The end of autumn brings with it the rich, warm colors of fall, chillier weather, and the start of the holiday season. The best places to visit in November vary from historic Southern cities to snowy villages surrounded by nature. Savor the pleasant temperatures when you travel South to escape the cold. Venture North to get an early start on your favorite winter sports and activities. How do you picture your fall vacation? It’s possible you see yourself tucked away in the Smoky Mountains, surrounded by a downpour of golden, orange, and green leaves. Maybe you imagine you and your partner standing in awe of a natural wonder and avoiding the inevitable family drama that emerges each year at Thanksgiving dinner.
Whichever road you choose to travel, you’re bound to end up at your dream destination when you decide to stay at one of Select Registry’s renowned properties. Have you always wanted to stay in a luxury cabin or lodge? Perhaps you’d rather indulge your inner history buff by staying in a historic locale. Between your mundane work week and demanding schedule, chances are you’re in desperate need of a getaway. Everyone deserves a vacation from time to time. Now’s the time to embark on yours.
Escape the Cold Weather
1. Charleston, SC
One of the best places to visit in the world, Charleston, SC, captures the essence of Southern charm and hospitality. Stroll along cobblestone streets and admire the historic 18th and 19th-century architecture. You can also watch as the sunrise paints the ocean shades of bubblegum pink and fiery orange. Towering church steeples stand out against a cloud-studded skyline and views of the marsh will leave you in awe. In addition to the rich culture and stunning waterfront views, the phenomenal culinary scene makes this city a bucket list place to visit for many. Charleston is the perfect place to visit. November is the perfect time to visit. You’ll beat all the summer crowds and can enjoy the many amazing outdoor adventures without having to endure the scorching, humid heat.
Where to Stay
John Rutledge House Inn Bed & Breakfast: Stay in one of Charleston’s cherished Colonial homes, built circa 1763, by a signer of the U.S. Constitution, John Rutledge. Share tea, wine, and sherry in the same ballroom where former patriots, statesmen, and presidents met centuries ago. Located in the heart of downtown Charleston, this B&B is the perfect home away from home for your Lowcountry getaway!
2. Santa Barbara, CA
Have you caught yourself humming along to the Mamas and Papas’ “California Dreamin” on a regular basis? Once the cold weather hits, it’s easy to get lost in your thoughts, imagining the warm sun, rolling waves, and sandy beaches of California. Santa Barbara makes the perfect destination for your next fall getaway. This city sits along the Pacific Coast with the Ynez Mountains as a breathtaking backdrop. Tour the inside of an 18th-century mission church. Afterward, taste some of the best wines at highly-acclaimed local wineries. Stunning natural landscapes abound here. Admire the waves crashing against steep cliffs at the Arroyo Burro County Beach Park. Meditate and recollect at a salt cave. You’re in for an experience like no other.
Where to Stay
Simpson House Inn: Situated in downtown Santa Barbara, this elegantly renovated inn boasts award-winning English gardens and stylish decor. Wake up to a gourmet breakfast each morning before heading out for the day. The inn allows guests to sample local wines and hors d’oeuvres in the evenings as well. Rent a bike to check out the area or merely stroll to some of the finest restaurants the city has to offer.
Embrace the Chill
While many people are ready to escape the cold weather already, others are interested in seeking out the snow. Venture North, through New England and up to Vermont for peace in quiet among icy landscapes. One of the biggest attractions in the area is the Okemo Mountain Resort! Hit the slopes for skiing, snow tubing, and snowboarding. You can even rent snowmobiles or twirl your way around an ice skating rink. For fans of freezing weather adventures, Vermont is the perfect destination for an early winter getaway!
Where to Stay
Inn at Water’s Edge: There’s no better way to warm up after a long day in the snow than by cozying up by the fireplace. This inn boasts fireplaces in their library, on-site English pub, and a gathering room where guests can relax. A charming ambiance resonates throughout this 150-year-old Victorian estate, making it perfect for a romantic getaway.
4. Carson, WA
Another great option for those fond of snowy adventures is Carson, WA. This stunning destination is home to an array of enticing winter activities! With everything from snowshoeing and skiing Mt. Hood to racing snowmobiles through the powdery dunes, you’re guaranteed to leave with memories that will last a lifetime. Sweeping views of towering treetops and blankets of clean, white snow will you kick off your holiday spirit.
Where to Stay
Carson Ridge Luxury Cabins: Relax, tucked away in the mountains and surrounded by towering trees. Take the time to read a book in nature or gaze up at the stars from a porch swing. Sleep in luxurious bedding in a room adorned with elegant decor. These cabins allow for an ideal escape from reality. You can even request an in-room massage to help restore your energy after a long day playing in the snow!
Have Thanksgiving Away from Home
5. The Smoky Mountains
Take the non-traditional Thanksgiving route and spend time with your family in the Smoky Mountains. Catch the tail-end of magical fall scenery. Watch as the wind carries colorful leaves from one place another. Admire the contrast of deep reds and burnt oranges against bright blue skies. Explore Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Most importantly, this region provides the perfect backdrop to a memorable family vacation.
Where to Stay
Christopher Place An Intimate Resort: This luxurious bed and breakfast sits among majestic mountains and allows for awe-inspiring views from your window. There’s something mesmerizing about the morning fog that envelops the surrounding trees. Indulge in the delectable dining options on site. You can also peer out over the mountaintops from a veranda. This property boasts a refined elegance through stylish decor. You’re going to love this dreamy getaway.
6. Santa Fe, NM
Escape from big family dinners and stressful meal planning. Have you always wanted to go to New Mexico? Santa Fe is an ideal destination for those who love perusing art museums and cultural centers. Ponder the significance of the area’s historic architecture. Then, admire meticulously crafted churches. If you consider yourself a foodie, you’ll feel as though you’re in heaven, surrounded by charming eateries. The unique dining establishments will put a bland Thanksgiving turkey dinner to shame. Celebrating the holidays allows for an unconventionally unforgettable experience full of memories you’ll cherish for a lifetime.
Where to Stay
El Farolito: This captivating property captures the essence of New Mexico’s rich culture. Stay in an adobe compound that boasts a vibrant yet sophisticated atmosphere. Spend time admiring the decor that captures and respects the cultures of Native Americans and Central Americans. Located in the heart of the downtown district, you’re just a quick stroll away from the Central Plaza and an array of the best restaurants and attractions in the area.
When you’re researching the best places to visit in November, be sure to browse all of our properties! You may want to look into different inns or bed and breakfasts in the areas mentioned above. You could also look into different areas that are known for types of experiences. Some experiences may be centered around things like spas and relaxation or the best Black Friday shopping. Take comfort in knowing that when you stay in a Select Registry property, you’re guaranteed the vacation of your dreams.
Don’t let the winter blues put a damper on your December wanderlust travel dreams. Travel doesn’t have to stop simply because it’s December. In fact, some of the best places to travel in the US are fabulous at Christmas time.
Whether you are looking to experience a traditional American Christmas with snow, ice skating, and Christmas lights or you want to escape the cold winter and find the warm places to visit in December (hint: think Florida Vacation Rental!), this list of the best places to travel in December help you start planning the perfect holiday vacation.
Best Places To Travel in December For A Heart-Warming Christmas Experience
“Another tender Tennessee Christmas is the only Christmas for me…”
There’s no doubt the level of bias that lies in the heart of this travel writer!
The mountains of East Tennessee will always be my home and always capture my heart most vividly during the holidays.
While we don’t often get mounds of snow in the lower elevations of Tennessee, the upper regions of the Appalachian and Smoky Mountains will receive a beautiful white covering that truly enhances their beauty.
The amount of activity available in nearby Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, TN is dizzying and some of the hiking trails couldn’t be more stunning covered in snow and glittering with shimmering ice cycles.
For some great ideas on what to do in Smoky Mountains in December check out these other ideas.
While you are in Northeast Tennessee, why not take the short drive south to Lookout Mountain, GA and visit Rock City.
Located just five miles from Chattanooga,TN, Rock City Gardens lies hidden away at the top of a small mountain town on the border of Tennessee and Georgia.
It’s one of the best places to travel in December in the US that few people actually know about.
Throughout the entire month of December, Rock City hosts its annual Enchanted Garden of Lights–a celebration combining sparkling lights, decorations, and festive activities with hiking paths leading through tiny crevices in giant, moss-covered boulders to a waterfall that emerges on the other side.
From the top of the falls, you can even see seven US states on a clear, sunny day.
Santa will be waiting for you there, and you’ll sip on warm cider or hot cocoa while enjoying holiday music performed by local choirs and live bands.
You can also decorate Gingerbread cookies with Mrs. Claus, paint ornaments, or design your own Christmas stocking.
If you’re a fan of beautiful nature, crisp winter air, waterfalls, holiday festivities, fragrant gardens, and pretty Christmas lights, then I highly recommend you choose Rock City for your next travel destination in the US in December.
Christmas is a magical time full of gorgeous decorations, lights, and cheer.
One of the best ways to experience the charm of Christmas is to visit a small historic American town like Alexandria, VA. It’s truly one of the best places to travel in the USA for a historic Christmas experience.
In Old Town Alexandria during December, you will be plunged into the Christmas fairy tale.
The 18th-century narrow streets with numerous galleries, shops, restaurants, and historic row houses is the perfect setting to experience a Charles Dickens style Christmas.
Alexandria, Virginia, sits on the Potomac River, right across Washington D.C with splendidly stretched around old cobblestone streets and red brick houses and chimneys perfectly decorated for a visit from the Santa Clause.
If you can, visit Old Town Alexandria is during the Tree Lightning weekend to experience a special visit from with Santa and Mrs. Claus as well as enjoy performances from local artists.
Maggie, from the Pink Caddy Travelogue says Washington D.C. is often overshadowed by nearby NYC, Washington, D.C. is one of the most underrated places to visit in December.
The weather is mild yet the Christmas celebrations are out in full force!
There are two, that’s right, TWO national Christmas trees.
One of them is located in front of the U.S. Capitol Building and provides one of the most picturesque DC Christmas settings.
The other tree is located in front of the White House.
That tree is also surrounded by 56 smaller trees, one for each US state and territory.
Speaking of the White House, it gets a makeover each holiday season.
The President’s home is open to public tours all year, but Christmas is the best time to visit.
The entire building is decorated with a multitude of trees, fresh pine garland, twinkling lights, and a gingerbread replica of the White House itself.
The National Cathedral puts on the Messiah each year, the Smithsonian Zoo hosts a light show complete hot cider and spiked hot chocolate, and George Washington’s Mount Vernon celebrates the season 1776 style.
There’s no shortage of reasons to visit DC in December!”
PLEASE NOTE: In order to tour the White House, you must contact your local congressman at least three months in advance to request the tour.
You can find out more information on the White House website here.
Washington, D.C. Airbnb
New York, NY
No place does Christmas better than New York City! In addition to the normal NYC tourist attractions, there are lots of special things to do for the holidays.
It’s one of the best places to visit in the US in December.
Just remember to bring some warm clothes!
First, you have to see the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.
Nearby, you can see the department store windows elaborately decorated for the season.
If you have more time, venture to the Brooklyn neighborhood of Dyker Heights for some over the top displays.
For those that still need to buy gifts, there are a few Christmas markets, the largest being Bryant Park.
If you want to go ice skating, there are several outdoor rinks to try.
Rockefeller Center and Central Park may be the most iconic ice rinks, but there the one in Bryant Park is also popular.
Image by Dave Herholz use in accordance with the Creative Commons License found here
Jessica from Unearth The Voyage says that St. Louis, MO is a great place to travel in December because during the month of December, St. Louis is home to the Brewery Lights at Anheuser Busch.
This annual Christmas lights tradition held by the brewery boasts more than a million twinkling lights.
During the “Brewery Lights Festival”, the brewery grounds are transformed into a winter wonderland in which you can walk around and enjoy the Christmas lights as well as a free sample of Anheuser Busch beer.
For more great things to do in December in Omaha, NE check out these options.
If you are looking to escape the cold this and celebrate Christmas in your shorts and flip flops, these United States December travel destinations.
Omaha, NE Airbnb
Sandpoint is a lake community in northern Idaho and is the perfect destination for families looking to experience the outdoors in December.
Sandpoint is a hidden gem in the Pacific Northwest and is accessible after a 1.5 hour drive from the closest airport, located in Spokane, Washington.
During the winter, snow blankets not only the lake and small town of Sandpoint but also the nearby world-class ski resort of Schweitzer Mountain.
Families who enjoy the outdoors will find that there are lots of things to do in Sandpoint during December, including skiing, snowshoeing, snow tubing and even horse drawn carriage rides.
When not enjoying all there is to do outdoors, visitors to Sandpoint can explore downtown which is home to several boutiques, restaurants and coffee shops.
There is also a bowling alley and two movie theaters in the area if families are looking for activities to escape the cold.
Sandpoint, Idaho Airbnb
If you’re looking for a fun and unique destination to take the family this December look no further than Leavenworth, Washington.
This The bavarian-like town at the base of the Cascade Mountains is a popular year-round destination for families but, December is especially magical.
Starting on the first weekend of December and running all the way through to Valentine’s Day the town of Leavenworth is lit up with more than half a million Christmas lights.
Every Saturday and Sunday in December there’s a Christmas Lighting Ceremony complete with the arrival of St Nikolaus, roaming carolers, live music, sledding, and seasonal treats like hot chocolate, mulled wine, and hot chocolate.
Outside of town the fun continues with winter wonderland activities like sledding, sleigh rides, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.
There really is something to excite everyone in the family during the month of December in Leavenworth, WA!
Leavenworth, WA Airbnb
Lake Tahoe, CA
Lake Tahoe is a stunning destination to visit in the USA in December if you want to tick both California and Nevada off your December bucket list.
The area is a white winter wonderland that is an enchanting backdrop for numerous outdoor activities suitable for all ages.
You can take the family ice skating on the frozen 5-acre lake, ride the gondola to an enormous snow fort at the top of Keystone Mountain, or take advantage of the activities offered just for kids through Keystone’s Kidtopia program.
My family’s favorite thing to do in Keystone around Christmas time is to visit the chocolate village in the lobby of the Keystone Lodge.
Every December the amazing Keystone pastry chefs set up a gigantic Christmas display made entirely of Chocolate.
There are chocolate presents under a huge chocolate christmas tree and an entire chocolate ski town complete with a chocolate gondola and train.
It is incredible. Santa frequently visits the Chocolate Village so make sure to ask the front desk when he will be there.
The Part Time Tourists say that Jackson Hole, WY is “a great option for December travel!
This family friendly town is magical during that time of year and has something that everyone will enjoy.
A few activities that can be enjoyed by the whole family include taking a sleigh ride through an elk refuge and enjoying a “big red” tram ride up to the top of mountain to enjoy their world-famous breakfast.
You also can’t leave without taking advantage of the ice skating rink in the center of town. You won’t be able to miss it as it has the light-strung antler arches on all the entrances.
The last thing that you can’t miss while exploring Jackson Hole during December is taking a winter wonderland drive through Grand Teton National Park.
You’ll see wildlife and incredible views all from inside your warm vehicle.”
Despite Minnesota’s reputation for cold weather and snow in the winter, Via Travelers tell us that the coldest months of the year don’t hit until January and February, making a visit in December a great time to experience the snowy beautiful city.
During December, you can hike a variety of trails or do cross country skiing in a number of different parks in surrounding Minneapolis.
Cross country skiing is a staple for Minneapolis given the Nordic heritage of the community.
In fact, downtown Minneapolis celebrates that Nordic heritage with a German inspired Christmas market and festivities known as Holidazzle at Loring Park.
Finally, take in a showing of the Christmas Carol the Guthrie Theatre or enjoy art in one of Minneapolis’ many art museums.
Minneapolis, MN Airbnb
Travel With A Plan has some great tips for enjoying the nearby Bloomington, MN while you are in the Minneapolis area.
“Be sure to leave time to visit nearby Bloomington, home to none other than retail giant Mall of America – which will be perfectly adorned for Christmas when visiting in December!
This iconic shopping mall is home to over 500 general retail stores, specialty attractions, and more than 50 restaurants.
Not only that, but MOA is also home to four of Minnesota’s top attractions – SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium, Crayola Experience, FlyOver America and world-famous Nickelodeon Universe.
As the nation’s largest indoor theme park, it’s always 70 degrees and sunny at Nickelodeon Universe.
Thanks to its climate-controlled environment and glass ceiling that lets natural light in, guests avoid all inclement weather while still feeling like they are actually outside.
With its combination of Family, Junior, and Thrill rides, there is literally something to do for everyone!
Cap off your visit to the Mall of America with a magical skating experience at MOA’s free Skate the Star.
This custom-built ice rink is located at the North entrance of MOA.
Take note that though you can bring your own skates, the small rental fee of $5 goes directly to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities!
While in Bloomington, stay at the Radisson Blu or the JW Marriott, both of which are directly connected to the Mall of America.
If you really want to thrill the kids in the middle of December, enjoy the indoor water park located at the Great Wolf Lodge which is located only steps away from the mall.”
Bloomington, MN Airbnb
Best Places to Visit in December for a WARM Up!
Key West, Florida
I know I said that Tennessee was a special place for me in December, but you know that I am easily persuaded that Florida is the place to be when those temperatures start to drop.
Coleman Concierge has me ready to book my tickets with this descriptions of Key West in December.
“Key West Florida is a fabulous place to travel in December because of its warm Caribbean sunshine. Since its an island, you can catch sunrise, sunset, and enjoy sunshine all day.
We recommend staying in a boutique hotel in the historic district like Amsterdam’s Curry Mansion Inn. It’s so convenient for an active family being walking distance from Duval Street, Mallory Square, and all of old town Key West.
Make sure you take a boat ride somewhere while you’re in Key West. Whether you’re snorkeling on the coral reefs or taking a sunset cruise. You can even take a jet ski tour around the entire island and count it for boat time if you like.
For more family fun, try taking the Conch Train across the island to explore the Hemingway House, butterfly Gardens, or Southernmost Point in the United States. Be sure to explore Fort Zachary Taylor and the shipwreck museum to learn about Key West’s nautical history.
The orange sun from sunrise at Higgs Beach to sunset at Mallory Square will be the perfect vacation to chase away the winter blues.”
Key West Airbnb
“December is the perfect time to explore Miami. With weather in the mid-seventies, it’s a great time of year for visiting the beach and exploring the city without the heat being too oppressive.
The beaches are much emptier at this time of year as they are too cold for the locals.
If you don’t want to spend the whole trip on the beach, there is also plenty to see in the city with it’s great shopping, food and many family friendly museums, most notably the Frost Science Museum which is a massive hands on museum that kids love.
You should also spend some time soaking in the Cuban culture with a visit to Little Havana.
In December the city also has some fabulous seasonal activities that should not be missed, like going to see the Nutcracker at the ballet or a visit to Santa’s Enchanted Forest which is the largest holiday theme park in the world!”
Maui is one of the most popular places to travel in December in the US to escape the winter temperatures. The Hawaiian island of Maui is ideal to escape the cold in the continental US with temperatures around 25 Degrees celsius (77°F).
If you visit before Christmas you will avoid the crowds of New Year and January.
Maui is full of adventures, and it’s recommended to rent a car and drive the iconic Road to Hana where you get beautiful scenery, lush waterfalls and gorgeous beaches along the way.
There are also numerous hiking options and trails that you can explore as a family.
I recommend staying in Kihei or Wailea beach as it’s a nice place for families with a relaxed vibe, nice accommodation alternatives and not too far away by car.
Corritta from Itz a Family Thing says that San Diego is definitely one of the best places to travel in December in the USA!
“When you think Christmas, I am sure San Diego is not the first place that comes to mind.
What we lack in snow we make up for in Christmas spirit and lights.
There is no shortage of activities available for families in the Christmas spirit.
There is the San Diego Holiday Parade, Christmas Pet Parade, Balboa Park December nights, La Jolla Christmas Parade, and The Holiday Bowl.
The crown jewel of the Christmas celebration in San Diego is Global Winter Wonderland.
You can see all the major attractions in lights from around the world in one-night. Start at the Nation’s Capital Washington D.C and work your way around the world through Tokyo, Paris, Italy, India, and China.
There are also spectacular interactive light character mazes for families to enjoy (last year there were dinosaurs).
So, the next time you are trying to think of your next Christmas destination, come and join us in San Diego for family fun and nights full of adventure.”
Travelgal Nicole has some great tips for hiking in Arizona and says that it is one of the best places to travel in December, “If you enjoy comfortable temperatures and plenty of fun things to do then you should definitely visit Phoenix in December.
Phoenix is the capital of Arizona and enjoys year round warm temperatures as well as lots of fun things to do for families.”
Here are a few things to do in Phoenix as you seek to warm up your December.
Phoenix, AZ Airbnb
If warmer, but not HOT, is what you seek, consider Charleston, SC for your December family vacation.
Elizabeth from Elizabeth Everywhere has a few pointers for making Charleston your December travel destination in the US.