The holidays are practically here and, for many, the busyness has already begun. Between buying gifts and decorating the house, there’s little time to relax and truly enjoy the season. This year, why not escape all the hustle and bustle and jet off on a last-minute vacation? There are plenty of places worth visiting right here in the U.S. Plus, you’re bound to find great deals and discounts to help save money and have more fun.
So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to one of the following destinations and enjoy some much-needed downtime before the new year arrives.
1. New York, New York
After Thanksgiving, New York City comes alive for the holidays. Entire neighborhoods glimmer with lights and the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree makes its debut at the end of November, so there’s still plenty of time to plan your trip. Go ice skating for free in Bryant Park, window shop on Fifth Avenue or marvel in the magic or Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights, one of the most festive homes in NYC. The indoor Brooklyn Flea Market, Restaurant Week and Winter Jazzfest also offer opportunities to kindle your holiday spirit.
2. Washington, D.C.
Winter is the perfect time to visit Washington, D.C. because there are fewer crowds and most of the Smithsonian museums are indoors so you’ll stay nice and toasty during your trip. You’ll also score cheaper rates on hotel rooms and have the chance to enjoy holiday activities throughout the city. Take a walking tour to see the national Christmas tree or check out the White House’s December decorations. There’s no shortage of things to do in the nation’s capital, so you’re bound to have an action-packed trip.
3. Pasadena, California
If you’re looking for someplace warm to spend the holidays, look no further than sunny Pasadena. This bustling city is just a few miles northeast of Los Angeles and is home to Deco Week, which occurs at the end of December. With the Tournament of Roses Parade as the grand finale, you’re sure to have a wonderful week full of colorful celebrations and festive events. The Kidspace Children’s Museum, Eaton Canyon and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory offer plenty of fun for the kiddos, too.
4. Phoenix, Arizona
December is one of the best months to travel to Phoenix because temperatures are cool. Visit any other time and you’ll sweat through your clothes and burn to a crisp in the sun. Enjoy the 60°F to 70°F weather by going camping, hiking, rike climbing or biking. While in town, visit the Desert Botanical Garden and the ice rink at CityScape. You might as well check out Glendale Glitters, too, a fun festival-type event that features thousands of lights, music, food and holiday cheer.
5. Miami, Florida
Willing to trade a white Christmas for a sandy one? Head on down to Miami, Florida. This seaside city has a festive scene in the winter, with holiday performances like ”The Nutcracker” and light shows at the zoo. There are also miles of beach to explore and lounge around on, so spend a day or two enjoying the wind and waves. Remember to pack sunscreen, snacks and other typical beach essentials to keep everyone satiated and safe.
6. Charleston, South Carolina
If you’re a sucker for Southern charm, make a last-minute trip to Charleston, South Carolina. This city is refreshingly cool without being too cold and is traditionally decked out in lights and other holiday decorations when winter rolls around. Charleston even hosts a Holiday Festival of Lights from November to January. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride down cobblestone streets to enjoy the scenery or wander around the Historic District to take in the picturesque homes and centuries-old churches.
7. Maui, Hawaii
Most people plan their Hawaii vacation well in advance. However, you can score some amazing deals on flights and excursions if you book last-minute. You may also be able to book one of the many Kaanapali alii condos. Warm ocean waves, captivating scenery and bright sunshine make this an ideal escape when the holidays roll around. It also just happens to be whale watching season there, as about half the North Pacific humpbacks migrate to the islands from Alaska each winter. Take a boat tour to catch a glimpse of these stunning animals up close.
Planning a Last-Minute Trip
Are you ready to embrace spontaneity and book a last-minute holiday vacation? Plan the best trip ever by being flexible with your travel dates and itinerary. Keep an open mind and make a list of possible tours, attractions and activities in whatever city you plan to visit. As long as you have a rough idea of what you want your holiday to look like, you’re bound to have fun.
Remember to get travel insurance and read cancellation policies closely, as well. Travel restrictions change constantly, so there’s always a possibility that you’ll postpone the trip. In this case, you’ll have something to look forward to in 2022.
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Stacie Connerty lives in Atlanta, Georgia with three teenagers. She has an insatiable love of travel, food and style & fashion. Stacie also loves all things tech, beauty, DIY, home decor, fitness, pet entertaining, and family.
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