12 Best Places to Visit in December

DCBobrov / Getty Images

From warm weather romps in the sun and sand to the biting chill of a remote mountain town, there are many spectacular destinations to visit this winter season. Wander odiferous markets in Marrakech, Morocco; witness the Big Five in Kenya, Africa; with an educated expedition leader, explore our nation’s first national park, Yellowstone; or fly down a waterslide aboard a brand-new Disney cruise in the Bahamas. Whether you’re cashing in on your unused vacation days to visit a Nordic country for the first time, or you want to bring the kiddos somewhere exciting over their school break, like Puerto Vallarta, here are the top destinations to visit around the world in December.

01 of 12


Chefchaouen - The Blue Pearl of Morocco
Andre Schoenherr / Getty Images

Picture yourself wandering the slender streets of Morocco’s blue city, Chefchaouen, where cats are king; sleeping under the stars in a tented camp after a day exploring the Sahara Desert on a camel; trying a local favorite, pastilla, in a family home in Fes; learning the customs and traditions of the Amazigh people in the Dades Valley; and enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of the markets in Marrakech. Whether you visit with a friend or sign up as a solo traveler, Intrepid Travel’s Premium Morocco in Depth tour, led by a knowledgeable local guide, will help you explore the country’s best cities on a 15-day adventure.

Continue to 2 of 12 below.
02 of 12

Winnipeg, Canada

Assiniboine Park Pavilion Winnipeg
becon / Getty Images

Winnipeg, Manitoba, is an intrepid traveler’s paradise in December. It’s here, in the capital city, at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, that folks come together to explore art and architecture, learn about local culture and history, and dine out at some of the best restaurants this Canadian province has to offer. Take a tour of the Royal Canadian Mint, wander around the Manitoba Museum, and explore the Nestaweya River trail via ice bikes, snowshoes, or fat tire bikes. Cross-country skiers will love Winnipeg’s Windsor Park Nordic Center, and skaters and fishermen will love the opportunities to get out on the ice. Finally, no trip to Winnipeg is complete without a visit to the well-designed Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the first museum solely dedicated to educating and inspiring visitors about human rights issues. After you’ve made a strong effort to tour the city, you’ll need sustenance. Look no further than The Forks, where you can find some of the best noshes in the city and the top shopping prospects at stores like Global Connections, Manitobah Mukluks, and Teekca’s Aboriginal Boutique.

Continue to 3 of 12 below.
03 of 12


Disney Wish

Courtesy of Disney

Escape to the Bahamas on one of the newest ships in the Disney Cruise Line: the Disney Wish. This three or four-night cruise, which leaves out of Port Canaveral, includes Broadway-quality shows, fireworks at sea, encounters and photo opportunities with characters, first-run movie screenings, multiple swimming pools, splash zones, and a water slide. You can expect all dining experiences to be entertaining and delicious and accommodations to be comfortable, well thought out, and spacious. Disney’s Oceaneer Club is perfect for little kids ages 3-12, the Edge is fun for 11-14 year-olds, and teens ages 14-17 will dig the Vibe. And, with a mixture of adults-only spaces and access to Disney’s own private island, Castaway Cay, there’s something for everyone on this vacation.

Continue to 4 of 12 below.
04 of 12

Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks

Herd of Elk at National Elk Refuge
Raymond Gehman / Getty Images

Two of our country’s best national parks, Yellowstone and Grand Teton, are situated near each other, making it easy to tick both off your wander list. Both parks are magical in the winter when the crowds of tourists have fallen away, and you’re left with the beauty and quiet of snowy landscapes. To make the most of your time, utilize the expert help of Natural Habitat Adventures for their week-long nature-filled Yellowstone: Ultimate Wolf & Wildlife Safari. You’ll benefit from the expertise of naturalist expedition leaders who will provide valuable context to what you’re experiencing along the way. Learn about how the wolves in the remote Lamar Valley are valuable members of the Yellowstone ecosystem, culling the population of elk and bison as a private snow coach transports you to Old Faithful and other popular attractions across the park. You’ll also ride in a horse-drawn sleigh in the National Elk Refuge in Jackson, Wyoming.

Continue to 5 of 12 below.
05 of 12


Street decorations - Christmas in Denmark
Brian Bumby / Getty Images

Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital, is home to just over 805,000 residents. Most of the city’s attractions are well-located near the vibrant city center. Choose luxe accommodations at Villa Copenhagen, allowing you to access museums, shopping, and restaurants easily. See the most extensive collection of art in the country at the National Gallery of Denmark; learn about the Danish royal family and watch the changing of the guards at Amalienborg Palace; wander through the 17th-century tower and observatory, The Round Tower; and see several castles, palaces, and gardens that dot the city. 

Continue to 6 of 12 below.
06 of 12


Common zebras and hot air balloon safari
James Warwick / Getty Images

An African wildlife safari is on the bucket list for many travelers. This December, finally cross off your dream vacation and travel to Kenya, home to the Masai Mara and plenty of wild animals. The Classic Kenya 4WD Safari with Exodus Travels is designed for smaller groups who want to experience as much as possible in a shorter period. This six-night classic expedition includes three nights in a tented camp, two in a lodge, and one in a hotel. You’ll have excellent views out of the safari vehicle, whether you decide to pop your head out of the top or sit restfully in a window seat. For an extra fee, visit the Masai Mara village and join the early morning hot air balloon ride over the plains—you won’t regret it either.

Continue to 7 of 12 below.
07 of 12

The Maldives

Coco Bodu Hithi

Courtesy of Coco Collection

One of the most romantic destinations on the planet is the Maldives, a nation of 1,192 jewel-like islands in the Indian Ocean. You’ll enjoy a remote vacation with the one-island-one-resort ethos on one of the 200 inhabited islands. Bungalows are either situated in the lush jungle with a private pool or over the water attached to boardwalks. Book a stay at one of the two Coco Collection resorts—Coco Bodu Hithi or Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu. Both options offer top-notch service, excellent dining and spa offerings, beautiful accommodations, and breathtaking nature.

Continue to 8 of 12 below.
08 of 12

Chicago, Illinois

 Swissôtel Chicago

Courtesy of  Swissôtel Chicago

One of the most incredible experiences for kids in Chicago this December is an overnight stay in the Swissôtel Chicago’s Santa Suite. Back by popular demand for the ninth year in a row, the 2,000 square-foot Presidential Suite is converted into Santa’s big city holiday getaway. New this year is a bold Chicago theme, which celebrates and honors the Windy City’s sports teams, specialty foods, and popular attractions. Kids can drop a letter to Santa in his mailbox, indulge in hot cocoa and sugary treats, and wake up to 17 whimsical Christmas trees (including one decorated in Chicago-style hot dogs) and over-the-top cheery décor. Don’t forget to peek in all the closets—Santa has an extra red suit and black boots hanging in the bedroom closet. It’s a luxurious experience like no other, one that the littlest members of your family won’t soon forget.

Continue to 9 of 12 below.
09 of 12

Oslo, Norway

Cityscape of Oslo, Norway.
Mats Anda / Getty Images

The capital city of Norway, which was once a Viking trading hub, might not quickly strike you as the perfect December destination, and that’s precisely why it is. Known for its urban green spaces, a plethora of museums, and other-worldly accommodations—The Thief and Amerikalinjen, both part of the illustrious Preferred Hotels & Resorts lineup, are standouts—Oslo is a vibrant and artistic mid-sized city. Visit the Bygdøy Peninsula, where you’ll find national museums: Fram Museum, Norsk Folkemuseum, Kon-Tiki Museum, and Norwegian Maritime Museum. See the Royal Palace, Holmenkollen ski jump, and Norwegian Opera & Ballet. This vacation will offer something more distinctive and newfangled than you might be used to.

Continue to 10 of 12 below.
10 of 12

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City National Memorial at night, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA
Richard Depinay / Getty Images

The largest city in the state of Oklahoma, with a metro population exceeding 1.4 million, Oklahoma City has a lot to offer visitors—even in December. Bring your family or friends and explore Automobile Alley, located along Broadway Avenue just north of downtown. Formerly home to the city’s car dealerships, you can still see old signs as you shop and dine in this hip arts district. Explore the Oklahoma Contemporary art center, order a beverage at Sidecar Barley & Wine Bar, and pop in the inclusive feminist Common Dear boutique. Rest your head at The National, an Autograph Hotel with some of the best culinary options in the Horse Show Capital of the World. Located in a building built in 1931, the charm and character of this place shines through in all of the open spaces. Stay here, and you’ll easily access some of the city’s best attractions and museums: First Americans Museum, Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, Scissortail Park, National Cowboy and Western Museum, and Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

Continue to 11 of 12 below.
11 of 12

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Hotel Mousai

Courtesy of Hotel Mousai

It's good to have something on the calendar to look forward to, especially a tranquil vacation at Jalisco's first and only AAA Five Diamond-rated resort. The adults-only Hotel Mousai Puerto Vallarta is just the escape you've been looking for. The gourmet all-inclusive dining package and the 24-hour room service make it easy to float from each high-end restaurant to your private accommodations, taking all of the worry out of planning and logistics. Join a tequila tasting, go snorkeling and kayaking, stretch in a yoga class, and experience the hydrotherapy ritual in the spa. Leaving the beaches of Banderas Bay, Mexico, the gem of Puerto Vallarta, will be challenging, but you'll return home relaxed and ready to sink into the cozy winter season.

Continue to 12 of 12 below.
12 of 12

Whitefish, Montana

Couple skiing at sunset
Noah Clayton / Getty Images

The small mountain town of Whitefish in northwest Montana is a winter tree-filled paradise inside a snow globe. From cross-country skiing at Whitefish Lake Golf Club to snowshoeing in Glacier National Park, fat biking on Whitefish Trail, or downhill skiing at Whitefish Mountain Resort, there’s much to do here in the winter season. New to the scene, Clydesdale Outpost is the perfect place to rest your head during your Montana adventure. Enjoy a barn tour or sleigh ride and revel in the vast open night sky. Bonus: each cabin has a fireplace and a private deck with a cedar hot tub.