I’ve never been one to go on vacation during the Holidays. My family and in-laws are all relatively nearby so there is no need to travel across the country to visit loved ones. And because I’m expected to be at all of the family functions (of which there are several and they start the second weekend of December and go until after Christmas), there is little chance of me ever going to see how the holidays are spent around the world. However, I thought perhaps you may have the ability to travel during the holidays and, if so, you may like to hear about these top Christmas Destinations and then report back to let me know how fabulous these places are. (I apologize for this Christian-centric post but as I am Christian, this is the culture I know. I’m not purposely ignoring other faiths’ traditions and if you have some to share, please do!)
1. Quebec City, Canada. This is a particularly ideal vacation destination for Americans. It offers the charm of Old World Europe with the proximity of a North American destination. It’s guaranteed to offer a snowy White Christmas, which is a must for many holiday travelers. This city is known for providing a great Christmas experience to visitors. It has terrific holiday shopping options. It is filled with lights and decorated Christmas trees. And there are numerous holiday events to enjoy while you’re here. Plan now for a trip to this top destination!
(Living in North Carolina for 30 years, I’ve only had one White Christmas. I would like to have another one day…)
2. Any of the Caribbean islands. At the opposite end of the spectrum from the snowy Christmas in Quebec is the sunny sand-laced Christmas on a Caribbean island. There are many reasons that this is a popular choice. The obvious one is that you can enjoy a great relaxing getaway without all of the Christmas trimmings. People who don’t celebrate Christmas find this especially appealing as do people who need a vacation after their traditional tense vacations back home!
(#80 on the 101 Things to Do Before You Die list is “Spend Christmas on the Beach.” I’m not sure if I’d ever enjoy doing that; it goes against everything Christmas-sy! But I can see the appeal, especially for those that are tired of White Christmases)
3. Amsterdam, Netherlands. Returning to a more traditional snowy Christmas destination, this is a perfect time of year to take a trip to Amsterdam. This city starts celebrating Christmas in mid-November and doesn’t stop until the New Year. Even the infamous Red Light District here goes all out with Christmas lights! Numerous events are available to enjoy. In general this is just a magical destination and you’ll truly feel that ambience of holiday spirit in the air here.
(I’d love to see how the Red Light District gets into the Christmas spirit!)
4. San Francisco, California. If you’re looking for an American destination to enjoy this Christmas then consider San Francisco. You won’t get the snow but you will get to enjoy many other holiday activities. Ice skating in the shopping district of Union Square, attending an annual Dickens Christmas fair and singing carols on a cable car ride are all opportunities that will be available for Christmas. What’s great is that this place isn’t overrun with tourists during this time of year so you can enjoy all of these activities at an affordable price without too many crowds.
(Miranda, what do you think of Christmas in San Fran?)
5. Austin, Texas. Another great American destination to enjoy during Christmas is Austin. What’s really great here is that it’s on the Trail of Lights. You can take this little road trip to enjoy the best Christmas light displays in the entire nation. Austin also offers numerous Christmas activities of its own to enjoy during your time in the city.
6. New York City. If you can’t imagine an American Christmas without snow then consider heading up to New York City this year. It’s a great urban destination that offers famous experiences like the Macy’s Parade, the world’s tallest Christmas tree and live viewing of The Nutcracker. It’s also likely to snow (and you can easily travel to much snowier New England destinations as well).
(Of all these places, I have actually at least visited NYC during the Holidays. I got to see Rockefeller Center, all of the store window decorations, and the rest of the city all dressed up in Yuletide Merriment. It even started snowing when I got to the top of the Empire State Building, which I thought was Very Significant.)
7. Lapland, Finland. This destination is well known during the Christmas season because it’s where Santa lives. Here you can enjoy all of the amazing trappings of Christmas including sleigh rides, seeing reindeer and taking a tour of the toys being made by Santa’s helpers. This makes for a great unique family vacation experience to enjoy at Christmastime.
(Since I’ve wanted to stay in an Ice Hotel and see the Aurora Borealis, I might as well see if I can squeeze in a trip here too. Seriously, no matter how old you are, wouldn’t it be awesome to visit Santa where he lives?!)
8. Bethlehem, Palestine. Are you more interested in the true meaning of Christmas? Visit this religious center to experience that side of Christmas this year. Plan to attend the midnight mass at St. Catherine’s Church if you want to be part of the traditional Christmas experience here.
(On the other hand, I know all of my family would understand if I chose to spend Christmas in Bethlehem. I would probably not do this until things in this general area were significantly more peaceful and calm).
9. Vienna, Austria. If you want to bring Christmas gift souvenirs home from your trip then go here where the Christmas markets are absolutely amazing. You’ll also enjoy a terrific ski destination, a city with many Christmas activities and a generally merry vacation.
Of these, I’d like most to go to Lapland and Bethlehem during Christmas. But there ARE plenty of places I could visit nearby that I haven’t (Biltmore Estate, Tryon Palace, etc), so I really should work harder on visiting places in my own backyard.
So where do YOU think is the best place to spend the Holidays?