12 best U.S. cities to celebrate Christmas

Christmas is in the air! If you really want to get into the spirit, consider cruising by one of these jolly locales. Each is known for incredible lights, knock-out holiday decorations, and over-the-top festivities. Grab a cup of hot cocoa and add these U.S. destinations to your must-visit list for Christmas 2017.
New York's Rockefeller Center, all decorated surrounding the newly lit Christmas tree
New York's Rockefeller Center, all decorated surrounding the newly lit Christmas tree. Photo: Andrew F. Kazmierski/Shutterstock


The Americana, Los Angeles

One of my personal favourites, The Americana is an outdoor, up-scale shopping center in Southern California that pulls out all the stops at Christmas. A tremendous tree, fake snow storms, twinkling lights, and Santa Claus himself are all on display here.


Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier, Chicago

Go ice skating among the glitter and glitz of the Windy City at Christmastime. Visitors can escape the icy weather with this indoor winter wonderland, which also boasts rides and a Ferris wheel.


Walt Disney World, Orlando

The holiday season is one of the most magical times of year to experience Disney World. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party showcases unbelievable decorations, enchanting parades, live music, and all the Christmas cheer you could ask for.


Walt Disney World, Orlando. Photo: Don Nunn/FlickrWalt Disney World, Orlando, Florida. Photo: Shutterstock


Rockefeller Center, New York City

Nothing epitomises Christmas more than Rockefeller Center. This iconic Manhattan attraction is home to a world-famous Christmas tree and the city's best-known ice skating rink. For more yuletide magic, take a stroll around Midtown's famous department store Christmas windows.


The Christmas decorations in The Rockefeller Center NYC. Photo: gary718/ShutterstockChristmas decorations at the Rockefeller Center, New York City. Photo: Shutterstock


Durango, Colorado

Durango is the Christmasy town behind The Polar Express (the beloved book-turned-movie). Here, families can sip on hot chocolate as they ride to the "North Pole" to pick up Santa. Other festivities include train rides to cut down your very own Christmas tree.


Park City, Utah

Experience Christmas and all its snowy splendour in this city, perhaps best known for its incredible skiing. During the holidays, Santa and his reindeer descend from the mountains to ring in the season. Meanwhile, this charming town glows with illuminating lights and decor.


Trail of Lights, Austin

This Texas holiday event attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, showcasing a mind-boggling 2,000,000 lights. In addition to yuletide rides and Christmas fun, the Trail of Lights also offers up delectable bites via food trucks and vendors.


Christmas lights adorn motorcycle on 37th Street, Austin, Texas. Photo: Victor Engel/ShutterstockChristmas lights adorn a motorcycle on 37th Street, in Austin, Texas. Photo: Shutterstock


Washington D.C.

Christmas in the nation's capital is unlike any other. At the White House, catch a glimpse of the National Christmas Tree in all its glory. Surrounding areas like Maryland and Virginia are also packed with wintery fun and light shows of their own.


Christmas Tree and White House at night. Photo: Orhan Cam/ShutterstockChristmas decorations outside the front of the White House. Photo: Shutterstock


Smoky Mountain Winterfest, Tennessee

A magical celebration of Christmas, the Smoky Mountain Winterfest touts millions of spectacular lights each year. Caroling, trolley rides, and Christmas parades are the norm in this delightful mountain town.


The Christmas Festival of Lights, Portland

Located at The Grotto in Portland, this holiday-themed festival truly rings in the season in the Pacific Northwest. The month-long event comes to life with numerous concerts, a petting zoo, puppet shows, and Christmas caroling.


 Chtistmas light festival in Portland. Photo: Victoria Ditkovsky/ShutterstockChristmas lights in Portland. Photo: Shutterstock


Speedway Christmas, North Carolina

This revving Christmas event is something Charlotte residents look forward to every year. Cozy up under a blanket and watch your favourite Christmas movies on a 16,000-square-foot TV, or take a horse-drawn wagon ride before having your photo taken with Santa.


Boston Christmas Festival, Boston

Gingerbread house competitions, holiday shopping, and vibrant light decorations are what make this festive wonderland a must-visit holiday attraction. Round out the day by going ice skating at Boston Common.


This article was originally published on December 3, 2015