12 Best Places to Travel in December

Chase away the winter blues at these destinations brimming with holiday spirit and festive celebrations

The best places to travel in December provide numerous opportunities to catch a memorable holiday vacation photo.


December is a great month to take a trip. No matter your getaway, nearly every city is decorated for the holidays and offers a jam-packed schedule of things to do. Listed below are 12 of the best travel destinations in December for you to consider.

Enjoy a Winter Wonderland at the Beach in Clearwater, Florida

Watch Santa and his elves dive and swim with the sea life at Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

If warmer weather in December sounds appealing, head to Clearwater—where there's plenty to do beyond the beach. One of its biggest winter attractions is the Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s Winter Wonderland. You can admire the holiday lights and décor and even watch a dive presentation from Santa and his elves.

While in Clearwater, drive over to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. After several adrenaline-pumping rides, enjoy a holiday wonderland of Christmastime entertainment, holiday shopping and over a million twinkling lights.

Choice Hotels near Clearwater, Florida: 25

Experience the Holidays in the Desert Wonderland of Phoenix, Arizona

Walk among the luminaires and twinkle lights of the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix.

Another warm weather city worth visiting in December is Phoenix. At Las Noches de Las Luminarias in the Desert Botanical Gardens, take a romantic stroll along paths filled with 8,000 hand-lit luminarias and thousands of white twinkle lights. Listen to live entertainment, munch on local foods and imbibe wines from around the world.

Phoenix also offers plenty of events for the entire family, including ZooLights at the Phoenix Zoo. In addition to millions of colorful lights, there’s a 200-foot-long polar slide and live reindeer that add to the holiday magic.

Choice Hotels near Phoenix, Arizona: 38

Go Back in Time in Fredericksburg, Virginia

Find memorable gifts at the traditional German-style holiday market in Fredericksburg in December.

In Fredericksburg, you can follow the holiday spirit on a Jingle Bell Christmas Carriage Ride along 40 blocks of the downtown historic district. It’s a great way to see the glitter of festive lights, listen to holiday music and learn about colonial holiday celebrations.

And don’t miss the Kris Kringle Market in historic Market Square. This traditional German-style outdoor holiday market has vendors selling food, arts, and gorgeous holiday and handcrafted wares.

Choice Hotels near Fredericksburg, Virginia: 17

Browse Christmas Displays in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Massive Christmas tree displays are a seasonal sight in downtown Pittsburgh in December.

Downtown Pittsburgh is arguably the state’s best travel destination in December. Check out the pop-up holiday-themed bars or take the family to the Pittsburgh Christmas Market, where vendors sell great holiday gifts.

One block away is the ice-skating rink outside PPG Place. You can also warm up inside and marvel at an extensive collection of international Santa creations, plus hundreds of gingerbread houses made by locals. Point State Park, within walking distance of PPG Place, has a massive Christmas tree made of lights, and just a few blocks over is U.S. Steel Tower Plaza, home to a life-size nativity scene.

Choice Hotels near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: 33

Relax in the Harbor Town of Boston, Massachusetts

You can take a holiday brunch cruise around the harbor in Boston in December.

Chilly as it may be, Boston can also be one of the best places to visit in December. Take a Winter Holiday Weekend Brunch Cruise around the Boston harbor in a 1920s-style yacht decked out in holiday decor.

If you’re seeking adventure, ski slopes and cross-country trails are just a 45-minute drive from the city. Not a skier? Head to Boston Common, where you'll find wide open spaces to go sledding.

Choice Hotels near Boston, Massachusetts: 17

Drive Around a Racetrack in Charlotte, North Carolina

You can ride a 50-foot Ferris wheel at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Christmas Village every December.

Looking to speed things up this holiday? Drive the 3.5-mile Christmas light display course at Charlotte Motor Speedway and enjoy more than three million lights synced to music. The Speedway also hosts a vibrant Christmas Village, where you can pet animals, visit a Bethlehem village, take photos with Santa and ride a 50-foot Ferris wheel. You can also take in one of your favorite holiday movies at the giant Speedway TV drive-in, open Thursdays to Sundays in December.

Choice Hotels near Charlotte, North Carolina: 50

Celebrate the Holidays with Trains in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grand Rapids features both toy and full-size holiday trains every holiday season.

Visit Grand Rapids to revisit your childhood with the toy trains of the iconic Breton Village Holiday Train Display, located in the lobby of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. The museum offers free full admission every Sunday in December. Or, if real trains are more your style, take a 90-minute ride on the Santa Train with Santa, his elves and a storytelling princess who reads The Polar Express by Grand Rapids native Chris Van Allsburg.

Choice Hotels near Grand Rapids, Michigan: 15

Watch a Festive Parade in West Palm Beach, Florida

The annual Boca Raton holiday boat parade occurs every December along the beach town’s intercoastal waterway.

Known for its beautiful beaches and coastlines, West Palm Beach is home to several holiday-themed events, including the Boca Raton Holiday Parade, Delray Beach Holiday Parade and the Jupiter-Tequesta Holiday Parade. Each showcases extravagant floats and entertainers to delight parade-goers with songs, dancing, lights and holiday cheer.

In addition to parades on land, the city hosts an annual Holiday Boat Parade. Sit back, relax and enjoy the boats—or decorate your own boat and be part of the festivities!

Choice Hotels near West Palm Beach: 4

Stand in Awe of Christmas Fireworks in Shreveport, Louisiana

Shreveport hosts a major holiday festival every December, complete with a Christmas fireworks show.

Watch holiday sparkle fill the sky at the Christmas on Caddo Fireworks Festival in Shreveport. Enjoy local entertainment, a jumping house, clowns, food booths, arts and crafts, and a photo session with Santa.

Nearby, you can catch a concert at the Country Christmas Festival in downtown Vivian, Louisiana. The festival offers delicious food, entertainment, crafts and more.

Choice Hotels near Shreveport, Louisiana: 10

Explore History and Art Among Holiday Décor in Indianapolis, Indiana

The Indiana History Center’s annual holiday festival in Indianapolis features more than 80 themed holiday trees.

History and art take center stage in Indianapolis, another great city to visit in December. The Indiana History Center hosts an annual holiday festival adorned with 80 themed holiday trees along with a “30-foot show-stopper.” And you’ll find a variety of pop-up art classes at the Indianapolis Art Center, where you can learn to make glass ornaments, such as snowmen and glass balls.

Choice Hotels near Indianapolis, Indiana: 33

Catch a Holiday Show in Savannah, Georgia

Holiday shopping and theatrical shows are among the many highlights of Savannah in December.

Savannah is a friendly, historic, walkable city, and the average high temperature is still in the 60s in December. You’ll discover plenty of shops and art galleries—perfect for finding holiday gifts and souvenirs. While there, catch the city’s top holiday theatre presentation A Christmas Tradition at the Savannah Theatre. The show presents familiar Christmas standards mixed with comedy and audience participation.

Choice Hotels in Savannah, Georgia: 29

Bring Your Kids for a Small-town Christmas in Waynesboro, Virginia

Experience a small-town Christmas atmosphere with parades, hayrides and Christmas home tours in Waynesboro.

Lights, garland and holiday spirit blanket Main Street during the first weekend of December, when Waynesboro holds its annual Christmas parade.

Later in the month, experience a “Christmas Wonderland” at Creative Works Farm. This annual celebration, raising money for children with special needs, features music performances, a walkthrough light display and musical light show, hot chocolate, crafts, farm animals and hayrides.

Also in December, the city’s historic Wayne Theatre sponsors an annual Christmas Home Tour of the elaborately decorated rooms of some of Waynesboro’s finest historic homes.

Choice Hotels near Waynesboro, Virginia: 9

So, why not plan a trip away this holiday season? Pick a city and go!

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