20 Christmas Travel Ideas For A Totally Magical Holiday
We really love Christmas (and Christmas travel), and there's nothing that fills us with holiday cheer quite like crazy lights, huge Christmas trees, and festive garlands. From old homes decorated for the season to our favorite boutiques' holiday displays, we love to see places absolutely decked out for Christmas. If you do too, then keep reading for our Christmas cheer destination recommendations! (Try saying that five times fast.)
Decorated Hotels And Resorts
The Inns of Aurora, which all sit together in a village, were founded in the Finger Lakes region of New York in 1789. In addition to the giving you a break from the busy world, as well as the Christmas decorations and old-school feeling you'll find inside, they've made three out of their five Inns available for private rental this season. Take your family vacation to the next level!
Located right off UNC Chapel Hill's campus, this picturesque hotel is great for anyone looking for a classy escape. While it looks beautiful all year long, the garlands, festive lights, and Christmas trees give it a truly heartwarming touch. Along with the festive decor, outdoor fire pit, and cheer-filled cocktails, you can also sign up for a Christmas tea with the Sugar Plum Fairy. If that's not magical, we don't know what is.
Christmas at Gaylord Texan is unlike anything you've seen before. Stay in a room that overlooks their unique atriums and gardens, and experience their acres of lights, tons of activities, and live shows. You can also go on an adventure with Buddy the Elf as a part of their Mission: Save Christmas featuring Elf adventure experience.
This stay, founded in 1869, gives us the perfect excuse to *finally* have Christmas at a Victorian castle. What a dream! Located deep in the forests in New York's Hudson Valley, the resort is 90 miles north of New York City and is the perfect escape from reality. Eat their farm-to-table food, relax at the spa, go ice skating, and cozy up by the fire while you daydreaming about falling in love with a European royal.
Aside from the giant Christmas tree in the lobby, the nightly caroling and the holiday tea are sure to put you in the Christmas spirit. The Willard was originally a row-house from 1816, and has evolved into one of the biggest hotels in Washington D.C. that's hosted celebrities, presidents, and foreign dignitaries for over 200 years.
With a variety of restaurants and experiences to pick from inside this iconic hotel, you'll be able to experience what a New York Christmas is like. Catch up with family at the Palm Court, take Holiday Tea with your best friends, or sip on your favorite bubbly at the Champagne Bar. Plus, if there's anything we learned from Eloise at Christmastime, it's that frolicking through the snow outside the Plaza is definitely on our bucket list.
Charming Christmas Villages
A trip to this Revolutionary War town will excite plenty of history buffs, but even if you didn't read all the American Girl books as a kid, you're bound to find something that you like. Sip on delicious hot chocolate, take a dance lesson, and have dinner at the local tavern. Historical interpreters dressed in 1700s garb will teach you about history, answer questions, and give you an appreciation for the simpler things in life.
This town, called Michigan's "Little Bavaria," was named one of the "9 Most Christmassy Towns in America" by TIME and is home to the World's Largest Christmas Store. You might be able to see these Christmas decorations at any point during the year, but the half-mile-long lights display and the Main Street horse-drawn carriage rides are so much more magical in the winter!
When you visit this Utah town, you must take a ride on the North Pole Express train, with its hot cocoa and cookies, and watch the Tree Lighting Ceremony, the live music, and the fireworks. The Electric Parade, holiday movie showings, and skiing are just the cherry on top of this mountain town.
With multiple events almost every day of December, Newport's never boring! Check out the town's Gilded Age mansions, which are decked out with evergreen, wreathes, flowers, and more. The Illuminated Boat Parade is a fun way to spend a night on the harbor, and you can see the town's tree lighting at Bowen's Wharf.
You may have heard of Asheville's Biltmore estate, especially if you're a Downton Abbey fan, but a lot of people don't know that just outside the historic property lies a charming village that takes Christmas just as seriously as the mansion. The Christmas lights, local shops, and historic buildings are sure to get you in the spirit of the season.
This resort town is a great place to go if you love to ski, but even if you're not a huge outdoorsy person, we're always a fan of curling up by the fire with a book. During the holiday season you can also make a paper lanterns or see a show at the Winterfest Ice Theater. With its cobblestone streets and falling snow, you'll forget the rest of the world exists.
We couldn't leave a place called North Pole off the list! The town's best-known attraction is the Santa Claus House where you can see "Dear Santa" letters from children around the world, talk with a live Santa, and check out aisles upon aisles of ornaments and toys. Your inner child will come alive! Filled with ice sculptures, fireworks, activities, and even a group of community volunteers that respond to the "Dear Santa" letters, this place is unlike any other.
Festive Christmas Markets
Take a step back in time with the Great Dickens Christmas Fair, which immerses you in Victorian London with its shops and pubs. While this year is a drive-through, you'll still be able to feel the magic of the season and imagine what Christmas would really look like in Dickens' famous A Christmas Carol.
This Windy City German-style market features international and local vendors during the holiday season. It also offers live entertainment, and food and beverages that are sourced both locally and from Germany. People love the market so much that it earned a spot on this year's USA Today 10 Best Readers' Choice list.
Situated near Griffith Mountain, this market lets you experience Christmas the way it was celebrated 100 years ago, with roasted chestnuts, horse-drawn wagon rides, carolers and more. Historic store fronts and giant Christmas trees will make you feel like you stepped into a Hallmark movie.
Philly's Christmas Village is modeled after Germany's traditional holiday markets and is full of vendors in wooden booths, gifts, ornaments, and our favorite part: European food and drink! With thousands of lights, plus the waffles and mulled wine, you'll get a taste of what a European Christmas market really looks like.
Located at 59th street and Central Park West, prepare to for the abundance of art, jewelry, food, and more right in the heart of Manhattan. Forget about the hustle and bustle of the city while you're inside, but once you've finished your shopping, go ice skating at Rockefeller Center, see the Rockettes, or take a peek in the store windows on Fifth Avenue.
This market, located inside a giant heated tent, will make you feel warm and cozy with its Old World German traditions. Beautiful handmade goods and yummy food make this a unique experience that will get you in the holiday mood. Make ornaments, decorate cookies, and have brunch with St. Nicholas and his reindeer!
Head down to Penn Quarter to see more than 70 exhibitors and help support small businesses from across the region. Support the market's POC-owned business by shopping its two blocks of goods, food, and live entertainment.
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Brit + Co Editorial Assistant, Swiftie | Chloe is from the Outer Banks of North Carolina (yes, like the Netflix show!). When she isn't writing or updating her blog Pastels and Pop Culture, Chloe enjoys watching Marvel movies or texting her sister about the latest celebrity news. Say hi at @thechloewilliams on Insta!