Share with your friends


Note: All travel is subject to frequently-changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state, and local advisories before scheduling trips.

The holidays are just around the corner, which means it’s almost time to fill your Instagram feed with perfect shots of colorful Christmas trees, holiday cookies, nauseating mistletoe kisses, you and your friends in ugly sweaters, and even that snow angel you tried, and failed, to make. Why? Because it’s the season, and it’s tradition! Read below to find 10 must-do holiday photo ops that even Santa would “like.”

RELATED: 7 over-the-top holiday lights displays you’ve got to see

An iconic Christmas tree

When the holiday season comes around, every big city and small town boasts an iconic Christmas tree. You know which one we’re talking about—that tree that you can snap a photo of and your neighbors (or even people from afar!) know exactly where it is. Take the tree at Rockefeller Center, for example, which is strung with 50,000 colorful LED lights and topped with a 900-pound Swarovski crystal star. Stand in front of Channel Gardens, where you can catch the 12 winged angels lined up in front of it, et voila! That’s your shot.

Find a great NYC hotel here.

A holiday train ride

Flickr CC: J Diaz

Christmas-themed trains have become a trend, and for good reason: They’re beautifully decorated and have dancing elves, jolly waiters serving hot cocoa and marshmallows, Christmas tunes and of course, Santa Claus himself. In Grapevine, TX (known as the Christmas Capital of Texas), you can even take the North Pole Express® all the way to the “North Pole,” where a snowy winter wonderland and Santa’s workshop are waiting when you arrive. If you’re not in Texas, hop on the official THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride, which can be found in 50 cities, from Miami, FL all the way north to Canada.

Browse hotel deals near Grapevine here.

A winter wonderland

Ice skating at Maggie Daley Park | Photo: Courtesy of Choose Chicago

Ice skating at Maggie Daley Park | Photo: Courtesy of Choose Chicago

Ice skating is a charming winter pastime, especially during the holiday season. Grab your friends or that special someone and find an ice rink in your city where you can capture some yuletide cheer! On the ice skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park in downtown Chicago, skaters can wind their way through an alpine forest while snow falls over the surrounding city skyline. If you don’t want to skate, buy a cup of hot cocoa and watch everyone else do it. The view alone is worth going for.

Check out great downtown Chicago hotels here.

A holiday parade

Flickr CC: Jeff Kern

Parades are a fun way to celebrate the season—and lucky for holiday revelers, there’s always one nearby. Watch as ornaments, furry reindeer, elves, snowman and marching Nutcracker soldiers parade down the street, paving the way for Santa’s grand entrance. Some of the most magical holiday parades are at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, and march right past Cinderella’s Castle as it glows with thousands of Christmas lights.

Reserve your Disney hotel right here.

A festive hotel

We love how every city always has one (if not many) hotels that really get into the holiday groove. Think twinkling lights, tinsel galore, a giant gingerbread house in the lobby and, of course, a can’t-miss Christmas tree. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, just look at the Mission Inn in Riverside, CA. This SoCal stunner attracts visitors far and wide for its hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights, giant nutcracker statues and its extravagant, 19-foot Christmas tree.

Book the Mission Inn or a nearby hotel here.

A Christmas market

Who doesn’t love a Christmas market? There’s mulled wine, handmade ornaments for sale, mulled wine, animals, holiday music and… did we mention mulled wine? For the perfect Instagram photo, wear a cozy winter hat, grab a piping hot cup of vino and strike a pose in front of a festive chalet. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, take a peek at Bethlehem, PA’s famous Christkindlmarkt. Here, you’ll find 50-plus artisans selling their handicrafts, live Christmas music, an appearance by St. Nick himself and, like we said, mulled wine.

Check out hotels near Bethlehem here.

A holiday “fun run”

There is never something not funny about hundreds of people dressed as Mr. or Mrs. Claus, Rudolph, an elf or even Olaf running through town. If you’re near Virginia Beach, VA, head to the Surf-n-Santa 5 Miler, the largest Santa run in the entire world, and you’ll see what we mean. Every major city has a holiday fun run at this point, so join one wherever you are and capture the holiday hilarity in all its glory.

Get great deals on Virginia Beach hotels here.

A themed-out holiday festival

Flickr CC: Selena NBH

Instead of travel shots, how about a time-traveling shot? Find a themed-out holiday event in your hometown where everyone gets into character. We love the annual “Dickens of a Christmas” festival in Victorian Village in Franklin, TN, where you’ll mingle with Father Christmas, carolers, locals in full Victorian garb and characters from A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist. Even Ebenezer Scrooge will be there!

Book a room near Franklin right here.

Over-the-top downtown décor

When a whole city gets into the season, it’s hard not to feel the holiday magic. (It makes for great photos, too.) St. Augustine, FL proves that you don’t need cold temperatures to feel the Christmas spirit! Every year, its Spanish-style historic downtown comes alive with “Night of Lights,” an award-winning activation with over three million Christmas lights, carriage rides, restaurants and bars decked out in holiday trimmings, and more.

Check out great hotels in St. Augustine here.

An impressive neighborhood lights display

Sure, NYC is famous for Dyker Heights Lights and LA has its Candy Cane Lane, but if it’s a decked out holiday ‘hood you want, there’s probably one in your own hometown. Take, for example, McAdenville, NC—otherwise known as Christmas Town USA. In a town with less than 700 residents, a half million people visit every December to see homes with Hallmark Channel-worthy Christmas decorations and more than 500,000 Christmas lights.

Book your stay near McAdenville here.

Tagged: Events, Holidays, Seasonal, Top 10 list, Types of Travel

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Jennifer Agress

Jennifer Agress

Jennifer is a Miami-based writer and editor who loves good food, a better martini and traveling every chance she gets. She writes about luxury travel, dining and lifestyle for Travel Weekly, Private Air Luxury Homes, Preferred Travel, Modern Luxury Weddings, INDULGE Miami, Thrillist, NUVO Magazine and more. When she’s not on a plane, she’s likely plotting her next adventure—follow @JenniferAgress on Instagram to see where she lands.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.