Just as we did a Travel Guide to Netflix Shows for Thanksgiving, with no further ado, below is our travel guide to Christmas movies. We take you from London to Los Angeles, Upstate New York down to Manhattan. And, of course, we’ve included the USVI—St. Croix is the setting for the most memorable scene in Trading Places.
To those who would like to argue that Trading Places is not a Christmas movie, let me remind you that the entire plot takes place in the span of several days, starting right before Christmas and ending before New Year’s Eve. I also present you with backup arguments by The Atlantic and Business Insider to validate my claims. Now that you know that the crowning achievement of Eddie Murphy’s career should be considered a Christmas movie, the holidays may never be the same for you again. You’re welcome.
U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS
Yes, the majority of the film takes place in the wilds of Philadelphia, rather than the tropics. But is there a more iconic scene in the movie (or, rather, in film history) than when they are lounging on yachts and sipping cocktails? Without it, we would never have this generation-defining exchange: Looking good, Billy Ray! Feeling good, Louis! This scene was filmed in St. Croix, Davis Bay to be specific. Travel envy is nearly guaranteed; and there’s never been a better time to support the USVI than in the wake of the hurricane. Book your flight.
Did Christmas happen actually if you didn’t watch Love Actually? I’d like to give an honorable mention to the rural region in France and the restaurant in Portugal as runners-up to the London travel-envy. But the opening lines set this up as a love letter to London. The film is framed by scenes in Heathrow airport, after all.
This rom-com is also set part-time in London, but we didn’t want to give the Brits too much credit. We will therefore use this film to honor SoCal. La to be specific. The real estate in this film will make you salivate—and, technically, the plot is centered around a higher-end Airbnb house-swap. So, start trolling online and book your own California dream house. Live like someone else for a week and maybe, just maybe, you’ll find someone who loves you for you. Or at least for the duration of your stay in said beachside bungalow.
This film is not only #travelgoals with the vacation to Paris (which, obviously, we never get to really see), but also with what’s left unsaid about the McAllister’s lifestyle in Chicago. HOW did Kevin McAllister’s dad afford that house and a trip for a dozen elementary-school children to Europe? Maybe a meme has pondered this dilemma, no answers are as of yet forthcoming. The house was sold recently, anyway. Hope that doesn’t shatter your dreams.
NEW YORK CITY
Of course, we had to honor our native city with one of the most quotable movies of all time—and it has applicable purposes in daily life. I recently wrote about why “What’s your favorite color?” is the best pickup line to use when pestering strangers on the internet. Sorry, Aziz Ansari, no one is going to Whole Foods, and no one is picking you up anything.
A Christmas Story
Although the story is set in Indiana, it was filmed in Cleveland. So, the city has another thing to boast about aside from LeBron James. You can now stay in the house where the movie was filmed, and recreate what is arguably one of the most-loved Christmas films of all time. Just don’t shoot your eye out. Do, however, check out all the amazing art this city in Ohio has to offer on your visit.
UPSTATE NEW YORK
It's a Wonderful Life
Now onto more rural pastures, It’s A Wonderful Life is set in the type of bucolic upstate New York town that seems designed for Christmas. Though the film is technically meant to be set in Bedford Falls, Seneca Falls tries to claim it as their own. Maybe the movie will inspire some nostalgia for simpler times, and inspire a trip upstate. In general, though, let it inspire you to be a good person—that should be the biggest takeaway here (one you’ve likely forgotten by Christmas morning).
The Vermont farm where the action unfolds in White Christmas will make you want to head up for a ski weekend ASAP. Did you know this Bing Crosby classic was filmed in the same location as another (equally) classic Christmas movie, Holiday Inn? The Connecticut set for Holiday Inn was revamped to be the Vermont farm for White Christmas.
We would be remiss not to include Little Women, since the movie practically personifies Christmas tidings, starting with the caroling in the opening scene. The colonial New England home, the sledding, the ice-skating, the snow-covered trees—all of this will all make you long to head north for a winter weekend. And maybe it will encourage you to get along with your siblings for the rest of the holiday. We can only pray.
Shout-out to two movies we couldn’t include but deserve a mention: The Nightmare Before Christmas, which takes place in hell—a place you may be likely to visit but probably not on your own schedule—and A Charlie Brown Christmas. Because it’s a cartoon. Duh.
Anything to add? Let us know in the comment section.