The Best Christmas Destinations in the Southeastern USA

This is a guest post by Cory Lee, of Curb Free With Cory Lee

Curb Free with Cory Lee profile pic

The most wonderful time of the year is right around the corner and has actually already started in many places. Of course I’m talking about Christmas!!

Is there really anything better than putting up your Christmas tree and baking cookies while listening to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” on repeat??

No. The answer is no.

While plenty of fun can be had doing this and watching Christmas movies at home, it’s always great to get out and see the lights and take part in the festivities elsewhere.

I always love traveling to new places and the Southeastern USA offers some of the most festive destinations for a Christmas getaway. Here are some of the best:

Dollywood Smoky Mountain Christmas Parade of LIghts

Parade of Lights at Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas. Photo courtesy of Dollywood.

1. Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

The most notable attraction in Pigeon Forge is the world-famous Dollywood theme park. Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas truly goes all-out for the season and has more than four million lights on display with a nightly Parade of Lights. You can also meet Santa, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and see a plethora of Christmas-themed shows.

Dollywood A Christmas Carol with Dolly Parton

Dollywood’s A Christmas Carol stars Dolly Parton. Photo courtesy of Dollywood.  

Aside from Dollywood, there are quite a few dinner shows in town – and starting around early November, they all get a Christmas twist to them. Some of my favorites include the Dixie Stampede Christmas Show and the Hatfield & McCoy Christmas Disaster Show. These shows are very entertaining and some delicious Southern food is served during them.

After a great dinner show, you can check out the many Christmas lights that are strung up and down the streets of Pigeon Forge – or shop ’til you drop at Christmas Place, the South’s largest Christmas shopping village.

Snowy trees surround the French Broad River outside Asheville NC

Winter scenery at the French Broad River MPO, outside Asheville NC. Trover photo by Glen D. Burgess.

2. Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville is one of the most underrated destinations in the Southeast, but offers some of the most beautiful sights both at Christmas time and otherwise. Gorgeous mountains surround the city along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and with a light dust of snow in the winter, there is nothing more beautiful.

Blue Ridge Parkway at twilight

After getting some fresh mountain air, you can visit America’s largest home, the Biltmore Estate. The Biltmore is fully decorated for Christmas and even has a 35-foot Christmas tree with some of the biggest ornaments you have ever seen.

If you visit in the evening, the home is also filled with candles and glowing fireplaces to get you in that warm Christmas spirit.

Festive Christmas fireplace at the Biltmore Estate.

Crackling fireplaces and Christmas sweets await at the Biltmore Estate. Photo courtesy of The Biltmore Company

Cinderella castle for Christmas

Cinderella’s Castle is trimmed in glimmering lights for Christmas. Photo courtesy of Disney World. 

3. Orlando, Florida

Disney World!!! Do I really need to say anything else? It is the happiest place on Earth after all, so of course it is THE place to be at Christmas. Join in on the fun at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom.

You can view the spectacular fireworks, see all your favorite Disney characters in their special Christmas outfits, watch the Christmas parade featuring Santa, experience the snowfall on Main Street, USA, and even eat some complimentary cookies while you drink hot cocoa. You can feel the immense Christmas spirit all over the theme park.

4. Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville live music venues, Fiddle & Steel Guitar Bar

Nashville, TN’s lively music scene makes it perfect for holiday entertainment. Trover photo by Chad Whaley.

Nashville (or “Nashvegas,” as I call it) is only a couple hours from where I live, so my family has made visiting at Christmas somewhat of a tradition. Every year we pack up our things and hit the road for a magical weekend in Nashville.

My favorite thing to do is watch the Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes at the Grand Ole Opry. The Rockettes are extremely talented and they make this such a great show. Also, the Grand Ole Opry isn’t very big so there isn’t really a bad seat in the whole place.

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular Starring The Rockettes

Photo courtesy of Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center

If you’re feeling rather adventurous, check out ICE!, an exhibit that features more than two million pounds of Christmas-themed ice sculptures. (Tip: It is freezing in this exhibit, so layer up before you go inside!)

If you are looking for somewhere to stay while in Nashville, look no further than the Gaylord Opryland. It is a huge resort and is truly decorated to the nines for Christmas. Even if you don’t stay here, it is still worth checking out for a couple hours.


As you can see, there are plenty of amazing destinations in the Southeastern U.S. where you can get your Christmas fix. From festive lights to fun-filled theme parks, there really is no better place for a Christmas getaway.

After being diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at the age of two, Cory Lee’s thirst for adventure never ceased. He went on many trips around the US when he was younger, and started taking things international when he turned fifteen. Since then, Cory has traveled to fourteen countries, all while managing to successfully graduate college and start up his travel blog curbfreewithcorylee.com, where he shares his accessible (and sometimes not so accessible) travel adventures with others. Through this, he hopes to inspire others to roll out of their comfort zone and see all of the beauty that the world has to offer. Keep up with Cory on Facebook or Twitter.