12 Must-See Holiday Sights Across the U.S.

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Honolulu City Lights
Photo by: Daniel Ramirez via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Spending the holidays on the road? We’ve got you covered with must-see holiday sights across the U.S. Get an idea of how cities around the country are celebrating the holidays, or take a holiday road trip and hit them all!

Rockefeller Center

Photo by: Laura Bittner via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

New York City

It’s not Christmas until the tree is lit at Rockefeller Center. The famous Christmas tree will be lit on Wednesday, Dec. 4, and will remain lit until Jan. 7, 2014. After the lighting, lace up your skates and step onto the Rockefeller’s Center Ice Rink or take a walk through the Center’s outdoor gardens and plazas, the Channel Gardens, before taking a tour of NBC Studios or Radio City Music Hall. Click here for more info.  

Washington, D.C.

National Menorah

Photo by: Ted Eytan via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Stop by the Lighting Ceremony of the National Chanukah Menorah on Wednesday, Nov. 27.  Get your fill of hot latkes and donuts as you enjoy the music of the U.S. Air Force Band. Tickets are required.

Chicago

Christkindl Market

Photo by: Chicagogeek via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

From Nov. 26 to Dec. 24, go shopping at the German Christkindl market, a traditional German holiday market in Daley Plaza.  The market features vendors selling decorations, ornaments, toys and other items from Germany and around the world, as well as traditional German foods, such as sausages, schnitzel and sweets. When you’re finished shopping, stop by the ice skating rink at Millennium Park under Chicago’s famous “Bean” sculpture to complete your Christmas in Chicago experience.

Houston

Dickens on the Strand

Photo by: Ed Uthman via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Ever wanted to be a part of a Christmas classic? Less than an hour from Houston, step into Charles Dickens’ Victorian London at “Dickens on the Strand” in Galveston, Texas, where you can experience his classic story “A Christmas Carol,” come to life. For one weekend only, you can experience what it was like to stroll around Victorian London, complete with costumed street musicians, carolers and peddlers selling holiday decorations, clothing and other items inspired by the era.

Phoenix

Las Noches de Las Luminarias

Photo by: Chris Dodson via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0

Tired of snow? This year, Phoenix‘s Desert Botanical Garden celebrates its 75th anniversary with 31 nights of the beautiful lights at Las Noches de las Luminarias. Stop by during the month of December to enjoy a unique holiday experience with hand-lit luminaries, thousands of twinkle lights, warm cider, and carolers. Tickets are required.

Las Vegas

The holidays are no time to slow down, especially for racing fans. Check out the Glittering Lights at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway between Nov. 16, 2013, and Jan. 6, 2014 — including Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The speedway uses more than 2.5 miles of holiday lights to create festive custom light displays in the shape of candy canes, snowmen — and even race cars.

Atlanta

Centennial Olympic Park’s Holiday in Lights is an Atlanta tradition. After viewing the colorful, twinkling holiday lights decorating the trees and bushes throughout the 21-acre park, your family can enjoy skating around Atlanta’s only outdoor ice rink, which is located on the park’s Great Lawn.

Brown Palace

Photo by: Tom Byrne via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Denver

Head to the Mile-High City to experience a Rocky Mountain tradition with Holiday Tea at Denver’s elegant and historic Brown Palace, which has been open since 1892. Enjoy scones, tea pastries, and sandwiches as you and your family listen to music played by harpist and pianists.

Honolulu City Lights

Photo by: Daniel Ramirez via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Honolulu

Worried it won’t feel like Christmas in Hawaii? Think again. Have a “Mele Kalikimaka” (Hawaiian for “Merry Christmas”) when you check out the Honolulu City Lights event; beginning on Dec. 7, enjoy a tree lighting ceremony, as well as holiday food, parades and concerts.

Baltimore

Baltimore really becomes a city of lights during the holidays. One of Charm City’s most charming events is A Monumental Occasion on Dec. 5, when Baltimore makes an occasion of the lighting of its own Washington Monument, complete with musical performances, fireworks, and a laser finale.

The house featured in "A Christmas Story"

Photo by: Yvonne N via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Cleveland

Can you believe it? This year marks the 30th anniversary of the classic holiday comedy “A Christmas Story.” Celebrate by visiting the house featured in the movie and a museum dedicated to the holiday favorite. Enjoy tours and take plenty of photos as you visit filming locations and watch plays and musicals based on the movie.

Santa Claus, Ind.

Santa Claus, Indiana

Photo by: Traci Gardner via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Visit “America’s Christmas Hometown,” where it is Christmas every day of the year! The town brings out its especially festive spirit during the first three weeks of December, when it holds the Santa Claus Christmas Celebration, featuring a variety of events such as chestnut-roasting, writing letters to Santa, a parade, a 5k race, a pageant, an arts and crafts show and dinner with Santa Claus himself.

With so many festive events across the country, it’s hard not to fill up the tank and hit the road! Enjoy your holiday season, and remember to drive safely.

Joe Campanella is the EVP of business development at CARCHEX. Headquartered in Hunt Valley, Md.,CARCHEX is the premier provider of Extended Auto Warranties and Mobile Vehicle Inspections. CARCHEX is the preferred partner to the most trusted names in the automotive industry, including Pat Goss of TV’s MotorWeek and Carfax. You can read their automotive blog here.

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