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With all the holiday preparations and end-of-the-year celebrations, December may be a stressful time to plan a trip. A trip may be difficult to fit into your schedule, but you’ll be glad you made the effort. U.S. The finest destinations to visit in December were selected by News after taking into account factors including cost, ease of access, and expected seasonal crowds.
Places like these are perfect whether you’re looking for a warm-weather retreat or a place to get into the Christmas spirit during the winter season. Put your vote in for your favorite place to visit below and help pick next year’s list.
1. The Bahamas
With its warm weather and pleasant temperatures, the Bahamas are a popular vacation destination all year round.
After the hurricane season ends, December is a great time to enjoy the outdoors. The first order of business on any trip to the Bahamas is to spend some time lazing on a beach or going snorkeling or scuba diving in the pristine waters.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to swim with wild pigs and interact with dolphins on a private island, accessible only by boat.
Although triple-digit heat is common in Dubai for a good chunk of the year, the city experiences a marked cooling trend in December.
Comfortable weather (think: temps in the 70s) and fewer rain showers characterize a trip to this United Arab Emirates resort during this month.
But you should expect to rub shoulders with other tourists as you bask on Jumeirah Public Beach, shop at the enormous Dubai Mall, or explore the historic Bastakiya Quarter.
3. Rio de Janeiro
In December, when winter starts in the North, Rio de Janeiro is in the middle of its summer season. This is one of the warmest (but also one of the wettest) times of the year here, but it will still be mostly sunny, giving you plenty of chances to see famous sights like the Christ the Redeemer statue.
If you want to party like a local while you’re in Rio, make sure your trip falls around Reveillon.
The music, dancing, and fireworks at this popular New Year’s Eve party on Copacabana Beach bring in millions of people every year.
4. Hawaii – The Big Island
The arrival of winter can only mean one thing: it’s time to head to this Hawaiian paradise.
Tired visitors can relax on Punalu’u Beach (with its stunning black sand) or Papakolea Beach (with its unusual green sand), while more active vacationers can go for a hike in Akaka Falls State Park or visit Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park to see the towering Kilauea volcano, which rises more than 4,000 feet into the sky.
Despite the influx of additional “snowbirds” in December, Big Island hotel rates remain lower than those of nearby islands year-round.
5. Torres del Paine National Park in Chile
This national park in southern Chilean Patagonia provides visitors with an unforgettable adventure.
There are turquoise lakes and dense forests in this park, as well as the massive Grey Glacier and the towering granite of Cuernos del Paine, making it a popular choice as one of the world’s most beautiful hiking spots.
Though December falls within Patagonia’s summer high season, travelers should still dress in layers as the weather drops significantly as the sun goes down.
6. Banff in Canada
Banff, Alberta, at the foot of the Canadian Rockies, is renowned for its majestic scenery and excellent skiing and snowboarding.
From the Banff Gondola’s 360-degree viewing deck atop Sulphur Mountain, you can take pictures of the town’s picturesque landscape that are worthy of posting on Instagram.
You can relax your aching muscles by taking a dip in the Banff Upper Hot Springs after a long day of hiking, biking, or other outdoor activities. In December, there may only be eight hours of daylight, so schedule your activities accordingly.
7. Quebec City in Canada
This Canadian getaway is especially romantic when blanketed in a blanket of new snow.
The transformation of Old Québec into a winter wonderland is sure to wow visitors. Another option is to go shopping in Quartier Petit-Champlain, whether for someone else or for yourself. In addition, Quebec City’s 17th- and 18th-century architecture provides a taste of European culture without the expense of a transatlantic flight.
Simply remember to dress warmly! In December, lows often dip below freezing.
Even though Phuket, Thailand, is always warm, December is a great time to visit because the weather is cool and dry and the water is calm.
Plan to spend most of your time at beaches like Nai Harn and Kata Noi, where you can soak up the sun, swim, scuba dive, and do other fun things. But keep in mind that December is the height of Phuket’s tourist season, so you won’t find many deals on flights or places to stay.
Avoid going on a holiday trip at the end of December if you want to pay a little less.
9. Park City, Utah in the USA
Many of Park City, Utah’s best resorts, including Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort, reopen for the ski season in December, making it an ideal time for winter sports fans to plan a trip there.
However, if you’re not into winter sports, there’s still enough to do in town.
Last-minute present shoppers may visit Historic Park City to browse boutiques and see Santa ride down the Town Lift, holiday showgoers can enjoy a performance at the Egyptian Theater, and Olympic hopefuls can watch athletes train at the Utah Olympic Park.
10. Adirondacks, USA
Every winter, the Adirondacks become a mecca for adventure tourists who come to enjoy the region’s world-class skiing and snowboarding.
With its roughly 3,500-foot vertical drop, 90 routes, and 11 ski lifts, Whiteface Mountain is one of the region’s most popular winter sports locations.
The Olympic Jumping Complex, Olympic Sports Complex, and Olympic Center are all located in Lake Placid, which is located in this area of New York state.
11. Jackson Hole, Wyoming in the USA
Wyoming’s valley is 50 miles long, making it the perfect destination for a relaxing winter getaway. A number of world-class ski areas, such as Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Snow King Resort, can be found in this region.
When you need a break from skiing, you can go snowshoeing through Grand Teton National Park or wildlife watching at the National Elk Refuge. If you’re traveling in December, remember that daytime highs rarely rise above freezing and lows frequently fall into the single digits, so plan accordingly.
Visit Prague in the winter for a lively and joyful holiday experience, if you can stand the cold.
In December, the city transforms into a wintry wonderland, complete with snowy streets and Christmas markets selling handmade ornaments, toys, and jewelry.
The annual St. Nicholas Eve celebration is a great time to visit with kids, and it takes place in early December. St. Nicholas, accompanied by his angel and devil sidekicks, distributes treats to children as he makes his way through the streets of Prague during this annual festival.
13. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington in the USA
The stark beauty of wintertime snowfall at Mount Rainier National Park only enhances the park’s already impressive scenery.
While the Washington Park does close some roads and sections for the winter, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors in the month of December.
Depending on the amount of snowfall, visitors can go on a ranger-led snowshoe walk, sled down the snowy slopes of Paradise, ride snowmobiles through the region surrounding Cougar Rock Campground, or ski or snowboard the untracked powder of Mount Rainier’s backcountry.
14. Queenstown in New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand is a great destination for a winter getaway that doesn’t require snow or beaches.
During the month of December, Queenstown is in its summer season due to its location in the Southern Hemisphere. This means that you can expect milder temperatures and ideal conditions for the city’s world-famous adventure activities.
Enjoy the scenery from above by skydiving or paragliding, or take the plunge by bungee jumping off the Kawarau Bridge. Hiking the Ben Lomond Track or taking a ride on the Skyline Gondola are two less risky ways to view Queenstown.
15. Sun Valley in Idaho
The first ski resort in the United States is still a popular destination for winter vacationers of all stripes.
Skiing and snowboarding are at their peak in December at Sun Valley Resort in Idaho, which boasts two mountains totaling over 2,000 acres of terrain and 65 routes.
While Dollar Mountain is ideal for novice skiers, Bald Mountain is consistently ranked among the world’s best.
After a day of skiing or snowboarding at Sun Valley, guests can unwind with a sleigh ride, a scavenger hunt, or any of the other winter-themed activities offered at the resort.