10 Best US Towns to Spend the Holiday – Vote for Your Favorite

Still deciding where to vacation over the holidays? Here are some fantastic choices. Vote for your favorite US town at Christmastime, add your own, and come back to see which one wins the vote!

#1 Aspen, CO

A combination of luxe living and quaint charm helped this Rocky Mountain town capture the spot as the merriest of them all. Wandering along Cooper Avenue, you may chance upon cookie exchanges, public s’mores roasts, or elf meet-and-greets. But the two most famous hotels in town act as the nerve centers for holiday cheer. The lobby of the Hotel Jerome regularly hosts carolers, while the Ajax Tavern and Element 47 at the Little Nell both serve fabulous holiday meals, with indulgences like venison loin with huckleberries, black truffles, and chestnut-and-caramel profiteroles. The Little Nell also hosts the all-you-can-sip Bottomless Dom Perignon New Year’s Eve Party.

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#2 Nantucket, MA

The banner event during the holidays in this island town started in the 1970s, because too many locals left to shop in Cape Cod. Today, during the annual Christmas Stroll—typically the first weekend in December—you can shop downtown amid dozens of seven-foot, decorated Christmas trees, and take part in wine tastings, ghost walks, and home tours. Pick up some gifts at Murray’s Toggery Shop (the mother ship for holiday-ready Nantucket Reds pants) and Jessica Hicks, the boutique of a local jewelry designer. For more tree-gazing, go to the Whaling Museum, which houses 80 trees decorated by local artists, merchants, and kids.

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#3 Naples, FL

This Florida town lacks snowman-building material, but the snowbird-style winter wonderland still lures holiday revelers with its luxury stores, cool boutiques, and festive ambience. Third Street South is the headquarters for the official tree, evening “snow” showers during Thanksgiving week, and gorgeous window displays, like those at department store Marissa Collections in the Old Naples Historic District. Continue shopping along Fifth Avenue South, and check out whimsical clothing and gift shop Wind in the Willows, whose window won Best in Show at the 2013 local holiday decorating contest. Of course, the holidays are about more than retail; catch the Naples edition of the worldwide TUBA Christmas, a concert on Fifth Avenue South’s Sugden Plaza featuring brass tubas, euphoniums, and baritones

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#4 Lewisburg, WV

Grande dame hotel The Greenbrier is the epicenter of the holidays in the Lewisburg area. The 18th-century resort trims the lobby with opulent decorations, holds ribbon-tying seminars in its Christmas Shop, and offers weekday discounts on treatments at its legendary mineral-springs spa. While you can hear the West Virginia Symphony play at Lewisburg’s own Carnegie Hall, the town may otherwise win the Silent Night award, getting high marks for peace and quiet.

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#5 Beaufort, NC

Winter weather doesn’t really kick in until January in this Outer Banks town, so the holiday season is typically still a good time to paddle a kayak or take a boat tour along Taylor’s Creek. The Christmas lights take to the water too: one of the biggest holiday events is the Crystal Coast Christmas Flotilla, a twinkling-lights-strewn boat parade held on the first weekend in December. Readers’ favorite cuisine in this low-key town are the sandwiches: try the double crab cake Cranky Crab at the Beaufort Grocery.

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#6 Park City, UT

The holiday season ushers in serious wattage—star-powered and otherwise—in this Utah mountain town. In late November, Park City holds its annual Electric Parade, in which locals light up their trucks, cars, and bicycles and crank up the holiday tunes as they parade down Main Street. On Christmas Eve, Saint Nick spends the day skiing the slopes and then leads a torchlight parade down the PayDay trail. January’s Sundance Film Festival draws a Hollywood crowd, yet Park City also scored well with readers for feeling family-friendly. During the holidays, kids and sweet tooths of all ages will love the life-size gingerbread house (nearly 13 feet tall, made with 11,000 cookies) at Montage Deer Valley.

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#7 Myrtle Beach, SC

Late fall and early winter are a good time to score lower rates in this family-friendly town, but that doesn’t mean that the place has gone totally quiet. Showstoppers around Myrtle Beach include the twinkling Christmas trees and 5,500 hand-lit candles at Brookgreen Gardens as well as the Festival of Trees—with themed trees for all 50 states—at Ripley’s Aquarium. Readers had a weakness for Carolina barbecue in this classic-boardwalk beach town: you can stay true to the season by ordering barbecued turkey at Waterscapes, in the Marina Inn at Grande Dunes, where the bird is lovingly slathered with the mustard-accented, South Carolina–style sauce.

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#8 Williamsburg, VA

History-rich Williamsburg, where tricornered hats count as timeless fashion, scored highly for colorful people-watching. This time of year also offers plenty of events that let you experience a holiday season like the colonists would: in Jamestown you can watch as wild turkeys are roasted and puddings are prepared, and see how settlers may have observed Christmas (including a few long-gone English traditions like an anti-Santa called Lord of Misrule). Readers’ favorite meal around here was brunch: try the Virginia ham and biscuits, with the Special Rebel Cocktail (tomato juice, beer, and spices), at the Old Chickahominy House.

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#9 Newport, RI

If a flashing-neon-colored holiday makes you cringe, head to this tony town in Rhode Island, where only white lights are encouraged on homes and restaurants, to conjure an old-fashioned candlelit vibe. Touching on its upper-crust history, the Mansions of Newport Tour takes you on a stroll through Gilded Age icons like The Breakers, the Elms, and the Marbles, all decked out in sumptuous trees, fine china, and decorations. Since crowds are lighter, it’s a good time to try Newport’s high-ranking restaurants like the locally sourced Tallulah on Thames; every Sunday during winter it offers a three-course, prix fixe Family Dinner Night.

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#10 Annapolis, MD

This military town along the Chesapeake Bay does plenty of pomp, circumstance, and tailgating during the holiday season. Annapolis ranked well for Christmas lights, notably the drive-through Lights on the Bay in Sandy Point State Park, which starts up in mid-November. Downtown Annapolis also keeps its shops lit and open until midnight on a few Thursdays during December. To celebrate alongside the military locals, you can hear Handel’s Messiah performed by the Naval Academy Glee Club in the Naval Academy Chapel, or just sit tight until the Military Bowl, which comes every yaer in late December, at the U.S. Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. No surprise, the locals also scored well for being passionate sports fans.

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