Aspen, Colorado, is known as a winter wonderland, especially during its 12 Days of Aspen celebration.
While snow on December 25 isn't guaranteed, many communities across the United States go all out to embrace the season, from horse-drawn sleigh rides past windows aglow with candles to meet-and-greets with real reindeer. Christmas cookies and hot chocolate are a must, and city streets sparkle with brightly coloured lights. So, here are five top US destinations to step into a postcard-worthy white Christmas...
Taos, New Mexico
Cultures combine in eclectic Taos, New Mexico, a high-desert community that's home to artists' colonies and outdoor enthusiasts keen to ski at Taos Ski Valley. The holiday results are pure magic. Yuletide in Taos, as it's known, marries the Spanish tradition of the brightly glowing luminarias that grace the historic Ledoux Street with the Mexican tradition of Las Posadas.
Re-enacting Mary and Joseph's search for lodging, carollers serenade an individual house, asking for shelter, with followers trailing behind holding candles.
Native Americans have inhabited Taos Pueblo for more than 1,000 years, and the community plays host on Christmas Eve to vespers, led by the archbishop of Santa Fe, followed by the torchlight procession of the Virgin Mary.
With 4.5 m of average annual snowfall, Aspen, Colorado, qualifies as a winter wonderland. This rocky mountain town, located 319 km southwest of Denver, is famed for sublime skiing and luxurious living, but it's the charm of Christmas that wins over visitors this season. The annual 12 Days of Aspen celebration features events such as Victorian carollers in the lobby of Hotel Jerome, free family-skating parties, ornament-making and holiday-card-making parties. Kids enjoy visiting Santa's reindeer as well as free hot chocolate and cookies at the busy Cooper Avenue Mall.
Door County, Wisconsin
Jutting out like a finger from Lake Michigan, Wisconsin's rural Door County Peninsula draws visitors in the summer for its famed cherry pies and fish boils, as well as more than 480 km of shoreline. But wintertime brings cosier, snowier attractions to this area, about 250 km north of Milwaukee.
Tiny communities from Sturgeon Bay in the south to Sister Bay in the north host gingerbread-house-making classes to holiday parades, but visiting food-lovers wouldn't want to miss the progressive holiday dinner weekends hosted by the White Gull Inn and Thorp House Inn in Fish Creek. After appetisers at Thorp House, guests are transported via horse-drawn carriages down decorated streets to the White Gull Inn for the delicious soup, main course, salad, and dessert.
The biggest city in the Midwest does Christmas big, too. There's the million-plus white-holiday twinkle lights decorating the 200 trees along the famed Magnificent Mile, Chicago's most upscale shopping avenue.
Nearby, Navy Pier goes all out with the Winter WonderFest, a carnival that features more than 24 rides and a massive indoor skating rink. Best of all may be downtown's Christkindlmarket, which runs from late November through Christmas Eve, and offers holiday shoppers handicrafts such as nutcrackers and ornaments, as well as traditional treats like potato pancakes, bratwurst, and glühwein - a spiced holiday wine that comes with its own souvenir mug.
History seeps from every cobblestone street in Boston, Massachusetts, the site of many notable Revolutionary War events such as the Boston Tea Party. Colonial history comes to life each year at Christmas with holiday celebrations taking place at historic venues citywide. Start with a peek at Boston's two largest Christmas trees - one in Boston Common, founded in 1634, and one at Faneuil Hall Marketplace, which dates to 1742.
At Faneuil Hall there's Blink!, a seven-minute light show featuring more than 3,50,000 LED lights used to illuminate the skyline.
Holiday concerts by one of the country's most well-known symphonies, the Boston Pops, run at Symphony Hall throughout the month.