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Rocky’s yell echoing down the Art Museum’s steps. The word love stacked on top of itself. A nearly 300 year old cracked bell hanging in a glass hall. A prison that housed Al Capone and was the model for over 300 prisons worldwide.

Ah, Philadelphia, my hometown.

I love thee for your soft pretzels sold at red lights across the city. I love thee for your brash, devil-may-care attitude. And I love thee for your rich history of immigrants that birthed America and some darned good food.

While it’s been years since we reunited at Christmas — 15 to be exact, our last Christmas was the last one that the World Trade Towers saw — I miss wandering your twinkling streets, tripping over historic cobblestones ’round the corner from Ben Franklin’s grave, and seeing pennies stamped in your enormous mint.

You saw my awkward duckling phase, complete with Coke-bottle glasses and braces. And when I visit you, I get lost in the gangster streets of North Philly, careening madly in search of a street to take me out to my familiar ‘burbs.

This Christmas, skip the train north to New York City and her giant sparkling Christmas tree. Instead, stay in Philly, my hometown, and soak in that good, old fashioned brotherly love. Wondering what to do in Philadelphia? Read on: Click to continue…

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“Now that my brother and I are grown up and live in different places, we like to pick a new destination each year to meet up for the holidays” says my friend Morgan. “This year, we’re going to Santa Fe. Last year it was Arizona.”

Morgan’s family is definitely on to something. Personally, I don’t love going home for the holidays — I always end up feeling like I could’ve used the time off to travel somewhere new. However, now that everyone in my family is grown up, I feel like we shouldn’t have to choose between seeing each other and seeing a new, unexplored destination.

Instead of gifting each other things that’ll end up in the closet, why not give the gift of travel instead. For inspiration, try one of these holiday season and Christmas vacation ideas in the U.S. and nearby:

Joshua Tree, California

Best for: Outdoor adventures and budget trips

Joshua Tree in winter

You know what doesn’t close for the holidays? The outdoors.

If you and your family enjoy outdoor adventures, head to Joshua Tree National Park, California in the heart of the Mojave Desert — just a quick 1-hour drive east of Palm Springs (2 hours from L.A.) Temperatures in the desert drop below freezing this time of year (maybe think twice about camping) but remain pleasantly cool during the day. This makes the park a great place for winter hikes, rock climbing, and mountain biking in the desert.

After a full day of hiking, pop by the local saloon for a beer or sip cocktails by the retro pool at 29 Palms Inn. Click to continue…

This guide to the UK, complied by Jennifer Sutherland-Miller & Jessie Beck, is part of a series of country-by-country focused resources addressing accommodations and transportation. You’ll find some overlap with the posts for other countries within the region. We’ve separated them by country because that’s what our readers are looking for. Feel free to skim past the parts that don’t suit you or seem redundant. Let us know if you’ve got insider knowledge to add!

The United Kingdom is on almost everyone’s bucket list. An easy and inexpensive flight from the east coast of North America, London is a popular jumping off point for travelers embarking on the classic backpacking, or summer trip to Europe, and for students who are off on their first big adventure, dreaming of hostels and wild nights. The continent is equally popular with retirees who are off on leisurely boat trips along the canals, or supported cycle tours through the countryside.

The UK offers a wonderful range of travel options and environments, from the urban chic of London, to the quiet countryside of the Lakes District, the gritty music and sports hubs of Manchester and Liverpool, not to mention the breathtaking coastlines that ring the island nation. Because the entirety of the UK is English speaking, it’s a great place to get your feet wet with international travel. My friend Jason took his first trip abroad, to London, last year, at 42 years old, and now he’s got a thirst for more. Add to the cultural appeal, the excellent exchange rate against the American dollar (thank you Brexit) and the UK is a very appealing destination indeed.

If you’re planning a trip to the UK then this guide is for you, we’ve got everything you need for finding accommodation and transportation covered:

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