Picking the perfect Christmas family vacation

The holidays are a special time for families, what with all the present wrapping, cookie-baking sessions, and carol sing-a-longs by the fireside. A Christmas family vacation can be just the thing to bring an extra spark of magic to the season, whether it’s a far-flung dream vacay to the Hawaiian isles to meet surfin’ Santa or huddling up together in a mountainside cabin stringing popcorn for the tree and sipping warm cider.

The best Christmas vacations for families in the US

There’s no need to take a long plane ride and pack up all the presents. Some of the best family Christmas vacation ideas are just around the corner in the US. Look to mountains in the West for sledding and snowman-building contests or to big cities along the East Coast for giant Christmas trees, window shopping at famous department stores, and ice-skating sessions under the stars. These ideas will get you started …

NYC shines on the East Coast

When you think of Christmas in the city, nothing shines brighter than the Big Apple. Come for the world-famous shows, where dancers in red kick-line to holiday tunes, or for the unbeatable shopping and Santa meet-and-greets in department stores blasting jingles. Since Christmas getaways for families in NYC are so busy and full of excitement, having a cozy loft or apartment rental (to return to each day will ensure you don’t miss out on traditional family time around the tree, either.

Winter wonderlands in Jackson Hole

If sleigh rides in the crisp evening air and snow tubing down gentle slopes with the kids sounds like the idyllic Christmas family vacation, then look no further than Wyoming’s Jackson Hole. A hub for winter sports enthusiasts, the town is a quick hop to three different ski areas. But you don’t even have to attempt the slopes to soak up the snow globe-esque surrounds. Tuck the fam into a comfy, pine-scented cabin or book out a roomy lodge if the cousins are coming, too, and you’ll have access to spacious kitchens for cooking the Christmas turkey and large living rooms with a spot for the evergreen.

Extra Christmas magic in Orlando

Leave it to the Theme Park Capital of the World to do up the holidays in the most extravagant way, making it one of the best places to visit for Christmas with family. Dazzling yuletide shows full of glitz and pep, special parades with the kids’ favorite characters, and plenty of roller coaster thrills will fill up days, while evenings can be spent cozying up for Christmas movie marathons and whipping up cookies to decorate back at the condo or house rental.

A Christmas family vacation to the beach

The extra vacay days of the holiday season are the perfect excuse to jet off to powdery cotton sands and turquoise-blue seas, not to mention the welcome escape from the winter chill that a beach escape provides. Hop just off the mainland to local islands or go all in on the ultimate oceanside getaway in the Aloha State.

Oahu is an obvious choice

Nicknamed the Gathering Place, Hawaii’s most famous island welcomes holiday travelers with festive luaus full of hip-shaking hula, traditional ukulele tunes, and a buffet big enough to make you pass on the milk and cookies. The best Christmas vacations for families here can be found in Honolulu, where towering condos sit just blocks from the vibrant sunsets and lively atmosphere of Waikiki Beach, or along the east coast with bungalow rentals tucked into friendly neighborhoods near prime snorkeling spots.

The Bahamas aren’t that far

If you’re after something a little closer to home, consider the Bahamas. The archipelago scattered off the coast of south Florida is made of hundreds of cays and islands with sand so white it could be mistaken for snow, if you can ignore the balmy temps and melting sun. Nassau is a fav for Christmas trips for families, with dreamy villas and resorts opening up to glistening pools just steps from the Atlantic waves.

Playa del Carmen is easier on the budget

It’s no secret that the holiday season can be hard on the wallet, and December is an especially popular time for beach vacays. If you’re looking for affordable Christmas family vacation packages, Mexico typically wins out, not to mention the warm Caribbean breezes, clear cerulean waters, and zesty local flavors that draw folks here. Resorts like Playa del Carmen are at their peak around Christmas, so be sure to book early for the best prices and most availability in those roomy condos with balconies overlooking the sea and breezy villas decorated with tropical flair.