Around 46 million people travel between late December and early January. The 20th and 21st were the busiest travel days last year, which means traveling on Christmas Day and Christmas Eve (surprisingly) wasn’t quite as bad. But Christmas vacation doesn’t have to mean going home and hanging out with your family. In fact, it’s a difficult time of year for a lot of folks, including people who have lost someone they love in the last year. They may not feel like celebrating in the traditional way. However you’re feeling, you don’t need a reason to ditch the traditional Christmas gathering in your hometown. Here are three other cities worth making a part of your Christmas vacation.
New York City
There’s nothing like New York City during the Christmas season, but you have to be prepared for crowds that are bigger than usual. If you thrive on a bit of chaos, you’ll feel right at home among the five million tourists who show up between Thanksgiving and January 1st.
Planning ahead is good any time you visit the biggest city in the US, but it’s especially important now. Think about what holiday attractions you really want to see, like the Radio City Rockettes or Macy’s Christmas windows. But also try to make time for things that allow you to sit and catch your breath for a bit rather than fight your way through a mass of humanity.
A show is an ideal way to relax at Christmastime. If you want belly laughs, check out something like Mean Girls or The Book of Mormon on TodayTix. If you’d rather take in a show that challenges you to think, go for To Kill a Mockingbird. And if you just want to hear some great tunes, look to a classic musical like Chicago or Wicked.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Yes, Michigan is going to be cold in the winter. There’s no getting around that. But people who feel like packing a lot of layers will get a wonderful experience when they book island vacation lodging in Mackinac Island. More than 8 million people live in New York, but Mackinac Island only has about 500 residents who live there full-time.
Yet that doesn’t stop the island from going all out to celebrate Christmas. You have to get there by ferry, and once you arrive, you won’t find people driving around in cars. But you will find lots of decorations and holiday cheer. There’s an island Christmas tree lighting every year with Christmas carols and many stores are open in the winter, as well. There aren’t many places left in the United States like Mackinac Island. When you visit, it’s like stepping into the past in all the best ways. There’s a sense of community that’s especially strong during the holidays.
Finally, there’s Mackinac Island Fudge. You can’t leave the island without having some, and it tastes just as good in December as it does in June.
The Oregon Coast
No, you shouldn’t go swimming in the ocean during your Oregon Coast Christmas vacation. But really, the water is cold enough that many people can’t even swim there in the summer, so you’re not missing out on a lot. What you’ll get instead is Pacific Northwest beauty that’s even more breathtaking at Christmastime.
In Cannon Beach, you’ll find a holiday display competition that gets both brighter and fierce every year. Seaside offers some of the best candy shops in the state, and Astoria has seasonal brews that will leave you feeling festive.
The best part might be how close the coast is to Portland. You don’t have to fly into a small airport to get here. Instead, you can fly into Portland International Airport, then drive about 90 minutes to the west to your own slice of coastal paradise during the holidays.