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Christmas vacationing in the U. S.: Where's the best place to go?

Norman Byrd's picture
Decorations at Truman Annex in Key West, Fla., photo

Say what you want, but some people just don't want to head home for Christmas. Instead, they want to do something different, explore, travel, head off to a destination that gets them away from all that's familiar. And no matter where you live in the United States, there's somewhere else in the U. S. that's doing Christmas in a way that will appeal.

Sure, we all know the default answer for the "best" place to be at Christmastime is "home," but sometimes going home just isn't where you're heart really is (or wants to be) this holiday season. And if that's the case, why make yourself and those around you miserable? Indulge yourself and go find Christmas in some other part of the country. (Not a secret: Just about everybody does Christmas in America, even if it is only for an exercise in gift-giving.) wrote up a list of 28 of the best spots in the world to travel to for Christmas this holiday season. Nine of those destinations are located in the United States.

Want to enjoy Christmas with a little southern hospitality and charm? Charleston, South Carolina, might be the place for you. The city does Christmas in a manner of the Old South mixed with the new. You can enjoy carriage rides, eggnog with bourbon, roasted pecans (instead of chestnuts), and seasonal events, not to mention exceptional fine dining and sites galore (both historic and modern), all of which has helped Charleston has been voted the Top U.S. City by Condé Nast Traveler Reader's Choice Awards for three consecutive years. suggests Santa Barbara, Calif.; Boston, Mass.; Nashville, Tenn. (said to be the "most flamboyant ode to the holidays east of the Mississippi" with all its country music-centered charm); San Juan, Puerto Rico; Durango, Colo. (billed as a place where one can spend an "old-fashioned holiday without all that Aspen attitude," plus one can explore Pueblo ruins nearby); Taos, N. M. (complete with a Native American Christmas celebration); Key West, Fla. (where all is good cheer and palm trees); and Chicago, Illinois.

Oddly enough, that list has only two of the same entries as a list compiled by Forbes magazine of the top Christmas destinations -- Boston and San Juan. Forbes also notes that some of the best destinations in the world include New York City, Aspen, Colo. (no doubt with the attitude the aforementioned Durango lacks), and Santa Claus, Ind. (where everything seems to be Christmas themed, not to mention having that post office where all the letters addressed to Santa get answered).

Back in 2001, put together a list of exotic places to go for Christmas. New York City is on that list as well, as is Woodstock, Vt. (with it's "uber-Vermont village" setting that is "flawless"); Yosemite National Park, Calif.; Colonial Williamsburg, Va.; and Hawaii (the Big Island). Apparently Hawaii has become such a go-to destination that they've fallen off the top holiday destinations lists over the years, but for those who've never been there, it's still a beautiful and exotic place to vacation.

Although the holidays are closing fast, remember you can still get good deals on flights, hotels, and vacation packages, but you have to keep a diligent eye on the travel sites. suggests the websites Funjet and Hotwire for last-minute deals. The site also suggests Travelzoo, which posts a weekly newsletter with great deals to destinations around the world.