Spending time with family and friends is one of the highlights of any holiday, but who says that means staying local? We’ve rounded up four destinations you should visit during the most festive and fitting holiday seasons that we think match them perfectly.
Why go: Imagine leaving the hats and scarves behind and lounging on your boat’s sun deck, enjoying 70 degree temperatures—need we say more?
Local holiday tradition: Just as Galapagos animals were isolated and protected from the outside world, Galapagos residents have managed to stay shielded from the hectic commercialism that often comes with the winter holidays. Instead, the focus is relaxing with family and friends.
Don’t miss: In December, giant tortoise eggs are hatching and green sea turtles are mating as the islands turn green with vegetation.
Which family member will love it: Water lovers will have near-daily opportunities to snorkel among tropical fish, sea lions and sea turtles.
Why go: Flights are relatively short and there are plenty of routings to Mexico City, where the tour begins and ends.
Local holiday tradition: At midnight as one year becomes the next, Mexican families enjoy sweet bread known as pan dulce. The person who finds the hidden coin baked inside is predicted to have luck in the coming year.
Don’t miss: The millions of monarch butterflies who convene in central Mexico’s mountains, having traveled 3,000 miles from the northeastern U.S. and Canada.
Which family member will love it: Avid photographers will delight in snapping images of tree branches drooping with the weight of butterflies.
Why go: There’s no better way to celebrate July 4th than in one of the country’s most breathtaking national parks.
Local holiday tradition: Though you’ll likely miss the fireworks in nearby towns, having the park largely to yourself and retiring to your grand lodge for the evening will more than make up for it.
Don’t miss: Going-to-the-Sun Road—an exhilarating, winding highway that crosses the Continental Divide and provides jaw-dropping views.
Which family member will love it: The hiker in the family will appreciate several opportunities to head out on foot with a naturalist guide.
Why go: Spending Halloween in the small town of Churchill might not seem like an obvious choice, but it also happens to be prime polar bear-viewing season.
Local holiday tradition: Polar bears are known to wander into town from time to time—Polar Bear Alert officers help ensure that local children can enjoy trick-or-treating safely. White costumes, for obvious reasons, are discouraged.
Don’t miss: While polar bears are the main Churchill attraction, lucky visitors may also witness the nighttime northern lights display.
Which family member will love it: For wildlife enthusiasts, the opportunity to see polar bears in the wild—often up-close—is a life-defining moment.
By Marsea Nelson, WWF guest blogger