Our Top 3 Favorite Christmas Destinations

December 14, 2021

Escape the big city lights and add some sparkle to your holidays in our selection of beautifully decorated and enchanting towns with big festive cheer. Our top 3 favorite destinations for Christmas combine beautiful scenery, outdoor activities, holiday traditions, brilliant light displays, and inviting places to stay for a magical and safe Christmas vacation loaded with fun, thrills, and holiday cheer.


Hilton Head, South Carolina

Bring the whole family for a Lowcountry coastal Christmas on America’s Favorite Island. Hilton Head is the #1 Island in the US and a long-standing favorite for families in search of a warm-weather destination for the festive season. The island plantations, oak-lined streets, museums, galleries, storefronts, and marinas are aglow with holiday lights and cheer, and Hilton Head tops the charts for holiday events and festivities.

Palmetto Hall Golf

Enjoy a round in the Low Country at Palmetto Hall Golf Club

There’s outdoor adventures for all ages with 12 miles of pristine beaches for lazy beach days and water activities, 60 miles of trails for family bike rides and hiking, an unparalleled choice of lush green golf courses, fabulous boat tours, and fishing charters, and world-class bird watching at Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge. The idyllic holiday destination for romantic getaways and a fun-filled family vacation.

Creating your Hilton Head holiday itinerary is fun! The iconic Harbour Town Lighthouse is surrounded by millions of twinkling lights during the Harbour Town Lights at Sea Pines Resort. There’s a towering Christmas tree for family photos, live entertainment and activities, Christmas shopping, waterfront restaurants, and the Polar Pines Express Holiday Wagon Ride to the North Pole for the kiddies.

The Shelter Cove Towne Center is lined with Christmas boats and a canopy of holiday lights over Shelter Cove Lane with decorated storefronts and regular visits from Santa. Last, but not least, the Christmas Village at South Beach Marina has fantastical light displays and decorations, holiday treats, hot cocoa and s’mores, fireside adult happy hour specials, and the famous Salty Dog Christmas trains.

Enjoy unique experiences on Hilton Head. See the twinkling festive lights and iconic landmarks of Hilton Head on a Hilton Head Island sunset cruise, discover hidden treasures on a SUP, kayak tour, or crabbing adventure in the Lowcountry marshes, or put on your favorite Christmas tunes and take a scenic drive to see the Christmas lights of historic Savannah.


All aboard for a sunset cruise from Vagabond Cruises!

Our Xplorie partners Beach House Boutique and Beach Properties of Hilton Head offer a selection of over 500 Hilton Head vacation rentals for a coastal island escape. Enjoy festive fun for the whole family with heated pools and hot tubs, outdoor grilling stations for oyster roasts, themed kids rooms, resort-style amenities, and complimentary Xplorie activities for each day of your stay.


Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Gatlinburg at Christmastime offers the best of both worlds with the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway on your doorstep for nature adventures, skiing, snowboarding, and mountain activities at Ober Gatlinburg, and world-class tourist attractions decked with holiday lights and festive cheer.


A festive light show for all to see!

Escape the crowds and head off the beaten path on the waterfall trails in Great Smoky Mountain National Park or take a scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway with overlooks, tranquil picnic spots, and plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in nature. On the subject of scenic drives, Gatlinburg’s top Christmas attraction has to be Winterfest in the Smoky Mountains where the Parkway from Gatlinburg through Pigeon Forge to Sevierville is lit up with more than 5 million lights, colorful displays, and musical fountains, a Christmas experience not to be missed.

Gatlinburg’s tourist attractions are world-class and pull out all the stops over the Christmas season. The Lights Over Gatlinburg at Gatlinburg Skylift Park features America’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge glistening with over 60,000 lights, Dollywood puts on a heartwarming holiday show at America’s best Christmas event, Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas, and a journey to the top of Anakeesta Mountain welcomes you to a magical winter wonderland with immersive experiences and thousands of twinkling lights.


There’s plenty of Christmas cheer at Dollywood!

Experience an enchanting Hallmark Christmas with free attractions for the whole family when you book your Gatlinburg Christmas vacation with an Xplorie lodging partner. Our Smoky Mountain partners SkyView Rentals, iTrip Gatlinburg, and Stony Brook Cabin Rentals offer a selection of Gatlinburg cabin and chalet rentals ranging from cozy cabins for two to majestic mountain lodges for large group getaways, with free entry to some of Gatlinburg’s top attractions, entertainment, and dinner shows.


Branson, Missouri

If Santa had to choose a Christmas vacation destination, it would likely be Branson in the heart of the Ozark Mountains. Branson is America’s Christmas Tree City and goes all out during the holiday season with brilliant light displays, festive Christmas parades, elaborate drive-throughs, over 100 live shows, and thousands of beautifully decorated trees on display.

The Trail of Lights is a long-standing Branson tradition with millions of lights and animated displays through the Shepherd of the Hills Homestead. Branson’s newest holiday tradition is the drive-thru Let There Be Lights at the Promised Land Zoo with family activities and real reindeers to pet! Whether you’re on a romantic getaway or family Christmas trip, ice-skating under the Electrify Christmas music and light spectacular on the Branson Ferris Wheel is a must!


The Titanic Museum is adorned with beautiful Christmas decorations

Branson’s internationally awarded Silver Dollar City is one of “America’s Best Theme Parks” and “Most Illuminated Parks on Earth”. The “An Old Time Christmas” celebration and Christmas in Midtown Light Spectacular nightly parade features over 6.5 million twinkling lights, 1,000 Christmas trees, and an all-new holiday show, Home for Christmas.

The Titanic Museum, the world’s largest museum attraction, is adorned in magical lights during the winter holidays and hosts a Titanic Christmas and Winter Celebration with the sights and sounds of the festive season and be sure to get your tickets for two attractions in one at the Super Fun Zone and bizarre Odditorium at Ripley’s Believe it or Not!, open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

The winter weather is mild so you can still get outdoors in the Ozarks, fish for bass or trout in the Branson Lakes or explore hundreds of miles of forest and lakeside trails on foot, bike, or horseback. If you’re visiting Table Rock Lake be sure to check out the edible village of gingerbread houses at the nearby Chateau on the Lake Resort.

Our Branson vacation rentals range from cozy forest lodging and mountain resort condos to lakeside cabins and large river retreats for Christmas family reunions and many of Branson’s top Christmas attractions can be enjoyed for free when you book your holiday home with Xplorie.


Enjoy the outdoors at Table Rock Lake

Wherever you choose to vacation this festive season, travel safe and we hope your holidays are full of love, peace, joy, momentous journeys, and unique travel experiences!

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