To inspire you to celebrate the magic of the holidays somewhere beautiful, here are 12 dreamy travel destinations that transcend the ordinary.
From snowy alpine retreats that transport you to a winter wonderland to tranquil coastal escapes that will warm your heart (and toes), these are some of the most idyllic locales to enjoy the winter holiday season. Featuring upscale luxury hotels that will cater to your every whim as well as fun-filled activities and iconic places to explore, discover the best places to stay and play across the USA this season.
Picture strolling through enchanting historic districts sparkling under the twinkling lights, immersing yourself in the timeless charm of each locale. Imagine feeling the serenity of the picturesque snowy landscapes where majestic mountains provide the backdrop to your seasonal escape. Envision gorgeous sunsets along tropical coastlines, inviting you to bask in the warmth of winter without the chill.
Whether you’re seeking a traditional winter destination that will make you feel like the ultimate Snow Bunny or you’re looking to escape the blustery cold weather and head somewhere balmy, there’s something for everyone on this list of dreamy travel destinations.
Asheville, North Carolina
Embrace the enchanting winter holidays in Asheville, NC, as the Blue Ridge Mountains come alive with festive magic.
Stroll the charming streets of downtown Asheville, where local boutiques offer unique holiday finds. Savor a culinary journey at acclaimed restaurants like Rhubarb and The Admiral, blending upscale dining with a convivial atmosphere. Explore the vibrant River Arts District, which hosts holiday markets and artist studios. Asheville’s winter charm extends to the Biltmore Village, creating a delightful mix of tradition and modern allure for a memorable holiday escape.
When venturing to this picturesque area, consider booking a stay at The Inn on Biltmore Estate which offers an elegant and timeless holiday retreat. Nestled within the grandeur of the Biltmore Estate, this historic hotel captures the essence of refined beauty and sophistication. It’s so iconic that even the Hallmark Channel created a movie called “A Biltmore Christmas” that recently aired in November. The estate’s grand Christmas decorations, inspired by the traditions of the Vanderbilt family, create a jubilant atmosphere. Experience the epitome of holiday magic in Asheville with the Biltmore Estate’s Candlelight Christmas Evenings, a majestic display of lights and decorations.
Beaver Creek, Colorado
If you’re a ski enthusiast, then you’ll be enthralled with a vacation in Beaver Creek, Colorado, especially during the holidays, as snow-covered landscapes provide the perfect backdrop for festive delights.
Hit the slopes at Beaver Creek Resort, offering unparalleled skiing and snowboarding adventures. Take a scenic snowshoe trek through powdered trails or explore the charming village with its twinkling lights and holiday decorations. Indulge in upscale dining at renowned restaurants like Mirabelle and Grouse Mountain Grill. Experience the magic of the Vilar Performing Arts Center’s holiday performances, blending entertainment with seasonal joy. Beaver Creek’s holiday ambiance creates an idyllic setting for outdoor adventures and cozy celebrations in the heart of the Rockies. Last but not least, take in the breathtaking landscapes with a scenic sleigh ride through the snow-covered trails, creating memories of a joyful winter retreat.
When it comes to where to stay, check out the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa which provides a luxurious alpine retreat. Earning its AAA Four-Diamond rating, this resort offers ski-in and ski-out access, world-class spa facilities, and holiday-inspired culinary experiences.
Bethlehem, known as the “Christmas City,” comes alive with holiday decorations, including the iconic Moravian Star atop South Mountain. Explore Christkindlmarkt, a captivating holiday market showcasing handmade crafts and delicious treats. Wander through the historic district adorned with twinkling lights, where boutiques and quaint cafes invite you to indulge in the spirit of the season.
When it comes to lodging, the Hotel Bethlehem stands as a beacon of holiday tradition. This historic hotel, nestled amid the picturesque landscapes of the Lehigh Valley, offers an inspiring winter retreat that truly evokes the spirit of the season.
Charleston, South Carolina
Discover the vibrant allure of Charleston, SC, during the winter season, as the historic city transforms into a captivating haven.
Wander through the lively French Quarter and immerse yourself in the architectural splendor of Rainbow Row. Unwind at Waterfront Park, where the brisk air complements the stunning harbor views. Savor Lowcountry flavors at renowned restaurants such as Husk and Fleet Landing. Experience the city’s rich history at Fort Sumter or delve into the arts at the Gibbes Museum.
In the heart of historic Charleston, The Charleston Place exudes Southern warmth and hospitality. Adorned with a AAA Four-Diamond rating, this hotel becomes a winter haven with elegant décor and an uplifting holiday atmosphere. Charleston’s winter ambiance offers a unique blend of cultural exploration, culinary delights, and outdoor adventures, creating an unforgettable holiday escape.
Lake Tahoe, California
Experience the winter holidays amidst the breathtaking beauty of Lake Tahoe, CA, a snowy paradise for jubilant celebrations.
Get an adrenaline rush by hitting the slopes at Palisades Tahoe or enjoy panoramic views with a scenic gondola ride. Explore historic downtown Truckee adorned with holiday lights and charming boutiques. Indulge your tastebuds at Moody’s Bistro Bar & Beats or enjoy a gourmet meal at Stella. Take part in Tahoe City’s annual holiday festivities and stroll through the enchanting holiday markets. Whether skiing, shopping, or savoring culinary delights, Lake Tahoe creates a winter wonderland filled with joy and adventure.
When it comes to upscale lodging that sets the tone for your holiday getaway, head to The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe which offers a Five-Star winter oasis surrounded by the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. With ski-in and ski-out access, exquisite spa treatments, and exquisite dining options, this stunning resort captures the essence of a luxurious holiday escape.
When Santa needs a getaway from the chilly North Pole, it’s been said that he hops on his sleigh and heads to the tropical paradise of Lanai, Hawaii, where Sensei Lānaʻi, A Four Seasons Resort awaits. Set against the backdrop of lush landscapes and pristine beaches, this Five-Star resort offers a serene and rejuvenating escape during the winter holidays, making it an idyllic Christmas vacation.
Lanai City, with its stores and local artisans, becomes a haven for unique holiday shopping. Explore Hulopoe Bay, a picturesque beach adorned with golden sands and crystal-clear waters, offering a tranquil retreat from the winter chill. After a day of surfing, snorkeling, and scuba diving, indulge in Hawaiian-inspired spa treatments and savor seasonal cuisine, creating a harmonious blend of luxury and tropical warmth for a unique holiday celebration that will warm your heart (and sandy toes).
Explore Napa Valley during the holidays, where vineyards come alive with twinkling lights and cheery decorations.
Attend the Napa Valley Wine Train’s Santa Train, a magical journey through the valley adorned with holiday cheer. Indulge in gourmet dining at Michelin-rated restaurants (like La Toque and Kenzo Napa) in addition to enjoying exquisite varietals at nearby wineries that Wine Enthusiast magazine recommends (like Mayacamas and Alpha Omega), creating a sophisticated and memorable holiday experience.
Located in the heart of Northern California’s wine country just a short drive from downtown Napa, The Meritage Resort & Spa offers a peaceful escape amid the rolling vineyards that surround this beautiful property. This Four-Diamond resort is renowned for its serene accommodations and divine spa facilities. Not to mention – you can also sip, savor, and swirl at their on-site tasting rooms.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Experience the spirited allure of New Orleans during the winter holidays with a blend of festive traditions and vibrant culture.
Revel in the iconic Jackson Square, adorned with holiday lights and festive decorations. Stroll through the historic French Quarter, where lively streets offer enchanting boutiques and local markets for unique holiday shopping. Indulge in the city’s culinary delights at upscale restaurants like the famed Commander’s Palace and Cochon. Immerse yourself in the joyous melodies of street musicians, and don’t miss the historic St. Louis Cathedral, beautifully illuminated during the season. From traditional Creole cuisine to festive jazz performances, this iconic travel destination radiates holiday warmth and merriment.
If you’re planning a visit to the vibrant heart of New Orleans, a great hotel to stay at is The Roosevelt New Orleans. This historic gem, which has received Forbes Four-Star and AAA Four-Diamond awards, transforms into a dreamy escape during the holidays. Immerse yourself in the lively French Quarter, where the grand Waldorf Wonderland Lobby Lighting at The Roosevelt adds a magical touch to the festivities.
Newport Beach, California
If you’re looking for a tranquil getaway in a beachside locale, head to the sun-kissed landscapes of Newport Beach in Southern California.
From breathtaking Pacific Ocean vistas to mild winter temperatures, Newport Beach is a great spot to enjoy outdoor activities (such as boating and standup paddleboarding) and bask in the stunning views, making it an idyllic destination during the holiday season. Explore Balboa Island, ornately decorated during the holidays, complete with enticing boutiques and delectable treats. Indulge in upscale dining at Fashion Island, a premier shopping and dining destination, where holiday lights and seasonal decorations create a delightful ambiance.
If you’re seeking a gorgeous upscale hotel, check out The Resort at Pelican Hill. Perched along the picturesque coastline, this Five-Star resort offers the epitome of coastal elegance and refinement. Newport Beach is a haven for those seeking a warm and luxurious winter escape.
Scottsdale offers a unique holiday experience, combining understated luxury with the warmth and serenity of the desert landscape.
Enjoy winter activities under the warm Arizona sun, with guided desert hikes and horseback riding through the scenic trails. Explore the vibrant arts scene of Old Town Scottsdale, bedazzled with holiday lights and unique seasonal decorations. Savor the flavors of the season at the area’s renowned dining establishments (such as the top-rated Cafe Monarch or Sel restaurants), where holiday-inspired menus showcase the best of Southwestern cuisine.
In the heart of the Sonoran Desert, Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North provides a sun-soaked upscale retreat that provides everything you need to relax and rejuvenate during the holidays. Surrounded by the picturesque McDowell Mountains, this desert oasis offers a blend of luxury and Southwestern charm.
In the heart of Northern California’s wine country, Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa provides a luxurious retreat in Sonoma, CA. Surrounded by vibrant green rolling vineyards and lush landscapes, this Four-Diamond resort offers an idyllic escape during the winter holidays.
While visiting Sonoma County, make time to explore the quaint historic towns of Sonoma, Healdsburg, and Petaluma, all adorned with holiday lights and decorations. Here you’ll find enchanting farm-to-table eateries and al fresco dining (such as the popular outdoor patio at the French restaurant called the girl & the fig).
Pop open some celebratory bubbly and indulge in wine tastings at beautiful local vineyards (such as Gloria Ferrer Winery and Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma), where the holiday spirit mingles with the rich flavors of Sonoma’s world-class wines. Or, if you prefer to enjoy a full-service excursion, you can book a private guided tour via a vintage LandRover with Bohemian Highway, a Food & Wine magazine-ranked local tour guide service that takes you off the beaten path to discover unique wineries.
Sun Valley, Idaho
If you’re looking to brush up on your skiing or snowboarding skills, head to the iconic Sun Valley, Idaho, where Sun Valley Resort stands as a legendary destination. Nestled amid the picturesque landscapes of the Rocky Mountains, this historic resort offers a classic and sophisticated winter escape.
Sun Valley becomes a winter wonderland during the holidays, with snow-covered slopes inviting visitors to enjoy world-class skiing and snowboarding. Explore the lovely Sun Valley Village, adorned with twinkling lights and holiday decor. Indulge in après-ski activities at the resort’s elegant lodges, where crackling fireplaces and seasonal delights create a cozy ambiance.
Whether you prefer the snowy landscapes of the Rockies or the sun-kissed shores of the Pacific, these destinations promise a holiday season filled with warmth, luxury, and cherished memories. Embark on your winter wonderland adventure by exploring these twelve enchanting destinations, each offering a unique blend of luxury, festive charm, and unforgettable experiences.