Traveling During the Holidays? Don’t Miss These Wonderfully Cheerful Locales!
Nothing feels better than being home for the holidays. That warm feeling you get when you’ve finished putting up your favorite holiday décor, smelling the tasty baked goods of the season, or watching as a loved one opens up a thoughtful gift.
But this year, you may be thinking of doing the opposite of Bing Crosby and heading elsewhere for Christmas.
Last year’s celebrations were curtailed for most. Whether you’re dreaming of a white Christmas or a sun-soaked one, you deserve a memorable and joyful holiday this year. Traveling within the U.S. or seeking a destination abroad will give you the best holiday you’ve had in a long time.
As always, it’s important to pay attention to any COVID restrictions your destination may have. As we’ve seen over the last nearly 2 years, those can change at the drop of a hat.
To help you have the merriest holiday season yet, we’ve collected some of the best holiday travel destinations to head towards this year for relaxation or adventure.
Joyful U.S. Destinations
You’re on a journey to transform your holiday trip into an extraordinary one. And you don’t have to leave the U.S. to do it!
Discover unique experiences and festive activities from coast to coast.
1. New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is so much more than Mardi Gras. The culture that this city is built on is reason enough to visit, but during the holiday season they pull out all the stops.
An unmissable month-long event is the Celebration in the Oaks. Acting as the city’s largest fundraiser of the year, this 25-acre festival of lights is enjoyed by families every year. Over a million lights make up the bright spectacle.
Nothing can compare to the food in NOLA. At the Reveillon Dinners, you can live out an ongoing tradition in New Orleans that dates back to the 1800s. What once was a meal that began after midnight mass is now enjoyed by folks city-wide at “normal” dinner time. While it may look different, the focus on being together remains the same.
On Christmas Eve, don’t skip out on the Bonfires on the Levee. The tradition of lighting big bonfires on the levees goes back to early Cajun settlers. The idea is to light the way for “Papa Noel,” on his journey to the homes of the area.
There are plenty of celebrations in NOLA for Christmas, but be sure you’re following their COVID guidelines. Anyone over the age of 12 must have proof of vaccination to enter any indoor area or large event. Anyone over the age of 2 must be wearing a mask in similar areas.
2. Taos, New Mexico
Taos is a favorite destination for their world-class skiing, but this year you’ll want to warm up with a little bit of their southwestern charm. A quaint town, the historic architecture, famous art scene, and small-town allure captivate people from all over the world.
A first stop, especially during the holidays, is the Taos Mesa Brewing Company. There’s no shortage of juicy burgers, crunchy tacos, and cheesy Frito pie. Pair any meal with a pint of one of their homebrewed drafts.
Yuletide in Taos is a month-long celebration of various events happening throughout the holiday season. Starting with Small Business Saturday and ending with the New Year’s Eve Torchlight parade and fireworks, there’s plenty to check out throughout the month of December.
Something you’ll really love are the infinite luminarias that sparkle throughout town. Luminarias have a rather varied past as to who used them and why, but New Mexicans embrace this piece of tradition in their holiday decor.
If traveling to New Mexico, anyone over the age of 2 is expected to wear a face mask when in public. At this time, proof of vaccination isn’t required.
3. Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
This holiday season, take in stunning sunrises and sunsets on the sandy white beaches of Santa Rosa. Peaceful beach hikes, delicious seafood feasts, and beautiful palm trees await you.
The Truman Show’s picturesque town of Seahaven was shot in Santa Rosa Beach. During the holidays, it’s just as quiet and quaint as the film only more lit up and decorated to fit the season.
Santa Rosa is perfect for a stroll along the coastline and taking in the sounds and scents of the ocean before you head back into town. Candy-colored homes with white picket fences, adorable shops, and delicious eateries like Amavida will satisfy all your senses.
The Great Southern Cafe is the place to go for a delightfully festive meal. The restaurant is open from sunup to sundown, meaning you can get your fix whether you’re after mimosas and benedicts or a craft cocktail and grits with slow-roasted beef.
As you’re taking in the lovely sights and food, be sure that you’re following Florida’s guidelines for traveling. While they don’t have any travel restrictions, it’s still suggested you get vaccinated and wear a mask when in public.
Find Some Cheer Abroad
This time of year is meant for celebrations and festivals, regardless of religion or location. Every country has its way of showing yuletide joy, and what better way for you to get into the spirit than commemorating the holidays with locals?
1. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Europe is rife with stunning destinations for the holidays, but Amsterdam is a must-see. The glow of Christmas lights warm up every narrow street, the aroma of baked goods fills the air, and every neighborhood you wander through is filled with holiday cheer.
Exploring as much of Amsterdam as possible by foot is one of the best things you can do, but one event to be sure to stumble upon is the Amsterdam Light Festival. Every year artists transform the city into a massive art exhibit.
While in the city, you have to visit the holiday markets. There are a number of them that go on each year. From the shopping, food, drinks, and ice skating, you can’t pass these up!
In order to travel to Amsterdam, you must be fully vaccinated. While they have not shut down travel to the country, they recommend not traveling there unless you have been vaccinated. If you do, wear masks anywhere in public.
2. The Maldives
This will truly be a holiday spent in beach paradise. Endless blue horizons, white sand beaches, and sunshine make for a different style of white Christmas.
Rather than ski, dive into the crystal clear waters that surround the Maldives’ Banana Reef. The area is shaped like a banana and was actually one of the first to be discovered for snorkeling and scuba diving.
While in paradise it only makes sense to fully rejuvenate with a spa session. Just about any resort you choose will offer services that vary from Ayurveda to Swedish massage, and Maldivian to Reflexology. No matter your need, seek out the treatment!
Currently, there are no restrictions on travel to the Maldives. As always, it is advised to wear a mask no matter where you go.
3. Buenos Aires, Argentina
Traveling down to the Southern Cone of South America will give you a unique but unforgettable holiday experience. Buenos Aires is in the middle of summer when Christmas comes around. So no chance of snow around here.
Argentines love to celebrate during this time of year. There will be Christmas trees all over every public area, young folks “caroling” in the evenings, and wonderful pan dulce and other sweets all over the city.
You’ll be drawn to the coastline and the warm waters of the South American summer, but don’t miss out on Christmas-themed Tango shows. You can enjoy dinner, a beautiful show, fireworks, and your own complimentary fancy mask.
Argentina is practicing high caution when it comes to travel due to COVID. It’s best to be fully vaccinated and wear a mask at all times when in public.
Cruise Through Your Holidays
Rather than immerse yourself fully in the holiday culture of a destination city, how would hopping on a luxurious ship and collecting experiences along the way sound?
A holiday cruise is the answer to the hustle and bustle of the season. The best part about taking a cruise this holiday season is that you can explore a number of excursions. Even better, if you’re looking for snow or sand you can find it on a cruise!
1. Embrace Wintery Alaska
When it comes to snow, there’s no place like Alaska. From the heavily snow-decorated coastline to its arctic glaciers, Alaska is a sight to see during the wintertime.
Princess Cruises offer an adventure into Alaska’s glaciers, wildlife, and national parks. Have a taste of Alaska’s wild side mixed with the comfort of Princess’ luxury ships. Take your own voyage into the number of passages that exist in the north or test your strength in the Alaska winter tundra. On an excursion, watch humpback whales swim in the ocean.
When on board the ship, enjoy warm cookies, sip seasonal drinks, and take part in fun family-friendly activities like gingerbread house making. Santa Claus even makes a visit to the ship!
If you step foot into Alaska, they don’t have any travel restrictions. Just be sure you’re protecting yourself with a mask and have been vaccinated. Some communities may have stricter rules than others.
2. Soak Up the Rays in the Caribbean
You may be feeling ready to reemerge from your home this holiday season, and a cruise to the Caribbean is just the ticket. Fill your holiday season with tropics, unforgettable memories, and new traditions.
There are a number of cruises to hop on, but no matter what you’ll find the exact sun-soaked fun you’re looking for. From soaking up the sun in Montego Bay to showing off your moves at the biggest wave pool in the Caribbean, you’re going to have a blast.
You can even head to the crystal clear waters of Saint Maarten Island, where you can snorkel for the day then build a sand snowman.
The COVID restrictions vary from island to island in the Caribbean, but the best practice is to be fully vaccinated, as well as wear masks when you’re in public spaces.
3. Disney Cruise Line
If you have kids (and even if you don’t) this is the ultimate cruise to go on. As expected, Disney Cruises get more magical around the holidays with their Very Merrytime Cruises.
On these holiday-themed cruises, there are featured “Deck the Deck” parties, meet-and-greets with popular Disney characters, and a special tree-lighting ceremony with Mickey Mouse.
Adults will still have their exclusive activities, like private nightclubs and bars, but this cruise line is definitely built for young parents or grandparents who want to show their younger ones a wonderful time.
When it comes to these cruises, it’s best to look into what the COVID travel guidelines are. At best, be sure that you’re vaccinated and are wearing masks when asked.
Take Your Holiday Season to the Next Level
It may be time to get out of your usual routine this year. Allow yourself to enjoy what the world has to offer, especially during the holiday season.
With some travel restrictions being lifted this year, it’s time for you to see what’s out there. Book that holiday trip you’ve been waiting for!
If you prefer the type of trip where you can have the perfect balance of structure and adventure, look no further than a Christmas cruise. There are options for everyone —whether you’re a honeymooner, family, or solo adventurer.
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