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.
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Last Updated: September 26, 2022
15 Best Places to Visit in December in USA
|| Snow Activities + Holiday Destinations ||
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.
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: Find Las Vegas Hotel Deals
- 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.
3. Anchorage, Alaska
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: Anchorage Hotel Deals
- 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.
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: Search Jackson Hole Hotel Map
- 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.
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, Search More NYC Hotels
- 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.
|| warm places to visit in december in usa ||
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.
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: Maui’s Best Hotels
- 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.
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: Check our Los Angeles Hotels Map
- 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.
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: Look for the Best Key West Hotels Here
- 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.
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: New Orleans Hotel Deals
- 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.
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: Search for Palm Springs Hotels
- EVENTS: Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, Wildlights at the Living Desert, Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade
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.
Local Tip: Bring layers since the weather can get chilly, especially near the beach.
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: The Best Sarasota Hotels
- EVENTS: Annual Gingerbread Festival, Christmas Walk in Historic Downtown Venice
14. Savannah, Georgia
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 Best Savannah Hotels
- 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
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: Find St Petersburg Hotels
- EVENTS: Holiday Lights at Downtown Waterfront parks, Snowfest
Map of the Best Places to Visit in December in USA
Warmest Destinations in the US
The warmest states in the winter: Hawaii, Florida, California, Arizona, Texas, Georgia, and Louisiana.
The warmest cities based on average highs are:
- 83°F – Kailua Kona, Hawaii Big Island || Lahaina, Maui
- 82°F – Kahului, Maui || Everglades National Park, Florida
- 81°F – Honolulu, Oahu
- 79°F – Hilo, Hawaii Big Island
- 76°F – Miami, Florida
- 72°F – Orlando, Florida
- 71°F – South Padre Island, Texas
- 70°F – Daytona Beach, Florida || Anaheim, California
- 69°F – Palm Springs, California || Yuma, Arizona || Big Bend National Park, Texas
- 68°F – Los Angeles, California || Corpus Christi, Texas
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
What to Pack
For Cold Weather Destinations:
For Warm Weather Destinations:
Is there anything we missed on our list of best places to visit in December in USA?
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“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust
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.