Best Holiday Destinations in Southern US

What is the ideal warm-weather retreat during the holidays? Look beyond California beaches, the Southern U.S. has a whole lot to offer for a Christmastime vacation. Try one of these top destinations for a holiday getaway in the South:

Asheville, N.C.

 Asheville, N.C.

With stunning mountain views and a wide selection of charming Asheville bed and breakfasts, this North Carolina city makes for a splendid vacation any time of the year, but especially in winter. It's not a massively popular destination for holiday travelers, so you can enjoy peace and relaxation instead of the usual seasonal hustle and bustle. Browse the boutique stores, galleries, and museums without long lines and a flood of tourists. But this doesn't mean the locale is lacking in festivities and merriment: a break dancing Santa Claus busts his moves all over town, the city hosts the National Gingerbread House Competition, and many theaters hold seasonal performances.

One of the city's top holiday events is Christmas at Biltmore, a tradition that dates back to 1895, when George Washington Vanderbilt opened his home to the public for the first time on Christmas Eve with a grand party. The bash has become an annual affair that begins in November and lasts up to the big day, and it features delicious food, colorful decorations, live music, and a 35-foot fir tree.

San Antonio, Texas

 San Antonio, Texas

Though you might not expect it from an area known for desert landscapes and arid climates, San Antonio really know how to embrace the holiday spirit. The whole city is radiant with the glow of millions of Christmas lights. The River Walk is transformed into a winter wonderland, theme parks are turned into Yuletide paradises, and the houses lining the streets are all decked out. Many of the San Antonio bed and breakfast owners even decorate their inns to celebrate the jovial occasion.

The holiday festivities begin the day after Thanksgiving with a parade along the river and continue on through December with special events such as the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza—a Mexican folk music festival that takes on a Noel theme—as well as an array of Christmastime concerts and performances, including a renowned production of "The Nutcracker."


Atlanta, Ga.

 Atlanta, Ga.

It's pleasant Southern hospitality is reason enough to visit Atlanta, but the Georgia locale is also an excellent place for getting in the spirit of the season. The city organizes "12 Days of Christmas," which features jovial events in the dozen days leading up to Christmas. Christmas at Stone Mountain Park, for example, exposes you to the local Yuletide traditions, while the Rockets star in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. You can even find themed activities at the top institutions, including the Children's Museum and Zoo Atlanta.

There's also plenty more in this city to make for an enjoyable getaway. Cozy up in an Atlanta inn, stroll through the many fine art galleries, and hunt for bargains at the boutique stores. While you're in town, be sure to explore the gorgeous natural scenery—there's a reason it's called the "City in a Forest." Piedmont Park, for example, is 180 acres filled with lush woodlands as well as hiking paths and tranquil lakes and ponds. Head to Stone Mountain Park to find the biggest piece of exposed granite rock on earth and a dazzling laser show.


Alexandria, Va.

 Alexandria, Va.

If you're yearning for a Christmas getaway with a strong historical appeal, start planning your vacation by booking a room at an Alexandria inn. In fact, HGTV named the city one of the top 10 Christmas towns thanks to its famed holiday customs and events. One of the highlights is the Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend, two days featuring parades, culinary tastings, and a holiday marketplace. You can also enjoy the Holiday Boat Parade of Lights, which has dozens of watercrafts along the Potomac River lit up by festive lights and decorations.

King Street, the main road in downtown Alexandria, is where you can find a bulk of the gaiety throughout December. Take leisurely walk along the cobblestone sidewalks to see brick houses that date back centuries adorned with Christmas decor. You can find holiday deals at the many of the quaint shops lining the road, sit down for a warm cup of cocoa and marshmallows at one of the chic cafes, and even pay a visit to Santa Claus. King Street is also home to some of the area's top attractions, such as the George Washington Masonic National Memorial .