AAA inspectors share their favorite holiday travel destinations to perk up your holiday season

Man walking along well-lit street at night

As millions of people make plans to travel this holiday season, hotels and restaurants are looking to help their guests feel the holiday spirit. 

To help travelers and diners looking for a little extra holiday magic, AAA inspectors have selected 11 of their favorite AAA Diamond properties to visit.

A hotel lobby decorated for Christmas

Hotels with festive holiday cheer for everyone

These AAA inspector picks offer hands-on ways to enjoy the holidays away from home.

The Cloister in Sea Island, Georgia (Five Diamond)
This exclusive luxury resort features a full calendar of family-friendly offerings, including holiday movie screenings, elf tuck-ins, ornament decorating, a “reindog” parade, gingerbread house and ornament decorating, a Christmas Eve yule log ceremony, Christmas Day brunch, and much more. – Inspector No. 43

The Fairmont Chateau Whistler in Whistler, British Columbia (Four Diamond)
Set at the base of Blackcomb Mountain, this gorgeous property is perfect for skiers. Activities in the nearby village include sleigh rides, ice skating, and plenty of options for shopping and dining. Visitors can also enjoy daily holiday arts and crafts and other family-friendly activities, a special Christmas dinner, as well as an adults-only New Year’s Eve gala. – Inspector No. 450

The St. Regis Aspen Resort in Aspen, Colorado (Four Diamond)
This property, centrally located in the winter wonderland of Aspen, is lavishly adorned with holiday décor and complete with a mini-gingerbread village. Visitors can enjoy carriage rides through town with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and the hotel provides treats for Santa and his reindeer on Christmas Eve. – Inspector No. 599

The Inn on First in Napa, California (Four Diamond)
Hop aboard a festively decorated trolley playing seasonal music, which runs between destination spots like the Oxbow Market and Historic Napa Mill. This cozy bed and breakfast, near the heart of Napa, has a cheerful holiday environment with a beautifully decorated tree and miniature town. – Inspector No. 569

Colorfully lit trees along the water

Cheerful bright lights in a winter wonderland

Decked out with hundreds of lights, ornaments, and garlands, these AAA inspector picks provide a holiday feast for the eyes.

Bellagio in Las Vegas, Nevada (Five Diamond)
With seasonal sculptures created from thousands of fresh flowers and plants, the resort’s 14,000-square-foot conservatory is a floral fairytale. During the holidays, visitors can enjoy the florally crafted enormous polar bears, life-size snow globes, and penguins on display. The lobby and shopping areas are also festively decorated. – Inspector No. 39

The Breakers, Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Florida (Five Diamond)
This luxurious resort creates a winter dreamscape with nearly 200,000 lights, ribbons, garlands, wreaths and gloriously decorated trees. Guests can take part in myriad activities, 12 days of holiday themed events, and Christmas Day brunch or dinner. – Inspector No. 76

Lotte New York Palace in New York, New York (Four Diamond)
Located just steps from Rockefeller Center, this hotel is regally decorated for the holidays with its own 30-foot Christmas tree featuring 30,000 ornaments and more than 70,000 lights. Enjoy a cup of eggnog or spiced cider, go for a spin around the Rockefeller Center ice skating rink, and then stroll by the spectacularly decorated department store windows nearby. – Inspector No. 592

Inn by the Bandstand in Exeter, New Hampshire (Three Diamond)
AAA’s inspector recommends planning your visit after the first week in December when this beautifully restored historic country inn is turned into a holiday wonderland. The public areas and guestrooms are charmingly decorated with decked-out Christmas trees, a not-so-small collection of Santa figurines, and a lighted village display. Guests are welcomed with eggnog and holiday-decorated cookies throughout the season. – Inspector No. 87

Table set with holiday decorations

Holiday savory delights for foodies 

Sensational holiday-themed menus and settings at these AAA Diamond restaurants and hotels offer festive treats for the discerning foodie to the casual patron looking for a flavorful escape from the usual.

Glenlaurel Scottish Inn and Cottages in Rockbridge, Ohio 
Each Sunday and Wednesday in December, the inn offers a Dickens Dinner with roast duck and pheasant accompanied by a reading from Dickens' novel, “A Christmas Carol.” Guests can go for a stroll along wooded trails adorned with icicles and lovely buildings set among the Hocking Hills. – Inspector No. 10 

Circa 1886 in Charleston, South Carolina (Four Diamond) 
This renovated carriage house at the historic Wentworth Mansion offers an intimate dining setting. An annual Dickens Dinner includes a retelling of A Christmas Carol with a 4-course dinner prepared by the award-winning chef. – Inspector No. 43

The Inn on Negley in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Four Diamond)
This charming Victorian home decorates every square inch with tasteful holiday décor. Diners can warm up and enjoy a holiday-themed tea with options like gingerbread cheesecake and tea sandwiches with roasted turkey and apple cranberry mustard. – Inspector No. 593

Group of people playing in the snow

Ready to book your holiday getaway?

AAA’s travel advisors offer these travel tips:

  • Plan ahead – Book early for the best deals and availability on hotels, airfare, car rentals, and more.
  • Work with a travel advisor – Travel advisors often have access to extra amenities and added benefits to help plan a magical holiday getaway. They can also be a tremendous help in the event something changes or goes wrong on your trip.
  • Be flexible – If your schedule permits, consider traveling on the holiday itself to encounter less congestion and fewer crowds.
  • Safety first – Get plenty of rest before setting out on a holiday trip. If driving, schedule breaks every 2 hours or 100 miles to remain alert and avoid driving drowsy.
  • Make sure your vehicle is road trip ready – Motorists should check the car battery and windshield wipers, inspect tires, and pack a winter emergency kit containing a snow shovel, flashlight, ice scraper, jumper cables, warning devices, and extra warm clothing for everyone riding in the vehicle.

Visit AAA’s Holiday Diamonds hub to discover additional hotels and restaurants.

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