- When it comes to getting into the Christmas spirit, some towns or cities are simply more festive than others.
- From decked-out Christmas light festivals to European-inspired holiday markets, many places around the country have their own unique holiday traditions.
- In some towns and cities, traditional holiday events are still going ahead this year, but with added safety measures in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories .
Whether your dream holiday season involves driving through a glittering light parade, strolling under the stars at a European-style Christmas market, or snowshoeing through the hills of Vermont, these places are perfect for spending the holidays, albeit in a more socially distanced way this year.
Whatever you celebrate â€” be it Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or New Year’s Eve â€” these are by far the most festive, cheery places to be come the holidays. These towns and cities have even adjusted their most beloved events to keep families safe amid the coronavirus pandemic. If you’re planning on attending any holiday events this year, be sure to check local restrictions and the latest CDC guidelines before leaving home.
Here are 16 of the most festive places in America for the holidays.
In Austin, Texas, the annual “Trail of Lights” brings cheer to the city. This year, it will be a drive-thru event.
Austin has been previously voted the best place to live in the US, and for good reasons. From the delicious and thriving food scene to the Southern and distinctly Austin culture, this Texas city is a great place to visit any time of year.
However, the city especially comes alive during the holidays. The famous 1.25-mile long Trail of Lights in Zilker Park will be a drive-thru event this year, proving that Austin knows hows to get into the holiday spirit despite the coronavirus pandemic.
In Asheville, North Carolina, the largest home in America comes alive with 30,000 lights and a 55-foot-tall Christmas tree.
Few things compare to spending the holidays in a beautiful and quaint Southern town overlooking mountains. Asheville, North Carolina, is home to tons of coffee shops, boutiques, and great restaurants. Sip a Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing Company, Asheville’s oldest brewery, or stroll through Asheville’s decorated Main Street.
The Biltmore House, America’s largest home, sparkles with a whopping 30,000 lights around the holidays. Its annual Christmas event allows guests to view a giant 55-foot decorated spruce tree on the front lawn, elaborate hand-decorated trees, wreaths, garlands, lights, and more. The house is open for guests this year, but they must wear face coverings and socially distance.
Portland, Maine, offers historic streets and warming to-go cocktails.
Portland, Maine, has no shortage of cosy coffee shops, bars serving up delicious eggnog, and beautiful historic streets and buildings. Watch the Portland Christmas tree lighting from home or grab a to-go winter cocktail from Vena’s Fizz House.
The quaint, snow-covered streets of Aspen, Colorado, will leave anyone feeling festive.
From skiing to beautiful snow-lined streets, Aspen, Colorado, is a naturally beautiful and festive place for the holidays. The quaint ski town is almost guaranteed to have a white Christmas.
Aspen also makes a wonderful destination for Hanukkah celebrations. In past years, the St. Regis Aspen has held a daily public Menorah lighting and even served latkes and other complimentary treats on the last day of Hanukkah.
Stroll through the streets of New Orleans, Louisiana, with a mulled wine in hand.
Christmas in the French Quarter is a perfect way to spend the holidays. Enjoy traditional Christmas King Cake, stroll through Royal Street and Chartres Street for the best holiday lights in the city, stop by the German-inspired Christmas Market on Moss Street, and finish the night off with a beignet or delicious po’boy.
Plus, you can stroll through the streets with your cocktail or mulled wine – unless restrictions are put in place again.
Indulge in a wide selection of holiday foods in Nashville, Tennessee.
The capital of honky-tonk, Nashville is alive with a culture all its own. From barbecue and signature Nashville hot chicken to more traditional holiday delicacies, this foodie-approved city is perfect for people and families who love to have a little fun over the holidays and fill their bellies with delicious grub.
Head on over to the Opryland Hotel and Resort for twinkling light displays, carriage rides, Dickens carolers, and a character breakfast with Charlie Brown and Friends.
With wreaths and ribbons decorating homes across the city, Boston, Massachusetts, offers a more traditional holiday experience.
There’s nothing quite like December in New England, and Boston, Massachusetts, truly goes all out for the holiday season. As a historic American city, the holiday season tends to lean more on the traditional side.
Around the holiday season, you can view gorgeous lit-up trees at Boston Common and Faneuil Hall Marketplace, sing along with holiday favourites at a Boston Holiday Pops show at Symphony Hall, or wander through the historic, decorated city streets with a cup of hot chocolate.
Sturbridge, Massachusetts, allows families to experience the holiday season in the 1830s.
Sturbridge, Massachusetts, is home to Old Sturbridge Village, an outdoor learning museum that depicts a rural New England town of the 1830s, complete with original buildings, explore homes, meetinghouses, a district school, a country store, and various trade shops.
Holiday events at the village include wreath-making and other craft projects, sleigh rides, horse-drawn carriage rides, roaring bonfires, and a festively-decorated Village Common perfect for enjoying a festive winter evening.
Another town that gives a taste of a more traditional holiday season is Williamsburg, Virginia.
Colonial Williamsburg was the capital of the Virginia Colony from 1699 to 1780 and played a significant role in the American Revolution. Now, the town is a living history museum where everything from the homes to the land is preserved and accurate to the time.
Around the winter holidays, Williamsburg is not only decorated with wreaths, trimmings, and other holiday decorations but the town is also putting on a number of festive events from its annual Holiday Light Stroll to ice skating and even Zoom calls with Santa.
Beautiful Providence, Rhode Island, is hosting holiday events this season, with some adjustments.
While some holiday events have been cancelled, others like Providence’s fest Search for Santa outdoor river ride are still going on this year. Held on an open-air boat, kids can enjoy fun activities like a reading of “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas,” crafts, and a scavenger hunt.
The Magic of Lights display is also going ahead as scheduled this holiday season, but as a drive-thru experience.
In Annapolis, Maryland, there’s the chance to partake in a decades-long tradition.
Maryland’s capital city, right along the Chesapeake Bay, is a perfect city to enjoy some socially distanced activities. Be sure to check out the official state Christmas tree at the State House, or take in thousands of coloured lights at the Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade.
In Charleston, South Carolina, marvel at how the holiday decor makes the city even more beautiful.
Buildings across historic Charleston, South Carolina, are decorated in charming garlands and wreaths, and each year Charleston holds its annual Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park.
Honolulu, Hawaii, provides a warmer holiday option, but there’s no shortage of ways to mark the season.
Among attractions in the island city are the New Year’s Eve party at Aloha Tower and the Honolulu City Lights festival.
Not only are there multiple festive holiday-themed attractions during the month of December, but the island’s beautiful beaches and warm weather makes for a perfect holiday break in the sun.
Visit the iconic window displays in New York City or stop by Rockefeller Centre to see the giant Christmas tree.
New York, New York, you’re a hell of a town – especially, around the holidays. While New York looks very different now as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, there are still festive things to take part in.
Not all the fun is in Manhattan, however. Stroll on over to Brooklyn neighbourhoods like Carroll Gardens to marvel at beautifully decorated brownstones, or Dyker Heights, which famously goes all-out for the holidays.
The National Christmas Tree lights up Washington, DC, but that’s just the beginning of the festivities.
Spending the holidays in the nation’s capital means strolling through the historic streets, taking in the lights and decorations in Georgetown, and eating delicious food. Be sure to stop by the Downtown Holiday Market in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery to shop from various local vendors and be in a safe, festive atmosphere.
Woodstock, Vermont, is the perfect place for a white Christmas.
Woodstock, Vermont, is widely regarded as one of the most quintessentially New England towns in the country. Gorgeous in both the fall and the dead of winter, Woodstock has a number of festive attractions and activities the whole family will love.
If you’re planning to stay in town over the holidays or winter season, try to book a room at the cosy and festive Woodstock Inn. Each guest suite has its own fireplace perfect for cuddling up next to with a cup of hot cocoa and a copy of “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas.”