Along with holiday shopping and year-end celebrations, planning a vacation in December can be difficult. If you can squeeze in time for a trip, you’ll thank yourself later. Prices, accessibility, and seasonal crowds were all factors examined by U.S. News when determining the finest destinations to visit in December. You’ll find it in these places, whether you’re looking for a warm-weather getaway or want to get into the holiday mood in a snow-covered town. Vote for your favourite spot in the poll below to help choose the list for next year. (Please note that the coronavirus outbreak may affect some of the destinations listed below.) Before travelling, consult the CDC and the US Department of State.)
Phuket is ranked first among the best places to visit in December.
Despite the fact that Phuket, Thailand, has a pleasant climate all year, the mild, dry weather and tranquil water in December make it an excellent time to come. Plan to spend the most of your time at beaches like Nai Harn and Kata Noi sunbathing, swimming, scuba diving, and more. However, keep in mind that December falls during Phuket’s high tourist season, so you won’t find many good offers on flights and accommodations. To get somewhat better rates, avoid visiting over the holidays in late December.
Rio de Janeiro is ranked second among the best places to visit in December.
Rio de Janeiro reaches its peak summer season in December, as the Northern Hemisphere shifts to winter. This is one of the hottest (and wettest) periods of the year in Rio, but you’ll still have plenty of opportunities to visit famous attractions like the Christ the Redeemer statue thanks to usually sunny weather. If you want to experience Rio’s vibrant party scene while you’re there, plan your trip around Reveillon. With its music, dancing, and fireworks, this iconic New Year’s Eve celebration on Copacabana Beach attracts millions of visitors each year.
Hawaii’s Big Island is ranked third among the best places to visit in December.
This Hawaiian oasis is ideal for escaping the beginning of winter. Weary travellers can unwind on colourful stretches of sand like Punalu’u Beach (which has beautiful black sand) and Papakolea Beach (which has a unique green sand option), while more adventurous types can go for a hike in Akaka Falls State Park or see the more than 4,000-foot-tall Kilauea volcano at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. In December, you’ll most certainly be competing with other snowbirds, but hotel prices on the Big Island are consistently lower than those on surrounding islands.
Banff is ranked #4 on the list of Best Places to Visit in December.
Banff, Alberta, is noted for its magnificent environment and excellent skiing and snowboarding conditions. It is located at the base of the Canadian Rockies. The Banff Gondola and its 360-degree viewing platform at the Sulphur Mountain summit are also great places to take Instagram-worthy photographs of the town’s stunning backdrop. Relax your muscles after a day of adventure by taking a soak in the Banff Upper Hot Springs. Just keep in mind that in December, daylight can last as little as eight hours, so plan accordingly.
5 on the list of Best Places to Visit in December is Torres del Paine National Park.
This national park, located in southern Chilean Patagonia, provides visitors with a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The park is home to turquoise lakes and thick forests, as well as the gigantic Grey Glacier and the towering granite of Cuernos del Paine, making it one of the world’s most picturesque trekking locations. Despite the fact that December falls during Patagonia’s prime summer season, temperatures drop considerably after dark, so tourists should dress in layers.
Quebec City is ranked #6 on the list of Best Places to Visit in December.
This Canadian getaway is easy to fall in love with, especially when it’s covered with fresh snow. The sights and sounds of Old Québec as it turns into a Christmas town will fascinate you. Alternatively, you can go shopping in Quartier Petit-Champlain for gifts (or for yourself). Plus, Quebec City’s 17th- and 18th-century architecture allows you to immerse yourself in European culture without having to pay for a plane ticket. Just remember to dress warmly. In December, temperatures can plunge below freezing.
Park City is ranked #7 on the list of Best Places to Visit in December.
Many of Park City’s biggest resorts, including Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort, reopen for the ski season in December, which is ideal for winter sports aficionados. Even if you aren’t a skier or snowboarder, there are lots of other activities to do in town. In Historic Park City, you can shop for last-minute gifts while watching Santa ride down the Town Lift, see a holiday performance at the Egyptian Theater, or watch athletes practise for the Winter Olympics at the Utah Olympic Park.
Dubai is ranked #8 on the list of the best places to visit in December.
For several months of the year, Dubai’s temperatures can approach triple digits, but by December, the weather has cooled dramatically. Traveling to this United Arab Emirates resort during this month will provide you with pleasant weather (think 70s) and fewer rain showers. However, be prepared to rub elbows with other tourists whether relaxing on Jumeirah Public Beach, shopping at the massive Dubai Mall, or strolling through the historic Bastakiya Quarter.
Jackson Hole is ranked #9 on the list of Best Places to Visit in December.
For an amazing winter holiday, visit this 50-mile-long Wyoming valley. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Snow King Resort are two of the best ski resorts in the area. When you need a break from the slopes, you may go wildlife watching at the National Elk Refuge or go snowshoeing around Grand Teton National Park. Keep in mind that temperatures in December are generally below freezing during the day and can drop into the single digits at night, so dress warmly.
Prague is ranked #10 on the list of Best Places to Visit in December.
Travel to Prague for a pleasant and festive winter break if you’re willing to withstand the cold. In December, the city transforms into a winter wonderland, with snow-covered buildings and Christmas markets selling everything from handcrafted jewellery to toys and ornaments. Those travelling with children should try to arrive in early December for the traditional St. Nicholas Eve celebration. During this traditional festival, the Czech Republic’s St. Nick, along with his angel and devil helpers, will travel throughout the city handing out candy and other delicacies.
#11 on the list of Best Places to Visit in December is Mount Rainier National Park.
When Mount Rainier National Park’s already dramatic terrain is blanketed in snow in the winter, it becomes even more stunning. Although certain roads and areas of Washington Park close for the season, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors in December. You can join a ranger-led snowshoe walk, go sledding in the Paradise snow play area, go snowmobiling at the Cougar Rock Campground, or shred powder on Mount Rainier’s backcountry slopes, depending on how deep the snow is.
The Adirondacks are ranked #12 on the list of Best Places to Visit in December.
Every winter, outdoor enthusiasts rush to the Adirondacks to take advantage of the region’s excellent skiing and snowboarding conditions. Whiteface Mountain, which has the highest vertical drop on the Eastern Seaboard at over 3,500 feet, as well as 90 trails and 11 ski lifts, is one of the area’s most popular winter sports locations. Furthermore, Lake Placid is located in this section of New York state, and it is home to many Olympic attractions, including the Olympic Jumping Complex, the Olympic Sports Complex, and the Olympic Center.
The Bahamas is ranked #13 on the list of the best places to visit in December.
The month of December is one of the most popular for vacationing in the Bahamas, and for good reason. By the end of the month, the threat of a hurricane will have passed, making December an ideal time to spend time outside. Start your vacation by relaxing on one of the many beaches in the Bahamas, or go snorkelling or diving in the crystal-clear ocean. Save time for a boat journey to a private island, where you can participate in activities like as dolphin encounters and swimming with wild pigs.
Queenstown is ranked #14 on the list of Best Places to Visit in December.
Take a trip to Queenstown, New Zealand, for a winter vacation that doesn’t involve snow or sand. Because Queenstown is located in the Southern Hemisphere, December is the town’s summer season, which means warmer weather and better conditions for the town’s world-famous adventure activities. Face a bird’s eye perspective of the countryside by skydiving or paragliding, or take the ultimate risk by bungee jumping from the Kawarau Bridge. Take a trek along the Ben Lomond Track or ride the Skyline Gondola for a less adventurous approach to explore Queenstown.
Sun Valley is ranked #15 on the list of Best Places to Visit in December.
From superstars to first-timers, the nation’s first ski resort remains a popular winter vacation destination. Sun Valley Resort, which has two mountains with over 2,000 acres of terrain and 65 routes, is a great place to visit in December for top-notch skiing and snowboarding conditions. Dollar Mountain is ideal for beginners, while Bald Mountain is regarded as one of the best ski mountains in the world. Enjoy a sleigh ride, a scavenger hunt, or one of the resort’s other holiday-themed activities after a hectic day of zipping down Sun Valley’s slopes.