There is tinsel to be hung and hot cocoa to be sipped, and the party invitations keep rolling in. The end of the year can be hectic, to be sure—so busy, in fact, that a vacation seems out of the question. But the buzz of the season is just the reason you should get away! You’ve worked hard all year and it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. To help inspire you, we’ve picked the best places to travel in December with your family, a special someone, or all by yourself:
Where to travel in December with your family
Whether your family prefers to thaw out during the month of December or revel in its frigid glory, you’re in luck. Plenty of family-friendly destinations await in warm and cold climates alike. Leisure and activity are both on the menu at these top December vacation destinations:
Warming it up
Sometimes when winter rolls around there is nothing on your mind but sunshine and sparkling water. Trade your snow shovel for a paddle and head to one of these warm locales. You’re guaranteed some time on the beach and you’ll stumble upon other cool stuff, like an experience in a dolphin cove:
- Atlantis, Bahamas–How does a 141-acre water park sound? Or swimming with dolphins? Head to the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas. This island paradise also boasts a marine habitat, home to more than 50,000 animals. Once your family checks in, the staff takes care of everything–the hotel has a casino, restaurant, golf, and spa at the ready. Virtually every room at the resort offers a spectacular view of the water or the luscious resort grounds.
- Honolulu, HI–If you’re on the West Coast and looking for a shorter jaunt, don’t forget about Honolulu, the capital city of our island state. Stroll along famous Waikiki Beach, visit the Chinatown arts district, and hike to the top of Diamond Head State Monument for stunning panoramic views of the city. When you’re feeling sufficiently sun kissed, wind down at the end of the day with a family session of beach yoga at Kaimana Beach. Of course, you can’t leave without taking your family to a traditional luau!
Maybe your family has decided to embrace the cold this year. After all, you can keep toasty with warm parkas and each other’s company, right? If you want to enjoy a winter wonderland this December, check out one of these cities that never lose their flavor, even when the temperatures drop:
- New York City, NY–A trip to The Big Apple offers something for even the moodiest teenager or crabbiest toddler. If your group wants to enjoy the best scenery in NYC without walking around the city’s icy streets, the Empire State Building should be your first stop. The 86th floor of this historic building is an observatory, offering stunning views of the entire city.
With white stuff on the ground, Central Park becomes a new kind of playground. Grab a sled and make haste to Cedar Hill, where you can enjoy some good-natured racing down the snow-packed terrain. Looking for entertainment? Head to Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre, one of only a few marionette theaters in the country still offering original productions. The Central Park Zoo also remains open and active in December.
- Boston, MA–Point your compass northeast of NYC, and your clan will land in a historically rich city known to some as Beantown. Boston has dozens of hills ripe for sledding in December, including The Bowl next to Boston Pond and Flagstaff Hill on Boston Common. Better yet, slap on some skates and hit the ice on the Boston Common Frog Pond, which makes its home in America’s oldest public park.
Where to travel in December as a solo traveler
Traveling alone this holiday season can turn into the best December vacation you’ve had in recent memory. Without any distractions or the need to compete with the itinerary demands of fellow travelers, you can really enjoy your winter adventure.
Sometimes a warm getaway on your own is just what the doctor ordered. Clear your mind, soak up some vitamin D, and explore new culture at one of these ideal December destinations…all by yourself:
- Bangkok, Thailand–Thailand is an increasingly popular destination for all types of adventurers, including those seeking solo travel. The capital city, Bangkok, is saturated in history, teeming with delicious cuisine, and easy on the pocketbook. Hail a tuk-tuk driver (you might even consider hiring one for the entire day), and get ready to see one of the most beautiful and culturally rich cities in Asia. Bangkok is known for its street food, so remember to grab some authentic pad thai on your way to one of the local temples or the shopping district. And if you’re looking for some holiday gifts, you can get suits and other custom-tailored clothing made here in a jiffy!
- Belize–If you have an itch to sit beneath a swaying palm tree this December, book a ticket to Belize. This tiny nation is renowned for crystal clear waters and generous supply of beachfront. Take a hike to the ancient Mayan ruins or experience some world-class scuba diving. When you need a dose of adrenaline, take a ziplining excursion in the local rainforest canopy.
Maybe you’re a solo traveler in the mood for some history and a bit of reflection. If that’s the case, get swept up in a European adventure this December. With ancient cobblestones beneath your feet and your frosty breath lingering in the air, you can easily have one of the best vacations of your life:
- Dublin, Ireland—This is one of the best December holiday destinations to consider as a solo tourist. Not only does the city offer a wealth of hospitality and history, but you can easily navigate it alone. In a city this friendly, though, you might also end up making some new friends to drink Guinness with.
When you wake up in Dublin, be prepared to head out with a smile and an empty stomach. Stop by Lemon Crepe and Coffee Co. for some morning eats, and then embark on foot or by cab to take in everything from local pubs to the Dublin Writers Museum. Speaking of writers, this proud literary haven offers walking tours that celebrate the likes of Oscar Wilde. Naturally, no trip to Dublin would be complete without treating yourself to some fish and chips – check out Leo Burdocks.
- Reykjavik, Iceland—Reykjavik is also very friendly to people traveling alone. While the sunlight is limited here in December (the sun rises after 11 a.m. by the end of the month), you can certainly pack in plenty of activity during the few precious hours of daylight. Go on a bike tour and stop by one of the city’s notable cafes. The Laundromat Café is a particular favorite for visitors. Reykjavik is also a wonderful home base from which to take day trips out to the natural hot springs and hiking trails.
Viewfinder Tip: If the night sky is clear, keep your eyes out for the Aurora Borealis in Reykjavik.
Where to travel in December as a couple
Taking some time away together as a couple is a chance to reconnect and avoid arguments with the in-laws. Whether you want to heat things up or create a chance to cuddle up in the cold, booking a trip to one of these top December destinations is the best way to treat yourselves this holiday season.
Heat things up
Heading to a warm paradise is an excellent way to add some spice to your romantic getaway this December. These toasty destinations make the perfect backdrop for wooing your boo all over again:
- Seville, Spain–Seville is encased in history, some of which can be found at local attractions such as the Alcázar palace, Museo del Baile Flamenco, and the Cathedral of Seville. After a morning of walking the city, you and your better half can hit up the Baños Árabes. This relaxing retreat offers thermal baths, aromatherapy, massages, and other indulgent treatments.
Of course, you shouldn’t come to Seville if you don’t plan on eating. Tapas bars are plentiful here, as you might imagine, especially in the center of town. You can also find gourmet food and street food vendors, so no matter where your appetite leads you–Seville will deliver. If you’re interested in partaking in the tapas tradition, check out Vinería San Telmo or Bar Europa.
- La Jolla, CA—Nestled just north of San Diego, this quiet beach town is an excellent place to go when you want a relaxing couple’s retreat. Take a walk on La Jolla Shores beach, and then stop in at one of the city’s many fine dining restaurants for an elegant dinner. George’s at the Cove and La Dolce Vita Ristorante both impress with both cuisine and atmosphere. At the end of the day, head a bit south to Coronado to go ice skating on the beach at Hotel del Coronado.
If you already live in a warm climate, embracing the cold might sound more appealing. Not to worry—many of the best places to travel in December will give you goosebumps. Just grab your partner and fly off to one of these cold December getaways. Sometimes sipping on hot chocolate in the snow together is just the excuse you need to cuddle up:
- Paris, France–Paris is considered one of the most romantic cities in the world, and it certainly delivers on its promise during the final month of the year. If you are prepared to embrace cooler temperatures, pack up your loved one and a few scarves and land in the City of Light. Paris is abuzz with holiday spirit during December, and a visit to the charming Christmas markets to sip on mulled wine and purchase hand-crafted gifts is a must.
While you’re in town, stop by the ice skating rink just outside of Paris City Hall (or, as locals call it, Hotel de Ville). The city actually sets up quite a few rinks, so enjoy the chill than by taking a morning tour of ice skating venues! The Champs-Elysées is always a visitor favorite, but it’s absolutely a can’t-miss location once the holidays near. Trees along the famous stretch of pavement are adorned in lights and garlands, and the shops are even more inviting.
- Aspen, CO–If you want to stay a little closer to home this year while enjoying the cold, book a flight to Aspen, Colorado. December signals the beginning of the best season to visit this ski-lover’s dream, when the snow is fresh and the air especially crisp. Get a lift ticket to Snowmass and hit the black diamond runs with your snow bunny and then take in some warm drinks and dinner at the lodge afterward. This city also lures visitors during December with events like an ugly sweater party at The Little Nell Hotel and fireworks over Aspen Mountain on New Year’s Eve.
If you could go anywhere, where would you travel in December?