Unusual Christmas Destinations
Collected by Bryan Kitch, AFAR Contributor
Off-the-beaten-path, unusual, and beautiful places to spend a Christmas holiday.
7011 E Indian School Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251, USA
Tis the season to be jolly! If you’re feeling festive around the holidays or perhaps you want to keep Christmas going all year long, then a visit to the Coach House should be on your holiday wish list. When the holiday season approaches, ...
Budapest, 1051 Hungary
There's no better way to connect with a culture than through food. It's a universal language, tangible and immediate. Street/market food is particularly insightful. I recently spent time in eastern Europe and was pleasantly surprised by the...
Hverfisgata, Reykjavík, Iceland
There's an old tale they tell the children in Iceland about these little elf-like creatures called the Jule Lads who live in the volcanic lands outside of Reykjavik. Traditionally, around Christmas time, they come down and cause all sorts of...
Southbank VIC 3006, Australia
This is a fun place to relax, have some beers, and shoot the breeze with friends on a sunny day. It's just south of the Finders St. Station and north of Southgate. We happened to discover it on Christmas Day and enjoyed ourselves immensely with...
Church Hill, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, Ireland
Glenveagh National Park was a nice place to spend Christmas Eve. It was deserted, quiet and tranquil. We loved it, as we walked and talked and stopped in the huts planning parties we would never have there. There is a castle at the beginning of...
Ipanema Beach - Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro - State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
For my first beach experience in Brazil, we went to Praia de Ipenema on Christmas Day. It was one of the hottest days in Rio so far, so the beach was packed. After we established our area, a guy from one of the beach bars took our drink orders for...
6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver, BC V7R 4K9, Canada
Part of the North Shore mountain range, this 4,039-foot peak offers jaw-dropping views of the city. It’s busiest in the winter, when four chairlifts service 33 ski runs, but remains popular in the summer thanks to the steep, 1.8-mile Grouse...
"You get to the end of the road . . . make sure you lock your car. Follow the beach down to a bunch of white tents. You can’t miss it.” We’d heard those words before, and we’d proved our inalienable right to, indeed, miss what could not be missed....
andBeyond Ngala Private Game Reserve, Timbavati, 1380, South Africa
We were lucky enough to catch this amazing sight of these 2 leopards in a tree eating an impala at Ngala Game Reserve in South Africa. Leopards are notorious for dragging their kill up a tree so no on else could steal their kill away. Patiently...
North University, Austin, TX 78705, USA
The massive display of Christmas light pageantry on 37th Street draws thousands of spectators to this north campus neighborhood on an annual basis in December, but you won't find any nativity scenes here! The theme of this display every year is...
30 Victoria St, Singapore 187996
Chijmes is a pretty complex in downtown Singapore that used to be a Catholic convent but has been converted into a dining and entertainment complex. In December, the entrance gates to the area are festooned with lights, ribbons, and stars. There...
6, Laipu iela, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia
Riga is credited for being the first place to have a decorated Christmas tree and the Christmas spirit is certainly still present. The Riga Christmas Market was split between several squares throughout the Old Town. With the snow falling, people...
San Luis Obispo, CA, USA
I took the long way home from Palm Springs yesterday. The winter holidays in California are strange to those used to snow and ice. But the over-the-top Madonna Inn, a pink palace of kitsch, goes all out this time of year. Step inside and you...
Orchard Side, Market Pl, Olney MK46 4BY, UK
In the town of Olney, on 09 December, during the Christmas Market as the sun was setting -- I witnessed one of the most well known of British traditions: a Punch and Judy show. It's a day of cheer, merriment, celebration and costumed citizens....
512 Webber St, Santa Fe, NM 87505, USA
One of my absolute favorite events in the world is the Canyon Road Farolito Walk, a beloved holiday tradition in Santa Fe. On Christmas Eve, thousands of holiday revelers come out to stroll, admire and sing carols around the displays of farolito...
6 Ave. Norte 1-A, Antigua, Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala
As shrapnel from exploding firecrackers hit my face and head, I ducked for cover but was still able to fire-off my camera. I wasn't prepared for the blinding flames and deafening sound of fireworks as the effigy of the devil was set ablaze. Every...
104 Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94129, USA
This museum does so much more than tell you about Walt Disney's life—it reminds you of the struggles that all creatives face throughout their careers. The experience is unexpected, interactive, and current for kids and adults alike. The view onto...
4850 W Powell Rd, Powell, OH 43065, USA
Voted the #1 zoo in the country, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium's latest addition is a 1.3-acre yard specially designed to be the ultimate polar bear habitat called Polar Frontier. The exhibit is home to two polar bears, two Alaskan brown bears and...
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