For those looking for an exciting city destination, Christmas in New York City is a must-do experience. It’s especially beautiful during the holidays, when there are so many lights and usually at least a dusting of snow. There will be opportunities for ice skating at Rockefeller Center with its massive Christmas tree, as well as horse-and-carriage rides through Central Park with an old-fashioned twist.
You can shop until you drop in while admiring the impressive holiday window displays, or you can attend the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, a
Broadway-style show hosted by the famous Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, or the New York City Ballet’s Nutcracker.
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Woodstock, Vermont, with its covered bridges, at least a light dusting of snow, and plenty of pine wafting through the air, is one of the most postcard-perfect towns to celebrate Christmas. Starting with Woodstock Wassail Weekend, a pre-holiday festival with 19th-century Norse culture traditions, this historic city knows how to do the holiday right. It features a parade with over 50 horses and riders dressed in period attire and Christmas costumes, wagon and sleigh rides, carolers serenading, and the lighting of the tree and yule log. The Billings Farm & Museum hosts an old-fashioned celebration with a big feast, and all the local shops with their beautifully decorated windows stay open late during the event.
Lancaster, a small town in Pennsylvania Dutch Country, has a festive atmosphere among Amish farms. The Lancaster Central Market offers carriage rides, singing carolers, and plenty of gift shopping. Watch the tree lighting ceremony with tuba accompaniment, or ride the Strasburg Rail Road for cookies and milk while Victorian-dressed actors read “The Night Before Christmas,” then visit one of Lancaster’s other popular attractions. If you need a place to stay, we recommend Sprinter van rental, which can make your stay more enjoyable.
Rhode Island’s Newport
During the holidays, the Holidays at the Newport Mansions offer the perfect blend of opulence and Christmas magic, with ornamental trees, holiday lights, wreaths, dining tables set with period silver and china, and more. You can also dress warmly and head to the harbor to see the Illuminated Boat Parade, in which colorful boats compete for the best decorated. Another notable event is Christmas in Newport, which includes a variety of activities such as concerts, tree lightings, craft fairs, and candlelight house tours.
Beginning with the Lighting of Breckenridge, which includes hundreds of Santas racing down Main Street, picking up milk and cookies as they go, caroling, and the Blue River holiday lighting on the first weekend of the month, the town is transformed into a stunning Victorian-style Christmas village throughout December. There are horse-drawn carriage rides, gift shops galore, and if you stay for New Year’s Eve, you can watch the torchlight parade down the mountain, followed by fireworks.
Branson, known as America’s Christmas Tree City, is one of the best small towns in the United States for Christmas. You can enjoy a month-long holiday extravaganza here, complete with live music, festive light displays, and fun-filled parades. This Midwest city and country music capital has drive-thru light displays as well as an illuminated nativity scene atop Mount Branson, and An Old Time Christmas has the area’s largest Christmas display. The Polar Express Train Ride at the Branson Scenic Railway is a family favorite, complete with hot chocolate, cookies, and a reading of the original story by Santa himself.
Florida’s St. Augustine
St. Augustine is one of Florida’s most charming Christmas towns. It’s ideal for a warm-weather holiday getaway, and its lack of snow is compensated for by an uber-festive annual Night of Lights festival. The city is aglow with lights, candles, and Christmas decorations, and you can see it all while riding the Old Town Trolley’s Famous Night of Lights Tour. Other family-friendly events in the city include the Regatta of Lights, which features colorful boat displays. Take part in the popular Holiday Tour of Inns, or bring the kids to the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum on Luminary Night to meet Santa.
North Carolina’s McAdenville
Christmas Town USA refers to this Charlotte suburb of less than 700 people. For more than six decades, McAdenville has put on an impressive holiday display that includes 265 evergreen trees with a half-million dazzling lights, as well as over 160 elaborately decorated houses. It was once named one of the “top ten destinations to visit during the holidays” by Yahoo and Time magazine, and many news stations broadcast live from town around Christmas. There’s plenty to do in nearby Charlotte, too, from holiday-themed events and world-class museums to outstanding shopping and dining.
Leavenworth was once named the “Ultimate Holiday Town USA” by the A&E Network. This charming Bavarian village with an impressive snow-capped mountain backdrop, located along the eastern edge of the soaring Cascades, will make you feel as if you’ve stepped into a historic German town. The Christmas Lighting Festival, which takes place from early December to just before Christmas, features traditional caroling as well as a dazzling display of lights. St. Nikolas himself greets children on Fridays with song and fruit.