You know the feeling — when the decorations appear on the light posts along the roads and the first flakes of snow begin to fall. The holidays are approaching and it’s almost time for that special winter vacation. From snow-blanketed mountains to lively cities, these are the perfect places to visit to unwrap the gift of travel.
1. Leavenworth, Washington
Picture-perfect as a snow globe, this Bavarian small town at the base of Washington state’s Cascade Mountains is full of holiday cheer and alpine charm. With a nutcracker museum, a reindeer farm, snowy sleigh rides, hand-bell concerts, cookie crawls, and weekly ceremonies to illuminate more than half a million holiday lights, it’s easy to see why Leavenworth is consistently named one of America’s best towns for the holidays.
2. New York City, New York
No city shines brighter than New York City during the holiday season. Wander through an outdoor holiday market, cuddle up during a horse-drawn carriage ride around Central Park, or sip hot chocolate and stroll the city streets to see the spectacular window displays of the shops on Fifth Avenue. Ice skating beneath the twinkling lights of the gigantic Rockefeller Christmas Tree is one of the city’s most treasured winter traditions.
3. Orlando, Florida
Orlando’s theme parks offer a winter wonderland in the warmth of Florida. Disney’s Magic Kingdom has plenty of holly-jolly offerings, from dazzling décor and beloved characters dressed in their holiday best, to yuletide treats and enchanting entertainment. At the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, you’ll find magical décor, festive drinks, special seasonal shows, and spellbinding holiday spirit.
4. Branson, Missouri
The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year in Branson, Missouri. Tucked into the Ozark Mountains, “America’s Christmas Tree City” offers a delightful lineup of ways to make holiday memories. Silver Dollar City’s Old Time Christmas offers tons of family-friendly fun, with a parade, light-and-sound show, seasonal treats, costumed characters, and more than 6.5 million lights.
5. Williamsburg, Virginia
Stroll back in time and onto the pages of a holiday storybook in historic Williamsburg. The Jamestown settlement offers a glimpse into Colonial holiday traditions, plus a boat parade on the York River, festive tunes performed by the Williamsburg Symphony, and a Community Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Market Square, which is a treasured tradition that offers a history lesson about the United States’ first ever Christmas tree.
6. Durango, Colorado
This snow-covered mountain town offers tons of winter activities — like sleigh rides and ice skating — to make spirits bright. Each holiday season, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad draws inspiration from the Polar Express and brings the magic of the book to life by taking guests on a journey to the “North Pole.” The experience includes tasty hot chocolate, singalongs, gifts, and a special visit from Santa himself.
7. Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas gets a whole lot merrier during the holiday season. Many resorts along the Strip, like Aria and The Bellagio, pull out all the stops when it comes to decorations. After a wander through wonderland, hit up the outdoor skating rink at The Cosmopolitan complete with s’mores, warm cocktails, and even light snow showers. Drive through the Glittering Lights show at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. And the most Southwestern thing of all: See cacti decked out in twinkling lights at Ethel M Chocolates.