Christmas Movies to Fuel Your Wanderlust
Holiday Travel,  Travel Stories

31 Christmas Movies to Fuel Your Wanderlust

Ahhhh Christmas. My favorite time of the year. Most of us go home and spend the holidays for our friends and family, so this post isn’t about traveling. It’s about all those Christmas movies that you watch that make you want to travel!

If you’re going to tell me that you don’t like Christmas movies because they are ‘cheesy’ and predictable – you’re lying. Even my 70-year-old uncle loves them. Everybody loves Christmas movies. You don’t even have to believe in Christmas! Christmas movies just give you the ‘warm fuzzies’ and make everything right with the world. Now, I’m not saying that these are the 25 best Christmas movies. No. But, most often holiday movies are either set in New York City or a quaint small town. While this list has some of those (you can’t avoid it!), they all are set in different locations to fuel your wanderlust. So grab a mug of cocoa, a blanket, and your best friend (bonus if you have a snuggly dog or cat!) and get ready for my list of 25 destination Christmas movies – one for each day leading up to Christmas Day.

All of the following movies are available to ‘rent’ on Amazon for a small fee – just click on the movie! Also, I’ve added which streaming services currently have the movies to watch and which networks are airing the movies as part of their holiday line-up.
AMC’s Best Christmas Ever
Freeform’s 25 Day’s of Christmas
Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas
It’s A Wonderful Lifetime

December 1 – Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

New York City, New York

Miracle on 34th Street is my go-to movie to kick-off the holiday season, preferably on Thanksgiving Day! And as much as I love Matilda’s Mara Wilson, you have to go with the classic, 1947 version with Maureen O’Hara and Natalie Wood. You can’t beat it.

Where to watch: AMC on December 2nd and 8th.

December 2 – Eight Crazy Nights (2002)

New Hampshire

Yes, I said this was a list of Christmas movies. But, I’m a very inclusive person and a lover of Adam Sandler! I can’t make a list of holiday movies and not include this animated comedy. And what better night to watch Eight Crazy Nights than on the first night of Hannukah?

Where to watch: Airing on Freeform on December 2nd.

December 3 – Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)

Midwestern USA

Not typically considered a Christmas movie, but why not? Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is all about getting home for Thanksgiving – and hilariously at that. Watch it to get a feel for the midwestern US and get the itch for your next road trip.

“You’re going the wrong way!”
“Oh he’s drunk!”

Where to watch: Airing on AMC on December 3rd.

December 4 – Christmas on the Bayou (2013)


A warm Christmas! Take a break from the snow and cold and get some warm-weather vibes in this Lifetime Christmas movie. Fans of One Tree Hill will enjoy seeing Hilarie Burton and Tyler Hilton together again in Christmas on the Bayou.

Where to watch: Airing on Lifetime on December 4th.

December 5 – The Holiday (2006)

Los Angeles, California & London, UK

One of my all-time favorites! Besides the perk of its all-star cast, The Holiday is a beautiful contrast between Christmas in southern California and Christmas in London. And I couldn’t love it more! I mean, I wouldn’t complain about hanging out with Jude Law in a cozy English cottage – would you?!

Where to watch: Airing on Freeform on December 2nd, 3rd, 13th, 18th, and 19th.

Want some insider tips to spending Christmas in London? Christine from Live Love Run Travel has got you covered!

December 6 – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Chicago, Illinois

A Christmas classic! I don’t know of a Christmas film that is quoted more often than National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. And for good reason! Yes, most of the movie is set within the Griswold house, but Clark’s Bears hat reminds us all of one of my favorite cities. Also- does anyone else shout at the tv when they can’t figure out how to get the lights to work?! Check the switch!!

Where to watch: Airing on AMC on December 2nd, 6th, 10th, and 11th.

December 7 – A Christmas Prince (2017)


A Christmas Prince was an instant hit on Netflix last winter. Cheesy? Yes. Predictable? Of course. But adorable and worthy of binge-watching? 100%. While the movie is technically set in the fictional land of Aldovia, it was filmed in Romania. Doesn’t it make you want to book the next flight to go explore the castles of Europe? Maybe that’s just me… But I’m betting there are others out there! Even better? The sequel premiers on Netflix this year!

Where to watch: Streaming on Netflix.

December 8 – White Christmas (1954)


Ah, White Christmas. The most beloved holiday film for my mom and my aunt. Yet, somehow I managed to make it to adulthood without watching the movie in its entirety. Set in picturesque Vermont, this Christmas classic is a must on your holiday watchlist.

Where to watch: Airing on AMC on December 8th and streaming on Netflix.

December 9 – Christmas Under Wraps (2014)


To be honest, nothing will ever be more Alaskan to me than the tv show Northern Exposure. Love that! But for a Christmas movie, good ol’ DJ Tanner (Candace Cameron Bure) makes this one quite enjoyable. With a similar plot line to my beloved tv show, Candace plays a big-shot doctor who moves to Alaska to kick it small-town. Why is this such a popular plot line, anyway? Does Alaska not have enough doctors? The world may never know.

Where to watch: Airing on Hallmark on December 9th.

December 10 – Last Holiday (2006)

Czech Republic

If you found out that you had a terminal illness and wanted to splurge all of your money on an exotic vacation, where would you go? Well, Queen Latifah, or at least her character in Last Holiday, would choose the Czech Republic. And for good reason! Czech is a fantastic and beautiful place. Czech it out for yourself! 😉

Where to watch: Airing on AMC on December 6th and 10th.

December 11 – Finding Mrs. Claus (2012)

Las Vegas, Nevada

Looking for another unconventional Christmas locale? Lifetime’s Finding Mrs. Claus gives us just that! Mira Sorvino plays Mrs. Claus to Will Sasso’s Santa in this Vegas-based film.

Where to watch: Airing on Lifetime on December 11th. 

December 12 – Love Actually (2003)

London, UK

Arguably one of the most popular modern Christmas films, it’s impossible not to love Love Actually. I can watch it again and again and again… You get the point. Admit it, you could too. I can’t decide which plot line is my favorite – the little boy, Colin Firth and his Portuguese housekeeper, or Juliet and Mark (Rick Grimes pre-zombie apocalypse). They’re all so good! Hilarious, adorable, heart-wrenching (how could you, Snape?), and occasionally ridiculous, I am in love with this movie. With that said, I may interrupt writing to go watch it again… ‘Christmas is all around’ after all!

Where to watch: Airing on TBS on December 1st, 2nd, 9th, 21st, and 22nd and streaming on Netflix.

December 13 – Black Christmas (1974)

Toronto, Canada

Inspired by a true story, Black Christmas shows us a different side of the festive holiday season! When most of the girls go home for Christmas break, a few of the sorority sisters stay behind – only to be stalked for the holidays. Take a break from the cheesy romance, but not the holiday.

Where to watch: This one you’ll have to rent on Amazon or find on DVD!

December 14 – Christmas in the Smokies (2015)


First of all, I love Sarah Lancaster (EverwoodWhat About Brian?Chuck). Add in Christmas, country music, and Tennessee? I’m sold. Christmas in the Smokies is as predictable as most Christmas movies, but loveable nonetheless. Definitely worth a watch as you’re decorating the tree. (At least that’s what I did this year!)

Where to watch: Streaming on Netflix or on YouTube!

December 15 – The Flight Before Christmas (2015)


A cute Lifetime movie with a predictable plot, but worth a watch anyway. I mean, it stars Amy Farrah-Fowler from The Big Bang Theory – Mayim Bialik! The movie showcases small-town life in Montana and is the setting for a picture-perfect Christmas.

Where to watch: Airing on Lifetime on December 2nd and Lifetime Movie Network on December 4th.

December 16 – Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

St. Louis, Missouri

While The Wizard of Oz will always be my favorite Judy Garland film, you can’t deny the wonder of Meet Me in St. Louis! It is the origin of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” after all!

Where to watch: Airing on TCM on December 1st, 16th, and 24th.

December 17 – Joyeux Noel

Paris, France

Set in Paris during World War II, the troops call a truce on Christmas to celebrate the holiday. Joyeux Noel is based on a true story from the battlefront and is a great film for Christmas and war movie lovers.

Where to watch: This one you’ll have to find on DVD or rent on Amazon.

December 18 – The Little Drummer Boy (1968)


A true Christmas classic! This stop-animation movie was a staple in my house growing up and I had such love for the animals, especially the little lamb named Baba. The Little Drummer Boy takes us all back to the beginning, to the birth of baby Jesus in a manger in the desert.

Where to watch: Airing on Freeform on December 3rd, 8th, 18th, and 23rd.

December 19 – Snow (2004) 


I will forever miss watching Tom Cavanagh in Ed, but I get to watch him in all his adorableness in Snow. With reindeer! And Ashley Williams! (Forever Victoria from HIMYM in my mind)

Where to watch: Airing on Freeform on December 19th.

December 20 – The Christmas Candle (2013)

Isle of Man

If you’re into British period films, this one’s for you! Starring Hans Matheson and the lovely Samantha Barks (Eponine in Les Mis!), The Christmas Candle is set in the quaint English countryside. This one will have you believing in miracles. Plus, you get to hear the angelic voice of Susan Boyle in the film and question your belief in miracles.

Where to watch: Streaming on Netflix.

December 21 – Love the Coopers (2015)

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Steve Martin. John Goodman. Diane Keaton. Ed Helms. All together in a Christmas movie. What could possibly be wrong with that? Nothing. So go watch Love the Coopers.

Where to watch: Airing on Freeform on December 4th, 9th, 10th, and 21st.

December 22 – Christmas in Connecticut (1945)


To be honest, I haven’t seen this one yet, but it has been highly recommended by a few close friends! So, I have it set to record on my DVR this weekend. Either way, Christmas + Connecticut sounds like the perfect combination to me!

Where to watch: Airing on AMC on December 6th and 8th and on TCM on December 6th, 8th, 9th, 22nd, and 24th.

December 23 – It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

Seneca Falls, New York

While the film is set in Bedford Falls, the town is said to have been inspired by the quaint Seneca Falls, New York – located less than an hour from me! And, if you’ve been keeping up with the blog, you’ll know that I love Seneca Falls and it’s almost where I got married last year. But here’s another embarrassing admission of mine – I just saw It’s A Wonderful Life for the first time two years ago. I know, I know. But I loved the way I saw it – in Syracuse’s historic Landmark Theater during Christmas season!

Where to watch: Airing on NBC on Christmas Eve and streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

December 24 – A Christmas Story (1983)

Cleveland, Ohio

Okay, I’m about to say something very unpopular. I don’t like A Christmas Story. I know! And it’s not totally fair either since I’ve never actually finished the movie. I just don’t like it. I don’t get it. But I know several people who love it. My cousins-in-law have it on the tv on repeat every year at our Christmas party. I’m one of the few who doesn’t sit on the couch to watch one of the many airings! Oh well. Fun travel fact – you can see the house that was used for filming in Cleveland. Check it out if that’s your thing!

Where to watch: Like I said, it airs repeatedly on Christmas Eve on TBS.

Merry Christmas!

New York City, New York

NYC Rockefeller Center Tree Night - Christmas in New York City

From Christmas Day to New Year’s Eve, we are finishing out this list entirely in New York City. Because few other cities around the world embrace the holidays in the same extravagant ways as the Big Apple. And because there were so many amazing choices! Too many for me to narrow down. 

December 25 – Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)

Y’all thought it was awful when little Kevin McCallister’s family flew to Paris last Christmas and left him forgotten at home. So bad that they couldn’t possibly do it again, right? Wrong! Another Christmas classic; you can’t help but fall in love with Macaulay Culkin all over again, this time as he lives it up in The Plaza. New York City in all its glory. Also, who doesn’t love the pigeon lady? She’s the best.

Where to watch: Sadly, this is another that you’ll have to rent on Amazon or find on DVD. But do it. Do it now.

December 26 – Elf (2003)

There are so many reasons to love Elf. So many! Narwhals. Zooey Deschanel. The four food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corn, and maple syrup. Smiling (it’s my favorite). And the pure innocence that Will Ferrell portrays as Buddy. Another hugely popular film, you can’t go through the holiday season without watching it at least once.

“Bye, Buddy! Hope you find your dad!”

Where to watch: Airing on AMC on December 1st, 5th, 6th, and 11th.

December 27 – Noel (2004)

I can’t quite explain it, but the first time I watched Noel, I fell in love with the movie. It’s like Love Actually with a more serious undertone and set in New York City. The fact that it stars Paul Walker and Penelope Cruz as two of the all-star cast doesn’t hurt. It’s a beautiful film that isn’t as well known as it should be.

Where to watch: Airing on Lifetime Movie Network on December 4th and Lifetime on December 7th.

December 28 – Serendipity (2001)

I. Love. Serendipity. It’s smart, it’s quirky, it’s fateful. The entire movie has you cheering for Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack to find each other again. Also, it’s the only reason I know what the constellation Cassiopeia looks like!

Where to watch: These last few aren’t streaming or airing that I can find. Get yourself the DVDs or rent them on Amazon.

December 29 – Scrooged (1988) 

You can’t make a movie list without including at least one film with Bill Murray. Plus, Scrooged is a modern, and hilarious, interpretation of Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol”. 

December 30 – When Harry Met Sally (1989)

I’ll be honest, this one didn’t originally come to mind when I was putting together this list. But some of When Harry Met Sally‘s most iconic scenes are on New Years! So what better way to bring the year to an end? Plus, this movie is pure gold. The standard for all rom-coms in the last 30 years. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan are an impossible pair to beat. (Though Meg does a worthy job with Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail, another possible unconventional Christmas choice.)

December 31 – New Year’s Eve (2011)

Duh. Did you think I was going to suggest anything else? Also, whether you want to admit it or not, this movie is fantastic. Yet another in the Love Actually style – intermingling stories and a stellar cast. How do you not fall in love with all of the characters?! Unless you’re going to watch the ball drop in person, there is no good reason not to watch this today.

Honorable Mentions

I couldn’t possibly include all of my favorite Christmas films in this list. Especially since I was focusing on noticeable and different locations! But I have to shout out some honorable mentions to my favorite films in fictional locations:

  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
  • Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town (1970)
  • The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)
  • Jack Frost (1979)
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
  • The Santa Clause (1994)
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
  • The Polar Express (2004)

Well I hope you’ve enjoyed my list and have fulfilled your travel desires along with your holiday celebrations. Have any suggestions that I’ve left off? Let me know in the comments!


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