15 Best Places to Visit in December in USA

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Looking for the best places to visit in December in USA? These are the places you want to visit this month.

December is a great time to travel if you love the holidays and festive destinations. Some cities are extra magical, but it also draws more crowds.

It’s also perfect for snowbirds to escape the cold or if you’re from a hotter climate, it’s a good time to explore places that are way too hot any other time of year. I’m lookin at you, Death Valley.

best places to visit in december in usa

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Last Updated: November 29, 2021

15 Best Places to Visit in December in USA

|| Snow Activities + Holiday Destinations ||

36 Montford Ave, Asheville, NC 28801, map

Weather Avg: 50° / 31° F

Asheville has a relatively mild winter, but it’s cold enough to get a feel for the holidays. You still need a winter coat, but you don’t have to worry about snow burying your car. Plus, there are plenty of festive winter activities.

Christmas at the Biltmore is iconic for those of us who lived in the South.

TO DO: The Biltmore, Blue Ridge Parkway, River Arts District EAT: 49 Best Places to Eat in Asheville STAY: Best Places to Stay in Asheville EVENTS: Christmas at Biltmore, National Gingerbread House Competition, Winter Lights at the NC Arboretum

Local Tip: If you’re exploring the outdoors, be aware of the weather. There can be ice on the roads and trails. Have crampons handy for hikes nearby.

Things to Do at Biltmore Estate Asheville NC

5200 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89119, map

Weather Avg: 60° / 27° F

We love December in Las Vegas. The weather is perfect for hiking and climbing (send temps!), and the Strip  goes over the top with holiday decor. Each casino has impressive displays, but the best holiday display is at the Bellagio Conservatory.

TO DO:  Bellagio Conservatory, Here Kitty Kitty, Cosmo Ice Rink  EAT: E by Jose Andres, Mizumi, Poke Express STAY: The Venetian, NoMad Las Vegas, Vdara Hotel & Spa EVENTS: Enchant, Holiday Lights at Ethel M, National Rodeo Finals

Local Tip: The sun sets early (around 4:30), so plan your days accordingly. Also, bring layers. Visitors don’t realize it can actually get cold, especially once the sun is down.

enchant christmas las vegas

3. Anchorage, Alaska

546 W 4th Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501, map

Weather Avg: 25° / 17° F

Anchorage is one of the best places to visit in December in the US if you’re looking for a winter wonderland. You’ll find deep powder, crystal-clear ice, and you may even catch the northern lights! The skies are clear in the winter, making it perfect for flightseeing around the Chugach Mountains.

TO DO: Glacier Cruise, Bike the Coastal Trail, Wildlife Viewing EAT: Moose’s Tooth, Snow City Cafe, Glacier Brewhouse STAY: The Hotel Captain Cook, Residence Inn, Hyatt Place EVENTS: Holiday Lights in the Garden, Anchorage International Film Festival, Anchorage Holiday Market

Photo Tip: Camera and phone batteries die quicker when it’s cold, so be sure to have spare chargers and batteries.

anchorage alaska winter + best places to visit in december in usa

532 N Cache St, Jackson, WY 83001, map

Weather Avg: 28° / 7° F

Jackson Hole is another phenomenal destination for outdoor winter adventures, like skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and ice skating.

There are also live shows, craft fairs, and a beautiful town square. It’s also a great time to go on a wildlife tour or a sleigh ride at the National Elk Refuge (opens mid-December).

TO DO: Things to Do in Jackson Hole in the Winter EAT: Persephone Bakery, Hand Fire Pizza, Gather STAY: Mountain Modern, The Lexington at Jackson Hole, Inn on The Creek EVENTS: Holiday Bazaar, Holiday Fun in Town Square, Grand Teton Music Festival

Local Tip: Some activities are snow dependent and may not be available until mid to late December. Always double-check before booking.

sleigh rides jackson hole
jackson hole wyoming in winter

14 Pennsylvania Plaza, New York, NY 10122, map

Weather Avg: 44° / 31° F

Christmas in NYC is as quintessential as it gets. It’s everything that you would imagine from a TV Christmas with gigantic Christmas trees, holiday window displays, ice skating rinks, and Christmas markets. We always feel nostalgic and miss living in the city during the holidays.

TO DO: Christmas Markets, Ice Skating, Holiday Shows EAT: 99 Best Places to Eat in NYC STAY: Library Hotel, The Bowery Hotel, Four Seasons EVENTS: The Rockettes, Christmas Markets, NYE in Times Square

Local Tip: Do yourself a favor and get some insulated waterproof boots before you visit. The first snow is magical, but it soon turns to gray slush.

Rockefeller New York Ice Skates + Best Ice Skating Rink NYC | LocalAdventurer.com

|| warm places to visit in december in usa ||

Furnace Creek, CA 92328, map

Weather Avg: 65° / 39° F

Death Valley is one of our favorite national parks because of the variety of landscapes within one park.

You can walk sand dunes, check out salt flats, or hike along colorful hills. In the summer, it’s unbearably hot, but you can comfortably spend all day outside in the winter. Just be sure to bring layers since the temperatures drop when the sun sets.

TO DO: Badwater Basin, Mesquite Dunes, Zabriskie Point EAT: Last Kind Words Saloon, Happy Burro Chili & Beer, Smokin J’s Barbecue STAY: The Ranch at Death Valley, The Inn at Death Valley, Death Valley Inn & RV Park

Local Tip: If you plan on visiting multiple National Parks, pick up an annual pass to save money.

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes in Death Valley

S Kihei Rd #1193, Kihei, HI 96753, map

Weather Avg: 72° / 56° F

Maui (and all of Hawaii) is one of the best places to visit in December to escape the cold. Plus, you can enjoy the holidays with a tropical twist in shorts and a tee.

It’s also whale season, so look out for Humpback whales. Keep in mind that prices are high when families are visiting during winter break.

TO DO: Road to Hana, Whale Watching, Lahaina Banyan Tree EAT: Mama’s Fish House, Coconuts Fish Cafe, Geste Shrimp Truck STAY: Lahaina Shores Beach Resort, Aston at The Whaler, Hotel Wailea EVENTS: Hawaii Food and Wine Festival, Made in Maui County Festival

Local Tip: December is the rainiest month in Maui but is mainly confined to the North Shore. A packable raincoat is handy.

Hamoa Beach Maui Hawaii

3006 W 7th St #200a, Los Angeles, CA 90005, map

Weather Avg: 68° / 49° F

Temperatures are great in LA year-round, making it one of the best places to visit in December. It can get crowded, but luckily most visitors stick to touristy spots. 

You don’t want to miss out on holiday happenings, like Christmas Tree Lane in Altadena (one of the most festive streets in LA, the LA Kings Holiday Ice Rink, or the Hollywood Christmas Parade.

TO DO: Ultimate LA Bucket List, Instagram Spots EAT: 49 Best Places to Eat in LA STAY: Four Seasons, Casa Del Mar, Ambrose Hotel EVENTS: Christmas Boat Parade at Newport Beach, Hollywood Christmas Parade

Local Tip: LA traffic is brutal. When planning your trip, try to explore one area or neighborhood each day rather than spending your day sitting in the car.

November in Los Angeles

31281 Overseas Hwy, Big Pine Key, FL 33043, map

Weather Avg: 77° / 70° F

Lighted boat parades, a naughty version of The Nutcracker, and festive historic inns are just a few of the unique things to do in Key West in December. Besides that, you get to enjoy the beautiful weather in town or explore the water.

TO DO: Best Things to Do in Key West EAT: Blue Heaven, Santiago’s Bodega, Firefly Key West STAY: Douglas House, Simonton Court Historic Inn, Orchid Key Inn EVENTS: Key West Holiday Fest, Coast is Clear Music and Arts Festival, Key West City Hometown Holiday Parade

Local Tip: Parking can be troublesome, so look for a central place to stay and consider renting bikes to get around.

cruisin tikis key west + 7 things to do in key west florida
greetings from key west mural + 7 best things to do in key west florida

339 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70130, map

Weather Avg: 65° / 46° F

New Orleans does the holidays their own way, with Christmas Eve Bonfires along the Mississippi River and Lena Fete turning Lafayette Square into a holiday wonderland. Sports fans can enjoy the Allstate Sugar Bowl and R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

TO DO: 101 Things to Do in New Orleans EATt: 49 Best Places to Eat in New Orleans STAY: Drury Plaza Hotel, Factors Row, Hotel Mazarin EVENTS: Krewe of Jingle, WinterJAM, Allstate Sugar Bowl

Local Tip: Food lovers should check out the Reveillon Dinners, where multiple restaurants throughout the city offer specially crafted prix-fixe menus and cocktails.

bourbon street new orleans + best places to visit in december in usa

2901 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262, map

Weather Avg: 70° / 44° F

Imagine holiday decor with a Palm Springs vibe. It’s a recipe for a good time. You can enjoy Christmas movie nights and even see Santa arriving via helicopter. If you visit the Cabazon Dinosaurs, Mr. Rex is dressed up in a Santa suit too!

TO DO: 15 Best Things to Do in Palm Springs EAT: Farm, Trio, The Tropicale STAY: Inn at Palm Springs, Alcazar Palm Springs, Korakia Pensione EVENTS: Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, Wildlights at the Living Desert, Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade
San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm + 15 Top Things to Do in Palm Springs CA

996 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101, map

Weather Avg: 66° / 49° F

San Diego is still one of our favorite cities in the US to live in. During the holidays, the most popular attractions light up for the holidays. Explore Balboa Park, the San Diego Bay, Legoland, San Diego Zoo, and more with a Christmas twist. You can even ice skate on the beach at the Coronado Hotel.

TO DO: San Diego Bucket List, Best Photo Spots EAT: Carnitas Snack Shack, Hammond’s Ice Cream, Steamy Piggy STAY: Hotel Z, Pendry San Diego, Crown City Inn EVENTS: San Diego Bay Parade of Lights, Taste of December Nights, San Diego Underground Film Festival

Local Tip: Bring layers since the weather can get chilly, especially near the beach.

San Diego + 15 Best Places to Visit in November in USA

1945 Fruitville Rd, Sarasota, FL 34236, map

Weather Avg: 74° / 53° F

Sarasota is known for its museums, art, and shopping, but we got to see a different side of Sarasota when we visited.  

The weather is perfect for both urban and outdoor adventures. In addition to that, you get the holiday events with illuminated gardens, festivals of trees, and gingerbread competitions. 

TO DO: Best Things to Do in Sarasota EAT: Owens Fish Camp, Dry Dock Waterfront Grill, Duval’s Fresh Local Seafood STAY: Carlisle Inn Sarasota, Kompose, Siesta Key Palms Resort EVENTS: Annual Gingerbread Festival, Christmas Walk in Historic Downtown Venice
South Brohard Beach / Shark Tooth Beach Florida + 7 Best Things to Do in Sarasota FL for Your First Visit
Shark Teeth Florida Beach + 7 Best Things to Do in Sarasota FL for Your First Visit

14. Savannah, Georgia

301 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Savannah, GA 31401, map

Weather Avg: 64° / 45° F

Winter is quieter in Savannah, making it a great time to visit to avoid crowds. Christmas along the river is beautiful with plenty of decor and events. Take a riverboat cruise or tour historic homes when it’s extra magical during the holidays. 

TO DO: Riverboat Cruise, Davenport House Museum, Ice Skating at the Savannah Civic Center EAT: Treylor Park, The Ordinary Pub, The Olde Pink House STAY: The Marshall House, Olde Harbour Inn, Mansion on Forsyth Park EVENTS: Savannah Bridge Run, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, December Nights & Holiday Lights

Local Tip: Weather can be unpredictable, going from hot to cold, so pack layers.

15. St Petersburg, Florida

8200 Bryan Dairy Rd STE 200, Largo, FL 33777, map

Weather Avg: 72° / 57° F

On our last Florida visit, we heard so many good things about St Pete. It’s known as the Sunshine City, so get in your beach time this December.

For the holidays, they turn some parks into a winter wonderland where you can go tubing, and they have drive-in holiday movies.

TO DO: Florida Botanical Gardens, The Dali Museum, Fort De Soto Beach EAT: The Library, The Mill Restaurant, Bacon Bitch STAY: Hollander Hotel, The Inn on Third, Hampton Inn & Suites EVENTS: Holiday Lights at Downtown Waterfront parks, Snowfest
st pete beach florida + best places to visit in december in usa

Map of the Best Places to Visit in December in USA

More December Vacations in US

Here are more destinations recommended by at least two or more travel blogs or sites. What do you think? Do they deserve to be at the top of the list? 

Aspen CO Austin TX Beaufort SC Beaver Creek CO Big Bend NP TX Big Sur CA Boston MA Breckenridge CO Bryce Canyon NP UT Charleston SC Chicago IL Crystal River FL  Galveston Island TX Lake Tahoe CA Leavenworth WA Miami FL Minneapolis MN Mt Rainier NP WA Nashville TN
Orlando FL – Disney gets decked out but is crazy busy during the holidays. Go early December. Park City UT Phoenix AZ Rocky Mountains NP CO San Antonio TX Sandpoint ID Sanibel Island FL Santa Fe NM Salt Lake City UT South Padre Island TX St Augustine FL St Louis MO Stowe VT Sun Valley ID Tempe AZ Tucson AZ Washington DC Yellowstone NP WY Yuma AZ

USA IN: Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | Jun | Jul | Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec

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best places to visit in usa december
best places to visit in december in usa

Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.

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