Best Places to Visit in December

Planning a vacation in December can feel overwhelming alongside holiday shopping and year-end festivities. But you'll thank yourself later if you squeeze in time for a trip. U.S. News considered prices, accessibility and seasonal crowds to pick the top vacation destinations to travel to in December. Whether you're seeking a warm weather hideaway or want to experience the holiday spirit in a snow-covered town, you'll find it in these five spots. Vote for your favorite below to help decide next year's list. 


Best Places to Visit in December

  • Quebec City
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    Quebec City

    #1 in Best Places to Visit in December

    It's easy to fall in love with this Canadian destination, especially when it's covered in fresh snow. You'll be enchanted by Old Québec's sights and sounds as it transforms into a Christmas village. Or, you can shop for gifts (or for yourself) in Quartier Petit-Champlain. Plus, with its 17th- and 18th-century architecture, Quebec City allows you to soak up European culture without dropping the cash for a flight across the pond. 

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  • Hawaii - The Big Island
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    Hawaii - The Big Island

    #2 in Best Places to Visit in December

    This tropical paradise is the perfect place to escape winter's onset. Weary travelers can thaw on black sand beaches, while more adventurous types can hike in Akaka Falls State Park or catch a glimpse of the 4,000-foot-tall Kilauea volcano at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. You'll likely contend with other snow birds, but you'll find that hotel prices on the Big Island are consistently lower than those on neighboring isles. 

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  • Breckenridge
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    #3 in Best Places to Visit in December

    Ski season is in full swing by December, and Breckenridge is one of the best places in the world to hit the slopes. While you can count on crowds and higher hotel rates, the 2,908 acres of skiable terrain along the Tenmile Range means there's plenty of room to spread out. Away from the fresh powder, this Colorado town offers a charming Main Street with locally owned boutiques and restaurants. Just remember to reserve your room a few months in advance before resorts are all booked up.

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  • Banff
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    #4 in Best Places to Visit in December

    At the base of the Canadian Rockies, Banff is known for its imposing landscape and superb skiing and snowboarding conditions. You can also snap Instagram-worthy photos of the town's natural beauty from the Banff Gondola and its 360-degree observation deck at the Sulphur Mountain summit. After a day full of activity, ease your muscles with a dip in the Banff Upper Hot Springs. Just remember that daylight can last as little as eight hours in December, so plan your itinerary accordingly.

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  • Torres del Paine National Park
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    Torres del Paine National Park

    #5 in Best Places to Visit in December

    This national park nestled in Chilean Patagonia offers travelers a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Frequently touted as one of the most scenic hiking destinations in the world, the park is home to turquoise lakes and dense forests in addition to the massive Glacier Grey and towering granite of Cuernos del Paine. Even though December is part of Patagonia's summer season, temperatures drop dramatically after nightfall, so travelers will want to pack layers. 

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