Our Favorite Ways to Celebrate the Holidays Around Alexandria-Arlington, VA

This side of the Potomac is the steady and growing another half to the Capital, a vibrant and growing region making bounds in every area, with more than its own scores of restaurants, parks, attractions, and activities to match the other parts of the DMV. Whether you are a tourist drafting a holiday season itinerary, a returning local visiting friends and family, or a curious local, you’ll find something for everyone in the northern Virginia area. Read on for some of our favorite holiday season festivals and events here around the Alexandria-Arlington area.

Holidays at the National Harbor

A short trip over the Potomac to National Harbor and visitors will find holiday season joy all throughout the winter, with regular events and festivities happening all the time! Among these are grandiose firework shows, movies on the harbor, storytelling sessions, and circus shows! Whether you are searching for a lower-stakes, relaxed community event for the holiday season or just looking for a pleasant evening outing, head over to the National Harbor and join the party!


Rosslyn Central Place Plaza

Enjoy lights and sounds of holiday season cheer at Rosslyn Central Place Plaza, a great photo opportunity, and a sightseeing event to tour a number of ‘Wanderland’ stations around a gorgeous Christmas tree. This event combines the sense of community and calm of a town square with the excitement of the holidays and is a great option for families, groups, and couples to spend the evening exploring while making plenty of memories.


Water Skiing Santa

One of the more unique sights in the Alexandria-Arlington area during the holiday season is the stunning feats of athleticism and dexterity of waterskiing and water sports on the Potomac every Christmas Eve. Among these water skiing and boating professionals that flip, dance, and grace the water include… Santa Claus? Indeed, Christmas icons such as Santa Claus and the Grinch also take part in the stunts, making for a truly special and amusing sight over the water for all in the capital region. Come watch Santa Claus show off his water skiing skills in this hilarious and captivating performance at the Waterskiing Santa Water Ski Christmas show.

View of DC

For a more serene and inspiring holiday season event, come out to the View of DC, where visitors can look out at the whole capital region adorned in holiday season lights. This is great for both travelers and locals alike to appreciate the beauty of the region like never before, a unique point providing views over historic Georgetown, the capital and its most prominent institutions and monuments, the Potomac, the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery, and the Alexandria-Arlington region as a whole. This is a great activity when catching the sunsets, or ending a day’s worth of plans with a more mellow, reflective activity to wind down after adventuring and exploring the capital region.

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Our Favorite Ways to Spend the Holiday Season Around Washington, DC.

Washington, DC. The nation’s capital, seemingly packed to the brim with landmark institutions, events, and activity everywhere you look, visitors and locals alike will not fail to find more than enough to do here around the year. Between travelers composing an itinerary for a holiday getaway and curious locals, there’s something for everyone here in Washington DC. Read on for some of our favorite holiday season festivals and events here around the capital.

National Christmas Tree

Being the nation’s capital, it comes as no surprise to many visitors that this city would house many of the nation’s flagship and representative institutions in so many different fields, whether in government, specific areas of study, or in certain causes. Among these, however, is one mammoth sight to greet all visitors to Washington DC during the holiday season, the national Christmas tree! Towering over the capital, this grand and magnificent sight has been a tradition for many years, serving as a hub of holiday spirit and celebration for the capital. Whether just to witness its size and splendor, or to enjoy the many live music and dance performances around the tree throughout the season, we recommend paying a visit to this capital giant while you’re in the area.

Tea at the Willard InterContinental Washington

Among the many iconic and storied hotels and institutions of the capital, the Willard InterContinental makes a name for itself in the extravagant and pleasant holiday tea it offers to visitors throughout the season. This is a great experience for groups, families, and couples alike to enjoy delicious finger sandwiches, pastries, and warming pots of tea all in this gorgeous setting combining rich history and luxury. Aside from the tea, the Willard notably has live jazz performances on a regular basis and is worth a walk around its grounds on account of its history alone.

Downtown Holiday Market

The Downtown Holiday Market is a great place to get holiday shopping done and see some of the best in small business and independent craftsmanship of the DMV all in one spot! Here, visitors comb through the endless booths to score a true one-of-a-kind item, whether clothing, jewelry, artwork and prints, fragrances and soap, DIY kits, books, cards, and of course, food. For all those creative outlets and interests, whether it’s gardening, construction, cooking, fashion, or photography, there’s something for everyone to explore and enjoy at Washington DC’s Downtown Holiday Market. Adding to the excitement is also a number of live musicians and singers performing during this event, as well as rare exhibitors on select days, so be sure to check the attendance who might be present each day, you might miss a rare appearance! Catch this massive event and get to meet and shop while embracing and celebrating the diversity of the arts and crafts, of the capital and the nation here at the Downtown Holiday Market!

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Our Favorite Ways to Spend the Holidays Around Times Square, NYC

Vibrant Times Square. This energetic and dynamic part of New York City with its shops, shows, and lights showcase so much that New York City has to offer. Whether a visitor or a local resident, you don’t need to go too far from here to see and do it all. Read on for some of our favorite ways to spend the holidays around Times Square.

Times Square Ball Drop

This being one of New York City’s most electric and active hubs, it is no surprise that one of the nation’s, if not the world’s most iconic sights of the holiday season is right here in Times Square. The Times Square Ball Drop truly is a one-of-a-kind experience for all who can attend it, over the years becoming the visual manifestation of the step into a new calendar year. This kicks off one of the city’s largest parties of the year and has only grown more and more notable with each iteration. Aside from the truly captivating and intense atmosphere, visitors can also enjoy seeing the many famous faces of entertainment, music, sports, and broadcasting as they take the stage during this event. In recent years, this has included appearances from Tyga, Dua Lipa, Charlie Puth, Shawn Mendes, Halsey, and more! Be sure not to miss this event if you’ll be around Times Square for the New Year.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade

As one of the world’s largest parades, this parade proves the events around Times Square do things big. This is the nation’s most televised and recognized sights of the Thanksgiving holidays, a massive parade of Broadway performers, marching bands, famous singers, the many faces and workers of New York City, and of course, gigantic balloons. Some of these A-list faces that have appeared for the crowds at Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade include Al Roker, Diana Ross, Rita Ora, John Legend, Bazzi, and Bad Bunny. The joyful atmosphere at this event cannot be overstated, and for all visitors in the Times Square area for the holidays, we highly recommend taking to the streets and joining the festivities during this truly special spectacle.

Ice Skating at the Rockefeller Centre

Another New York City tradition of the holidays, Ice Skating on the giant rink in front of Rockefeller Centre in the heart of New York is a timeless favorite. This is a great option for groups, families, couples, and solo travelers to all experience the unique atmosphere of a filled rink in the big apple, and a great way to warm up while skating under some of the city’s most famed sights. Aside from the skating, the major attractions in the near vicinity with an envied selection of fine dining and shopping experiences make this an easy addition to any larger travel plans in the neighborhood.

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Our Favorite Ways to Spend the Holidays Around Seattle, WA

Seattle. This verdant corner of the nation boasts pleasant temperatures, majestic peaks, evergreen forests all in a dynamic and independent city, and with more than plenty to do. Whether you’ve made this your holiday season getaway, are returning to see friends and family, or are a curious local, you’ll be pleased with the variety of options when it comes to what Seattle has to offer. Read on for some of our favorite festivals and events here in the Seattle holiday season.

Snowflake Lane

One of Seattle’s most charming and magical events of the holiday season is the show put on at Snowflake Lane. Enjoy the colors, sights, sounds, and wonder of the holidays during this nightly parade through the streets, complete with live music, dancing troupes, light shows, costumes, stunts, and good vibes all under the snow. All your favorite holiday season faces come out to join the fun at Snowflake Lane, an event that only grows bigger and more inclusive with each year. This event is a great option for families, couples, groups, and solo travelers alike to celebrate the holidays in a truly fun and community-centered manner.


Head over to the iconic Seattle Center and enjoy one of the city’s most vibrant and jolly spectacles, Winterfest! This is a celebration of variety with something for everyone, including food for every palate, a Winter Village and Train ride, ice sculptures made on location, a light show, and live performances from bands, musicians, dancers, and entertainers. Whether for date night, a family/group outing, or a solo traveler’s adventure, Winterfest is a solid option for any travelers in Seattle for the holidays.

Urban Craft Uprising

The Pacific Northwest’s premier event for independent creativity, artisans, cottage industry, and craftsmen, Urban Craft Uprising is a great experience for all in the Seattle area. Visitors can browse endless booths offering truly one-of-a-kind pottery, ingredients, jewelry, clothing, costumes, artwork, toys, furniture, and DIY kits, with something for everyone. Aside from the shopping, visitors can also interact and learn about the work of independent creators and artists from over the northwest and the nation, a great place for those personally interested in crafts to interact with others in the community. Bring the whole party to Urban Craft Uprising and score something unique.

Holidays at Pike Place Market

One of Seattle’s most famed locations, Pike Place Market is a great place to get holiday shopping, browse the best of local produce, and enjoy delicious food and live entertainment year-round. During the holidays, this center of activity goes festive for the holidays, adorned in lights and the colors of the Christmas season, and is a great place for outings day and night. For groups, families, couples, or solo travelers, Pike Place Market provides so much to see, do and experience during the holidays. (Did we also mention that this is an A1 photo opportunity?) Take the group to Pike Place Market for the holidays where there’s something for everyone.

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Our Favorite Ways to Spend the Holidays Around San Francisco, CA

San Francisco. This city needs no introduction, across storied and unique neighborhoods, charming corners, cool weather, and the center of the Bay Area, it comes as no surprise that there is always something happening here. Whether you’ve made San Francisco your holiday season travel destination, visiting friends and family, or a local who’s curious to see what’s around home- read on for some of our favorite holiday season festivals and events, and get ready to explore!

Holiday Season at Westin St. Francis

Around San Francisco, there is one attraction of the holiday season that keeps on giving, the Westin St. Francis! This iconic San Francisco hotel is renowned for its beauty and commitment to the holiday spirit, providing a number of activities for family outings, date nights, group activities, and solo travelers alike to enjoy. The most famous of these is the Tea Room, where visitors can enjoy the pleasures of holiday tea, pastries, finger sandwiches, and delectable treats along with generous pots of tea. For other travelers, there are also wine tastings also held throughout the winter here at the Westin. Accompanying the Westin is also an outdoor ice skating rink providing an outlet in the cool nighttime air and a flagship Macy’s where visitors can get holiday shopping done in one go. No matter your holiday season plans around San Francisco this year, be sure to keep an eye out for the events happening near the Westin St. Francis.

The Merry Ferry Building

The Ferry Building is a staple for foodies, shoppers, and anyone looking for a fun (and delicious) outing year-round in San Francisco. During the holiday season, however, watch San Francisco don the lights and colors of the holidays, and bring a bit of festive joy to its grounds. The familiar open aircraft, farmers, and food market takes a turn for the holidays, and is a great stop for visitors to pick up Christmas gifts, souvenirs, treats to share, and is a great photo opportunity given the central location. Bring your Christmas list, cameras, and appetite to this part of San Francisco, and enjoy some of the best in small business all in one spot.

Renegade Craft Fair

For those visitors looking for a truly one-of-a-kind gift or souvenir, the Renegade Craft Fair is a great experience. Some of the nation’s best independent artists, craftsmen, and studios come to display and showcase their wares, providing shopping as far as the eye can see. Also present are the many closer, in-depth looks and explanations of the work by the artists themselves, as well as live music, food trucks, and opportunities to really get to know small businesses here in the Bay. Bring the whole party to the Renegade Craft Fair and enjoy shopping for truly unique soaps, clothing, jewelry, coffee, tea, beverages, pastries, plants, and artwork all in one place!

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Our Favorite Ways to Spend the Holidays Around Salt Lake City, UT

Salt Lake City. Nestled in the breathtaking landscapes of Utah, between mountains, saline waters, forests, flats, and a dynamic community, Salt Lake City is on the come-up with more to offer each year! Whether you’re a visitor, returning to see friends and family, or a curious local, you’ll be delighted to know there is a great variety of activities to do here around the year. Read on for some of our favorite holiday season festivals and events here in Salt Lake City, and get ready to explore!

Christmas Lights at Temple Square

One of Salt Lake City’s most well-known communities is the strong presence of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, who maintain a stunning campus of worship at Temple Square. Each year, after Thanksgiving, the church changes the lights in honor of the holiday season, in a captivating light show all over the grounds. This attraction is a rare event to catch, but quite the memorable one nevertheless. Travelers of all ages and accommodations will enjoy this light show and get to see Temple Square in its beauty.


Enjoy the atmosphere of a central European Christmas market, right here in Salt Lake City! Between endless vendors of crafts, gifts, ornaments, treats, savory delicacies, hot and alcoholic beverages, parades, family activities, performances, demonstrations, and shows, Christkindlmarket is a solid choice for travelers of all groups and ages. Get holiday shopping done in one spot while supporting small businesses at the booths selling one-of-a-kind wares (and flavors). Also, enjoy the strong sense of community at the many happy faces at the parades and music and dance performances that take the stage, or witness a number of old-time occupations much as they were many decades ago on location. Whether witnessing Utah heritage, celebrating the holidays, shopping and dining, or just looking for one spot that has it all, take the whole group over to Christkindlmarkt.

Holiday Window Stroll at The Grand America Hotel

Enjoy the stunning, imaginative (and sweet) holiday season display at The Grand America Hotel, offering a memorable photo opportunity and a trip through the grounds of this Utah icon. Accompanying the sights and sculptures along the window stroll, visitors can also relax and unwind at The Grand Spa, have fine shopping and dining experiences, or just enjoy the views inside and outside this gorgeous institution. Take a breath and enjoy a slower-paced holiday season activity at The Grand America Hotel.

Outdoor Ice Skating and other Winter Sports

Throughout the city, Ice Skating rinks are also an accessible and ready option for visitors in the Salt Lake City area, we couldn’t ignore the natural beauty of Utah outdoors when talking about the holiday season. This timeless classic is a great option for travelers of all ages and those looking for a more relaxed experience, while those who can make the trip can tour the neighboring mountains and ski resorts for more intense winter sports options.

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Our Favorite Ways to Spend the Holidays Around Sacramento, CA

Sacramento. This proud hub of Northern California quietly boasts ample outdoor activities, charming and independent neighborhoods, and a creative melting pot with so much to do year-round. Whether you’re a visiting tourist, returning to see friends and family, or a curious local, if you’re in Sacramento for the holidays, read on for some of our favorite things to see and do in the area, and get ready to explore!

12 Days of Midtown

This annual series is a great way to see and do all there is in Sacramento’s Midtown, enjoying great food, music, and shopping! A sort of ‘open house’ for the businesses of Midtown, visitors can enjoy open-air markets, pop-up booths, happy hour events at bars and wineries, special dining deals, farmers markets, and free public transport on select days! This is great news for those compiling itineraries to see every part of Sacramento. Come to Midtown this holiday season and get the Christmas shopping done early, enjoy some of the city’s best in dining and make memories on a night out on the town.

Zion VR’s Christmas Escape Room

A unique entry when it comes to holiday season events, Sacramento’s Zion VR is a great option for travelers of all ages to enjoy the wonders of virtual reality gaming! Among the attractions at Zion, a Christmas-themed virtual escape room is one of the things you and your party can tackle. Aside from this Christmas escape room, there is also a number of free-roam racing, horror, action, escape room, and exploration attractions for both single and multiplayer. Take the holiday fun to this next frontier and enjoy the wonders and adventures of virtual reality gaming in this accessible and immersive experience.

Folsom Historic District Ice Skating

Enjoy the timeless fun of ice skating outdoors in Folsom’s historic district! Take the group to this quaint and charming area and lace up in this circular rink around a towering tree, and enjoy music and dining options in the adjacent festivities. This is a great option for those looking for a more relaxed and condensed activity for a holiday season itinerary.

Global Winter Wonderland

Head over to the iconic Cal Expo and California State Fairgrounds for a light show and holiday celebration that is truly inspiring. At the Global Winter Wonderland, guests can enjoy immersive light sculptures and visual art celebrating the holiday season, a great activity for those looking for a vacation photo opportunity, or a more laid-back activity. In addition to the trail and lights, there are also the rides at the Cal Expo, providing thrills and views for a more varied experience. With the customizable selection of activities, this is as suited to date nights as it is for families and large groups. Make your trip to the Sacramento area a memorable one and take the whole party to the Global Winter Wonderland for a night under the Northern California stars and lights.

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Our Favorite Ways to Spend the Holidays Around Raleigh, NC

Raleigh. At this corner of the research triangle, there’s more than meets the eye, the region quietly marching forward in academics, sport, medicine, the arts, and growth. Whether tourist, returnee, or local, if you’ve chosen the Raleigh area as your destination, you won’t be disappointed. Read on for some of our favorite holiday season festivals and events in the area and get ready to see Raleigh like never before.

North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival

Enjoy the massive light sculptures, feats of acrobatics and athleticism, and the festivities of the holiday season with North Carolina’s Chinese American community during the North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival in nearby Cary! Beautifully lit and intricate dragons, birds, whales, pandas, and other symbols of Chinese culture and faces of the holiday seasons are in great size and wondrous display in this event where East meets West. Aside from the lights, there are also a number of Chinese acrobatics performances, accompanied by plenty of delicious dining options. Of course, everyone gets together during the festivities to assemble and release their own lanterns during the event each night. Come experience this North Carolina spectacle that only draws bigger and bigger crowds each year at the North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival!

Raleigh Christmas Parade

Enjoy a classic, small-town Christmas parade complete with live music, dance, appearances by some of the most famous and beloved faces of the Research Triangle community. This Raleigh tradition has brought smiles, memories, and holiday joy to generations of North Carolinians, and is a great way for visitors to experience and get to know the Raleigh community at one of its happiest moments of the year. Also adding to the fun are themed floats, twirlers, massive balloons, and local acts! Bring the whole party to the Raleigh Christmas Parade in this charming and inclusive event.

Cary’s Annual Kwanzaa Celebration

Celebrate and reflect on the beauty and accomplishments of Black American heritage at Cary’s Annual Kwanzaa Celebration, where visitors of all backgrounds are encouraged to join and share in the spirit of the holidays. Among the festivities are storytelling and spoken word events, movie showings, crafts and activities, dance and song performances.

First Night

Kick-off the New Year Raleigh style in this electric and engaging annual tradition, First Night Raleigh! This is an action-packed night of open houses at some of the city’s most renowned institutions, live music, and dance performances, rides, games, shows, and delicious food over some twenty blocks of Raleigh culminating in a grand fireworks display. This is a great way for travelers of all ages and interests to see and do it all around Raleigh, whether it may be a stop at the many historic museums, galleries, and churches participating in the festivities, or joining the crowds, or just seeing and doing a little bit of everything. For those who are looking for a memorable and exciting New Year’s Eve out on the town, look no further than First Night Raleigh.

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Our Favorite Ways to Spend the Holidays Around Queens, NY

Queens. This bustling and dynamic borough of New York is pound-for-pound one of the most vibrant parts of the Tri-State area for those who see it for its true character. Whether you may be a tourist drafting a travel itinerary, a returnee visiting friends and family, or an adventurous local, all will find that there is so much to be discovered here in Queens. Read on for some of our favorite ways to spend the holidays here in Queens, and get ready to start exploring.

Annual Jackson Heights Winter Caroling Sing and Stroll

Participate in the joys of caroling with friends, family, and neighbors at the Annual Jackson Heights Winter Caroling Sing and Stroll! This is a classic holiday season activity for all and is a great way to see so much of Queens on foot while enjoying the warmth of a caroling crowd.

Afrikan Poetry Theatre Kwanzaa

Celebrate this important Black-American day of the holiday season with spoken word and poetry at the Afrikan Poetry Theatre! Visitors of all backgrounds are welcome at this inclusive event and is a great way to celebrate the arts of Black American culture, whether in dance performances, face paintings, craft tutorials, storytelling, and of course, delicious cuisine of the kitchens of various representative African Diasporas. Bring the party out to the Afrikan Poetry Theatre and celebrate Kwanzaa this holiday season.

Tree Lighting at Bohemia Hall

Enjoy hearty and mouth-watering central European fare while celebrating the holidays at Bohemia Hall’s annual tree lighting! Visitors enjoy bratwurst, kolachkes, mettwurst, sauerkraut, and braised ham hocks accompanied by ales of every color and every flavor, all while the party and the music don’t stop! For groups and those travelers with a monstrous appetite, come to Bohemia Hall for all the delicious food, drink, and holiday spirit you could wish for.

Christmas in the Garden at Queens Botanical

Enjoy a more relaxed holiday season event at Queens Botanical, where the Christmas in the Garden event occurs every year. Here, visitors can tour the grounds of Queens Botanical, while enjoying live musical performances, appearances by Santa Claus himself, attend a massive tree lighting and participate in arts and crafts tutorials! This is a great opportunity, where guests can learn about the different celebrated plant icons of the holidays and make their very own wreaths and ornaments while taking a calming stroll through one of Queens’ most beautiful attractions. Whether as a winding-down activity to cap off a long day of exciting adventure, a date night activity, or just something reflective for the solo traveler, the Christmas in the Garden is a great option for all. Be sure to stop by Queens Botanical this holiday season for this event.

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Our Favorite Ways to Spend the Holiday Season Around Portland, OR

Portland. This charming Northwestern city punches well above its weight, boasting beautiful and varied scenery, famously independent and unique neighborhoods, and innovation all in a city that’s yet to break 4 million. If you’ve chosen Portland as your holiday season destination, you won’t be disappointed, with so much happening here year-round. Read on for some of our favorite festivals and events here around Rose City.

Pittock Mansion Christmas

Overlooking the Portland region, the Pittock Mansion is as gorgeous as it is enchanting, with its series of holiday season exhibits for all to enjoy. Aside from the breathtaking views, Pittock Mansion also offers a number of hiking and outdoor activities, beautiful flower beds, gardens for photos, and this year, a zany exhibit of lovable critters doing the holiday season their way. This is a great, relaxed, low-stakes activity for groups, families, friends, couples, and solo adventurers alike to enjoy one of the Portland area’s most breathtaking sights during the holiday season.

Holiday Ale Festival

The Portland Holiday Ale Festival is a great outing and way to enjoy some of the Portland area’s best in food and beer, owing to the region’s strong heritage in small businesses, microbrews, and grassroots gastronomic culture. Take the whole party out to Portland’s Holiday Ale Festival and warm up with a selection of over fifty beers and ciders, accompanied with a number of holiday season treats and delicacies all-around a towering Christmas tree. Bring your appetite and your friends to the Holiday Ale Festival while you’re in Portland this holiday season.

Holiday Express

A great option for families and those traveling with younger members in their party, the Holiday Express is a magical journey along the Willamette River and some of the city’s most iconic sights in this holiday-themed event. Visitors will ride in one of Portland’s beloved steam locomotives and enjoy sights, songs, and the smells of the holiday season as Santa, his elves and the party goes on inside the train during the trip! Complete with shows, entertainment, song, dance, and packed with holiday season festivities, the Holiday Express is a memorable option for any family and younger travelers.

Crafty Wonderland

Get your holiday shopping done all in one spot and see some of the best in Portland’s independent art, creativity, and small business. Crafty Wonderland is an event that only happens twice a year, where visitors pack the grounds to score a true one-of-a-kind item, whether clothing, jewelry, artwork and prints, fragrances and soap, DIY kits, books, cards, and of course, food. For all those creative outlets and interests, whether it’s gardening, construction, cooking, fashion, or photography, there’s something for everyone to explore and enjoy at Crafty Wonderland. Catch this massive event and get to meet and shop some of Portland’s finest in the arts all in one spot, Crafty Wonderland!

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