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Christmas Road Trips in the US

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The holiday season is fast approaching, and although you may be preoccupied with buying gifts and sorting out travel logistics with family members, we thought we’d take the opportunity to highlight the potential joys of a Christmas road trip.
We’ve checked out some of the top Christmas events and destinations on the East and West coasts, all of which are sure to fill you with holiday cheer. So why not book a family car rental in the coming weeks and head off on a Christmas-themed road trip? Take a look at some of our recommended hot spots…


Christmas in Bethlehem

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New York City is an obvious destination for many vacationers during the month of December, but there’s also plenty of Christmas adventure to be had for those willing to venture further afield. In fact, America’s very own Christmas City is just over an hour’s drive away.
Pick up a car rental in New York City and head 80 miles west to Bethlehem, PA. As the name suggests, there may just be a sprinkling of festive magic to this city – and boy, it doesn’t disappoint.
Over one million people visit Christmas City every December to take in the breath-taking lights, Christmas markets, carriage rides, carol singers and all the other events which make it such a spectacular festive destination. There’s something for the entire family here, from children’s workshops to night time tours of the city and its famous Christmas lights.



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Not only is the Winter Festival of Lights in Wheeling considered to be among the best Christmas lights displays in the country, but it also just so happens to be a road tripper’s dream. This particular attraction doesn’t require you to get out of your car; in fact, you very much need a set of wheels in order to fully appreciate this magnificent light show.
Spanning 300 acres along a six-mile stretch of road, it features over 80 larger-than-life light displays, including a giant rocking horse, famous cartoon characters and two 300-yard ‘light tunnels’ which make for a truly spectacular drive.
Running from mid-November until the first week of January, the Winter Festival of Lights has grown to become one of the biggest in America since making its debut back in 1985. New creations are added to the line-up each year, so why not head along and check out this year’s show?


Santa Cruz

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Image by Jim Bahn


Looking to explore the southern part of the US West Coast this Christmas? Or just looking for an excuse to cruise down the Pacific Coast highway, complete with a sprinkling of holiday cheer? Whatever your plans are, there’s plenty of Christmas fun to be found in California. If you’re starting in the northern part of the state, simply pick up a car rental at San Francisco Airport and make the short two-hour drive south along Highway 1 to the aptly named Santa Cruz.
You may not find much in the way of snow in this neck of the woods, but that doesn’t stop Santa’s Holiday Lights Train from rolling through the city’s streets. You can hop aboard every weekend up until Christmas, with regular departures from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Here you’ll also find Santa’s Kingdom, where you can enjoy classic arcade fun in the shape of mini-golf and laser tag.
The train ride is the star of the show, however, with thousands of lights draped over the exterior as carol singers and live music keep passengers entertained throughout.


Solvang: A Danish Christmas in California

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Continue your journey down the California coast and head just a few miles inland to the charming town of Solvang– the Danish Capital of America. Here you’ll find classic European architecture and atmosphere, complete with wind mills and bakeries selling heavenly Danish pastries.
The community was founded by Danish settlers back in 1911 and is home to an array of Danish shops, restaurants and bars. Needless to say, the Julefest (Christmas festival) is an important period in the annual calendar which sees the town’s streets come alive with lights and decorations. You can also look forward to the Julefest Parade on December 6th, as well as regular visits from carols singers and Santa himself.
Now, back to those Danishes… whatever you do, don’t miss the chance to sample these delights. Try Mortensen’s Bakery on 1588 Mission Drive and ask for an apple strudel or Danish Kringle, or stop by Birkholm’s Bakery on Alisal Road for a fruit-filled pastry.


Newport Christmas Boat Parade

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The Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade is now in its 106th year and shows no signs of letting up, with over one million spectators expected to take in this magical holiday tradition over the space of five days.
From the 17th- 21st December, the harbor will sparkle long into the night as multi-million dollar yachts, decked out in the most spectacular Christmas lights, embark on a two and a half hour parade each evening. Carolers and live music add to the occasion, with many boats recreating famous Christmas scenes through creative decorations and stunning light shows. No expense is spared, with some yacht owners spending tens of thousands of dollars in order to get their vessels in tip-top shape.
The parade travels roughly 14 miles around the harbor, providing viewers with spectacular views under the California night sky. If you’re lucky enough to attend on the opening or closing nights, you’ll also be in for a special fireworks display. Oh, and keep your eyes peeled for one or two celebrity appearances!



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