The Christmas and New Year holidays are a great time for families to take a break from their busy schedules and spend quality time together. As it’s a very popular time to travel, it is important to book your travel plans early to ensure you get the dates, flights, and accommodations you want.
There are a variety of exciting vacation options to consider where you can celebrate this festive time of year. Here are some ideas:
EUROPE CHRISTMAS MARKETS
The holiday season in Europe is like a fairytale. It’s a magical time of year, especially for children, made even more special by the enchanting Christmas markets all over Europe, from Croatia to Copenhagen. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind experience for the whole family.
Christmas Markets originated in Germany in the 14th century. Now villages, towns, and cities across the country come to life for the festivities, each with its traditions and flair. Starting on Advent at the end of November and continuing until noon on Christmas Eve, they are called Christkindlmarkt (meaning “Christ child market) or Weihnachtsmarkt.
Strolling through the decorated markets full of wooden chalet stalls, twinkly lights, local craftspeople selling traditional German crafts, and the scents of delicious local food like Lebkuchen (gingerbread), Stollen (traditional German Christmas bread), and Bratwurst and warm local beverages like Glühwein (hot mulled wine) takes you back in time.
And while you’re there, why not Christmas in a castle? Germany is home to over 20,000 castles, so there are plenty of options for those looking to stay in a castle for the Christmastime holidays.
Skiing in a snowy destination makes for a very festive getaway. With so many incredible ski destinations around the world, there is sure to be the perfect spot for your family. Whether staying in a cozy mountain cabin or a luxury resort for cross-country skiing or enjoying bunny slopes and building a family snowman or having a snowball fight.
Many ski resorts in the United States and Canada offer family activities for all ages. Some of the best ski resorts for families include Aspen Snowmass, Colorado; Vail, Colorado; Breckenridge, Colorado; and the Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada. These resorts provide ski lessons for kids and adults, snowboarding, and other winter sports.
Why not consider a Europe ski trip? Nestled in the Swiss Alps is Zermatt, Switzerland is one of the most popular international ski destinations for families with incredible views of the Matterhorn, an extensive ski area that covers over 350 km of slopes, and a wide variety of ski schools. Or consider Chamonix, France, the lovely village surrounded by the high peaks of the Mont-Blanc Mountain range where you can ski tour, snow tube, explore the charming town and ride the gondola to the top of the mountains for incredible views.
A beach vacation is perfect for families looking to escape cold winter weather. Destinations like Hawaii, the Caribbean, and Mexico offer warm weather and a range of family-friendly activities.
An escape to any of Hawai‘i's six main tropical islands immerses you in the exotic culture, language, food, and people of the Hawaiian and South Pacific…and you don't need a passport – as it is part of the United States. Your family can enjoy warm ocean waters, sandy beaches, majestic volcanoes, two National Parks, boating, surfing, windsurfing, diving, golf, hiking, scuba, and snorkeling. Not to mention the fantastic cultural experiences and delicious cuisine.
Mexico is an easy-to-get-to international destination from most U.S. cities and is very family-friendly. It offers all kinds of adventures, from heritage and cultural experiences to beautiful beaches and water sports. All-inclusive resorts are a great way for everyone to relax and enjoy. The most common vacation destinations are the Mexican Caribbean on the east coast or Mexican Riviera on the west.
The Caribbean consists of 7,000 islands – of which only around 700 are inhabited. No matter where you go, each island offers its own charm. The Caribbean provides relaxing beaches, excellent water sports, welcoming and friendly people, centuries-old culture and history, scenic attractions, and deliciously fresh local cuisine. Your family will enjoy boundless opportunities to connect with nature, from snorkeling vibrant coral reefs to hiking and ziplining in tropical rainforests.
A holiday cruise can be a great way for families to celebrate together while exploring new destinations, but in a floating hotel where you only need to unpack once. Many cruise lines offer holiday-themed activities, entertainment, and opportunities to relax and spend time together.
Some popular Ocean Cruise lines for families include Royal Caribbean and Disney Cruise Line. It’s an all-inclusive low-stress resort on the water. And there’s something for everyone in the family, from dining and entertainment options to kids’ clubs, swimming, sports, shopping, and spas.
European River Cruise vacations are another popular family activity over the holidays. The ships are festively decorated while cruising in luxury and visiting some of the world’s most beautiful cities and Christmas markets along the Rhine or Danube Rivers.
Longer holiday breaks are a wonderful opportunity to visit a place you've always wanted to go, like South Africa or Australia.
Australia is the world’s smallest continent. The “Reef, Rock, and Bridge” itinerary is perfect for first-time visitors. Over a 12 to 14-day vacation, your family can experience the icons, including climbing Sydney Harbor Bridge and seeing a performance at the Sydney Opera House in New South Wales. Exploring the ancient Daintree Rainforest and diving at the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns, Queensland. Learning about traditional rock art, dot painting, and hearing stories from Indigenous Australians at Uluru in Northern Territory and getting up close with incredible wildlife – including koalas, wallabies, emus, crocodiles, dingos, wombats, platypus, and kangaroos - in their natural habitat.
South Africa offers an incredible variety of experiences, one of the major reasons why it is generally the first place people start traveling on the African continent. A perfect route for a first-time visit includes Johannesburg, Cape Town, and a Safari experience. One of the best itineraries for families is the Garden Route, an epic road trip along the southern coast of the African continent.
Visiting a big city can be an exciting holiday adventure. Many cities offer holiday-themed events and activities, such as ice-skating rinks, light shows, holiday markets, and parades. It’s a great time to visit New York City, Chicago, London, and Paris.
THEME PARK VACATIONS
Many theme parks offer special holiday events and activities, such as the Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Studios Theme Park in Florida and Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm in California. These, of course, include rides and attractions and can include parades, fireworks, and visits with Santa Claus.
Ultimately, the best vacation for your family over the Christmas and New Year holidays will depend on your preferences and interests. Getting away during this time of year can be the best gift for everyone!
Holiday Season Adventure Awaits!