Travel and Leisure Magazine recommends some destinations in its annual list of "10 Great Places to Spend Christmas." Heidi Mitchell, an associate editor of the magazine, visited The Early Show to offer some travel suggestions for the last minute planners.
Mitchell says Travel and Leisure chooses its top destinations by considering places that have a unique holiday tradition and are accessible. These places are classic and most people might not think of them when planning a vacation. This year, the magazine focused on places in or near the United States. Mitchell says the magazine wanted to offer a large variety for vacationers in terms of location, weather, Christmas traditions and activities.
It is important for travelers to realize that smaller cities in the U.S. should not be taken for granted. Nashville, San Antonio and Santa Cruz are some American cities that are affordable options with their own characteristics.
Mitchell says San Antonio is better suited for families. The city has 18th century architecture and a Mexican flavor that is perfect for families to explore. And Orlando has a tradition of providing families with the events for young and old.
International destinations tend to cost more but there are some affordable places too. Puerto Rico flights are surprisingly cheap. Mexico City is very cheap once you get there.
From Travel and Leisure Magazine's list, Boston and Edinburgh are the most expensive destinations from the list and Orlando prices can vary.
For those who haven't plan a Christmas getaway in advance, Mitchell says not to worry. It is easy to plan a last-minute holiday vacation. There are amazing packages to many destinations, such as Orlando, Nashville, Boston, and San Juan. Websites like expedia.com, orbitz.com, and smarterliving.com are offering great deals.
When searching for a vacation destination, consider what you or your family desire from the vacation. Do you want it to be an athletic, adventuress, or educational experience? Or do you want a relaxing trip with good weather and beaches.
The magazine list of 10 great places to spend Christmas are:
Boston is one of the best food destinations in the country. It also has great shopping on Newberry Street. Boston can be a more upscale treat.
Bay Of Islands, New Zealand
The islands are located at the northern tip of New Zealand's North Island. It is an aquatic playground with 150 islands and many secluded beaches.
This is an excellent place for couples to spend Christmas. It is the home of UK's largest Ferris wheel, the Edinburgh Wheel. On December 2, the Grand Fantastical Christmas Parade is held. Edinburgh is an extremely romantic city, with castles, gardens and mountains.
This location is fun for the entire family. Gaylord Opryland Resort prepares for Christmas in a huge way. Two million lights shine in outdoor displays. Inside the resort you will find a tree and beautiful decorations. There is much to see in Nashville especially if you are a fan of country and bluegrass.
This European destination would be perfect for art and food fans. The town is filled with tradition.
Visit the 28,000-acre rainforest, El Yunque. Old San Juan is a favorite destination and shopping paradise.
There are many beaches and an exciting nightlife. Celebrate Christmas with the family by strolling along the Paseo de la Princesa, past light-strung arches and trees, and a life-sized Nativity scene.
Santa Cruz, California
Santa Cruz is a great place to go if you like the beach and sports. You can participate in surfing, hiking, boating, and fishing. Many young adults live in this city, but it is a great place for all ages, including families. Kids love the boardwalk, and there are many rides to choose from. There is also great shopping.
Mexico City, Mexico
If you want, go to midnight mass at one of the world's largest cathedrals at Cathedral Metropolitana. It has a different take on Christmas. The city is more religious as hundreds of thousands of people do go to mass at cathedrals. Afterward, you can get a snack at dozens of street vendors. A great outing is Tepotzotlan, but not as much for kids. The city has an amazing city subway. It is a city of great shopping and warm weather.
The city has 100,000 lights dangling from the trees along the downtown Riverwalk. You can choose from several midnight masses to attend. In Mi Tierra at downtown's Market Square, there are more than 50 varieties of Mexican pastries. Also, even if you are completely tone deaf, you will sound great caroling at the Natural Bridge Caverns — the location of 100-foot ceilings of the largest known caves in Texas.
This is a perfect place for families. There is so much to see, such as Disney World, Universal Studios, and outlet malls. At Epcot's "Around the World," families see how people in other cultures celebrate the season. Travel and Leisure Magazine recommends staying at the Grand Floridian Resort that has a 16-foot-tall Christmas tree in its lobby.