The holidays are the perfect time to get out of town. Whether it's a quick weekend staycation or a longer trip to a great destination, there is no better way to celebrate this time of year.
Trips Within California
We have so many great places to visit within our gorgeous state.
Carmel-by-the-Sea is a stunning beach city located on California's Monterey Peninsula. Check out the local museums at the historic Carmel Mission or explore the fairytale cottages and galleries. Take a hike on the Scenic Bluff Path that runs from surf spot Carmel Beach to the bird-rich Carmel River State Beach, where you can go scuba diving. Carmel-by-the-Sea also features numerous tasting rooms, wine bars, and bottle shops.
Monterey offers jaw-dropping charm with its fabled coast and pedestrian thoroughfares. John Steinbeck visited often, and he drew inspiration from area landmarks including Cannery Row, immortalized in his novel of the same name. Cannery Row is an eclectic blend of specialty shops, local artists' galleries, more than 25 restaurants, and the famous Monterey Aquarium. Or check out Old Fisherman's Wharf, where you can watch the working trawlers unloading the catch of the day.
From sunset cruises to surf lessons, wine tastings to harbor-front promenades, Newport Beach offers many ways to spend your stay. Relax, unwind and enjoy picturesque views. Newport Beach features the largest recreational harbor on the west coast, with ten miles of fishing, swimming, surfing, and other aquatic activities. Check out The Balboa Fun Zone. With a Ferris wheel, arcade games, and Discovery Cube's Ocean Quest, the Fun Zone offers family entertainment for all ages.
An hour north of the Golden Gate Bridge is Healdsburg, where natural beauty unites with world-renowned California artists and artisans. Whether you're visiting to sample from an abundance of world-class wineries to feast from the very best in farm-to-table dining or to just explore the picture-perfect countryside of lush valleys and redwood forests that cradle Lake Sonoma and the Russian River, you will delight in everything.
With near-perfect weather year-round, 70 miles of spectacular coastline, world-class attractions and a thriving urban core, complete with a sophisticated art, dining and nightlife scene, San Diego is California's beach city. Don't miss sampling the area's signature Cali Baja cuisine or tasting one of the hundreds of craft beers and wines bottled here. After a day at the beach, head to the party downtown at one of the sizzling nightclubs or rooftop bars. If art and culture is your passion, you'll find an exciting hub of creativity in San Diego. Often referred to as the "Smithsonian of the West," Balboa Park features 17 museums, numerous galleries and performing arts venues as well as the San Diego Zoo.
San Francisco has a little bit of everything. Whether you're a first time visitor or a long-time local, San Francisco welcomes all. Explore expansive parks, contemporary and modern art galleries, and beautiful museums. Check out the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park, the infamous Alcatraz, a prison that once held gangsters like Al Capone and Whitey Bulger, Fisherman's Wharf which boasts seafood restaurants that go back generations, and The Painted Ladies, extravagant Victorian rowhouses which survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire.
Stretching for more than 30 miles along the Pacific and Highway One, Malibu is considered to have some of the most perfect waves. Malibu's Surfrider Beach was named the first World Surfing Reserve, Zuma Beach is a sun magnet, and Point Dume provides an ideal perch for spotting migrating gray whales. The aesthetics stretch beyond the beach. The Getty Villa features Ancient Greek and Roman art and you can check out the 30 historic surfboards on display at the Surf Museum at Pepperdine University's Payson Library. And perhaps to spot a celebrity – browse the shops at the Malibu Country Mart and Malibu Lumber Yard, two upscale retail centers. Want even more nature? Head inland and hike through the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
Surrounded by four picturesque mountain ranges Greater Palm Springs is a resort oasis, with nine cities – Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Indio, and Coachella – each offering different experiences. Explore natural hot mineral springs and world-class spas, unique dining and craft cocktails. Golfers can practice their swing at more than 100 courses while tennis fans find plenty to love at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Outdoor adventurers can fill their days with rock climbing, hiking, and horseback riding throughout the Indian Canyons, Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains and Joshua Tree National Park. There's room for every type of traveler.
Santa Barbara offers everything from art and culture to outdoor recreation, and unbeatable food and wine scene with hundreds of restaurants to choose from. There are so many opportunities to make this an unforgettable trip – like sea kayaking through caves in the Channel Islands, a painting class that walks you through the art of watercolors and wine, a relaxing visit to the underground salt caves, and world-class wine tasting.
Beverly Hills is known for its shopping and dining – especially Rodeo Drive. But there is more to this glamorous city. You can have a "Pretty Woman" flashback at The Beverly Wilshire Hotel, stroll through the gardens at the Greystone Mansion, check out the history of television at the Paley Center for Media, and even buy a cupcake from an ATM at Sprinkles Cupcakes!
Napa Valley offers the best wines (of course), accompanied by delicious cuisine. Wine-tasting is the top of the list when visiting but you can also go for a hot air balloon ride, sample different olive oils, picnic on the Winery Grounds, and relax in the Calistoga Mud Baths.
Vacations Out Of State
It's time to get out and explore the rest of the world!
Minneapolis and it's twin city St. Paul offer charm and plenty of activities. Visit the stately Guthrie Theatre for a stellar performance, check out Minnehaha Falls and snap a picture or pedal around in a surrey, and grab some chow at Animales, Popol Vuh & Centro or Martina. As well Mill City Farmers Market offers the best produce in town, one of a kind gifts, and best of all – coffee. And of course, you can't leave Minneapolis without some serious retail therapy at The Mall Of America.
Florida is an amazing destination to visit over the holidays because of it's warm sunny weather, a diverse choice of activities and endless beaches. Tropical Key West is known for its bohemian atmosphere, sunsets and its coral reefs – perfect for diving and snorkeling. Famous writers have called the island home, including Ernest Hemingway, Robert Frost, and Tennessee Williams. Relax or party in Miami as you explore the trendy nightlife of South Beach, or the stunning Art Deco district. Little Havana is the colorful center of Hispanic culture in Miami with Latin-inspired cafes, restaurants, venues, and markets. There are seemingly endless shopping opportunities and quiet, personal attention offered by the family-owned shops of Coconut Grove. Miami also features deep-sea fishing, golf, and tennis.
Want to play in the white stuff? Then celebrate the holidays at the picturesque Québec City, Canada. Québec truly feels like a country within a country. Québec City is located above the St Lawrence River and is captivating. North America's oldest French-speaking city is gorgeous and seductive. Its charming Old Town is a Unesco World Heritage site, a living museum of narrow cobblestone streets, 17th- and 18th-century houses and soaring church spires, with the splendid Château Frontenac hotel and city icon towering above it all. In the coldest months of January and February, Québec's Winter Carnival is arguably the biggest and most colorful winter festival around.
Phoenix, Arizona offers perpetual sunshine and there are serene desert gardens, one of a kind museums, the Phoenix Zoo for the kiddos, award-winning dining and more. Mexican food and murals spice up this cosmopolitan space. Explore the Sonoran Desert with a gorgeous hike – there's plenty of trails for every skill level. You can also experience bucket-list destinations, including the Grand Canyon and Sedona within a short day trip from the city.
Visiting Chicago in the holidays may be windy, but there are plenty of things to do. Chicago is a city with architectural marvels, world-class museums, dynamic entertainment, and an award-winning dining scene. First time in Chicago? There are a couple of things you'll need to do, like eat a Chicago style hot dog or deep-dish pizza, see "The Bean," take a riverboat cruise and more. You can expand your food horizons while dining on a whole spit-roasted alligator at Frontier or get surreal at Arts in the Dark, which brings together artists from around the city for a procession filled with spectacle, puppetry, legions of masked entities, luminous lanterns, and mesmerizing performances. Not for the faint of heart is the Willis Tower – the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere – where you can step onto the Ledge, a glass box that extends 4.3 feet from the Skydeck and stands 1,353 feet in the air.
New York City is a must-see, especially at this time of the year. Attractions in NYC suit all tastes. There are breathtaking views from Top of the Rock, the Empire State Building and One World Observatory. Exhibits from throughout history are at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum and New York Hall of Science. There are thrilling performances at Lincoln Center, BAM and Barclays Center and you can see a play on Broadway, where live theatre rules. The brilliant lights of Times Square shine, so check out the luminous display. Also make time to visit the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Rockefeller Center, and walk, walk, walk as you explore Manhattan.
Travel well and explore these amazing destinations at an incredible time of the year!