5 Best cities for a Christmas vacation

If your family likes to celebrate the holidays at a new place every year, why not suggest one of these festive wonderlands for your Christmas getaway? Each of these cities knows how to do Christmas with festivals, giant trees, parades and decorations galore, so you’ll never feel out of the holiday spirit. If you plan on traveling, book your tickets and rooms now since these are serious hot spots!

Boston in Winter

If you want to stay stateside, head to Boston, Massachusetts, Park City, Utah, or Leavenworth, Washington, for the perfect snow-filled holiday. If you’d rather see another country this Christmas, grab your passport and visit Edinburgh, Scotland, or Montreal, Canada.

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston is magical during the holidays. Back Bay streets are lined with festive Christmas lights, the Faneuil Hall tree glitters with hundreds of ornaments and Beacon Hill’s cobblestone streets glisten under a soft dusting of snow. In addition to the sights, there are a ton of seasonal things to do. If you can, grab a sitter and catch the Slutcracker show, a burlesque parody of the Nutcracker, which runs from Dec. 2-24. For a more family-friendly event, visit Boston’s Symphony Hall for the Holiday Pops, where the Boston Pop’s play holiday tunes and narrate ” ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

For a true, cozy New England experience, stay at the XV Beacon Hotel. Each room has a gas fireplace and classic New England decor (and a cage elevator!) Rooms start at $295. For a true Boston Christmas day meal, check out any one of these top-rated restaurants for a decadent meal that tastes like your mom or grandma made! We suggest the contemporaty Italian Bricco, since they plan to serve a five-course Feast of the Seven Fishes spread for the holidays for $65 a person.

Park City winter

Park City, Utah

Park City sees up to 40 inches of snowfall every holiday season, so you’re sure to experience a white Christmas there. If skiing and snowboarding are your thing, check out one of the three resorts in town: Park City Mountain ResortDeer Valley, and the Canyons. If you’d rather watch, grab tickets to the Sprint U.S. Snowboarding and Freeskiing Grand Prix which takes place at Park City Mountain Resort Dec. 21-22. If shopping is more your speed, take a stroll down the hip-and-funky Main Street, which houses more than 100 unique shops and is lit up with multicolored Christmas lights. For a unique take on A Christmas Carol, head to the Egyptian Theatre, which has a live radio broadcast of the story!

For a cozy, rustic Christmas stay, check into the Stein Eriksen Lodge. The lobby is decorated in true Norwegian fashion with old-time sleds, skis, ice skates, dolls, and Christmas elves. You can also order a tree for your room, which will be trimmed and decorated for you upon arrival. Double rooms start at $800. Grab your Christmas Eve or day meal at Chimayo, a Park City favorite. The ambiance is cozy and festive with wreaths and candles, and they serve classic Christmas fare like London broil.

Leavenworth winter

Leavenworth, Washington

This cozy town is a spitting image of Bavaria in the middle of Washington state with German and Bavarian-themed homes, shops, restaurants and hotels. What they are known for, besides their adorably themed village, are their festivals. The Christmas lighting festival is one of their largest and takes place on three weekends in December. During the festival, the town lights up in multicolored Christmas lights and townspeople dress as holiday characters. There is live entertainment all day, Bavarian food and holiday sweets as well as roasted chestnuts and a tree lighting ceremony. While you are there, check out the Leavenworth Summer Theater’s production of A Christmas Carol.

Stay in the Gasthaus Wunderbar, which is situated right downtown. The decor is very rustic with antique beds, Bavarian-inspired artwork and decor. You get sweeping views of the Wenatchee River and the Cascade Mountains in most of the remodeled rooms. Rates start at $295 per night. Grab a nontraditional Christmas meal at Gustav’s, which is a beer garden and German burger joint. Grab a table by the stone fireplace. Then get homemade cakes and cookies at the Gingerbread Factory.

Edinburgh winter

Edinburgh, Scotland

This ancient Scottish town lights up during the holidays, literally, with a breathtaking fireworks display each year out of the Edinburgh castle. In addition to fireworks, hundreds of bagpipers surround the Sir Walter Scott Monument every Christmas to play “Amazing Grace.” The city comes alive for six weeks, which makes it one the best places to spend Christmas in the U.K. Pick up some last-minute gifts at the renowned German Christmas Market and then strap on your ice skates to go skating in Europe’s largest open-air skating rink at the Winter Wonderland in Princes Street Gardens. You also can’t miss the St. Giles’ Cathedral Choir’s annual concert in Parliament Square.

For a truly luxurious Scottish getaway, stay at The Caledonian. This hotel was built on top of a 19th century red-sandstone railway station and is just 10 minutes from town. Stay in one of the ultra-swanky Deluxe Plus rooms, which have higher ceilings and an excellent view of the Edinburgh Castle. Double rooms start at $227 U.S. Enjoy a luxurious Scottish Christmas meal at The Witchery by the Castle, which is decorated with Heraldic painted ceilings, dozens of antique candlesticks and historic stonewalls.

MOntreal winter

Montreal, Canada

If you’re dreaming of Paris this Christmas, but it’s out of your price range (or don’t want the jet-lag), visit the French-Canadian city of Montreal instead! The city has multiple outdoor ice skating rinks that are lit up with holiday lights. One of the best for families is the Patinoire du Bassin Bonsecours in Old Montreal. Your kids won’t want to miss the Santa Claus parade, a Montreal holiday tradition since 1925, which kicks off at Ste. Catherine Street. Another family-favorite activity is the Montreal Christmas fireworks, which go off every Saturday in December at the Old Port. Don’t forget to pick up last minute gifts at one of the three great Montreal Christmas Markets.

Book your holiday stay at the Hilton Montreal Bonaventure. This hotel is located downtown and has a heated swimming pool and an indoor path to the train station. The hotel is decorated with bright lights and a glimmering tree during Christmas. Double rooms are $95. Most restaurants in Montreal are closed on Dec. 24 and 25, so grab a big holiday meal a few days before at the Restaurant Toqué, which puts a spin on traditional French fare, like terrine of foie gras.

More holiday travel tips

Our best tips for stress-free holiday travel
Celebrating the holidays away from home
Holiday travel: Hotels with shopping incentives


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