During the holiday season, people seek joy, celebration, and the opportunity to make unforgettable moments. However, traveling during Christmas doesn’t have to be expensive. There are plenty of budget-friendly destinations in the USA that provide a delightful and festive atmosphere without putting a strain on your finances. In this article, we will delve into some of the most affordable and enchanting places to visit in the United States during Christmas.
Cheap Places To Travel During Christmas In USA
1. Hawaii — Oahu
Choosing Oahu for a Christmas getaway in the United States may seem unconventional, but it promises a one-of-a-kind experience. Unlike destinations with snowy landscapes, Oahu offers a tropical and warm atmosphere during the holiday season, making it an appealing choice for those who prefer to avoid the cold. In addition to Christmas parades, visitors can enjoy captivating hula performances and traditional luaus, ensuring a memorable holiday season.
Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the enchanting Honolulu City Lights and Santa’s Enchanted Forest at Honolulu Hale, as they add to the festive spirit of the island.
- Authentic Hawaiian Christmas Traditions:
- Attend a Hawaiian Christmas concert featuring traditional music and hula.
- Visit the Polynesian Cultural Center for their special Christmas program showcasing Polynesian Christmas traditions.
- Try festive Hawaiian treats like Lilikoi (passion fruit) Chex Mix and Laulau (steamed pork) wrapped in taro leaves.
- Immerse yourself in the Aloha spirit by attending a Christmas-themed luau. Many luaus offer special menus and entertainment during the holiday season.
- Christmas-themed luaus: Consider Paradise Cove Luau, The Willows at Waimea Valley, or Germaine’s Luau – all known for their festive menus and cultural performances.
2. California — Los Angeles
- Seeing snow: While snowfall in Los Angeles is rare, you can catch a glimpse of snow-capped mountains at Mount Baldy Ski Resort or Big Bear Mountain Resorts. Alternatively, visit Universal Studios Hollywood for their “Grinchmas” event with fake snow and winter decor.
- Alternatives to ice skating: Enjoy an outdoor movie screening at Cinespia in Hollywood Forever Cemetery, go caroling with the L.A. Master Chorale at Grand Central Market, or explore festive holiday markets like The Grove Christmas Tree Grove or Beverly Hills Holiday Rodeo Drive.
Don’t miss the opportunity to take a stroll along Santa Monica Beach Pier after sunset, as you’ll be treated to a mesmerizing sight of the illuminated boardwalk adorned with enchanting twinkling lights.
If you’re seeking activities to engage in, exploring the residential areas of Venice Beach is highly recommended. The residents there participate in a friendly competition to showcase the best-decorated house, and you can also enjoy watching a delightful holiday boat parade.
3. Washington, D.C. — The Capitol
- Visiting the White House: The White House is not open to the public during the holiday season. However, you can admire the iconic White House Christmas decorations from outside or attend the annual White House Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
- Special events at the National Mall: Don’t miss the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony, the National Zoo’s ZooLights display, or the U.S. Botanic Garden’s Christmas floral exhibition. Additionally, enjoy carolers at the National Cathedral or ice skating at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden.
4. Washington — Leavenworth
Leavenworth, known as the “Ultimate Holiday Town USA,” holds great surprises for visitors. Prepare to be captivated by its charming village, reminiscent of a picturesque German town. The enchanting backdrop of snow-capped mountains further enhances its Bavarian ambiance. If you’re longing for a taste of European Christmas magic within the United States, Leavenworth is the ideal destination. Immerse yourself in the festive spirit by attending the Christmas lighting festival and meeting Santa Claus every Friday.
- Experiencing the Christmas lighting festival: Attend the Leavenworth Christmas Lighting Festival for the grand illumination ceremony and stroll through the charming town adorned with millions of twinkling lights. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride or hop on the Leavenworth Christmas Express train for a festive experience.
- German Christmas markets: Immerse yourself in the Bavarian spirit at the Christkindlmarkt, featuring authentic German food, crafts, and holiday cheer. Other markets like the Leavenworth Nutcracker Market and the Leavenworth Winter Farmer’s Market offer unique holiday shopping opportunities.
5. Florida — Key West
If you’re looking for a cozy Christmas experience without leaving the contiguous US, here’s an alternative option. Although there won’t be any actual snow, the locals in this destination go all out with their decorations to create a winter wonderland atmosphere! Alongside beautiful lights, you’ll be amazed by the sight of large icicles and snowflakes adorning the houses. Key West offers a diverse range of Christmas celebrations, including a classic car show, the enchanting Harbor Walk of Lights, and the Key West Lighted Board Parade. To fully immerse yourself in the festive spirit, you can also embark on the Holiday Lights Conch Train Tour, where you’ll be taken on a delightful journey to admire the breathtaking lights after nightfall.
- Unique Christmas decorations: Key West boasts whimsical and vibrant Christmas decorations. Admire the giant conch shell Santa Claus at Mallory Square, marvel at the Key West Lighthouse adorned with colorful lights, or take a walking tour to discover hidden holiday gems around the island.
- Swimming in the ocean: The weather in Key West during Christmas is usually warm enough for swimming, with average temperatures in the mid-70s. Enjoy the crystal-clear waters and sunshine for a tropical Christmas escape.
6. New Hampshire — Hanover
- Best places for Christmas lights: Stroll through The Green at Dartmouth College for a captivating display of lights and decorations surrounding the iconic Dartmouth Christmas tree. Explore the Hanover Inn for its intricate gingerbread house and beautifully decorated facade. Take a walk along Main Street to discover charming decorated shops and houses.
- Gingerbread house contests and other events: Witness the Hanover Gingerbread House Competition at the Howe Library for whimsical creations. Attend the Hanover Holiday Stroll for carolers, street performers, and festive cheer. Don’t miss the Hanover Winter Carnival for ice skating, snow tubing, and family-friendly activities.
7. New York — New York City
New York City offers a delightful blend of festive spirit and metropolitan ambiance during the Christmas season. The entire city is adorned with enchanting decorations and sparkling Christmas lights, creating a magical atmosphere. If you happen to arrive early, you might have the privilege of witnessing the magnificent lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, a truly awe-inspiring sight. In addition to this iconic event, there are other remarkable places to explore in NYC during this time, such as Dyker Heights and Bryant Park Winter Village.
Dyker Heights boasts mesmerizing displays of holiday decorations, while Bryant Park Winter Village features charming Christmas market stalls and an inviting outdoor skating rink. If you have the opportunity to stay until New Year’s Eve, make sure not to miss the exhilarating countdown in Times Square, an unforgettable experience that perfectly encapsulates the vibrant energy of the city.
- Best places for Christmas shopping: Visit the iconic Macy’s Holiday windows on 34th Street, explore the Bryant Park Winter Village for unique artisan crafts, or browse the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree shops for luxurious gifts. For vintage finds, explore the Chelsea Market or Grand Bazaar NYC.
- Avoiding crowds: Shop on weekdays or early mornings to avoid peak holiday crowds. Explore lesser-known neighborhoods like Brooklyn or Greenwich Village for a more relaxed atmosphere. Consider shopping online to skip
8. Massachusetts — Boston
Boston is the ideal destination for your Christmas getaway in Massachusetts. With its rich historical architecture and the enchanting snowfall in December, you will be transported into a magical realm. Moreover, Boston offers a plethora of activities to indulge in during your visit. Immerse yourself in the holiday spirit by witnessing the mesmerizing light show at Quincy Market or taking a leisurely stroll through Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park, adorned with 50,000 dazzling blue lights. For a delightful winter experience, embrace the joy of ice skating at City Hall Plaza, explore the charming winter markets, or embark on a festive holiday cruise around Boston Harbor. If you have the luxury of an extended vacation, make sure to witness the breathtaking fireworks displays on New Year’s Eve at both Boston Common and Copley Square.
- Family-friendly Christmas activities: Take a ride on the iconic Boston Common Swan Boats adorned with holiday lights, attend the Faneuil Hall Holiday Bazaar for festive shopping and entertainment, or visit the North Pole Express at Edaville USA for a magical train ride and Christmas village experience. Go ice skating on the Boston Common Frog Pond or at the Newbury Street Holiday Stroll.
- Outdoor ice skating: Enjoy outdoor ice skating at the Boston Common Frog Pond, the Newbury Street Holiday Stroll, or the Prudential Center’s rooftop rink for panoramic city views. Alternatively, try ice bumper cars at Fenway Park’s Winter Village for a unique winter activity.
9. Virginia — Colonial Williamsburg
Colonial Williamsburg, a city steeped in history, takes the top spot on our list. This quaint and charming town adorns its entire historic center, creating a picturesque setting for numerous holiday events that are sure to delight the whole family. One such event is the Grand Illumination, held on the first Sunday of December, where the Christmas tree is beautifully lit, accompanied by concerts and captivating historic reenactments. Additionally, visitors have the opportunity to partake in guided holiday tours throughout Colonial Williamsburg, providing a deeper understanding of the city’s rich heritage. The best part is that most of these events are free of charge. When it comes to Christmas Eve and Day, Williamsburg offers an array of delectable dining options at scenic venues such as historic taverns and lodges. Without a doubt, when it comes to Christmas vacations in Virginia, Williamsburg emerges as the clear winner.
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10. Vacations Colorado — Breckenridge
Experience the enchantment of a Christmas village when you venture to Breckenridge during the holiday season. The town is adorned with an impressive display of 250,000 shimmering lights and delicate snowflakes, creating a magical atmosphere. One of the highlights is the Race of the Santas, where a lively group of individuals donning Santa suits sprint through seven blocks in the downtown area.
Additionally, Breckenridge boasts an exceptional ski resort, offering the perfect opportunity to spend your Christmas break gliding down pristine slopes or engaging in exhilarating snowboarding adventures. After a day of outdoor excitement, cozy up next to a warm fireplace with a delightful cup of cocoa, embracing the true essence of the season.
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