It’s getting towards the end of the year when you get an email from HR. You still have a few vacation days left that you’ll lose if you don’t use them by the end of December. The only problem is that so many vacations involve planning ahead and making reservations in advance.
Instead of giving up on a vacation because it seems too overwhelming, consider one of these six cities that are perfect for an easy last-minute getaway.
When people hear New Orleans, Mardi Gras is often what first comes to mind, but the Big Easy goes all-out for the holidays. Learn more about the history and traditions of Christmas in Louisiana with a tour of the French Quarter, then head over to St. James Parish for the annual Festival of the Bonfires. Step up your visit to the famed Audubon Zoo by taking in the expansive holiday light displays. After ice skating and riding the ice slide at NOLA ChristmasFest, warm up and sample the local cuisine in the French Quarter. End your night at the Celebration in the Oaks, where you’ll find over a million lights, a fun train, amusement rides, and evening entertainment. While in town, be sure to check out one of the city’s famed music venues or take a ghost tour for a thrilling look into the city’s past.
New York City
New York City is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country for a good reason. There’s something for almost everyone, and that’s no different during December. Sports fans can get away from the elements and cheer on one of the local hockey or basketball teams at Madison Square Garden or the Barclays Center. For family-friendly fun, there’s no shortage of museums to explore, including the American Museum of Natural History. Even in December, Central Park is a picturesque escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Top off your trip by catching a popular Broadway musical or a holiday-themed show like the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes.
If you’re looking for a last-minute trip on a budget, Washington, D.C. offers an endless supply of free attractions. Take advantage of complimentary entry to all of the local Smithsonian sites, which are open every day of the year except Christmas. Start your trip at the Smithsonian Visitor’s Center, then venture out to whichever spot interests you most. Most of the Smithsonian museums are next to each other, making it easy to get from one museum to another. The Air and Space Museum, Natural History Museum and American History Museum are must-see stops. As you explore the National Mall, walk around the Reflecting Pool and visit the famous monuments and memorials dedicated to Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln. In the evening, head to President’s Park to marvel at the National Christmas Tree, a nearly 100-year-old American tradition.
Las Vegas may already be decked out with lights all year long, but things get an extra dose of holiday magic in December. Stop by the LINQ Promenade to see the enormous Christmas tree, then catch the Fountains of Bellagio as they change out their usual music for holiday favorites. Spend your day trying to win big, then hit one of the famous shows along the Strip for an unforgettable evening. With so many different events to see, it’s easy to grab last-minute tickets to experience something new. If you’d like to get off the beaten path, take a day trip to the Grand Canyon. In addition to several bus tours, there are also helicopter tours for those looking for truly breathtaking views.
Love the outdoors but want to escape the winter weather? Head to Phoenix, where you’ll find warm temperatures and plenty of hiking trails to explore. In the summer, the Arizona heat often makes outdoor adventures unbearable, but December offers a mild climate. The Desert Botanical Garden is a great place to start, where you can learn about the local flora and fauna before you see it in the wild. While you’re at the garden, celebrate the holidays with paper lanterns at their annual Las Noches de las Luminarias. When you’re ready to get a breath of fresh air, make your way to the Mystery Castle in South Mountain Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country. For a more strenuous hike, try the double-black Cholla Trail on Camelback Mountain. Downtown Phoenix offers an eclectic mix of fun shops and local restaurants for a relaxing evening to recover from your adventures.
No matter when you visit, there are always plenty of local music acts performing in Nashville. Walk along Lower Broadway in the evening and you’ll find more live music than you could hope to enjoy in a single weekend. In addition to performances, Lower Broadway offers plenty of shops so you can find a pair of cowboy boots and delicious restaurants serving up local fare. If you’re searching for unique, Southern goods and food away from the crowds, check out 12th Avenue South. While you’re in town, catch a hockey game at Bridgestone Arena or take a tour on the Old Town Trolley. For holiday fun, First Tennessee Park hosts the spectacular GLOW Nashville, where you’ll find Christmas trees, an ice skating rink and ice sculptures surrounded by millions of lights.
When you’re ready to use up those last few vacation days, let Vacations by Marriott help make booking things easy.