Looking for top places to visit in the United States during December?
We have a list of some of the most enjoyable tourist spots for you to adore and wander!
December is an excellent time to travel if you enjoy the holidays and festive destinations. Some cities are particularly magical, but they also attract a larger crowd.
It’s also an excellent time for snowbirds to get away from the cold, or if you’re from a hotter climate, it’s the best time to visit destinations that would be too hot at other times of the year. Death Valley, We are looking at you.
1. ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA
PHOTO: Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina. (Photo via Flickr/Blake Lewis)
Avg. Temperature: 50° / 31° F
The winters in Asheville are moderate, yet they are cold enough to feel for the holidays. You’ll still need a winter coat, but you won’t have to worry about your car getting buried in the snow.
There are also a plethora of festive winter activities.
Christmas at the Biltmore is legendary for those of us who grew up in the South.
• Where to Eat: The Biltmore Estate, Blue Ridge Parkway, River Arts District
• Where to Stay: Asheville’s Best Hotels
• Events: Christmas at Biltmore, the National Gingerbread House Competition, and the NC Arboretum’s Winter Lights
Local Tip: If you’re going outside to explore, keep an eye on the weather. The roads and paths may be covered in ice. Crampons should be kept on hand for neighboring hikes.
2. LAS VEGAS, NV
The average temperature is 60 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius).
In Las Vegas, December is one of our favorite months. The weather is ideal for hiking and climbing (send temperatures! ), and the Strip is decked out for the holidays. Each casino has spectacular holiday displays, but the Bellagio Conservatory has the greatest.
• Where to Stay: The Venetian, NoMad Las Vegas, Vdara Hotel & Spa
• EVENTS: Enchant, Holiday Lights at Ethel M, National Rodeo Finals
• Where to Eat: E by Jose Andres, Mizumi, Poke Express
Local Tip: Because the sun sets early (about 4:30 p.m.), make sure to schedule your days properly. Layers are also recommended. Visitors are unaware that it may get quite cold, especially once the sun has set.
3. ANCHORAGE, ALASKA
Temperature: 25° / 17° F
If you’re looking for a winter paradise in the United States, Anchorage is one of the best spots to go in December.
You’ll find thick powder, crystal-clear ice, and perhaps the northern lights if you’re lucky! In the winter, the skies are clear, making flightseeing near the Chugach Mountains ideal.
• Where to Eat: Moose’s Tooth, Snow City Cafe, Glacier Brewhouse
• Where to Stay: Captain Cook Hotel, Residence Inn, Hyatt Place
• Events: Holiday Lights in the Gardens, Anchorage International Filmmaking Festival, Anchorage Holiday Market
Photo Tip: When it’s chilly outside, camera and phone batteries drain faster, so have extra chargers and batteries on hand.
4. JACKSON HOLE, WYOMING
Temperature: 28° / 7° F
Jackson Hole is another fantastic winter sports location, offering skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and ice skating.
Live performances, craft fairs, and a lovely town square to enjoy. It’s also a perfect time to visit the National Elk Refuge for a wildlife tour or a sleigh ride (opens mid-December).
• Where to Eat: Persephone Bakery, Hand Fire Pizza, Gather
• Places to Visit: Jackson Hole in the Winter
• Where to Stay: Mountain Modern, The Lexington at Jackson Hole, and Inn on the Creek are all great places to stay.
• Events: Grand Teton Music Festival, Holiday Bazaar, Holiday Fun in Town Square
Local Tip: Some activities rely on snowfall and may not be available until mid-to-late December. Always double-check before making a reservation.
5. NEW YORK CITY, NY
The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. Photographer: ANGELA WEISS/AFP
Temperature: 44° / 31° F
Christmas in New York City is as traditional as it gets. With massive Christmas trees, seasonal window displays, ice skating rinks, and Christmas markets, it’s everything you’d expect from a TV Christmas.
During the holidays, we always get nostalgic and miss living in the city.
• Where to Stay: Library Hotel, Bowery Hotel, Four Seasons
• Attractions: The Rockettes, Christmas Markets, and New Year’s Eve in Times Square
Local Tip: Before you go, do yourself a favor and acquire some insulated waterproof boots. The initial snowfall is beautiful, but it quickly transforms into grey slush.
6. DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, CALIFORNIA
Andrew Mace on Flickr
The average temperature is 65 degrees Fahrenheit (39 degrees Celsius).
Because of the range of landscapes found within one park, Death Valley is one of our favorite national parks.
You may hike through multicolored hills, wander through dunes and sea salt flats. It’s scorching in the summer, but you can spend the entire day outside in the winter. Just remember to layer up as the sun sets and the temperature drops.
• Where to Eat: Smokin J’s Barbecue, Last Kind Words Saloon, Happy Burro Chili & Beer
• Where to Stay: Death Valley Ranch, Death Valley Inn & RV Park, Death Valley Inn & RV Park
Local Tip: To save money, purchase an annual pass if you plan on visiting many National Parks.
7. MAUI, HAWAII
The average temperature is 72 degrees Fahrenheit (56 degrees Celsius).
In December, Maui (and all of Hawaii) is one of the most incredible locations to come to escape the cold. In addition, you can wear shorts and a tee to enjoy the holidays with a tropical flair.
It’s also humpback whale season, so keep an eye out. Keep in mind that costs are higher when families visit during the winter vacation.
• Where to Stay: Lahaina Shores Beach Resort, Aston at The Whaler, Hotel Wailea
• What to Eat: Mama’s Fish House, Coconut’s Fish Cafe, Geste Shrimp Truck
• EVENTS: Hawaii Food and Wine Festival, Made in Maui County Festival
December is Maui’s wettest month, but it’s mainly on the North Shore. It’s a good idea to have a packable raincoat.
Love this list? This is just part one of the lists. Stay tuned for part two.