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18 Christmas vacation ideas for the perfect family getaway

From the sunny shores of Florida to Christmas in New York City, there's a destination for every family.
/ Source: TODAY

Taking a Christmas vacation with the family might be at the top of your list for Santa this year.

But if you aim to get away for Christmas with the kids, "yule" want to get a head start on planning.

In fact, Jen Campbell Boles, the founder of Explore More Family Travel, tells you should plan nine to 12 months in advance.

"It is the busiest travel season of the year to most destinations," Campbell Boles says. "(Christmas vacation) is concentrated in two weeks, unlike spring breaks which occur at various weeks between March and April and summer which is a span of May through September, depending on your school system."

SmartFlyer travel advisor Laura Epstein says that Christmas travel is also the most expensive.

"Rates are peak rates from the entire year, and many hotels and resorts will be at full capacity," Epstein tells, adding that it is not uncommon to encounter seven to 10-night minimum stays in warm weather destinations.

Patience is key.

"Expect schedule changes between now and departure," Campbell Boles says. "Also, expect baggage delays so try to pack a carry on or send bags ahead of time (and) definitely send any presents ahead of time."

18 Christmas vacation ideas for families

Ready to plan a Christmas vacation for the whole family? Here are the top picks for destinations in the United States and abroad for the ultimate holiday getaway.

11 Christmas vacations for families in the U.S.

New York City, New York

"Every Christmas movie takes place here, so they have to be doing something right," Campbell Boles says.

Families can visit the Rockefeller Christmas tree, window displays on 5th Avenue, enjoy ice skating, see the Radio City Rockettes, shop at Christmas markets and more.

Asheville, North Carolina

Come for the Biltmore Estate, Campbell Boles said, where there's a traditional Christmas celebration that includes elaborate decor and candlelit evenings. Families can also enjoy The National Gingerbread House Competition and Winter Lights at North Carolina Arboretum.

Aspen, Colorado

"Those needing snow to get in the Christmas spirit should head here and celebrate their 12 days of Christmas," Campbell Boles says, referring to the town's 12-day celebration (12 Days of Aspen) that runs through the new year. Apart from winter sports like skiing and tubing, families can also enjoy the town's annual light festival.

Park City, Utah

"Domestic ski destinations like Park City, Utah are quite popular for those looking for a winter wonderland ski and snow vacation over the winter break," Epstein tells Families visiting Park City over the holidays can also go for a sleigh ride through town or check out the Midway Ice Castles.

Nashville, Tennessee

Get ready for a country Christmas! Christmas at Gaylord Opryland is a yearly celebration that offers guests ice tubing, gingerbread house decorating, a holiday breakfast with Rudolph and other seasonal fun. Don't miss "ICE!" — a winter wonderland created from two million pounds of colorful ice.

Orlando, Florida

"Disney makes everything magical," Campbell Boles says. "Visit for Disney’s Christmas party."

Families headed to Orlando might also enjoy ice skating in shorts or decompressing at a beach outside the city.

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Travelers to Tulsa can get into the holiday spirit by strolling through twinkling lights and decorations at Gathering Place’s Winter Wonderland or Botanic Garden of Lights, ice skating on one of the largest rinks in the country at Arvest Winterfest or watching “A Christmas Carol” at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.

Charleston, South Carolina

Celebrate the holidays in the Holy City, which might feel a bit like stepping into a Charles Dickens' tale. Families can enjoy a holiday lights festival and the Children's Village at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.

If the kids are worried Santa might not stop, book the French Quarter Inn's Sleigh Bell Suite, which comes fully decked out in holiday decor and features an in-room eggnog bar, cookies and milk.

White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia

Experience the magic of Christmas starting the weekend after Thanksgiving at The Greenbrier with a tree lighting. Dubbed "America's Resort," families can experience weekends with Santa which include cookies and milk and one-to-one time with St. Nick for kids.

Arizona and California

Epstein tells that many travelers may be seeking warm weather over winter break.

"Arizona and California would be popular for travelers looking for a warm, resort like experience but without the minimum stay restrictions and expense of the Caribbean," she says.

7 family Christmas vacations outside the U.S.

For families looking outside the United States for a Christmas vacation, these seven destinations offer an abundance of holiday cheer.

Rovaniemi, Lapland

Finland has become a hot Christmas destination, Campbell Boles says. "Not only is it a winter wonderland, it is the home of Santa Claus himself. There are Christmas markets and even reindeer in the streets." Families who travel at Christmas may also experience a bonus — a possible Northern Lights sighting.


Campbell Boles says that the Christmas markets in Germany are a top winter getaway destination.

"Nuremburg (is) one of the best," she says.

Québec City, Québec

"The entire old town turns into a Christmas village," Campbell Boles explains of the Canadian city. Families visiting at Christmas can enjoy outdoor markets, ice skating and no shortage of twinkling lights.

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

"Visitors to San Miguel de Allende should go to experience the Christmas culture of Mexico in a colonial town that has both colorful celebrations, but also respects the religious aspects of the holiday," Campbell Boles says, adding there are over 40 places of worship within the old town.

London, England

Shopping, ice rinks and holiday performances...oh my!

"Big cities go all out during the holidays," Campbell Boles says, adding that London is no exception. The filming location for the famed Christmas movie "Love Actually," London offers Christmas visitors markets, theater performances and a sea of historical landmarks.

The Caribbean and Mexico

Epstein tells that beach destinations — especially in the Caribbean and Mexico — "are at peak demand" over winter holidays.

Her clients' favorites include the Bahamas, St. Lucia, Turks and Caicos, Mexico and Jamaica.