More than 130 million Americans intend to spend money on flights or hotels during the 2023 holiday season.
Staying home for the holidays may be a travel trend of Christmas past as millions of Americans plan to take festive getaways throughout the country this holiday season.
According to the Deloitte Holiday Travel Survey of more than 5,000 Americans, nearly 50% intended to travel between November 2023 and January 2024. This marks a significant increase from the 31% of Americans with holiday travel plans in 2022.
One contributing factor to this uptick in 2023 holiday travel plans is fewer concerns about travel-related health issues. In 2022, Deloitte reported that one in five Americans planning to stay home for the holidays were worried about travel impacting their health — this year, that statistic dropped to one in ten.
Despite projections that 2023 will be America’s busiest holiday travel season ever, prices for Christmastime flights are significantly lower than in past years. According to CBS News, the average price of domestic roundtrip airfare around Christmas in 2023 is $324, down 15% from 2022 and 11% from 2019.
With holiday travel becoming increasingly affordable in 2023, there’s never been a better time to visit one of the top Christmas destinations in the United States.
Festive Christmas Destinations Throughout the United States
Whether you’re eager to hit the slopes or do some holiday shopping, there are many fun and festive towns to visit this holiday season.
Bella Bucchiotti, travel writer at xoxoBella, considers Leavenworth, Washington, a “magical winter wonderland.”
“It’s like stepping into a fairytale German town in the Pacific Northwest,” she explains.
Named the most festive U.S. Christmas town in 2021 by Next Vacay, Leavenworth is a year-round holiday hotspot. This Bavarian-themed village is situated in the picturesque Cascade Mountains. It has countless shops, cafes, and restaurants filled with seasonal joy.
Tour the city’s famous Nutcracker Museum, home to thousands of nutcrackers, and enjoy live performances and holiday lights in the downtown park from November to February. The Leavenworth Reindeer Farm is another top holiday attraction, allowing visitors to get up close and personal with the beloved furry creatures.
“From the enchanting Village of Lights that glows every night to the lively Lighting Festival on weekends, complete with carolers, Santa’s arrival, and a cozy Gluhwein Tent, the whole town comes alive,” Bucchiotti says.
New York City, New York
New York City is one of the most popular destinations for U.S. holiday travel, regularly topping Tripadvisor’s annual Winter Travel Index. “The extra sparkle throughout NYC makes it an ideal holiday destination with endless seasonal holidays,” says Mikkel Woodruff, Editor of Sometimes Home.
“Head to Rockefeller Center to see the famous Christmas tree or ice skate, shop the holiday markets at Bryant Park, or see a performance by the famous Radio City Rockettes or The Nutcracker Ballet,” Woodruff recommends.
Chicago’s iconic Christkindlmarket is considered one of the best Christmas markets in the world, according to NBC Chicago. This sprawling seasonal market is inspired by traditional German markets. It showcases food and drinks, locally made goods, and live performances. The Christkindlmarket draws over 1 million annual visitors, making it a top-rated holiday destination. From delicious Chicago restaurants to festive performances and ice skating, Chicago has something for everyone.
There are few better places to spend the holidays than California’s Disneyland theme park. “Disneyland is known as ‘the happiest place on earth,’ and the holiday season only reinforces that nickname,” says Sarah Gilliland, Managing Travel Editor at Wealth of Geeks and owner of On the Road with Sarah.
Disneyland attracts tens of millions of visitors annually, and November to January is one of the park’s busiest seasons. “The decorations are over-the-top (in a good way), and the unique ride overlays, like Haunted Mansion Holiday, only enhance the Christmas magic that seems to seep out of every doorway, window, and Cast Member,” Gilliland says.
Asheville, North Carolina
In a travel guide to the top U.S. Christmas destinations, Conde Nast Traveler found Asheville, North Carolina, one of the best places to spend Christmas in the country. Famous for its location in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is the perfect Southeast town to visit. Pack a weekend bag and escape for a romantic holiday getaway.
Popular holiday activities include wintry displays at the North Carolina Arboretum and the Annual National Gingerbread House Competition. Asheville’s Biltmore Estate, the largest home in America, is another top destination among holiday travelers. Every year, the 8,000-acre property is decorated with over 50 Christmas trees and hundreds of thousands of lights.
Aspen, Colorado, has proven to be one of the country’s most festive places to celebrate Christmas. Ranked as the best U.S. Christmas town in 2023 by Travel + Leisure, Aspen offers luxury shopping, world-class skiing, and incredible dining options.
In December 2022, Aspen experienced record-high hotel occupancy rates, a strong indication of the town’s popularity for holiday travel. Don’t forget to pack moisturizer and a water bottle — at almost 8,000 feet above sea level, Aspen is known for its dry, high-altitude climate.
“Boston is a fun place around the holidays not only because it is beautiful but you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a good time,” says Elaine Benoit of Dishes Delish.
This bustling city offers an impressive assortment of seasonal performances, light shows, and markets. Boston Common and Faneuil Hall Marketplace, two trendy tourist areas, are decorated annually with dazzlingly large Christmas trees that attract locals and visitors.
“Faneuil Hall is decorated beautifully and is especially spectacular to see in the evening,” Elaine recommends. “While I’m there, I always have to have a bowl of clam chowder in Quincy Market.”
Pay homage to Boston’s unique history by embarking on a festive Boston Harbor river cruise for brunch or hot chocolate. The city also hosts European-inspired holiday markets selling festive treats, apparel, and gifts.
Head to Helen, Georgia, for a taste of Germany in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. Like Leavenworth, this quaint town is styled after traditional Bavarian villages, featuring alpine attractions, shops, and restaurants. Ranked as 2022’s number-one Christmas town in the state by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Helen has many seasonal activities. Visitors can watch the annual Christmas parade, grab breakfast with Santa at the nearby Unicoi State Park Lodge, and browse the Christkindlmarket for locally made treats.
While Vermont is considered a top U.S. destination for fall leaf-peeping, Woodstock, Vermont, is also a magical place to experience Christmas cheer. As the third-best U.S. Christmas town to visit in 2023, according to Country Living, Woodstock is a picture-perfect getaway for parades, tree lightings, and snow day activities. With its historic homes, covered bridges, and shopping streets, the snowcapped city of Woodstock looks as pretty as a postcard around Christmastime.
One of the most festive Christmas destinations in the U.S. is the nation’s capital. Famous for its political offices, historical monuments, and countless museums, Washington, D.C., is a fantastic place to spend the holidays. D.C. has many world-class Christmas sights and activities, including the impressive National Christmas Tree and U.S. Capitol Tree. Families will also enjoy ice skating at Washington Harbour and walking through the holiday light display at the Smithsonian National Zoo.
This article was produced by Media Decision and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Elise Armitage is the founder of What The Fab, a travel + lifestyle blog based in California, founded in 2012. At the beginning of 2019, Elise left her corporate job at Google to chase her dreams: being an entrepreneur and helping women find fabulous in the everyday. Featured in publications like Forbes, Elle, HerMoney, and Real Simple, Elise is a firm believer that you can be of both substance and style.