Looking to get away from the in-laws? Don’t feel like cooking for a crowd? Then consider these five winter vacation spots. For the month of December, they offer everything from seasonal festivities to undisturbed beach time to take the planning off of you. With snap-worthy sites to see, delicious cuisine to eat, and activities to get you moving, they’re just the thing you need to feel refreshed heading into 2019. Scroll through to check out the ones you should book a ticket to in this month’s best places to travel.
1. Chicago, IL: With 77 neighborhoods and a stunning architectural scene, there are many things to enjoy in this bustling Midwestern city — *especially* during the holidays. Set the tone with a visit to the rustic German Christkindlmarket in the heart of downtown (happening through December 24), and step onto historic Navy Pier for Winter WonderFest, which includes live performances, crafting, and indoor ice skating. Of course, what would a trip to the Windy City be without a slice of hearty deep-dish pizza at the famous Gino’s East? Once you’ve filled your belly, head to Raised for rooftop drinks and epic views of the city, complete with firepits and blankets. After a busy day, the Renaissance Chicago Downtown will be a luxurious place to catch your zzz’s; or, if you’re looking to save money (for shopping on Michigan Avenue, obvi), book a stay at the brand-new, moderately priced Aloft Chicago Mag Mile. Either place you choose, you’ll be left in good hands in this dazzling and festive destination.
2. Miami Beach, FL: For three days during the month of December, this cultural hub explodes with even more food, art, and entertainment than usual as thousands of people make their way to the tip of Florida to experience Art Basel, a showcase of over 250 art galleries that includes rave-worthy pieces from across the globe. Mere minutes away, the Stanton South Beach is a charming place to stay after exploring the exhibits. (It’s also settled right on a white-sand beach with incredible ocean views.) Plus, for the month of December, they’re partnering with Creativity Explored, a nonprofit that’s helping creatives with developmental disabilities find their muse. Or head over to The Standard Spa, Miami Beach, located on Belle Isle, for a little R&R and hydrotherapy. Once you’re settled in, grab some grub at the notable Lolo’s Surf Cantina before making your way to the beach to enjoy your slice of paradise away from the cold.
3. Park City, UT: Snow bunnies will be all over this one. Stay at the luxurious Montage Deer Valley for ski-in/ski-out access to one of the country’s best ski resorts. While you’re out there enjoying the slopes, grab a bite and a beer at the world’s only ski-in gastro distillery and saloon, High West (located at the bottom of the Quittin’ Time run). For those more into maintaining traditions that don’t involve sliding down mountains, the hotel offers a plethora of holiday programming for all ages: Highlights include an Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt, an annual tree lighting ceremony, caroling, and readings with Santa, and unlimited hot chocolate. For adults, there’s the newly reopened Après Lounge & Beach Club, where you can sip Veuve Clicquot champagne in the chicest of settings. Consider it a winning pick for all!
4. Rome, Italy: If you’re looking to travel away from the crowds this season, consider Rome. While the temps may require a few extra layers, the lit-up streets, and annual offerings are a treat. Pop over to Piazza Navona for a vendor-filled authentic Christmas market, or celebrate Hanukkah with the gorgeous hanukkiah lighting in Piazza Barberini. Go the traditional route by taking in views of the Trevi Fountain (preferably at night, with a bottle of wine), iconic Colosseum, or breathtaking Sistine Chapel without being overwhelmed by tourists. Then make your way over to the Pantheon, stopping for a cappuccino pick-me-up at the renowned Tazza d’Oro Caffè. Feeling hungry? Of course, you are! Grab a signature margherita pizza at Dar Poeta, tucked away in the Trastevere neighborhood. Trust us: It’s the best pie around!
5. Granada, Nicaragua: Although Nicaragua is the largest of the Central American countries, it’s often the most overlooked. Many people don’t know it offers 550 miles of coastline, six active volcanoes, and acre after acre of lush rainforestest, making it an ideal destination. And since December is the start of their summer — and, more importantly, dry season — it’s an excellent time to go. The city of Granada in particular is a popular spot where it’s easy to take in colorful colonial architecture nestled along the water. The little Islands of Granada are close by for those more inclined to be on the water. (Note: Renting a kayak is highly encouraged.) But perhaps the true charm lies in simply strolling through town. Pop in and out of churches or interact with local vendors to revel in the joy that comes from enjoying time away from the hustle and bustle of your nine-to-five. After all, it’s what the season is all about!
Do you plan to travel for the holidays? Tag us in your ‘grams @BritandCo.
(Photos via Getty)