holiday destinations

Holiday Destinations Offer Festive Travel Retreats

This holiday season, plan your next getaway! From tropical to traditional, enjoy these festive holiday hotspots for singles, couples, families, and friends.

If you need a break from the busy rush of the holiday season, or just want to go somewhere special this year, there are plenty of holiday travel destinations just for you! From tropical to traditional, relaxing to adventurous, you’ll be happy to check off the next item on your to do list—enjoying your next vacation!

Whether traveling alone, as a couple, with friends, or with family, there are many options for holiday travel destinations. The earlier you book your trip, the easier and more cost-effective it will be. You could even book a late winter trip now, especially for off-season vacation spots. Whatever your interests are, here are some travel hotspots to inspire you.

Festive Traditional Holiday Destinations

Dickens Christmas

Each December, Dickens of a Christmas returns to historic downtown Main Street in Franklin, Tennessee. Photo Credit: Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County

If you’re in the holiday spirit but don’t want to go to all the trouble of entertaining guests this year, opt for a family-friendly road trip to one of the charming small towns across the United States that decorate for Christmas.

Santa Claus Loves Southern Hospitality

The South really knows how to celebrate Christmas, especially in Nashville, Tennessee. Each year, thousands of visitors make their way to A Country Christmas at Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center to get in the spirit of the season. From more than 2 million twinkling lights and lavish outdoor holiday displays to festive décor, larger-than-life ice sculptures and hand-carved slides, holiday-themed performances, horse-drawn carriage rides, photos with Santa, and so much more, Opryland does Christmas in a big way! Enjoy the festivities from November through January each year.

On the second weekend in December, the Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County hosts the largest Christmas festival in Middle Tennessee. Dickens of a Christmas returns to historic downtown Main Street in Franklin, just south of Nashville, for a free annual street festival featuring 200 musicians, dancers and characters dressed in Victorian costumes, including several from Charles Dickens’ stories, including Ebenezer Scrooge himself from “A Christmas Carol!” Be sure to try the roasted chestnuts and sugar plums from the festive street vendors! Find more holiday festivities in the Gatlinburg, Tennessee area.

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Indulge in Midwestern Charm

Other spirited holiday destinations are Santa Claus, Indiana, known as “America’s Christmas Hometown,” for its year-round Christmas-themed activities, theme parks, shopping and dining. The Santa Claus Christmas Celebration takes place the first three weekends of December. Family Christmas packages include a stay in a Rudolph’s Christmas Cabin, passes to the 12-mile-long Santa Claus Land of Lights, the annual Santa Claus Christmas Parade and the must-see Santa Claus Christmas Store. If you’re looking for additional small town, rustic charm, celebrate Christmas in Brown County! You’ll find eclectic boutiques and galleries, breathtaking scenery, wholesome entertainment, artisanal dining, old-fashioned candies, art and crafts, carolers and historical sites like the Story Inn, an old general store that was converted into a bed and breakfast.

Traditional Holiday Destinations

If you’re traveling as a couple or with your family during the holidays, Christmas in New York City is the perfect traditional destination to enjoy the holidays. From seeing the lighting of the giant Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, to window-shopping along 5th Avenue, seeing the life-sized nutcrackers at FAO Swartz, ice skating in Central Park, enjoying the Union Square Holiday Market, and watching award-winning Broadway shows, there’s no shortage of entertainment in the Big Apple. You’re sure to find something everyone will love! In addition, historic cities like Boston, Massachusetts, offer festive concerts and cultural events not to be missed!

Relaxing Retreats

If you’re hoping for a more down-to-earth, relaxing vacation, try booking time at a spa resort for a mud bath, a hot stone massage, or some time in natural hot springs, which my help ease muscle tension and offer support for stress relief. Or, if picturesque scenery and peaceful sunsets are more your style, try a trip to a U.S. National Park, or book an international vacation to the beautiful Scottish Highlands, the laid-back city of Amsterdam in The Netherlands, or any of the other 20 most relaxing holiday destinations.

Romantic Getaways

Hawaii

Kailua-Kona is one of many romantic, scenic spots in Hawaii. Photo Credit: Tor Johnson, Hawai’i Tourism Authority.

Couples looking to rekindle love may enjoy a romantic weekend getaway to a lake resort, a cozy country inn, a cabin retreat or a luxury hotel where they can find fine dining, live entertainment, pampering spa treatments, a pool, sauna, steam room and relaxation lounge.

Or, try a tropical dream vacation and experience Christmas in Hawaii! If you’re looking for an island escape, head to Hawaii and enjoy palm trees and sand instead of Christmas trees and snowflakes! You’ll be welcomed by a surfing Santa, elaborate holiday decorations, beautiful warm weather and all the things that make a Merry Christmas a “Mele Kalikimaka.” In addition, try these Christmas beach vacations we think you’ll love.

Not sure where to go yet? Find more holiday destinations and winter vacation ideas with a subscription to Condé Nast Traveler.

Adventurous Outdoor Excursions

Aspen

Ski the Aspen Highlands this holiday season! Photo Credit: Scott Markewitz Photography, Aspen Snowmass.

When you think of the holidays, you may think of snow. If you’re craving time in the great outdoors, try a trip to a resort in the mountains! Aspen, Colorado, has excellent slopes for skiing and opportunities for many other adventures. And after riding the ski lift or gondola, you can warm up beside the fire in your hotel with a warm cup of cocoa, marshmallows and your loved ones around you! You may even spot a celebrity or two.

World travelers on a solitary trek have many options for fun and adventure! From women only trips for hiking, mountain biking camping, surfing, skiing or yoga—spanning Italy to China to the French Alps and beyond—there are retreats designed especially for you! There are also guys only getaways for friends looking for the ultimate vacation—from bourbon trail tours to racecar pit stops, to fishing trips to Las Vegas weekends to Appalachian road trips and more!

Adventurous travelers would love a magazine subscription to National Geographic Traveler! Each issue features stunning photography of must-see destinations and practical travel advice.

Start Planning Your Next Trip

Are you inspired yet? Subscribe to our travel and vacations magazines to help you plan your next trip!

How will you be spending your holidays this year? Share your story in the comments below!