9 Amazing Christmas Vacation Ideas For Families

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It's difficult enough to select the ideal holiday place on your own, let alone with your entire family. Family travel may be enjoyable, and some families choose to engage their children in the decision-making process. Some of the things to keep in mind when planning a Christmas vacation include how affordable the destination is, and whether it is kid friendly. Planning makes perfect, especially when it comes to the ideal family holiday. Once you’ve gotten past the planning, you’re well on your way to a truly memorable and magical holiday.

Christmas vacations with kids: make it special!

kids unwraping presents

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Christmas is an excellent time to travel since you will see the finest of any place you choose to visit. As the year comes to a close, there is usually more than enough joy to go around, which can only be a good thing for your vacation. When organizing your vacations, you'll need to consider which parts are essential during the holidays and which you can do without, because Christmas traditions around the world are very different and can impact the whole experience for every family member.

Snow or no snow?

Do you enjoy ice skating or skiing, sleigh rides and tubing down icy slopes? Or do you prefer building sandcastles in the sand, watching light shows and parades, and shopping around at Christmas markets? Options are unlimited in terms of what you can do during your holiday vacation, so be sure to make the vision plain. If you and your family want something that deviates from the norm, you might be tempted to book a vacation in the Caribbean, or even Europe!

The top Christmas vacation ideas for families

If you’re searching for inspiration for the best Christmas vacation ideas for the whole family, we’ve listed some ideas below. Which one is your favorite?

1. Beach vacation in the Caribbean

Picture: Beaches Turks & Caicos, all-inclusive resort for families with water park.

Not dreaming of a white Christmas? A Caribbean vacation may be the ultimate Christmas family vacation! The Caribbean is a great place to go for Christmas on the beach; white sandy beaches, swaying coconut trees, sunny shores and a worry-free atmosphere. Many of the islands have resorts complete with waterparks catering specifically to children, so if that sounds like the kind of trip you’ve always wanted, the next step would be packing and booking flights!

If you’re looking for the perfect family escape for Christmas, consider islands with short flight times like Jamaica, and Turks and Caicos. Jamaica offers opportunities to take a swim in some of the most amazing places like the Dunn’s River Falls and the Blue Hole, both located near all-inclusive family resort Beaches Ocho Rios. Relax on the famous Seven Mile Beach at Beaches Negril, which features a water park located right on the beach.

If your kids love the beach, they’ll love Grace Bay Beach in Turks & Caicos, which was voted the most beautiful beach in the world. Beaches Turks & Caicos is located right on this beach and features 21 restaurants on-property, plus one of the largest water parks in the Caribbean! All of which your family has unlimited access.

In addition to bright lights and stunning fireworks displays during the holidays, all Beaches resorts include Kids Camps with certified nannies, Sesame Street characters, snorkel trips, a nightclub for teenagers and plenty of activities on the beach to make this Christmas an unforgettable Christmas for the whole family!

2. Retreat to the mountains

aspen ski resort

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Some people want to get away from the cold for Christmas, while others want to bask in it. Chilly outdoors mean you can engage in activities long associated with the holiday season, including skiing, warming your toes by the fireplace, and enjoying a good ol’ frosty Christmas. That’s exactly the kind of experience you’ll find if you opt for a Christmas vacation in the mountains, which is among the most top-rated things to do around Christmas. The mountains in this sense include places like Breckenridge or Aspen in the Rocky Mountains, Park City (East of Salt Lake City), Jackson Hole in Wyoming or even Vail Mountain. One of the most fun things about spending Christmas in the mountains is that at the end of an activity filled day, you can gather around the fireplace with some hot chocolate and the people you love most and spend some time bonding and reminiscing on Christmases past.

3. Visit and stay at a theme park

amusement park

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The kids will surely have a hard time containing themselves if a theme park experience is brought into the Christmas equation, and why should they? A Christmas vacation after all, only comes around once a year! Among the best theme parks in the world for the holidays are Chocolate Town (Hersheypark) which opens in 2020 and is expected to include about 45 rides for both adults and children, Santa’s Enchanted Forest (the OG of holiday theme parks) with over 100 rides, and of course, Walt Disney World, and even SeaWorld, Orlando. If you’re looking for something fun to do for Christmas, you should also consider visiting Santa’s Workshop in New York which offers a whimsical, old fashioned “Christmas in the North Pole”. This experience which has been ongoing since 1949 includes one-on-one encounters with Santa and his reindeer, tours of the facility, and more.

All in all, there’s simply no going wrong with choosing a theme park for your family Christmas vacation where you’ll get to experience things like parades, light and fireworks shows, and lots of entertainment.

4. Join the festivities in a small town for the winter

small town holiday festivities

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Small towns are out of the ordinary when it comes to Christmas vacations, but that's part of what makes them so enticing. You'll be able to enjoy a more peaceful and family-oriented holiday, which will undoubtedly serve to remind you of what the Christmas season is all about. As far as small towns go, Santa Claus Town (Indiana), is one of the best bets. From holiday themed accommodation, restaurants and theme parks, you’ll find it all in Santa Claus Town. If you’re looking for something along those lines you can also try places like Skaneateles in New York which plays host to an old-fashioned ‘Dickens Christmas’ event annually, or Lancaster in Pennsylvania where you can go to Dutch Winter Wonderland with the kids, Longwood Gardens, or any of the other local Christmas events that are bound to bring that much more meaning to your holiday celebration.

5. Chase the Northern Lights with the kids

northern lights family camping

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Who doesn’t want to see the Northern Lights at least once in a lifetime? Places like Alaska, Sweden, and Norway are among the best places in the world to catch a good view, even though a sighting isn’t always guaranteed. In any of these locations you will have an opportunity to have that white Christmas you’ve always wanted, tweaked to perfection (glass igloos included!). Korvatunturi in Finland in particular, also known as Lapland (Santa Claus Village) has long been associated as being the home of Father Christmas, or Santa Claus. For that reason, a Lapland Christmas vacation with kids is considered “the ultimate holiday experience”. From husky sledding, to reindeer sleigh rides, all the way to toboggan racing, children will surely love this icy, winter wonderland. If you choose this location above the other incredible locations to view the Northern Lights, you can sell it to the kids as a great opportunity to hand deliver a Christmas letter to Santa!

6. Marvel at the Christmas decorations of Colonial Williamsburg

williamsburg virginia christmas decorations

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Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia is great for a history packed vacation and a great Christmas vacation idea for families interested in exploring an 18th century American community. It has been restored for the purposes of preserving history will enjoy this experience which offers opportunities to see how Christmas was celebrated back in the day, and how it is celebrated today. History stays fresh at Colonial Williamsburg where you’ll get to explore three different museums, visit the African American Interpretation center, and take in some of the other events and activities. This trip is best for kids with an appreciation for history who love discovering new things. The whole city is considered the world’s largest living history museum, so come prepared to learn! While in Williamsburg, don’t forget to check out Busch Gardens Christmas Town which features holiday shows, one of the largest lights displays in North America, a Christmas train, and more.

7. All aboard the Polar Express!

polar express

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Perfect for families with small children, this is the ideal Christmas vacation idea to make every child’s dream come true. Every child deserves to ride the Polar Express at least once; why not during your Christmas family vacation? Christmas magic runs as the central theme for all things Polar Express, including the holiday movie and book by the same name. Years after the movie was released, fans can still enjoy Polar Express at its most exhilarating, with the Polar Express trains located at more than 40 locations in the United States. Readings, music from the soundtrack, hot chocolate, and Santa interactions are all part of the experience. This one works great in combination with the number 9 on this list!

8. Be amazed by the Christmas decorations in the big US cities

nyc christmas decor

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Christmas vacation ideas for families extend well beyond theme parks and tours. They’re also about creating experiences. Seeing the joy on your children’s faces at a new experience is second to none, whether the reason for their joy revolves around a freshly unwrapped toy, Christmas desserts, or the discovery of a new place. This is what makes exploring big cities in the US so exciting. During the holidays most US cities are decked out, covered with lights, decorations, impressive Christmas trees and ice-skating rinks. This is a great time to explore with the kids as you’ll get the best of what each city has to offer, including the happiness that comes with being surrounded by vibrant, happy people all with a common goal: to make this Christmas better than the last!

Some cities like NYC are great for shopping, while others like Chicago offer lots of activities and various holiday traditions (like the parade down the Magnificent Mile). From mid to late November, most big cities have already gotten their décor up, and some of the most interesting ones to visit during the holiday season include Washington DC, Philadelphia, Denver and Boston in the United States.

9. Enjoy winter wonderland and go on a city trip in Northern Europe

northern europe christmas decor

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Northern Europe may not be everyone’s first choice for a Christmas family vacation, but it is at the top of the list of those who know just how much of a hidden gem it is. If you visit with family, one of the best cities to explore during the holidays is Cologne. Christmas markets and parties abound in this German territory, and you can even visit the Chocolate museum while you’re there. Other interesting cities include Bern in Switzerland, Hallstatt in Austria, Tallinn in Estonia and Prague in the Czech Republic. All of these destinations stand out for their authentic Christmas holiday experiences, but Prague is also a top choice; from the Gothic and Baroque architecture which is in the holiday season fitted with Christmas lights, to the theatrical shows and seasonal holiday markets, not forgetting the historic Old Town Square, the “heart” of Prague, you and your kids will have plenty of holiday memories to take home with you.

Where will you take your family during the holidays?

There are several Christmas vacation ideas for families. It may be tough to choose just one of these possibilities for your next vacation, but you can always store the others for later. Whether you choose to visit a large metropolis or relax in a Caribbean all-inclusive family resort, your holiday memories will last a lifetime.

FAQ's on Christmas Vacations

Where is the best place to vacation for Christmas?

The best place to vacation for Christmas depends on one thing - whether you like hot or cold weather! For a unique Christmas at the beach, it doesn’t get better than a Caribbean getaway for white sandy beaches and family fun. For classic cold weather vacations, Northern Europe can’t be beaten for its traditional markets and temperatures dipping below 50℉!

What countries are hot at Christmas?

Many countries south of the equator are hot at Christmas including those in the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South America, Australasia and South East Asia. Ranging from the early 70s to a scorching 110℉ and beyond, we recommend the Caribbean for a balmy vacation in the mid 80s.

Where is the most beautiful place to spend Christmas?

This is based on personal preference and the kinds of activities you’re looking for. Whether you want a sunny getaway, an adventurous trip or a chilled-out vacation with the whole family, there are many places to be explored.

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Kylie Morrow

About Kylie Morrow

Writing for 13 years, Kylie discovered that experiences tell the best stories. As a Caribbean mother who wrote for newspapers, magazines, and blogs, she believes inspiration is even found in our kids!