December can be hectic with family visits, holiday celebrations, and the rush to make it all happen. Consider sneaking off for a well-deserved vacation to either decompress before the chaos hits or, maybe, to avoid it altogether. Going away for the holidays can be a present to yourself! If that’s not in the cards, you might still like to daydream about taking a winter break in one of these 10 amazing December destinations.
1 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
There’s nothing like the Copacabana Beach to beat the winter blues. December is the beginning of summer in Brazil and the weather is fine! Rio de Janeiro boasts excellent restaurants, nightlife, and shopping to keep you entertained after the sun goes down. Join the revelry of the New Year’s celebration on Copacabana Beach for live music, fireworks, and a fantastic party atmosphere.
2 Nassau, Bahamas
If a little Caribbean sunshine sounds good about now, you can’t beat Nassau. This tropical paradise is hopping in December. Special events include Tiger Woods’ Hero World Challenge charity golf tournament, the Bahamas International Film Festival, and even the only FBS-level college bowl game held outside the U.S., the Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl. But the most exciting may be the Junkanoo Parade, a unique expression of Bahamian culture, considered by many locals to be the most memorable way to celebrate the holidays.
3 Frankfurt, Germany
Travel to Frankfurt is one of the best bargains this December. Hotel rates hit their low and flights to this European air hub are always a great deal, making Frankfurt one of the cheapest places to travel at this time of year. This modern city is favored by many international travelers for its sophisticated supper clubs and bars, great shopping, and stunning architecture. The winter opening of Christmas markets and public ice skating rinks adds a magical glow to the city. Add to your own holiday glow when you sample Frankfurt’s famous apple wine which is served on practically every corner.
4 Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Dubai offers an impressive variety of ways to enjoy yourself. Gleaming sky scrapers mark this ultra modern center of trade but you can still visit the souks to experience the feel of old time markets that preceded the discovery of oil. Although it’s “wintertime” the weather will be suited for a visit to the beach. (In fact, you probably want to avoid the triple digit temps of summer.) Visit the world’s largest shopping mall or hit the slopes at Ski Dubai – an indoor, year-round snow ski attraction.
5 Quebec City, Canada
If you’re looking for a romantic winter getaway, Quebec City fits the bill. Wintertime in the walled Old Town offers unparalleled romance. Horse-drawn carriages carry visitors down the old streets, beautiful Old European style architecture gives a cozy feel, and intimate restaurants and wine bars are just made for relaxing with your loved one. For the Christmas season, Old Québec is transformed into a true Christmas village. Enchanting lights, decorations, and the lovely snowfall combine to create a fairytale setting. Special activities and celebrations are scheduled throughout the month of December to make your Quebecois Christmas a very merry one.
6 Everglades National Park, Florida
December is the start of the dry season in south Florida’s Everglades. Humidity is lower, temperatures are comfortable, and there are fewer biting bugs. Migratory birds from the north make their way to the Glades for the winter, making a December visit ideal for birdwatchers. The lower water levels also force animals to gather at permanent watering holes, so they are more easily spotted. Because it’s the beginning of the busy season, all facilities and programs will be open and in full swing.
7 Siem Reap, Cambodia
December marks the dry season in Siem Reap, meaning visitors will enjoy clear skies and comfortable temperatures. Siem Reap has long been considered the ideal homebase for exploring the temples of Angkor but now has grown to be the center of chic, modern Cambodia. A wide range of hotels, luxurious spas, world class dining, and top notch shopping give visitors incentive to explore beyond the temple tours.
8 Kochi, India
This seaside collection of villages is an intoxicating blend of cultural influences. Explorers and traders from China, Portugal, England and more have left their mark on Kochi. Visit the various villages and islands, each with its own flavor. Choose between houseboats cruising the waters, delightful homestays, and heritage accommodations. Weather is cooler in December, allowing you to better enjoy one of the region’s wellness retreats without breaking a sweat.
9 Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Wyoming’s Teton Range is a winter mecca for outdoor adventure – skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, even dogsledding! Jackson Hole serves up an iconic Christmas experience with a decked out town square where visitors can savor hot chocolate, eggnog, and cookies. You may even be treated to an appearance by Santa. For those of you who are looking for a more grown up apres ski experience, there are plenty of bars, restaurants, and watering holes to choose from after your day on the slopes.
10 Las Vegas, Nevada
December in Las Vegas is less busy and cheaper than other times of the year, with hotel rates at their lowest. The town will be fully dressed out for Christmas – even blingier than usual! From classic, tasteful decorations to over the top Las Vegas glitz, you’ll find it all. Some of the free shows may be closed for maintenance, but there’s still plenty to do. The National Rodeo Finals bring pageants and country music concerts to town. Many of the hotels offer holiday themed entertainment. And, of course, the casinos will still be happy to take your money.
There are all kinds of reasons to choose to travel in December. The weather is cooler, you can enjoy snow sports, travel can be cheaper, and crowds may be smaller. Whatever your reason, start your planning now. For many destinations, the best time to visit isn’t summer vacation but the winter holiday season.