the Oaks.

If you’re not a fan of the festive events, then you can enjoy going ice skating, or checking out a Broadway show while you’re there.

There are just so many events that you need to check out for yourself.

New York City, New York

Top December Destinations In The U.S. - New York City, New York

New York City is famous for how festive it gets in December, and while it’s busy, it’s still not as busy as it is throughout the rest of the year.

There are numerous events going on, such as the Dyker Heights Light Show and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

If you want to explore the city this month, you’ll find that you can check out the winter village at Bryant Park, or go shopping at the Union Square holiday market.

For some festive inspiration check out the window displays on Fifth Avenue too.

But if shopping isn’t your thing, you can easily find a performance of the Nutcracker in theaters, or explore the Secret Macy’s Day Parade and the New York Botanical Garden.

Don’t forget that New Years Eve is also one of the best nights in New York, so if you’re around, why not start the new year right by taking part in the New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge.

Pasadena, California

Pasadena isn’t too far away from Los Angeles, so you could easily travel back and forth to appreciate both cities.

However, if you want to stick around in Pasadena, there are some great events that you’ll be able to do.

There are some amazing food markets, and you can even appreciate the Pasadena Symphony Holiday Candlelight.

But, if you want to feel particularly classy, why not try attending the Victorian Grand Ball, or go to the Gamble House Holiday Gathering?

However, you can also travel to L.A. to see the lights at the L.A. Zoo, or go to a Rose bowl game, or head to the Tournament of Roses Parade.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Top December Destinations In The U.S. - Salt Lake City, Utah

December is the perfect time of year to visit Salt Lake City, and the best place to stay has to be the Grand America Hotel, where they host the best Christmas celebrations.

If you want to honor Christmas traditionally, you can go and see the Utah Symphony and do the Messiah Sing In with them, or visit the Cathedral of Madeleine.

If you want to generally explore, you can always see the Festival of Trees, or celebrate Christmas at the City Creek Center.

You can even view the Torchlight Parade at the Snowbird Resort, or enjoy the Candlelight Christmas while you’re staying there.

Don’t forget to take the kids to see the lights at the Hogle Zoo, which have been specifically decorated for the season.

San Antonio, Texas

If you’re looking for a more relaxed December, where you may want to escape for Christmas, why don’t you visit San Antonio?

Not everyone may want to celebrate the holidays in the same way, and here, you can enjoy time away without the festive reminders.

You can visit the McNay Art Museum and appreciate the different features in the gallery, or head over to Six Flags or the San Antonio Zoo for a fun day out with the family.

Adults can enjoy the Pearl Brewery, or you can stroll down the River Walk and still appreciate the lights they have on display there.

San Diego, California

San Diego may not be the coldest place(see also: 10 Amazing Places You Can’t Miss During Your Road Trip From San Diego To Phoenix Drive) to experience the festive season, but it’s the perfect time to head on down there.

It’s not too hot in December, and you’ll find there aren’t as many crowds around this time of year.

You can head over to the sea to do some whale watching, and even view some of the stunning winter sunsets.

But if you still want to experience a wintery experience, why not go ice skating by the sea?

In the evening, we recommend checking out if the Parade of Lights is on, as it’s a beautiful display that you don’t want to miss out on.

Of course, you can also explore the city too, by jumping on the Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley to get to Old Town and see what it has to offer.

San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California

Much like San Diego, San Francisco isn’t the coldest place to enjoy the festive season, but unlike San Diego, they have a very unique way of celebrating Christmas.

If you head to San Francisco, you’ll find a number of Dickensian-inspired events, and you can tell from the Great Dickens Christmas Fair that takes place every year.

It’s the one place you’ll be guaranteed to find a performance for A Christmas Carol.

If you prefer other performances, you’re sure to find a performance of the Nutcracker while you’re there.

Depending on when you arrive, you might even be able to see the Ghirardelli Square’s Tree Lighting Ceremony, to mark the true beginning of the season.

You can even add a touch of romance by going ice skating at Union Square, and finish off with some Christmas shopping at Emperor Norton’s Holiday Bazaar Vendors.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Not everyone will think of heading to San Juan in December, which makes it the perfect time to head on over. Despite the hot weather, the festive season is in full swing at this time of year.

San Juan has their own Festival of Lights show every year, and even has an old-fashioned holiday market for you to do your shopping for the holidays.

You can also explore the various museums, and check out the outdoor artwork at the Island Sculpture Park.

If neither of those appeal, consider having a pool and spa day and relax, or see if you can book a whale watching tour.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

While you may not associate Santa Fe with snow, it’s actually one of the best places to go skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing.

There are many places to explore, such as Canyon Road’s Farolito Walk, or you could start shopping early at the Winter Indian Market.

There’s plenty to do, and there are dozens of restaurants to find too.

Savannah, Georgia

Top December Destinations In The U.S. - Savannah, Georgia

There’s plenty to do in Savannah during December, and the river is the best place to be.

Savannah is known for its Christmas on the River, and there are numerous riverboat cruises available for booking.

However, outside of the river you’ll find that you can check out the Lighted Christmas Parade, or take the Holiday Tour of Homes.

If you don’t want to do either of these, then you can always take the kids down to Christmas for Kids at City Market.

There are plenty of theater shows going on, and there’s no doubt you’ll find a festive show the whole family can enjoy.

Siesta Key, Florida

Siesta Key is the place to take a step away, relax, and enjoy a warm winter.

You don’t have to worry about the stress of the holiday season, and instead, you can lounge on the beach and go swimming.

We recommend doing some shopping while here, so you can take a break as December is the best time to visit here as it’s not too busy.

South Padre Island, Texas

If you’re thinking of mixing the festive season with a warm winter, then we recommend you visit South Padre Island.

Each year, they host a Holiday Light Show, and artists make up the Holiday Sandcastle Village.

Here, you can also invest in your own sandcastle lessons, or take a simple stroll on the beach.

Plus, you can even spend some time sitting back and looking for some dolphins on a Dolphin Watch tour.

Stowe, Vermont

Top December Destinations In The U.S. - Stowe, Vermont

There has never been a better place to try skiing and snowboarding, with Stowe having a history in the subject.

In fact, you can head on over to the Stowe Ski and Snowboard museum, or take a gondola ride and appreciate the views.

You can also still enjoy some recreational time hiking.

There are plenty of places to relax, whether you’re with kids, or with friends or a romantic getaway.

You can check out the multiple craft breweries, beer halls, and even drop into Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory while you’re here.

If you’re here to relax and do shopping, then you have plenty of opportunities while you’re here.

Sun Valley, Idaho

One of the best places for skiing has to be Sun Valley in Idaho, because there’s just so much available for you to do. If you want an active vacation, this is the place to be.

You can do all sorts of skiing, from backcountry, to Nordic, to heli-skiing, there are so many types to choose from while you’re here.

Of course, if skiing isn’t your thing, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on your own fun.

You could always go fat biking, or even rent a snowmobile and explore the local area. Maybe, you could go paragliding, and take a look at the sights from there.

But, if you want more relaxation, we recommend taking a horse-drawn sleigh ride, or even enjoying a restful spa day. Exploring Sun Valley will give you plenty of time to have some fun.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Top December Destinations In The U.S. - Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone may be busier in the summer, but in December, it’s a great time to appreciate this national park.

Each year, you can either rent a snowmobile, or take a tour on one or you can go on a snowcoach instead.

So long as you stick to the paths, you can go skiing or snowshoeing, and maybe go dog sledding instead. Yellowstone isn’t as busy, so you don’t have to worry about it being too packed.

Washington D.C.

It’s no surprise that Washington D.C. is such a great place to visit, especially if you want to see the National Christmas Tree Lighting or the National Chanukah Menorah Lighting Ceremony.

There are plenty of festive parades, and numerous beautiful decorations that you have to see while you’re in D.C.

Of course, it’s not only about the ceremonies, but there are beautiful cathedrals to visit, and you have to see the Season’s Greening at the Botanic Garden.

Williamsburg, Virginia

Finally, we have Williamsburg, a place where you can return to the better parts of colonial times, and enjoy a Colonial Williamsburg Christmas.

You can see how they celebrate an 18th Century Tradition, and find some niche gifts while you’re here.

Not only is it a great place to do shopping and experience history, you can even go to the Mistletoe Market and the Yule Log Celebration.

Plus, you can take the whole family around Christmas Town, and see exactly how they’ve decorated Busch Gardens.

Final Thoughts

While December is a busy time of year, most people spend the time with family and friends, making it the perfect time to have a quiet getaway.

Instead of staying at home, you can experience the holidays somewhere new. We recommend heading down to these 32 destinations, so you can enjoy the holidays the way you want to.

After all, it’s colder this time of year, so most places aren’t as busy if they’re traditionally hot.

If you hate the cold, you can find warmer destinations here, or you can find where the snow is so that you can have a white Christmas.