Christmas Vacation Ideas in the US

Even if you can't get to Europe to visit a traditional Christmas market, there are lots of Christmas vacation ideas that let you "get your Santa on" right here in the US.

You'll find European-style markets in the US, plus a variety of holiday celebrations unique to America (like the Rockettes!).

New York city has lots to offer during the holidays, but so do other cities around the country. From a performance of The Nutcracker or A Christmas Carol to a tour of holiday lights and decorations, it's a great way to ring in the season.

christmas tree snowglob

And what better excuse for a girlfriend getaway than holiday shopping! Whether it's NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, or another city, you can get in the spirit of the holidays with shopping, seasonal foods, and enjoying the traditions we share.

Christmas in NYC

There's no place in the US like New York City to celebrate Christmas! It is the place for shopping, sightseeing, lights, music, and everything associated with the holiday.

You must start with the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree-Lighting Party . The lighting of the tree at "the Rock" kicks off the season in style, and tickets are very hard to get. It's the experience of a lifetime and one definitely not to be missed.

If that's a bit too crowded or out of your reach, you can also enjoy the New York City Holiday Lights Tour. The tour will take you throughout the city to enjoy lights, store displays (Saks Fifth Avenue, of course!) and the Rock Center tree itself.

Then catch the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall - nothing says "Christmas in NYC" better than the Rockettes! You can catch a performance of The Nutcracker almost anywhere, but only New York has the Rockettes at Christmas.

Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular

Ah, but what about shopping?

I knew you'd ask!

OK, you know you're gonna hit Saks and FAO Schwartz - I don't need to tell you about those.

But if you want to experience a bit of Europe without the plane fare, head to the Holiday Shops at Bryant Park. The booths of gifts, crafts, and holiday foods are the closest thing to a traditional European Christmas market. You'll find similar holiday markets at Columbus Circle in Central Park and Union Square Park, too.

Christmas in Chicago

Chicago is home to it's own Christmas market, possibly the largest in the US. The Christkindlmarket, at Daley Plaza, has rows upon rows of booths with hand-crafted decorations, hot cider, Bavarian clocks, hand-made lace, and much more. Plus, the bell choir and music performances will get you in the holiday mood fast!

While almost any city will have performances of A Christmas Carol, I have a soft spot for the Goodman Theater's version (because I worked there many years ago, when the show was first produced). Or see The Nutcracker, another delightful holiday tradition.

I was in Chicago during the Christmas season a couple of years ago, and stayed at The Palmer House Hilton off State Street. While State Street isn't the shopping mecca it used to be, it is still where you'll find the great store windows.

And the hotel itself is charming at Christmas, with a wonderful decorated lobby. It's also affordable, and withing walking distance of the Christmas market and the theater district! It's a great place to spend Christmas in Chicago.

Christmas in San Francisco

Christmas in San Francisco is nothing like NYC or Chicago - for one thing, there's no snow!

But you'll still enjoy the spirit of the holiday with lights, music, and shopping.

Start with the Great Dickens Christmas Fair and Victorian Holiday Party! The world of Charles Dickens is re-created in the Cow Palace for several weekends, with streets lined with shops, food booths, taverns, and lots of Christmas cheer.

San Francisco and Treasure Island Holiday Lights Trolley Tour

Then hop a trolley and enjoy the lights of the city! The holiday trolley tour travels throughout the city and across the bay to Treasure Island. There's nothing linke holiday lights to get you in the spirit!

And for something a little different...

Ok, this isn't in the US, but I couldn't resist - This holiday lights tour in Vancouver includes karaoke Christmas carols!

I think that sounds like the most fun ever!!!!

Vancouver Holiday Lights and Karaoke Trolley Tour

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