If they height of excitement at your usual Christmas is when Nana falls asleep face-first in her mashed potatoes, it’s time to explore the exciting side of the holiday season.
Across the country, holiday parks pop up in parking lots and at major national theme parks, combining thrilling roller coasters with fantastic seasonal foods with festive Christmas shows.
Here are the best holiday parks to visit in the U.S.
Santa’s Enchanted Forest, Miami
You might not expect Miami to be home to one of the best Christmas extravaganzas in the country, but the Enchanted Forest does the sunny city proud with lots of seasonal attractions and cheer. Massive carnival rides and rollercoasters make the park a legitimate destination for local thrill seekers, shows of all kinds populate every corner, and games and activities keep the youngest visitors entertained all night.
Santa’s Enchanted Forest
7900 SW 40th Street, Miami, FL 33155
Santa’s Village, Jefferson, NH
One of the most extensive seasonal attractions in the U.S., Santa’s Village in New Hampshire provides an entire Christasy town to explore. Check out Santa’s home, the elf university, and the reindeer shoe blacksmith shop. Then hop on one of the kid-friendly themed rides like the chimney drop or little elf flying school, or stuff yourself on fresh donuts or other warm treats from the Sugar n’ Spice bake shop.
528 Presidential Hwy, Jefferson, NH 03583
Smoky Mountain Christmas at Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, TN
Dolly Parton’s eponymous theme park in Tennessee is a great family destination year-round, but it’s especially fantastic during the holidays. The park is well known for its food, which takes cues from regional comfort staples, but the Christmas celebration takes those eats to the next level with seasonal funnel cakes, Christmas cookies, and the all-time favorite, cinnamon bread. Pair that with award-winning shows and holiday activities, and you can’t lose.
Smoky Mountain Christmas
2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
Hersheypark Christmas Candylane
One of the greatest things about Christmas is the excuse to eat lots of sweet indulgences. There’s no better place to do so than at the heart of American candy-making in Hershey, PA. The seasonal Christmas Candyland pop-up celebration at Hersheypark introduces a host of holiday rides to the park, as well as countless twinkle lights and Santa’s own reindeer. Be sure to load up on lots of edible gifts for all your loved ones while you’re there.
Hersheypark Christmas Candylane
100 Hersheypark Dr, Hershey, PA 17033
Disney Festival of Holidays, Anaheim
Of course Disney does Christmas right. Even in sunny California, the happiest place on Earth becomes extra jolly during December, with multicultural, global celebrations and massive parades led by Mickey and pals in full seasonal costumes. There are plenty of live performances, festive treats, and time with Santa to round out an already stellar visit to Disneyland.
Disney Festival of Holidays
1313 Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802
North Pole, Cascade, CO
While the North Pole theme park may be a smaller production than some of the bigger names on this list, it’s great for families looking for a lowkey way to celebrate the holiday season with a mini adventure. Visitors can take a tour of Santa’s workshop, see shows of magic and glass blowing, or plop little ones on kiddie rides they’re sure to love.
North Pole Colorado
5050 Pikes Peak Hwy, Cascade, CO 80809