Where to Travel in December
It's not too late to plan the perfect vacation! See our list of the seven best places to visit this December and prepare to spend the last few weeks of 2019 leaning into the holiday season or living it up on the beach.
Saving some of your PTO for the end of the year honestly isn't such a bad idea. If you play your cards right (read: take our advice) and travel in the weeks before December 20, you'll actually find affordable plane tickets and hotel rooms for a variety of bucket list-level destinations.
Best of all? We've already figured out some of the details for you. Whether you'd like to spend the last few weeks of 2019 getting in the holiday spirit or getting lost on a beach, these are the trips you'll want to book immediately.
For a taste of "Christmas Time in the City" without the palm-sweating price tags or crowds, skip New York and head to Chicago. The Windy City is just as magical this time of year, with festive window displays, decorated trees and theater marquees sparkling across the entire city. To see for yourself, just take a bus tour that showcases Chicago's architecture and its holiday lights all in one ride. Then, go ice-skating at Maggie Daley Park or enjoy a cup of hot cocoa at the Christkindlmarket. While you're in town, you'll also want to fill up on deep-dish pizza and craft cocktails and visit the Hancock Center's observation deck at sunset.
Nashville in December isn't a bad idea, either. Though you probably won't get much of a "White Christmas" (given that the weather hovers between 50 and 60 degrees), you can still participate in a variety of fun, seasonal activities. For example, you can catch the city's annual Christmas Parade on December 7, enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown and see the incredible Holiday Lights at Cheekwood Estate and Gardens. All that's just on top of checking out major attractions like The Johnny Cash Museum, The Grand Ole Opry and Prince's Hot Chicken. And whatever you do, don't leave without visiting Gaylord Opryland (pictured above), where millions of holiday lights and two million pounds of ice transform the hotel into a winter wonderland every year.
Here are three very good reasons to delay your trip to Honolulu until December: You can pay your respects to all those who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, you can hike Diamond Head with next to no crowds and you can see humpbacks swim in the middle of whale-watching season. The weather's warm year-round, so you'll also have plenty of opportunities to lay out on the beach and build up an enviable winter tan.
Escape teeth-chattering temperatures, take a dip in some hot springs and get your fill of traditional Mexican food in San Miguel de Allende. This colonial-era city is perfect for visiting in December, as the weather's warm with very little rainfall. You can visit El Jardin, the tree-lined main square, take a Tacos and Tequila Food Tour (hello!), go horseback riding and even see Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel — the city's most recognizable landmark — all lit up at night.
Picture cobblestone streets, gingerbread-like buildings, chocolate shops and charming Christmas markets, and you'll understand exactly why you should visit Bruges this December. With its medieval architecture and canals, this Belgian city looks like something straight out of a fairytale, especially in the winter. See for yourself with a cruise on the canal, or by climbing the 366 steps up the top of The Belfry Tower, which overlooks Grote Markt. Afterwards, you can sample hot chocolate and crisp waffles, or shop hand-made lace and ornaments from local artists.
Everyone knows there's nothing more enchanting than Paris under a blanket of snow. Spend your holiday taking in famous sights like the Eiffel Tower, Ponte Alexandre III and Arc du Triomphe without the usual crowds, and enjoy having the Louvre and Musee d'Orsay all to yourself. You could also see the grand holiday displays at Galeries Lafayette or even take a pastry class with a local chef. Since you're so close, you may as well make the day trip to Mont Saint-Michel, a breathtaking island near Normandy.
If you'd rather leave your heavy coat and boots at home, then book a trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia. December is one of the best months to visit this resort town, as the weather is usually warm and sunny, with temperatures that average to about 70 degrees. We suggest staying at Mane Village Suites, where $67 a night will get you a shuttle to and from the airport, air conditioning, free WiFi and access to an outdoor pool (pictured). You'll also be within walking distance to Angkor Wat, the breathtaking temple pictured on Cambodia's flag.