2016 Best Holiday Destinations and Escapes

Are you hoping to make this holiday season as magical and memorable as possible? Who says you have to stay home in order to enjoy the winter festivities? Book a holiday vacation this year and enjoy the holidays like you never have before. There are destinations that will hearken back to the old days with holiday lights, carols and cocoa. Or you could escape it all and spend your holidays laid out on a sun-soaked beach with a cocktail in hand. Whichever your preference, make this season merry with these perfect holiday destinations!

If you’d like to grip nostalgia by the shirt collar, you can’t beat these holiday destinations that really know how to do it up every December.


1. Whistler, CA

Whistler Mtn.

Photo by Murray Foubister / CC BY-SA


Photo by peanutian / CC BY-SA

If your idea of the perfect Christmas is the quintessential “White Christmas,” look no further than Whistler, Canada! This quaint town embraces the holidays every year with all of their fun Christmas traditions and old-time charm. This real-life snow globe boasts a Christmas village decorated with millions of lights and holiday-themed activities the whole family will enjoy. Get some skiing in while you’re there, too. The ski lift provides the best, birds-eye-view of Whistler’s winter wonderland!


2. Charleston, SC, USA


Photo (left) by Robert Newman / CC BY-SA and Photo (right) by Justin Leonard / CC BY


Photo by North Charleston / CC BY-SA

There is no hospitality like southern hospitality. If you’re looking to recreate the days of yore when the whole town celebrated the holidays together and everyone felt life family, head to Charleston. The feel of Christmas is in every nook and cranny in this vibrant city. Almost every street is lit up with dazzling light displays and there is no shortage of fun holiday activities to keep you busy on cold days. And, since it’s Charleston, they put their own spin on some old holiday traditions: poinsettias are proudly displayed everywhere, egg-nog gets spiked with bourbon and pecans are roasted instead of chestnuts.


3. Edinburgh, UK


Photo by Rob Schulze/ CC BY-SA

Edinburgh Christmas Market, 2014

Photo by Graham Campbell / CC BY-SA

This awe-inspiring city is steeped in history, so Christmas here is a beautiful blend of tradition married with modern times. Bagpipes play Christmas carols while visitors peruse the Christmas markets and fun-filled activities throughout the city. The “Street of Light Festival” is second to none when it comes to Christmas parades and the city even hosts a fabulous firework show that erupt over the perfect backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. The whole city is just stunning at this time of year; if you’ve been wanting to visit Scotland, there truly is no better time to go than during the holidays.


If your idea of the perfect holiday vacation encompasses the complete opposite of Christmas (warm weather and sandy beaches,) look no further than these 3 great spots.

1. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico


Photo (left) by cplbasilisk / CC BY and Photo (right) by Nan Palmero / CC BY


Photo by tour geek / CC BY

Cabo’s temperate beaches are great any time of year, but if you’re looking to spend Christmas in paradise, Cabo is your best bet. With temperatures hovering between 70 and 80 degrees, your Christmas can be spent soaking up the sun and playing in the waves. The Mexican Christmas flair is alive and well in San Jose Del Cabo, as well. So when you’re done playing in the sand and want to be reminded that it’s Christmas, just head to the center of town to take in the brightly decorated tree and enjoy the holiday spirit with fellow tourists and locals alike.


2. Kaikoura, New Zealand


Photo by Sheila Thomson / CC BY


Photo by Sid Mosdell / CC BY

Travel and Leisure listed this New Zealand town as one of the top places to spend the holidays. If you want a completely new experience on Christmas Day, this is the place for you! Considering it’s Summer in New Zealand in December, there are tons of sunbathers and people hitting the waves during the holiday season in Kaikoura. The wildlife-viewing opportunities are vast here, and eco-tourism is touted throughout the whole area. This laid-back city is downright gorgeous and truly is the perfect escape from cold winters and the typical bustling holiday season.


3. St. Martin and St. Maarten


Photo (left) by Heather Hagans DiMasi / CC BY-SA and Photo (right) by Jeff Sargent / CC BY


Photo by Stefan Krasowski / CC BY

This gorgeous island boasts some of the most stunning beaches in the world, so it bore inclusion on this list. If your perfect holiday vacation dream includes mesmerizing turquoise waters and exciting new traditions, St. Martin is your best bet. Spend your days frolicking in the sand and then enjoy your evenings browsing the holiday markets or taking in the palm trees decked out in holiday lights throughout the city (with no fear of frost-bite!) You’ll get the Caribbean spin on Christmas here: holiday drinks are spiked with rum, traditional Christmas meals are jerk-flavored and there’s nothing quite like hearing Christmas songs being played on steel drums. This Christmas escape can’t be beat!