18 Best Places to Visit in the USA in December

Written by Anietra Hamper Updated May 4, 2023

There are three main types of December travelers: the snowbird , looking to combat goosebumps with a little warmth and sunshine; the ski aficionado , searching for the best slopes; and the holiday lover , searching for a fun, festive spot to enjoy their winter vacation .

Colorful houses in Charleston, South Carolina

With a vast array of climates and terrain, the USA boasts a bevy of exciting places to visit in December. From warm-weather wonders like Florida, Hawaii, and California to snow-laden mountain locales boasting the top ski resorts in the United States to big cities like New York and Las Vegas, you'll have a lot of choices when planning your December vacay.

Plan your travels with our list of the best places to visit in the USA in December.

2. Miami, Florida

3. new york city, new york, 4. salt lake city, utah, 5. u.s. virgin islands, 6. las vegas, nevada, 7. pasadena, california, 8. phoenix, arizona, 9. charleston, south carolina, 10. washington d.c., 11. anchorage, alaska, 12. key west, florida, 13. breckenridge, colorado, 14. new orleans, louisiana, 15. santa fe, new mexico, 16. stowe, vermont, 17. savannah, georgia, 18. st. augustine, florida.

Aerial view of the Na Pali coast in Kauai

One of the best warm places to visit in the USA in December is Hawaii. Its tropical breezes, ample sunshine, bathwater-warm ocean waves, captivating scenery, and beaches make this an ideal place to relax on island time.

There are several islands from which to choose, and you can vacation on one or plan to visit several in the same trip. The more time you can spare, the more awesome your Hawaiian holiday will be.

The island of Oahu is a great starting point, especially if you stay in the capital of Honolulu . Relax on Waikiki Beach , visit the Pearl Harbor National Memorial , and enjoy the urban scene.

The island of Maui has a nice combination of activity and solitude, with golf courses; Wailea Beach; and the dormant volcano Mount Haleakala, where you can witness a spectacular sunrise.

The Big Island has many natural attractions and outdoor activities , like Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, Kaunaoa Beach, and Akaka Falls State Park.

The small island of Kaui is the oldest island and the ideal spot for quiet and romantic vacations. It is also known for its many tropical waterfalls, gorgeous hikes, and breathtaking scenery.

Lanai is another small island with remote natural spots that is not as touristy as the other islands.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Hawaii

Aerial view of Miami Beach

If you are looking for a warm destination with plenty of activity in December, Miami, Florida will fit the bill. Miami has a festive scene in the winter, with holiday performances like The Nutcracker and the magical lights that decorate Zoo Miami .

There are lots of local beach events, so you get the best of both worlds by combining the holiday festivities with warm Florida weather. If you do decide to skip the cold locales by spending your holidays beachside, you will be in good company. It's a popular idea, and seeing the festive holiday lights and decorations in the palm trees will be the perfect change of scenery.

All the best Miami attractions also include options like boating and visiting the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens . Since you do not have to worry about snow in December in Miami, you can explore the local neighborhoods, like Little Havana and the Miami Design District.

Many snowbirds from the north retreat to Florida for the winter, so you will want to plan your lodging far in advance. If you are particular to a favorite section of the Miami beaches , it is best to book lodging where you will spend the majority of your time.

New York City

New York City is one of the most festive destinations to visit in December, and some would say it's the best time to visit New York . Bundle up and head out onto the downtown streets to see the holiday store window displays, or catch a performance of the famous Rockettes. Be sure to stop by Rockefeller Square to see the iconic Christmas tree.

There is never a dull moment in New York City , even during the winter. Many people visit New York City in December just to do their holiday gift shopping at the famous department stores and Christmas markets , and to see the many festivals during the holiday season. A must-experience is ice skating at Central Park with the spectacular New York City skyline in the background.

If you end up blowing your budget on presents, you can still catch a Broadway show for a reduced price by hitting the ticket office a few hours before the performance to see if last-minute bargain tickets are available.

Since snow storms are unpredictable in December in the northeast, you should plan a little extra time and flexibility in your itinerary in case of travel delays. Save the extra-cold days for museum visits (there's plenty!) when you can stay warm inside and only go out for short periods at a time.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in New York City

Utah State Capitol building in Salt Lake City

Not everyone wants to escape the cold in December. In fact, for avid skiers, December is prime time to hit the slopes and ski resorts near Salt Lake City . There are nearly a dozen ski resorts in Utah's Wasatch Mountains, which are just a short drive from Salt Lake City. The ski slopes are equipped to accommodate both novice and advanced skiers.

If you prefer to just look at the snowcapped mountains instead of traversing them, that is an option, too. Salt Lake City has many festive holiday events in December, like horse-drawn carriage rides through Temple Square , which is adorned with holiday lights.

You can also shop in small boutiques for unique gifts. You can experience a vintage Salt Lake City holiday by visiting the This Is The Place Heritage Park, which showcases life and the holidays in the 1800s in Utah during the month of December.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Salt Lake City

St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

For a Caribbean vacation in the USA in December, the Virgin Islands are a no-brainer. The islands of Saint Croix , Saint Thomas , and Saint John are United States territories and have tropical natural landscapes perfect for a mid-winter getaway. Beach days and snorkeling will top your to-do list, as well as hitting some of the natural park locations on the islands.

St. Thomas is the most populated of the three islands since it has a cruise ship port, so while there are many tours and activities available, you will be sharing the sandy beaches with many other December tourists.

St. Croix is the largest of the islands and has many cultural attractions. St. John is the smallest and most natural, with great snorkeling, hiking, tropical plants, and untouched beaches.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Attractions & Places to Visit in the US Virgin Islands

Las Vegas welcome sign

Many December travelers in the USA are attracted to the lights and warm temperatures that are guaranteed in Las Vegas . You will find all of the normal flare, with an overload of sights and sounds along the Vegas Strip and a twist of festive December décor. Many of the hotels feature elaborate holiday decorations with an abundance of flowers and lights.

Besides the great shopping in Las Vegas, there is plenty of December entertainment to enjoy. One of the most beautiful spots to visit is the Botanical Cactus Garden at Ethel M Chocolates . The state's largest cactus garden features light displays (sometimes in 3-D) that will put you into the holiday spirit.

With the mild December temperatures in Las Vegas, you can even enjoy spending a winter day poolside at your hotel.

Read More: Top-Rated Hiking Trails near Las Vegas

Pasadena City Hall

If you are looking for warm weather and a unique experience for your December vacation, you can head to Pasadena, California, where the city is preparing for the famous Tournament of Roses Parade . With Southern California temperatures, it is possible to spend one day at the beach and the next day taking part in one of the biggest events in the city.

Deco Week happens at the end of December as Rose Parade participants make their final tweaks to the elaborate rose-covered floats. You can volunteer to help with those final preparations. If you do plan to head to Pasadena to take part in this annual tradition, book far in advance to hold your spot.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Pasadena, CA

Phoenix, AZ at dusk

December is a fabulous month to visit Phoenix, especially if you're a fan of the outdoors. Popular winter activities include hiking , golfing, biking, rock climbing, and camping . Shopping is another fun activity, as is museum-hopping.

As for the weather, you'll definitely be pleased. With little rain and highs in the upper-60s to low-70s Fahrenheit, you won't need to pack a parka or run the risk of sweating through your wrinkle-free travel shirt. The extra room in your suitcase means you'll have plenty of space for the finds you'll grab at holiday markets.

While in town, be sure to visit the Desert Botanical Garden , skate on the ice rink at CityScape , and tour the Heard Museum . Glendale Glitters is a fun, festival-type event in nearby Glendale, featuring thousands of holiday lights, music, food, and other activities on the weekends throughout December.

  • Best Attractions & Places to Visit in Phoenix, AZ
  • Top-Rated Day Trips from Phoenix

Holiday decorations in Charleston, SC

Charleston in December is a refreshing sight. While cool (highs hover around 60, and lows can drop to 25), this old-world Southern gem is so lovely and charming, it will warm your spirit. And if the weather turns, you can always head indoors, to the South Carolina Aquarium , Charleston Museum , or Old Slave Mart Museum .

Make time to wander around the captivating Historic District . Picturesque homes and churches that were built centuries ago; cobbled alleyways; and gnarled, twisting oak trees make it easy to feel romantic. Feeling extra amorous? Hop in for a ride in a horse-drawn carriage.

Make the most of the lack of humidity with a visit to the Middleton Place Plantation, Boone Hall Plantation, or Magnolia Plantation & Gardens . December plays host to an array of lights shows and holiday markets. The Holiday Festival of Lights , for instance, begins mid-November and lasts until January.

Read More: Top Attractions in Charleston, SC

United States Capitol Building in Washington D.C.

Though the nation's capital is generally snow-covered in December it is one of the best places to visit at the end of the year for a number of reasons: A winter trip to Washington D.C. is ideal for getting cheap rates on hotel rooms and for fewer crowds at attractions in the city , which can be challenging during the busy summer tourist season.

The other reason to go to D.C. in December is that most of the Smithsonian museums are indoors, so it is easy to visit many of them during your visit. Washington D.C. is beautifully decorated in December for the holidays, especially the White House. There are lots of holiday activities around the city, from walking tours to seeing the national Christmas tree.

December in D.C. offers some things that you just can't experience any other time of the year. Plan some time to see the national Christmas tree near the White House, which is illuminated just after Thanksgiving; the Wharf District holiday boat parade, which happens in early December with dozens of festively decorated boats floating along Washington Channel; and the Winternational global market, which has booths hosted by international embassies, with crafts for sale from their respective countries.


Many people head for warmer weather in December, but it is a great month to head north to Alaska. December is in the middle of peak season for viewing the Northern Lights , so it is easy to find a tour to see them. You can also take a scenic ride from Anchorage to Fairbanks on the Alaska Railroad Aurora Winter Train .

Another way to take in Anchorage in December is by taking a dogsledding trip, hitting the slopes, watching for wildlife, or taking a glacier trek. There are a number of museums in Anchorage to visit when you need a break from the cold. Otherwise, put on the layers and experience Anchorage during this magical time of the year.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Anchorage, Alaska

Footpath to the beach in Key West

The tranquil waters and key lime pie in Key West in December will almost make you forget that it is even wintertime. That is why it is one of the best places to go in December. As you might expect from this warm-weather destination, the holidays are showcased on the water, with the Lighted Boat Parade at the Historic Seapor t and offshore excursions to clear up any winter blues.

You can take a tour of the Victorian mansions in Key West, which are elegantly decorated with wreaths and holiday décor. If you feel like doing nothing but sitting on the beach for your December getaway, you can do that, too. Bear in mind that Key West is a popular winter spot, so you will pay a premium for hotels and airline tickets.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Key West, FL


December means ski season in Breckenridge , so it is one of the best places to go for some downhill adventure. While some of the warm-weather destinations will see crowds in December, Breckenridge will, too, but it is the place to be if you are looking for quality winter skiing.

Hotel and resort rates will be at a premium, but you can usually package them with lift tickets for the duration of your stay. When you're not carving through the white powder on the slopes, you can enjoy the festive scene in town, where the small shops along Main Street are decked out for the holidays. Breckenridge gets into the holiday spirit, which is why it is considered one of the best Christmas towns in Colorado .

Though you will have plenty of company in Breckenridge in December, there are nearly 3,000 acres of ski areas, so there is enough space to accommodate the rush of winter travelers.

Read More: Top-Rated Ski Resorts in Colorado

The French Quarter of New Orleans

The festive city of New Orleans is a great December vacation destination, where you can enjoy the warmer weather, walk through the city streets and the French Quarter , and leave before the influx of Mardi Gras revelers start to arrive in the following months. December weather is warm, but it is not the stifling heat that you would experience in the summer, so you can enjoy it more comfortably.

There are many holiday festivals and over-the-top light and decorative displays throughout the city to enjoy in December, including illuminated art pieces at Lafayette Square. The Roosevelt Hotel is another must-see, with 50 themed and decorated Christmas trees and thousands of holiday lights decorating the historic hotel.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in New Orleans

Traditional architecture in Santa Fe

The southwestern city of Santa Fe is a great getaway in December for those who want to lay low in a small, artsy location. The city is rooted in Native American culture. The historic buildings and small shops are fun to stroll through as you buy local artwork ranging from paintings to jewelry.

Santa Fe is a nice place to escape from the cold and snow and is known for its many health retreats and relaxing spa resorts. If you still want to see the snow, you can head into the mountains for a day of skiing.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Santa Fe

View over Stowe, Vermont

For some December travelers, especially those looking for a romantic vacation in one of the best small towns in Vermont , hunkering down in a cozy bed-and-breakfast or cottage with several feet of snow outside might be appealing. If so, then Stowe, Vermont is where you need to spend a holiday. December is cold in Stowe, but that is part of the charm for a getaway filled with fireplaces and hot chocolate.

You can still spend your days outdoors by layering up and hitting the ski slopes , snowshoeing, or taking a dog-sledding adventure before returning to your cozy accommodations. December in Stowe is marked with traditional holiday parades, celebrations, and tree lightings in the center of town.

Read More: Best Things to Do in Vermont in Winter

Moss-draped oak trees in Savannah, Georgia

You'll want to pack a sweater when visiting Savannah in December. With highs in the mid-60s to mid-70s, you may want to block the nightly (or daytime) chill. That won't stop you from fully enjoying this Georgian wonderland.

Peppered with historic mansions; luxurious parks; and picturesque, moss-draped trees; this idyllic beauty is even more magical when dressed for the holidays in December. Head to River Street during the first weekend of December for music, treats, and shopping. You'll find handmade stocking stuffers and other creative gifts from these unique vendors.

Savannah's Lighted Christmas Parade is another holiday must-see that takes place during the first weekend of December . It includes a tree lighting ceremony, caroling, dancing, and more on Tybee Island.

When you aren't busy getting festified, visit the area's historic homes, museums, and the large and lush Forsyth Park .

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Savannah

St. Augustine skyline and the Bridge of Lions

St. Augustine is a lovely place to visit at all times of the year, although it can get unbearably hot during summer. In December, though, this historic Floridian gem really comes to life. A Sunshine State marvel, St. Augustine lies on the northeast coast and offers visitors archeological masterpieces along with soft, sandy beaches.

One of the best Christmas towns in Florida , this town literally jingles and sparkles during December. The annual Night of Lights festival runs from mid-November through January and features over three million lights swirling their way around town. It's incredibly charming, even if you aren't into holiday festivities.

Hop on the Old Town Trolley, explore Castillo de San Marcos, go fishing in the surf , or lounge on the beach at Anastasia State Park. You'll have fewer crowds to fight, but with temps in the low to mid-70s Fahrenheit, you may not be tempted to play in the water all day.

Read More: Best Attractions & Places to Visit in St. Augustine, FL

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More Winter Travel Ideas : Many of the best places to visit in December are also going to be the most expensive. If you are on a budget, you can consider some of the cheap places to travel in December or specifically cheap Christmas holiday destinations . If warm weather is calling you, then you might consider the beaches in California or the Caribbean as options.

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32 Warm Places to Visit in December in USA (Best Spots to Escape the Cold)

Posted on Published: August 10, 2022  - Last updated: October 7, 2023

There’s nothing quite like a warm getaway to escape the cold, dreary weather. The USA has some pretty incredible vacation spots that are perfect for winter. Feel the sunshine at these amazing destinations: warm places to visit in December in the USA!

warm places to visit in December in USA view of colorful mountains and beach with lingering clouds

This post may contain affiliate links. For more info, see my  disclosures .

To find warmth in the USA in December, you’re pretty much heading south. From island vacations to coastal destinations and deserts, there’s so many beautiful and adventurous places to beat the cold.

This list of warm places to visit in USA in December includes spots you’ve definitely had on your radar – but perhaps more intriguing are the underrated places you haven’t heard of!

Whether you’re looking for a vacation destination to get outdoors and active instead of cooped up, a perfect location to spend your holiday break, or you’re just looking for the best beach to visit in December, you’ll find a bit of everything on this list!

Map of the best warm places to visit in USA in December

From Hawaii to Florida, there’s so many ideas on this list! Use this map as a visual of the destinations, then check out the photos and tips below on what to do in each location.

By the way, since I’m actively crossing places off my bucket list but haven’t been everywhere yet, I’ve asked some fellow travel writers to help with this list.

Let’s get to it!

Must-see video: best warm December vacation ideas

Warm places to visit in December in USA

Starting this list off with a bang! When all you want in December is warmth, these are the perfect vacation destinations for you!

1. St Croix, US Virgin Islands

view of city and bay of St Croix USVI best warm places to visit in December

Average temp:  high 82, low 72

Wishing for warmer temps in December? Well St. Croix might just be the perfect spot for your winter getaway! The largest and least visited of the US Virgin Islands, St. Croix is an tropical oasis while escaping the cold.

Just at the start of the dry season, December is a perfect time to visit St. Croix. It’s a festive time of year with Christmas events and festivals across the island, including the Crucian Christmas Festival .

If you’re looking for the perfect beach in December on St. Croix, then Sandy Point Beach is it! Open on the weekends, it’s a National Wildlife Refuge, and one of the longest beaches in the US Virgin Islands. It’s closed during sea turtle nesting season, typically April through August, so December is the perfect time to visit!

For a true taste of the Caribbean, visit a rum distillery. St. Croix is home to Captain Morgan Rum Distillery and Cruzan Rum Distillery. Or, visit one of the 150+ sugar mill ruins on the island to soak in some history.

Other popular activities are hiking for those turquoise water views, taking a day trip to Buck Island National Wildlife Refuge and visiting Fort Christiansvaern.

There’s so many things to do in St. Croix, you won’t get bored! It’s one of the very best warm places to visit in USA in December, and one you’ll love!

Recommended by me – Nikki of Inspired Routes

2. Monterey, California (one of my favorite warm US destinations in December)

Big Sur view of rugged coastline with wild flowers beach blue water

Average temp:  high 61, low 45

One of the ‘coolest’ warm places to visit in December in USA is Monterey, California. Known for it’s mild temperatures year-round, it’s a great spot for a winter getaway.

December is especially a great time to visit Monterey because the marine fog has mostly dissipated , versus the summer or early fall when it’s still lingering around. Crowds are fewer and prices are reduced, which is awesome for enjoying the area attractions.

Monterey is home to one of the United States best marine sanctuary, making it one of the best spots in the US for wildlife viewing ! Take a kayak tour of the Monterey Bay or witness seals and sea otters in their native habitats at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve .

Spend a day – or more experiencing Big Sur and one of the best scenic drives in the US, just south of Monterey. There are so many things to do in Big Sur that you’ll find something you love! Chase waterfalls, relax on beaches or get active on a hiking trail with incredible views of the coast.

Be sure to visit Cannery Row where you’ll find shopping, dining and plenty of entertainment options for all ages. It’s home to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the best things to do with kids in Monterey.

3. San Juan, Puerto Rico

Warm places to visit in December in USA Best winter sun destinations Warm places to visit in USA in December Warmest place in US in December view of Puerto Rico ruins ocean and city in distance

Average temp:  high 85, low 67

San Juan is a must on any  Puerto Rico itinerary , no matter when you vacation, but December is a particularly wonderful time to visit. Hurricane season is officially over, and daytime temperatures are in the low 80s, making is a great time to explore and hit area beaches.

The holidays are celebrated with verve all through the month. Old San Juan, the city’s historic district, is decked up in holiday lights and nativity scenes.

Enjoy Puerto Rican eggnog, an alcoholic concoction made with rum, coconut milk, and sweet spices. You’ll also find live music in the streets, and, leading into Christmas, folks singing Christmas carols at night. Very festive!

December is also perfect for sightseeing. Be sure to visit the historic forts of Old San Juan, and walk the colorful alleys to snap photos of the beautiful facades. 

The balmy weather makes December a great time to spend time of the many idyllic beaches in San Juan and just beyond , from the beaches of Isla Verde to Luquillo. For more beach time, plan on a day trip to Culebra Puerto Rico or Icacos Island ! If you’re looking for unique experiences, consider the Bioluminescent Bay, as reviewed in the battle of Culebra vs Vieques .

It’s also a great time to visit El Yunque, the tropical rainforest near San Juan. Hike amidst lush vegetation and waterfalls and take in the views from the observation tower. 

Hotel El Convento is a great place to stay in Old San Juan! It’s housed in a beautiful historic building. 

Recommended by Dhara of It’s Not About the Miles

4. Maui, Hawaii

maui coastline rocky shore against ocean cliffside

Average temp:  high 80, low 66

If you’re looking for the best winter sun destinations, look no further than Maui. Home to incredible scenery like gorgeous beaches, tropical rainforests with beautiful waterfalls and epic adventures, Maui is an awesome place to visit!

It’s especially great in December because the rainy season hasn’t hit yet and the crowds of summer are gone, making it more affordable and more enjoyable. If you go in the first 2 weeks of December, you’ll avoid the holiday pricing.

Be sure to relax on Maui’s beautiful beaches! For year-round snorkeling fun, Black Rock at Kaanapali Beach is a must. Don’t forget your snorkel gear so you can go when you want! Or, watch the surfers at D.T. Fleming Beach on the North Shore.

If you’re looking for adventure, hike the Waihee Ridge Trail . You’ll get epic views of the valley and coast. Just be sure to wear hiking shoes for this one – the trail can get muddy after it rains.

And if you’re up for a road trip, driving the popular Road to Hana is one of the best road trips USA and an experience you’ll never forget. Be sure to make it to Wai’ānapanapa State Park and see the black sand beach (reservations required).

Side note: if you’re really into unique beaches, a must-see is the Black Sand Beach Vieques in Puerto Rico. So stunning!

Anyway, for a more remote drive, consider the Kahekili Highway. This one-lane road offers stunning views and adventure like hiking, waterfalls and more.

Maui is an ideal destination for the best beaches in December, and one you’ll definitely want to consider!

5. St. George, Utah

large canyon green valley orange rocks at sunset

Average temp:  high 56, low 31

One of the most unique spots on this list of warm places to visit in USA in December is St. George, Utah. Nestled on the southwest corner of the state, it’s just minutes away from Arizona and Nevada.

A great launching spot for a Utah national parks road trip, St. George is located about an hour west of Zion National Park. You could certainly take a day trip to Zion, but it may have a bit of snow in December.

There’s so many things to do in St. George. The downtown is rich in history, with museums and parks to learn about the region in years – and centuries past. From the dinosaurs to the Paiute natives and then finally settled by Mormons in the 1800’s.

Of course there’s plenty of outdoor activities in St. George – even in December! Snow Canyon State Park is just 15 minutes north of town, and worth the visit. With 20 miles of hiking trails through petrified dunes, lava tubes and of course, stunning overlooks, it’s a hiker’s dream.

For more adventure, consider a sunrise hot air balloon ride near the city. Or, rent a sled and sandbar at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, a little over an hour south of town.

6. Siesta Key, Florida (another favorite on this list of warm places to visit in December in USA)

view of yellow lifeguard stand with teal ocean in distance in Florida

Average temp:  high 74, low 55

Ranked as one of the best beaches in the USA over and over again, Siesta Key is an amazing getaway. Although high’s in the mid 70’s may not seem like great swimming weather, it still means you can enjoy this beachy destination.

You’ll get more of the beach to yourself in December, which is one of the perks of traveling to Siesta Key in winter. Fly a kite or build a sandcastle. Take beach chairs or a lightweight beach towel and just enjoy the sound of the gentle waves hitting the shore.

And when you need a break from the beach (if that’s even a thing😉), you can head into Siesta Key Village where you’ll find the cutest town square . With boutique shops and restaurants, there’s plenty to do here, too. Be sure to try Meaney’s Mini Donuts & Coffee House (the cinnamon ones are the best).

With so many things to do in Siesta Key , there’s truly something for everyone! You’ll love this beach town, as it’s one of the best warm places to visit in the USA in December.

7. Temecula, California

best winter sun destinations Temecula winery with hills in background

Average temp:  high 67, low 47

If you are ready to escape the cold, snowy weather for somewhere warmer this December, look no further than Temecula, California. Located in Southern California, just an hour’s drive from San Diego, this city has plenty to do – including wine tasting, shopping, and more! 

In December, Temecula’s high temperature is just shy of 70°F, with only 2 days of precipitation, so you can expect warm, sunny days. And there’s no better way to enjoy the beautiful weather than with a visit to Temecula Valley Wine Country!

Temecula is home to 50+ local wineries, vineyards, and tasting rooms . Some of the best wineries in Temecula include Wilson Creek Winery, Leoness Cellars, and Baily Vineyard & Winery. 

December is a fabulous time to visit Temecula because of the fun holiday events you can attend, like the Temecula Chilled Holiday Market and Santa’s Electric Light Parade in Old Town Temecula. Despite the warm weather, you can even ice skate at the Peltzer Ice Skating Rink or Temecula on Ice during the holidays. 

Old Town Temecula is a fantastic location to base your trip if you want to walk around and soak up the sunshine, as it’s one of the best winter sun destinations in the US.

You can eat at some of the best restaurants in Old Town Temecula , like The Goat & Vine or 1909 Temecula, or you can shop at the dozens of quaint boutiques selling unique items, like wine-barrel furniture, olive oils and more. 

Carter Estate Winery and Resort is the perfect place to stay for your warm-weather getaway to Temecula, CA. Located on a gorgeous vineyard, this resort allows you to wake up in the heart of wine country every morning! 

Recommended by Brittany of Travel By Brit

8. South Padre Island, Texas

sunset on the beach with waves and two birds

Average temp:  high 72, low 57

If you’re looking for an amazing warm destination to visit in December in the USA, then South Padre Island is the perfect destination for you. 

After all, temperatures are usually around 72 degrees during the day and then around 57 degrees in the evening throughout the month of December.

Plus, the weather here is usually pretty dry, making it the perfect place to relax, take a walk through the Padre Island National Seashore, and enjoy the single biggest undeveloped barrier island in the world.  Additionally, December is off-season. Therfore, crowds will be minimal and hotel prices will be quite reasonable. 

As a result, you can quietly enjoy some of the best things to do in South Padre Island , like take some time to explore the historic Port Isabel Lighthouse from 1852 . In fact, it’s the only lighthouse on the coast of Texas that is open to visitors and makes for a fun place to visit. 

Then, learn about local wildlife at the Sea Turtle Conservation Center. In fact, this amazing wildlife rescue center helps upwards of 100 turtles per year and is an ideal place to learn all about these fascinating creatures. 

You can also visit the South Padre island Birding Center and admire local populations of Buff-bellied hummingbirds, White Ibis, and Red-winged Blackbirds as you stroll along the picturesque boardwalk here. 

Then, pamper yourself at the Sapphire Spa before spending the night at the swank Hilton Garden Inn South Padre Island to create the ultimate getaway. South Padre Island is one of the best warm places to visit in USA in December.

Recommended by Victoria of Texas Travel 365

Warm places to visit in December in USA, continued

Can you believe this list?! Just 25% through it and there’s so many more adventures to have. Let’s keep going!

9. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans storefront brightly colored with holiday decorations

Average temp:  high 65, low 46

If you’re looking for a place to escape winter’s frigid clutches and have a little fun in December, there is no better place than New Orleans! While the weather in New Orleans can be oppressive at certain times of the year, December is ideal as it averages in the 60s – 70s which is perfect for sightseeing!

You might think The Big Easy is only a party town during Mardi Gras – wrong! December ushers in plenty of its own one-of-a-kind holiday fun.

The beginning of December kicks off with the Krewe of Jingle – a downtown holiday parade with special appearances from Mr. and Mrs. Clause. New Orleans knows how to host a parade, so this is one you should make sure you don’t miss!

In the middle of December, head to historic Lafayette Square to enjoy the LUNA Fête festival . Over a long weekend, the city celebrates with awe-inspiring light shows; it generally brings in over 100,000 attendees!

In addition to the holiday fun, another great way to get to know the city is on a walking tour. This is an especially great activity if this is your  first time visiting New Orleans  — there are a range of tour options, from learning about Voodoo to exploring the chic Garden District.

New Orleans is a fun city and one of the best warm places to visit in December. And, if you have a bit more time in the area, be sure to check out the best things to do in Lafayette, Louisiana .

Recommended by Rebecca from Veggies Abroad

10. Oahu, Hawaii (a destination full of the best beaches in December)

warm places to visit in USA in December view of teal water beach along hillside

Average temp:  high 82, low 67

When you think of a warm December getaway, Oahu may be one of the first destinations to come to mind. And with its stunning white sand beaches, epic mountains, and abundant wildlife, it’s no surprise this is one of the most popular destinations, come December. 

Thanks to its location close to the equator, Oahu enjoys temperatures in the low 80s in December, which is warm enough to break out the tank tops, sun dresses and even a long travel skirt .

In December the island may experience a rain shower or two. These showers usually only last for a few hours and should not be too much of a hindrance on your outdoor adventures. 

Many visitors primarily focus their explorations of the island to Honolulu, but there’s so much else to see and do here. For example, one of the best things to do in Oahu in December is to watch the professional surfers take on the big waves of the North Shore . Check out the Banzai Pipeline or Waimea Bay Beach Park, which can see waves up to 25 feet in height! 

While snorkeling along the North Shore is probably not advisable in December, given the aforementioned monster waves, you can still check out some of the best snorkeling in Oahu by heading to Hanauma Bay Nature Reserve, just 10 minutes east of Honolulu .

Here, the waters stay calm year round, where you can swim with and observe the 400 species of fish, turtles and other marine life. Bring your own snorkel gear to hit the water when and where you want while on Oahu!

For a conveniently located home base during your stay, consider The Modern Honolulu , just steps away from Waikiki Beach, both a family-friendly and adults only pool and an excellent onsite restaurant. 

Oahu is one of the best winter sun destinations in the US, and one you won’t want to miss!

Recommended by Jessica of Uprooted Traveler

11. Disney World, Orlando, Florida

warm us destinations in December teapot with holiday flowers and dinner in distance

Average temp:  high 75, low 55

The happiest place on Earth, aka Disney World, is an easy pick for any families out there looking for iconic warm places to visit in December in USA. 

After all, Disney World comes alive at this time of year with festive holiday decor and fun seasonal events like Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. 

Plus, the weather at  Disney in December  is super comfortable throughout the month since the average high is 74 F and the average daily low is 56 F. 

However, to avoid insane crowds, try to time your visit for the first week of December. This is when kids are still in the school and when the park is less crowded. 

You should also try and buy Park Hoppers so that you can avoid more crowded parks on an as needed basis. 

Additionally, try and visit Magic Kingdom on Party Days and avoid parks with extra Magic Hours to get the most out of your visit. 

Then, make time to enjoy seasonal activities like Tony’s Most Merriest Town Square Party (an add-on experiences for extra fees), Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Dessert Party at Tomorrowland Terrace or Plaza Garden Viewing (another add-on event), A Frozen Holiday Wish (happens nightly all month long) and more. 

You can also attend the International Festival of the Holidays at Epcot before spending the night at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.  It’s probably the best Deluxe resort in Disneyworld and features an island theme that is accentuated by leis that are presented to you as you walk in the door.

Looking for more fun? Check out the best Hollywood Studios rides in the park!

Recommended by Victoria of Disney Trippers

12. Augusta, Georgia

warm places to visit in USA in December view of city with boats and river

Average temp:  high 60, low 41

One of the most underrated spots on this list of warm places to visit in USA in December is Augusta, Georgia . A southern city full of charm, Augusta is known for outdoor recreation, historical sites and hist vibrant restaurant scene.

Tour downtown finding fun murals, shopping and dining. A foodie’s delight, Augusta is known for outdoor patios, which you’ll find especially inviting in the warm sun during mid-day. Bring layers for the evenings as it gets chilly!

One of Augusta’s top attractions is the Phinizy Swamp Nature Park. Walk the trails and soak in the peaceful nature all around you. Or, get a little more active on the 32 miles of biking trails through the Forks Area Trail System.

And you can’t visit Augusta without a stroll along the Augusta Riverwalk . It’s a fun, brick trail along the Savannah River! If traveling with kids, they’ll love the playground on the Riverwalk.

During December, the city has holiday festivals and markets. Enjoy historic holiday tours where you can visit homes from the 1800’s, including the childhood home of President Woodrow.

13. San Diego, California (perfect for this list of warm places to visit in December in USA)

view of California coast from above palm trees rocky shore and buildings

Average temp:  high 66, low 49

San Diego is an incredible place to visit during December. With incredible weather and tons of fabulous attractions, you can’t go wrong with visiting this Southern California City! 

You can expect temperatures around the high 60’s during the day and in the 40’s at night. Some of the best things to add to your San Diego itinerary in December include wandering through the famous Balboa Park.

Balboa Park is comprised of 1,200 acres. You can explore beautiful gardens and dozens of museums including The San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego Air and Space Museum, Museum of Us, San Diego Natural History Museum and more! Additionally, the famous San Diego Zoo is also located in Balboa Park.

The Old Town San Diego Historic State Park is another must-visit. Here you can indulge in amazing food while experiencing San Diego’s Spanish roots and history.

A special experience in San Diego during December is whale watching . Around 20,000 Grey Whales start migrating in mid-December. Seals also start giving birth around mid-December at the La Jolla Caves. You will likely also be able to see the Sea Lions in La Jolla too!

If you are in search of some additional beach time, don’t forget to check out Coronado Island. Walk along the beach, enjoy the many eateries, and visit the famous Hotel Del Coronado .

Recommended by Sam of Find Love and Travel

14. Sedona, Arizona

mountains of Sedona brightly colored red with town below

verage temp:  high 60, low 34

Sedona is the perfect sunny escape in December! Excellent for various travel styles, there’s hiking and outdoor adventures, as well as low-key things to do in town. With mild temperatures and minimal crowds, December is a great time to visit Sedona.

Take the Sedona Trolley around town to get acquainted without the worry of driving or traffic. Visit the Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village for just that – shopping.

Go hiking or horseback riding at Cathedral Rock or Oak Creek Canyon. If you’re traveling with kids, they’ll love jumping around the unique landscape at Slide Rock State Park .

Perhaps the most popular hiking trail in the area is Devil’s Bridge Trail . At 3.9 miles and rated as moderate, this trail is perfect for an afternoon hike in December! Bring your grippy hiking shoes for this one, as the rock stairs leading up to the bridge can get pretty slick.

For the best views of the incredible landscape in Sedona, head up to Airport Mesa. There’s a parking lot at the overlook so it doesn’t require much hiking at all. It’s also a great spot for stargazing!

15. Culebra, Puerto Rico (perfect for visiting the best beaches in December)

warm places to visit in December in USA view of white sand beach waves and palm trees

Average temp:  high 85, low 74

Quite possibly the warmest place in the US in December, Culebra Puerto Rico is an amazing destination you’ll love. Puerto Rico was previously mentioned above, but Culebra is so spectacular it deserves it’s own spot.

Culebra Puerto Rico is located just 18 miles off the eastern side of Mainland Puerto Rico . Getting to Culebra requires a ferry ride or small plane, but it’s so worth it!

Home to one of the most incredible beaches in the Caribbean, Flamenco Beach Puerto Rico is one of the best beaches you’ll ever see, and a phenomenal place to visit for the best beaches in December.

This crescent-shaped beach sits along rolling hills and its undeveloped land makes it seem from a fairytale. With plenty of parking and amenities, you’ll want to spend a day – or more – at Flamenco Beach.

Spend some time in with the sea turtles while snorkeling at Tamarindo Beach. Or, for some solitude, visit the lesser-known Zoni Beach. And when you’re hungry, be sure to head downtown to grab a bite.

For couples traveling, consider the cozy cottages with phenomenal views – Aleli Cottages . For more space, try the Oceania Villas .

You’ll fall in love with Culebra. It’s definitely one of the best on this list of warm places to visit in December in USA!

16. Florida Keys

warm US destinations in December to visit view of green ocean water white sand beach and sand dunes

Average temp:  high 75, low 70

The snow is falling, the temperatures keep dropping and you’re ready to escape to a tropical paradise. One of the best warm places to visit in December is the Florida Keys!

Stretching approximately 120 miles from Key Largo to the southernmost point in the continental USA (Key West), the Florida Keys are the perfect getaway if you are looking for a mix of adventure and relaxation. With average December temperatures in the high 70’s, you’ll never want to leave! 

Your best and most affordable option would be to fly into Miami and rent a car to make the Miami to Key West road trip . From here, you can take your time exploring each island and all they have to offer. You’ll want to spend at least one night in Key Largo, Islamorada and Key West. 

The list of things to do in the Florida Keys is never-ending. Depending on how much time you have, you will have to decide between scuba diving in John Pennekamp State Park, deep sea fishing at Robbie’s, parasailing over the sparkling blue water or simply relaxing on the beach. 

After your road trip of adventures, you’ll definitely want to stay in Key West at Tiki Suites.  There are 2 suites located in the middle of the ocean! You’ll have nothing but the ocean surrounding you as you relax and fall asleep to the sound of the waves. A truly once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Recommended by Jordan of The Homebody Tourist

Best winter sun destinations

Okay – let’s catch a breath here. We’re 1/2 way done. A few of my personal favorites are coming up next!

More winter sunshine ahead…

17. St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

view of st Thomas USVI boats in harbor with island in distance

Average temp:  high 84, low 76

The US Virgin Islands are a great place to visit in December for a number of reasons, especially St. Thomas . First, the weather is absolutely beautiful during this time of year.

The average high temperature is about 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and the average low is only about 75 degrees. This makes it the perfect time of year to enjoy all that the islands have to offer, including the beaches, without having to deal with crowds of people.

The beaches on St. Thomas are calm and perfect for swimming, and there are plenty of water sports activities to keep everyone entertained. Magen’s Bay is the most popular beach on the island and is great for families.

Coki Beach and Sapphire Beach are also a lot of fun! Sapphire Beach, especially is a great place to base during your stay because Sapphire Beach Resort offers discounts on snorkeling equipment rental to its guests. There are also several pools and a restaurant there, in case you don’t feel like going elsewhere to eat.

December is also a great time to visit St. Thomas and the US Virgin Islands because it’s one of the quieter times of the year.

While the islands do see a significant number of tourists during the winter months, it’s nothing compared to the summer crowds. This means that you’ll be able to enjoy all that the US Virgin Islands have to offer without having to worry about fighting for space on the beach or in restaurants.

Recommended by Brodi of Our Offbeat Life

18. Santa Barbara, California

tall palm trees along beach with orange and pink sunset

Average temp:  high 65, low 45

Known for its incredible Spanish architecture, wineries, expansive beaches and moderate temperatures, Santa Barbara is always a good idea. Deserving on this list of warm places to visit in December in USA, Santa Barbara offers sunshine to those wishing to escape grey skies or snow elsewhere.

Dive into culture, history and art in Santa Barbara. See a performance at the Lobero Theater, visit the Old Mission Santa Barbara, get lost in the beauty of Santa Barbara Museum of Art or shop and dine on State Street.

Of course, you’ll want to visit the beach while you’re at the California Coast! Santa Barbara is one of the best stops on a Pacific Coast Highway vacation from San Francisco to San Diego road trip . The area’s best beaches along the way are East Beach, Hendry’s Beach and Goleta Beach Park.

December is a fabulous time to visit Santa Barbara, as the city is full of events and festivities . Watch the boat parade through the harbor at Stearns Wharf. Shop for someone special at the city’s annual Folk and Tribal Arts Marketplace.

And don’t forget about New Year’s Eve in Santa Barbara! For a night to remember, try a champagne cruise, catch a drag show, do a bar crawl or so much more. It’s a great way to celebrate the end of the year!

Recommended by Nikki of She Saves She Travels

19. Kauai, Hawaii (another favorite on this list of best warm places to visit in December in USA)

Average temp:  high 82, low 65

You gotta go to Kauai! It’s not only one of the best warm places to visit in December in USA, it’s also an incredible destination for adventure and relaxation! Known as ‘the garden isle’ for its lush vegetation and epic waterfalls, it has stunning coastlines unlike any other spot on this list – or in the world.

You’ll want to see the Waimea Canyon, AKA the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Explore it’s epic views from the inside by hiking the Waimea Canyon Trail . Right down the road is the Kalalau Lookout in Koke’e State Park, to see the stunning NaPali Coast.

For sunshine in December, you’ll want to stay in the Poipu area to get the least amount of rain . Popular for awesome beaches like Poipu Beach or Shipwreck Beach, the waves can be the smallest in the winter, which is perfect for a warm getaway to the beach.

Kauai is home to some amazing food too. On the North Shore, try Kalypso Island Bar & Grill in Hanalei. You’ve gotta try the acai bowls at Java Kai in Kapaa, or the famous Hula Pie at Keoki’s Paradise in Koloa. Some of the best places to eat in Kauai won’t break the bank, either, like Da Crack Mexican Grinds.

Early December is a fabulous time to visit Kauai as it’s the shoulder season. The pricing is lower than late December over the holiday, and the crowds are much fewer, meaning you’ll have less waiting at restaurants and attractions.

20. Bisbee, Arizona

city of bisbee arizona buildings with mountains in sunlight

The quaint, little town of Bisbee, AZ is attracting winter travelers from all over the world due to its stunning beauty and quirky vibe.

Why visit Bisbee in December? It is truly the best month, boasting highs in the mid-50s and lows in the low-30s. Being an inherently dry climate, you can expect little to no precipitation this time of year. Instead, you’ll find clear skies, colorful sunsets and more stars than you can imagine. 

In visiting Bisbee you can expect a true getaway. The town is small, with just over 5,000 residents. However, what it lacks in population, it makes up for in charm.

A haven for artists and other creative types, the town is full of murals, quirky antique shops, charming cafes and relaxed breweries. Make sure to spend some time shopping in downtown, visiting the nearby ghost town of Lowell and viewing the Lavender Pit, which is an open copper mine located just outside of town.

If you’re lucky enough to spend some time  road tripping in the area , you should also check out Saguaro National Park and Chiricahua National Monument, which are both less than 2 hours away. 

You can’t go wrong with booking a boutique hotel in the main part of town. If you are looking to get close to the action, try the  Copper Queen Hotel . If you would like something a little bit quieter, the  School House Inn Bed & Breakfast  may be more your speed.

Either way, you are sure to enjoy a picturesque and relaxing stay in the heart of the American Southwest, one of the best warm places to visit in December!

Recommended by Michele of Slow Traveling Cat

21. Anna Maria Island, Florida (another one of my favorites for warm places to visit in USA in December)

florida beach with white sand teal water

It’s small-town charm and crisp, white beaches will draw you in. Anna Maria Island is definitely one of the most fabulous (and underrated) warm places to visit in USA in December!

Located just an hour west of Sarasota, this island is the picturesque Florida vacation destination. Lacking chain hotels or restaurants, you’ll find boutique shops, fun places to eat and awesome beaches.

Check out the Anna Maria Pier for unique views of the island and local waters. If you’re lucky, one of the local fevers (groups) of sting rays will be lurking in the waters below! Hunt for seashells at Coquina Beach, hang out the beach at Bean Point or find some adrenaline in a parasailing adventure.

Celebrate the holidays in Anna Maria Island by visiting the cute Bridge Street, covered in twinkling lights . Or catch one of the island’s boat parades, where locals and tour companies decorate their boats with holiday lights and show them off during a water parade.

December is a special time on Anna Maria Island, and with so many unique things to do on Anna Maria Island , you won’t get bored!

22. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

warm places to visit in December in USA view of beach from above at sunset with city skyline bridge and ferris wheel

When planning a summer vacation, Myrtle Beach might come to mind, but have you ever considered retreating to beautiful South Carolina in December? This southern beach town is the perfect retreat if you’re trying to escape the cold and enjoy some warmer weather.

In December, Myrtle Beach offers weather in the 60s with mostly sunny days. Visiting this month means very little crowds, cheaper room rates at places like the Marriott Myrtle Beach Resort & Spa at Grande Dunes .

One of the  locals’ favorite things to do in Myrtle Beach  is to visit Brookgreen Gardens, located just 30 minutes outside of downtown. The gardens are an amazing destination year round, but from the end of November to the beginning of January, they hold the Nights of a Thousand Candles. The whole property is lit with over a million lights and almost 3,000 hand-lit candles. You can listen to holiday music, admire the lights and drink some hot apple cider, getting in the holiday spirit.

Spend another evening at one of Myrtle Beach’s famous theaters for a holiday themed show! Pirates Voyage, The Alabama Theater and The Carolina Opry all hold special holiday themed shows during December and are so much fun for all ages.

The daytimes will be warm enough to walk on the beach, eat fresh seafood outside on the boardwalk and ride the massive Ferris Wheel. Try the Sea Captain’s House or River City Cafe for some of the best food with ocean views!

Recommended by Tori of Tori Pines Travels

23. Joshua Tree National Park, California

smooth tan rocks sand and Joshua Tree blue sky

Average temp:  high 61, low 37

Joshua Tree is an incredible place to visit in December for warm weather and sunshine! The desert landscape means that unlike most national parks in the US, summers are too hot for outdoor adventures. 

December brings perfect weather for hiking in Joshua Tree , as daytime temperatures are comfortable , usually in the high 50s or low 60s. It does get chilly at night, so be prepared with some layers – especially if you’re camping, or if you plan to be out in the mornings or evenings!

December is also less crowded than spring or fall, when the park is most popular – but, starting your day early or staying in the park close to sunset will be the best way to avoid crowds. Some of the best hikes in Joshua Tree National Park include the Hidden Valley Nature Trail, Ryan Mountain and the Lost Palms Oasis Trail.

Some other great things to do in the park include stargazing, off-roading and wildlife viewing. You can see lizards, snakes, tortoises, birds, and if you’re lucky, maybe some big horn sheep, foxes and bobcats!

When you’re in Joshua Tree, you can camp in the park, check out some of the quirky vacation rentals nearby, or stay at the Joshua Tree Inn.

Recommended by Anna of Anna Tee

24. San Antonio, Texas

river at dusk with restaurant brick sidewalk and trees

Average temp:  high 64, low 40

If you’re looking for the best warm places to visit in December, then San Antonio, Texas should be on your radar! With sunshine and temperatures in the 60’s during the day, you’ll be exploring this fun city in warm weather, a nice escape from the cold.

The San Antonio River Walk is the shining star of this destination, but it offers visitors so much more!

Explore The Alamo – the location of the Battle of the Alamo during the Texas Revolution in 1863 (timed ticket entry required). For more history and art, visit the San Antonio Museum of Art, Brisco Western Art Museum or the McNay Art Museum.

If you’re looking for a family getaway during December, you’ll want to hit up Six Flags Fiesta Texas . Rides for kids and adults of all ages, it’s a thrilling way to enjoy your time in San Antonio.

And of course, you can’t go to San Antonio without experiencing the River Walk. There’s so much to do and see in the area. From street vendors and shops to restaurants and cool architecture, you can spend a whole day (or more) exploring the area.

A warm getaway, San Antonio just might be the perfect December getaway!

If you’re traveling with kids, be sure to plan your trip to San Antonio to include the best Texas resorts for families .

More warm places to visit in USA in December

From the best beaches in December to adventurous destinations off the beaten path, let’s round out this list with more incredible destinations!

25. Page, Arizona

curvy orange rocks leading upward to the sky

Average temp:  high 45, low 30

If you’re looking to spend time in the American southwest, Page, Arizona is one of the best places to visit. It’s home to some of the most popular places to visit in Arizona including Lake Powell, Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. December is a great time to visit because the weather is beautiful. 

In the month of December, the days are warmer and the night cold so it’s a good idea to make sure you bring layers. There is little to no rain here during the month of December. These are great temperatures for hiking and going on outdoor adventures in the area. 

There are lots of great  places to stay in Page . If you’re looking for a unique experience, try glamping with Under Canvas . For a traditional hotel stay, consider Country Inn & Suites by Radisson or the Hyatt Place Page Lake Powell .

One of the best things to do in Page is tour Antelope Canyon . This beautiful slot canyon is one of the most famous in the country, and it’s an amazing experience to walk through. It’s gorgeous!

December is a popular time to tour Antelope Canyon, so you’ll want to make your reservations well in advance. After your tour of Antelope Canyon, be sure to leave some time to walk out to the Horseshoe Bend Overlook.

There are lots of other fun destinations in this area, including Las Vegas, Southern Utah and Sedona. Page, AZ is a great destination to include if you’re going on a road trip through this area, and one of the best warm places to visit in December in USA.

Recommended by Candice of CS Ginger

26. Clearwater Beach, Florida

sunset behind pier on ocean

Average temp:  high 70, low 60

Clearwater Beach is one of the best winter sun destinations! Located just 25 miles west of Tampa on Florida’s Gulf Coast, it’s one of the most popular beaches in the country.

Temperatures consistently stay between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter, but the crowds are significantly less during this time of year. This makes it the perfect time to be able to relax in comfort without having to fight for a free spot on the sand or get overheated by the scorching summer sun. 

Unlike the majority of beaches on mainland USA, Clearwater Beach has powder white sand and turquoise blue water. It’s absolutely beautiful, and the sunsets on this beach are even prettier!

There’s even an entire nightly festival that was created just to celebrate the sunsets! It’s called the Sunsets at Pier 60 Festival, and it starts 2 hours before sunset every evening. When deciding  where to stay in Clearwater Beach , a hotel right by the pier is your best pick to keep you close to the action. Opal Sands is a top-rated choice!

Boat tours are another popular activity during December. There are dolphin-spotting cruises and even pirate cruises for kids.

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium also celebrates the holiday season. W hen you visit during December, you can see Christmas lights, festive habitats and even tank divers dressed up as Santa and his helpers.

Definitely consider Clearwater Beach for your next warm weather vacation in the US in December!

Recommended by Jillian of Adventure Dragon

27. Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas strip buildings at sunset

Average temp:  high 60, low 27

You know what’s awesome? Las Vegas in winter, as opposed to summertime. 🤣 Las Vegas deserves a spot on this list because of its entertainment and food scene. Not to mention the outdoor adventures that are perfect during December!

Perfect for a long weekend away in December, Las Vegas is home to countless entertainment opportunities. Get concert or show tickets and you’ll be sure to see top-notch performances!

Of course there’s gambling and clubs, but also plenty of things to do that don’t include being on The Strip your entire trip. For some quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of the city lights, check out Red Rock Canyon scenic drive . A timed entry reservation is required in December. Bring your hiking shoes and hit the trails!

Or enjoy one of the many day trips from Las Vegas. Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam are cool to see in person. And if you’re really up for some cool sights, be sure to do a Las Vegas to Zion National Park day trip for incredible canyon views!

Las Vegas is an excellent destination for December, and also one of the top warm winter vacations in the US !

28. Gulf Shores, Alabama (must-see for warm places to visit in USA in December)

Gulf State Park beach with white sand blue water and pier in distance

Average temp:  high 66, low 47

Okay, if you’re looking for a family-friendly getaway to a warm winter sun destination, then Gulf Shores, Alabama is for you! Offering mild temperatures year-round and some of the best beaches on the Gulf Coast , you’ll fall in love with Gulf Shores and its sister city, Orange Beach.

One of the most fun things to do in December in Gulf Shores is a day at The Track. With go karts, mini golf, roller coaster and kiddie rides and an arcade, you could literally get lost here!

Head over to The Wharf at Orange Beach for some serious entertainment and dining. Take a Ferris wheel ride, enjoy some laser tag, grab ice cream or enjoy some water-front dining.

In December, The Wharf hosts a variety of winter and holiday festivities including an ice skating rink, horse-drawn carriage rides under twinkling lights and shopping events.

Don’t forget to enjoy some activities on the Gulf! Go for a dolphin cruise, build a sand castle, rent jet skis or go sand crab hunting at Gulf State Park .

29. Big Island, Hawaii (one of the best winter sun destinations)

big island best warm places to visit in December view of statues on beach

One of the best warm US destinations in December is the Big Island of Hawaii. People can escape the chilly weather on the Mainland and enjoy a tropical island without needing a passport.

If you’re visiting the Big Island during the holidays, you can enjoy many island-style decorations and community events.

Another fun Big Island activity is stargazing at Mauna Kea. Winter is a great time to do this because the sun sets a bit earlier than in the other seasons, so you won’t have to stay up as late to see the dazzling stars.

December is also whale watching season in Hawaii. It’s best to see them on a whale watching tour .

One of the unique  things to do on the Big Island  is swimming with manta rays. Luckily, these manta ray tours run throughout the winter so you can participate in this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The top attraction on the Big Island is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This is the only place to see lava in Hawaii. It’s important to check conditions before your trip to see if and where the lava is flowing.

The weather on Kona in December is typically in the low 80s during the day and the upper 60s at night. The Hilo side of the island is usually rainier than the Kona side.

And you should pack warm layers if visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park or Mauna Kea. There is often snow at the summit of Mauna Kea!

A few great places to stay on the Big Island are the Royal Kona Resort in Kona and the Grand Naniloa Hotel in Hilo.

Recommended by Marcie of Hawaii Travel Spot

30. Catalina Island, California

view of town along bay with mountains and boats

Average temp:  high 59, low 43

Off the coast of Southern California is Santa Catalina Island, and it definitely deserves a spot on this list of warm places to visit in December in the US. Just an hour ferry ride from Long Beach, getting to Catalina Island is convenient from the LA area.

Visit Catalina Island in early December to enjoy off-season pricing and fewer crowds than later in the month. With temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s, pack layers and enjoy the sunshine on the island!

Find adventure on the water with kayaking, parasailing or a submarine tour. Enjoy the island views by soaring through the air on a zipline or hiking. Try the Avalon Bay Trail with water views, or for more of a challenge, hike the Hermit Gulch Trail.

Downtown Avalon is such a charming harbor town. It’s as cute as ever with brightly colored shops and homes, which reminds me more of Europe than California! Enjoy strolling the Green Pleasure Pier and grabbing some delicious food from a variety of locally-owned restaurants.

31. Phoenix, Arizona

phoenix arizona city skyline at sunset

Average temp:  high 68, low 44

One of the best warm US destinations in December is Phoenix! With sunshine and only a few days of rain, it’s perfect weather for indoor and outdoor activities.

Phoenix is a great destination for families, couples and solo travelers of all ages. One of the best places to include on your Phoenix itinerary is Papago Park. Stroll through the Desert Botanical Garden, where you can see over 50,000 plants!

Have a picnic at the Papago Ponds or hike the short 0.3 miles to Hole in the Rock. Animal lovers will enjoy spending time at the Phoenix Zoo, also located at Papago Park.

The city of Phoenix and neighboring Scottsdale really celebrate the holidays big, too. Enjoy pop-up ice skating events, various festivals and multiple light shows throughout the area, including 2 drive-through animated light shows.

And of course, you can’t come to Phoenix without eating delicious food! For the best Mexican food in town, try Taco Guild or Barrio Cafe. Or enjoy a variety of local restaurants in downtown Phoenix on 7th Street.

Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or longer vacation, Phoenix is one of the best warm places to visit in December in USA.

32. Destin, Florida (warm places to visit in December in USA – a must-see destination)

best beaches in December view of Destin florida beach with sand dunes in foreground

Average temp:  high 64, low 48

Destin, Florida is a beautiful place to visit during December. The weather is perfect for spending time on the beaches, and there are plenty of great activities and attractions to enjoy. 

Destin Harbor is especially festive during this time of year, with decorated boats and lights everywhere.  Every year in December, HarborWalk Village has the Destin Boat Parade with fireworks and activities for everyone. 

The city of Destin also has an annual Christmas Parade which covers most of the town. This parade is a must-see for anyone in town in December and features floats, marching bands, and of course, Santa Claus himself. 

Destin Commons and The Village of Baytowne Wharf both have events going on throughout the month of December. Destin Commons has pictures with Santa and Baytowne Wharf has a holiday concert series in December and even an ice skating rink!  

Other places to visit in December in the Destin area include Crab Island, James Lee Beach and Norriego Point.  If you’re looking for state parks, Henderson Beach State Park is great and offers a beautiful beach, walking trails and camping. Topsail Hill State Park is in nearby Santa Rosa Beach and offers many amenities, as well. 

A great place to stay in Destin is The Palms of Destin , which is right in the heart of the city, near Henderson Beach State Park and The Track (go-karts and mini-golf). 

If you’re looking for a fun, festive and warm place to visit in December, be sure to visit Destin, Florida!

Recommended by Wayne of Always on the Shore

best cities to visit in usa in december

Whew! What a list!

Warm places to visit in USA in December

  • St. Croix, USVI
  • Monterey, CA
  • San Juan, PR
  • St. George, UT
  • Siesta Key, FL
  • Temecula, CA
  • South Padre Island, TX
  • New Orleans, LA
  • Disney World, Orlando, FL
  • Augusta, GA
  • San Diego, CA
  • Culebra, PR
  • Florida Keys
  • St. Thomas, USVI
  • Santa Barbara, CA
  • Anna Maria Island, FL
  • Myrtle Beach, SC
  • Joshua Tree National Park, CA
  • San Antonio, TX
  • Clearwater Beach, FL
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Gulf Shores, AL
  • Big Island, HI
  • Catalina Island, CA
  • Phoenix, AZ

Related content you might like: 30 FUN Warm Winter Vacations in the US (You’ll Absolutely Love) 32 Awe-inspiring Adventurous Bucket List Ideas You Gotta See to Believe

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32 warm December getaways photos of 3 beachy destinations

Saturday 2nd of December 2023

So many good ideas! I need a getaway this winter and these are all good options. Now it's just about choosing! HA

Sunday 3rd of December 2023

Haha that's the truth! So glad you found some inspiration here :)

A great list! So many warm winter sun places in the USA, you are really lucky! I have been to Hawaii and would go back there in an instant! LAst time I visited was early December and it was wonderful weather

Friday 1st of December 2023

There's quite a few places on your list that my husband and I would enjoy. We are always on the lookout for someplace to escape the winter snow.

Oh yay Jolayne! Sounds like it's time for a getaway😎

Saturday 3rd of September 2022

What a great list! So many beautiful places to access with a US Passport. We've visited 7 of these in the off season and St. Croix is probably our fave so far!

Wednesday 7th of September 2022

Oh awesome Kathryn! St. Croix is certainly dreamy💛

It's always good to find a comprehensive list like this, especially to escape the cold! I'm off to Puerto Rico for the first time next year & this has really whetted my appetite too!

Ah thanks so much for the compliment, Sue. I hope you love Puerto Rico, it's one of my favorites!!

29 of the Best Places to Travel in December (USA Edition)

12/01/2023 by Kristin Addis 1 Comment

With the end of the year comes a new world of travel possibilities. You can spend December fully embracing the chill of the season, or find a warm getaway if that’s more your style! Good thing the United States offers opportunities for travelers of all types, with appealing destinations scattered throughout the country. 

Starting from the West Coast and heading east, here’s a list of the top 29 destinations to visit this December:

Table of Contents

1. Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua trees in nevada

Winter is without a doubt the best time to see the deserts in California . Joshua Tree National Park is  one of the best places to visit in the colder months . The park’s temperatures range on average by December from near 40 degrees Fahrenheit overnight to near 60 by afternoon, which makes daytime hiking and rock climbing infinitely more enjoyable than the unbearable summertime heat. 

Read Next: What to Do in Joshua Tree National Park

Deserts make up around a quarter of the state, so there are plenty of others as well.  Check out this BMTM post  for some of the best deserts in California.

2. Death Valley National Park, California & Nevada

death valley national park in winter

If you’ve been dying to check out Death Valley (see what I did there?) but are a little nervous about its famously scorching temperatures, consider going in December! All throughout the winter months, the area sees a dip in its usually high temps, making it much more enjoyable for hikers.

Death Valley National Park is home to some seriously out-of-this-world landscapes that you definitely don’t want to miss out on. From the colorful Artist’s Palette to the stunning  Golden Canyon , there’s plenty  to see and do in Death Valley . Even though December is one of the best times to visit this incredible national park, it’s not typically crowded, so you can enjoy some of the best spots without worrying about overwhelming crowds cramping your style.

3. Mendocino County, California

fort bragg glass beach

While Mendocino County is famous for having weather reminiscent of eternal spring, December sees chilly temperatures that are cold enough to bundle up for, but warm enough to be able to get outside and enjoy the area’s moody coastline.

Mendocino County is the perfect December getaway for nature lovers and anyone who loves the cozy vibe of the beginning of winter. Fort Bragg is home to the legendary Glass Beach, which gets its name from the layer of colorful sea glass that washes up on its shore. In  Mendocino , you can check out Jug Handle State Natural Reserve, Van Damme State Park, Mendocino Headlands State Park, and other stunning natural areas. Stay at a chic boutique hotel to soak it all in each evening!

4. Truckee, California

Truckee california

Truckee in the winter is a snowy wonderland and absolutely beautiful when the snow settles. You’ll want to check out the lake views at Donner Memorial State Park, hike the Truckee River Regional Park Legacy Trail, and dive in the Emerald Pools swimming hole — it’ll be cold, but so very refreshing. Lake Tahoe and Reno are only day trips away, and Donner Pass is a historic experience to drive through. There’s also fun to be had with snowboarding, skiing, and ice skating!

If you get snowed in though and must spend time indoors, there are plenty of neat museums, breweries, and coffee shops to fill your heart. Check out this amazing list of things to do in Truckee .

5. Sun Valley, Idaho

sun valley Idaho

Idaho  is one the country’s best-kept secrets, and December is especially a great time to visit the state. Sun Valley gives you the opportunity to see some of the most picturesque winter landscapes  in the United States. Throughout December, the nearby Sawtooth Mountains get  that  much more magical when a new layer of snow decorates the scenery. With fantastic skiing opportunities,  naturally occurring hot springs , and hospitable locals, Sun Valley is one of the most ideal trips for a cozy December getaway.

6. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone national park

As the least populated state, Wyoming may be the ideal destination to get some peace and quiet.  Yellowstone National Park is beautiful  no matter what time of year, but especially so during the winter. There’s a reason why  the park is one of BMTM’s bucket list–worthy road trip stops !

Many roads may be closed during the month, but the oen between Mammoth Hot Springs and the northeast entrance is open all year. Check out the  park’s webpage  for more information.

7. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

grand Tetons national park

Head 30 miles south of Yellowstone and you’ll find  Grand Teton National Park , which can be enjoyed just as much in December. Most of it is only reachable by cross-country ski or snowshoe during this time of the year, but the isolation is more than worth it.

8. San Juan County, Utah

valley of the gods

Many people thinking of December trips may not consider  Utah . Lucky for you (and your wallet!),  there’s so much to explore in the state’s off season . The temperatures in the area dip to highs only in the 40s Fahrenheit and lows in the 20s in December, making the weather chilly but bearable. If you want a trip  full of exploration , San Juan County’s Valley of the Gods is BLM land, meaning you can camp in any of the road pulloffs (provided you leave no trace). If you decide to hike in any of Utah’s national parks, be sure you’re prepared for potentially icy conditions.

9. Moab, Utah

Moab Utah

Moab sits between two of  Utah’s best national parks :  Arches  and Canyonlands, so this charming town surrounded by red-rock landscapes is a great pick for December adventurers. Not only can you hit up popular places like Delicate Arch and Mesa Arch without seeing too many crowds, but the chilly weather here isn’t too frigid to put a damper on your trip.

Moab doesn’t get very much snow, but the surrounding La Sal Mountains will likely be completely white this time of year. The color contrast between the white mountains and red-orange rock formations is a stunning sight that you only get in the wintertime.

Find out what else to do in Moab here.

10. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Rocky Mountain national park Utah

If you want a December full of towering mountains, Colorado is the place to go. For one, the state is known for having the most “fourteeners” (mountains higher than 14,000 feet) in the country. 

While some parks close during this time of the year,  Rocky Mountain National Park  is open year-round. Though you can enjoy your trip here with just snowshoeing gear, there are opportunities for sledding and skiing too. The colder months are also ideal for watching wildlife like elk, moose, and deer. Check out the  park’s page  for more details on the winter activities you can do here. 

Colorado also makes for a  fun road trip  if you want to explore the state during your December trip. 

11. Sedona, Arizona

sedona arizona

Sedona, Arizona , is one of the  United States’ hubs for everything spiritual , but it’s also a fantastic place to enjoy the outdoors in December. If you’re coming from a place that gets super cold in the winter, Sedona is a great escape to warmer temperatures without it being too hot.

Another huge plus of visiting Sedona in December is the laid-back atmosphere and thinner crowds. Head out for a hike to the Seven Sacred Pools or Devil’s Bridge, and you might be able to enjoy some solitude, as there won’t be as many hikers as there are in the warmer months.

Find out what else there is to do in Sedona here .

12. Bisti Badlands Wilderness, New Mexico

Bisti Badlands Wilderness, New Mexico

Want to see some otherworldly landscapes with names like “Alien’s Throne” and “Dragon Eggs”? Head out to the Bisti Badlands Wilderness in New Mexico for all that and more. This incredible slice of undisturbed nature is a  must-see place in New Mexico  because of its uniqueness. The Bisti Badlands are a whopping 45,000 acres, with no real trails or paths to follow, making it ideal for travelers seeking a truly rugged adventure.

You can visit the Bisti Badlands any time of year and find very few people, but December is especially ideal because of the mild weather and even fewer people. Make sure to bring a 4×4 vehicle and plenty of water!

13. Taos, New Mexico

Taos New Mexico

After the heat of the New Mexican climate fades away, December brings a time of rich cultural activities to the state. Taos combines both the natural and traditional draws of New Mexico, as a historic town located a half-hour drive from mountains ideal for skiing. If you come around Christmas, you’ll be able to see  luminarias  light the streets and parks of the state.

Taos is also a hub for forward-thinking architecture and has an entire community of people with Earthships, a sustainable type of home with all kinds of neat, environmentally friendly features.  Read more about the Taos Earthships here .

Check out this post  for other things to do in New Mexico.

14. Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque New Mexico

If you like history, Albuquerque might be the best next vacation for you. Definitely take a walk through Old Town, check out the Albuquerque Museum, stay at Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm , go to the Petroglyph National Monument, and watch a film at the historic KiMo Theatre.

But there’s plenty more to do if you’re not that into history, like snowshoe the Cibola National Forest , hike the Sandia Mountains, and get a view from above on the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway.

15. Big Bend National Park, Texas

big bend national park

Big Bend National Park  is a desert area along the southwest Texan border with Mexico. This park is arguably the best place on this list to stargaze — it  has the least light pollution of any other national park unit in the lower 48 states ! 

The average temperatures in Big Bend range from a nighttime low of 39 degrees to a daytime high of 63 degrees Fahrenheit, though sudden periods of cold weather happen on occasion. According to the park’s website,  the holidays are typically busy , so reservations for accommodations are highly recommended.

16. Fredericksburg, Texas

Fredericksburg, Texas

For a holiday experience with a  German  touch, check out Fredericksburg, home to the largest number of Texas German speakers. If you come in the latter part of December, you’ll be able to  see the town decked out in full Christmas decorations — German Christmas pyramid included!

The town is also around 70 miles from other cities, such as San Antonio and Austin, making for a great roadtrip stop.

17. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans

New Orleans has  so  much to offer beyond the Mardi Gras season. Besides being a great city for solo female travelers , it is just as full of energy in December as in February during Mardi Gras. Definitely go to the Bywater District , and maybe try some delicious vegan food ! Here’s a great itinerary for exploring New Orleans , and a helpful packing list . As a plus, December is during the shoulder season, so you’ll be able to still find relatively good accommodation deals.

18. Florida Keys Road Trip

florida sailing school

If you’re craving a sense of freedom, the Florida Keys are the answer. You can drive the entire Overseas Highway and gaze out at the Atlantic Ocean the whole time, hopping from key to key. There’s plenty of things to do in Key Largo , Islamorada , Marathon , Big Pine , and Key West , like sunset sails , snorkeling , and heading to the beaches . It’s America’s own slice of Caribbean paradise, with a special feel. (If you’re traveling solo, here’s everything you need to know .)

Where to Stay in Marathon Where to Stay in Key Largo Where to Stay in Key West

19. St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine, Florida

If you want a December trading snowboards for surfboards, few places fit the bill as perfectly as Florida. During the holiday season, St. Augustine is most known for its  Nights of Lights , a free celebration during which the city is covered in lights! 

In general, you can enjoy Florida’s summer activities during the winter. Whether you want to  learn how to sail in Ft. Myers or  explore Cocoa Beach , the state has a ton to offer throughout the end of the year.

20. Savannah, Georgia

savannah georgia

For a quaint Southern getaway,  Savannah  is an ideal destination. Shops selling holiday trinkets fill the hallmark  River Street  in December, offering the festive experience without the intense cold.

As a bonus, head about an hour and a half south to Georgia’s Jekyll Island for its annual  Holly Jolly Jekyll  festival. Throughout December, the island offers activities, ranging from a skating village to an array of light displays.

21. Charleston, South Carolina


Similar to the charm and historic landscape of Savannah,  Charleston  is a relaxing option for travelers this month. The city has a mild climate, giving visitors a slight chill of winter without the dramatic snowfall. Throughout December, the city hosts a celebration called the Holiday Festival of Lights , complete with lights, sculptures, and Santa!

22. Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville’s location lets you experience the best of the Appalachian’s winter scenery while keeping the conveniences of the city. Depending on the weather, some parts of the Blue Ridge Mountains may be closed.

But there are more things to do here than just day hike.  Here are a few of the best free and budget-friendly things to do in Asheville . If you’re willing to spend some money, the Biltmore Estate hosts an annual  Christmas at Biltmore  celebration that’s made the city popular during the holiday season.

23. Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee

Even though much of December is  Nashville ‘s low season, the city doesn’t lose any of its charm. Popular pastimes throughout the month include seeing the Christmas decorations at the  Gaylord Opryland Hotel  and attending the  annual Christmas Parade . If you come at the end of the month, you can catch Music City’s  New Year’s Eve extravaganza .

This is also a fantastic  budget destination in the US , as there are dozens of  free things to do in Nashville .

24. Hocking Hills, Ohio

Hocking Hills, Ohio

Hocking Hills is an area in southeastern Ohio with some of the most dramatic topographic features in the Midwest. There are a ton of scenic preserves and parks in the area, the most famous being  Hocking Hills State Park . In December, you may see snow and ice formations along the trails, adding to the beauty of the parks’ hikes.

25. Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois

There’s no denying that winters in  Chicago  can get very cold. However, December doesn’t suffer the brunt of the winter freeze, which makes it an excellent destination if you want to take advantage of some off-season deals. You’ll be able to see some of the city’s main holiday attractions, including light displays at the  Lincoln Park Zoo and the traditional  Christkindlmarket .

Chicago also has tons of  free things to do , so between that and the off-season deals, December is the  perfect time to visit Chicago  on a budget. 

26. New York, New York

New York, New York

If Hollywood has showed us anything, it’s that  New York City  is the quintessential place to spend the holiday season. And how can it not be iconic? From ice skating in the parks to holiday shopping down Fifth Avenue, NYC is a playground of festive activity.

If you’re intimidated by its reputation for being super expensive, consider all of these  free things to do in the Big Apple , which can help offset some of the higher prices on things like food and accommodation.

27. Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park , a piece of northeastern coastal land mostly on Maine’s Mount Desert Island, shines in December. Some of its roads close this month, so be aware of the park’s  operating hours and seasons . Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are a few of the popular activities this time of year, along with  ice fishing  (though that is mainly popular during the latter part of winter).

Off the Mainland

28. maui, hawai’i.

road to hana

There isn’t really a bad time to visit Hawai’i , making it a popular destination for those with time off during the holiday season. Maui is a great spot to explore, especially solo (here are tips for how to experience Maui alone ), with journeys like the  Road to Hana  to keep you busy.

Check out  our Hawai’i guide  for more tips as to how you can spend your December here. Not sure what to pack? We’ve got you covered with this perfect Hawai’i packing list .

29. Vieques, Puerto Rico

Vieques, Puerto Rico

Thanks to its location south of the Tropic of Cancer,  Puerto Rico  is in a year-round state of summer. As one of two territories in the Caribbean that US citizens can enter without a passport, Puerto Rico is a perfect option for December travelers wanting to brush up on their Spanish. Most people visiting Vieques Island come to see  Mosquito Bay , one of the five bioluminescent bays in the world. Come out here on a dark night to experience nature’s very own light show.

Regardless of where in the US you are, there is no one way to spend the month of December. With the holiday season in full swing, there’s bound to be a destination that’ll finish your year off in an unforgettable way.

Is there a place you want to visit this December? Let us know!

About Kristin Addis

Kristin Addis is the founder and CEO of Be My Travel Muse, a resource for female travelers all around the world since 2012. She's traveled solo to over 65 countries and has brought over 150 women on her all-female adventure tours from Botswana to the Alaskan tundra.

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09/20/2023 at 2:03 am

All places are perfect

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The 12 Best Places to Travel in December

By Caitlin Morton

Santiago Chile

When thinking about the best places to travel in December, you may be tempted to view the month through the lens of Christmas—which is understandable, given the wealth of cities that go all out for the holidays . And while we’re always down for a European Christmas market or dazzling lights display, there are plenty of reasons to travel this month outside of the holly and the jolly.

Whether you want to get a jumpstart on ski season or escape the winter doldrums in the Caribbean, here are the 12 best places to travel in December.

This article has been updated with new information since its original publish date.


Miami, Florida

Many people head to Miami in early December for Art Basel Miami Beach , a glittering, four-day confab (scheduled for December 8–10 in 2023) that lures both the fashion and art worlds. The lineup of artists includes 24 first-time participants (out of 277 total) hailing everywhere from New York to Seoul, plus several guest lectures and dining experiences.

There are plenty of reasons to visit Miami beyond the final moments of Art Basel, of course—namely a booming high-end hotel scene. The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort is an art destination in and of itself, with geometric metal walls and massive sculptures hanging from the lobby ceiling. Other luxurious amenities, like private butlers and a gourmet burger bar, make this the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion. For a beachier (but just as luxurious) stay, head to The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne , located about 15 miles from South Beach. Its ocean views and tequila-stocked restaurant are great any time of year, but this December welcomes a slew of holiday-themed perks, like eggnog in the lobby and peppermint pedicures in the spa.

Yellowstone in winter

Yellowstone National Park

If you haven’t visited Yellowstone in the dead of winter, you are missing out on one of the most incredible travel experiences out there. Not only will you escape the typical summer hoards that make it nearly impossible to see wildlife and popular sites like Old Faithful—starting in December, the park is closed to cars and will only allow snowcoaches and snowmobiles to enter—but the relative quiet and icy chills of winter make our oldest national park feel even more like a mystical wonderland. Just imagine: sleepy bison with snow-dusted beards, bright blue pools set against a blanket of white, and boardwalks billowing with steam from the surrounding thermal features.

There are only a couple of in-park lodges open in the winter, but luckily they are incredibly cozy and convenient. Located in the heart of Yellowstone, Old Faithful Snow Lodge will get an extra dose of holiday magic this December, with trees set up throughout the hotel, in-room Christmas sweets, cookie decorating stations, and visits from Santa. Guests can also book several outdoor excursions from the lodge, ranging from guided snowshoe tours to wildlife photo safaris.


The Azores, Portugal

This once-overlooked archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic is tailor-made for adventurers—think whale watching, hiking calderas, and rappelling down waterfalls. (The island of Terceira is home to the only volcano in the world where visitors can explore a chimney and secondary magma chamber, sitting side by side.) And while tourism has caught up to the Azores within the past decade, visiting during the winter gives you a glimpse of what Eden once looked like.

December isn’t chilly here, despite the archipelago’s Atlantic location—the Gulf Stream keeps the year-round temperatures surprisingly balmy, with the mercury rarely dropping below 60 degrees or so. The island of Santa Maria generally boasts the warmest climate, though swimming may be off the table in the winter. If you’re craving water time, pay a visit to a geothermally heated hot spring instead.

Best Places to Travel in December Salzburg at Christmas

Salzburg, Austria

Germany tends to get most of the attention when it comes to Christmas markets (for good reason), but neighboring Austria can be just as festive and charming—especially in the city of Salzburg. It’s not a surprise that the UNESCO World Heritage -listed Old City, which served as the backdrop for The Sound of Music, also fills its famed Christkindlmarkt with song.

With roots dating back to the 15th century, the market’s sing-alongs and traditional wind music are as much a part of the festivities as the mulled wine and stands selling ornaments and fluffy socks. We’re not mad about the bauernkrapfen (fried pastries), either. The market earns extra points for being just steps away from Hotel Goldener Hirsch , one of the world’s oldest luxury hotels and a perfect spot to warm up between outdoor shopping sprees.

Image may contain Summer Tropical Outdoors Nature Hotel Building Architecture Resort Lamp Plant and Tree

Just down the Caribbean coast from the Yucatán with a fraction of the tourism, Belize has transformed from a backpacker haven into a luxury destination over the past few years. (Bonus: It’s only a five-hour flight from New York.) Along with world-class reefs for diving and Mayan ruins for exploring, the country is known for its conservation efforts, particularly when it comes to protecting ocean life. Many hotels and resorts have jumped on the eco-friendly bandwagon, including Turneffe Island Resort , which goes to great lengths to support the population of Antillean Manatees in the nearby Turneffe Atoll. Guests may get a chance to spot the gentle giants while staying on the resort’s 14-acre private island, while gift shop purchases go straight to the Belize Manatee Conservation Program.

Aside from offering an indulgent, adults-only stay on a true white-sand beach, Matachica Resort & Spa provides interactive workshops to learn about the Belize Barrier Reef, including guided scuba diving trips and helicopter tours. Given that December 4 marks World Wildlife Conservation Day, we say there’s no better time to pay these forward-thinking hotels a visit.



Switzerland is always one of the world’s most beautiful countries, but it becomes downright magical come winter: city squares dusted with snow and mountainsides transformed into the best ski slopes on the planet. It can be hard to pick just one Swiss destination to visit in December, which is why hopping on the Glacier Express is the perfect introduction to this wintery wonderland.

The Glacier Express is an eight-hour train ride that connects two of Switzerland’s biggest mountain resorts—Zermatt and St. Moritz—but it’s really more about the journey than the destination here. The train passes over 290 bridges, delivering panoramic views of landmarks like the Oberalp Pass and Matterhorn, and it even includes three-course meals to really help you enjoy every second of the ride.

Charleston South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

If you want an immersive Christmas experience but aren’t a fan of cold weather, Charleston is the perfect destination for you. In fact, we’d argue that winter is one of the best times to visit, when temperatures hover around the 50s and 60s. Holiday attractions this year include the 34th Annual Holiday Festival of Lights (November 10–December 31, 2023), featuring an estimated 2 million twinkling lights, and Holiday Swing (December 2, 2023), a concert of reimagined Christmas carols courtesy of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra.

The city has no shortage of fabulous hotels, but some notable properties go all out for the holidays. The French Quarter Inn , voted one of the best hotels in Charleston by our readers, will be fully decked out with a Christmas tree and free gingerbread cookies in the rotunda, while the Sleigh Bell Suite comes with even more festive amenities: an in-room eggnog bar, freshly-baked cookies served by the fireplace, holiday movie screenings, and a special reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas from Santa himself. Over at The Spectator Hotel , personal butlers assigned to each guest can transform your room with personalized Christmas decorations, plus bring you any treats and drinks you request.

Whistler Canada

Whistler, Canada

If you’re desperately seeking slopes, you can’t do much better than the largest ski area in North America. With 8,171 acres of skiable terrain and hills ranging in difficulty from green to double-black, the twin peaks of Whistler Blackcomb truly have something for every winter sports enthusiast. Both the Big Red Express lift and Creekside Gondola were reworked a couple of years ago to hold more people, meaning the mountains will feel far less congested and visitors can enjoy even more rounds of powder.

Once you pack up your poles for the day, soak up all the après glory at Whistler Village. Here you’ll find the resort area’s largest concentration of bars and restaurants, ranging from the buzzy high-end seafood restaurant Wild Blue to the upscale yet relaxed Braidwood Tavern . In terms of hotels, the Fairmont Chateau Whistler looks (and feels) like a true fairy tale castle, nestled at the base of Blackcomb.

Santiago Chile

Santiago, Chile

​​Travelers often overlook Chile’s capital city in favor of splashier South American destinations like Rio or Buenos Aires—but we encourage you not to make that same mistake. Santiago is not only a superb base for outdoor adventure, thanks to its location between the Andes and the Pacific, but it’s an excellent standalone destination for anyone who loves great food, great wine, and plenty of shopping opportunities.

After exploring the city’s coolest neighborhoods, tack on a side trip to Valparaíso—the former seaport home of Pablo Neruda and current headquarters for the Chilean Navy. It’s just a two-hour drive here from Santiago, but you’ll want to plan to stay overnight (and not just because you’ll be drinking a lot of wine). With its colorful hillside houses and abundance of museum-worthy street art, Valparaíso is not an easy place to say goodbye to.


If you’re anything like us, emerging from two years of lockdowns and closed borders has inspired you to finally book that once-in-a-lifetime trip you’ve always dreamed about—like an expedition to Antarctica , for example. The white continent is at its best from December to March, when wildlife is active and the sun shines for nearly 24 hours a day. And while trips like these typically require a lot of advance planning, there’s still time to book a spot on an expedition cruise ship before 2023 wraps up (although you may want to use this time to start researching for next year).

Ponant has about a dozen sailings available through the end of December, with trips ranging from 10 to 15 nights and including stops in South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. Another great option is Quark Expedition’s “Antarctic Explorer: Discovering the 7th Continent” voyage, an 11-day trip with six departure dates within the month of December (plus many in 2024). Each sailing includes the typical stops, but Quark also started offering a majorly cool add-on a few years ago: alpine heli-trekking, in which guests board a helicopter (just imagine those views) and fly to typically inaccessible terrain to enjoy hiking or snowshoeing.

Moskito Island British Virgin Islands

British Virgin Islands

Made up of more than 60 tropical isles, the British Virgin Islands are easily one of the best places to travel in December. The archipelago is the epitome of Caribbean relaxation with white-sand beaches and lush rainforests—not to mention some of the best hotels in the entire region. Richard Branson’s Necker Island is arguably the most famous resort, freshly reconstructed with an emphasis on sustainability. New wind turbines join the existing solar farm so that the resort runs on 90 percent renewable energy. Even the staff uniforms are made from recycled plastic.

Recent years saw the arrival of two new private island resorts, both of which appeared on our 2022 Hot List . Off the northern end of Virgin Gorda, Saba Rock ’s nine-bedroom boutique hotel boasts a bustling rooftop bar, spacious guest rooms, and a seemingly endless supply of water sports. Meanwhile, Branson struck gold again with Moskito Island , located just two miles away from Necker Island. Guests with deep pockets can choose from three private estate rentals, each with its own distinct style. Amenities like private chefs and house managers available to help 24/7—plus the chance of running into Branson himself on the tennis courts—offer a true taste of a billionaire’s vacation.

best places to travel in december Paris

Paris shines extra bright during the holiday season, from the lights along the Champs-Élysées to store window displays that rival museum art installations. This year is a particularly great time to plan a trip, with inexpensive nonstop flights with French Bee (France’s first low-cost carrier ) and a crop of new hotel openings. Be one of the first to stay at Bulgari Hotel Paris or Hôtel Madame Rêve , housed in a former 24-hour post office—or choose from one of the many established hotels in the city.

For an extra-special holiday experience, book a spot on the “ Paris at the Holidays ” group trip (November 30–December 7) from specialty planning company French Affaires. Curated by France travel expert Elizabeth New Seitz, the trip includes an evening tour of the city’s Christmas lights, a private tour of the Louvre, a Buche de Noel (yule log) cooking class, and French afternoon teas at some of the city’s top palace hotels.

best cities to visit in usa in december

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Awesome Places to Visit in the USA in December

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Best Places to Visit in the USA in December

December is a magical time of year in the United States, and there’s really no better way to cap off the year than by hitting the road! Whether you’re looking to escape the cold at a tropical beach or embrace the snow on an epic ski trip, there are tons of incredible places to visit in the US in December.

Of course, holiday travel is huge this month. If you want to relish the festive season, you’ll find endless holiday cheer and special events in cities big and small. But if you’d prefer to avoid the crowds and costs that come with a Christmas vacation , you’ll have plenty of options to choose from, too. 

With so many wonderful places to visit in December, it might be tough to decide where to go! So we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best places to visit in the US in December for you. Plan the ultimate December getaway and get ready to make some unforgettable memories!

Don’t forget to check out our web story: The 13 Best Places to Visit in the US in December

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase or booking through one of our links we may earn a small commission (don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you).

New Orleans, Louisiana

Best Places to Visit in US in December: New Orleans

From noshing on beignets at Café du Monde to marveling at 18th-century buildings in the French Quarter, The Big Easy is a prime destination to visit year-round. But did you know it’s one of the best US cities to visit in December?

Book a trip to New Orleans in December, and you’ll find all sorts of festive and fun special events happening all month long. Plus, the city is all dressed up in twinkling lights and holiday displays, creating a truly magical atmosphere!

What Places to Visit in US in December: New Orleans

Starting at the beginning of the month, you can expect restaurants to mix up festive craft cocktails and serve up special menus, including traditional Reveillon dinners (a late-night multi-course holiday meal). Be sure to also attend one of the free classical and jazz concerts courtesy of the St. Louis Cathedral Concert Series and check out the spectacular light displays at the iconic Celebration in the Oaks and LUNA Fête . 

Then there’s the Krewe of Jingle Christmas Parade, the boozy Running of the Santas pub crawl, and the Holiday Home Tour , which gives you a peek into the beautiful private homes in the Garden District. From thrilling college football games to festive cruises on the Mississippi, there’s tons going on in New Orleans in December!

Zion National Park

Where to Vacation in US in December: Zion National Park

If you’ve visited Zion National Park during the peak months (April through October), you know that the crowds can be overwhelming. After all, this is one of the most popular national parks in the United States!

But visit Zion in December, and you’ll be rewarded with near-empty hiking trails, scenic overlooks, and iconic attractions. Brave the chilly temps, and you’ll quickly see why Zion National Park is one of the best places to visit in the US in December. 

Must Visit Places in US in December: Zion National Park

Plus, winter is the only time of year that you can cruise along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive in your own car (aside from certain days, including the time between Christmas and New Year’s). The road is closed to private vehicles from March to November, so being able to travel at your own pace and stop whenever you want is a huge benefit of visiting in winter.

Another perk of visiting Zion in December is that your chances of snagging a coveted permit to hike Angels Landing or The Subway are much better compared to peak season months. But beware of Angels Landing if it’s icy, those dropoffs are no joke!

Of course, December is the coldest month of the year to visit Zion, with an average low of 30°F and high of 50°F. But bundle up, and you’re in for the trip of a lifetime. If you have extra time make sure you visit nearby Bryce Canyon National Park – another fabulous place in Southern Utah for a white Christmas !

Lake Placid

What Places to Visit in US in December: Lake Placid

If you’re looking for epic winter destinations perfect for a year-end trip, Lake Placid is easily one of the best vacation spots in the US in December. Tucked away in the Adirondack Mountains, this quaint New York town is a mecca for adventure junkies, especially in the winter months.

Lake Placid has been a top winter destination since the early 1900s, and it even played host to the Winter Olympics back in 1932 and again in 1980. Fast-forward to today, and you can experience Lake Placid’s Olympic past at the Olympic Center, Olympic Jumping Complex, Mt. Van Hoevenberg, and Whiteface Mountain.

Best Places to Visit in US in December: Lake Placid

Take advantage of the powder-fresh snow, and hit the slopes of Whiteface Mountain , one of the top ski resorts in the country. If you prefer something a bit more mellow, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at Mount Van Hoevenberg and beyond. 

If you’re in town just to relax, that’s fine too. You’ll find all sorts of lovely lodges and pampering spas all around town, perfect for a carefree winter weekend away!

Leavenworth, Washington

Where to Vacation in US in December: Leavenworth

Tucked away in Washington ‘s Cascade Mountains, Leavenworth is famous for its authentic Bavarian Village lined with alpine-style buildings and German restaurants. There are plenty of reasons to visit Leavenworth year-round, but if you’re looking for magical Christmas destinations, this Washington hamlet is easily one of the best places to travel in the US in December!

Leavenworth is widely hailed as one of the best Christmas towns in the US, so expect plenty of twinkling lights and holiday cheer all month long thanks to the annual Village of Lights Christmastown event. 

Must Visit Places in US in December: Leavenworth

During this month-long event, you’ll have the chance to participate in all sorts of fun activities – from marveling at the half a million lights that adorn the town and taking photos with Santa to listening to carolers and snacking on all of the festive German treats. 

If that’s not enough, you can spend your days checking out all of the nutcrackers at the quirky  Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum , enjoying mulled wine and spiced nuts at downtown’s restaurants, going sledding through the middle of town, visiting the  Leavenworth Reindeer Farm  – the list goes on and on.

To add to the magical atmosphere, December is a prime time to see this picture-perfect town blanketed in snow!

Key West, Florida

Best Cities to Visit in US in December: Key West

Located at the southwestern tip of the Florida Keys, Key West is easily one of the best warm places in the United States to visit in December. The average daytime temperature hovers around 76°F, making this one of the warmest wintertime destinations in the country! 

That being said, the colder-than-usual ocean temperatures and mild rainfall might be off-putting to some. But if you visit Key West with an open mind, you won’t be disappointed. Plus, you may very well have perfect tropical weather during your entire trip. 

What Places to Visit in US in December: Key West

Key West is stunning year-round, and you can easily while away the days snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters, soaking up the sun from a pristine beach, or lounging around your hotel pool. But December also offers all sorts of festive activities and events, too, creating a fun and unique juxtaposition to the tropical surroundings.

During the holidays, the entire island, including Duval Street, is decked out in aquatic-themed holiday decorations, making it even more charming than usual. If you’re in town in December, be sure to take the Holly Jolly Holiday Trolley to check out Key West’s best light displays. 

Then there’s the Key West Holiday Parade the first week of December, the Lighted Boat Parade in mid-December, and the iconic New Year’s Eve Conch Shell Drop, to name a few fun events!

Williamsburg, Virginia

Where to Vacation in US in December: Colonial Williamsburg

If you’re looking for the best US cities to visit in December, Williamsburg, Virginia , offers all sorts of unique attractions you won’t find anywhere else. Williamsburg was the capital of the Virginia Colony from 1699 to 1780 and is famous for its role in the American Revolution. If you’re a history buff, you’ll love this place!

Visit any time of year, and you’ll have the chance to explore the 301-acre Colonial Williamsburg living museum, which features costumed characters re-enacting scenes from daily 18th- and 19th-century life. From dining at George Washington’s favorite tavern to shopping for gifts in the 18th-century-style Merchant Square, there’s always something fun to do in Williamsburg!

What Places Have Shoulder Season in US in December: Colonial Williamsburg

But visit in December, and you’ll find tons of seasonal events happening around town. If you want to shop till you drop, don’t miss out on Yorktown’s Christmas Market on Main, the Bizarre Bazaar at the nearby Richmond Raceway Complex, or all of the excellent deals at the Williamsburg Premium Outlets. 

Then there’s ice skating at the Liberty Ice Pavilion in the middle of Colonial Williamsburg, the festive treats at Yorktown Mistletoe Market and Toyland Parade, the spectacular “Grand Illumination” events in Colonial Williamsburg, and so much more. 

Joshua Tree National Park

What Places to Visit in US in December: Joshua Tree

Anyone who has ever visited Joshua Tree in the summer knows the heat can be downright brutal (think 100°F and beyond). Visit in the spring or fall, and you’ll have huge crowds to contend with. But travel to Joshua Tree in December, and you’ll be rewarded with fewer crowds and ideal weather for hiking. 

That being said, things do get really busy over the holidays. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, we suggest visiting toward the beginning of December.

Best Places to Visit in US in December: Joshua Tree

This is the California desert, after all, which means you can expect the temperature to hover around  60°F during the day and 40°F during the evenings. Rain and snow are always a slim possibility in December, so pack accordingly. 

One of the most unique things about traveling to Joshua Tree in the winter is that the days are shorter, which means you’ll have ample opportunity to stargaze in this Dark Sky Park. But when you’re not marveling at the star-speckled sky, you’ll have a blast hiking to Joshua Tree’s most famous rock formations, checking out the Cholla Cactus Garden, watching the sunset from Keys View, and so much more!

Savannah, Georgia

What Places Have Shoulder Season in US in December: Savannah

There really is no city quite like Savannah, Georgia . Famous for its picture-perfect Historic District and beautiful cobblestone squares, this Southern city just oozes charm. But visit in December, and you’ll find that the entire town is decked out in twinkling lights, red ribbons, and holiday cheer. 

This is one of the best Southern US cities to visit in December if you want to escape the frigid temperatures found in most US destinations this time of year. Head to Savannah, and you’ll experience highs in the upper 60s to low 70s and lows in the 40s. You might need gloves and a light jacket in the evenings, but that’s about it!

Where to Vacation in US in December: Savannah

Weather aside, there are all sorts of fun things to do in Savannah at this time of year. You’ll want to meander around the Historic District to check out all of the 19th-century mansions all dressed up in over-the-top Christmas decor before going shopping for gifts in the historic City Market and sampling holiday treats at the quaint shops.

From tree lighting ceremonies and holiday home tours to holiday-themed performances and spectacular light shows, Savannah knows how to get into the holiday spirit!

Maui, Hawaii

What Places to Visit in US in December: Maui

It’s no surprise that Hawaii is one of the best warm places to visit in December – if not the very best place! But if you can’t decide which island to visit, consider a wintertime trip to Maui .

Of the Hawaiian Islands, Maui gets the least amount of rain during the winter months, so you’re pretty much guaranteed excellent weather and 75°F days. Plus, the swimming conditions are also excellent, so you can spend your days soaking in the sun on the beach before dipping in the Pacific Ocean.

Best Places to Visit in US in December: Maui

The winter months are also a prime time to spot humpback whales in the wild. Roughly 12,000 humpback whales migrate from Alaska to Hawaii during the winter, meaning Maui is a prime spot for whale watching.  

Aside from spotting whales and dolphins in their natural habitat, you can spend your trip hiking in Haleakala National Park , touring a pineapple or coconut farm, snorkeling off the coast of Lana’i, and marveling at spectacular waterfalls along the Road to Hana .

With its perfect December weather and all of its iconic natural attractions, a December trip does come with a higher-than-usual price tag. But chances are you’ll find it’s money well spent!

San Antonio, Texas

What Places Have Shoulder Season in US in December: San Antonio

San Antonio , Texas , is another one of the best US cities to visit in December. With mild temperatures hovering around the high 60s and low 70s, you can leave your winter coat at home. You’ll love exploring the city’s top sights, including the Alamo, the UNESCO World Heritage sites along Mission Trail, and the bustling 2.5-mile River Walk without enduring the scorching summer temperatures.

Plus, during the entire month of December, the River Walk is decorated with 100,000 lights and visited by over 150 caroling groups. To really soak in the magical atmosphere, it’s well worth booking a river cruise if you’re visiting in December. 

Where to Vacation in US in December: San Antonio

Explore further afield, and you’ll find that local attractions like the Natural Bridge Caverns also get into the festive spirit, featuring everything from a Christmas tree to an ice skating rink. Head to the popular Six Flags Fiesta Texas and SeaWorld, where you’ll find thrilling rides and attractions and fun holiday-themed events happening all month long!

Plus, this is a prime time to dine on San Antonio’s incredible Mexican food. Tamales are traditionally prepared for the holidays around these parts, so be sure to try some of the city’s best at places like Delia’s , Teka Molino , and Lala’s Gorditas .

Grand Canyon National Park

Best Places to Visit in US in December: Grand Canyon

Visiting the Grand Canyon in December is a great idea if you want to avoid the hordes of tourists and are willing to brave the chilly temperatures and unpredictable weather. The park sees only 15% of the number of tourists during the winter months compared to the rest of the year, so expect quiet trails and sparsely populated overlooks along the South Rim!

The rims of the Grand Canyon can be very cold, but the inside of the canyon is actually protected from the brutal winds, meaning you can hike at relatively mild temperatures in the 50s! You’ll also have a much easier time obtaining permits at this time of year, which is another huge perk of visiting in December. 

What Places to Visit in US in December: Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is stunning at any time of year, but add a dusting of snow, and the landscape becomes even more magical!

It’s important to note that the North Rim is closed from early November to mid-May, and road closures are common, which means you likely won’t be able to access all the attractions on your bucket list. Check in at the visitors center to get up-to-date info on road and trail closures.

Winter storms and blizzards are also a very real possibility, so it’s always best to give yourself an extra couple of days to make sure you don’t miss out on everything you want to see and do! 

Newport, Rhode Island

Where to Vacation in US in December: Rhode Island

When it comes to the best places to visit in the US in December, it doesn’t get much better than Newport, Rhode Island . While this coastal city is best known as a sun-soaked summer destination for East Coasters, visit in December, and you’ll be treated to a winter wonderland. And if you’re lucky, you might get to see the city’s buildings and beaches blanketed in snow!

You can spend your days ticking off all of Newport’s most famous attractions. From the historic lighthouses and lavish Gilded Age mansions to the scenic Cliff Walk and the bustling Newport Harbor, you’ll find tons of fun things to do in Newport at any time of year.

Must Visit Places in US in December: Rhode Island

But December sees this place decked out in holiday charm, and you’ll find unique events happening all month long thanks to the annual “Christmas in Newport” event. Throughout December, you’ll come across Christmas concerts, tree-lighting ceremonies, arts and crafts fairs, festive pop-up shops, candlelit tours of historic homes, and so much more. 

One of the most popular Newport activities in December is the Holidays at the Newport Mansions , which gives you the chance to see The Breakers, Marble House, and The Elms all dressed up in Christmas décor! 

Best Places to Visit in US in December: Lake Tahoe

If you’re wondering where to go in December for some snow-filled fun, Lake Tahoe is always a good idea. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly destination or just want to take an epic ski trip with friends, Lake Tahoe has something for everyone.

In the winter, Lake Tahoe is a mecca for skiers and snowboarders who flock to the two dozen ski resorts that are scattered around the lake. From Heavenly and Kirkwood to Sierra-at-Tahoe and Sugar Bowl , you’ll be spoiled for choice! 

What Places to Visit in US in December: Lake Tahoe

There’s a reason this is one of the best vacation spots in the US in December. But if skiing isn’t really your thing, you’ll find plenty of other wintertime activities to keep you entertained.

If you want to make the most of the city’s stunning natural setting, you’ll find plenty of hiking and snowshoeing opportunities around the lake. Or, for more chilled-out activities, you can shop till you drop in Heavenly Village, take in the views from the Heavenly Gondola , or take a gamble in one of the ritzy casinos on the Nevada side of the lake!

No matter how you spend your day, cap it off with a visit to one of Tahoe’s many après-ski spots, where you can mix and mingle over drinks!

There you have it! The 13 best places to visit in the USA in December. What are your favorites?

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Best Places to Visit in the USA in December

Justine is a writer and editor who always seems to take the unconventional route in life. She also suffers from a serious case of wanderlust! In 2013, she left her hometown in California and set off on a yearlong round-the-world journey with her now-husband – they never looked back. Since then, she’s lived the expat life in Indonesia, Cambodia, China, Vietnam, Mexico, and now Dubai. Along the way, she's written and edited for magazines, newspapers, and websites in Asia and beyond. When she's not stoking her wanderlust by working on travel articles for Wandering Wheatleys, Justine is busy caring for her many foster cats in Dubai, seeking out all the delicious vegetarian food, and taking every chance she gets to explore a new corner of the world!

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Local Adventurer » Travel Adventures in Las Vegas + World Wide

15 Best Places to Visit in December in USA

  • In the City / USA

Looking for the best places to visit in December in USA? These are the places you want to visit this month.

December is a great time to travel if you love the holidays and festive destinations. Some cities are extra magical, but it also draws more crowds.

It’s also perfect for snowbirds to escape the cold or if you’re from a hotter climate, it’s a good time to explore places that are way too hot any other time of year. I’m lookin at you,  Death Valley .

best places to visit in december in usa

This post may contain affiliate links, where we receive a small commission on sales of the products that are linked at no additional cost to you. All opinions are always our own. Read our full disclosure  for more info. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Local Adventurer possible.

Last Updated: September 25, 2023

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  • Best Places to Visit in December in USA
  • Festive + Winter Activities
  • Warm Weather Destinations

Map of the Best Places to Visit in December in USA

  • Warmest Destinations in the US
  • More December Travel Destinations

What to Pack

Planning checklist, more resources.

USA IN: Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | Jun | Jul | Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec

| Snow Activities + Holiday Destinations |

1. asheville, north carolina →.

36 Montford Ave, Asheville, NC 28801,  map

Weather Avg:  50° / 31° F

Asheville has a relatively mild winter, but it’s cold enough to get a feel for the holidays. You still need a winter coat, but you don’t have to worry about snow burying your car. Plus, there are plenty of festive winter activities.

Christmas at the Biltmore is iconic for those of us who lived in the South.

  • TO DO:   The Biltmore ,  Blue Ridge Parkway, River Arts District
  • EAT:   49 Best Places to Eat in Asheville
  • STAY:   Best Places to Stay in Asheville
  • EVENTS:   Christmas at Biltmore , National Gingerbread House Competition, Winter Lights at the NC Arboretum

Local Tip: If you’re exploring the outdoors, be aware of the weather. There can be ice on the roads and trails. Have  crampons  handy for  hikes nearby .

See More: 9 Things to Do at Biltmore + A Biltmore Estate Christmas

Biltmore Christmas Packages

2. Las Vegas, NV →

5200 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89119,  map

Weather Avg:  60° / 27° F

We love December in Las Vegas. The weather is perfect for hiking and climbing (send temps!), and the Strip  goes over the top with holiday decor. Each casino has impressive displays, but the best holiday display is at the Bellagio Conservatory.

  • TO DO:   Bellagio Conservatory ,  Here Kitty Kitty ,  Cosmo Ice Rink 
  • EAT:   E by Jose Andres, Mizumi, Poke Express
  • STAY:   Find Las Vegas Hotel Deals
  • EVENTS:  Enchant,  Holiday Lights at Ethel M , National Rodeo Finals

Local Tip: The sun sets early (around 4:30), so plan your days accordingly. Also, bring layers. Visitors don’t realize it can actually get cold, especially once the sun is down.

See More: Best December Events and Things to Do in Las Vegas

enchant christmas las vegas

3. Anchorage, Alaska

546 W 4th Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501,  map

Weather Avg:  25° / 17° F

Anchorage is one of the best places to visit in December in the US if you’re looking for a winter wonderland. You’ll find deep powder, crystal-clear ice, and you may even catch the northern lights! The skies are clear in the winter, making it perfect for flightseeing around the Chugach Mountains.

  • TO DO:  Glacier Cruise, Bike the Coastal Trail, Wildlife Viewing
  • EAT:   Moose’s Tooth ,  Snow City Cafe ,  Glacier Brewhouse
  • STAY:   Anchorage Hotel Deals
  • EVENTS:  Holiday Lights in the Garden, Anchorage International Film Festival, Anchorage Holiday Market

Pro Tip: Camera and phone batteries die quicker when it’s cold, so have  spare chargers  and batteries.

anchorage alaska winter + best places to visit in december in usa

4. Jackson Hole, Wyoming →

532 N Cache St, Jackson, WY 83001,  map

Weather Avg:  28° / 7° F

Jackson Hole is another phenomenal destination for outdoor winter adventures, like skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and ice skating.

There are also live shows, craft fairs, and a beautiful town square. It’s also a great time to go on a wildlife tour or a sleigh ride at the National Elk Refuge (opens mid-December).

  • TO DO:   Things to Do in Jackson Hole in the Winter
  • EAT:   Persephone Bakery ,  Hand Fire Pizza ,  Gather
  • STAY:  Search Jackson Hole Hotel Map
  • EVENTS:  Holiday Bazaar, Holiday Fun in Town Square,  Grand Teton Music Festival

Local Tip: Some activities are snow dependent and may not be available until mid to late December. Always double-check before booking.

See More: 11+ Unforgettable Things to Do in Jackson Hole Wyoming in the Winter

Jackson Hole Elk Refuge

5. New York City, NY →

14 Pennsylvania Plaza, New York, NY 10122,  map

Weather Avg:  44° / 31° F

Christmas in NYC is as quintessential as it gets. It’s everything that you would imagine from a TV Christmas with gigantic Christmas trees, holiday window displays,  ice skating rinks , and  Christmas markets . We always feel nostalgic and miss living in the city during the holidays.

  • TO DO:   Christmas Markets ,  Ice Skating ,  Holiday Shows
  • EAT:   99 Best Places to Eat in NYC
  • STAY:   Library Hotel ,  Search More NYC Hotel s
  • EVENTS:   The Rockettes ,  Christmas Markets , NYE in Times Square

Local Tip: Have fun!

See More: 11 Magical Ways to Spend Christmas in NYC

best cities to visit in usa in december

| Warm Places to Visit in December in USA |

6. death valley national park, california →.

Furnace Creek, CA 92328,  map

Weather Avg:  65° / 39° F

Death Valley is one of our  favorite national parks  because of the variety of landscapes within one park.

You can walk sand dunes, check out salt flats, or hike along colorful hills. In the summer, it’s unbearably hot, but you can comfortably spend all day outside in the winter. Just be sure to bring layers since the temperatures drop when the sun sets.

  • TO DO:   Badwater Basin, Mesquite Dunes, Zabriskie Point
  • EAT:   Last Kind Words Saloon ,  Happy Burro Chili & Beer ,  Smokin J’s Barbecue
  • STAY:   The Best Death Valley Hotels and Rentals

Local Tip: If you plan on visiting multiple National Parks, pick up an  annual pass  to save money.

See More: 15 Incredible Things to Do in Death Valley National Park

Mesquite Flats (9 Incredible Things to Do in Death Valley National Park California) //

7. Maui, Hawaii →

S Kihei Rd #1193, Kihei, HI 96753,  map

Weather Avg:  72° / 56° F

Maui (and all of Hawaii) is one of the best places to visit in December to escape the cold. Plus, you can enjoy the holidays with a tropical twist in shorts and a tee.

It’s also whale season, so look out for Humpback whales. Keep in mind that prices are high when families are visiting during winter break.

  • TO DO:   Road to Hana , Whale Watching, Lahaina Banyan Tree
  • EAT:   Mama’s Fish House ,  Coconuts Fish Cafe ,  Geste Shrimp Truck
  • STAY:   Maui’s Best Hotels
  • EVENTS:  Hawaii Food and Wine Festival, Made in Maui County Festival

Local Tip: December is the rainiest month in Maui but is mainly confined to the North Shore. A  packable raincoat  is handy.

See More: 19 Incredible Road to Hana Stops You Can’t Miss

Hamoa Beach Maui Hawaii

8. Los Angeles, California →

3006 W 7th St #200a, Los Angeles, CA 90005,  map

Weather Avg:  68° / 49° F

Temperatures are great in LA year-round, making it one of the best places to visit in December. It can get crowded, but luckily most visitors stick to touristy spots. 

You don’t want to miss out on holiday happenings, like Christmas Tree Lane in Altadena (one of the most festive streets in LA, the LA Kings Holiday Ice Rink, or the Hollywood Christmas Parade.

  • TO DO:   Ultimate LA Bucket List ,  Instagram Spots
  • EAT:   49 Best Places to Eat in LA
  • STAY:   Check our Los Angeles Hotels Map
  • EVENTS:  Christmas Boat Parade at Newport Beach, Hollywood Christmas Parade

Local Tip: LA traffic is brutal. When planning your trip, try to explore one area or neighborhood each day rather than spending your day sitting in the car.

See More: 101 Things to Do in LA

November in Los Angeles

9. Key West, Florida →

31281 Overseas Hwy, Big Pine Key, FL 33043,  map

Weather Avg:  77° / 70° F

Lighted boat parades, a naughty version of The Nutcracker, and festive historic inns are just a few of the unique things to do in Key West in December. Besides that, you get to enjoy the beautiful weather in town or explore the water.

  • TO DO:   Best Things to Do in Key West
  • EAT:   Blue Heaven ,  Santiago’s Bodega
  • STAY:   Look for the Best Key West Hotels Here
  • EVENTS:  Key West Holiday Fest, Key West City Hometown Holiday Parade

Local Tip: Parking can be troublesome, so look for a central place to stay and consider renting bikes to get around.

See More: 7+ Remarkable Things to Do in Key West Florida

cruisin tikis key west + 7 things to do in key west florida

10. New Orleans, Louisiana →

339 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70130,  map

Weather Avg:  65° / 46° F

New Orleans does the holidays their own way, with Christmas Eve Bonfires along the Mississippi River and Lena Fete turning Lafayette Square into a holiday wonderland. Sports fans can enjoy the Allstate Sugar Bowl and R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

  • TO DO:   101 Things to Do in New Orleans
  • EATt:   49 Best Places to Eat in New Orleans
  • STAY:   New Orleans Hotel Deals
  • EVENTS:  Krewe of Jingle,  Allstate Sugar Bowl

Local Tip: Food lovers should check out the  Reveillon Dinners,  where multiple restaurants throughout the city offer specially crafted prix-fixe menus and cocktails.

See More: How to Spend the Perfect Weekend in New Orleans

new orleans zip line - zip nola

11. Palm Springs, California →

2901 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262,  map

Weather Avg:  70° / 44° F

Imagine holiday decor with a Palm Springs vibe. It’s a recipe for a good time. You can enjoy Christmas movie nights and even see Santa arriving via helicopter. If you visit the Cabazon Dinosaurs, Mr. Rex is dressed up in a Santa suit too!

  • TO DO:   15 Best Things to Do in Palm Springs
  • EAT:   Farm ,  Trio ,  The Tropicale
  • STAY:   Search for Palm Springs Hotels
  • EVENTS:  Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, Wildlights at the Living Desert, Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade

See More: 15 Unforgettable Things to Do in Palm Springs

San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm + 15 Top Things to Do in Palm Springs CA

12. San Diego, California →

996 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101,  map

Weather Avg:  66° / 49° F

San Diego is still one of our favorite cities in the US to live in. During the holidays, the most popular attractions light up for the holidays. Explore Balboa Park, the San Diego Bay, Legoland, San Diego Zoo, and more with a Christmas twist. You can even ice skate on the beach at the Coronado Hotel.

  • TO DO:   San Diego Bucket List ,  Best Photo Spots
  • EAT:   Carnitas Snack Shack ,  Hammond’s Ice Cream ,  Steamy Piggy
  • STAY:   Search Our San Diego Hotels Map
  • EVENTS:   San Diego Bay Parade of Lights,   San Diego Underground Film Festival

Local Tip: Bring layers since the weather can get chilly, especially near the beach.

See More: 25 Free Things to Do in San Diego

San Diego + 15 Best Places to Visit in November in USA

13. Sarasota, Florida →

1945 Fruitville Rd, Sarasota, FL 34236,  map

Weather Avg:  74° / 53° F

Sarasota is known for its museums, art, and shopping, but we got to see a different side of Sarasota when we visited.  

The weather is perfect for both urban and outdoor adventures. In addition to that, you get the holiday events with illuminated gardens, festivals of trees, and gingerbread competitions. 

  • TO DO:   Best Things to Do in Sarasota
  • EAT:   Owens Fish Camp ,  Dry Dock Waterfront Grill ,  Duval’s Fresh Local Seafood
  • STAY:   The Best Sarasota Hotels
  • EVENTS:  Annual Gingerbread Festival, Christmas Walk in Historic Downtown Venice

See More: 7 Fun Things to Do in Sarasota Florida

South Brohard Beach / Shark Tooth Beach Florida + 7 Best Things to Do in Sarasota FL for Your First Visit

14. Savannah, Georgia

301 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Savannah, GA 31401,  map

Weather Avg:  64° / 45° F

Winter is quieter in Savannah, making it a great time to visit to avoid crowds. Christmas along the river is beautiful with plenty of decor and events. Take a riverboat cruise or tour historic homes when it’s extra magical during the holidays. 

  • TO DO:  Riverboat Cruise, Davenport House Museum, Ice Skating at the Savannah Civic Center
  • EAT:   Treylor Park ,  The Ordinary Pub ,  The Olde Pink House
  • STAY:   The Best Savannah Hotels
  • EVENTS:  Savannah Bridge Run, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, December Nights & Holiday Lights

Local Tip: Weather can be unpredictable, going from hot to cold, so pack layers.

See More: 15 Best Romantic Getaways in USA

Wormsloe Historic Site Savannah Georgia + 15 Amazing Weekend Trips from Atlanta

15. St Petersburg, Florida

8200 Bryan Dairy Rd STE 200, Largo, FL 33777,  map

Weather Avg:  72° / 57° F

On our last Florida visit, we heard so many good things about St Pete. It’s known as the Sunshine City, so get in your beach time this December.

For the holidays, they turn some parks into a winter wonderland where you can go tubing, and they have drive-in holiday movies.

  • TO DO:  Florida Botanical Gardens, The Dali Museum, Fort De Soto Beach
  • EAT:   The Library ,  The Mill Restaurant ,  Bacon Bitch
  • STAY:   Find St Petersburg Hotels
  • EVENTS:  Holiday Lights at Downtown Waterfront parks,  Snowfest

st pete beach florida + best places to visit in december in usa

Warmest Destinations is the US

The warmest states in the winter: Hawaii, Florida, California, Arizona, Texas, Georgia, and Louisiana.

The warmest cities based on average highs are:

  • 83°F – Kailua Kona, Hawaii Big Island || Lahaina, Maui
  • 82°F – Kahului, Maui || Everglades National Park, Florida
  • 81°F – Honolulu, Oahu
  • 79°F – Hilo, Hawaii Big Island
  • 76°F – Miami, Florida
  • 72°F –  Orlando, Florida
  • 71°F – South Padre Island, Texas
  • 70°F – Daytona Beach, Florida || Anaheim, California
  • 69°F –  Palm Springs, California  || Yuma, Arizona ||  Big Bend National Park, Texas
  • 68°F –  Los Angeles, California  || Corpus Christi, Texas

More December Vacations in US

Here are more destinations recommended by at least two or more travel blogs or sites. What do you think? Do they deserve to be at the top of the list? 

  • Beaufort SC
  • Beaver Creek CO
  • Big Bend NP TX
  • Breckenridge CO
  • Bryce Canyon NP UT
  • Charleston SC
  • Crystal River FL 
  • Galveston Island TX
  • Lake Tahoe CA
  • Leavenworth WA
  • Minneapolis MN
  • Mt Rainier NP WA
  • Nashville TN
  • Orlando FL  – Disney gets decked out but is crazy busy during the holidays. Go early December.
  • Park City UT
  • Rocky Mountains NP CO
  • San Antonio TX
  • Sandpoint ID
  • Sanibel Island FL
  • Santa Fe NM
  • Salt Lake City UT
  • South Padre Island TX
  • St Augustine FL
  • St Louis MO
  • Sun Valley ID
  • Washington DC
  • Yellowstone NP WY
  • Water Bottle (our favorite bottles tested on the road)
  • Portable Charger

For Cold Weather Destinations:

  • Rechargeable Hand Warmer
  • Insulated and Waterproof Shoes
  • 3-in-1 Parka
  • Heavyweight Socks

For Warm Weather Destinations:

  • Water Shoes

Want to know  what to wear to the airport ? These are  our ideal airport outfits  and  our carry on essentials for every flight .

  • Get comprehensive insurance for your trip.
  • Download these helpful language apps .
  • Arrange a rental car for your trip.
  • Get airport lounge access .
  • Buy a travel charger to keep your devices charged.
  • Get a new backpack for your trip.
  • Pack the appropriate shoes for your trip.
  • Don’t forget your in-flight essentials .
  • USA Travel Guide
  • Rand McNally Road Atlas
  • 50 Best Road Trips in the USA
  • Scenic Highways and Byways in the US
  • National Parks Travel Guide
  • Annual National Park Pass

Is there anything we missed on our list of best places to visit in December in USA?

Did you enjoy this post? Pin it for later

best places to visit in usa december

SEE More CITY Bucket Lists















“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes ” – M. Proust

Esther and Jacob

Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.

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Here Are The 15 Absolute Best Places To Visit In December Across The United States

best cities to visit in usa in december

Chris Muras

Every adventure starts with a single step. And then another, and another, until you find yourself somewhere new and undiscovered. That’s the journey of a writer. You never know where the next word will take you. Hopefully, together, we can experience some amazing new adventures at OnlyInYourState.

More by this Author

December is a fun time all across the United States with the holidays and winter festivities in full swing. Whether your idea of a winter getaway is to a tropical beach setting or a snow-capped mountain, we have some wonderful destinations to show you. Here are some of the best places to visit in the U.S. in December for you to start planning your next getaway.

Best Places to Visit in The USA In December

Best attractions to visit in the usa in december to avoid crowds, best places to visit in the us in december for outdoor adventure, best places to visit in december for events, best hidden gems to visit in the us in december.

If you are wondering where to visit in December in the USA, we have some extra special destinations for you to explore. From some places you have possibly always wanted to go, to hidden gems you may not have heard about yet. Here are some of our favorites that we think you’ll love too.

best cities to visit in usa in december

  • Location : Pasadena, CA
  • Why Visit In December : Visiting Pasadena, California in December is a quiet time of year with mild temps in the upper 60s to lower 70s. Activity heats up toward the end of the month when the city gears up for the annual Tournament of Roses New Year’s Day Parade and the Rose Bowl. The official events happen in January but the festivities begin in late December.
  • Where To Stay Nearby : Enjoy a Pasadena getaway with this charming Spanish-style home with a private pool and patio with a brick fireplace only 15 minutes from all of the activity around the Rose Parade and Old Town Pasadena.

best cities to visit in usa in december

  • Location : St. Augustine, FL
  • Why Visit In December : Visiting St. Augustine, Florida in December is the perfect way to get away from the huge tourist crowds that flood the city in warmer months. The city really gears up for Christmas celebrations, even as far back as mid-November and lasting toward the end of January. A particularly festive area is the Plaza de la Constitución.
  • Where To Stay Nearby : This charming renovated 1920s bungalow is the perfect spot to enjoy all that St. Augustine has to offer. This cute home is within walking distance of all the best attractions in the city.

best cities to visit in usa in december

  • Location : Albuquerque, NM
  • Why Visit In December : Visiting Albuquerque, New Mexico in December is a festive time of year. With numerous holiday events like the Twinkle Light Parade, the River of Lights, and the Old Town Holiday Stroll, you will be kept busy celebrating your love of the holidays.
  • Where To Stay Nearby : This lovely Southwestern-style home is only a few minutes from Old Town and all of the year-round activities and festivals ABQ is known for.

One of the best reasons to travel in December is that you can enjoy some of your favorite destinations without summer crowds. These next few destinations are unique in their own way and make for a delightful December getaway.

best cities to visit in usa in december

  • Location : North Pole, AK
  • Why Visit In December : Visiting the North Pole, Alaska in December is just about the most charming little town you can imagine - for obvious reasons. Even if you are on the naughty list there is plenty of time to rectify that.
  • Where To Stay Nearby : This North Pole cabin retreat is pretty magical with moose grazing in the yard, an Aurora Borealis as your night light, and the Christmas Spirit tucking you in at night.

best cities to visit in usa in december

  • Location : South Padre Island, TX
  • Why Visit In December : If you are looking for a nice winter beach getaway visiting South Padre Island in December is fantastic because the ocean off the coast rarely dips below 70 degrees. Combine that with comfortable air temps in the 70s and you have a magic combination that feels pretty amazing for a winter getaway.
  • Where To Stay Nearby : A beachfront condo is a nice affordable way to enjoy South Padre Island. At less than the cost of a mid-priced hotel, you and your family can enjoy this light-filled two-bedroom spot right on the beach.

best cities to visit in usa in december

  • Location : Sedona, AZ
  • Why Visit In December : Visiting Sedona, Arizona in December is great if you like a nice quiet weekend or a longer vacation. With fewer tourists taking all the best restaurants, accommodations, and parking spots, you can have this lovely city practically all to yourself.
  • Where To Stay Nearby : This beautiful villa overlooking the red rocks of Sedona is a fantastic romantic getaway for two. Incredible views of Chimney Rock, Doe Mountain, Thunder Mountain, and Coffee Pot Rock.

If you enjoy the outdoors and are looking for some of the best places to travel in December in the USA with stunning views and the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors these next couple of destinations should be on your trip list.

best cities to visit in usa in december

  • Location : Lake Placid, NY
  • Why Visit In December : Visiting Lake Placid, New York in December is a festive and active time of year. With holiday celebrations and numerous reasons to get outside and play, this picturesque town is filled with the holiday spirit and a sense of adventure.
  • Where To Stay Nearby : Treat yourself to a Lake Placid getaway to remember at this luxury lodge at the foot of Cobble Mountain within a block from Mirror Lake.

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best cities to visit in usa in december

  • Location : Grand County, UT
  • Why Visit In December : Visiting Arches National Park in December gives you a unique perspective that relatively few of us ever experience. This alien landscape is so quiet and calm after a winter dusting of snow it is easy to imagine you are on another planet.
  • Where To Stay Nearby : The Moab Pearl Ecolodge is a quiet oasis under the stars only a short distance from Moab and Arches National Park.

December is a festive time of year, but there are certain places in the US that really take holiday celebrations to a whole new level. Here are a couple of the best places to travel in December in the USA to celebrate the holidays.

best cities to visit in usa in december

  • Location : Bethlehem, PA
  • Why Visit In December : Visiting Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in December is a special time of year with holiday lights, Christmas celebrations, and good cheer. A variety of Christian denominations have their day around the holidays including Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Armenian, Protestant, and Ethiopian denominations as they pass through the city and into Shepherds' Fields.
  • Where To Stay Nearby : This delightful modern farmhouse in Bethlehem is a quiet getaway in Christmas City.

best cities to visit in usa in december

  • Location : Leavenworth, WA
  • Why Visit In December : Visiting Leavenworth, Washington in December is truly a magical experience with each and every inch of the town lit up with holiday lights. An extra special way to visit Leavenworth in December is to take the Leavenworth Snow Train from Seattle. It is a four-hour ride each way with an extra three hours given in Leavenworth itself.
  • Where To Stay Nearby : If you are staying in Leavenworth itself, this beautiful riverfront home is a fantastic way to go. The scenic Wenatchee River is right out your back door and you are only a few minutes from all the action in town.

We’ve all heard about the top spots in the US for wintertime getaways like ski lodges in Vail, or heading to Key West for a beach getaway, but there are plenty of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. The next few destinations you may not be as familiar with, but they are just as spectacular as those you are used to enjoying.

best cities to visit in usa in december

  • Location : East Burke, VT
  • Why Visit In December : Visiting East Burke, Vermont in December is the perfect getaway for ski enthusiasts. Burke Mountain is a picturesque spot for skiing, snowshoeing, tubing, sledding, and hiking.
  • Where To Stay Nearby : This beautiful modern chalet in the mountains is the perfect getaway for a family who loves wintertime activities. Easy access to skiing, hiking, snowshoeing, snowmobile trails, and biking on Kingdom Trails.

best cities to visit in usa in december

  • Location : Broken Bow, OK
  • Why Visit In December : Visiting Broken Bow in December has a whole new vibe than a summer vacation. Sure, you still have some of the most amazing cabins in the country, but lighting that winter bonfire while sipping a local brew, or sitting in the hot tub as steam rises all around you creates a whole new kind of magic.
  • Where To Stay Nearby : The Rowdy Beaver is a luxury cabin surrounded by forest and mountain views. Even though the name sounds like a bros weekend getaway, it is perfect for any occasion with room for eight guests.

best cities to visit in usa in december

  • Location : Solvang, CA
  • Why Visit In December : Visiting Solvang, California in December will treat you to holiday parades, tree lighting ceremonies, a Santa's Village, and even a city-wide hunt for Solvang Nisse - a group of gnomes hidden throughout downtown which reward you with prizes when you find them.
  • Where To Stay Nearby : In the heart of Solvang's Danish village is this charming three-bedroom home that fits in perfectly with the vibe of the town.

best cities to visit in usa in december

  • Location : Port Townsend, WA
  • Why Visit In December : Visiting Port Townsend, Washington in December for a family vacation is a fun time to celebrate the holidays. Particularly fun for kids (and us big kids too) is the Annual Uptown Gingerbread Contest at the Port Townsend Library - build your gingerbread house as tall and as elaborate as you desire to win prizes in five different categories.
  • Where To Stay Nearby : The baby-blue Ferry Boat House is a wonderfully restored 1880s Victorian home on Port Townsend Bay which gives you a lovely view of the passing ferry boats as they enter the harbor.

best cities to visit in usa in december

  • Location : Galena, IL
  • Why Visit In December : Visiting Galena, Illinois in December is a time of year when you can enjoy plenty of winter activities. One of our favorites is a candlelight hike through Casper Bluff Preserve. Of, course the historic Main Street Christmas celebration is especially wonderful too. They even go all out with holiday fireworks displays at the beginning of the month when Holiday Fire in the Sky lights up the town with excitement and good cheer.
  • Where To Stay Nearby : One of the best things about Galena is its abundance of charming Bed and Breakfasts. The 1842 Federal House is one such B&B you don't want to miss.

When it comes to winter travel some of us would rather hole up in a cozy cabin by the fireplace, others are looking for adventures. No matter what your ideal December vacation looks like we hope you have discovered a few new destinations that you are excited about visiting. If you have any other destinations that you’ve fallen in love with please share them with a comment so we can add them to our best places to visit in the U.S. in December list.

It’s never too early to start planning your next summer getaway too. Here are some of our favorite destinations to visit in July so you can get an early start on a fun summer trip.

OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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The Best U.S. Cities To Visit In December

best cities to visit in usa in december

MarynaG / Shutterstock

  • Activities and Interests
  • Breckenridge
  • Destinations
  • Family Vacations
  • Florida Keys
  • History and Culture
  • Holiday Travel
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • Seasonal Travel
  • Sightseeing
  • St. Augustine
  • United States
  • Weekend Getaway
  • Winter Travel

best cities to visit in usa in december

Most of the time, the word vacation evokes beach scenes in Italy, springtime flower festivals in Holland, and autumn foliage trips through the UK. But December in America offers unique opportunities that vacations taken at other times, in other places often can’t. And not just because the holidays can be magical in Walt Disney World.

In fact, some of the best vacations can be had Stateside during the winter months — the off-season in many places. You’ll encounter fewer crowds, more comfortable temperatures, and loads of attractions and special events that make any one of these trips a delight.

The Chicago Bean in December.

Chicago, Illinois

Despite being in the cold north, Chicago is one of the best cities to visit in December. The city is magical — with lights, festivals , markets , and all the museums, theaters, and zoos still going full tilt. There’s no real off-season in Chicago.

If you’re into outdoorsy activities, be sure to rent a pair of skates at the Maggie Daley Park Skating Ribbon or the more traditional rink at Millennium Park .

Grab some hot cocoa or coffee from the many boutique shops along Michigan Avenue and head into the heart of the shopping district along the Magnificent Mile. Everything is open and bustling year-round, so you’ll find great service, fabulous sales, and delicious meals everywhere you go.

Don’t forget to pop into the Lincoln Park Zoo for the glorious ZooLights , grab a drink at the Hancock Signature Lounge on the building’s 96th floor, and stroll downtown at night to take in the city’s incredible light displays that twinkle from November to January. There truly is something magical in the air when Chicago’s streets are lit up — no matter how cold it gets.

Book your December getaway to Chicago today!

Palm trees with Christmas lines in St. Augustine.

artconcept / Shutterstock

St. Augustine, Florida

Of course, if building a sandman is more appealing to you than a snowman, you’ll want to consider St. Augustine, Florida , for your next December getaway. While the town sort of “shuts down” when autumn hits and the bustling tourist season ends, there are still plenty of events to attend, sights to see, and things to do.

If you’re from a cooler climate, you’ll enjoy the beaches’ warmth in December. Bonus: St. Augustine’s beaches happen to be some of the nicest on the eastern coast of Florida north of Miami. There are seasonal events going on — Nights of Lights , a Christmas Parade, and the Luminary Night at the St. Augustine lighthouse. You can also experience the eccentric Villa Zorayda Museum by candlelight, take a trolley tour through the city’s historic town center, visit the Castillo de San Marcos , or explore St. Augustine’s Victorian history at the Lightner Museum .

You’ll find really great vacation deals during December since this is St. Augustine’s off-season. Romantic inns and bed and breakfasts have lower prices while most of the attractions of the area are still open but way less busy than they are during peak summer months.

Book your December getaway to St. Augustine today!

Ski lift in Breckenridge, Colorado.

Arina P Habich / Shutterstock

Breckenridge, Colorado

For skiing and other winter sports, Breckenridge is the perfect spot for a December vacation. Ski season is already in full swing by December and Breckenridge has some of the best slopes in the country. Admittedly, crowds will be heavy during December, and you won’t score any off-season deals, but the ski terrain, which includes nearly 3,000 acres along Tenmile Range , promises more space (and therefore more dispersed crowds) than a lot of other ski spots in the state.

The town itself is a charming, homey sort of place full of great spots for tourists to enjoy year-round. Visit Main Street for dining and shopping at locally-owned stores, tour the world’s highest distillery — the Breckenridge Distillery — go horseback riding through the snow , or meander the streets taking in the public art displays around the town, which is gorgeous, tourist-friendly, and always active.

Just be sure to book your accommodations a few months in advance since December is the start of Breckenridge’s winter peak season.

A beach in Key West during December.

Philip Lange / Shutterstock

Key West, Florida

If you’re loving the idea of warm weather in December, Key West is a great option . The beaches may be narrow, but the water activities, hiking, shopping, and exploring are plentiful in every season, with temperatures in December hovering around 70 degrees.

With the warm air and semi-tropical waters, you can skip the slopes and take on the waves if you’re up for water skiing. Or go diving and snorkeling around the coral reefs. Charters go out from the island for fishing year-round, as well, and Key West restaurants offer fresh catches cooked up in Southern style.

Key West is great for unique revelry in winter — it is known as the place for parties, after all, with great drinking spots like the Green Parrot and Sloppy Joe’s , plus fishing tournaments, lighted bike rides , and other events and spots where (almost) anything goes.

Best of all, in Key West, you can pretty much forget that it’s wintertime and just enjoy the temperate weather while you walk or bike the island , get some shopping in, and feast on steak, seafood, and Cuban dishes.

Snow on the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville.

Gabriel Swinney / Shutterstock

Asheville, North Carolina

If you’re not looking for the giant slopes of Colorado but still want some gorgeous mountain views during your December trip, Asheville, North Carolina , will pique your interest. This beautiful town is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina. Ski slopes are nearby, hiking trails are accessible year-round , and the crowds aren’t as huge as those in the Rocky Mountain states this time of year.

The weather is much milder here than it is in many other snowy destinations, so pencil in some trail hikes, a stroll along Asheville’s historic streets — where boutiques and restaurants offer a variety of unique options — and a tour of the city’s historic spots . You’ll learn about the interesting figures who built homes here, including George Vanderbilt and his 250-room castle-like chateau , which hosts diverse holiday-themed events , from Gingerbread House Tea to Candlelit Christmas Evenings.

The St. Louis Arch surrounded by snow.

The Wandering Soul / Shutterstock

St. Louis, Missouri

For a destination with moderate December temperatures and loads to do, St. Louis, Missouri is a great option. This Midwest city offers more than you might expect, from a plethora of restaurants to interesting museums and historic sites in and around the city.

Pack a coat and gloves and get outside to explore the site of the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair in Forest Park . The area features multiple attractions in close proximity, including historic sites from the fair turned into unique vantage points, the St. Louis Zoo , the Missouri History Museum , the St. Louis Art Museum , the Jewel Box greenhouse, and the historic Cabanne House .

St. Louis’s many gardens, parks, and other attractions are open year-round — like the Missouri Botanical Garden . For the kid at heart, an afternoon spent climbing the structures and viewing the artwork at the City Museum is a few hours well spent, while a drive through Lone Elk Park promises elk, deer, raccoon, and other Midwest critter sightings. And don’t forget to take a tram ride to the top of the Gateway Arch for spectacular views of the city, day or night.

Biloxi Lighthouse in Mississippi.

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

Biloxi, Mississippi

Another warm destination that’s well worth the visit is Biloxi, Mississippi, home of new restaurants, hotels, casinos, and more after its post-Katrina rebuild. Temperatures in the mid-60s barely require a sweater and the sunny skies promise pleasant views.

While you’re in Biloxi, you’ll want to visit the historical sites of the city, including the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library — also known as Beauvoir — and the Biloxi Lighthouse, but you’ll also have a blast seeing the newer side of town. Visit some of the casinos — Beau Rivage and the Golden Nugget are good picks — view art at the quirky Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art , and grab a pint at the Biloxi Brewing Company to round out your vacation with some of the town’s unique modern highlights.

Snowy Astoria harbor during the winter.

Jonathan Lingel / Shutterstock

Astoria, Oregon

Astoria, situated at the convergence of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean, was established as a trading post in 1810 . This beautiful historic town is a great place to vacation during the off-season in December. The weather can be a bit unpredictable — it could be fair and sunny or stormy and brisk — but that’s part of the charm of the town in wintertime. During your visit, you’ll find a range of activities that no one else is participating in because no one else is visiting. If you hate crowds and love unique vacations all to yourself , Astoria’s your kind of place.

You’ll want to pop into the Oregon Film Museum for a bit to relive memories of The Goonies , which was filmed primarily in Astoria back in the ’80s. The museum is also the site of the opening into the jail featured in the film.

For wildlife viewing with a twist, plus a good pint, you’ll want to hit up the Buoy Beer Company , which has a glass floor that allows you to see sea lions hanging out below.

Astoria’s historic downtown is charming and extremely walkable, so plan to enjoy a few hours popping into whatever museums, shops, and other attractions catch your eye. Nearby, you’ll find waterfalls, beaches, hiking trails, and other splendid outdoor spaces worth exploring. Temps are moderate, hovering in the 40s and 50s all month long.

Going to vacation in Oregon? Rent a car or hop on a tour bus from Portland to visit Multnomah Falls .

These eight great warm cities to visit around Christmas deserve your consideration, too. And if you want your vacation to be all about celebrating the season, then you need to read up on the best U.S. cities for a Christmas getaway in 2019 .

Image of Rita Juanita Pike

Rita Juanita Pike is the granddaughter of aviatrix Jerrie Mock, first woman to pilot an airplane around the world. Rita has taken inspiration from her grandmother’s life and flight and pursued many of her own dreams in theater, podcasting, and novel writing. She now writes on travel, pets, faith, and the arts. She’s happily married to Matt, and faithfully serves the very fluffy kitten queen, Lady Stardust.

Family Destinations Guide

35 Best Places to Visit in December in the USA

By: Author Christina Rado

Posted on Published: January 28, 2023  - Last updated: May 30, 2023

Categories Destinations , USA

There’s probably no better way to close out the year than by traveling, especially in December, a beautiful month in the United States.

There are a ton of fantastic destinations to visit in the US in winter.

Whether you’re trying to escape the snow at a warm beach or embrace the cold on a ski trip, this country has everything.

There are countless Christmas cheer and unique events in large and small places to enjoy the festive season.

But, if you prefer an intimate holiday, the USA has something for you, too.

Kickstart your winter adventure by checking out the best places to visit in December in the USA below.

1. Maui, Hawaii

Maui, Hawaii

Maui, HI 96708-96793 (808) 270-7230

Maui , also referred to as The Valley Isle, is Hawaii’s second-largest island in the Central Pacific.

Maui is the best choice if you’re seeking warm places to visit in December.

Expect daytime highs around 80 degrees Fahrenheit and evening lows around the 60s.

And you can unwind on the beaches with golden sand close to Kihei or Lahaina if you’re unsure what to do.

Plus, great snorkeling is accessible here.

Although Maui’s strong trade winds tend to lessen in December, it is still preferable to arrange water activities for the morning when the ocean is calm.

If you like colder weather, go upcountry to Kula, where the air is crisp and refreshing.

Related: Top Maui Restaurants

2. Leavenworth, Washington

Leavenworth, Washington

Leavenworth is a Bavarian-style hamlet in central Washington State’s Cascade Mountains.

Like a theme park, its architecture and art transport you to a charming German town as it sits beneath the shadow of the mountains along the Wenatchee River.

The best time to visit Leavenworth is during the Village of Lights Christmas Town festival, “where it’s Christmas every day in December!”

The village is all decked out for the holidays, with fresh evergreen garlands lacing the shops and half a million colorful lights illuminating Front Street Park.

You can hear live holiday music wafting through the air from the pavilion, and snow usually blankets the ground to add that extra enchantment.

Expect to find holiday activities like gingerbread houses, sleigh rides, kids’ crafts, a story corner, sledding, and roasted chestnuts.

Related: Where to Eat in Leavenworth

Related: Best Christmas Vacations For Families

3. Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville , located in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, is a gorgeous city that attracts outdoor enthusiasts worldwide.

Asheville is delightful to visit all year round.

However, December is one of the greatest seasons to visit Asheville, even though the region may not be as appealing due to the chilly winter weather.

And if you love Christmas, you will love Asheville.

Their festivities begin with a tree-raising ceremony and provide daytime and candlelit midnight tours of the Biltmore House’s festively adorned chambers.

Holiday activities are also featured in the Antler Hill and Historic Biltmore Village neighborhoods.

However, Asheville has many other beautiful locations to celebrate Christmas besides the Biltmore.

Additionally, the North Carolina Arboretum hosts Winter Lights, and the Omni Grove Park Inn hosts the National Gingerbread House Competition.

Recommended Hotel: Cambria Hotel Downtown Asheville

Related: Dining in Asheville

4. Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas

Austin , Texas’s state capital, is noted for its diversified live music culture based on country, blues, and rock.

Austin puts on those parades and light shows to show their love for the cold holidays.

Winter is a terrific time to get the party started on the dance floor at a prominent honky-tonk or music venue in Austin, like the Broken Spoke.

The Trail of Lights at Zilker Park, one of Austin’s top public holiday light shows in December, is also held there.

For a stroll beneath its sparkling lights, this occasion draws together businesses, nonprofits, towns, families, couples, and college students.

Recommended Hotel: The Driskill, in The Unbound Collection by Hyatt

Related: Must Try Restaurants in Austin

5. Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah is a coastal city in Georgia known for its antebellum architecture, well-kept parks, and horse-drawn carriage rides.

If you are looking for the best places to travel in December for the holidays, Savannah is like something out of a Hallmark movie.

Greenery and red ribbons adorn the squares by the Downtown Neighborhood Association.

Furthermore, a vast tree and string lights decorate Broughton Street, and merchants erect a bustling German-style Christmas market along the riverbank.

The most significant way to experience Christmas in Savannah is to stroll through the Old District and enjoy the holiday decorations of the historic homes.

Recommended Hotel: JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside District

Related: Top Restaurants: Savannah

6. Park City, Utah

Park City, Utah

Park City , located in Utah’s western state and famous for its ski slopes, is east of Salt Lake City.

Park City, Utah, is among the best US destinations in December if you’re hoping for a white Christmas.

Many holiday events include Snowfest at Park City Mountain, a yearly torchlight parade down the mountain, and even fireworks on New Year’s Eve.

You can also ride the North Pole Express on the Heber Valley Railroad, which is especially well-liked by families with young children.

Or arrange a private, exclusive snowshoeing tour with a guide.

Moreover, Park City’s Main Street is a popular destination for pubs, restaurants , art galleries, and Christmas entertainment.

Recommended Hotel: Park City Peaks

Related: Best Places to Visit During Christmas in The USA

7. Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley, CA 92328 (760) 786-3200

Death Valley National Park, which spans eastern California and Nevada, is well-known for Titus Canyon and the salt flats of Badwater Basin.

This national park is situated on the border between California and Nevada and is well-known for its extreme weather.

The world record for the greatest air temperature was set at Death Valley’s aptly named Furnace Creek, also known as the “hottest location on Earth.”

With typical high temperatures around 60 degrees Fahrenheit and average low temperatures around 30 at lower elevations, December tends to have much nicer weather.

Winter is the best month to visit Death Valley if you want to avoid crowds and go hiking in cooler weather.

Recommended Hotel: The Inn at Death Valley

8. Aspen, Colorado

Aspen, Colorado

Aspen, CO 81611-81612 (970) 925-1940

The Colorado town of Aspen is a well-known destination for outdoor activities and is home to a ski resort.

One of the best places to go in December, Aspen is a winter wonderland in the beautiful state of Colorado.

In December, tourists across Colorado and other states travel to Aspen to take in the breathtaking surroundings.

Due to its world-class ski resorts, Aspen has become one of the most favored locations for skiing and snowboarding during the winter.

With sleigh rides through the town streets, ice skating, tubing, and other winter sports, December in Aspen creates a magnificent ambiance.

Moreover, there are numerous bars and eateries in the city where you may indulge in seasonal favorites like hot chocolate with marshmallows.

Recommended Hotel: The Gant

9. Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park, UT 84532 (435) 719-2299

Arches National Park is famous for its 2,000 natural sandstone arches, including the massive, red-hued Delicate Arch in the east.

The park is most peaceful in the winter when a light layer of white snow covers the blazing red arches.

Avoid the busy tourist season and enjoy the peace of a winter visit.

Remember that a visit in the winter may bring cold weather and icy parking lots, roads, and trails.

But if you’re prepared and ready for the cold weather, a trip to Arches in the winter can be unique.

Recommended Hotel: Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Moab

10. Orlando, Florida

Orlando, Florida

Orlando , a city in central Florida, is home to more than a dozen famous theme parks, including Walt Disney World.

If you are wondering where to have the best birthday trips in December, visit Orlando.

Orlando in December offers mainly clear skies, low humidity, and colder temperatures.

The Christmas events and decorations at Disney and the other theme parks are over the top, but you can take the free Christmas tree promenade at Disney Springs.

Depending on when you visit in December, you can also take in the many parades, including boat parades.

Discover “snow” at some holiday celebrations, and meander around Lake Eola to see the Orlando Christmas tree and holiday light show.

Recommended Hotel: Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando, Autograph Collection

Related: Food Places in Orlando

11. San Diego, California

San Diego, California

San Diego is a popular tourist destination on California’s Pacific coast, thanks to its parks, beaches , and balmy weather.

The month of December in the city is filled with a ton of entertaining outdoor and holiday-themed events.

Moreover, the average daily high temperature in San Diego in December will be around 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

While whales can be seen in San Diego throughout the year, the best time to go on a tour is from mid-December to mid-March.

And sunsets are incredibly vibrant this time of year because of how near the sun is to San Diego.

It’s the best time to observe the sunset from Sunset Cliffs or arrange a cruise during sundown.

Recommended Hotel: Pendry San Diego

Related: Places to Dine in San Diego

12. New York City

New York City

One of the top cities to visit in December is, without a doubt New York City , also known as NYC, which is the most populous city in the country.

New York City is a dream trip for many people worldwide, but it’s even more enchanting in December.

With Christmas and New Year’s as the main attractions, you’ll want to visit this charming city.

New York City is a delight, from soaking in the glistening lights of Times Square to strolling through Central Park covered in snow.

There are a variety of festive activities to partake in after night falls.

These include visiting the Christmas markets in Union Square and Bryant Park, sipping hot wine, and watching the Rockefeller Center tree light up.

A Nutcracker show on Broadway with a winter theme is fun, as is the light display at Dyker Heights and Fifth Avenue.

Recommended Hotel: InterContinental New York Barclay Hotel, an IHG Hotel

Related: Best Food Places in NYC

13. Marco Island, Florida

Marco Island, Florida

Marco Island, FL 34145-34146 (239) 389-5000

Marco Island is a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Southwest Florida, with resort hotels , beaches, marinas, and golf courses.

With temperatures in the temperate range of 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit and little humidity, December is a delightful season to visit Marco Island.

Don’t miss the joyous Marco Island boat procession, which will feature vessels of all kinds decked out with holiday lights and playing Christmas music for everyone to enjoy.

Outdoor enthusiasts can also find much to do on Marco Island, from thrilling airboat rides to kayak and boat tours.

Recommended Hotel: Holiday Inn Club Vacations Sunset Cove Resort, an IHG Hotel

Related: Restaurants to Try in Marco Island

14. Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago , one of the largest cities in the country, is situated on Lake Michigan in Illinois and is well known for its innovative architecture.

Chicago should be on your bucket list if you’re wondering where to travel in December.

This city transforms into a winter wonderland with many yearly holiday customs.

Chi-Town is well known for its ferocious snowstorms and freezing temperatures during the winter.

But the city’s numerous holiday festivities provide more than enough incentive to face the weather and go outside to enjoy the season.

You can see millions of lights turned on at Lincoln Park ZooLights, and Santa Claus might visit you as you enjoy the stunning light show.

Recommended Hotel: Viceroy Chicago

Related: Popular Restaurants in Chicago

Related: Best Midwest Ski Resorts for Families

15. Mammoth Lakes, California

Mammoth Lakes, California

Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546 (760) 965-3600

Mammoth Lakes is a town in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, best known for the Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain ski slopes and surrounding trails.

This charming ski town is the perfect destination to visit in December because it offers many outdoor winter sports.

For instance, consider skiing at one of its renowned ski areas, such as Mammoth Mountain or June Mountain.

In December, the slopes are typically coated in fantastic powder, and the majestic Sierra Nevadas make for an impressive, memorable background.

You can also do winter sports instead, including cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in the nearby Inyo National Forest.

Even though Mammoth’s slopes draw most of its winter guests, there is still a lot of festive cheer.

Numerous Christmas lights decorate The Village in Mammoth Lakes all year long.

And there are other events planned for the winter holidays, including the annual tree lighting and Santa visits.

Recommended Hotel: Juniper Springs Resort

16. Nantucket, Massachusetts

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Nantucket, MA 02554-02584 (508) 228-7261

The little island of Nantucket , Massachusetts, off the coast of Cape Cod, is famous during the summer because of its dune-backed beaches.

When it comes to glamming up the town for the holidays, Nantucket goes all out.

Along the streets of downtown, dozens of Christmas trees are erected, decorated, and lit up each night around sunset.

The Brand Point Lighthouse is the perfect location for holiday card shots because it has a giant wreath.

Furthermore, in the Whaling Museum, more than 50 trees are on display, each with a unique decoration created by regional artists and companies.

And Christmas in Nantucket isn’t here until the renowned dory boat on Easy Street lit up its distinctive little tree in the sea.

Recommended Hotel: White Elephant Hotel

Related: Must Eat Restaurants in Nantucket

17. Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix , the capital of Arizona, is renowned for its year-round sunshine and warm temperatures.

If you are looking for warm weather in winter, Arizona is the best place to visit in December in the USA.

Phoenix’s December highs are typically around 70 degrees, ideal for outdoor activities like hiking.

Plus, you can listen to live music outside while admiring the countless brilliant holiday lights in the lovely weather.

You can see lovely Christmas lights at the Desert Botanical Garden during the yearly Las Noches de las Luminarias celebration.

And at the CityScape retail center, there is a lovely outdoor rink where you can enjoy some holiday ice skating.

Recommended Hotel: Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel

Related: Top Places to Eat in Phoenix

18. Boston, Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston is the capital and most populous city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the New England area’s economic and cultural hub.

Wintertime in Boston offers lively markets, ice skating outdoors, and cozy igloos.

Although it snows more frequently in January or February, a winter wonderland cityscape is still possible in Boston in December!

Go ice skating on Frog Pond in Boston Common for some wintertime entertainment.

Or spend the evening at The Envoy in the Seaport gazing out over the water from The Lookout Rooftop.

If you want a romantic escape, renting a heated igloo is one of the most fantastic date ideas in Boston.

Recommended Hotel: The Newbury Boston

Related: Must Eat Places in Boston

Related: Best Family Ski Resorts in New England

Related: Best US Places to Visit in January

19. Oahu, Hawaii

Oahu, Hawaii

Oahu, HI 96701-96898 (800) 464-2924

Oahu is the state capital of Honolulu and is known for its pristine beaches and fun nightlife .

Oahu is a stunning island in Hawaii, and December is the best month to visit because of the weather.

December’s temperature ranges from a high of 80 F to a low of 70 F, making it nearly never too hot or cold for anyone.

Oahu offers many enjoyable activities , including sightseeing, resting, and hiking.

In addition, you can engage in water sports like surfing, jet skiing, paddle boarding, and more.

Despite being the most populous island in Hawaii, Oahu has many beautiful natural beauties to appreciate if you venture away from the crowd.

You might even be fortunate to view whales, Hawaiian monk seals, or sea turtles.

Since whales like to migrate to the warm waters of Hawaii to breed and give birth, the whale-watching season in Oahu typically lasts from December to May.

Recommended Hotel: Hampton Inn & Suites Oahu/Kapolei, HI

Related: Best Eats in Oahu

Related: Best Places to Visit in February in the USA

20. Burlington, Vermont

Burlington, Vermont

Burlington is the most populated city in the U.S. state of Vermont and the county seat of Chittenden County.

Burlington is the best place to vacation in December in the USA.

This city has a lovely blanket of snow covering it and a view of the magnificent Lake Champlain.

Make sure to stroll down Church Street, decked out in dazzling holiday lights and cheery storefronts, during December.

You can also board the Polar Express and take an unplanned rail trip to the North Pole near you.

And to heighten the holiday mood, attendees are urged to arrive in their jammies as professional chefs serve baked cookies and hot cocoa.

Recommended Hotel: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Burlington Vermont

Related: Great Restaurants in Burlington

21. Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs , a city in southern California’s Sonoran Desert, is renowned for its hot springs, chic lodgings, golf courses, and spas.

Palm Springs is a perfect choice if you are wondering where to go in December.

This city has fantastic weather, with daytime temperatures near 70 degrees Fahrenheit in December.

Plan some hikes into the numerous oases in the area since the weather is ideal for exploring outside.

The palm trees bordering the main street in downtown Palm Springs always make the area festive, but in December, the entire area is decked out for the holidays.

You can watch the Festival of Lights Parade, which features illuminated floats, marching bands, and colorful cars, if you go in the first few days of December.

Recommended Hotel: La Maison Hotel

Related: Best Food Spots in Palm Springs, CA


HI 96701-96797 (800) 464-2924

Hawaii , famous for its beaches and surf, is the only American state outside North America.

People will tell you Hawaii is one of the best states to visit in December.

Many people looking for a tropical haven to celebrate this holiday season often make Hawaii their first choice for a yearly trip.

With the unofficial Christmas flower and ideal weather on land and at sea, it is not surprising that December has grown to be a popular tourism month in the islands.

This is the perfect place to unwind on island time, thanks to the tropical breezes, abundant sunshine, bathwater-warm ocean waves, and breathtaking landscape.

Recommended Hotel: Trump International Hotel Waikiki

23. Miami, Florida

Miami, Florida

Miami is a coastal metropolis and the seat of the county of Miami-Dade.

This city will meet your needs if you’re seeking a warm location with a lot of activity in December.

Miami comes alive during the holidays with events like The Nutcracker, and the enchanted lighting adorns Zoo Miami.

Boating and visiting the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens are among the most fantastic Miami attractions.

And since there is no snow in Miami in December, you can stroll around nearby districts like Little Havana and the Miami Design District.

Recommended Hotel: EAST Miami

Related: Top Miami Restaurants

24. Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake is a metropolitan city and is Utah’s capital and most populated area.

For avid skiers, December is the best month to visit the slopes and ski areas in Salt Lake City.

Just a short drive from Salt Lake City are the six top ski resorts in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains.

The ski slopes can accommodate both beginning and expert skiers.

However, if you prefer to unwind and enjoy the white scenery, there are spots in the skiing area perfect for that, too.

Additionally, December in Salt Lake City is filled with fun holiday activities like horse-drawn carriage rides across the lighted Temple Square.

Recommended Hotel: Grand America Hotel

Related: Where to Eat in Salt Lake City

25. U.S. Virgin Islands

U.S. Virgin Islands

VI 00801-00851 (800) 372-8784

The U.S. Virgin Islands are a group of Caribbean islands and islets recognized by their white-sand coastlines, coral reefs, and lush mountains.

The Virgin Islands are a no-brainer for a December Caribbean vacation in the United States.

The dry season officially starts in December, when temperatures often range from 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

As a result, the pleasant weather is perfect for exploring St. Thomas’ stunning beaches, taking island-hopping cruises, and trekking on St. John.

Recommended Hotel: Flamboyan on the Bay Resort & Villas

Related: Dining in The US Virgin Islands

26. Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas , nicknamed Sin City, is the most populous city in Nevada and the 25th most populous city in the entire country.

Las Vegas’ dazzling lights and mild temperatures draw many December visitors from the USA.

Along the Las Vegas Strip, you’ll find all the customary flair, a surplus of sights and sounds, and a nod to the holiday season.

Plus, you’ll see extensive Christmas decorations with lots of flowers and lights in several hotels.

In addition to fantastic holiday shopping, December in Las Vegas is jam-packed with fun activities.

The Botanical Cactus Garden at Ethel M Chocolates is among the most picturesque locations.

Recommended Hotel: Las Vegas Hilton At Resorts World

Related: Must Try Restaurants in Las Vegas

27. Pasadena, California

Pasadena, California

California’s Pasadena , northeast of Los Angeles’s downtown, is renowned for its Victorian art structures.

If you are looking for the best December vacation spots, head to Pasadena.

With the warm weather in Southern California, you could go to the beach for the day and still participate in one of the significant events.

Be part of the preparation of one of Pasadena’s well-loved festivals.

At the end of December, Rose Parade contestants finish customizing their lavish, rose-covered floats during Decor Week.

You can join various activities to help prepare for this much-awaited event.

Recommended Hotel: The Langham Huntington, Pasadena

Related: Top Restaurants: Pasadena

28. Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

The 1670-founded port city of Charleston , South Carolina, is known for its cobblestone lanes, horse-drawn carriages, and pastel antebellum homes.

Although Charleston isn’t known for its winter vacation, it’s one of the best and cheap places to visit in December for those looking to escape the bitter cold.

You can enjoy Charleston’s charming winter festivals, such as the Festival of Lights.

During this celebration, James Island County Park is turned into a winter wonderland with more than two million sparkling lights stretched over three miles.

Or you can spend some time exploring the fascinating Historic District with its charming churches and homes that date back hundreds of years.

Recommended Hotel: The Charleston Place

Related: Food Places in Charleston

29. Boulder, Colorado

Boulder, Colorado

Boulder, a town in the Rocky Mountain foothills, is renowned for its outdoor adventures, skilled chefs, breweries, and bustling downtown.

Boulder is one of the must visit places in the USA in December because of its view of the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

You can enjoy the view of the white sceneries of the mountains or indulge in the activities this charming city offers.

One of the best things to do in Boulder is to walk around the city, go to Pearl Street Mall, a well-known outdoor shopping center, and go skiing at Eldora Mountain.

Additionally, you can go to the city’s renowned Winter Craft Beer Festival and learn why Boulder is frequently referred to as the capital of beer making.

Recommended Hotel: Hotel Boulderado

Related: Places to Dine in Boulder

30. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190 (307) 344-7381

The Yellowstone Volcanic Region is a volcanic hotspot featuring magnificent gorges, roaring rivers in the mountains, lush forests, hot springs, and erupting geysers.

Yellowstone National Park is one of the most famous December weekend getaways because of its white scenery and activities.

The 2.2 million-acre park radiates a magical beauty when it is covered with snow.

Yellowstone is also the perfect place to admire nature’s beauty and strength by looking at geysers.

Be amazed as you watch Old Faithful, the geyser that shoots water into the air, produces a breathtaking chilly air in the wintertime known as “geyser rain.”

And if you love to be active on your winter vacation, you are in luck.

Miles of trails in Yellowstone take visitors past icy forests, scorching hot springs, and snow-covered meadows.

Recommended Hotel: Headwaters Lodge & Cabins at Flagg Ranch

Related: Best Winter Vacations for Families

31. Washington DC

Washington DC

The capital of the United States, Washington, DC , is a compact city on the Potomac River that borders the states of Maryland and Virginia.

Travel to Washington to experience the best December vacations with your family.

December is not peak tourist season, so you’ll get better deals on hotels and less crowded tourist spots.

Spend your trip in Washington, DC, visiting the Smithsonian museums, primarily indoors.

You can also take your kids for a stroll through the city and take in the holiday decorations, especially those at the White House.

And if you want a little adventure, join one of the many holiday events, such as viewing the huge national Christmas tree or taking tours of the city’s top sights.

Recommended Hotel: Riggs Washington DC

Related: Best Food Places in Washington DC

32. Stowe, Vermont

Stowe, Vermont

Stowe, VT 05662-05672 (802) 253-3000

Stowe is a town in northern Vermont noted for its hiking areas and skiing slopes.

If you want to have a cozy getaway with your family in winter, Stowe offers one of the best December vacations.

With the fireplace on and mugs of hot chocolate, you can spend family time in a little cottage or bed and breakfast.

You can also enjoy a variety of outdoor pursuits if you decide to venture outdoors, including skiing and dog sledding.

You can also indulge in one of Stowe’s traditional holiday parades and watch the tree-lighting ceremony in the town square.

Recommended Hotel: Trapp Family Lodge

Related: Restaurants to Try in Stowe

33. Breckenridge, Colorado

Breckenridge, Colorado

Breckenridge, CO 80424 (970) 453-5579

Breckenridge , a Colorado town at the foot of the Tenmile Range in the Rocky Mountains, is well-known for its ski resorts.

It’s no wonder that skiing fans flock to Breckenridge in December because that month marks the beginning of ski season there.

Aside from skiing, the holiday celebrations also make Breckenridge a terrific spot to visit in December.

Take a stroll through the town to take in the lovely views of the holiday season as buildings are decked out in festive decorations.

In addition, you can buy a holiday souvenir from one of the quaint businesses on Main Street.

Recommended Hotel: One Ski Hill, A RockResort

Related: Popular Restaurants in Breckenridge

Related: Best Family Ski Resorts in the U.S.

34. Key West, Florida

Key West, Florida

Key West , Florida’s southernmost point, is known for its pastel-colored conch-style homes.

Want to experience the best trips in December?

Consider visiting a beach paradise , Key West.

Key West is among the most fantastic U.S. destinations in December for anyone seeking to escape winter troubles.

It is perfect for touring the island because of the calm waters and the moderately warm weather.

You can go to some of the island’s well-known bars, bar hop, or just relax on the beach and watch the sunset.

Recommended Hotel: Parrot Key Hotel & Villas

Related: Must Eat Restaurants in Key West

35. Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage , Alaska’s largest city, is a well-known winter paradise with breathtaking cultural attractions.

No list of best places to visit in December in the USA is complete without Anchorage.

Due to the Northern Lights, December marks the height of the tourism season in Anchorage, Alaska.

From Anchorage to Fairbanks, you can board the Alaska Railroad Aurora Winter Train for a picturesque view of the Northern Lights.

The city of Anchorage is a great place to spend a December holiday, in addition to taking in this magnificent natural display.

You can go dog sledding, explore the local animals, visit the city’s museums, and hike a glacier.

Recommended Hotel: The Hotel Captain Cook

Related: Top Places to Eat in Anchorage

Map of Places to Visit in December in the USA

35 Best Places to Visit in December in the USA for [currentyear]

  • Maui, Hawaii
  • Leavenworth, Washington
  • Asheville, North Carolina
  • Austin, Texas
  • Savannah, Georgia
  • Park City, Utah
  • Death Valley National Park
  • Aspen, Colorado
  • Arches National Park, Utah
  • Orlando, Florida
  • San Diego, California
  • New York City
  • Marco Island, Florida
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Mammoth Lakes, California
  • Nantucket, Massachusetts
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Oahu, Hawaii
  • Burlington, Vermont
  • Palm Springs, California
  • Miami, Florida
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Pasadena, California
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Boulder, Colorado
  • Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
  • Washington DC
  • Stowe, Vermont
  • Breckenridge, Colorado
  • Key West, Florida
  • Anchorage, Alaska

Best Places to Visit in the USA in December Images

  • United states

21 Best Places to Visit in the USA in December

  • 31 minute read

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  • January 3, 2024

21 Best Places to Visit in the USA in December (By a Local Guide)


Are you seeking the ultimate guide to discover the top destinations for a memorable December getaway across the United States? Look no further! Embark on a journey with us as we unveil the 21 Best Places to Travel in the USA this December, handpicked by a local guide. As the holiday season blankets the country, a myriad of enchanting locales beckon, each offering its unique charm and experiences.

best cities to visit in usa in december

From the snowy slopes of Breckenridge, Colorado, to the sun-kissed shores of Key West, Florida, and the historic allure of St. Augustine, Florida, this curated list introduces you to diverse landscapes and vibrant cultures awaiting your exploration. Whether you’re drawn to the wintry magic of Stowe, Vermont, or the festive vibes of New Orleans, Louisiana, our guide unveils destinations that promise an unforgettable December escape.


Join us on this exhilarating journey through the enchanting corners of the USA, where holiday cheer, natural wonders, and cultural delights intertwine, creating the perfect backdrop for your December adventure. Let’s delve into these captivating destinations, each offering a distinct allure, as we navigate the best places to revel in the joyous spirit of December across America.

“If you are looking for the best hotel and flight deals for your next vacation, then we recommend booking your bundled flight and hotel through . “


About Hawaii : Hawaii, situated in the heart of the Pacific Ocean, is a mesmerizing archipelago renowned for its stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality. Made up of several islands, each with its unique charm, Hawaii offers a diverse range of experiences, from pristine beaches to lush rainforests and volcanic terrains.

How to Get There?

Reaching Hawaii involves either flying or cruising. Most travelers arrive via flights to major airports like Honolulu International Airport (HNL) on Oahu Island, Kahului Airport (OGG) on Maui, or Kona International Airport (KOA) on the Big Island. Once there, inter-island flights or ferries can transport you between islands.

Best Places to Visit in Hawaii

  • Oahu : Home to Honolulu, Waikiki Beach, and Pearl Harbor.
  • Maui : Famous for its stunning beaches, Haleakalā National Park, and the Road to Hana.
  • Big Island (Hawaii Island) : Featuring Volcanoes National Park and diverse landscapes from black sand beaches to lava fields.
  • Kauai : Known for the breathtaking Na Pali Coast and Waimea Canyon.

Each island boasts its own attractions, offering a mix of relaxation, adventure, and cultural exploration.

Why Choose December for a Visit?

December in Hawaii brings delightful weather, making it an ideal time to explore the islands. While the mainland US grapples with winter, Hawaii enjoys mild temperatures, perfect for enjoying outdoor activities and beach relaxation. Furthermore, December marks the start of the humpback whale-watching season, offering an incredible opportunity to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

Activities and Things to Do

  • Beach Fun : Snorkeling, surfing, or simply lounging on the beaches.
  • Hiking Adventures : Trails like the Kalalau Trail in Kauai or exploring the lava fields in Volcanoes National Park.
  • Cultural Experiences : Luaus, exploring historic sites, and immersing in local traditions and cuisine.
  • Whale Watching : December heralds the arrival of humpback whales, providing fantastic opportunities for whale watching tours.

Events and Festivals

  • Honolulu City Lights : The city dazzles with holiday lights and parades.
  • Hula Festivals : Celebrations showcasing the art of hula across the islands.
  • Mele Kalikimaka : Hawaiian-style Christmas celebrations with unique local traditions.

Things to Avoid : While Hawaii is a paradise, there are some considerations:

  • Overcrowded Destinations : Popular spots might get crowded, so planning ahead helps avoid massive crowds.
  • Rough Surf : Pay attention to surf advisories, especially for beginners, to stay safe.

Visiting Hawaii in December offers a fantastic blend of festive celebrations, pleasant weather, and numerous activities, making it an excellent time to explore this enchanting destination.

2. St John, US Virgin Islands

St John

About St. John, US Virgin Islands: St. John is a breathtaking jewel among the US Virgin Islands, renowned for its pristine beaches, lush landscapes, and protected natural areas. The island, encompassing two-thirds of Virgin Islands National Park, offers a harmonious blend of unspoiled beauty and vibrant culture.

  • By Air : Fly into Cyril E. King Airport (STT) on neighboring St. Thomas, then take a ferry to St. John.
  • Ferries : Frequent ferry services operate between St. Thomas and St. John, offering a scenic and convenient mode of travel.

Best Places to Visit in St. John

  • Trunk Bay : Famous for its stunning beach and underwater snorkeling trail.
  • Virgin Islands National Park : Encompassing vast areas of St. John, it’s home to diverse ecosystems, historical sites, and hiking trails.
  • Cinnamon Bay : Another beautiful beach area offering camping facilities and water sports.

The island’s relatively small size makes it easy to explore and discover its natural wonders.

December in St. John boasts pleasant weather, ideal for enjoying outdoor activities. The temperatures are comfortable, and the island is less crowded compared to the peak season, allowing visitors to savor its beauty in a more serene atmosphere.

  • Snorkeling and Diving : Explore the colorful marine life in the crystal-clear waters around the island.
  • Hiking Trails : Venture through the trails of the Virgin Islands National Park, such as the Reef Bay Trail or the Francis Bay Trail, offering stunning vistas and opportunities for wildlife sightings.
  • Beach Relaxation : Enjoy the tranquility of the beaches, whether it’s sunbathing, swimming, or beachcombing.
  • Historical Sites : Discover the remnants of sugar plantations and ancient petroglyphs within the national park.
  • John Festival : Celebrations featuring parades, live music, and cultural events throughout the month of December, culminating in the New Year’s Eve fireworks.
  • Christmas Celebrations : Experience the holiday spirit with local traditions, including caroling and festive decorations.

Things to Avoid : Hurricane Season Precautions : While December is generally outside the hurricane season, it’s wise to stay informed about weather updates and be prepared, as the Caribbean can sometimes experience unexpected weather patterns.

Visiting St. John in December offers a serene and delightful experience amidst its natural beauty and cultural celebrations, making it an excellent time to immerse oneself in the island’s charm.

3. Miami, Florida


About Miami, Florida : Miami, situated on the southeastern coast of Florida, is a vibrant and diverse city known for its stunning beaches, vibrant culture, and pulsating nightlife. It’s a melting pot of cultures, where Latin influences merge seamlessly with a modern cosmopolitan vibe.

  • By Air : Miami International Airport (MIA) serves as a major gateway for domestic and international flights.
  • By Road : Accessible via major highways and road networks, especially if arriving from other parts of Florida or neighboring states.

Best Places to Visit in Miami

  • South Beach : Famous for its golden sands, Art Deco architecture, and lively atmosphere along Ocean Drive.
  • Wynwood Walls : A vibrant district adorned with colorful murals and street art, reflecting Miami’s artistic side.
  • Little Havana : Experience Cuban culture, music, and cuisine in this vibrant neighborhood.

Miami offers a plethora of attractions catering to diverse interests, from art and culture to beach relaxation and gourmet dining.

December in Miami brings a delightful escape from colder climates. The weather remains pleasantly warm, perfect for enjoying outdoor activities and soaking up the sun on the beaches. Additionally, December marks the beginning of Miami’s high season, offering a myriad of events and festivities.

  • Beach Life : Relax on the stunning beaches like South Beach, engage in water sports, or simply soak in the sun.
  • Art and Culture Exploration : Visit museums, galleries, and vibrant neighborhoods like Wynwood to witness Miami’s artistic scene.
  • Culinary Adventures : Indulge in diverse cuisines, especially Cuban flavors in Little Havana or fine dining experiences across the city.
  • Nightlife : Explore the buzzing nightlife scene, from trendy bars and clubs to live music venues.
  • Art Basel : A renowned international art fair in early December, attracting artists, collectors, and enthusiasts from around the world.
  • Winter Music Conference : Celebrating electronic dance music, featuring parties and events across the city.
  • New Year’s Eve Celebrations : Spectacular fireworks, parties, and celebrations ringing in the new year in style.

Things to Avoid

  • Crowded Areas : Some popular spots might get crowded, especially during events and festivals, so planning ahead or exploring during off-peak hours can help avoid large crowds.
  • Hurricane Precautions : While rare, being in a coastal city, it’s wise to stay informed about weather updates and follow any safety advisories.

Visiting Miami in December offers a perfect blend of warm weather, cultural richness, and a myriad of activities, making it an exciting time to explore this vibrant city.

4. St Thomas, US Virgin Islands

St Thomas

About St. Thomas , US Virgin Islands: St. Thomas, the gateway to the US Virgin Islands, is a captivating blend of Caribbean charm, natural beauty, and historical significance. As the most developed island in the territory, it offers a mix of stunning beaches, vibrant culture, and duty-free shopping.

  • By Air : Visitors typically arrive at Cyril E. King Airport (STT), offering direct flights from various US cities and connections to other Caribbean destinations.
  • By Sea : Cruise ships often dock at Charlotte Amalie, the capital, providing easy access for day-trippers.

Best Places to Visit in St. Thomas

  • Magens Bay : A picturesque beach known for its soft sands and calm waters, often ranked among the world’s most beautiful beaches.
  • Charlotte Amalie : Explore the historic downtown, filled with colonial architecture, shops, and historical sites like Fort Christian.
  • Coral World Ocean Park : An interactive marine park offering underwater observatories and encounters with sea creatures.

The island’s relatively compact size facilitates exploring its attractions within a short distance.

December in St. Thomas is characterized by pleasant weather and a festive atmosphere. The temperature remains comfortable, making it an ideal time for beach activities and outdoor exploration. Moreover, it’s the start of the high season, boasting numerous events and celebrations.

  • Beach Escapades : Enjoy sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, or diving in the crystal-clear Caribbean waters.
  • Shopping : Explore duty-free shopping in Charlotte Amalie, offering a wide range of jewelry, electronics, and local crafts.
  • Historical Tours : Visit historic sites like Blackbeard’s Castle or the 99 Steps for a glimpse into the island’s past.
  • Island Hopping : St. Thomas serves as a convenient base for exploring neighboring islands like St. John or the British Virgin Islands.
  • Christmas Festival : A month-long celebration with parades, music, cultural shows, and fireworks leading up to Christmas.
  • Cultural Performances : Enjoy local music, dance, and culinary events showcasing the island’s vibrant culture.

Things to Avoid : Overcrowded Cruise Days : Days when cruise ships dock can make popular areas more crowded, so plan excursions or visits accordingly to avoid the busiest times.

Visiting St. Thomas in December offers a perfect blend of sunny weather, cultural celebrations, and diverse activities, making it an exciting time to explore this captivating island.

5. New York City, New York

New York City,

About New York City , New York: New York City, often referred to as the “Big Apple,” stands as a global hub of culture, arts, finance, and entertainment. The city’s iconic skyline, bustling streets, and diverse neighbourhoods contribute to its unique and dynamic character.

  • Air Travel : NYC is served by three major airports—John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), LaGuardia Airport (LGA), and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).
  • Public Transport : The city boasts an extensive subway system, buses, taxis, and rideshare services for convenient travel within the five boroughs.

Best Places to Visit in New York City

  • Times Square : The heart of the city, renowned for its dazzling lights, Broadway theaters, and vibrant atmosphere.
  • Central Park : A sprawling oasis amidst the urban landscape, offering scenic beauty, recreational activities, and iconic landmarks.
  • The Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island : Historic symbols of freedom and immigration, accessible via ferry from Battery Park.

NYC is a treasure trove of attractions, including museums, art galleries, architectural marvels, and culinary delights, catering to diverse interests.

December in NYC exudes a magical aura, transforming the city into a winter wonderland adorned with festive decorations. The holiday season brings a plethora of special events, dazzling displays, and a palpable sense of cheer, making it a popular and enchanting time to visit.

  • Holiday Markets : Explore vibrant markets like the Union Square Holiday Market or Bryant Park’s Winter Village for unique gifts and festive treats.
  • Ice Skating : Glide across iconic rinks such as Rockefeller Center or Central Park’s Wollman Rink, surrounded by enchanting holiday decorations.
  • Broadway Shows : Experience world-class theater productions and musicals at the numerous Broadway theaters.
  • Holiday Lights Tour : Take in the stunning holiday lights adorning famous landmarks and neighborhoods across the city.
  • Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting : A beloved tradition marking the start of the holiday season, accompanied by performances and festivities.
  • New Year’s Eve in Times Square : Witness the iconic ball drop, attracting millions to bid farewell to the old year and welcome the new.
  • Crowds at Popular Attractions : Expect larger crowds at popular spots, especially during holidays, so planning visits during off-peak hours can be advantageous.
  • Extreme Weather : Be prepared for potentially cold temperatures and occasional snowfall; dressing in layers and suitable footwear is advisable.

Visiting New York City in December offers an unforgettable experience immersed in holiday cheer, iconic sights, and a rich tapestry of cultural offerings.

6. Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

About Salt Lake City : Salt Lake City, nestled between the Wasatch Mountains and the Great Salt Lake, is Utah’s capital known for its unique blend of outdoor adventure, cultural attractions, and historic significance.

  • Air Travel : Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) serves as the primary gateway, offering flights from major domestic and international destinations.
  • Ground Transportation : The city has an efficient public transit system, including light rail and buses, facilitating travel within the metropolitan area.

Best Places to Visit in Salt Lake City

  • Temple Square : A historic center featuring the Salt Lake Temple and other iconic buildings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • Utah State Capitol : Explore this neoclassical building with stunning views of the city and surrounding landscapes.
  • Natural History Museum of Utah : Discover exhibits showcasing Utah’s natural wonders and prehistoric past.

Salt Lake City caters to outdoor enthusiasts with nearby ski resorts, hiking trails, and scenic spots like Big Cottonwood Canyon and Antelope Island State Park.

December in Salt Lake City offers a winter wonderland with opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, and enjoying festive holiday events. The nearby ski resorts like Park City and Alta provide world-class winter sports experiences.

  • Skiing & Snowboarding : Hit the slopes at renowned ski resorts such as Park City Mountain Resort or Snowbird Ski Resort.
  • Temple Square Lights : Witness the mesmerizing holiday light displays at Temple Square.
  • Winter Hiking and Scenic Drives : Explore picturesque landscapes transformed by snow and ice along scenic byways.

Events and Festivals : New Year’s Eve Celebrations : Enjoy fireworks and festivities across the city welcoming the New Year.

Things to Avoid : Winter Weather : Be prepared for cold temperatures and snowy conditions; dressing warmly and planning for weather changes is essential.

7. U.S. Virgin Islands

U.S. Virgin Islands

About the U.S. Virgin Islands: The U.S. Virgin Islands, comprising St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix, offer Caribbean allure with a mix of stunning beaches, rich history, and vibrant culture.

  • Air Travel : Cyril E. King Airport (STT) on St. Thomas and Henry E. Rohlsen Airport (STX) on St. Croix serve as primary airports, accessible via flights from mainland U.S. cities and Caribbean destinations.
  • Ferries : Inter-island ferries connect the islands for convenient exploration.

Best Places to Visit in the U.S. Virgin Islands

  • Thomas : Explore attractions like Magens Bay, Charlotte Amalie, and Coral World Ocean Park.
  • John : Enjoy the natural beauty of Trunk Bay, Virgin Islands National Park, and Cruz Bay.
  • Croix : Discover historic sites like Christiansted and Frederiksted, along with stunning beaches.

December in the U.S. Virgin Islands offers pleasant weather, ideal for beach activities, exploring historical sites, and participating in festive holiday celebrations.

  • Beach Relaxation : Enjoy the pristine beaches for swimming, snorkeling, or simply soaking up the sun.
  • Historical Tours : Explore historic towns and landmarks showcasing the islands’ colonial past.
  • Festive Celebrations : Embrace local holiday traditions and events throughout the islands.
  • Christmas Festivities : Experience local holiday celebrations with music, food, and cultural events.
  • New Year’s Eve Celebrations : Enjoy parties, fireworks, and festivities to welcome the New Year.

Things to Avoid : While December generally falls outside the hurricane season, travelers should remain informed about weather conditions and any associated advisories.

8. St Croix, US Virgin Islands

St Croix, US Virgin Islands

About St. Croix , US Virgin Islands: St. Croix is the largest of the US Virgin Islands, a Caribbean paradise boasting a blend of rich history, captivating culture, and breathtaking natural beauty. Nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, this island offers a diverse array of experiences, from historic landmarks to stunning beaches and lush tropical landscapes.

  • Air Travel : Henry E. Rohlsen Airport (STX) is the main airport serving St. Croix, welcoming flights from various U.S. cities and other Caribbean destinations.
  • Ferries : While not directly connecting to St. Croix due to distance, ferries from St. Thomas or other neighboring islands are an option for those interested in inter-island travel.

Best Places to Visit in St. Croix

  • Christiansted : Explore the historic town known for its charming Danish architecture, historic forts, and the vibrant boardwalk along the waterfront.
  • Frederiksted : Discover its colonial history, the picturesque pier, and stunning beaches like Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Buck Island Reef National Monument : A must-visit for snorkeling enthusiasts with its pristine underwater trails and vibrant marine life.

St. Croix offers a mix of cultural immersion, outdoor adventures, and relaxation amidst stunning surroundings.

December in St. Croix presents an ideal time for visitors due to the pleasant weather and a multitude of festivities. The temperature remains comfortably warm, making it perfect for enjoying outdoor activities and exploring the island’s natural wonders.

  • Beach Days : Enjoy sun-soaked relaxation on pristine beaches such as Shoys Beach or Rainbow Beach, known for their crystal-clear waters and soft sands.
  • Historical Tours : Dive into the island’s history through visits to historical sites like Fort Christiansvaern or Estate Whim Plantation Museum.
  • Water Sports : Engage in snorkeling, diving, or kayaking to explore the island’s rich underwater ecosystems and coral reefs.
  • Crucian Christmas Festival : Embrace the island’s cultural celebrations, including parades, live music, local cuisine, and traditional Quadrille dancing.
  • Three Kings Day : Celebrate this holiday with vibrant festivals, marked by colorful parades and cultural performances.

Things to Avoid : Hurricane Precautions : Though less likely in December, it’s wise to remain aware of weather forecasts and any potential advisories during the hurricane season, which officially ends in November but can occasionally bring late-season storms.

9. Las Vegas, Nevada


About Las Vegas , Nevada: Las Vegas stands as a world-renowned entertainment hub nestled within the Mojave Desert. Famed for its dazzling nightlife, iconic casinos, and entertainment extravaganzas, the city offers a blend of excitement, luxury, and diverse experiences.

  • Air Travel : McCarran International Airport (LAS) serves as the primary airport, welcoming flights from across the globe.
  • Road Travel : Major highways like Interstate 15 make road travel accessible from neighboring states and cities.

Best Places to Visit in Las Vegas

  • The Strip : A vibrant stretch featuring iconic resorts, themed hotels, and dazzling entertainment venues offering a glimpse into Vegas’ opulence.
  • Fremont Street Experience : Explore the historic downtown area adorned with LED light displays, live entertainment, and a vibrant atmosphere.
  • Bellagio Fountains & Caesar’s Palace : Witness mesmerizing fountain shows and iconic landmarks contributing to the city’s allure.

Las Vegas is renowned for its grand casinos, high-end shopping, world-class dining, and extravagant live performances.

December in Las Vegas boasts cooler temperatures compared to scorching summer months, providing a comfortable climate for exploring the city’s attractions and enjoying outdoor activities. Additionally, the festive season brings a magical ambiance to the city, marked by stunning holiday decorations and special events.

  • Casino Entertainment : Experience the thrill of gaming at renowned casinos like The Venetian, MGM Grand, or the Bellagio.
  • Live Shows & Performances : Enjoy world-class entertainment from Cirque du Soleil shows to music concerts and comedy acts.
  • Exploring The Strip : Stroll along The Strip, taking in the opulent resorts, themed attractions, and captivating street performances.
  • Fine Dining and Nightlife : Indulge in gourmet dining at celebrity-chef restaurants and experience the vibrant nightlife at trendy clubs and bars.

Events and Festivals : New Year’s Eve on The Strip : One of the world’s most extravagant New Year’s Eve celebrations with fireworks, live entertainment, and massive crowds welcoming the new year.

  • Overindulgence : While the city offers indulgent experiences, it’s wise to set budgets and avoid excessive gambling or overspending.
  • Scams and Street Solicitations : Be cautious of street vendors and solicitations for services, ensuring to deal with reputable sources.

Visiting Las Vegas in December offers a blend of mild weather, festive cheer, and an array of entertainment options, making it an exciting time to immerse oneself in the vibrant energy of this iconic city.

10. Pasadena, California


About Pasadena, California : Pasadena, located northeast of Los Angeles, is a picturesque city renowned for its elegant neighborhoods, cultural landmarks, and hosting the annual Tournament of Roses Parade and Rose Bowl Game. It boasts a blend of historic charm, cultural attractions, and natural beauty.

  • Air Travel : Bob Hope Airport (BUR) in Burbank and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) are the nearest major airports providing access to Pasadena.
  • Road Travel : Accessible via major highways like the I-210 and I-134, making it easily reachable from surrounding areas.

Best Places to Visit in Pasadena

  • The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens : Explore extensive collections of art, rare books, and stunning botanical gardens spread across vast acres.
  • Old Town Pasadena : Experience the city’s historic heart filled with boutique shops, cafes, and vibrant street life.
  • Rose Bowl Stadium : Discover this iconic sports venue known for hosting major events, including the famous Rose Bowl Game.

Pasadena offers a mix of cultural experiences, beautiful gardens, and a rich history.

December in Pasadena offers pleasant weather, making it an ideal time to explore the city’s attractions without the scorching heat of summer. Additionally, it’s the month when the city gears up for the renowned Tournament of Roses Parade and various festive events.

  • Tournament of Roses Parade : Witness the world-famous New Year’s Day parade, showcasing spectacular floats, marching bands, and equestrian units.
  • Visit Museums and Gardens : Explore cultural institutions like the Norton Simon Museum and Descanso Gardens.
  • Holiday Shopping and Dining : Enjoy shopping for unique gifts in Old Town Pasadena and savor diverse culinary experiences at local eateries.
  • Tournament of Roses Parade : A grand New Year’s Day spectacle attracting spectators from around the world.
  • Holiday Celebrations : Embrace the festive spirit with tree lighting ceremonies, seasonal performances, and holiday markets.

Things to Avoid : Traffic during Parade Days : On parade day, plan ahead for traffic congestion and road closures around the parade route.

Visiting Pasadena in December offers a delightful combination of cultural experiences, festive celebrations, and mild weather, making it an enchanting time to explore this vibrant city.

11. Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona

About Phoenix, Arizona: Phoenix, the capital city of Arizona, stands as a sprawling metropolis in the Sonoran Desert. Known for its year-round sunny weather, stunning landscapes, and thriving cultural scene, Phoenix offers a unique blend of desert beauty and urban sophistication.

  • Air Travel : Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) serves as a major air hub, offering flights from various domestic and international destinations.
  • Road Travel : Accessible via major highways like Interstate 10 and Interstate 17, allowing easy access from neighboring cities and states.

Best Places to Visit in Phoenix

  • Desert Botanical Garden : Explore the diverse desert flora showcased across thematic trails and exhibits.
  • Papago Park : Enjoy hiking trails, the Desert Botanical Garden, and iconic landmarks like Hole-in-the-Rock.
  • Heard Museum : Discover Native American art and culture through exhibits and collections.

Phoenix offers a mix of outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, and natural wonders amidst its desert setting.

December in Phoenix brings mild and pleasant temperatures, making it an inviting time to explore outdoor attractions without the intense heat of summer. It offers an excellent climate for various activities and events.

  • Outdoor Exploration : Hike the trails at Camelback Mountain or South Mountain Park to witness stunning desert vistas.
  • Cultural Explorations : Visit museums, galleries, and cultural centers like the Phoenix Art Museum or the Musical Instrument Museum.
  • Golfing and Outdoor Sports : Enjoy golfing at the numerous golf courses or engage in outdoor sports like biking and horseback riding.
  • Festival of Lights : Experience holiday lights and decorations at the Phoenix Zoo and the Desert Botanical Garden.
  • First Friday Art Walks : Join the vibrant art scene during the monthly art walk in downtown Phoenix.

Things to Avoid : Overexposure to Sun : While December offers milder temperatures, the desert sun can still be intense; wear sunscreen and stay hydrated when outdoors.

Visiting Phoenix in December provides a wonderful opportunity to explore the city’s natural beauty, diverse cultural offerings, and outdoor activities amidst comfortable weather conditions.

12. Charleston, South Carolina


About Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, located on the Atlantic coast, stands as a city steeped in history, known for its well-preserved architecture, cobblestone streets, and rich cultural heritage. It boasts a blend of Southern charm, culinary delights, and a vibrant arts scene.

  • Air Travel : Charleston International Airport (CHS) serves as the main airport, offering domestic flights and connections to major cities.
  • Road Travel : Accessible via major highways like Interstate 26, making it easily reachable from nearby cities.

Best Places to Visit in Charleston

  • Historic District : Wander through the cobblestone streets of the historic district, showcasing antebellum architecture, colorful houses, and historic landmarks like Rainbow Row.
  • Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens : Explore this historic plantation, known for its scenic beauty and educational tours.
  • Waterfront Park : Enjoy picturesque views of the Charleston Harbor, featuring fountains, gardens, and scenic walking paths.

Charleston offers a captivating blend of history, culture, and coastal beauty.

December in Charleston offers mild and pleasant weather, making it an ideal time to explore the city without the humidity of summer or the crowds of peak tourist seasons. Additionally, the city is adorned with festive decorations during the holiday season.

  • Historical Tours : Take guided tours of historic homes, plantations, and sites like Fort Sumter, delving into Charleston’s rich history.
  • Culinary Experiences : Indulge in Lowcountry cuisine at renowned restaurants or explore local markets for fresh seafood and Southern specialties.
  • Boat Tours and Harbor Cruises : Enjoy scenic boat rides along the Charleston Harbor, providing stunning views of the city skyline and waterfront.
  • Holiday Festivities : Experience holiday-themed events, including the Festival of Lights at James Island County Park and holiday markets.
  • Historic Home Tours : Attend special holiday home tours showcasing beautifully decorated historic residences.

Things to Avoid : Crowds in Popular Areas : While December is less crowded, certain attractions and events may draw visitors; plan accordingly to avoid peak times.

Visiting Charleston in December offers a delightful mix of historic charm, festive cheer, and pleasant weather, making it an enchanting time to explore this captivating Southern gem.

13. Washington D.C.

Washington D.C

About Washington D.C.: Washington D.C., the capital of the United States, is a city steeped in history, politics, and culture. It’s home to iconic landmarks, renowned museums, and a vibrant atmosphere.

  • Air Travel : Washington D.C. is served by multiple airports including Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI).
  • Rail and Bus Services : Amtrak and various bus services offer convenient travel to Union Station, a major transportation hub in D.C.

Best Places to Visit in Washington D.C.

  • National Mall and Monuments : Explore iconic landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the National WWII Memorial.
  • Smithsonian Museums : Visit the Smithsonian Institution, offering numerous museums covering art, history, science, and culture.
  • The White House and Capitol Hill : Discover the political heart of the nation with tours of these historic buildings.

December in Washington D.C. is magical with festive decorations, holiday events, and fewer crowds. The weather is chilly, but the city’s spirit during the holiday season is enchanting.

  • National Christmas Tree Lighting : Attend the annual lighting ceremony on the Ellipse near the White House.
  • Ice Skating : Enjoy skating at outdoor rinks like the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden or The Wharf Ice Rink.
  • Holiday Markets : Explore seasonal markets for unique gifts, local crafts, and festive treats.
  • National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony : A cherished tradition with live performances and the lighting of the National Christmas Tree.
  • Georgetown GLOW : Experience a light art exhibition transforming Georgetown’s streets into an outdoor gallery.
  • Heavy Traffic : Be prepared for increased traffic due to holiday events; plan travel routes and parking.
  • Crowded Tourist Spots : Popular attractions may have increased crowds during the holiday season; consider visiting early in the day or on weekdays.

14. Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska

About Anchorage, Alaska: Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska, is a picturesque urban center surrounded by stunning natural landscapes. It’s a gateway to outdoor adventures, wildlife, and the northern frontier.

  • Air Travel : Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) is the major airport, connecting Anchorage to various domestic and international destinations.
  • Road Travel : Accessible via the Seward Highway and Glenn Highway, providing road access from other Alaskan cities and regions.

Best Places to Visit in Anchorage

  • Tony Knowles Coastal Trail : Explore this scenic trail offering stunning views of Cook Inlet, mountains, and opportunities for biking and walking.
  • Alaska Native Heritage Center : Discover the rich cultural heritage of Alaska’s indigenous peoples through exhibits, performances, and workshops.
  • Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center : Encounter native Alaskan wildlife, including bears, moose, and caribou, in a natural setting.

December in Anchorage presents a winter wonderland with snowy landscapes, festive events, and a chance to witness the mesmerizing Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, on clear nights.

  • Northern Lights Viewing : Head to dark, open areas away from city lights for a chance to witness the stunning Northern Lights.
  • Winter Sports : Enjoy activities like skiing, snowboarding, and dog sledding at nearby resorts or trails.
  • Holiday Celebrations : Embrace local holiday traditions and markets featuring crafts, local foods, and live performances.
  • Winter Solstice Celebration : Join the community in celebrating the winter solstice with cultural events and activities.
  • Anchorage Fur Rendezvous (Fur Rondy) : Experience Alaska’s largest winter festival with dog sled races, ice sculpting, and various events.
  • Unpreparedness for Winter Conditions : Dress warmly in layers, especially during outdoor activities, and be cautious of icy roads and sidewalks.
  • Underestimating Daylight Hours : In December, daylight hours are limited; plan activities accordingly and consider the early sunset when exploring outdoor sites.

Anchorage in December offers a unique blend of winter adventures, cultural experiences, and the chance to witness the awe-inspiring Northern Lights, making it an enticing time to explore this beautiful Alaskan city.

15. Key West, Florida

Best Beaches on the Florida Gulf Coast

About Key West, Florida : Key West stands as the southernmost city in the United States, known for its laid-back atmosphere, stunning sunsets, and rich maritime history. It’s celebrated for its charming streets, beautiful beaches, and vibrant cultural scene.

  • Air Travel : Key West International Airport (EYW) serves as the main airport, offering flights from several major cities in Florida and limited flights from other states.
  • Road Access : Accessible via the Overseas Highway (U.S. Route 1), a scenic drive through the Florida Keys archipelago.

Best Places to Visit in Key West

  • Mallory Square : Witness breathtaking sunsets, street performances, and enjoy the lively atmosphere at this waterfront square.
  • Duval Street : Explore the bustling street filled with shops, restaurants, and vibrant nightlife.
  • Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum : Visit the historic home of the famous author and meet the famed polydactyl (six-toed) cats.

December in Key West offers pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and a relaxed ambiance ideal for exploring the island’s attractions without the intense heat or tourist rush.

  • Sunset Celebration : Join the lively Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square featuring local artists, street performers, and stunning sunset views.
  • Water Activities : Engage in snorkeling, kayaking, or take a sunset cruise to explore the crystal-clear waters and vibrant marine life.
  • Exploring Historic Sites : Visit historic sites like the Key West Lighthouse or the Harry S. Truman Little White House.
  • Key West Holiday Festivities : Experience seasonal events, including holiday parades, concerts, and the lighting of the Key West “Harbor Walk of Lights.”
  • Old Island Days Art Festival : Attend this art festival showcasing works by local and visiting artists.
  • Overpacking Itinerary : Embrace the laid-back island vibe; allow time for strolls and relaxation.
  • Overexposure to the Sun : Apply sunscreen and stay hydrated, especially when engaging in outdoor activities under the subtropical sun.

Visiting Key West in December offers a blend of relaxation, vibrant culture, and enjoyable outdoor experiences against the backdrop of stunning sunsets, making it an ideal time to unwind and explore this charming island city.

16. Breckenridge, Colorado


About Breckenridge, Colorado : Breckenridge, nestled in the Rocky Mountains, is a renowned ski resort town celebrated for its historic charm, outdoor adventures, and stunning natural beauty. It’s a year-round destination offering skiing in winter and hiking, biking, and festivals in the warmer months.

  • Air Travel : The closest major airport is Denver International Airport (DEN), approximately a 2-hour drive from Breckenridge. Shuttle services and rental cars are available for the commute.
  • Road Access : Accessible via Interstate 70, offering a scenic drive through the mountains.

Best Places to Visit in Breckenridge

  • Breckenridge Ski Resort : Enjoy world-class skiing and snowboarding across multiple peaks and terrains during the winter season.
  • Main Street : Explore the historic Main Street lined with Victorian-era buildings, shops, restaurants, and galleries.
  • Carter Park and Pavilion : Visit for recreational activities such as hiking, snowshoeing, and picnicking with panoramic views.

December in Breckenridge offers prime skiing conditions, winter festivals, and a festive ambiance with holiday decorations adorning the town. It’s an ideal time for snow enthusiasts and holiday seekers.

  • Skiing and Snowboarding : Hit the slopes at Breckenridge Ski Resort, renowned for its extensive terrain suitable for all skill levels.
  • Snowshoeing and Winter Hiking : Explore scenic trails and backcountry areas on snowshoes or winter hikes.
  • Winter Events and Festivals : Enjoy holiday-themed events, including the Lighting of Breckenridge, holiday markets, and parades.
  • Ullr Fest : Join the annual festival celebrating the Norse god of snow, Ullr, with events like the Ullr Parade and ice plunge.
  • Victorian Holiday Celebration : Experience a traditional Victorian-style Christmas celebration with period-themed events and activities.
  • Underestimating Altitude and Weather : Be prepared for high altitude and potential winter weather; dress in layers and stay hydrated.
  • Last-Minute Accommodation Booking : During the holiday season, accommodations can fill up quickly; plan and book ahead for lodging.

Visiting Breckenridge in December offers an ideal combination of winter sports, festive celebrations, and a charming mountain town atmosphere, making it an enchanting destination for winter enthusiasts and holiday revelers alike.

17. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana

About New Orleans, Louisiana: New Orleans, famously known as “The Big Easy,” is a city rich in history, culture, and music. It’s renowned for its unique Creole and Cajun heritage, vibrant festivals, and mouthwatering cuisine.

  • Air Travel : Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) serves as the major airport, connecting the city to domestic and international destinations.
  • Road Access : Accessible via major highways such as I-10, making it reachable by road from neighboring cities.

Best Places to Visit in New Orleans

  • French Quarter : Explore this historic district with its iconic architecture, vibrant streets, and landmarks like Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral.
  • Bourbon Street : Experience the lively nightlife, jazz clubs, and bars offering live music and a bustling atmosphere.
  • Garden District : Discover the neighborhood’s stunning mansions, lush gardens, and historic cemeteries.

December in New Orleans offers mild weather, fewer crowds compared to peak seasons, and a festive atmosphere highlighted by holiday decorations and events.

  • Celebrating New Orleans’ Cuisine : Indulge in the city’s culinary delights, including beignets, po’boys, gumbo, and crawfish.
  • Streetcar Rides : Take a nostalgic ride on the historic streetcars, such as the St. Charles Avenue line, to explore different neighborhoods.
  • Holiday Home Tours : Experience the charm of New Orleans’ decorated historic homes during special holiday tours.
  • Christmas New Orleans Style : Enjoy festive events, concerts, and holiday tours throughout the city.
  • Reveillon Dinners : Partake in traditional Reveillon dinners at various restaurants, featuring special holiday menus.
  • Overindulgence in Crowded Areas : Exercise caution in crowded areas, especially during the holidays, and be mindful of personal belongings.
  • Late Night Explorations Alone : While the city is vibrant, it’s wise to explore late-night areas in groups or with company for safety.

Visiting New Orleans in December offers a perfect blend of mild weather, cultural richness, and festive celebrations, making it an ideal time to immerse oneself in the city’s vibrant atmosphere and unique traditions.

18. Santa Fe, New Mexico


About Santa Fe , New Mexico: Santa Fe, often referred to as “The City Different,” stands as a city brimming with art, culture, and a rich history deeply rooted in Native American and Spanish heritage. It’s renowned for its adobe architecture, art galleries, and vibrant cultural scene.

  • Air Travel : The closest major airport is Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ), located about an hour’s drive from Santa Fe. Some visitors fly into ABQ and rent a car for the drive to Santa Fe.
  • Ground Transportation : Santa Fe can also be accessed by road via Interstate 25, making it reachable from nearby cities.

Best Places to Visit in Santa Fe

  • Santa Fe Plaza : The heart of the city, featuring historic buildings, galleries, shops, and the iconic Palace of the Governors.
  • Canyon Road : Explore this artistic haven lined with galleries, boutiques, and restaurants showcasing local art and culture.
  • Georgia O’Keeffe Museum : Discover a collection of works by the iconic artist and learn about her deep connection to New Mexico’s landscapes.

December in Santa Fe offers a unique blend of cultural events, holiday markets, and a chance to experience the city adorned with festive lights and decorations. The cooler weather also allows for enjoyable exploration without the heat of summer.

  • Farolito Walk on Christmas Eve : Join the traditional procession through the historic district lit by farolitos (small paper lanterns) and luminarias.
  • Explore Art Galleries : Wander through art galleries and studios showcasing local artists’ works, often offering special holiday exhibitions.
  • Winter Sports : Engage in outdoor activities such as skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing at nearby resorts or trails.
  • Santa Fe Indian Market Winter Showcase : Attend this holiday market featuring Native American art, jewelry, crafts, and cultural performances.
  • Las Posadas and Christmas Celebrations : Participate in festive processions, caroling, and Christmas Eve celebrations in the city.
  • Underestimating Altitude and Weather : Be prepared for Santa Fe’s high altitude and potential winter weather; dress accordingly and stay hydrated.
  • Overpacking Itinerary : Given the slower pace and festive vibe, allow time for spontaneous explorations and enjoy the relaxed ambiance.

Visiting Santa Fe in December offers a captivating experience immersed in art, culture, and festive traditions against the scenic backdrop of this unique Southwestern city.

19. Stowe, Vermont

Stowe, Vermont

About Stowe, Vermont: Stowe, nestled in the Green Mountains of Vermont, is a picturesque town renowned for its natural beauty, outdoor activities, and charming New England atmosphere. It’s a year-round destination known for skiing, stunning foliage, and a vibrant arts scene.

  • Air Travel : Burlington International Airport (BTV) is the nearest major airport, located about a 40-minute drive from Stowe. Visitors can rent a car or use shuttle services to reach the town.
  • Road Access : Stowe is accessible by road via Interstate 89, making it reachable from neighboring cities and states.

Best Places to Visit in Stowe

  • Stowe Mountain Resort : Enjoy skiing and snowboarding in winter or hiking and mountain biking in warmer months.
  • Trapp Family Lodge : Explore the lodge established by the von Trapp family of “The Sound of Music” fame, offering stunning views and outdoor activities.
  • Stowe Recreation Path : Take a scenic stroll, bike ride, or cross-country ski along this 5.3-mile paved path through beautiful landscapes.

December in Stowe ushers in a winter wonderland with snowy landscapes, festive decorations, and a plethora of outdoor activities for winter enthusiasts. The town exudes a cozy charm perfect for holiday getaways.

  • Skiing and Snowboarding : Hit the slopes at Stowe Mountain Resort, known for its varied terrain and excellent skiing conditions.
  • Winter Hiking and Snowshoeing : Explore trails in the surrounding mountains suitable for winter hikes and snowshoeing adventures.
  • Village Shopping and Dining : Explore quaint shops, art galleries, and restaurants offering local cuisine and cozy ambiance.
  • Stowe Winter Carnival : Enjoy a variety of events including ice carving competitions, snow golf tournaments, and a parade.
  • Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony : Participate in the town’s annual tree lighting event with caroling and holiday cheer.
  • Underestimating Weather Conditions : Be prepared for cold temperatures and snow; dress in layers and use proper footwear for winter conditions.
  • Last-Minute Accommodation Booking : During the holiday season, accommodations may fill up quickly; plan and book ahead to secure lodging.

Visiting Stowe in December offers a delightful winter escape amidst scenic beauty, outdoor adventures, and a festive atmosphere, making it an ideal destination for those seeking a cozy and active holiday experience in a charming New England setting.

20. Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia

About Savannah, Georgia : Savannah, known for its antebellum architecture, historic squares, and rich cultural heritage, stands as one of the oldest and most beautiful cities in the Southern United States. It’s celebrated for its charming cobblestone streets, moss-draped oaks, and vibrant arts scene.

  • Air Travel : Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) serves as the major airport, offering domestic and limited international flights.
  • Road Access : Accessible via major highways like I-95 and I-16, making it reachable by road from nearby cities.

Best Places to Visit in Savannah

  • Forsyth Park : Explore this iconic park featuring a picturesque fountain, walking paths, and lush greenery.
  • Historic District : Stroll through the historic squares and cobblestone streets, admiring the well-preserved architecture and landmarks like the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
  • River Street : Experience the lively riverfront with its shops, restaurants, and beautiful views of the Savannah River.

December in Savannah offers mild weather, fewer crowds, and a festive ambiance with holiday decorations adorning the city. It’s an ideal time to explore the city’s charm without the summer heat or peak tourist influx.

  • Holiday Trolley Tours : Enjoy narrated tours showcasing the city’s historic sites and holiday decorations.
  • Savannah Theatre Shows : Attend seasonal performances, including holiday-themed shows and musicals.
  • Shopping and Dining : Explore local boutiques, art galleries, and savor Southern cuisine at renowned restaurants.
  • Savannah’s Holiday Tour of Homes : Get a glimpse into historic homes decorated for the holidays during this special tour.
  • Savannah Harbor Holiday Series : Experience holiday festivities including boat parades, light displays, and seasonal entertainment.
  • Overpacking Itinerary : Allow time for strolls and spontaneous explorations in the city’s charming squares and historic districts.
  • Parking Challenges : Be mindful of parking availability, especially in popular areas; consider using public transportation or rideshare services.

Visiting Savannah in December offers a delightful combination of Southern charm, festive spirit, and pleasant weather, creating an enchanting atmosphere for exploring the city’s historic sites and vibrant culture.

21. St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine, Florida

About St. Augustine, Florida: St. Augustine holds the distinction of being the oldest city in the United States, boasting a rich history, stunning architecture, and a picturesque coastal setting. It’s renowned for its Spanish colonial architecture, beautiful beaches, and a vibrant arts scene.

  • Air Travel : The nearest major airport is Jacksonville International Airport (JAX), approximately a 1-hour drive from St. Augustine.
  • Road Access : Accessible via Interstate 95 and other major highways, offering convenient road travel to the city.

Best Places to Visit in St. Augustine

  • Historic District : Explore the cobblestone streets, visit the Castillo de San Marcos, and stroll through the historic district’s iconic landmarks.
  • Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum : Discover maritime history and enjoy panoramic views from the top of the lighthouse.
  • George Street : Wander along this pedestrian thoroughfare lined with shops, restaurants, and historic buildings.

December in St. Augustine offers pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and a festive atmosphere with holiday decorations adorning the city. It’s an excellent time to explore the city’s historical sites and coastal beauty.

  • Nights of Lights : Experience the dazzling Nights of Lights display where the entire city is adorned with millions of twinkling lights.
  • Trolley Tours : Enjoy narrated tours showcasing the city’s historic sites and holiday decorations.
  • Beach Exploration : Visit nearby beaches such as St. Augustine Beach or Anastasia State Park for relaxation and scenic views.
  • Nights of Lights Celebration : Witness the grand lighting ceremony and enjoy festive events throughout the city.
  • Holiday Boat Parade : Watch illuminated boats sail along the Matanzas Bay during this annual parade.
  • Underestimating Tourist Spots : Plan visits to popular attractions earlier in the day to avoid peak tourist times.
  • Parking Challenges : Be mindful of parking availability in the historic district; consider using designated parking areas or public transportation.

Visiting St. Augustine in December offers a blend of history, holiday cheer, and coastal beauty, creating a magical atmosphere that’s perfect for exploring the city’s rich heritage and enjoying the festive spirit.

Conclusion .

Crafting a compelling conclusion for a travel article provides a satisfying and memorable end to the reader’s journey. Here’s a suggested conclusion for an article on the “20+ Best Places to Travel the USA in December”:

“In the tapestry of December adventures across the USA, these destinations offer a symphony of experiences, from snow-covered peaks to sun-drenched shores. As we conclude this exploration, remember that the magic of travel lies not only in the places we visit but in the moments and memories we collect along the way.

Whether you’re drawn to the serene landscapes of Stowe, the vibrant energy of New Orleans, or the snowy wonderland of Breckenridge, each destination holds its unique allure. From festive celebrations to tranquil escapes, December in America unveils a kaleidoscope of opportunities for every traveler.

As you plan your next adventure, may these curated insights and local guide tips serve as a compass, guiding you toward unforgettable experiences. Embrace the spirit of discovery, wander off the beaten path, and create your own stories amidst the beauty and diversity of the USA in December. Happy travels!”

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Meet David Hoper, a passionate travel Blog writer with 7+ years of experience in travel content. Through his exemplary storytelling and engaging narratives, he shares his experiences and brings destinations to life. With a keen eye for detail and a love for exploration, he has cultivated a diverse portfolio of travel blogs that inspire and inform readers worldwide.

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The 10 best places to visit in December

Jordi Lippe-McGraw

In December, the world transforms. The Northern Hemisphere sees winter's touch with snow and chill, while the Southern Hemisphere basks in summer's warmth.

Travelers can choose anything from snow-capped landscapes ideal for winter sports to sunlit beaches for relaxation. As the year-end approaches, many places come alive with holiday preparations, each offering unique cultural experiences.

Whether it's the allure of festive markets , the thrill of outdoor adventures, or simply exploring new terrains, December provides something for every traveler.

But where should you go? Here are the 10 best destinations to visit in December.

Breckenridge, Colorado

best cities to visit in usa in december

Imagine a place where the winter comes alive — that's Breckenridge in December. Picture world-class ski slopes, cozy family sleigh rides and thrilling snowmobile adventures. Not to mention, the history here is captivating. December's Ullr Fest is also a special treat for travelers. The festival is a local favorite held in honor of Ullr, the Norse god of snow. (We're hoping he blesses us with plenty of powder.)

There's also plenty to explore in nearby towns like Frisco and Leadville; less than an hour away, you can take a rejuvenating dip at Indian Hot Springs. Or, weather permitting, head to Rocky Mountain National Park to marvel at its natural beauty.

Related: The best ski resorts in the US for your next trip to the slopes

If you're still in Breckenridge come January, you're in for a spectacle. During the International Snow Sculpture Championships, artists carve massive snow blocks into stunning creations.

TPG tip : Hyatt Vacation Club at The Ranahan offers a spectacular Rocky Mountain retreat with premium skiing, winter escapades, boating, mountain biking and year-round family-friendly outdoor activities. It's available for about $205 in December, or 21,000 World of Hyatt Points per night.

Truckee, California

best cities to visit in usa in december

Of all the best places to visit in December in the USA, Truckee is one that tops our list. Come wintertime, the destination transforms into a snow-draped haven. From peaceful snowshoe treks to exciting family sledding spots, there's something for everyone here. For skiing enthusiasts, some of the region's best slopes await. Beyond winter sports, the stunning beauty of nearby Lake Tahoe is a must-see.

After a day in the snow, explore downtown Truckee. It offers museums full of rich local history, and its numerous breweries and eateries provide a taste of the town's culture. You can even opt for a guided tour of the town.

Related: From hidden gems to big names: Here are 11 of California's best ski resorts

TPG tip : Book a stay at SpringHill Suites Truckee for about 37,000 Marriott Bonvoy points or $282 per night.

Dorado, Puerto Rico

best cities to visit in usa in december

Seeking a warm winter getaway? Dorado sits on Puerto Rico 's stunning Caribbean coastline, and it boasts white-sand beaches perfect for surfing, swimming and many family-friendly adventures.

A short drive away, San Juan immerses you in a vibrant blend of culture, music and culinary delights. Here, you can experience cultural festivities throughout the year, savor delicious local dishes and sway to the rhythms of salsa, bomba and plena echoing from the city's picturesque squares.

Beyond that, the region offers thrilling activities like hang gliding and paragliding. For those keen to explore, guided tours can lead you to hidden beaches and lush tropical paths. Don't miss out on the YuYu Cave — a captivating and educational spot for young adventurers who love nature.

TPG tip : Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve is a great home base for exploring the area and is available from $1,645 or 215,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.

best cities to visit in usa in december

During the holidays, Zurich becomes a festive paradise. Streets shimmer with lights, and Christmas markets spring to life. Highlights include Burkliplatz's candle dipping, the enchanting "Marlitram" fairy tale tram and the singing choirs at Werdmuhleplatz, accompanied by its famed "Singing Christmas Tree."

Christkindlimarkt at Zurich Main Station, one of Europe's largest indoor Christmas markets, boasts a radiant tree adorned with Swarovski crystals. The nostalgic Dorfli market in Old Town offers a vintage charm with fondue and artisanal goods.

For a warm treat, stop by Cafe Felix and choose from a medley of hot chocolate iterations. Or, savor history at the luxury confectioner Sprungli, which has been in operation since 1836. For elevated dining, Restaurant Felsenegg provides fondue with a stunning city view.

Beyond these, visitors can skate, toboggan or take a scenic fondue eTukTuk ride. Zurich's thermal baths and saunas overlooking Lake Zurich promise relaxation. For artsy souls, the "Herzebaracke" floating theater offers diverse performances by the lake from Nov. 1, 2023, to March 10, 2024.

TPG tip : Stay near the heart of town at Crowne Plaza Zurich for around $146 or 30,000 IHG rewards points per night.

best cities to visit in usa in december

In December, Japan lights up in celebration, offering visitors a magical experience. From Tokyo's Omotesando Illuminations, aglow with around 900,000 lights, to Ashikaga Flower Park's radiant 5-million-light display, the country is a spectacle. Mie Prefecture's Nabana no Sato Winter Illumination lets guests immerse themselves in LED light fields and explore captivating light tunnels.

Meanwhile, Kobe's touching Luminarie shines in remembrance of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake victims. December also welcomes ski enthusiasts as Japan's winter sports season begins.

From the breathtaking views at Shiga Kogen Ski Area in Nagano — with its Olympic-endorsed slopes — to the sought-after resorts in Niigata — easily accessible from Tokyo — skiing here is a dream. But there's more to Niigata than just skiing: Indulge in its renowned hot springs and savor its exquisite seafood, rice and sake.

TPG tip : Book a room at the Conrad Tokyo for $389 or 95,000 Hilton Honors points per night.

best cities to visit in usa in december

Dubai in December is a whole different vibe. The scorching heat takes a backseat, making way for cooler days. This means beach picnics, outdoor adventures and late-night strolls become even more inviting. And then there's the festive buzz. Everywhere you look, from the towering skyscrapers to the cozy lanes, Dubai sparkles with holiday decorations.

It's not just about twinkling lights, though. The city pulses with events — think bustling markets, lively performances and the aroma of seasonal treats filling the air. Against the backdrop of the vast desert and the iconic skyline, the festive cheer feels even more special. So, if you're dreaming of a mix of relaxation, retail therapy and rich culture, Dubai is your go-to.

TPG tip : Book a room at La Ville Hotel & Suites City Walk for $586 or 70,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, or stay at the lavish Atlantis The Royal .

The Bahamas

best cities to visit in usa in december

Traveling to the Bahamas becomes a breeze this December, thanks to several new flight routes. Delta Air Lines is launching a direct flight from New York's LaGuardia Airport (LGA) to Nassau. For travelers on the West Coast, there's good news, too: American Airlines is rolling out direct flights from Los Angeles and Seattle to Nassau.

Not to be left out, JetBlue is introducing a weekly nonstop service from LA. Once you touch down, the Bahamas offers a plethora of experiences. Dive into the clear waters, explore the world's third-largest coral reef or swim with the wild pigs.

And if you're into sailing, December is the prime time to visit. Events like The National Family Island Regatta showcase the region's rich maritime heritage.

TPG tip : Book a room at the French Leave Resort for $749 or 80,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. Or, for sheer indulgence, opt for the luxurious Rosewood Baha Mar , where rates start from $715 per night.

Morristown, Arizona

Just a quick 50-minute drive from Phoenix, Morristown is the perfect desert escape in December. The weather's a treat with comfy temperatures in the 60s and 70s — a lovely switch from Arizona's intense summer and the cold weather of other destinations.

If you love the outdoors, you'll be in your element. Morristown's desert beauty is a big draw, with opportunities to go hiking or 4x4 riding.

At night, the town's clear December skies, away from bright city glows, offer some top-notch stargazing. Witness the breathtaking Geminids and Ursids Meteor Showers, peaking on Dec. 14-15 and 22-23, respectively. And there's more to the celestial show: Mark your calendar for the New Moon on Dec. 13, the Winter Solstice on Dec. 22, and the Full Moon on Dec. 27.

TPG tip : Book a stay at Castle Hot Springs , which is an American Express Fine Hotels + Resort partner. Platinum cardholders receive 12 p.m. check-in (when available), room upgrade at check-in (when available), daily breakfast for two, $100 property credit to be used during the stay, complimentary Wi-Fi and 4 p.m. checkout guaranteed.

New York City

best cities to visit in usa in december

New York City in December is an enchanting experience. Imagine skating below the gleaming Rockefeller Center tree, surrounded by the city's sparkling skyline. Fifth Avenue transforms into a festive paradise, with its department stores showcasing captivating holiday window displays.

Brooklyn's Dyker Heights is a must-visit for those who admire festive lights. The neighborhood's homes are grandly decorated for the holidays, and dedicated bus tours guide visitors through the most brilliantly lit blocks.

But the magic doesn't stop there. You can also catch a classic holiday show at Radio City Music Hall, wander through the winter markets at Bryant Park or Central Park, and marvel at the giant holiday ornaments scattered throughout the city.

TPG tip : Book a stay at the Park South Hotel for $480 or 23,000 Hyatt World points, or check out TPG's favorite hotels in New York City .

best cities to visit in usa in december

December is the perfect month to explore Uganda. The landscapes are at their greenest, yet the weather stays dry. This combination is ideal for gorilla tracking, an experience you won't forget. Boat safaris also shine in December. As water sources become a focal point in the dry terrain, spotting the Big Five becomes even more thrilling.

While Uganda is gaining attention, it's still a quieter East African destination. Venture beyond the natural wonders, too. The capital, Kampala, is a city full of surprises. From the lively Equator Bar in the Sheraton to the unique crocodile tail delicacy at The Lawns, there's much to savor. And if you're into art, the Afriart Gallery showcases contemporary pieces.

TPG tip : Book a stay at Hilton Garden Inn Kampala for $170 or 37,000 Hilton Honors points.

Related reading:

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  • The 18 best places to travel in 2023
  • 6 real-life strategies you can use when your flight is canceled or delayed
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  • Winter Vacations

11 Best Places to Travel in December

These are the best places to visit in December in the U.S. and around the world.

best cities to visit in usa in december

rusm/Getty Images

The end of the year is incredibly busy with gift shopping, decorating for the holidays, and family gatherings. So before you run out of open days, take some time to book that winter vacation — even if it’s just a weekend getaway. Whether you’re looking for a warm-weather escape to end the year or a festive destination brimming with holiday cheer, we’ve got you covered. From ski towns to beach resorts, here are 11 of the best places to travel in December.

Lake Tahoe, California

Don Eim/Travel + Leisure

Snowfall usually begins in late November in Lake Tahoe, so you can be one of the first to hit the slopes when you visit in December. The destination’s sapphire blue lake, pine forests, and snow-covered peaks are gorgeous this time of year. Stay on the south shore at Edgewood Lake Tahoe , which hosts holiday festivities throughout the month; the resort’s new multi-bedroom Villa Suites are perfect for families or groups. On the north shore, Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe features ski-in/ski-out access and a mountainside concierge. Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe and Edgewood Lake Tahoe were both among Travel + Leisure’s Best Resorts in the Western United States in 2022. Nearby Reno Tahoe offers a wide range of winter activities and a convenient airport with flights from many major cities.

Palm Springs, California

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

If you’re looking for mild weather, superb restaurants, golf, plush hotels, spas, and great shopping, put Palm Springs on your December must-visit list. And at just two hours from Los Angeles and San Diego, the Greater Palm Springs area is easy to reach. Check the concert and sports events schedule at the new Acrisure Arena , which hosted Cirque du Soleil’s new Corteo this summer — a first for the desert venue. Lodging ranges from expansive resorts like the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort to boutique and adult-only properties. Stay just steps from downtown Palm Springs in a quiet and historic neighborhood at Auric House ; you’ll feel like a local as you stroll to restaurants, shops, and breakfast at nearby Korakia Pensione .

Charleston, South Carolina

ChristopherPillitz/In Pictures via Getty Images Images

Charleston topped the T+L World’s Best Awards list this year for favorite cities in the United States, and it’s a perfect destination for the holidays, with gorgeous decorations adorning historic buildings, streets, and neighborhoods. Christmas markets, tree lightings, parades, and seasonal events inspire the holiday spirit during December. The Charleston Place gets decked out for the season, and the other best Charleston hotels include the Emeline , Planters Inn (a Relais & Châteaux property), and The Vendue , Charleston’s art hotel.

Newport Beach, California

Adrian Rudd/Travel + Leisure

With weather in the 60s and lots of Southern California sunshine, Newport Beach is a great December destination for hiking, cruising the harbor in a Duffy boat, whale watching, visiting Balboa Island, or strolling along the beach. The city celebrates the holiday season with the annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade each night from Dec. 13-17, when more than 100 decorated yachts, boats, kayaks, and canoes cruise the waterfront, along with music, fireworks, and glittering lights. Stay near the action at Lido House , an Autograph Collection hotel, or be among the first to stay at the new Pendry Newport Beach . For five-star luxury, two oceanfront golf courses, and stunning views, choose The Resort at Pelican Hill . Accommodation options here include bungalow rooms and suites with fireplaces and private terraces, as well as Mediterranean-style villas with two, three, or four bedrooms.

Branson, Missouri

tomofbluesprings/Getty Images

In Branson, the two-month-long Ozark Mountain Christmas celebration kicks off in early November, and it’s an incredible way to get into the holiday spirit. Known as “America’s Christmas Tree City” for good reason, Branson features more than 1,500 decorated trees, shows, parades, 6.5 million lights, drive-through displays , and photo opportunities with Santa Claus. Throughout December, there’s caroling by the fire, story times, and a candy village displayed in the lobby of the Chateau on the Lake . At Big Cedar Lodge , guests can sip hot cocoa, see twinkling holiday lights, skate at the Winter Wonderland ice rink, make wreaths, and bake gingerbread — and that’s just a few of the property’s annual Home for the Holidays activities.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Nikada/Getty Images

December is considered one of the best months to visit Dubai thanks to moderate weather that’s ideal for being outdoors exploring the city. Visitors will find a festive atmosphere and myriad seasonal events , from elaborately decorated Christmas trees and holiday markets to shopping malls decked out for the season. See public art in the Dubai Design District, lounge at the beachfront in La Mer, or visit the historic Al Fahidi District. Stay at the elegant Habtoor Palace , LXR Hotels & Resorts, or the plush Burj Al Arab Jumeirah . Welcoming guests starting Dec. 1, One&Only One Za’abeel is located in the heart of the city near the Dubai World Trade Centre. The Lana , Dorchester Collection, Dubai, will also open in December beside the Dubai Canal.

Riviera Maya, Mexico

Located on the Yucatan Peninsula along the Caribbean, Riviera Maya is 30 minutes south of Cancun and offers calm seas, sandy beaches, sunny weather, and lodging for all tastes, from boutique hotels to lavish resorts. Maya archaeological sites are fascinating to explore, and cenotes — caves or underground holes filled with cool water — are another intriguing feature of the Yucatan. Mayakoba , a private community with nearly 600 acres of lagoons, jungles, and beaches, includes El Camaleón Golf Club , luxury residences, and four resorts: Fairmont Mayakoba , Andaz Mayakoba , Banyan Tree Mayakoba , and Rosewood Mayakoba . Celebrate the new year with legendary Mexican musician Luis Miguel in concert on Dec. 31 at the nearby golf course. Also in Riviera Maya is Maroma , A Belmond Hotel, now open after an extensive renovation and redesign led by Tara Bernerd & Partners . 

Vienna, Austria

Ambika Verma/Travel + Leisure

While Vienna is lovely year-round, it is dazzling in December, with holiday decorations, lights, markets, and Christmas trees galore. Delicious Austrian food is part of the celebration, and mugs of Christmas punch (made with rum and/or brandy) keep shoppers warm as they browse or sample wiener schnitzel, sausage, apple strudel, or traditional roasted chestnuts. Or, stop into a café for coffee and Sachertorte, a famous Austrian chocolate cake. T+L readers recently voted for their favorite Vienna hotels , and The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna took the top spot. The Rosewood Vienna , which just opened last year, and The Amauris Vienna , a Relais & Châteaux property, are also fine options. Note that river cruises are a great way to see Europe’s many Christmas markets, and itineraries are offered through several companies, including AmaWaterways , Viking River Cruises , and Uniworld Boutique River Cruises .

Fort Worth, Texas

Think about this lively Texas city for an end-of-year vacation or weekend getaway, when the weather is in the comfortable high 50s and there’s so much to do. The Fort Worth Zoo features holiday decorations, lights, falling snow, and visits from Santa in December. The Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District , where ranchers once traded cattle and cowboys drove the animals to market, is still in action with a daily longhorn cattle drive, restaurants, rodeo shows, bars, and tours of the original wooden corrals. Stay at Hotel Drover , in the heart of the District, where holiday decor and activities add to the fun. Near the downtown Sundance Square entertainment area, Kimpton Harper Hotel is set in a historic building that was once the tallest in Fort Worth. The Crescent Hotel, Fort Worth opens this autumn and features a Canyon Ranch Wellness Club with a full menu of fitness classes and spa treatments.

U.S. Virgin Islands

Lauren Breedlove/Travel + Leisure

Located in the northeastern Caribbean Sea, St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas make up the U.S. Virgin Islands. Whether you travel to the Caribbean for the beaches, water sports, outdoor adventures, shopping, or nightlife, these islands have myriad options. Join the fun at St. Croix’s Crucian Christmas Festival, which begins Dec. 10 and combines Caribbean, African, Spanish, and Dutch influences in traditional carnival events. The closing parade happens on Jan. 6, when thousands of masqueraders fill the streets. Among accommodation options are the waterfront King Christian Hotel in downtown Christiansted, St. Croix and The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas , which hosts holiday activities throughout December. Passports are not required for travel to this United States territory.

This sunny island in the eastern Caribbean is a perfect December escape, whether you’re traveling with friends or family or looking for a romantic getaway. From relaxing on the beach or by the pool to active adventures like kitesurfing, diving, or playing golf, there are lots of fun things to do on Anguilla. Places to stay include boutique hotels, resorts, villas, and apartments at a range of prices. Consider the family-friendly Four Seasons Resort & Residences Anguilla , Malliouhana Resort , and Frangipani Beach Resort , where there’s fun for everyone. Cap Juluca, A Belmond Hotel and Altamer offer private villas. Zemi Beach House on Shoal Bay Beach features a spa set in a 306-year-old Thai house.

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Best romantic getaways in the u.s. for 2024.

Sometimes it's necessary to take a break from the stresses of real life and spend quality time with the person you love. And what better way to do that than to travel? To help you and your sweetheart plan the ideal romantic retreat, whether it's for an anniversary or just because, U.S. News considered ambiance, privacy and access to couple-friendly activities to rank the best romantic getaways in the USA. Use this list to pick your next one-on-one vacation, and vote for your favorite locales below. Looking to stay even closer to home? Check out these romantic weekend getaways by state .


Napa valley, charleston, sc, big sky, mt, amelia island, adirondacks, martha's vineyard, jackson hole.

best cities to visit in usa in december

Kaua'i offers many distinct ways for both thrill-seeking and sun-worshipping couples to up the romance factor. You and your sweetheart can lounge on secluded beaches , relax in a private luxury villa or go on a kayaking adventure along the picture-perfect Napali Coast. For even more opportunities to marvel at nature, check out Kaua'i's scenic state parks like Koke'e and Waimea Canyon. Once you've tackled the Hawaiian island's trails hand in hand, consider booking a private helicopter tour for a bird's-eye view you and your better half will never forget.

best cities to visit in usa in december

Few things are more romantic than sharing a remote island with your beau. Lanai's exclusivity can make it feel like the two of you are alone with the Hawaiian island breeze. Head to a luxury hotel or resort to indulge in high-end cuisine and soak up some sun by the pool before exploring the tiny island's landscape side by side. For a memorable hike that requires little effort, follow the short trail from the Four Seasons Resort Lanai to the Pu'upehe overlook. Also known as "Sweetheart Rock," this landmark offers stunning views of Hulopo'e Bay, especially at sunset.

best cities to visit in usa in december

Brimming with rolling vineyards , cozy wine caverns, chic restaurants and top-notch hotels, this wine lover's paradise 60 miles north of San Francisco is the ultimate romantic getaway. Wine enthusiasts can sip Napa's award-winning reds at intimate venues like O'Brien Estate and Jarvis Estate or while savoring gourmet cuisine on the Napa Valley Wine Train. When couples need a break from being wined and dined, they can explore the scenic Napa River via kayak, take to the skies on a hot air balloon ride, or visit the town of Calistoga in northern Napa Valley for its spas and hot springs.

best cities to visit in usa in december

Another ideal retreat for wine connoisseurs , Sonoma is known to be more laid back than its neighbor, Napa, and boasts more than 425 wineries. However, strolling through vineyard vines isn't the only must-do activity for twosomes. Outdoor lovers will want to explore regional parks such as Taylor Mountain (for its trails) and North Sonoma Mountain (to enjoy a picnic surrounded by the peaks of Santa Rosa and the Sonoma Valley). Plenty of Sonoma's hotels offer spa treatments, but what could be more memorable than a massage in a 22-foot wine barrel? Book side-by-side treatments at Magical Massage for a one-of-a-kind experience.

best cities to visit in usa in december

A low-key getaway, Charleston, South Carolina, is filled with pastel-hued historic homes, art galleries and tasty Lowcountry cuisine (perfect for foodie couples). To dial up the romance, take in the sights from a horse-drawn carriage or sign up for a sunset harbor cruise just for two. For a quiet shoreside escape free from crowds, head to one of the nearby beaches like Sullivan's Island. Accommodations range from beachfront resorts to charming bed-and-breakfasts but keep in mind you'll likely have to pay a pretty penny for a stay in the historic district.

best cities to visit in usa in december

It's easy to proclaim your love when you're suspended atop red rocks and looking out upon miles of colorful Arizona landscape. After working up a sweat hiking Sedona's sandstone buttes, bring those romantic vibes indoors for a couples massage at one of the city's world-renowned wellness retreats . Or, if you and your amour prefer relaxing with a glass of vino, save time for a self-guided tour of the Verde Valley Wine Trail, which boasts 15 venues ranging from small tasting rooms to vast wineries sprawling along the banks of Oak Creek. At night, hold your loved one close and gaze at the star-filled sky.

best cities to visit in usa in december

Travel to Big Sur for its windswept coastline and rugged mystique. This peaceful destination carved out of the California coast offers a couple of luxurious hotels, but nature is the real star in Big Sur. Outdoor enthusiasts can hike the area's redwood-lined trails and admire picturesque Pfeiffer Beach before setting up a tent and roughing it beneath the stars. For an atmospheric picnic, head to Sand Dollar Beach, where couples can admire the scenery sans the crowds. For a more upscale outing, take a day trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea for its art galleries and fairy tale cottages.

best cities to visit in usa in december

Let Big Sky's vast terrain, fresh air and rustic romance carry you and your loved one away from the ins and outs of everyday life. Every winter, couples flock to this Montana destination for its top-notch ski resort (complete with a heated chairlift), though the offseason has its charms, too (think: fly fishing on scenic rivers, hiking under an endless blue sky or taking a road trip to Yellowstone National Park.) For a curated Montana experience, spring for an all-inclusive ranch, where you'll find private cabins, homegrown cuisine and personalized service.

best cities to visit in usa in december

What could be more romantic than a sunrise beachfront horseback ride for two? Or a private sunset cruise aboard a 40-foot catamaran? You and your love can experience this and more on Amelia Island, one of Florida's Atlantic coast barrier islands. Hop on bikes and explore the scenic Amelia Island Trail, or pedal to downtown Fernandina Beach for its Victorian-style architecture, antique shops and galleries. After a day spent sightseeing, pamper weary muscles with a couples massage at one of the luxury resorts that call the island home.

best cities to visit in usa in december

This tiny Massachusetts island exudes New England charm. Stroll arm in arm with your sweetheart down cobblestone streets, unwind on white sand beaches and snap selfies in front of iconic lighthouses, such as Brant Point Lighthouse and Great Point Lighthouse. Then, grab a lobster roll to share from one of the island's premier seafood restaurants, and revel in the extraordinary Atlantic Ocean views from the Sconset Bluff Walk. When you're ready to retire for the night, you'll have your pick of quaint Nantucket inns.

best cities to visit in usa in december

Whether you time your trip for summer boating, fall leaf peeping or snow season, upstate New York makes for an intimate setting. Depending on when you visit, you can bond with your beloved on a sleigh ride, a paddling trip or a scenic hike, where you'll be treated to awe-inspiring views of the Adirondacks' forests, lakes and mountains. When you're adventured out, bop between some of New York's most iconic small towns, including Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, for local dining and shopping. What's more, you can choose from accommodations ranging from luxe lodges packed with amenities to secluded wooden cabins for two.

best cities to visit in usa in december

Savannah, Georgia, is tailor-made for a weekend getaway. Spanish moss hangs over sidewalks that lead past hundreds of historic homes. The lively River Street area features a bevy of shopping, dining and nightlife options, while nearby islands provide a relaxing respite. Meanwhile, Forsyth Park provides the ultimate romantic backdrop for memorable couples photos, and if you're feeling brave, you can hold each other tight during a ghost tour at the hauntingly beautiful Bonaventure Cemetery. For charming digs in the heart of the city, hang your hat at one of Savannah's charming bed-and-breakfast accommodations, or rent a snug carriage house.

best cities to visit in usa in december

If your ideal romantic escape entails a lazy agenda, shingle-covered beach houses and quaint towns, Martha's Vineyard is just the place. On this Massachusetts island, you can relax on quiet beaches, sample decadent fare at upscale restaurants and explore the historic Edgartown Lighthouse, which offers incredible views of the harbor and neighboring Chappaquiddick Island. On a warm, sunny day, venture to Oak Bluffs, where you'll find charming gingerbread cottages at The Campground. For the ultimate romantic retreat, book a stay at one of the island's top hotels, some of which offer complimentary bike rentals, beach chairs and continental breakfast to guests.

best cities to visit in usa in december

Reconnect with your sweetie during a getaway to Jackson Hole. This piece of Wyoming paradise is ideal for all kinds of outdoor pursuits, including hiking and skiing. Should you need to soothe your aching muscles after an active day, go for a dip in the Granite Hot Springs, Astoria Hot Springs or your high-end resort's outdoor hot tub. Whether your dream romantic vacation includes horseback riding through the majestic Grand Teton National Park, sipping wine by a crackling fireplace or unwinding at a world-class spa, Jackson Hole is the perfect place for you and your other half.

best cities to visit in usa in december

For lovebirds who enjoy skiing and cuddling up by a fireplace, Aspen is the perfect place for a romantic getaway. Spend your days sharing ski lifts in the snow-capped mountains before partaking in the highly touted après ski scene. If you arrive during the warmer months, take advantage of superb hiking and scenic gondola rides. Then, retreat to one of the many hotels and resorts that offer glitzy accommodations for two – not to mention some must-visit spas . If you're not ready to turn in just yet, Aspen's nightlife options include plenty of live music venues, clubs and cocktail lounges.

best cities to visit in usa in december

With 40 miles of protected seashore, this region of Massachusetts offers plenty of space for that long walk on the beach. And the slow pace of Cape Cod means you don't have to focus on the hustle and bustle of daily life – you can spend quality time together swimming, biking and eating fresh seafood instead. Cape Cod is also home to a handful of breweries and wineries, so you can toast to your special someone during a tasting. Splurge on one of the Cape's five-star accommodations for spectacular ocean views and sumptuous amenities like soaking tubs for two, in-room fireplaces and private balconies.

Vote to Add these Destinations to the Rankings

best cities to visit in usa in december

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best cities to visit in usa in december

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best cities to visit in usa in december

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best cities to visit in usa in december

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When is the best time to visit New York City in 2024?

Brian Healy

Mar 22, 2024 • 5 min read

best cities to visit in usa in december

Figure out the best time to visit New York City with this guide © Anthony Nazario for Lonely Planet

Pride parties dancing through the streets in the summer, Broadway shows bringing the magic of the stage in the fall, holiday lights and magic in the winter, cherry blossoms galore in the spring…there’s no such thing as a bad time to visit New York City .

This abundance of seasonal activity means it’s hard to decide when to plan your trip. So whether you’re looking to nab a deal, go ice skating in Central Park, avoid the crowds or join them, here’s our guide to the best times to visit New York. 

December to February is a holiday season like no other

During the holiday season, New York City is a beautiful sight covered in twinkling lights. Instead of snow-capped mountains or wooden ski lodges, visitors can enjoy the magnificent Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree , plus a mixture of goodwill and retail madness – Fifth Ave department stores (as well as Macy’s ) create festive, elaborate tableaux within their storefront windows. You don’t have to look far to find a concert or religious service packed with holiday tunes. The downside to all this festive cheer is that hotel prices skyrocket to summertime levels.

However, if you don’t mind risking a winter blizzard, there are deals to score during the long, cold winter months of January and February. Though the winter doldrums arrive after the frenzy of Christmas and New Year’s Eve, New Yorkers take advantage of the frosty weather, with outdoor ice skating and weekend ski trips to the Catskills . The odd blizzard and below-freezing temperatures make February a good time to stay indoors nursing a drink or a warm meal at a cozy bar or bistro. The fashion industry A-list descends on Manhattan for New York Fashion Week , while (most years) Lunar New Year celebrations make the city’s Chinatowns (there are many!) the places to be. 

Bow bridge in Central Park on a sunny day in spring. A cherry blossom branch in full bloom frames the right side of the image

March to May is a great time for budget travelers  

Springtime is another great season to try to score hotel deals. The summer crowds have yet to descend and the weather is generally pleasant this time of year (but there are no guarantees). The odd warm spring day appears and everyone rejoices – though that’s usually followed by another week of subzero dreariness as winter lingers on. Wearing green is essential on St Patrick’s Day, when a huge parade makes its way through Midtown.

Spring finally arrives in April, and the city’s new outdoor dining program officially opens for the season. Tree pits, window boxes, squares and parks abound with bright tulips and cherry trees start blooming – a spectacle you can enjoy at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden , on Roosevelt Island and throughout Central Park.

The weather becomes warm and mild, usually without the unpleasant humidity of summer – May is perhaps the best month for New York City weather. Broadway perks up again as shows open in advance of the June Tony Awards. In late May, uniformed sailors fan out on the town as Navy vessels dock on the Hudson for Fleet Week .

Check out these other budget-friendly tips before you book

A group of people holding and flying rainbow flags walk down a street during NYC's Pride Parade.

June to August is the perfect time for enjoying the outdoors

There’s nothing like summertime in New York City. While the weather often gets hot and sticky, the city also comes alive with a host of festivals, parties and events throughout the five boroughs. There’s the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island , the Puerto Rican Day Parade and the Pride March in Manhattan and the US Open in Queens . This is also the ideal time to check out the local beach scene .

The warm temperatures in June tempt New Yorkers out of their office cubicles and WFH setups to lie out in the city’s green spaces. Parades roll down the busiest streets and portable movie screens are strung up in several parks. SummerStage offers exciting programming after dark in Central Park all season long.

As the city swelters in July, locals escape to Long Island  or to beaches just a subway ride away . Still, it’s a busy month for tourism, as vacationing North Americans and Europeans fill the city. The Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks dazzle, while Shakespeare in the Park serves up some drama – for free.

Thick waves of summer heat generally set in between the skyscrapers in August as everyone heads to the seashore or gulps cool blasts of air-conditioning. Myriad outdoor events and attractions add life to the languid urban heat. The US Open kicks off at the end of the month. Hotel prices are at their highest in the summertime as the streets fill with tourists from all over the globe. If the humidity becomes a little too much, you can always take a day trip to recharge and renew – before heading out for another night on the town.

Where Locals Go: NYC locals share their favorite nearby vacation spots

A traffic-filled street and above, neon signs of Broadway shows in New York City

September to November is the best time for cultural events and openings

After Labor Day, New Yorkers return to the city en masse and the city is abuzz with events, Broadway openings and new art exhibitions. Revelers dance down Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn in the West Indian American Day Parade , and festival-goers eat up sausage and peppers at Little Italy ’s Feast of San Gennaro . Hotel prices might dip a bit from the summer’s peak but don’t expect incredible deals.  

As the season progresses and “sweater weather” sets in by October, the air gets crisper and the leaves start to turn. Brilliant bursts of color blossom across the city's parks as temperatures cool, ushering in one of the most pleasant and scenic months to visit NYC. Cultural delights continue, Comic Con invades the Javits Center and normally private sites open their doors for one weekend only during Open House New York . The Village Halloween Parade closes out the month with a creative bang.

As the leaves tumble, light jackets are replaced by wool and down. The headliner NYC marathon is tucked into the final days of pre-hibernation weather before families gather to give thanks – and perhaps watch the giant balloons pass by at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Ready to plan your trip to NYC?

  • Add these top experiences to your itinerary
  • Find out which NYC neighborhood fits your vibe
  • Start crafting your budget with these tips
  • Navigate NYC like a local with our transportation guide

This article was first published Mar 12, 2021 and updated Mar 22, 2024.

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