December Road Trip: Where to Travel in December


It’s probably not the best time of the year to take a vacation.  You probably have a lot going on.  But, a December road trip could take advantage of the holiday season, taking you to some special place to celebrate the holidays.  Here are a few suggestions to make the most of this chilly, snowy, and busy month.

December Road Trip: Grand Canyon

Nothing helps you get into the Christmas spirit like sipping hot chocolate by a roaring fire as snow falls on the Grand Canyon.  A visit to Arizona’s giant hole will add some extra-special memories to your trip.  Since the park is less crowded, and less expensive, you’ll probably be able to get a place to stay on the canyon rim, in historic places like the Bright Angel Lodge.  If it snows, you’ll get to see the canyon frosted in white.  And even if it doesn’t, you can enjoy a chilly hike into the canyon — not all the way, just as far as you feel like going — or stay up on the rim.

Start here:

It’s 230 miles from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon’s south rim (the north rim is closed by snow in the winter months).  Add 50 miles, and you could start your trip in Las Vegas.  Check both airports for deals on airfare and rental cars, then go with whichever has the best deal.  If you start in Phoenix, you could swing by Sedona on the way up.  Start in Vegas, and you can drive a pristine stretch of old Route 66.

Why it’s the best time:

Smaller crowds mean more availability at park lodging and fewer people on the trails.  Lodges will be decorated for the holidays, and chilly temperatures will put you in a festive mood!


December Road Trip: Oregon Coast

When you don’t know where else to go, the Oregon Coast is a great option.  That’s mostly because the weather never really changes.  Thanks to the influences of the Pacific Ocean, you’ll have highs in the 60’s during the summer months, and in the 50’s during winter.  Snow and freezing temperatures are rare.

But why go in December? It’s arguably the worst month, weather-wise.  But that’s actually the reason you should take a December road trip on the Oregon coast.  Prepare yourself for a few days of stormy weather during your week-long visit.  Hunker down and listen to the wind and the rain, and occasionally venture out to the beach to watch monster-sized waves crashing ashore.  Then, when the weather clears, hit the beach again.  This is the prime time to gather sea shells, agates, and possibly even some debris carried across the ocean from Japan.

A few of my favorite spots along US 101 in Oregon include Cannon Beach, Yaquina Head, Face Rock Beach, and Harris Beach.

Start here:

Portland provides a good starting point.  From there, drive over to the coast, then drive north or south until you find a spot you like.  Alternatively, you could fly into Seattle and drive down. Check both for flight prices and rental cars — sometimes there are drastic differences in both.

Why it’s the best time:

If you want to see a big storm crashing onto the Pacific coast, this is the time to visit.  Once the weather clears, hit the beach for some awesome shelling and scavenging.


December Road Trip: Tampa Bay, Florida

Most people like to stay close to home during the holiday season, and fortunately for me, that means enjoying the Tampa Bay area. We’ll have some cold weather in December, but frost is rare, and it hasn’t snowed since 1977.  Occasionally a cold front sweeps through, giving us a gloomy day, but you’ll mostly find sunshine here, just as the rest of the country is buried in snow.

Florida has some stunning sunsets during this time of year.  Some of my favorite sunset spots include Crystal Beach in Pinellas County (pictured above) and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which connects Pinellas to Manatee County.  In Hillsborough County, try Al Palonis Park along Gandy Boulevard or Cypress Point Park on Tampa Bay.

If you’d like, you can take a short drive over to Disney (it’s less than 90 minutes away), or you can just hang out at the beach and warm up for a few days.

Start here:

Tampa Airport (TPA) is conveniently located near downtown Tampa, and is consistently rated as one of the country’s best airports.  Alternatively, you could fly into Orlando or Sarasota-Bradenton.

Why it’s the best time:

If you live up north, you need to take a few days to thaw out.  This is the most comfortable time of year in Florida, with perfect temperatures and low humidity.  And, those winter sunsets are spectacular.


Start your search for a December getaway right now! Pick a state to begin:

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