PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Christmas is celebrated all over the world, with many major cities offering huge celebrations for residents and those visiting for the holidays. In fact, some cities may even go a little overboard when it comes to planning holiday celebrations. But that is what makes these cities so magical and must-visit destinations when looking for somewhere to celebrate Christmas.
There is no need to travel halfway around the globe to experience an exciting holiday celebration. There are many cities right here in the USA that have amazing Christmas celebrations and are must-visit destinations during the holiday season.
Aspen is the perfect place to visit during the holidays, especially for those who are looking for a white Christmas. The area offers breathtaking views of snow-covered mountains and local towns that are all decorated for the Christmas season. The Aspen Chamber of Commerce hosts the 12 Days of Aspen every year, where more than 500,000 visitors come to see the downtown area as it is transformed into a winter wonderland. Festivities include ice skating, shopping, caroling and holiday treats.
Charleston, South Carolina
There is no better way to experience Christmas than with a little touch of southern hospitality. Travelers visiting Charleston will experience Christmas like it has never been experienced before, with a hint of bourbon, shrimp and grits. Events planned in the Charleston area over the Christmas holiday include the Festival of Lights, Charleston’s Holiday Market, the Holiday Market at Middleton, cookie decorating at The Sanctuary and the annual Christmas festival and parade.
A visit to the windy city this holiday season will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime. Chicago offers visitors multiple opportunities to capture the holiday spirit, including festivals, shopping, a breathtaking light display around Magnificent Mile, Christkindlmarket (a large outdoor German crafts market) and Navy Pier’s Winter WonderFest. Plus, the Lincoln Park Zoo gets all of the animals in the holiday spirit with ZooLights, featuring a 3D enhancement to this Christmas tradition. Do not forget to stop by Daley Plaza and see the giant Christmas tree that is perfect for family photos.
Related: Best Holiday Celebrations in Chicago
Key West, Florida
Of course there is no snow, but you just cannot resist seeing a palm tree all lit up with Christmas lights. Not only are the temperatures perfect this time of year in Key West, but there are so many wonderful things to do that it is almost guaranteed you will not miss the snow. Things to do in Key West during Christmas include a lighted boat parade, Christmas light trolley tour and Sail with Santa.
New York, New York
You cannot help but get in the holiday spirit when you stroll the streets of New York City during the Christmas season. Everything from the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular is the perfect enhancement to anyone’s holiday vacation, plus all of the fine dining, shows and shopping you can do while visiting the Big Apple. If you have not experienced Christmas in New York, you need to add it to your wish list this year.
Santa Claus, Indiana
If you cannot have fun during the Christmas holiday in a place called Santa Claus, you must have been bitten by the Scrooge bug. With a name like Santa Claus, this town knows how jolly ole St. Nick wants everyone to celebrate Christmas. Several family fun activities are planned during the Santa Claus Christmas Celebration, which is held annually during the first three weekends in December. Festivities include shopping from a gigantic Santa Claus Christmas Store, strolling through the Santa Claus Land of Lights, enjoying Christmas Dinner with Santa and so much more.
Northerners looking to escape cold weather this Christmas can find plenty of holiday events, festivities and activities in the Orlando area. The theme parks step up their game with extended celebrations starting in late November and continuing through the end of the year. Guests can celebrate Christmas around the world at Epcot, have fun at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, experience Grinchmas at Universal Studios and celebrate Christmas under the sea at SeaWorld. Those are just the highlights of the many holiday festivities at the Central Florida theme parks.
100 Miles of Lights, Virginia
Covering seven different towns in Virginia, the 100 Miles of Lights spans from Virginia Beach to Richmond. The entire region, including the cities of Richmond, Williamsburg, Newport News, Hampton, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach, has festivities, light displays and lots of holiday fun. You can also drive through, or walk through, the amazing light displays in the different communities. There are even living history re-enactments, parades, lighted boat parades and dancing in the streets.
There are many places right here in the USA that know how to celebrate Christmas. Instead of staying home this year, make plans to experience Christmas in another city, or state. The above listed cities will show you an exciting time, get you in the holiday spirit and help you create memories with your family that will last a lifetime.
Heather Landon is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions – writing and travel – to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at Examiner.com.