There’s not even snow on the ground, yet, though I know a lot of savvy people who have already started their Christmas shopping. But the best presents don’t always come in a box. Growing up, there were years where my parents’ holiday budget went to a trip, instead. I’ve spent Christmas snorkeling in Maui. I’ve skipped Thanksgiving dinner for hiking in the Grand Canyon and Sedona. And trust me, those memories and experiences lasted longer than whatever gift I asked for that year.
Here’s the deal: it’s not too late to book a trip for this year…but now is the time to do it. Take a look at some of our favorite holiday vacation ideas. Enjoy, get inspired, and then tell us where you want to go this year!
Yes, I know the s-n-o-w hasn’t arrived, yet. But this is Minnesota. And it’s on its way. So what does any sane Minnesotan do during the winter? Escape to somewhere warm with a beach, of course! Trade your Santa hat for a sombrero, and put down that eggnog. Wouldn’t you prefer a margarita? Whether you’re looking for an all-inclusive resort, or something smaller and more boutique-y, Cancun and the long stretches of beach south of it are the perfect cure for the winter blues.
Mele Kalikimaka! (So sorry for potentially giving you a Christmas music earworm way before anyone in their right mind should be playing Christmas music!) The state of Hawaii may not be the first place you think of for a holiday getaway, but string lights look just as good on palm trees as they do on pines! Each of the islands offers a different feel and personality. Oahu is home to the bustling city of Honolulu if lazy, beach vacations aren’t your thing. Maui’s stunning road to Hana takes you past mountain vistas and black sand beaches. The island of Hawaii is home to active volcanoes. And Kauai’s wild beaches and landscapes are perfect for an active vacation.
Need a getaway in between Thanksgiving and Christmas? Go to New York City to see the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center. The tradition takes place on November 29th this year, and along with the main event, will also feature live music performances. If you’re craving VIP treatment, buy a ticket to the exclusive Tree Lighting Gala. Witness the tree lighting, cocktail in hand, from a 3rd-story vantage point. Enjoy a dinner buffet, and celebrity entertainment. Even if you miss the actual lighting, the tree will remain lit until the first week of January.
Banff National Park in Alberta is a hiker’s paradise during the summer. But the activities don’t slow down when the snow falls. Ski, snowshoe, take a horse-drawn carriage ride, go on a guided ice walk through a canyon, and shop for gifts in the charming town of Banff. The easiest way to get there is to fly to Calgary. It’s about an hour and a half drive to the national park. To complete your snowy holiday adventure, stay at one of the historic and romantic lodges, like the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise or the Fairmont Banff Springs.
From Germany to the Czech Republic to Belgium to France to Austria, countries across Europe light up for the month of December. Visit the famous Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt and, sip warm, mulled wine while visiting local craftsmen’s shops. Make sure to grab a bag of roasted nuts, too. Or, for an entire Christmas market-themed trip, you could visit the Upper Rhine Valley. A number of holiday-themed markets are within a few hours of each other in three different countries in this region: France, Germany, and Switzerland. River cruise companies like AmaWaterways even offer Christmas market-themed itineraries.
So what are you waiting for? Celebrate the holidays with your family someplace new this year. We’ll help you put together the perfect trip.