December means winter and the busy holiday travel season across much of the United States. By the time December comes around, it may have already been snowing for a month in high elevations across the West Coast and in the northernmost states, particularly in Alaska.
For the Snow Lovers
The prepared traveler shouldn’t let the snow stop them; December sees some cites at their best. The adventure-seeking traveler should head to Anchorage, Alaska, for a glimpse of the Northern Lights, which are at their most spectacular throughout December.
Ski destinations in the Rocky Mountains and the Grand Tetons also come into their prime season, and powder lovers should take advantage and head to places like Big Sky in Montana or Breckenridge in Colorado. Major cites including New York City and Chicago are brisk with temperatures in the low thirties to forties, but make the trip worth it with stunning holiday lights and displays that typically appear the week after Thanksgiving and stay up throughout the month.
For Beach Lovers
For those looking to get away from the brisker temperatures that will be in New England, the Midwest and the mid-Atlantic, states in the Southeast and Southwest hover around 70 degrees all month long. Florida is a popular destination for those fleeing the cold at home, and an exciting place to be all month long as cities across the state celebrate the season with events like the Winterfest Boat Parade in Fort Lauderdale and Art Basel in Miami Beach.
December is also a great time to check out western hot spots like Los Angeles, and although it won’t be beach weather with temperatures typically under 70 degrees, hotels offer cheaper rates, and destinations like Disneyland tend to be much less crowded. Off of the west coast Hawaii remains a tropical 80 degrees and higher throughout December and the rest of the winter season, and can be a great place for those who want nothing to do with a white Christmas.
The last two weeks of the month can be packed with families taking advantage of school breaks, so travelers looking to find peace and quiet should try to visit during the first few weeks of the month.
Travel Tips for December
Make sure to pack your patience when you head off in December, airports can be packed, especially in the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Years. The snow that falls across much of the country during December travel times is infamous for delayed and cancelled flights, so budget in extra time when scheduling trips. Arriving early, using travel apps on your smartphone and keeping checked baggage to a minimum are good ways to ensure a hassle-free trip. Here are more resources for information on winter weather, holidays, and events in the U.S.:
At a glance: average monthly temperatures for the Top 10 tourist destinations in the United States (High / Low):
- New York City: 44°F / 32°F (7°C / 0°C)
- Los Angeles: 68°F / 50°F (20°C / 10°C)
- Chicago: 35°F / 21°F (2°C / -6°C)
- Washington, DC: 47°F / 32°F (9°C / 0°C)
- Las Vegas: 58°F / 34°F (14°C / 1°C)
- San Francisco: 57°F / 45°F (14°C / 7°C)
- Hawaii: 82°F / 67°F (28°C / 20°C)
- Grand Canyon: 43°F / 20°F (6°C / -7°C)
- Florida: 73°F / 51°F (23°C / 10°C)*
- New Orleans: 64°F / 47°F (18°C / 9°C)
*average temp given for Orlando, Florida (see Florida link below for average December temperatures for cities throughout Florida)
Helpful December Weather Links for Top Tourist Destinations
- New York City Weather and Event Guide for December
- Los Angeles Weather and Climate Information for December
- December in Chicago
- December in Washington, DC
- December in Las Vegas
- San Francisco Weather and Climate Information
- How's the Weather in Hawaii?
- Grand Canyon Climate Information
- Florida Weather in December
- December in New Orleans