50 Best Christmas Towns Across America That Are As Charming As The Movies
Who isn’t obsessed with Christmas? From the cookies to the outdoor Christmas decorations to belting out classic Christmas songs. Another favorite thing to do in the month of December is to watch the feel-good Hallmark Christmas movies. The movies always show quaint little towns full of the Christmas spirit. There are actual Christmas towns across the country and they have some of the best Christmas light displays, holiday craft fairs, holiday decorations, parades, and other festive family activities. These towns are definitely worth visiting during the holiday season.
The village south of Nashville is the historic town of Franklin, Tennessee. Around Christmas, they have a festival that brings characters from A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist to life.
The small town is a sixteen-block Victorian Village where you can watch the Christmas Parade, catch a holiday-themed show at the Franklin Theater, or visit the Franklin Makers Market Holiday Market. However, the town’s signature event is the Dickens of a Christmas Festival.
New Hope, PA
New Hope, Pennsylvania, is a great town to visit during the holiday season. It is home to the North Pole Express, where families are treated to Christmas carols, cookies, hot cocoa, and a visit from Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus.
“On my first Christmas in New Hope, I stepped out of my car, and it felt like I had walked into an antique snow globe. From the old-fashioned holiday decorations everywhere to the fire trucks driving through town with Santa Claus on top, it’s a magical world during the season.” ----- Moe Simmons.
Stockbridge, Massachusettes, looks just like a Norman Rockwell painting, and it actually is. The town re-creates the 1967 Rockwell painting, “Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas (Home for Christmas).”
The town’s main street is lined with old-fashioned cars, and the public can tour the historic homes that are decorated for the holidays. Norman Rockwell lived in the town and you can stroll through the village in the Berkshires Mountains or visit the holiday marketplace.
Park City, UT
Park City, Utah, is a literal winter wonderland for Christmas. It is a breathtaking place nestled in the mountains, with many Christmas events during the month of December. The city lights its iconic tree and celebrates with the annual Electric Parade.
You can also visit the holiday markets, take a sleigh ride, and watch a Christmas Eve torchlight parade, where snowboarders and skiers go down the mountain carrying torches while leading Santa into town.
Blue Ridge, GA
Blue Ridge is a northern Georgia town and is all about Christmas. You can enjoy the Blue Ridge Express, which is a four-hour railway excursion along the gorgeous Toccoa River. You can listen to a Christmas story, sing carols, and meet Santa Claus.
They also offer daytime and nighttime pavilion rides and then attend the official lighting of the Christmas tree. The town also has the Gingerbread Village at the Arts Center, featuring more than ninety gingerbread houses to explore.
Cape Cod, MA
Cape Cod, Massachusettes, is known for its beauty all year round, but during the Holiday season, it is picturesque. The lighthouses are decked out with Christmas wreaths, garlands, and lights.
In addition, the seaside town has dozens of craft fairs, parades, theater productions, and a Train to Christmas Town. When you come to town, you can stay in a cozy B&B, dine fireside, book a relaxing spa experience, and go for a walk on the seashore.
Manchester is in southern Vermont and is a very popular place to visit during the holiday season. They have their traditional Community Tree Lighting at the Factory Point Town Green, where the town's giant Christmas tree and lights throughout the town are illuminated.
They also have the Elf Express, which is a one-hour ride with holiday dances, songs, a theater program, hot chocolate, cookies, and a visit with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Manchester has the Lighted Tractor Parade and so much more.
Atchison, Kansas, is a small town with less than fifteen thousand people, but they make up for it with holiday spirit. The community has many kid-friendly events, including a Christmas parade, horse-drawn sleigh rides, a coloring contest, and a Mr. & Miss Winter Wonderland Pageant.
You can also watch a live version of the holiday classic, It's a Wonderful Life, at the Atchison Theater. If you make the trip to Atchison, you will not be disappointed.
Nantucket, Massachusettes, is a very peaceful town during its off-season. They have their annual Christmas Stroll to kick off the month of December, and it all started in the 1970s when the local shopkeepers stayed open late so that the locals wouldn't have to travel to Cape Cod for their holiday shopping.
While you shop, they have dozens of seven-foot decorated Christmas trees around town. You can take part in wine tastings, home tours, and ghost tours. In addition, the Whaling Museum has eighty trees on display that are decorated by local artists, merchants, and children.
North Pole, AK
Did you know that you can actually visit the North Pole? There is a town called North Pole in Alaska, and it boasts a year-round Christmas spirit. They even have a "Santa Claus House" with live reindeer, candy cane street lamps, and a mayor who goes by the name of Santa.
The town stays decorated for Christmas all year with streets that have names like Holiday Road, Snowman Lane, and Saint Nicholas Drive. In addition, kids can send letters to Santa at the North Pole, and they will even receive a response.
New York, NY
New York City in New York is known for its gigantic lit-up Christmas tree that gets ceremoniously turned on every year. There is just no place like New York City at Christmastime, with its skating rinks, stores, and countless activities.
The giant tree is at Rockefeller Center and has been the setting for several Christmas movies, including Miracle on 34th Street and Elf. You can even catch a performance of the Nutcracker ballet.
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is nicknamed "Christmas City," and the town was designated as Bethlehem on Christmas Eve in 1741. The town is full of Christmas spirit, offering horse-drawn carriage rides, taking a Bethlehem by Night bus tour, or a walking Christmas Stroll.
There are also the decorated Trees of Historic Bethlehem. You can stay at the restored 1922 Historic Hotel Bethlehem, which sits on the site where the early settlers named the town on Christmas Eve.
Sheridan, Wyoming, is another town that celebrates the holiday season in a big way. The Christmas season kicks off with Sheridan's Annual Christmas Stroll event. Historic Main Street comes alive with festive holiday cheer, decorations, lights, and live entertainment.
There are fireworks, Christmas shopping, and free trolley and hay wagon rides. The Trail End Holiday Open House event features live musical performances and an appearance by Santa Claus.
Christmastime in Greenville, South Carolina, is like walking around on the set of a Hallmark Christmas movie. The sidewalks twinkle with lights as Santa's electric sleigh rides, and there is a miniature outdoor skating rink on Main Street.
There is also a Festival of Trees competition, tree lighting ceremonies, a free outdoor holiday movie, and a Poinsettia Christmas Parade. In addition, there is a window decorating contest for local businesses to take part in.
In Solvang, California, you can take in the gorgeous wine country located in the Santa Ynez Valley. In December, the town hosts Julefest, which features downtown candlelit caroling tours, a parade, and tree lighting.
You can go on a Holiday Lights Tour, listen to live holiday music, and take part in the Santa Spirit. The festival also takes visitors on a "Nisse adventure" scavenger hunt to find the Danish gnome-like creatures throughout the town.
Bardstown, Kentucky, kicks off the holiday season right after Thanksgiving with the Light Up Bardstown celebration. There is a Fun Christmas Corner where the kids can enjoy sweet treats and face painting.
There is also a parade, a North Pole Express train ride, and a candlelit Christmas Tour of Homes. The town is nicknamed "the most beautiful small town in America." You can even stay at the Jailer's Inn Bed and Breakfast, which is an 1819 jail-turned-hotel.
McAdenville, North Carolina, is known as Christmas Town, USA. For the past sixty-three years, the town has had an impressive holiday display, with more than two hundred evergreen trees covered in five hundred thousand lights and more than one hundred and sixty decorated houses.
They have an annual tree lighting ceremony and the Yule Log Parade. Then there is the Annual Christmas Town Festival, and you can stay at the restored Esquire Hotel.
Bernville, Pennsylvania, is home to the Koziar's Christmas Village, which began in 1948 when William M. Koziar began decorating his home. It is now one of the top attractions in the state of Pennsylvania.
It features indoor and outdoor displays featuring more than a million lights on the buildings, barns, and landscapes. In addition, the reflective lake doubles the town's beauty.
Leavenworth, Washington, was built to resemble a traditional Bavarian village. However, during the holidays, there are twenty-one miles of lights along the homes and fences. You can enjoy harp music, a weekly festival with carolers, and sledding. Every weekend is full of holiday activities like gingerbread house displays and ornament giveaways.
"We have been many times and always love it. The tree lighting does bring more crowds, but it is fun. We usually stay in cabins just outside of town so we can have the best of both worlds. As mentioned, sleigh rides are fun, but also snowshoeing is a lot of fun with kids even just around BlackBird Island downtown. There is the sled hill at Ski Hill, which we enjoy as well." ----- Mtngrl.
Woodstock, Vermont, is a beautiful town to visit during the holidays. The parade of horses and buggies circling a snowy village looks like the image of a Christmas card.
Every year, there is the Woodstock Wassail Weekend, where carolers serenade townsfolk, and everyone gathers for the lighting of the tree. All of the historic homes and farms are open to celebrate the season and the holiday heritage.
Asheville, North Carolina, celebrates the holidays by focusing on the historic Vanderbilt mansion. The mansion is dressed up lavishly with ribbons, garlands, and sparkling lights.
In this mountain town, locals gather to watch Santa rappel down Chimney Rock. The well-established arts scene in town makes shopping for unique gifts easy at craft shows and studio visits in the River Arts District.
Frankenmuth is known as Michigan's Little Bavaria, and its heritage is on full display during the Christmas season. The town's holiday highlights include a traditional Christkindlmarkt, which is a holiday home tour hosted by the Frankenmuth Women's Club.
It features whimsical light displays and the world's largest Christmas store, Bronner's Christmas Wonderland. You can also have a meal with Santa and Mrs. Claus at a German-inspired restaurant.
Jackson sits at the base of the Tetons in Wyoming and magically lights up for the holidays. The town's arches are wrapped in strings of lights, and the resorts and hotels offer many seasonal festivities.
In the National Elk Refuge, you can take a sleigh ride to view the aforementioned animals. At the end of the season, you can see the torch parade of ski instructors skiing down the mountain at the town's two ski resorts.
Natchitoches, Louisiana, celebrates the holiday season with more than three hundred thousand lights and one hundred set pieces displayed along the bank of Cane River Lake.
They honor the holiday and their Creole heritage with festivities such as carriage rides, a children's festival, historic home tours, fireworks, parades, a 5K race, and live performances. The town's biggest event is the boat parade when the Cane River lights up with the Christmas spirit.
Helen is a former logging town at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Georgia. The town becomes a holiday paradise with its Christkindlmarkt, Christmas market, with unique gifts, decorations, and candied treats. There is the annual lighting of the village, where Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive on a Bavarian sleigh.
There are beautiful Christmas wreaths and artist-decorated holiday trees on auction at the Festival of Trees. You can even stay in the quirky Heidi Motel, which is one of the only places in the country you can stay in a windmill.
Delray Beach, FL
Delray Beach in Florida has a tradition that started in 1993 and takes place in the center of Old School Square. They light a one-hundred-foot-tall Christmas tree, which then opens up to a wonderland with toy trains running around miniature scenes and historic buildings depicting holiday traditions.
They feature caroling children, penguins at work, reindeer and elves preparing for the holidays, and a tiny train display. They also have The Beach Boat Parade, which features many brightly decorated boats that light up the Intracoastal Waterways. Then you can visit the Gingerbread Ticket House for simulated ice skating and carousel rides.
Annapolis, Maryland, has an impressive 18-century historic district during the holidays. You can take candlelit strolls or guided tours of some of the town's spectacular homes. Annapolis is lavishly trimmed with evergreen garlands, making the historic seaport look picture-perfect at holiday time.
You can drive through Lights on the Bay in Sandy Point State Park and view illuminated displays along the Chesapeake Bay. There are plenty of downtown shops to find your Christmas gifts, and there is a Chocolate Binge Festival. In addition, you can also see the US Naval Academy Glee Club and the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra as they perform Handel's Messiah.
Santa Claus, IN
Santa Claus, Indiana, is all about Christmas all year round, which is why it is called America's Christmas Hometown. The local postmaster began to promote the town in the 1920s, and soon, children started sending letters to the town. Today, thousands of letters are answered by volunteer Santa's Elves.
The town celebrates the holidays with a themed parade, a candy castle, live reindeer, live music and entertainment, and Santa's Land of Lights, a 1.2-mile drive-through holiday light show. Visit Santa Claus at Santa's Candy Castle and the Santa Claus Museum and Village, and you can stay at the holiday-themed Santa Lodge, which overlooks a lake.
Taos, New Mexico, holds Christmas festivities every year during the holidays. They have tree lighting, concerts, and craft fairs. However, on Christmas Eve, they have a religious procession in ancient Taos Pueblo, the Native American settlement outside of town.
It includes bonfires, luminarias, and a historic gun salute. In addition to the stunning Christmas Eve procession, you will see the Christmas Day ancient dance.
Oxford, Mississippi, doesn't have the cold or white snow, but they do have plenty of Christmas spirit. They have a Gingerbread Village, which consists of elaborate structures made from scratch every year by volunteers.
They hold an Ornament Auction where they sell unique decorations made by local artists, raising money for its arts council. Country Living and Southern Living magazine called Oxford one of the best Christmas towns in Mississippi.
Fredericksburg, Texas, is a Hill Country town that still honors its original German settlers by kicking off its holiday with a Christkindlesmarkt. They continue to celebrate with parades, tree lighting, concerts, Nutcracker performances, and craft shows.
They also hold cookie decorating events and charity balls. They have a three-day Christmas festival extravaganza and offer plenty of nostalgic downtown shopping.
Corning, New York, also known as the Crystal City and home of Corning Glass, is also home to a sparkling holiday season. It all begins with a Parade of Lights through the Gaffer District. In Centerway Square, a Christmas tree is decorated with glass ornaments.
"As a child, did you ever shake a snow globe and marvel at the magical scene within a snow swirling around a winter wonderland? That perfectly describes the feeling you'll get as you stroll through Corning's Gaffer District during the holidays." ----- Gaffer District.
The holidays take on a Western twang in Prescott, Arizona. The historic Courthouse Plaza is lit up with millions of lights and is the site of the town's Christmas tree.
The Sharlot Hall Museum hosts a Frontier Christmas Open House, offering hot cider and cookies while listening to stories about pioneer holidays. They also hold a DIY wreath-making workshop at Highlands Center for Natural History.
Newport Beach, CA
Newport Beach, California, is known for its holiday celebration on the water, the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. The boat parade features more than one hundred boats ranging from yachts to canoes, that are lit up and decorated.
The boats sail fourteen miles around Newport Harbor for five consecutive nights. Another event you won't want to miss is The Lightning of the Bay at Newport Dunes, featuring live performances, decorations, and different cuisines to try.
Clifton, Ohio, features a top-tier light display for Christmas. The town shines bright with four million red and white lights, a one-hundred-foot 'waterfall' of twinkling lights, a miniature village, a vintage toy collection, a Santa Claus museum, and Santa working at his workshop. The main attraction in town is the Clifton Mill, a historic water-powered grist mill.
"The Clifton Mill is arrayed in 4 million lights. The displays are awesome and oh-so beautiful! Not only do they have lights, but they also have an entire moving village adorned in lights with moving trains, a Santa building with more than 1,000 Santas on display, antique toy displays, and Santa himself coming out of the chimney. The lights are synchronized to music every hour on the hour. It is the best light display I have seen in a long, long time." ----- Mlamp2013.
Aspen, Colorado, is a picture-perfect town with a combination of luxe living and quaint charm. At Christmastime, it is even more amazing, with millions of lights.
While wandering along Cooper Avenue, you will come across cookie exchanges, public s'mores roasts, and elf meet-and-greets. The Hotel Jerome's lobby often hosts carolers, and other hotels serve amazing holiday meals.
Ogunquit, Maine, is known for being a beach getaway, but it also celebrates the holiday season. They hold the Christmas by the Sea Festival, which includes a bonfire on the beach and visits with Santa.
There are also two shopping areas to shop for Christmas gifts. You can check out the Harbor Candy Shop, pose with the famously big boot, and so much more.
Orlando, Florida, is best known for the Christmas celebrations at the Disney World parks where you can attend Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. The celebrations include a Christmas-themed fireworks show and many attractions decked out in festive cheer.
At Universal Studios, you can attend The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Christmastime. There are holiday parades, treats, shows, and so much more. Adults can enjoy a hot butter beer while watching their kids have a blast.
Breckenridge, Colorado, gets revved up during the holidays when the ski season swings into high gear. With its snow-covered peaks, frosty trees, and scenic views, it is the perfect place to celebrate Christmas.
They have many festivities, including the tree lighting and the Race of the Santas. The race is a half-mile footrace where all runners must be dressed as Santa Claus. The town is decked out with more than two hundred and fifty thousand holiday lights.
Carmel-by-the-Sea, California is a stunning coastal town, and during the holidays, it is even more beautiful. The town has its own Christmas tree lighting, which is a huge resident tree at the corner of Junipero and Ocean avenues.
You will also view lots of Christmas lights, dozens of wine tastings, and beach sunsets. There won't be any snow, but the chilly air makes the crashing waves enticing.
Newport, Rhode Island, is known for its stunning Gilded Age mansions and amazing ocean views. It is also a great place to spend Christmas, where you can enjoy concerts, the annual tree lighting, and shop at craft fairs. You can also take a tour of the majestic homes by candlelight. In Newport, only white lights are encouraged on homes and restaurants in order to give an old-fashioned candlelit vibe.
"The breakers were decked out for Christmas with many decorated holiday trees, etc. Just breathtaking. No real crowds, either. We had started our visit at the Visitor's Center, which was just the best place to start out. They have information on all the mansions, that to find at each place, so it made it easier to make a selection. They had many helpful pieces of literature, information on waterfront dining, and really great hotel and B&B deals, and they were all together so helpful. They even gave us tips on where to get the best deals at the numerous shops in town. I would highly recommend stopping there first for anyone visiting Newport and the mansions." ----- Hamptons77.
Healdsburg, California, is a charming Sonoma County town that is known for its great restaurants and wineries. You can visit Flowers Vineyards & Winery for the pinot noir and Aperture Cellars for the stunning view.
The town's charming décor and light-illuminated trees will put you in the holiday mood. You can also take some holiday tours and join the Holiday Tea.
Portsmouth is a waterfront New Hampshire town with settlements dating back to the 1600s. You can explore the town's ten-acre time capsule, the Strawberry Banke Museum, or skate at its open-air Labrie Family Skate at Puddle Dock Pond.
In addition, you can walk the candle-box-lined paths to see all of the decorated homes. You can also load up on classic toys and kids' books in town for your Christmas gifts.
Cape May, NJ
Cape May, New Jersey, is a Shore town that has a strong Victorian streak and quaint architecture. During the holidays, the walkable Washington Street Mall gets draped in greenery and lots of festive lights.
You can stop by the Original Fudge Kitchen, where you can get some great fudge and saltwater taffy gift boxes. Across from Congress Hall, the beach turns into a seaside winter wonderland with many festive activities.
Charlottesville, Virginia, quiets down during the holiday season, and it is one of the best Christmas towns in the USA. You can watch the town's annual Lighting of the Lawn or go to the Ronald McDonald House to see all of the entries of the gingerbread displays.
The city has charming streets and offers a rare nighttime tour of Monticello to see the mansion decorated for Christmas. It is decorated as it would have been in Thomas Jefferson's time with greenery, candlelight, and 18th-19th century holiday hymns.
Big Spring, TX
Big Spring, Texas, offers an all-American Christmas right in the heart of West Texas. The charming town is big on the holiday spirit and has been called the "Lighted Poinsettia Capital of Texas." The name comes from a huge light festival it throws with large lit poinsettias.
The town's historic Hotel Settles features a beautifully decorated grand lobby lounge with traditional décor. There is even a large Christmas tree with presents underneath.
Williamsburg, Virginia, holds colonial holiday traditions such as caroling by torchlight, fife and drum performances, and interpretive programs. The town's activities culminate in a Grand Illumination, a historic gun-salute display, and celebratory fireworks.
In addition, nearby Busch Gardens opens for the holiday with Christmas Town, a stroll through European holiday traditions. During the holiday season, every home in Williamsburg's historic area lights one candle by a window, a tradition that dates back to the Independence era.
Boothbay, Maine, is a charming seaside town that incorporates lots of holiday festivities. Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive on a boat to the Harbor Light Festival, which is a lighted boat parade.
The town also has New England's biggest light display, with more than six hundred and fifty thousand lights, at Gardens Aglow. Boothbay Lights also features a lighted fire truck parade and fireworks.
Branson, Missouri, is known for its Ozark Mountain Christmas Festival, which includes festive music, light shows, and plenty of parades. You can take a ride on the Branson Scenic Railway's Polar Express Train Ride and enjoy some hot chocolate.
Branson is known as the Christmas Tree Town, with more than seven hundred decorated trees and 6.5 million Christmas lights throughout Branson's Silver Dollar City theme park.