10 U.S. Hotels That Go All Out For Christmas
Updated December 2019
December is the time to deck those halls, trim those trees and make lots and lots of gingerbread. Or you can just book a stay at a hotel and let them handle all the Christmas cheer.
These ten hotels from across the U.S. really go out of their way to be festive during the holiday season and are easily worth an overnight stay, even with the peak-season rates you’ll face. Several have hotel packages that include their own or local activities. If you can’t book a stay, stop by anyway.
Make a reservation for one of their events, sip a yuletide cocktail at the lobby bar, or just take a gander (and a selfie) at their sparkly lobbies.
Top Hotels For Christmas Decorations & Activities
1. Amelia Island, Florida
The Ritz Carlton on this Florida island taps into local maritime culture with a giant gingerbread pirate ship made with more than 600 cookie pieces; its a nice change from the usual cottage.
In addition, the hotel celebrates all season long from Thanksgiving weekend through the New Year, with cookie decorating, make-your-own gingerbread houses, breakfast or tea with Santa and Santa tuck-ins.
Book it! Find the lowest rates available this season on TripAdvisor.
2. Cascade Mountains, Washington
Suncadia Resort, 80 miles southeast of Seattle, stages a winterfest through November and December with an endless array of activities.
The Grinch and Santa’s elves ice skate and tuck kids into bed, people dress themselves as Elk for a fun run.
There are lots of holiday-themed craft-making sessions, plus sleigh rides, story hours, movie nights, visits from Santa, a bazaar with handicrafts and a holiday market with artisinal food and items from across Washington.
Spend New Year’s Eve with the Mad Hatter and ring in the East Coast New Year if you’d like an early night. Or send the kids to Tomorrowland camp while you enjoy cocktails and dancing into the local New Year.
Book it! Find the best seasonal rates across booking websites with TripAdvisor.
3. Chapel Hill, NC
For 22 years now, the Carolina Inn has lavishly decked its halls to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas in grand Southern style.
Through December you can enjoy the decorations when you come for events like the gingerbread house competition, Christmas market and breakfast or brunch with Santa.
There are a series of afternoon teas, some specifically for families including a Sugar Plum Fairy tea party featuring ballet dancers performing scenes from “The Nutcracker.” A reading of “The Polar Express” includes cookie decorating, ornament making and a train ride. Decorate cookies, and more.
Book it! Find the lowest rates available and check reviews on TripAdvisor.
4. Dallas, Texas
The Hilton Anatole takes advantage of Texas’s warm weather with Peppermint Park.
This outdoor holiday festival that offers a talking Christmas tree, marionettes, holiday mini-golf, a holiday mini train, cookie decorating, family photos in a giant snowglobe and s’mores, among other activities and treats.
There is an admission fee and several attractions cost a few dollars on top of that. But there are hotel packages that include your room and admission. You can add on breakfast with the Clauses on some dates.
Book it! Read reviews and book the lowest seasonal rates on TripAdvisor.
5. Gaylord Resorts
Gaylord Resorts are known for filling their soaring atriums with holiday lights, soaring trees and ice sculptures that make them destinations in themselves.
This year the five hotels each have their own take on ICE!, an interactive frozen realm with different themes and two-story slides.
Outside Washington, DC, National has a Grinch theme.
6. Jekyll Island, Georgia
Jekyll Island shines all month long with outdoor “ice” skating, letters to Santa, Candyland-themed mini-golf, tours of the island’s historic cottages in their Christmas trimmings, and nighttime tours of the island’s twinkling holiday lights. Look for a holiday concerts and a Christmas Carnival on certain days.
Stay at the upscale Jekyll Island Club Resort to add a breakfast with the Grinch, lunch with Santa, or afternoon tea to your December visit. The hotel has packages built around all these activities.
Book it! Find the lowest rates available online with Trip Advisor.
7. Palm Springs, California
The Waldorf Astoria La Quinta Resort lights up its Spanish-Mission style Plaza with an enormous tree and festive decorations and its annual celebration of Frank Capra (a one-time frequent guest) and his movie It’s a Wonderful Life.
Enjoy Southern California weather with outdoor holiday-movie nighst, dessert-making demonstrations, chestnut roasting, visits from Santa and an annual tree lighting.
Parents can enjoy seasonal cocktails and spa treatments to make their own days merry and bright.
Book it! Enjoy paying the lowest seasonal rates via TripAdvisor.
8. Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania
Skytop Lodge, about 90 miles northwest of New York City and 120 miles north of Philadelpia, has a unique Christmas-time package:
Book a room and take a hayride to a local Christmas tree farm during your stay to pick out your holiday tree. When you check out, staff will deliver the tree to the Lodge and tie it to your car roof.
The package includes a special handmade tree ornament, family photos in front of Skytop’s tree and cocoa and cookies when you return from your tree-choosing expedition.
Christmas week brings Pajama ice skating, afternoon tea with hot apple cider and cookies, visits with Santa, campfires, and holiday-themed storytime.
Book it! Check TripAdvisor for reviews and the best seasonal rates.
9. Richmond, Virginia
The Jefferson Hotel (top) fills itself to the brim with Christmas spirit, along with countless pointsettias, pine garlands, ribbons, lights and toy soldiers.
Admire a classic holiday-village in Gingerbread. Santa and Mrs. Claus stop by for an elaborate tree lighting shortly after Thanksgiving.
Throughout the month local school orchestras, ensembles, choirs, and choruses perform in the lobby at noon. Have lunch and enjoy the music whether you book a room or not.
Book it! No packages for families, but check reviews and find the lowest rates on TripAdvisor.
10. St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis’s Union Station has the hard-resist pairing of a stay at Hilton’s Curio Collection Union Station Hotel, an architectural gem, and the station’s Polar Express experience.
Families board a real train for a six-mile, hour-long journey. The ride includes hot chocolate and cookies, a reading of “The Polar Express” and music from its namesake movie.
Halfway through the journey there is a stop at the “North Pole” where Santa boards the train for the return journey.
Many kids, especially younger ones, wear their pajamas on the train (some parents do, too). If you’re staying at the hotel and have a later departure time, you can segue from the train ride right to bed!
While you’re there you can enjoy an evening light show on the train station’s vaulted ceiling and a fire and light outside the station. Keep your eyes open for the opening of a new aquarium built into the station’s tunnels, and due to open any day now.
The Curio offers three seasonal packages. One offers accomodations and four standard tickets aboard the train. Another upgrades to “first class” tickets with table-top seats and souvenier mugs. The delux package adds on a holida-decorated suite as well as the First Class train tickets.
Book it! TripAdvisor can show you the lowest seasonal rates.