24 Best Places to Travel After Christmas

Best Places to Travel After Christmas

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Best Places to Travel After Christmas
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Post-Christmas Getaways

The week between Christmas and New Year's is an ideal time to steal away. You've celebrated Christmas, the holiday season is winding down, and many businesses and schools remain closed, making it easier to plot an escape, and it's a time of festivals and other special events that roll out the welcome mat for visitors. Whether you're in search of sun and sand or traditional holiday-themed winter fun, keep these destinations in mind for a final getaway for the year. 

Rocky Coastline with Promenade in Acapulco, Mexico, Several Houses Along the Cliffs, During Early Evening with Lights

1. Acapulco

Among the best places to visit after Christmas, Acapulco is an affordable beach paradise known for its turquoise water and unforgettable, world-class cuisine. Top attractions include XTASEA, a zip line over the Bay of Puerto Marques that reaches 75 miles an hour, and La Roqueta Island off Acapulco's coast for snorkeling and diving. Looking for something family-friendly? The Rollo Aquatic park has wave pools, waterslides, and lazy rivers for kids of all ages.

Sakura at Sunrise Khun Chang Khian, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Cherry Blossoms Frame the Image with Sunrise in the Distance

2. Thailand

A top budget-friendly winter destination choice of Travelzoo's Gabe Saglie. Visitors flock to beautiful beaches and enjoy diverse food offerings. Flowers bloom right through our winter, particularly in northern Thailand. The mountain and hill region of Khun Chang Khien, Doi Inthanon, and Doi Angkhang in Chiang Mai come alive with the vibrant pink of Wild Himalayan cherry blossoms.

Christmas Season in the French Quarter at Night, New Orleans, Lots of People Along the Street and Buildings with Holiday Decorations

3. New Orleans

If there's one thing New Orleans does well, it's celebrations. Holiday festivities continue after Dec. 25, including Celebration in the Oaks in City Park, which includes hundreds of thousands of colorful and illuminated Christmas decorations. Temps can dip down into the 40s at night, so pack warm clothes and, if you get chilly, grab a cup of hot cocoa at The Creole Creamery or a cup of white hot chocolate at Envie Espresso Bar & Cafe. 

Houses and snow mountains panorama in bulgarian ski resort Bansko

4. Bansko, Bulgaria

This European Union country might not the first to come to mind when considering a place to travel in December, but you shouldn't count it out. According to one blogger, this ski town offers the best of both worlds: "a mix of a UNESCO World Heritage-listed historic old town and buzzing nightlife near the gondola." It's also located in Pirin National Park, which offers more than 150 square miles of outdoor adventure and scenery. The BBC just named it an "unlikely new digital nomad hub," do don't surprised if you're tempted to stay. 

Trees and Castle Ruins Covered By Frost Along the Bank of the Corrib River, Ireland During Winter

5. Ireland

It might not immediately come to mind as one of the best after-Christmas vacation spots in December, but keep Ireland in mind for a post-holiday escape, Saglie says. Prices tumble throughout Europe in November and flights from the U.S. to Ireland are numerous, which helps keep prices down. Ireland offers a range of accommodation options, from luxe five-star castles to more than 1,000 bed and breakfasts, some well under $100 a night.

Aerial view of Idyllic beach near the Senegambia hotel strip in the Gambia, West Africa.

6. The Gambia, West Africa

If you're looking for something a little more off the beaten path for a late December/early January vacation, consider this African country south of Dakar and Senegal. It's known for it's hospitable culture, outdoor adventure, and mostly English-speaking population. This is also its dry season, so expect abundant sunshine and temps in the 80s. Must-visit attractions here include the River Gambia National Park, Kotu Beach, and The Reptile Farm. Several local tour companies offer well-rated day excursions. 

Dramatic Aqua and Blue Aurora Borealis Over Southern Iceland, Person with Arms Stretched Out Standing, Watching It

7. Iceland

Another of the best places to travel between Christmas and New Year's, the Land of Fire and Ice is pure magic in late December and early January. Visitors here can spend days on snowmobile tours and adventurous glacier trekking expeditions, or dash across picturesque landscapes on husky rides, says Cammie Burke, Europe expert for travel company Scott Dunn. Once the sun sets, cozy up with a bowl of lobster bisque by a hotel fire and watch the Northern Lights dance across the sky. Iceland's capital city, Reykjavik, is a great place for foodies, and — with its Wake Up Reykajvík New Year's Eve party — not a bad place to ring in the new year.

Christmas Tree on Biscayne Boulevard in Downtown Miami, Surrounded By Palm Trees and Tall Buildings

8. Miami

Miami's December beach weather is hard to beat (hovering between the 70s and low 80s) and nonstop flights with low prices make it one of the best last-minute, end-of-year vacations. Iconic South Beach is home to some of the city's best restaurants, nightlife, live music, and shopping. Don't miss the city's graffiti art zone, the Wynwood Walls.

The Hidden Beach Marietas Islands Puerto Vallarta

9. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Those looking to escape winter can grab some sun and sand at this Pacific coast resort city. Stay in town and experience the charm of cobblestone streets, historic churches, and seaside sculptures. Or head out on day trips to locales like Sayulita, where you can take a surfing lesson or drink a pina colada on the beach. Or venture to tiny and remote Yelapa, which is accessible only by boat. 

People Ice Skating on an Ice Rink During Late Evening in Chicago, with a Row of Buildings Behind, During Christmas Season

10. Chicago

Yes, it is cold in Chicago in late December. Ignore it to glide through one of the city's many ice skating rinks, including those in Maggie Daley Park and McCormick Tribune Plaza. Eat your way through Restaurant Row on Randolph Street. There's also a rich art scene, with galleries and theaters offering refuge from the cold — and don't miss live music at the iconic Buddy Guy's Legends blues club.

Beach of Bimini, Bahamas with a Lone Boat on the Ocean, Seen Through Trees with a Rows of Flags Swaying in the Wind
Scott Musial/istockphoto

11. Bimini, Bahamas

Just 50 nautical miles from South Florida — a mere 25-minute plane ride or two-hour ferry from Miami — Bimini is known for stunning beaches, friendly locals, and charming resorts. Ernest Hemingway was fond of deep-sea fishing here; Martin Luther King Jr. was a regular visitor. Learn Bimini's unique story at cultural and historical sites such as Heroes Park, or take guided eco-tours through lush mangroves to observe wildlife.

Two friends exploring Barcelona together

12. Barcelona, Spain

If Europe is calling your name but you want a destination that's a little warmer, consider this Italian seaside city, where temperatures hover around 50-60. If you arrive a few days before Dec. 25, you can still find the Christmas spirit alive in the city's many Christmas markets. Be sure to stop in at the Devil's Kitchen, a German bar and grill that serves homemade mulled wine. 

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, Oaxaca, Mexico at Night with People Walking Around on the Streets, Lively Atmosphere, Fish-Eye Lens

13. Oaxaca City, Mexico

Designated a World Heritage Site, Oaxaca offers a glimpse of various chapters of Mexican history — pre-Hispanic, colonial, independent, modern, and contemporary phases — in its architecture, museums, festivals, and colorful crafts, as well as its pre-Columbian ruins.

Flamenco Beach, Culebra, Puerto Rico, a Colorful Umbrella Under a Palm Tree on the Beach Next to the Ocean

14. Puerto Rico

Whether you’re a nature lover or a foodie or someone just looking for a break from the cold, this U.S. territory will not let you down. With winter temperatures in the 80s, adventuresome travelers can swim at night with bioluminescent plankton in certain coastal bays and see the tiny creatures light up when stimulated by movement. Or they can explore the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System: El Yunque in Puerto Rico. Foodies will have plenty to explore as well with the island’s craft beer and gastropub scenes.

Related: 30 Things You Didn't Know About Puerto Rico

Victorian Building with Store Front, Center of Doylestown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Fisheye Lens View During the Christmas Season

15. Bucks County, Pennsylvania

Bucks County, about 30 minutes from Philadelphia, gives a more traditional holiday backdrop. The New Hope Railroad allows passengers to relive the golden age of rail travel. At Peddler's Village, visitors can explore a winter wonderland that includes a whimsical gingerbread display through early January, as well as 65 shops and boutiques, a 1920s carousel, and an arcade.

Big Inflatable Santa Claus with Bear Riding on a Motorcycle in Downtown, Alexandria, Virginia, During the Christmas Season, Sunlight Shining on It

16. Alexandria, Virginia

If you haven't quite tired of the holiday spirit, Alexandria charms with brick-lined streets and twinkling holiday lights — King Street is like a real-life Dickens village. Just minutes from Washington, D.C., by subway, Alexandria is also a foodie's heaven. If you're still there for New Year's Eve, don't miss First Night Alexandria, a festival that includes music, fireworks, and more. 

Historical Building in Downtown Hamilton, Ohio, During Winter, with Cars Parked in Front
Historical Building in Downtown Hamilton, Ohio, During Winter, with Cars Parked in Front by 5chw4r7z (CC BY-SA)

17. Hamilton, Ohio

A small community along the Great Miami River that's oozing historical charm, Hamilton dates back to 1791. Revitalized, with its downtown transformed into a hot spot for arts, dining, and recreation, the city includes a nine-block German Village Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Ski Lift Hanging in Squaw Valley Resort, North Lake Tahoe, California, High in the Snow-Covered Mountains with Lake Tahoe in the Background
Squaw Valley Resort/Yelp

18. North Lake Tahoe, California

Home to the continent's largest alpine lake and among the nation's largest concentration of ski resorts. Take sleigh and carriage rides through the snow on Sand Harbor beach, go dog sledding at the Resort at Squaw Creek, and don't miss the Palisades Tahoe Aerial Tram ride, which climbs more than 2,000 feet for 360-degree views of Lake Tahoe and the High Sierra.

Rustic Wooden Fence Curling From the Foreground Towards the Distance in Wind River Country, Wyoming During Winter
Chris LaBasco/istockphoto

19. Wind River Country, Wyoming

Escape the crowds and steep price tags of Jackson, and go beyond popular tourist stops such as Yellowstone. This authentic west destination offers include fat biking, skiing, and dog sledding, as well as wildlife observation.

Large Lit Christmas Tree Fountain Square, Downtown Indianapolis, Lights Lit at Night

20. Indianapolis

One of Travel + Leisure's recent "America's Favorite Cities for Affordable Getaways," and host to a number of holiday events through December, among them Winterlights at Newfields on the Indianapolis Museum of Art campus, which includes 1.5 million twinkling lights and s'mores, and Christmas at the Zoo, a season of extended hours for even more light displays.

Sunrise Over a Lone Lifeguard Stand, Navarre Beach, Florida, Dramatic Clouds
Albert Tibbs/istockphoto

21. Navarre Beach, Florida

Often referred to as "Florida's Most Relaxing Place." Spend days looking for souvenir seashells on a quiet corner of white sand Gulf beach, take a short drive inland to explore sprawling Blackwater River State Forest, or stop by historic Milton, listed on the National Register of Historic places, for antiquing.

Christmas Tree on the Rocky Shores Next to the Ocean Near Monterey, California, During Sunset
Bill Oxford/istockphoto

22. Monterey, California

A quintessential beach California town with some of the state's most iconic locations, including Bixby Creek Bridge, come winter Monterey hosts Ice Skating by the Bay but is also a place to witness migrating Monarch butterflies.

Looking Down a Slope at Snowbasin Ski Resort, Ogden, Utah, Surrounded By Snow-Covered Mountains, Bright Snow
Aubrey Banning/istockphoto

23. Ogden, Utah

Just 35 minutes from Salt Lake International Airport and home to three ski resorts: Snowbasin Resort, Power Mountain, and Nordic Valley. Non-skiers can visit the dark skies of wild and rustic North Fork Park (though getting around there is also by cross country ski and snowshoes, available for rent).

Related: The Most Underrated Town in Every State

Aerial of Beach in Pensacola, Florida, Two Orange Beach Chairs Next to an Umbrella on the Beach with Emphasis on the Tropical Ocean

24. Pensacola, Florida

Abundant powdery, white sand beaches, and more than 400,000 twinkling holiday lights to boot. Each year on the Friday after Thanksgiving, downtown Pensacola is illuminated as part of the First Lights Ceremony, kicking off a season of music, shopping, food, art, and nightlife under a glowing canopy illuminating historic buildings. Take in the scene along Palafox Street by foot, by horse and carriage, or by trolley.