As the year draws to a close, it's time to think about your next vacation. What exactly that means depends on what exactly you want from the holiday season. Do you need to relax after a stressful year, or do you want to be fully immersed in the festive spirit? We have choices you’ll love, regardless of where you fall on that spectrum.

    Check out our list of great getaways over the end-of-year break, with highlights including super-relaxed beach resorts, fun and quirky city breaks, and a few family-friendly spots the kids will really love. Check out our pick and see which suits you best.


    San Diego, CA

    Parades of parades

    San Diego is a fun and quirky place at the best of times, but it seems that the holidays crank the quirk up to 11. Get ready for the Gaslamp Pet Parade, La Jolla Christmas Parade, and the waterborne Parade of Lights. You certainly won’t want for parades! Fortunately, the crisp but dry weather means you can enjoy many of them in relative comfort.

    Still feeling the chill? Well, this is San Diego's low season for tourism, so it's a great time to enjoy some of the more popular sights in the city without crowds. Consider spending some time checking out the USS Midway Museum, San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego Air & Space Museum, and plenty of other indoor attractions.


    Orlando, FL

    A real family treat in the theme park capital of the world

    Orlando is the destination of choice for many families at this time of year. With schools out and parents pocketing their annual bonus at the same time, the holiday season provides an unrivaled opportunity to enjoy a memorable family trip to the theme park capital of the world.

    Naturally, Universal Studios and Walt Disney World dominate the bucket lists of most visitors to Orlando, though they are not the only attractions. For creative kids, Legoland is worth a visit. If that gets young minds into a more mechanical mindset, a short drive to the Kennedy Space Center in nearby Cape Canaveral might be worth the sacrifice of a day of rollercoasters and live-action shows.


    New York City, NY

    A great place to finish your gift shopping

    New York City is synonymous with the holiday season – dozens of hit songs and movies have been set in a snowy Big Apple. The shops, twinkling lights, and the boys of the NYPD choir singing Galway Bay all add to the festive scene.

    While the weather outside is frightful, you'll be spoiled for a place to take shelter from it. Take in a show on Broadway, finish your gift shopping in the many major department stores and, if you have any time to spare, maybe see some of the more iconic indoor attractions, including the American History of Natural History, the Museum of Modern Art, and many others.


    Las Vegas, NV

    Get the festive atmosphere without the winter weather

    Las Vegas is the solution for those who want the holiday spirit without the holiday weather. This famous city in the middle of the Nevada Desert almost always has a festive atmosphere and a very slight dip in temperatures certainly doesn’t dampen the mood.

    The famous Strip is the center of the action in Las Vegas. Of course, there are the casinos and the many games they provide. Even if you don’t want to gamble away your annual bonus, these places offer an incredible range of entertainment, from first-class restaurants and iconic shows to exhibitions and raucous parties.


    Miami, FL

    I’m dreaming of a white…sandy beach

    Miami is a great destination who want to use the holidays as an opportunity to really enjoy themselves. Florida’s favorite beach destination is famous for its celebrity parties, iconic clubs and, of course, the wonderful Miami Beach itself. Relax all day and party all night!

    Want to add a bit more variety to your holiday plans? With slightly cooler temperatures, this is a great time to visit the nearby Everglades and see this remarkable natural habitat without sweltering in Florida’s usual humidity. December also marks the start of the whale-watching season in Miami.


    Cancun, Mexico

    It’s time to relax

    Cancun offers white beaches, chilled vibes, and some unique attractions, making it a great place for a holiday season getaway. Located at the northern end of Mexico’s famous Riviera Maya, you can relax on pristine sand washed by calm blue seas, leaving the stresses of the year behind you.

    Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula has plenty of interesting things to see between relaxation sessions. Check out the famous Mayan ruins in Tulum, Chichén Itzá, and the El Rey Archeological Zone right in Cancun itself. Or, if you’d rather keep the chilled-out vibes going, hit the city’s famous Party Zone.


    Honolulu, HI

    ‘Tis the season…for surfing

    Honolulu really lights up for the holiday season, with much of the city decked out with twinkling lights and festive decorations. However, it’s naturally best known as a beach destination. If your idea of a year-end vacation consists of white sands and wavetops, this is the destination for you.

    This time of year is actually one of the best for surfing in Honolulu, so expect the beaches to be busy. Pearl Harbor will also be pretty lively in early December with commemorative events. However, there’s no shortage of things to see and do around Oahu, from hiking and exploring the stunning landscapes to enjoying the island’s unique cuisine and culture.


    Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

    Relax on a beach – you earned it

    Punta Cana is not exactly famous for its festive spirit, but it is known for providing complete relaxation – just what many of us need after a long and hectic year. If you’re not relaxing in one of the many luxurious beachfront hotels, you could be taking a dip in crystal-clear seas, playing 18 holes on a championship-standard golf course, or enjoying the nearby water parks, nightclubs, and casinos.

    If you do feel the need for some festive spirit, consider a trip to the Dominican capital, Santo Domingo. The decorations and celebrations there are as exuberant as they come. It makes a nice change from lying on the beach to exploring the historical city.


    Los Angeles, CA

    It’s called “Tinsel Town” for a reason

    Los Angeles, as the home of Hollywood, is a fun place to visit at any time of year, though arguably more so during the holidays. While the weather is still pleasant enough (don’t expect any snow!), there are extravagant decorations dotted around the city. Check out the Grove, Hollywood Boulevard, and the LA Arboretum, just for a start.

    If you really want a mammoth dose of the holiday spirit, the theme parks and movie studios are where you want to go. Check out Grinchmas at Universal's Islands of Adventure and Disneyland's many special attractions and festivities (in nearby Anaheim).


    Nashville, TN

    Dance your way through the vacations

    Nashville is somewhat underrated as a holiday-season destination. The home of country music, it has an undeniable fun-loving vibe that just gets more apparent as December rolls around. The halls are very much decked, with festive shows gracing the stage of the Ryman Auditorium.

    While the temperatures in Nashville in December are significantly lower, they are still above freezing. However, there are plenty of things to do indoors if you want a break from music. Check out the Frist Art Museum and the Tennessee State Museum for a start.

    Ben Reeves | Compulsive Traveler

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