Whether you’re dreaming of a white Christmas or a warm-weather one (hey, string lights don’t have to be limited to evergreens), there’s one thing you absolutely need: a vacation. Instead of hosting the whole extended family or sleeping on a trundle at your mom’s, why not get out of town to one of these best resorts for Christmas vacation that know how to do holiday cheer.
1. Fairmont Scottsdale Princess (Scottsdale, AZ)
With daytime temps well into the 70s during the holidays, you can spend your mornings lounging by the pool and your evenings (which dip into the 50s) practicing your triple axel at the ice-skating rink. Yep, you read that correctly. While we thought “desert ice skating” was an oxymoron, this Southwestern resort somehow pulls it off (magic?) along with other classic Christmas festivities—Santa visits, an enchanting train ride and so much more—which you can partake in without the parka.
2. Mohonk Mountain House (New Paltz, NY)
Deck the halls at this Victorian castle-cum-all-inclusive resort, which dials the Christmas spirit up to an 11. The cheery decor of wreaths, garlands and amazing gingerbread constructions is just the tree topper to all the outdoor fun at this winter wonderland—skating, cross-country skiing, snow tubing. And because you’ll have to head inside at some point, the farm-to-table cuisine (locally sourced) and luxurious spa will be waiting for you.
3. Resort at Paws Up (Greenough, MT)
Luxury log cabins, cozy leather couches and plenty of time cuddled up next to your personal fireplace—this place was built for Christmas. In fact, it’ll even give you a custom-decorated tree to keep in the comfort of your own lodge. What could make this more idyllic? A horse-drawn sleigh ride, of course. Keep an eye out for Rudolph; he might prancing through the Montana wilderness.
4. Montage Hotels Laguna Beach (Laguna Beach, CA)
Don’t worry, Santa and his reindeer can still reach you even if you’re high up on a coastal bluff. When you’re in lush SoCal, you’ll get used to the lighted palm trees faster than you can say “Champagne Holiday Brunch.” That’s right, if you love your bubbly, whisky or wine, partake in one of the festive “Sip and Savor” meals taking place through December. Bringing the family? Take a gingerbread decorating class. And if you’re staying here on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, prepare to feast your heart out.
5. The Greenbrier Resort (White Sulphur Springs, WV)
Since 1778 (whoa), this resort has been an elegant haven for guests (including 26 presidents) visiting the picturesque Allegheny Mountains. But during the holidays, the place feels extra special, thanks to its annual “Gingerbread Ball,” grand tree lightings and activities (we’re looking you, Holiday Mixology Class). Psst, the hotel is famous for its white sulphur spring waters and spa. Sounds like a Christmas present you deserve…
6. Wentworth Mansion (Charleston, SC)
Hotel, schmotel—we’re staying in a 19th-century, 24,000-square-foot mansion. Smack-dab in the middle of Charleston’s historic district, the common areas alone, brimming with gorgeous Christmas decor, will provide all the cozy holiday comfort you could ask for. But if you want more, you best make a reservation for the “Dickens Dinner” at which a local historian orates A Christmas Carol while you dine on a four-coursed meal inspired by the novel.
7. The Sagamore (Bolton Landing, NY)
Deck the halls, trim the trees and prepare thyself for a feast of feasts at this historic resort on Lake George. Along with all the winter Adirondack activities—ice-skating, skiing and building a snowman or two—the holiday schedule is packed with special events: campfire and s’mores, Christmas story readings, a ghost tour, holiday crafts and more.
8. The Keystone Resort (Summit County, Colorado)
Snow-capped mountains surround this resort in the middle of the White River National Forest, which boasts three peaks, five above-tree-line bowls, night skiing, the world’s largest Snow Fort and so much more (yep, this place is über family friendly). The perfect bookend to your stay? Well, that’d be a sleigh ride dinner, of course.