12 Best Places to Travel in December in The US on a Budget

Everything in this world comes with a price tag; however, it does not mean to be expensive. And, traveling in the United States is something like that. I have visited the USA numerous times.

I don’t believe that you need to spend a million dollars to have a great travel experience. I have discovered affordable ways to travel and explored lesser-known destinations, making my travel diaries incredibly fascinating.

Best Places to Travel in December on a Budget

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From bustling cities to serene natural wonders, the USA is home to unforgettable winter getaways! There are so many affordable destinations to explore in December.

Trust me, the USA has something for every traveler while keeping your wallet in mind. With a bit of research, you can book cheap flights and fly to a budget-friendly destination that fits your travel preferences.

This blog gives insight into the best places to travel in December on a budget in the USA. Here you can experience the winter wonderland and unwind in the country’s diverse landscape.

Don’t let finances hold you back from embarking on new fun. And, here I am to guide you to visit the top places without breaking the bank and experiencing diverse weather and climate.

Best Places to Travel in December on a Budget in the USA

This December, take a holiday from your work and experience the magic of winter in the USA, from sipping hot cocoa and playing in the snow to spotting wildlife and feeling the chill in the air.

You can celebrate Christmas like those Hallmark movies or walk along the beach in shorts in some of the country’s excellent winter destinations on a budget. There is plenty of room for fun!

So, check out my collection of the 12 best budget-friendly places to visit in December, from sunny Florida to snowy California, where you can swap your flip flops to high waterproof boots and experience a unique taste you never imagined!

1. Belize, Central America

After my 7 days solo trip to Belize, an impressive tropical destination in Central America, my wallet felt just as loaded as before and after the trip.

Belize and Punta Gorda are excellent options if you want to explore but don’t want to spend too much. It is one of the cheap places to visit in December on a budget.

You’ll get to experience the authentic rainforest environment, with opportunities to see the Maya ruins, waterfalls, wildlife, and jungle. 

The main attractions include Belize’s Barrier Reef and the dry season, which make the travel experience unforgettable. 

After learning snorkeling and having the best experiences while kayaking in the turquoise water of Glover’s Reef Atoll, I went to Punta Gorda, another great spot.

Also, in December, the local Garifuna communities celebrate Christmas and New Year in the Caribbean style, offering a unique and excellent experience for visitors to participate in. 

I recommend taking Basecamp trips to Lighthouse Reef to unplug from the internet world and enjoy dancing, celebrating, laughing, and smiling. The moment!

During my 7-day solo trip to Belize, I managed to spend only $380, excluding the cost of water activities. This demonstrates that Belize is indeed one of the best budget-friendly destinations for December.

Affordable things to do in Belize:

  • Be part of the Christmas celebration in Belize. Attend boat parades on Ambergris Caye and in Placencia
  • For food lovers, welcome to Rumpopo. Order the traditional Christmas turkey, Belizean baked goods, and fresh seafood
  • December is the perfect time to visit the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary to spot birds like herons, storks, and spoonbills
  • Drive to The New River to watch the exotic birds, turtles, and crocodiles
  • Get some amazing photos of marine life at Shark Ray Alley
Belize
Belize

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2. Breckenridge, Colorado

For travelers searching for the best winter vacations with snow, Breckenridge in Colorado is the best ski town for you! There are many great ski resorts to reside in.

Your snow dreams from sledding and snow tubing to walking along the historic main streets, “Breck” as locals refer to is the best budget-friendly place to travel in December.

This snow-covered wonderland offers hundreds of miles of hiking trails with beautiful sceneries to witness. However, you’ve to come prepared both physically and mentally! 

I hiked solo to Gold Hill to see the gorgeous Ten Mile Ranges. With Kelvin, after marriage, I hiked Pennsylvania Creek Trail. The place is a real gem!

Affordable things to do in Breckenridge:

  • Take the South Illinois Creek Trail to observe stunning vistas of mountains. I would also recommend taking the French Gulch trail.
  • Have you heard of an ice fishing tour? Come to Lake Dillon, 9000 feet altitude lake to catch brown trout, Arctic char, kokanee salmon, and smallmouth bass
  • Take part in small cultural events, and musical performances at the Breckenridge art district
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3. Savannah, Georgia

The southern city, Savannah is a wonderful destination for a winter vacation. With its mild subtropical climate in December, you can enjoy the city’s historic charm without the summer heat and humidity.

And, visiting the Bonaventure Cemetry is a must-see! Savannah is a great place to chill under the blue skies and have a great fun time with the locals.

There are two reasons why I stated Savannah as the best place to travel in December on a budget in the US. 

You can take part in historic celebrations like the Telluride Mountain film, and Christmas celebration. And, secondly, if you are lucky enough you can even experience snowfall.

I was here thrice; on my last visit, I received the snowfall. It looked exactly like the set of Hallmark movies. Kelvin was with me then, I felt no less than a princess.

Affordable things to do in Savannah:

  • Don’t miss the unforgettable Christmas celebration in Savannah, Georgia. Make sure to visit the Cathedral Basilica of St. John’s Church and explore the charming Christmas markets for a truly magical experience.
  • Go on a house tour watching the huge mansion, and museums. The Harper Fowlkes House, The Andrew Low House, The Owens- Thomas House, and The Davenport House Museum are must-visit spots.
  • Come to this beautiful giant ice rink – Ghost Pirates Ice for ice skating
Georgia, Savannah
Savannah

4. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park is one of the best places to travel in December on a budget in the US. The tranquil ambiance of the park makes it the perfect spot to unwind and relax during the Holiday season.

Did you know that the park is home to over 50 species of mammals, including wolves and more? It’s a great spot for wildlife photography, especially during the winter when the animals are more active.

And, the hot spring is definitely a must-visit, with its vibrant colors and unique formation it is my favorite spot in Yellowstone National Park.

However, getting the right transportation can be challenging but you can always walk around. With lodging, there are a lot of options available. 

Affordable things to do in Yellowstone National Park:

  • Is anyone up for glamping in Yellowstone Expedition in winter? Come to Yurt Camp, you can camp in the woods and canyons and ski in the most spectacular way
  • The snow of Yellowstone National Park makes it easier to spot the rarest wolves
  • Did you know Yellowstone National Park offers the best snowmobile trails in the world? You can choose West Yellowstone, Continental Divide Snowmobile Trail, or Montana
  • Search for to bring the perfect Christmas tree to your home from Custer National Forest. Remember, to get the permit, it is only $5. 
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park in winter

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5. Park City, Utah

Even though the home value in Park City can be high, the overall cost of living, transportation, and other amenities are relatively cheap.

I’ve had the pleasure of spending a month and a half in this beautiful ski town and have founded that it offers great value for visitors and residents alike.  

Park City is a great budget-friendly destination for December vacations. During my fourteen days of solo trips, I spent $4,242, and later my sister joined me.

I attended there Winter Olympics. Later, I dare to ride myself down the bobsled track for the training. It was so much fun! 

With award-winning restaurants, excellent skiing, and snowboarding opportunities, the Deer Valley Resort, and a romantic ride on Heber Valley Railroad’s North Pole Express during Christmas, Park City is the perfect winter vacation destination for couples.

Affordable things to do in Park City:

  • Fly in the air, free sledding, tubing or take a parkour course at Woodward Park City
  • Enjoy the thrill of being pulled by a dog, dog sledding at North Forty Escape
  • Take the 20 minutes drive to reach Canyon’s Resort for snowmobile tours
  • Give your muscle some rest by dipping in a warm geothermal crater at Homestead Crater in Midway, Utah
  • To all the Disney fans, enjoy ice art, sculptures, and icicle towers, at Utah Ice Castle
  • Take part in an annual torchlight parade during Christmas

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6. Death Valley National Park, California

Death Valley National Park is one of the jewels of America and injects a never-ending enthusiasm to visit the hottest and driest location in the United States.

This place holds the record for the highest temperature – 130 degrees Fahrenheit! But, luckily, in December and January, the temperature is around 66 – 68 Fahrenheit.

It is one of the great budget-friendly vacation destinations in December. I came here on Thanksgiving and gifted myself an incredible peaceful winter gift.

Visiting Death Valley in December has many advantages. With fewer crowds, you can enjoy the sheer size of the valley, the chilly evenings, and the stunning light created by the sun all by yourself. 

Additionally, there are many affordable hotels to choose from, making it a great budget-friendly destination! Remember, in December, the days are shorter, thus start your day early to explore the valley to the fullest.

Affordable things to do in Death Valley National Park:

  • The Oasis at Death Valley with its dreamy pool, picturesque restaurants, and bars surrounded by the desert, it’s the perfect place to relax and unwind during your trip
  • Make sure to check out Lake Manly. This massive lake is a sight to behold and is sure to take your breath away with its beauty and size!
  • Affordable but old lodging option – Stovepipe Wells Village is one of the must places to spend the night
  • Bring the best quality action camera to capture the iconic Badwater Basin
  • Reward yourself with the stunning sunset view at Zabriskie Point
  • Death Valley National Park is popular among hikers – Ubehebe Crater Loop, Mosaic Canyon Trail, and Natural Bridge Canyon Trail are one of the best trails
Death Valley National Park, United States
Death Valley National Park

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7. Naples, Florida

Naples in Florida has always been the summering destination, but here’s the trick – to beat the extra cost, you plan to come here in December.

The average temperature is around 77 Fahrenheit with no humidity. The Naples Botanical Garden is all decorated with lights making it look so gorgeous.

With endless outdoor dining options, a Tree Lighting ceremony, and the Christmas Walk celebration, mid-December is the perfect time to experience the festivities on Fifth Avenue South!

Naples is a great destination for those looking for a beach getaway in December on a budget. Florida is a great place for winter vacation especially for families. 

With white sand beaches perfect for taking endless photos and soaking up the sun, Naples is one of the most affordable vacation spots to consider. 

If you love bird watching, make sure to visit Barefoot Beach where you can see a lot of birds migrating. It’s one of my favorite spots to visit and I highly recommend it! 

Affordable things to do in Naples:

  • Naples in December is always busy with celebrations. Take part in free Baconfest, The Naples International Film Festival, Christmas Lighting ceremonies, the annual Greek Festival and so more.
  • Pamper yourself at hundreds of shops at Venetian Bay. You can either go shopping or dining
  • Bring your partner to Bonita Beach to witness an incredible sunset
  • Learn about fine art, and know more from museums at The Baker Museum

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8. Riverside, California

December is always synonymous with Christmas holiday lights, which is why I couldn’t resist taking you to the Mission Inn in Riverside. 

I’m a huge fan of festive celebrations and sparkling holiday lights. Obviously, the stay in the hotel is expensive but you can take part in its celebration without staying there. 

Riverside is the crown jewel of California sitting on the Pacific Coast at the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains. It is an ideal inexpensive December destination for travelers. 

The average temperature in December is around 64 F. The moment you step here, you’ll fall in love with the youthful energy, Spanish-style architectural wonders, museums, and palm tree-lined streets.

Boasting stylish furnishing, spacious suites, and incredible views, the Mission Inn Hotel offers one of the most luxurious accommodation experiences you can have in Riverside. 

During December, the hotel is adorned with 3 million holiday lights and 400 animated figures, making the Festival of Lights an experience you won’t want to miss!

Riverside is the best place to travel in winter on a budget with family. It has a lot of museums, parks, and botanical gardens to enjoy.

Affordable things to do in Riverside:

  • Beat the traffic and hustle of the town by coming to The UC Riverside Botanic Garden
  • Let your kid enjoy an expedition at Jurupa Mountains Discovery Centre
  • Unwind your traveling style and pinch your luxurious air conditioner tent by the Lake Hemet and enjoy the peace
  • Know the citrus industry story of Riverside at The California Citrus State Historic Park
  • Pen out your thoughts sitting at the Riverside National Cemetery
Grandmothers Mural
Grandmothers Mural

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9. Matagorda, Texas

If I say that Matagorda is the place for budget travelers, would you believe that? From the beach to the bay and everything in between, Matagorda is very traveler friendly.

This fishing village in Texas is home to less than 500 people. This is a great spot for wetland paddling trails, feeling the sun, surfing, and fishing.

I recommend getting the Annual Beach Permit from Matagorda Bay Nature Park to dive miles and miles on the beach. 

In December, you’ll see fishermen bringing Tuna fish. Also, you can explore your fishing skills. However, summer, especially August is the best time for fishing.

No doubt, Matagorda is a great place to travel in December for powder enthusiasts. I recommend getting your binoculars because you might spot Bald Eagle.

Affordable things to do in Matagorda:

  • Matagorda is the third oldest town in Texas, hence I recommend going on a historical tour throughout the town
  • Get some chilling vibes at Christ Episcopal Church, the oldest cemetery in the state
  • Go on a hike exploring the town. However, there are no traditional hiking trails. You can visit Matagorda Bay and Nature Park
Matagorda beach, budget-friendly vacation destinations in December
Matagorda Beach

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10. Boulder, Colorado

As an avid hiker, I was thrilled when my friend Soniya planned a great winter walk along the Boulder Creek Path in 2018. I’ll always be grateful for the experience!

I even braved the chilly weather and hiked in 10 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures. Ever since that winter walks with Soniya, Boulder has held a special place in my heart.

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Keep in mind, that temperature can drop to as low as 20 degrees, so be sure to bundle up in warm clothes. However, if you’re sensitive to such a low temperature, it may be best to avoid this spot.

Boulder is a small town just right of the Rocky Mountains. In winter the incredible view of the Rocky Mountains covered with snow is something you’ll die to witness.

The moment I arrived, I was stunned by the mountain, experiencing flurries, a big snowfall, local food, drinking scenes, trails, and Christmas celebrations. 

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve visited Boulder since that day. I have a special fondness for the area’s high altitude, as it sits about 5,300 feet above sea level. 

Boulder in Colorado is one of the best affordable winter vacation spots in the USA. Sitting at The A.M. Eatery and having hot chocolates is my favorite memory!

For convenient transportation options to explore the city, consider walking or purchasing a 10 Ride Ticket Book package for around $22.

For those seeking an affordable holiday destination in December, Boulder is a fantastic choice. 

Affordable things to do in Boulder:

  • Explore the Pearl Street Mall, checking out the shops restaurants, and small bars
  • Wear your hiking high boots and walk around the University of Colorado Boulder’s college campus. You can also come to the ice skating rink to skating 
  • You cannot miss sledding at Tantra Park
  • Having fun at Eldora Mountain Resort is something you can never miss out on!
  • Attend Boulder’s traditional Colorado Chautauqua WinterFest
Eldora Mountain Resort, Boulder, best budget-friendly vacations in December
Eldora Mountain Resort in Boulder

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11. Williamsburg, Virginia

If you’re working with a tight budget and looking for the best place to travel in December with the entire family, look no further than Williamsburg. 

From checking out gorgeous historic architecture to strolling through beautiful holiday lights and taking part in endless holiday activities, Williamsburg is the perfect destination. 

Every year on the first weekend of December, Williamsburg celebrates Grand Illuminations at Colonia Williamsburg, featuring the largest firework show in the area!

Merchant’s Square comes alive with festive lights and bustling crowds, making it impossible to feel left out during the holiday! 

Affordable things to do in Williamsburg:

  • Experience the thrilling Christmas celebration in the grandest fashion way in Busch Gardens Williamsburg
  • Enjoy winter air with your family at Liberty Ice Pavilion, an ice skating rink
  • Take part in lighting a 16-foot tree with 2, 000 ornaments at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg. You’ll also get cookies and hot chocolate for free!
  • Bring your child to American Revolution Museum at Yorktown to know how military people spend their Christmas at camps 

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12. Santa Fe, New Mexico

If you’re looking for a destination that looks like it is crafted by a painter’s brush, there’s no better choice than Santa Fee, New Mexico. 

Located at an altitude of 70,000 feet, this place is truly a paradise for tourists. In winter, the town is magically illuminated by snow–dusted flakes, cool air, and festive lights. 

It’s the perfect place to relax, learn, and enjoy a cozy time! You’ll experience the influence of Latin America, Spanish, Native American, and Anglo traditions. 

The multicultural city makes it one of the best places to travel in December in the USA. I was amazed by the city’s street food options and classy evening restaurants.

Affordable things to do in Santa Fe:

  • The snowy landscape and frozen waterfall make an ideal time to ski in Taos Ski Valley
  • Don’t miss the chance to take some amazing photos with the blue gate of the Palace of the Governor in the background. And be sure, to visit the Fray Angelico Chavez History Library
  • Bring yourself out to the market square, the busy hub of the town, and explore the cafes and restaurants 
Santa Fe,  best places to travel in December
At the roadside of Santa Fee

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FAQ: Best Places to Travel in December on a Budget

1. What’s a good trip to take in December?

A. Some gorgeous destination to visit in the USA solo or with the family has to be Naples in Florida, Savannah in Georgia, and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. With the serene mountains, pleasant weather, and lush greenery, these places are sure to make a great destination for December in the USA.  

2. What is the warmest place in the US in December?

A. St. Augustine in Florida records a temperature of 71 Fahrenheit – 67 Fahrenheit in December. It sits on the Northeast coast of Florida making it one of the top warm destinations in the USA for tourists to explore. 

3. Is December a cheap month to fly?

A. Typically, the period from mid-December to mid-January is considered a bit costly, time to fly. However, you can still save dollars on your airfare by selecting a destination that is not as popular among tourists during that time. By choosing a less hyped location, you can potentially score a more affordable trip and experience the best winter vacation. 

4. Which beach is the warmest in the USA for Christmas?

A. Big Island in Hawaii records a temperature of 79 Fahrenheit – 82 Fahrenheit in December. However, the Christmas celebration in the Annual Waimea Twilight Parade is truly worth experiencing.

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