Anytime is a good time to visit the US, but there's something extra special about Christmas in America. Perhaps it's because their festive lights shine brighter, the decorations are bigger and the atmosphere is all around merrier - but you can find out in full in our guide below.
From winter wonderlands to winter sun escapes, here's where to discover those Hallmark holiday vibes during a stateside Christmas in 2023...
You'll need to wrap up warm for the festivities in New York, but it's worth it. Breathing in the frosty air between the warmth of crowds, beneath the colourful Christmas lights against the canvas of the night sky, you will discover a winter wonderland bustling with attractions.
First, witness the magic of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree. After all, since it's decorated with 50,000 twinkling lights and a sparkling 3 million crystal star, it’s hard to miss. And while you’re there, lace up a pair of skating boots to glide on The Rink at Rockefeller Center. With the dazzling tree in the background, it's the ideal spot to capture a picture-perfect moment. To experience a holiday show, simply cross the road to Radio City Hall to watch the Rockettes, offering world-famous synchronized dancing and of course, a flying Santa Claus.
Staying outdoors, head to the Lungs of Manhattan in Central Park next. As this is the most visited urban park in the United States, you can bet this gargantuan garden is full of festive cheer. From Christmas Markets to bare trees draped in fairy lights and people sledding on the snowy slopes, Central Park is where the winter fun happens. And for an extra merry experience to remember, you can even ride a horse-drawn carriage through the radiant park under the starlit sky.
When swapping the UK's winter chill for balmy sunshine, the weather in Orlando is a Christmas gift on its own. Yet better still, the world’s theme park capital pulls out all the stops for the holiday season. You’ll find everything under the Christmas tree for everyone to enjoy - so much so, that we wrote a dedicated blog
Ultimately, where else would you want to spend Christmas other than at the Happiest Place on Earth? Walt Disney World
hosts Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas, a jolly celebration of fireworks, carols, and cheerful dressing up. You’ll also get to rock around the Christmas tree during dance parties and taste the wintery spices of gingerbread and cocoa.
Once you’ve jingled your way through Disney, adventure calls at Universal Orlando
. Bows of holly, shiny tinsel, and glimmering lights deck The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Here, snow-covered Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley also create an alluring scene beneath the sun, where you can even pop into the pub for a cool pint of Butterbeer. While at SeaWorld Orlando, consider dining with Santa or getting breakfast with the Sesame Street crew, before watching ice skaters dazzle and delight at the Winter Wonderland on Ice show.
Staying in Florida, you can dream of a bright Christmas in St. Augustine. The USA’s oldest inhabited city ranks highly for its long-standing Spanish architecture and the flair of its festive lights.
St Augustine switches on The Night of Lights in mid-November. This 3 million light display illuminates St. Augustine’s famous landmarks and is the city's main Christmas attraction. You can take a photo good enough for your Christmas card cover at the gleaming Lightner Museum - an 1887 Spanish Renaissance Revival building - before taking a traditional trolley tour down the twinkling path towards Plaza de la Constitution and the Bridge of Lions.
Another of St. Augustine’s traditional festivities is the Christmas Parade. One of the largest pageants in northeastern Florida, this extravagant ceremony recently celebrated its 66th year. Just head down to Ocean Avenue for the carnival of Christmas-themed cars, floats, and marching bands. Then cosy up and take a seat at the Limelight Theater to watch a heart-warming Christmas production.
Does anywhere other than Vegas shimmer like a Christmas tree all year round? Visit the City of Bright Lights for a notoriously good time in 2023, whether you’re naughty or nice...
Whatever the season, you’ve got to enjoy Vegas’ opulence. And there’s no grander place than the Bellagio Hotel & Casino
. Watch the spectacular Christmas fountain where golden water shards illuminate the night. Then head to the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens for a magical surprise. Decorated in Christmassy green and red ornaments and emblazoned with warm fairy lights, the nursery transforms into a Yuletide dreamworld. Or in other words, this charming garden is sure to melt any Grinch’s heart.
Another Vegas showstopper is the Cosmopolitan
hotel, known for its luxurious amenities and chic interiors. Treat yourself to bedazzling city views as you ice skate on a rooftop. Open only during the holiday season, you can enjoy this one-of-a-kind Vegas special, complete with hot beverages and fire pits for roasting s'mores. You’ll also have sweepings views of the Bellagio’s fountains and the iconic Las Vegas Strip
After admiring Vegas’ other glowing installations - like Opportunity Forest’s Magical Forest and the Speedway’s Glittering Lights - visit the world-famous theatres to bask in the Christmas spirit. Take your pick of the festive shows from Vegas’ winter BurlesQ, Christmas in Hell musical comedy, and family favourite Wonderland production.
Finally, our list sends us to snowbound Alaska to the small city of the North Pole. Christmas is alive and booming all year, with candy-cane light poles, street names like Mistletoe Lane, and Santa Claus House operating daily.
The best part about the North Pole is that it’ll feel like Christmas whenever you visit. But for the full experience, visit during the winter for a white Christmas wonder. And whatever you do, make sure that Santa Claus House is at the top of your list. This is not only a Christmas boutique but a place you can order a letter from Santa himself! Once Santa pens his message to the special recipient, it’s posted with a return address in case they wish to return the kind gesture.
While you’re there, don’t forget to have fun and take some Instagrammable pics in Santa’s sleigh and the 50-foot-tall Santa statue out the front. Santa even makes an appearance on selected days in November to December, taking a well-deserved break from writing letters and making toys. And once you’ve buddied up with the old man, head next door to Antler Academy to feed Rudolph, Blitzen and the rest of the reindeer crew.
Now that you know the top festive spots in the USA, browse our Ocean Florida 2023 and 2024 holidays to find the perfect Christmas break for you!