Best Places to Visit in December in the USA

14 Best Places to Travel in December in the USA & Abroad

Travel in December is the best time of year for many destinations. In some cases, the crowds will be thinner. Either way, there are so many opportunities to celebrate the holiday season. From Christmas market shopping, to holiday festivals, to epic outdoor activities, the world is truly your oyster in December. With so many choices, you may even find a new holiday tradition. This list of the best places to travel in December in the USA and abroad will get you packing your bags!

The Best Places to Travel in December in the USA

Christmas in Sedona Tree Lighting


Christmas in Sedona is one of the best times of year to visit. The town comes alive with oodles of Christmas lights starting the beginning of December. This magical town known for it’s red rocks is best explored on foot on a variety of hikes that are absolutely stunning.

You may notice that you feel great in Sedona. Some say it’s the Sedona Vortex but others might attribute it to the fresh air and physical activity. Either way, the weather in December is perfect for getting outside. You can also meander through galleries, do some shopping, get a massage and see an energy healer. HOTEL: Enchantment Resort

RELATED POST: Christmas in Sedona

Palm Springs November

Palm Desert

The Coachella Valley is made up of 9 cities so you can pick the perfect one suited to your taste. Palm Springs is the most well known for it’s mid century modern architecture, shopping and fun nightlife.

Rancho Mirage caters more to families and people that just want to relax by the pool or play golf. Palm Desert’s El Paseo has upscale shopping, galleries and plenty of places to go out at night. LaQuinta, another golf and tennis favorite, has a farmer’s market and shopping in Old Town.

Wherever you choose to stay, you can day trip to Joshua Tree, the Salton Sea area or head up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to hike and get a 360 degree view of the desert below. HOTEL: Dive Palm Springs

RELATED POST: 10 Places to Visit in California in December

Biltmore Asheville in December


The highlight of December in Asheville, North Carolina is the Biltmore Estate. You’ll find carolers, horse drawn sleighs, and the mansion decorated with more than 50 Christmas trees and 30,000 ornaments. The largest private home in the United States has been hosting holiday visitors since 1895.

The whole town of Asheville is full of Christmas spirit with amazing light displays at the North Carolina Arboretum, Historic Biltmore Village and Pack Square Park. Downtown Asheville has unique holiday shopping. Outdoor enthusiasts can also take a snowy winter hike to the frozen waterfall at Looking Glass Falls. HOTEL: The Inn On Biltmore Estate

RELATED POST: 25 Bucket List USA Trips to Take Now

Leavenworth Washington December


If you are looking to travel to a true, snowy Christmas town in the USA that feels like you went to Europe in December, Leavenworth, Washington is one of the best places for you! Complete with charming Bavarian buildings, yummy German food, and cute shops, you’ll feel like you left the USA.

The Christmas Lighting Festival is cancelled for 2020 but the town will still have their beautiful light display from Thanksgiving through Valentine’s Day. You’ll also be able to enjoy all the outdoor winter fun from Ice skating to skiing to snowmobiling and sledding. HOTEL: PostHotel Leavenworth

RELATED POST: The Most Beautiful US States That You Need to Visit

Best Places to Travel in December New York

New York

New York has always been on the list of the best places to travel in December in the USA because there are so many things to do in NYC at Christmas. The city comes alive with festive lights and impressive 5th Avenue shopping windows. Do the holiday favorites – Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, Central Park skating, swim in the Poolcuzzi at the TWA Hotel, and the NYE Ball Drop in Times Square.

And what used to be home of Fall Fashion Week is now the setting of a world-class Christmas market. Bryant Park transforms itself every holiday season into a Winter Village. It’s a European style open-air market, with about 125 vendors selling everything from exquisite jewelry to food to handcrafted wares from all across the globe. HOTEL: 1 Hotel Central Park


Key West

If you’re looking for good winter weather, you’ll find it in the southernmost part of the continental US. Drive down from Miami or fly straight to Key West. In December, Key West is downright festive. From the Historic Inn Tour to the Lighted Boat Parade to the historic homes decked out for a coastal Christmas, you’ll find plenty of fun things to do.

After a busy day shopping or snorkeling, visit Mallory Square at sunset for food, drink and entertainment. America the Beautiful Pass Holders, can get more bang for their buck with a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park. HOTEL: Kimpton Lighthouse Hotel

RELATED POST: How to Get a Free National Park Pass

Miami Art Basel


There’s a reason snowbirds head to Florida for the winter. Instead of wearing a parka in December, you can be sunbathing on palm-lined, white sand beaches by day. Then enjoy the warm winter air at Art Deco cafes in South Beach at night.

Art Basel is being held at the beginning of December, which is a huge draw for art lovers. Leading galleries display significant works from both contemporary art masters and emerging talent. Add on to this vacay with a one hour flight to the Bahamas or Cuba for even more fun. HOTEL: 1 Hotel South Beach

RELATED POST: The Top 10 Things to do in Exuma Bahamas

The Best Places to Travel in December Abroad

Best Places to Travel in December Strasbourg


Christmas markets throughout the Alsace region have made Strasbourg, France one of the best places to travel in December. Strasbourg is one of the European Union’s oldest holiday markets that first opened in 1570. This beautiful Christmas town is located in picturesque eastern France, right next to the German border.

With 300 stalls, you can spend several days here perusing everything, and come home with some fantastic gifts. Delight in Place Kleber, where you will find the Great Christmas Tree. Drink the local Alsatian wine and indulge in all the festivities. As great as it is to spend Christmas here, you have to visit Alsace in the summer to truly appreciate this fairytale town. HOTEL: Sofitel Strasbourg Grande Ile

RELATED POST: 5 Fairytale Alsace Christmas Markets in France

Best Places to Travel in December Antartica


Mid-December is the perfect time to visit Antarctica. This is when the wildlife really comes out to play. What’s more, you will get up to 20 hours of sunlight, with December 22nd being the longest day. Take pictures of the incredible ice formations, as the icebergs and glaciers begin to melt during December.

See thousands of penguins in Antarctica, seals and the occasional whale. You may even see a baby penguin or two, as this is prime penguin egg-hatching season. If you’re booking at the last minute, many cruises will give you a significant discount. Cruise: Quark Expeditions

Australia Falls Tasmania


The last month of the year is just getting into warm season here on this island just south of Melbourne off the coast of Australia. It’s a dry and warm period, perfect for hiking and scuba diving.

Also, there are numerous festivals all around, such as The Falls Festival and Taste of Tasmania. If you are a wine drinker, there are plenty of wineries with which to plan an afternoon of wine tasting. Take a drive from Hobart to Port Arthur, a coastal town set on the edge of a peninsula on the south side of the island, is a big draw. HOTEL: MACq 01 Hotel

Costa Rica

Costa Rica

December marks the beginning of the dry season, which is also peak tourist season in Costa Rica. It’s a great place to book a holiday that’s fun for the whole family. You can visit Arenal Volcano National National Park, Monteverde Cloud Forest, or one of the many beautiful beaches.

Embark on a jungle tour of the tropics, go horseback riding, ziplining through the forest, river rafting, or surfing. There’s nothing like celebrating the season pure vida style with a drink in your hand and delectable food every day. HOTEL: Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo

Best Places to Travel in December Cambodia


This is one of the best times and peak season to visit the Kingdom of Wonder. Expect near perfect weather in December. With thousands of temples, Angkor Wat Archaeological Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-see during sunrise.

For the adventurous and active, a mountain temple hike will reward you with panoramic views once you reach the top. Although a Buddhist country, you will still find festive Christmas decorations and many events throughout the month. Combine your Cambodian adventure with a trip to neighboring Laos and Vietnam. HOTEL: Six Senses Krabey Island

Best Places to Travel in December Kyoto


Delve into Japanese culture with all sorts of festive fun. While New Year’s is the primary event, the activities throughout December are sure to delight. Go to Shimai Kobo on December 21 and Shimai Tenjin on Christmas Day. These two markets offer wonderful ceramics and handcraft shopping. Delicious food, Japanese snacks and drink can also be had here.

Around Arashiyama December 8-17, lanterns in the thousands will be placed all around, including the enchanted bamboo forest. And if you are here on New Year’s, do not miss the bell-ringing ceremonies at the city’s largest temple, Choin-in. On a 3 weeks in Japan itinerary, you can add Nara, Tokyo, Osaka, Takayama and more. HOTEL: Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto



During December you can expect warm, dry and sunny weather in this Caribbean island destination. Blue skies beckon many visitors for Cuba’s high tourist season. Step back in time and take a classic car tour of Old Havana. Take a day trip to Viñales to ride horses, see the tobacco farming and pick up some Cuban cigars.

The Havana Jazz Festival is the big event in December. You’ll find concerts happening at several venues, as well as impromptu performances by talented musicians. HOTEL: El Candil Boutique Hotel

RELATED POST: What You Need to Know Before You Visit Cuba

These are the top places to travel in December around the world to celebrate the festive season. Whether you are planning a trip for winter vacation or a New Year’s getaway, get booking. It’s a busy travel time. If you still need more inspiration, check out the best places to travel in November.

Our Favorite Travel Items

Other Posts You Might Like:

Save The Best Places to Travel in December in the USA – Pin it!

You Might Also Like...


  • Reply
    January 2, 2020 at 9:05 pm

    These places look amazing! Wow 🙂

    X Merel

  • Reply
    melanie silk
    November 24, 2019 at 11:53 pm

    What great recommendations! Thank you, thank you for reminding me about Art Basel. I haven’t made it down yet, but now I have it on my calendar. Last year I was there the week prior when they were setting up for it.

    • Reply
      November 25, 2019 at 3:05 pm

      Art Basel is a feast for art lovers. I’ve been starting to keep a list of event dates to reference when I’m planning trips. So many fun things to do!

  • Reply
    November 24, 2019 at 12:30 am

    These places are amazing! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    X Merel

  • Reply
    Julie | This Main Line Life
    November 22, 2019 at 8:36 pm

    These are all gorgeous places to visit. I’d love to see Antarctica and anywhere tropical.

  • Reply
    The Exclusive Beauty Diary
    November 22, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    All of these places looks stunning. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Reply
    November 22, 2019 at 1:54 am

    Visiting Antarctica at this time of year would be so cool! I have always wanted to take a trip in December when it’s cold and not very crowded. Thank you for the suggestions!

    x Kara

    • Reply
      November 24, 2019 at 2:19 am

      Visiting Antarctica would be such a dream. December travel has so many great and interesting options.

  • Reply
    November 21, 2019 at 9:01 pm

    Omg they’re all SOOOO pretty!

  • Reply
    November 21, 2019 at 1:01 am

    Great list dear. Can’t go wrong with any of these, especially NY!


  • Reply
    Mariann Yip
    November 18, 2019 at 9:33 pm

    Yes! It’s such a beautiful time to be in NYC during December. I also love Costa Rica so both are great recommendations 🙂

    • Reply
      November 18, 2019 at 9:51 pm

      Thank you! NYC is so amazing at Christmas.

  • Reply
    November 18, 2019 at 7:46 pm

    I would love to see these cute little Penguins once in my life. The white landscape in the Antarctica must be so beautiful to experience. I always love to get inspired by your amazing recommendations Jenifer!

    xx Simone

    • Reply
      November 18, 2019 at 9:19 pm

      Thanks Simone. I’d love to see those cute penguins too! Now that I know you can fly over the Drake passage, I’m dying to go to Antarctica.

  • Reply
    Kelli Nordhus
    November 18, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    You really put so much thought and detail into each blog post, and this is no exception. Love all of your choices!

    • Reply
      November 18, 2019 at 9:21 pm

      Thanks Kelli! I love including what’s available to do at each location because it’s such a huge part of the adventure.

  • Reply
    Nancy Weiss
    November 18, 2019 at 3:43 pm

    How informative, I’ve never traveled abroad during the holidays, but you have just inspired me to plan for the future. If I can’t physically be there at least I get to dream right 😊

    • Reply
      November 18, 2019 at 3:49 pm

      Dreaming about travel is great! Since our kids are bigger, I like to travel in the beginning of December or January. That way, I get the holiday travel without too much craziness at the airport.

  • Reply
    jess jannenga
    November 18, 2019 at 3:30 pm

    I really enjoyed reading the places that are great to travel to in Dec. We never travel then due to the holidays, but I would be ready for January! Costa Rica would be my speedy for the winter months. My Aunt is traveling to Germany in Dec and visiting the Christmas shops there.

    • Reply
      November 18, 2019 at 3:51 pm

      I’ve never done the Christmas markets but would love to. Costa Rica is so perfect in December and January. So dreamy!

  • Reply
    November 18, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    I really want to go to Strasbourg!

    Effortlessly Sophisticated

    • Reply
      November 18, 2019 at 2:56 pm

      Me too! It looks so pretty at Christmas.

Leave a Reply