Published November 2020
Are people traveling for the holidays this year? What are our safest options? And where can we still book a vacation rental? We have answers to all that, and more.
It’s hard to imagine the holidays without the festivities that typically mark our calendars or the large gatherings that may not be possible this year. So what are people planning? With the season fast approaching, time is winding down to make decisions on whether or not to safely travel, how to celebrate, and if that includes or forgoes family traditions.
We teamed up with Allison+Partners and surveyed more than a thousand Americans above the age of 18 to get insight into what’s in store for the 2020 holiday travel season. And for the 2 in 5 who plan to pack up and head to a vacation destination, we have a few getaway ideas that still have availability and offer socially distanced activities for both snowy and sunny celebrations. Just remember to review current CDC recommendations, which offer best practices and list road trips, preparing your own meals, and staying in vacation rentals with your household among the lower-risk travel options. Here’s to a safe and happy holiday.
If you’re looking for a destination that will imbue your winter with a dash of holiday spirit, we have nine spots to put on your radar. We used Vacasa data to evaluate occupancy of our U.S. markets during Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve. Then, rather than point you toward the highest-occupancy destinations where Vacasa vacation rentals may be hard to come by, we had our travel experts curate this list of popular locations where you’re likely to find availability over the holidays.
Featured Vacasa home: Moose Meadows Lodge
If you’re seeking a mountain adventure for the holidays, Big Sky and Southwest Montana offer a winter wonderland of recreation options, from downhill and Nordic skiing to dog sledding. Big Sky Resort has more than two acres of terrain, making it easier to adhere to new safety protocols, and some of the best snowfall in the Rockies with 400+ inches annually. You remembered to ask Santa for new skis, right?
Featured Vacasa home: Steeplebush - South Meadow 173
The picturesque resort community of Black Butte is nestled below the sun-soaked and snow-dusted peaks of Central Oregon. There are miles of trails within Deschutes National Forest to snowshoe between the Ponderosa pines, or you’re also within an easy drive of the popular city of Bend, where the Old Mill District comes alive with menorah lightings and Santa sightings.
Featured Vacasa home: Honua Kai - Hokulani 829
To the relief of many, Hawaii has reopened for tourism with travel safety protocols in place. If you’ve dreamed of spending your winter break lounging on the sunny beaches of Maui, please proceed. Located in the island’s largest town, our Lahaina condos give the gift of beach access and signature sunset views. And when you’re tired of swimming in the Pacific Ocean (if that’s possible), spend the rest of your trip touring the area’s epic waterfalls and hiking in Haleakalā National Park.
Featured Vacasa home: Breathtaking View
It’s tough to beat the backdrop of the Smoky Mountains that comes with a visit to Pigeon Forge. But aside from the unbeatable natural beauty, the town also serves up an impressive amount of holiday sparkle. Starting November 7, guests can purchase advance tickets to Dollywood’s annual Smoky Mountain Christmas, where the theme park decks its halls and shines bright with more than 5 million twinkling lights.
Featured Vacasa home: Timbers 1003
With flights into Mammoth Yosemite Airport resuming this winter, the crystal clear lakes and mountains of Mammoth Lakes are ideal for a holiday getaway of any length. You’ll want to pack your thermals when visiting the alpine community, because whether you’re taking a snowcat tour or speeding down the tube park, the powder is sure to be your playground. And if you’re out for altitude, Mammoth Mountain is California's highest lift-served peak at 11,053 feet.
Featured Vacasa home: Cooper’s Run
Tucked in the northeastern corner of Maryland, Deep Creek Lake offers the best of both winter worlds: lakefront views and mountain access. The serene setting is the perfect place to escape the typical buzz of festivities in favor of a more remote celebration. One event not to miss, though, is the annual Boxing Day Cookie Tromp Snowshoe on December 26, which includes a guided hike to Swallow Falls and—as the name suggests—cookies and hot cocoa.
Featured Vacasa home: Sugar Shack
This small beach community, along the Gulf Coast of Texas, is just a short (and free!) water taxi ride from Galveston, where you’ll find annual traditions like Dickens in the Squares—reconfigured this year for social distancing—as part of the Galveston Bay Holiday. Prefer to keep it low-key? Not a problem. Stick to the sandy shores of Crystal Beach and watch the ships cruise by, often bedecked in holiday lights.
Featured Vacasa home: Streamside Serenity
With international travel limited this year, Vail is your domestic answer to a European holiday. The mountain air and glamour of this resort community will make you feel like you’ve been transported to the Alps, as you stroll the cobblestone streets or sip an après-ski beverage. Vail’s ski resorts are bar none and a few of them are already taking reservations, but there are an abundance of other activities if snow biking or simply a spa day is more your speed.
Featured Vacasa home: Azure Mansion
Fewer crowds may just be the perfect excuse to spend the holidays in sunny Central Florida. Because, honestly, who brings the magic like Disney? Located less than 30 minutes from the world-famous theme park and dotted with fairways, this town provides a quaint and jolly home base so you can frolic and play the Kissimmee way.
Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.