Where to find the best places to go for Christmas vacation

Whether you’re dreaming of a winter wonderland replete with frosty window panes, snow angel sessions, and jingling sleigh rides cuddled up with a cup of cocoa, or prefer to escape frigid December temps by splaying out beachside washed by salty sea breezes, the best places to go for Christmas vacation await. You’ll find them close to home in big cities with towering trees adorned in red and green and far across the Atlantic where you can browse for souvenirs and stocking stuffers simultaneously at traditional holiday markets that mingle handcrafted goods with mulled cider in storied town squares.

Colorado ski vacations

If swishing down the slopes on snowboards and skating frozen lakes surrounded by fragrant pines sounds like the ultimate in yuletide cheer, a trip to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado may be just the ticket. The best places to spend Christmas in the Centennial State can be found tucked away in ski villages like Aspen and Breckenridge, where forests shelter cozy wooden cabins perfect for loved-up duos with hot tubs and crackling fireplaces to pep up the romance, and expansive chalets welcome families of all sizes to spread out in spacious homes replete with bunk rooms for the kids and big kitchens for cooking up Christmas roasts and flaky pies.

You can’t beat Hawaii’s beaches

Sometimes you just need a break from the freeze, and you can’t get much further from puffy coats and furry boots than the Hawaiian Islands. Oahu is an obvious choice. Known as the Gathering Place, it’s home to the state capital of Honolulu and famous beaches like Waikiki, where once-in-a-lifetime sunsets paint brilliant shades of red, orange, and pink across the sky above the Pacific. Apartment rentals and condos surround the blocks near the beach, making for a quick walk to all sorts of dining and shopping, and often feature their own rooftop pools and balcony views of the cerulean sea below. For something a bit less buzzing, you can head east toward Kailua for prime snorkeling and quiet neighborhoods, or to the North Shore for small town Haleiwa’s food trucks and thrashing waves.

New York City dazzles

Topping many a list of fun places to go at Christmas, the Big Apple packs in tons of yuletide happenings on top of its already full slate of activities. You’ll have to check out Lady Liberty, the Empire State Building, and Chinatown, of course, but save plenty of time for special seasonal goodies, too. The annual tree lighting at Rockefeller Center, perhaps? A certain kick line spectacle at Radio City Hall, maybe? How about some gift shopping along NYC’s happening Fifth Avenue followed by slicing the ice at Central Park’s outdoor skating rink? A stay in a Manhattan apartment rental will put you in the center of it all and make a cozy place to come home to for hot cocoa in the evening.

Classic European holidays in Nuremberg

Christmas in Europe brings forth visions of old-timey town squares decked out in twinkly lights and adorned with towering evergreens, where makers and crafters commune to show off their hand-painted nutcrackers and dish out steaming mugs of mulled wine. The city of Nuremberg in Germany’s Bavaria region does not disappoint, putting forth its yuletide best with a large Christmas market, or Christkindlesmarkt in the native tongue, that not only makes for some fab holiday shopping but also has carnival-like rides with distinct old-timey vibes. Nuremberg vacation rentals nestle between historic museums and half-timbered buildings, housed in snug apartments with modern renovations and paned windows looking down on the stone streets.

Lapland for North Pole vibes

You can’t get much closer to the real-life North Pole than Lapland, Finland’s northernmost region where reindeer run wild and sleighs are a useful means of transportation for much of the year. This might just be one of the best places to visit for Christmas if you’re looking to bump into Santa, but it’s not all kiddie amusements, either. Cross-country skiing calls to adventurers and winter sports enthusiasts and the dancing light show of the Aurora Borealis throughout the season is a huge check off the bucket list. Cozy log cabin rentals tucked away from city lights are perhaps one of the best places to spot the green and purple streaks through the sky, not to mention their peaceful setting amid forests and just off snowshoeing trails.

Malta – Europe’s seaside escape

If a little rest and relaxation is the Christmas gift you’re dying to give yourself, a vacation rental in Malta may be just what Santa ordered. The little island nation sits between Italy’s toe in the Mediterranean Sea, where cerulean waters wash onto storied shores that still hold remnants of ancient temples and fortresses from ages past. You can blend some cultural sightseeing with sunning near your beachside villa rental any day of the year here, but the holidays add in a little something extra with light displays downtown and live carolers at gilded churches.