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

Few things are more mesmerizing and awe-inspiring than watching a waterfall. Across these United States, there are plenty of places to see the beauty of tons of cascading water dropping majestically from great heights. Plus, getting to a waterfall can often be done by hiking, walking, or merely parking your car, so you should be able to find falls that suit almost every level of accessibility. Next time you’re looking for a gorgeous, calming view, put these popular waterfalls on your travel list.

RELATED: 9 travel myths you shouldn’t believe

Niagara Falls: Canada and New York

Luna Island / New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Lining the U.S. and Canadian border, this world-famous attraction includes three waterfalls: the American Falls, the Bridal Veil Falls, and the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. On the American side, head to the Cave of the Winds, which by elevator goes down into Niagara Gorge to observe the falls from the Hurricane Deck. And go for a cruise on the Maid In The Mist, a long-time favorite boat ride along the gorge’s waters.

Find hotels near Niagara Falls here.

Kent Falls: Connecticut

Courtesy Connecticut Office of Tourism

These waters within Kent Falls State Park in Litchfield County cascade down from a mountain stream of Kent Falls Brook, a tributary of the Housatonic River. Divided into upper and lower waterfalls, the falls are accompanied by a steep and winding trail that can be hiked up to see more vantage points. Kent Falls State Park also has a small covered bridge overlooking the brook, large grassy fields, and picnic tables and barbecue fire pits.

Book a great place to stay near Kent Falls here.

Salt Creek Falls: Oregon

Based in Willamette National Forest, the Salt Creek Falls are said to be Oregon’s second-highest single drop waterfall (after Multnomah Falls) with a surge of 50,000 gallons per minute. What also makes visiting these falls awesome is that they have a wheelchair-accessible observation platform just 50 yards from the parking lot and has railings that accommodate wheelchair sightlines. There are two trails to take: One is a loop gravel trail with interpretive signage and many vantage points, while the other is a steep trail from the platform to the base of the falls.

Find your accommodations near Salt Creek here.

Gorman Falls: Texas

Earl Nottingham, TPWD

These waterworks in Central Texas are located in Colorado Bend State Park in Bend, which is about a two-hour drive northwest of Austin. Considered to be a “living” waterfall, Gorman Falls is noted as getting bigger due to its water having a high concentration of carbon dioxide that runs through the area’s limestone deposits. Get there on a three-mile round trip hike via a route that includes rocky terrain that leads up to the 70-foot tall spring-fed sight.

Book a lovely hotel near Gorman Falls here.

Burney Falls: California

As the centerpiece of McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park in Shasta County, just over an hour’s drive north from Redding, Burney Falls is a neat example of a waterfall. A short walk from a parking lot, these 129-foot falls are fed by underground springs and flow at 100 million gallons daily. Go along a shared traffic one-mile loop trail (you may come across horses and other people) where you can hike up to view the top of the falls.

Your hotel in Burney Falls awaits right here.

Ruby Falls: Tennessee

Chattanooga CVB

This one has a neat twist. It’s the tallest and deepest underground waterfall in the U.S. that’s open to the general public. Discovered by accident in 1928, these falls are located 1,120 feet beneath the summit of Lookout Mountain, a natural tourist attraction in Chattanooga. You’ll reach them first by descending 26 stories by elevator and then be led by a guided walk along a cavern path where you’ll also spot unique cave formations.

Find a great place to stay near Ruby  Falls here.

Minnehaha Falls: Minnesota

In Minneapolis’ Minnehaha Falls Regional Park, this 53-foot urban waterfall reflects its location’s name, which comes from the Dakota language and means water. Visitors can take the stairs to view the falls in two different ways: walking up to witness the falls from above, where the waters descend from Minnehaha Creek or taking them down the bluff to view the falls from the bottom and then following the creek as it winds its way to the convergence with the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers.

ʻAkaka Falls: Hawaiʻi

Hawaii Tourism Authority / Kazuya Kajita

At ʻAkaka Falls State Park, on the northeastern Hilo Coast on the island of Hawaiʻi, you can not only see ʻAkaka Falls but also another waterfall. Reach both of them via a short (0.4-mile) uphill trail through a lush tropical rainforest that’s full of wild orchids, bamboo groves and other vegetation. Along the way, see Kahuna Falls, Hawaii’s tallest sheer drop waterfall, and also ʻAkaka Falls, which plunges 442 feet into a stream-eroded gorge.

Turner Falls: Oklahoma

Courtesy of Chickasaw Country

Set in the heart of Chickasaw Country’s Arbuckle Mountains, these waterfalls in Southcentral Oklahoma are quite the centerpiece at Turner Falls Park. The 77-foot waterfall drops into a natural swimming pool, and visitors to the park can have some playtime in the water within multiple designated swimming areas. They can also head out on hiking trails and explore the park’s three caves.

Looking Glass Falls: North Carolina

Flowing through the Pisgah National Forest in Western North Carolina, Looking Glass Falls gets its name association from Looking Glass Rock. During winter, water from a creek freezes on the rock’s sides and then glistens in the sunlight like a mirror or looking glass.

Sitting Bull Falls: New Mexico

New Mexico TRUE

Located within a canyon in Lincoln National Forest, Sitting Bull Falls is a series of waterfalls fed by springs and with a 150-foot-high drop. Its Recreation Area also provides fun times, with cabanas with picnic tables, charcoal grills, and a paved trail through the canyon ending at the falls.

Tagged: California, Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, Destinations, Hawaii, Texas, Texas, Top 10 list, Types of Travel

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

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One of the truest ways to experience a city is to taste it, and that tour de taste should probably start with a bite of the city’s most iconic food. Pizza by the slice in the Big Apple, a Chicago-style dog in the Windy City, a Po’boy in New Orleans — restaurants that serve these traditional tastes are stops not to be missed on your travels. Tasting the culture of a city does not need to drain your wallet, either. Here’s a look at some joints that serve some of the most delicious iconic foods in cities around the country for less than $10:


Pizza by the slice in New York City

Joe’s Pizza – 7 Carmine St. or 150 E. 14th St.

Slice of cheese: $2.95

You can’t visit New York City and not eat a piece of pizza bigger than the it’s plate. Joe’s has been using the same recipe to concoct their New York Style pizza since owner Joe Pozzouli immigrated to New York City from Naples, Italy (which is where pizza was invented) in the 1950s. Grab a slice of plain cheese for $2.75, or get a slice with any topping for $3.50.

Courtesy of Manguzmo.

Courtesy of Manguzmo.

Po’boy sandwich in New Orleans  

Parran’s – 3939 Veterans Blvd., Metairie, Louisiana

Fried catfish po’boy: $9.95

Po’boys are so iconic in New Orleans, they’ve got a whole festival dedicated to them. The Oak Street Po’boy Festival only lasts a day, but dozens of types of po’boys are available to satisfy your taste buds. If you don’t land in New Orleans on that one day of the year, swing by Parran’s in Metairie and sink your teeth into a traditional New Orleans seafood po’boy. Served on french bread — soft in the middle with a crispy outside crust — stuffed to the brim with fried catfish, and topped with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise, this sandwich sings New Orleans. Creole sauce is optional.

Courtesy of Simon Shek.

Courtesy of Simon Shek.

Clam Chowda in Boston

Boston Chowda Co. – Three locations in Boston

Bowl of clam chowder (8 ounces): $3.99

New England clam chowder is a warm and delicious delight, guaranteed to thaw your bones on a chilly day in Boston. Or just satisfy the intense craving for seafood that takes over when you are near the northeastern Atlantic. Boston Chowda Co. has three locations and draws folks from all over with their traditional soups. Spring for the bread bowl if you are craving the carbs, or set the more traditional oyster crackers afloat in your stew. Bonus: This joint also serves lobster rolls, another New England classic, although the price at $16.99 isn’t quite as sweet.

Courtesy of  star5112.

Courtesy of star5112.

 Chicago-style dog in Chicago

Portillo’s – Multiple locations

Hot dog: $2.85

With any iconic food, variations on the classics are common, as goes the story with Chicago-style hot dogs. The city is teeming with awe-inspiring chefs, many of whom put their own spins on the classics, eventually developing cult followings. Hot Doug’s, for example, used unusual meats such as fois gras to top his dogs. Founder Doug Sohn’s customers would fork out a pretty penny for those dogs, and when the stand closed in October, lines stretched for blocks. Months later, his recreations keep springing up in places like Wrigley Field and Goose Island Beer Co.-sponsored events. But before you start branching out, swing by Portillo’s for a classic, Chicago-style dog. With everything includes mustard, relish, finely chopped onions, kosher pickle, sliced red tomatoes and sports peppers piled onto a steamed poppy seed bun in true Chicago fashion. Wash it down with one of their famous cake shakes (they literally put a piece of cake in the blender).


Courtesy of  Jeffreyw.

Courtesy of Jeffreyw.

Cuban sandwich in Miami

Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop – 186 NE 29th St, Miami, FL 33137

Sandwich cubano: $4.35

Miami is overflowing with authentic Cuban food, so picking a place to settle in for a classic Cuban sandwich should not be too difficult if you are in a rush. Seeking out Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop, however, is worth your time. A sandwich cubano, with ham, pork and cheese, is only $4.35, and that’s one of the higher-priced items on the menu. They serve breakfast and have specials every day of the week, except Sunday when the shop is closed, and there’s a take-out window so customers can stroll right up.


Courtesy of Krista.

Courtesy of Krista.

Carolina-style barbecue in North Carolina

Lexington Barbecue – 100 Smokehouse Lane, Lexington, NC

BBQ sandwich: $3.90

The sauce that douses Carolina barbecue is a little sweeter than most, probably to satisfy that southern palate that’s so fond of sweet tea and other delicacies. Pulled from a pig shoulder or whole hog, Carolina barbecue sauce is usually mustard-, vinegar-, or tomato-based. It’s often served with a side of coleslaw, although most places just slap the slaw right on the sandwich. Lexington Barbecue does just that. They use only pork shoulder and cook it over hickory or oak coal. The space has grown from a small diner and maintains that down-home feeling. Oh, and hush puppies are only $1.70 so do yourself a favor and tack on a side of those bad boys.

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Tagged: Cheap Tips, Food & drink, New York City, Tips & advice

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