What says “Merry Christmas” more than a vacation to a dazzling winter wonderland or a cozy, festive sea-side town? Here are the best places to spend your holidays this year:
1. Disneyland/Disney World
They call it the happiest place in the world, and they aren't wrong. Whether you travel to Disney's Florida or California location, you will definitely not regret the trip during the holidays. The park is decked out in strings upon strings of multicolored lights and garland, and of course harbors plenty of holiday cheer to go around. The only section that is excluded from the festivities is Tomorrowland for thematic reasons (because hey, there will be no Christmas in the future). There are also several Christmas overlays in the park, including the Haunted Holiday Mansion, “It's a Small World” Holiday, a Jingle Cruise, and of course the iconic Christmas parade and holiday fireworks show. Also, don't miss out on the special candlelight precession featuring a stunning choir on Main Street. All the holiday celebrations and decorative displays come together to create a breathtaking sight, even if you are more of a thrill seeker when it comes to amusement park rides.
2. Paris, France
In the city of romance, what's not to love about spending your holiday in Paris? While the city itself is quite scenic year round, the Parisians go all out when it comes to holiday decorations. The trees along the Champs Elysees are covered in dazzling twinkly lights and the city shines in all its glory with thousands of decadent light displays illuminating churches, bridges, buildings, and monuments. The Galeries Lafayette, Paris' huge department store, also installs a towering Christmas tree in the center of its store and features an array of charming window displays. Venture out to the holiday markets, which feature wooden chalets of festive holiday goods. And if you get cold, you can take a stroll with a steaming cup of Nutella hot chocolate (that's right I said Nutella) in hand. You can even ice skate on the first level of the Eiffel Tower!
3. New York City, New York
Of course we cannot forget the illustrious New York City. If you're willing to brave the crowds, NYC is the perfect place to spend your holidays. There is ice skating at Rockefeller Center, which features a seven-story Christmas tree that is magnificently decorated, the Rockettes performing at Radio City Music Hall, decadent shopping along 5th Avenue, and even a Christmas market at Bryant Park. The city's iconic department stores also put festive christmas displays in their windows for customers to enjoy while buying gifts for loved ones. Step into Saks Fifth Avenue and feast your eyes upon a brilliant spectacle, as icicles and frosted trees line the store's entryway. Sixth Avenue also comes alive at night with some of the biggest and brightest light displays in the city. Finally, there is no better place to satisfy your appetite than at Serendipity 3. While it may be too cold to try their famous frozen hot chocolate, the restaurant's menu also features mouth-watering items like shrimp stuffed avocado, spiced chicken flambé and chocolate blackout cake.
4. Carmel, CA
Tucked away in the California coastline, Carmel is a great little holiday getaway. Although you won't see snow here in this part of the golden state, the chilly winds cause temperatures to drop. Carmel's crashing waves and wine country create a lovely, enticing atmosphere. Carmel decks out its huge, resident Christmas tree at the annual Christmas tree lighting, drawing people from all over town. During December, the Inns of Distinction tour is also a major attraction, as it brings in esteemed lodging to the area. It includes the Cypress Inn, dating back to 1929, and the cottage-style Wayside Inn, as well as wineries such as Heller Estate and Cima Collina. Carmel is also known for its unique shopping, where you can pick up items like French linens and antiques at Jan de Luz. If you're looking for a relaxing, low-key holiday (of a slightly warmer variety), Carmel is the place to be this winter.
5. Aspen, Colorado
With its luxe living and quaint Rocky Mountain feel, Aspen is a distinctively beautiful winter wonderland. Take a trip down Copper Lane and you might encounter cookie exchanges, public smore roasts, or elf meet-and-greets. Aspen's two most famous hotels are also major sites of holiday cheer. Carolers can be seen performing in the lobby of The Hotel Jerome, and decadent meals such as venison loin with huckleberries, black truffles, and chestnut-and-caramel profiteroles are served at both the Ajax Tavern and Element 47 at the Little Nell. You can also participate in the all-you-can-drink Bottomless Cristal New Year's Eve Party at the Little Nell. Come snuggle up by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa and some mittens in Aspen's mountainous terrain this holiday season.