Top Five US Christmas Destinations

Though most people like to stay home for the holidays, Christmas is a great time to explore new destinations and experience regional holiday customs. The United States is home to a multitude of gorgeous places that embrace the Yuletide spirit, from warm-weather paradises to snowy dreamlands and everything in between. Spend Christmas Day at one of these festive locales:

1. New Orleans, La.

new orleans christmas

You've got to experience the unique spin that New Orleans puts on the holiday. French Creole roots mean the festivities start as early as November. The City Park is transformed into Celebration in the Oaks, an amusement park in the style of a Christmas wonderland. Fulton Street is adorned with decorated fir trees and Christmas lights, and pedestrians are sprinkled with fake snow every 15 minutes.

Perhaps the biggest Yuletide celebration in the Big Easy is Christmas New Orleans Style, a one-month festival that amps up the holiday cheer all across the city. Every street corner is embellished with lights and decorations, carolers serenade passers-by and the grandiose antebellum mansions are radiant with the glow of Christmas lights and shiny ornaments. Many of the area restaurants create specialized menus just for the festival, while New Orleans inns and other establishments offer special "Papa Noel" rates.

2. Paradise, Penn.

Paradise Pennsylvania

Along with offering a delightful New England charm and some exquisite Paradise bed and breakfasts, this community is a particularly fitting place for spending the merry holiday. Located in the heart of Lancaster County, it's home to the National Christmas Center , the only Yule-themed museum on earth. This institution opened in 1998 with only three exhibits, but it has since grown to house hundreds of thousands of items, some of which date back more than two centuries.

You and your guest can explore more than a dozen different themed realms, such as one that depicts the classic holiday movie, "The Christmas Story," and another that recreates Santa's workshop. While you're here, don't miss the Woolworth exhibit, which makes you feel like you're shopping in an early 20th century department store. Another highlight of Paradise is that it's surrounded by several Lancaster County cities and towns that also like to go all out for Christmas.

3. Leavenworth, Wash.

Leavenworth, washington

Though it's situated in the Pacific Northwest, Leavenworth has a distinctly Bavarian appeal. It mimics the Alps skyline with snow-covered Cascade Mountains, and some of the Leavenworth inns take on the traditional timber-framed style popular among German homes. The mornings even begin with the sounding of an Alpine horn. So it's no wonder that the residents give their Christmas celebrations an Old World twist. Each December weekend prior to Christmas Day, the small community holds a holiday lights festival that attracts locals and visitors from all around the world, and every Saturday and Sunday, the everyone gathers at the Leavenworth gazebo for caroling and the lighting of the town tree.

4. Branson, Mo.

branson

While this locale was once a failing lumber town, it's now one of Missouri's most popular destinations. Travelers staying in a Branson bed and breakfast can wake each morning to find the town aglow with Christmas decorations. That's because it hosts the Festival of Lights, which runs through November and December and attracts more than 1.5 million onlookers each year. The whole thing comes to an extravagant conclusion with the Annual Adoration Parade, a massive spectacle with more than four dozen bands and holiday floats in the historic downtown area. The parade also has a cattle drive, featuring cowpoke from the city's famed Great American Wild West Show

5. Las Vegas, Nev.

Bellagio hotel

While Sin City is known as the ultimate party town, it's also renowned for its Christmastime celebrations. Each year around this time, some 3 million travelers visit Las Vegas to take part in the one-of-a-kind festivities, among the most popular of which is the magnificent winter wonderland that takes over Sam's Town Hotel and Gambling Hall. It features more than a half million Christmas lights, falling snow and an intriguing laser show.

Guests staying in Las Vegas inns can also take advantage plenty of other seasonal activities. Many flock to the Bellagio, where you can find a Christmas tree that reaches up nearly 50 feet and the fountains are programmed to put on a unique display choreographed to match up with carols. The city even installs its own floating ice rink—the only one in the world—atop the Nevada desert, and each year it hosts a holiday road race that lets spectators watch the many Santa impersonators compete in an exhilarating match.