The best US cities for Christmas travel

If you’re somehow still looking for a place to spend Christmas or the last week of 2023, personal finance website WalletHub’s latest report has some important insights for you. He combed through data on the nation’s 100 largest cities to find out which are both the most festive and affordable for holiday getaways this Christmas season.

Key indicators across five dimensions (Christmas observance, fun and traditions, holiday generosity, shopping and spending) were used to determine the “best” cities for Christmas visits. 28 key indicators were used to create the overall ranking and included considerations such as Christmas tree farms, ice rinks, bakeries, restaurants, gift shops, toy shops, hobby shops, candy stores, holiday decorations and levels of charitable giving.

Combined with these considerations, WalletHub factored in the cost of travel expenses like lodging, dining, and entertainment to come up with its list of the 20 biggest U.S. metropolises for maximizing vacation enjoyment on a shoestring budget. After all, Americans are expected to spend at least $957 billion between November 1 and December 31 of this year alone.

And with inflation rates continuing to be high, the current economy is having a significant impact on consumer spending habits this holiday season. In fact, WalletHub’s recent holiday shopping survey found that more than one in three Americans are forgoing Christmas gifts this year due to spending concerns.

“Inflation weighs heavily on consumers’ minds as well as their budgets this holiday season,” noted WalletHub analyst Cassandra Happe. “Whether we’re in something like a humble modern nativity scene or one of the best cities for Christmas celebrations on a budget, the most important thing is to spend quality time with loved ones and create lasting memories.” In doing so, we can find joy and inspiration in the true spirit of the season.”

A little girl is waiting for Santa on Christmas Eve.

A little girl is waiting for Santa on Christmas Eve. (Photo via iStock/Getty Images E+/kajakiki)

The best cities for Christmas travel

This year’s top overall Christmas travel destination is Atlanta, which boasts a superb market environment and an abundance of holiday events. The Big Peach has a large number of bakeries and places to buy holiday decorations to help you get ready for the holiday, as well as many opportunities throughout the city to donate time and money to the less fortunate. And with its milder weather, outdoor activities such as ice skating can easily be enjoyed by all.

“Atlanta features the third largest bakeries as well as the sixth largest shopping malls and holiday decorating options, giving Atlantans more opportunities to find the best deals for their holiday needs,” said WalletHub Analyst Cassandra Happe . “Pittsburgh is a runner-up for Best Christmas City, featuring some of the lowest hotel room rates in the nation for your holiday travel and plenty of affordable restaurants if you’re looking to spend an evening out.

“Orlando ranks third overall thanks to its wide variety of attractions, restaurants and churches, making it an ideal location for those looking to spend their vacation away from home. Nothing says Christmas like attending Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Walt Disney World or celebrating Grinchmas in Who-ville at Universal Orlando Resort,” she added.

According to the report, these are the top 20 destinations in the US to visit during Christmas:

1. Atlanta, Georgia 11. Los Angeles, California
2. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 12. New Orleans, Louisiana
3. Orlando, Florida 13. Cincinnati, Ohio
4. Las Vegas, Nevada 14. Denver, Colorado
5. San Francisco, California 15. New York, New York
6. St. Louis, Missouri 16. Honolulu, Hawaii
7. Seattle, Washington 17. Buffalo, New York
8. Chicago, Illinois 18. Washington, DC
9. Miami, Florida 19. San Diego, California
10. Birmingham, Alabama 20. Minneapolis, Minnesota

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