Christmas is absolutely magical from the forests of uncut pines waiting to be chosen and decorated to snow capped roofs under which families sip hot chocolate and open presents. Naturally, we want to build up our anticipation and excitement of this beautiful time of year as much as possible. Some of us sing Christmas carols in October and some of us like to travel the country and visit some of the most Christmassy of Christmas destinations and attractions that the U.S. can provide.
Christkindlmarket - Chicago - What started as a German-American Christmas market tradition has turned into a nationwide phenomenon. There are several Christkindlmarkets across the country but none so large as the one dominating Chicago's Daley Plaza. More than a million visitors every year head to Chicago's market to see the massive tree, shop the arts and crafts booths, and find authentic German made goods. A nativity scene, Christmas choirs, dance troupes, bands and other performances entertain visitors while they shop through boots of baked goods, toys, holiday decor, and more sold by vendors from eastern European countries. The festival is part of the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival as well so you don't want to miss out on the fun!
Tropical Winter - West Palm Beach, FL - You don't have to have snow on the ground to appreciate the spirit of Christmas. West Palm Beach goes all out with their "tropical winter" and professionals get to work fashioning a 600-ton sand Christmas tree complete with decorations and a ceremony to boot. The rest of the town is, of course, decorated and goes all out with a Holiday in Paradise event at the West Palm Beach Waterfront complete with a traditional tree lighting, music shows, free entertainment, and holiday themed family-friendly activities. This year you can find concerts, glow in the dark mini-golf, a holiday themed aquarium, and an area where you can build your own "Florida-style" snowmen from sand.
Christmastown USA - McAdenville, NC - Every year, the town of McAdenville, North Carolina, changes its name, redesigns its look, and makes itself into the most Christmassy of destinations you could imagine. 2015 marks its 60th year in business and the town has more than enough events to keep you busy. Of course visit and see the annual Christmastown Festival and tree lighting ceremony but seeing is believing with Christmastown. Walk through or ride a carriage around the perfectly lit rows of trees and homes, see the lights spectacular at the waterfront and see the Yule Log Ceremony!
Radio City Christmas Spectacular - NYC - New York City is, of course, the ultimate Christmas destination in the U.S. and Rockefeller Center is the epicenter of all Big Apple holiday fun. The mega tree lit in Rockefeller Plaza, the ice skating rink and themed decor, all the way to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, a holiday classic since it premiered in 1933. Over 90 minutes you'll see a magical extravaganza with more than 140 performers, the famous and fabulous Rockettes, traditional scenes and comedic routines interspersed in the dancing and singing. Every year this amazing show draws in thousands of visitors from all over the world and has become a city-wide tradition. While you're in the city, also go by the Empire State Building and see Times Square decked out for Christmas.
Ozark Mountain Christmas - Branson, MO - Christmas in Branson goes much farther than just the city. From November through Christmas Day, Branson and its popular attractions show their true colors with spectacular parades, themed live shows, and more. Silver Dollar City refashions itself in red and green, decorated with Christmas trees and holiday themed decor including the candle lit Christmas tree lighting ceremony, hot chocolate booths and holiday shows within the park. The Shepherd of the Hills offers up a two and a half mile long trail of lights and displays, Branson Landing has a themed fountain show, and the Capital of Live Entertainment gives you all its best with a fantastic array of Christmas shows.
Christmas City - Bethlehem, PA - Like many others on this list, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, goes all out for Christmas from the live Advent calendar to the fully decorated streets, shops, and homes. The city offers themed walking tours of the town, carriage rides, and bus tours led by costumed guides with loads of historical information of the city's Moravian inhabitants dating back to the 1800s. They also have, like Chicago, a large Christkindlmarket filled with arts and crafts fashioned after its European counterparts. Bethlehem's Christmas City is one of the most popular and sought after Christmas themed destination filled with magic and the simple pleasures of the holidays.
Koziar's Christmas Village - Bernville, PA - Like McAdenville above, Bernville, Pennsylvania, transforms itself from a small New England village into a quaint Christmas town every year. Using roughly a half million Christmas lights, the entire town is draped in soft white light, yards and open spaces filled with decorations and traditional scenes, while the town comes out for some holiday fun. Meet Santa Claus, stop by the Old Fashioned Bakery, watch the Night Before Christmas performance and the live Nativity Scene, or even the themed Christmas Beneath the Sea area. Indoor and outdoor train displays are among the most popular but you can also find a number of other themed areas like Christmas in Other Lands!
Los Angeles Christmas Extravaganza - We don't truly have a particular event or festival in mind for L.A. although you wouldn't have a hard time finding one. The entire city goes all out for the holidays from the L.A. County Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony where you can get a free hot chocolate and listen to professional singers perform your favorite carols to the Hollywood Christmas Parade and even the lighting of the 100 foot mega tree at The Grove shopping center. Pretty much all of Los Angeles' neighborhoods have their own Christmas special event whether it's lighting trees, showing off their perfectly decorated houses, down to screenings of Christmas movies (Love Actually is being shown Dec. 5 at the Electric Dusk Drive-In).