The Best Cities for a Holiday Getaway

Each year when the holiday season arrives, cities are transformed by the twinkling glow of lit-up window displays, charming festive events, and the holiday cheer that fills the air. New life is breathed into familiar urban landscapes, offering you the chance to explore a destination’s unique holiday spirit. With a zest to discover all that the season brings, there’s no better time for a city break with family and friends. Dive into wide-eyed wonder this holiday season with Independent Collection Hotels & Resorts as your home base, uncovering the city’s magic along the way.

Embrace the Charm of New York City

It’s no surprise that New York City makes the top of the list of most charming city escapes during the holiday season. As you stroll through the busy streets of NYC, be prepared for the beauty and grandeur of holiday displays to stop you in your tracks on more than one occasion.

You’ve probably seen plenty of photos of The Rockefeller Christmas Tree, but nothing compares to seeing its magnitude with your own eyes. The city has celebrated more than eight decades with this towering spruce as an iconic symbol of holiday cheer for New Yorkers and visitors alike. For an extra memorable experience, plan your Big Apple adventure to coincide with the tree lighting on November 29, and kick off the holiday season filled with nostalgia and excitement. Join in with ice skaters whizzing past as you soak in the joyful energy of the city.

Likewise, a visit to Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Lightscape offers an up-close look at dazzling light displays, while surrounded by lush, natural landscapes. This immersive experience promises holiday cheer for participants of all ages. The show runs from November 17, 2023, to January 1, 2024, so you can enjoy this whimsical wonderland all season long.

For a timeless experience that embodies the spirit of the holidays in NYC, look no further than The New York City Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker. This world-renowned ballet production is characterized by its exquisite choreography, dazzling costumes, and stunning set design. Let Tschaikovsky’s nostalgic score whisk you away to a sugar plum-filled fantasy as you watch this unforgettable performance.

With cheerful holiday events around every corner, choosing a hotel in the center of the magic is paramount. When you choose the stylishly modern accommodations at Aliz Hotel Times Square, you only need to step outside your front door to be in the heart of the excitement. At Aliz Hotel, you get a true taste of NYC with sweeping skyline views and premium amenities like Citibike passes to help you get around the city like a local. Its central location makes it ideal for recharging between activities or easily accessing NYC’s most festive activities.

Experience Holiday Bliss in Boston

No destination blends historical charm with holiday magic quite like Boston. The city’s cobbled streets are often blanketed with crisp, white snow as inviting, indoor spaces welcome you in for a cozy drink or meal. Celebratory activities fill the calendar all season long, so there’s no shortage of events to explore during your Northeastern stay.

Returning for another year of celebration is Hanukkah: The Jewish Festival of Lights at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston on December 7, 2023. This unforgettable evening will be filled with musical performances, spotlight talks with museum curators, arts and crafts activities, and more. Don’t miss the chance to explore one of the city’s most renowned artistic destinations and celebrate Hannukkah the Boston way.

For a journey through Boston’s past, present, and future, hop aboard one of its iconic, heated trolleys for a Holiday Sights & Festive Nights Trolley Tour. Costumed characters will be your guides through Boston’s most brilliant and festive displays as they entertain with tales from its storied past and vibrant present. Learn about Boston’s famous Christmas tree, listen to never-before-heard holiday stories, and take home a surprise treat to remember your cheerful stay in the city.

If you’re lucky enough to spend New Year’s Eve in New England, then be sure to journey to Boston Harbor to watch the fireworks glimmering above the water. For this thrilling NYE display, be sure to arrive in time to wind your way down the waterfront and marvel at the interactive ice sculptures that beautifully line the path. This beloved, 40-year-old Boston tradition shows off the creative essence and vibrant energy that has characterized Boston for decades.

For a stay that embodies Boston’s visionary spirit and passion for adventure, The Envoy Hotel, Autograph Collection is ready to welcome you. Located in the heart of the lively Seaport District, this artful, guest-centric hotel is perfectly placed for easy exploration of the city’s most festive sights. A stay at The Envoy is your gateway to a holiday experience that goes beyond the ordinary.

Indulge in a Relaxing Santa Monica Retreat

If you’re craving a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, then consider The Ambrose Hotel in sunny Santa Monica your perfect holiday haven. This thoughtfully designed hotel is far enough away from LA’s city center that you can easily enjoy all that SoCal has to offer without the fuss. Take advantage of The Ambrose’s Tesla housecar, where their drivers will be delighted to drive you around to the best local hotspots in style.

Start your exploration with a stroll through Santa Monica Farmer’s Market where you can find colorful California produce, along with plenty of farm-to-table eateries selling their top-selling dishes. Fill your tote with local goodies and take advantage of Santa Monica’s mild winter with a park picnic. Palisades Park, only a 20-minute walk from the market, is perfect for soaking in a bit of vitamin D while snacking on your farmer’s market treats. If you prefer to picnic seaside, Santa Monica Beach is only a 5-minute drive or bike ride along the stunning coastline. Enjoy the sound of the waves and smaller crowds as you take in the scenery.

California’s stunning produce makes food shopping an exciting event, but if you’re looking for take-home souvenirs or thoughtful gifts, head to the Conscious Holiday Market on December 2, 2023. Over 40 local vendors will set up shop along the Third Street Promenade for guests to peruse. This artisanal pop-up event celebrates vendors that focus specifically on sustainability, allowing shoppers to support and discover new brands and products.

Should you miss a typical, snow-filled holiday season, you can still experience snow in Santa Monica. Each Thursday in the weeks leading up to Christmas, Winterlit Thursdays brings live music and snow to Third Street Promenade, turning it into an immersive winter wonderland. You can expect tens of thousands of lights, decor, and garlands throughout the area, bringing joy to all the nearby establishments and outdoor dining spots.

For an experience that beautifully combines the California coastline with a quintessential winter wonderland atmosphere, don’t miss the chance to go ice skating at Ice at Santa Monica. Lace up your skates and glide along the ice only four blocks from the Pacific Ocean. Watch the rink come to life as the sunset fills the sky with vibrant colors and festive, twinkling lights create an enchanting scene. 

Soak Up Florida Sunshine in Miami Beach 

Trade your pine trees for palm trees and head to Miami Beach to shake up your holiday traditions. All you need to do is pack your favorite swimsuit and book your stay at Blue Moon Hotel, your gateway to a unique holiday escape. Located in the heart of South Beach, the beaches, boutiques, and bistros of Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive are just a short walk away. Or, to cover more ground, you can borrow a Blue Moon bike to see the sights or zip over to Lummus Park for a lazy afternoon in the sun.

How often can you say that you spend the holidays on the beach? Indulge in the temperate Florida climate with a relaxing family beach day, or take a dip in the hotel pool while sipping on a cocktail. Once you’re ready to explore Miami’s holiday happenings, spend a day at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s A Very Merry Garden. The mission is to find all of Santa’s reindeer—they’ve been known to escape the North Pole for a bit of Florida sunshine. Create your own delicious festive treat at Fairchild’s Hot Chocolate Bar before exploring the beautiful grounds for the best hiding spots.

Likewise, be sure to book your trip for November 24, 2023, to experience the magic of Miami’s Annual Holiday Parade #onLincoln. The Lincoln Road shopping district fills with crowds eagerly awaiting the tree lighting, while Miami Beach High School’s Marching Band fills the air with familiar tunes. The evening unfolds with plenty of family-friendly activities, crafts for kids, and more.

Finally, any fans of The Polar Express will jump at the opportunity to experience this magical story brought to life. Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, guests can board their own Polar Express train ride to meet Santa. Of course, hot chocolate and Walkers Shortbread will be served by dancing chefs, but only after the hosts punch your golden ticket. Everyone will be able to take home their own silver sleigh bell for a special Christmas keepsake. Miami may not be the snowy winter wonderland that comes to mind around this time of year, but it’s certainly not short on holiday cheer and vibrant activities for the whole family.

Embark on a Wintry Adventure in Seattle

Seattle’s cool, crisp weather paired with its stunning natural beauty makes it a holiday destination worth visiting time and time again. There are few things more inviting than the smell of freshly brewed coffee filling the air and the ambient sound of markets along the street. Pan Pacific Seattle offers a peaceful retreat in the heart of the Emerald City. It’s known for its relaxed, neighborhood feel, but it’s still conveniently located near Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, and more.

A visit to Pike Place Market is a must at any time of year, but it’s especially worth a visit for Magic at the Market. This event is back for the 28th year on November 25, and it’s every bit as magical as you’d imagine. Market stalls fill with festive attractions, including everything from print-your-own stocking stands and free cookie decorating to glass ornament demos and 21+ holiday beverage tours. No matter your age or interests, you’ll be able to find a bit of holiday magic at the Pike Place Market.

Something that draws visitors to Seattle is its easy access to stunning natural beauty and outdoor adventure, including the scenery of Mount Rainier. Surrounded by pristine alpine meadows and covered in a fluffy cap of snow, it will be hard not to let your jaw drop the first time you see it. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has trail options for moderate hiking levels to extreme enthusiasts. If you prefer to leave the planning to an expert, you can find plenty of guided tours that take you from Seattle to this magnificent site.

On the other hand, if your idea of holiday fun doesn’t include outdoor adventuring, the Seattle Space Needle can take you to new heights. You can even enjoy a sky-high glass of wine at the Space Needle’s very own Atmos Wine Bar for an unforgettable nightcap. If your holiday plans have you staying in Seattle for New Year’s, be sure to attend the mesmerizing T-Mobile New Year’s at the Needle celebration. Top-notch light displays fill the sky each year, ringing in the New Year with style and excitement. You won’t want to miss this year’s stunning drone display, showcasing Seattle’s innovative spirit and electric energy.

Unveil a Greater Adventure This Season

From the romantic nostalgia of New York City to the sunny beaches of Miami, holiday charm is around every corner. As you take in decorated street corners and stunning mountaintop hikes, know the excitement of the season is always within reach at Independent Collection Hotels & Resorts. Here’s to a happy holiday season for you and yours, with just the right amount of discovery.