Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
The best Christmas vacations for families are out there and waiting for you. Do you want to have fun in the sun? Maybe dive into some snow? How about exploring Europe this Christmas? Or perhaps you want to book a Goldilocks “just-right” getaway? We have it all for you.
Whether traveling near or far, on a luxury or shoestring budget, there is a perfect Christmas vacation for every family. Remember, family travel is a fabulous present. It is the gift that keeps on giving because memories live forever.
Best Christmas Vacations For Families: Sun and Fun
1. Disney World Resort, Orlando, Florida
Disney World is always a good idea. Yes, the four theme parks will be crowded and more expensive close to Christmas, but that should not deter families wishing on a star for an extravagant, magical Christmas. For the smallest crowds, the first two weeks of December are the best time to go to Disney World and experience the Christmas decorations, entertainment and special events like Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
During the Christmas season, Disney World erects dozens of gigantic Christmas trees up to 70 feet tall, along with hundreds of smaller trees and wreaths and other-the-top festive decorations throughout the resort.
Christmas Day at Magic Kingdom is the busiest day at any park, with estimated 150,000 people trying to jam in.
2. Universal Resort Orlando
Christmas at Universal Resort Orlando is like nowhere else. The holiday season brings special magic to the theme parks, including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Universal strings intricate Christmas lights and decorations throughout Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade Village. There are holiday-focused shows, food and drinks you can only experience during the holiday season.
The busiest time of the year for this theme park is the week before Christmas and the week between Christmas and New Year’s. If you can, get the most bang for your buck by visiting just after New Year’s Day in early January to enjoy all the holiday festivities and twinkling lights with a fraction of the crowds.
3. Nassau, Bahamas
If a tropical getaway is your kind of holiday, then the warm Caribbean climate, waters and people make The Bahamas an excellent choice. The fresh seafood is delicious, the beaches are pristine and the culture is as vibrant as the spectacular sunsets.
For those who want a luxe experience, the world-class Atlantis Paradise Island Resort has everything you could want, including a kid-friendly water park, the ability to swim with dolphins and a festive Junkanoo parade twice each week in the Marina Village.
The country’s 700 islands are home to adventurous national parks, hiking trails and some of the best scuba diving spots in the world.
4. San Diego, California
Visit the southernmost city in California during your Christmas vacation. San Diego shares a border with Tijuana, Mexico, allowing visitors to easily cross the border for a surprising cultural immersion.
This city is one of the country’s best family-friendly vacation destinations, featuring 70 miles of beautiful, uncrowded beaches. The weather may be a bit cooler in December, with highs averaging 66 degrees, making it pleasant to visit Balboa Park, stroll through Old Town, or enjoy a day at San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
Read More: 13 Enchanting Christmas Towns in the USA
5. Maui, Hawaii
A tropical Christmas in the Pacific Ocean is a dream holiday family vacation. On the Hawaiian island of Maui, visitors can soak up the sun and relax or introduce some family-friendly adventure into their vacation.
Haleakala National Park, which includes the Haleakala volcano, is the island’s highest peak and offers terrific hiking trails. The beautiful pools and waterfalls of Ohe’o Gulch are another spectacular place to immerse yourself in nature.
6. Palm Beach, Florida
Want to live the lifestyle of the rich and famous? Come to Palm Beach during “The Season,” roughly November through April, to spot the biggest names in sports, politics and culture. With warm temperatures and ocean waters, lavishly-appointed hotels and world-class shopping on Worth Avenue, it’s easy to see why people flock to this South Florida hamlet during the holiday season.
Lined with stately palm trees, Palm Beach is a picturesque paradise. Check out historic landmarks like the Flagler Museum, Henry Flagler’s former residence. Visitors can make their stay exponentially more affordable by staying in West Palm Beach, mere minutes away.
6. San Juan, Puerto Rico
Practice your Spanish in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and soak up the sun on some of the best beaches in the world while staying in one of these beautiful San Juan resorts.
San Juan is known for gorgeous hiking trails and Mosquito Bay’s “glowing” water. Old San Juan is excellent for those who want to spend Christmas time filled with the flavors of mofongo, tostones, arroz con gandules and coquito.
Since Puerto Rico is a United States territory, it is one of the many places Americans can travel without a passport.
7. Caribbean Cruise
A Christmas getaway on a Caribbean cruise means visiting several destinations but sleeping in the same place each night. With the comforts of home and resort-style amenities, this is an easy trip for the whole family. Cruise ships are an all-inclusive vacation with an array of onboard activities, live shows and most food and drinks. Skip running around buying all the “things” for your kids this year, and put a cruise under the Christmas tree!
8. Miami, Florida
Don’t want to get on a ship but still want the excitement and flair of the islands? Then Miami might be one of the best Christmas vacation ideas for you. This south Florida city boasts beautiful, sunny weather year-round.
Do some people-watching at South Beach, shop in the boutiques on Lincoln Road, or enjoy the fresh, local food, especially the Haitian and Cuban specialties. This vacation destination also offers seasonal events and activities such as Light Up The Night at CityPlace Doral and Zoo Lights and Zoo Miami.
9. St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
This US territory is another island vacation spot Americans can visit without worrying about an expired passport. Coming to St. Croix at Christmas time means you can experience Christiansted’s St. Croix Christmas Boat Parade, the Gallows Bay Holiday Festival and Frederiksted’s Holiday Fest. Tourists and locals flock to the Caribbean Christmas markets in the St. George Village Botanical Garden.
St. Croix is surrounded by incredible coral reefs and rich marine wildlife, making it an epic destination for scuba diving. Its white sand beaches, historic sites and lush rainforests make St. Croix a unique place for a Christmas celebration.
Best Christmas Vacations For Families: European Vacation
10. Paris, France
There’s no wrong time to go to Paris. Winter in this temperate climate can bring brisk weather and icy rain, but that can’t dampen the beauty of the City of Lights. A Christmas family vacation in Paris means museum tours, shopping at beautiful Christmas markets and French delicacies around every corner.
Riverboats on the Seine River are enclosed so visitors can take the scenic tour year-round. No matter the weather, the view from the third tier of the Eiffel Tower is always breathtaking.
Families should not miss the Musee du Chocolat (the Chocolate Museum), which includes all-you-can-eat chocolate!
11. Barcelona, Spain
A European Christmas vacation doesn’t have to be cold and snowy. Barcelona, on Spain’s southern coast, has warm weather and around nine hours of sunshine daily. During the holiday season, the summer crowds have dissipated, making this Spanish city one of the few uncrowded beach destinations worldwide.
Families can find full-service resorts like Majestic Hotel & Spa Barcelona, which offers curated, seasonal activities and excursions, allowing them to embark on exclusive adventures. Explore the many treasures and unique culture in one of the best cities in the world.
12. Stuttgart, Germany
One of the most picturesque Christmas destinations in the world is in Stuttgart in southwest Germany. A family Christmas vacation in Germany means a winter wonderland of snow and ice.
It is the birthplace of the German Christkindlmarkt, or Christmas markets, with intricate wooden huts selling everything from handcrafted ornaments, souvenirs and toys to fresh-baked stollen and warm gluhwein. Listen to traditional German Christmas carols throughout the markets.
Plan to check out the Porsche and Mercedes museums, Christmas light displays in the main square and limited-time art and culture festivals.
13. Munich, Germany
Under three hours away from Stuttgart is the impressive, modern city of Munich, where tourists can get in the holiday spirit by listening to authentic German Christmas caroling at the impressive Frauenkirche, viewing the 100-foot tall Christmas tree and plentiful Christmas markets in the Marienplatz, or exploring the BMW Museum.
For a fun, festive excursion, enjoy a succulent dinner or buffet on the Christmas tram crossing Munich’s Old City.
14. Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich is known for delicious chocolate, snow-covered mountains and quaint cobblestone streets. It’s a delightful, picturesque white Christmas type of destination. The city markets are filled with people enjoying the festive decorations. Take a guided Christmas walk, listen to live music and caroling and enjoy the intricately decorated Christmas trees.
15. Reykjavík, Iceland
Iceland is as close to the North Pole as possible. Christmas in Iceland has unique traditions like the 13 Icelandic Santas known as Yule Lads. The tiny country lives up to its name in winter with cold, snowy weather. However, that means more opportunities to see nature’s holiday display, the magical Northern Lights.
Reykjavík is always breathtaking, but during the holiday season, the city is transformed with dozens of brightly-lit Christmas trees and colorful decorations. Don’t miss ice skating on the Nova ice skating rink in Ingólfstorg Square. You can visit a small Christmas market there as well.
Best Christmas Vacations For Families: ‘Snow’ Place Like It
16. New York City
There is a good reason so many TV shows and movies feature Christmas in New York City. This world-class city is simply magical when it’s dressed up for the holidays.
Ice skate under the enormous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, window shop along 5th Avenue or at the outdoor Christmas markets and get tickets to the famous high-kicking Radio City Rockettes.
Here’s our full list of things to do in NYC at Christmas.
17. Boston, Massachusetts
Want a quintessential New England Christmas? Boston is the place to be. Sip on hot chocolate as you check out the gas-lit street lamps on historic Beacon Hill and the gigantic Christmas tree at the Boston Commons. With festive lights sparkling across the city, go sledding or ice skating, check out the winter holiday markets or take a specialty holiday cruise along the Boston Harbour. The holiday season is an enchanting experience in Boston.
18. Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Christmas is magical in Montreal. It’s the second largest city in Canada and has everything from skiing on Mont Tremblant to the Vieux Port ice rink. Enjoy Christmas festivals throughout December, a walking tour of Old Montreal, the annual parade of Santa Clauses and the Christmas fireworks show in Montreal’s Old Port.
Indoor activities in this chilly Canadien city include The Pointe-à-Callière Museum, an interactive exploration of Montreal’s history, the Montreal Science Centre and the Biosphere.
19. Quebec City, Canada
Just three hours away from Montreal via high-speed train, Quebec City boasts more of a French feel and a lively city center. Soak up the rich culture, fabulous food and awe-inspiring scenery of this French-speaking city. The narrow cobblestone streets, stone buildings and ancient wall fortifications resemble those found in Europe, yet it is only a 90-minute drive from the US border.
20. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
For families who ski, Jackson Hole, this place may be the Holy Grail. Covered in a blanket of snow starting in November, this Wyoming town knows how to celebrate Christmas.
Jackson Hole offers various attractions, historical sights and two national parks: Grand Teton and Yellowstone. This town can be as expensive as Colorado ski towns like Aspen or Breckenridge, but it tends to be less crowded and spoiled with commercialism.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Consult our ski trip packing list so you know what to bring, what to buy and what to rent for your trip.
21. Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is a fantastic city to visit anytime, but the holiday season brings a special kind of joy. You will find festive decorations and lights on the “Magnificent Mile” (Michigan Avenue) and iconic, old-fashioned holiday window displays on State Street. It is easy to get to the Windy City with two international airports – O’Hare and Midway – and a world-class transit system means you won’t need a car.
Go skating at the fabulous ice skating ring in Millenium Park, visit the Christkindlmarket Christmas market downtown or Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo. Just be prepared for the icy winds and bitter temperatures that range from a balmy 35 to below zero.
Here’s our full list of all the festive fun of Christmas in Chicago.
22. Toronto, Ontario
Toronto is a culturally diverse, family-friendly destination with activities and attractions for the whole family. Only a short drive from the US border in Michigan, it is easy to get to yet feels foreign in an exciting way. Families can check out tourist attractions like the CN Tower, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Toronto Zoo, open all year!
Toronto is one of Canada’s most metropolitan cities, yet it can often be overlooked as one of the best family vacation destinations during the holidays. This city is a winter wonderland with temperatures hovering around 30 degrees in December and an average of 12.7 inches of snow falling that month.
23. Santa Claus, Indiana
Sometimes you visit a place because of special events, unique attractions or local gastronomy. Other times you visit because of the feeling it evokes. Santa Claus, a city in southern Indiana, is the latter. This town takes its Christmas-y name seriously, with holiday-themed hotels and things to do. Visitors should stop by the Santa Claus Museum & Village, home to the 1880 Santa Claus Church, the original Santa Claus Post Office and a giant Santa Claus statue from 1935.
While visiting, why not write a letter to Santa Claus himself? Elves are at the Santa Claus Museum & Village to help kids with their letters. For those who can’t make it, letters to Santa Claus (Indiana) can be mailed and, if they’re received by mid-December, will be answered by Santa’s Elves.
24. Yosemite National Park, California
Don’t spend the holidays cooped up! Let your family stretch their legs while exploring Yosemite Park. Visiting this national park in the winter means being able to experience a sleigh ride through Curry’s village and skiing and snowboarding at California’s oldest and most family-friendly ski resort, Badger’s Pass. Yosemite even has outdoor ice skating rinks and tubing runs.
You do not need a reservation to enter the park; it is open year-round. However, be sure stay updated on the weather during the holidays, as some roads can close due to snow.
“Just Right” Christmas Vacations For Families
25. Santa Fe, New Mexico
Visit Santa Fe during the Christmas holidays for mild winter weather and relatively low crowds.
Don’t miss the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony, the festive dances at the Indian Pueblos or the annual Christmas Open House at the New Mexico Art Museum.
Expand your ideas about holiday magic by experiencing the historic Santa Fe tradition, Las Posadas. This important event is a reenactment of Joseph and Mary’s search for an inn in Bethlehem before Jesus’ birth.
26. Scottsdale, AZ
In winter, the sweltering dry heat of the Arizona desert gives way to a comfortable moderate climate allowing families to enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Hike Camelback Mountain! Explore the Sonoran Desert! Go golfing! There are tons for families to do in this posh, southwestern city.
Top attractions at Christmas include Holiday Lights at the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, Las Noches de las Luminarias at the Desert Botanical Garden and Old Town’s Scottsdazzle Holiday Extravaganza. And definitely splurge on a stay at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, which goes all-in on its holiday celebration. You can read our full review of the Scottsdale Princess.
No matter where you choose to go, the best Christmas vacations for families are the ones you actually take. Go ahead and make this Christmas wish come true. Which Christmas spirit-filled destination will you choose?