America's 30 Best Small Towns for Christmas

These quaint places are filled with holiday spirit.

leavenworth washington christmastime
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There's truly no place like home for the holidays, but it's always magical to check out new places for the most wonderful time of the year. Plan a trip to one of these small towns for a very merry Christmas.

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best christmas towns in usa california
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Solvang, CA

Take a trip to gorgeous this holiday season and visit , located in the. The town hosts Julefest, which lasts all December long. Guests can go on go on a Holiday Lights Tour, take part in the Santa Sprint, listen to live holiday music, and much more.

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best christmas towns in usa west virginia
Ron Blunt
Lewisburg, WV

When you plan your trip to , be sure to make a reservation to stay at . Adults will love this festive hotel that features activities all season long, including parties, tree lightings, and a Gingerbread Ball.

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Christmas in Candyland
Andalusia, AL

It doesn't get too cold in , but that doesn't stop turning into a winter wonderland. Every weekend in December, residents flock to Candyland, a kid-friendly event where children of all ages can ice skate, visit the different holiday cottages, and meet Santa. The best part? Admission is free!

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best christmas towns in usa kentucky
Don Sniegowski
Bardstown, KY

kicks off the holiday season the day after Thanksgiving—that's November 23 this year—with the . Kids will have a blast at the Fun Christmas Corner, where they can enjoy sweet treats and face painting. Everyone in the family will love the annual Christmas tree lighting and an appearance by Santa Claus himself.

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best christmas towns in usa myrtle beach
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Myrtle Beach, SC

If you travel to during the winter, the best thing to do doesn't actually have to do with the ocean. hosts an annual Nights of a Thousand Candles at Brookgreen Gardens during the month of December. Visitors will be wowed by more than 4,500 hand-lit candles while they listen to Christmas carolers.

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best christmas towns in usa mcadenvilleChristmas Town, USA
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McAdenville, NC

The map might say but to locals, this place is known as . For the past 63 years, this Charlotte suburb has put on an impressive holiday display, with 265 evergreen trees covered in 500,000 lights, more than 160 decorated houses. The best part? You can view everything for free.

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best christmas towns in usa koziar
John Greim
Bernville, PA

Back in 1948, William M. Koziar began decorating his home in for the viewing pleasure of his family. Now, is one of the top attractions in the state of Pennsylvania, and boasts both indoor and outdoor displays.

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leavenworth washington christmastime
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Leavenworth, WA

On any day of the year, this gives off an Alpine holiday air. But during snowy December, visitors are met with 21 miles of lights along the homes and fences, and can also anticipate handbell concerts, a lively Christkindlmarkt, harp music, and a weekly festival with carolers, Gluhwein, and sledding gathered 'round the town's tree.


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Branson, MO

Each year, hosts the festival, a month-long extravaganza with festive music, light shows, and plenty of parades. You can even hop aboard the and feel like you're in a scene from the classic movie. Don't forget the hot chocolate!

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Woodstock, VT

It sounds like the image of a Christmas card: a parade of horses and buggies circling a snowy village green. But is an actual annual event in picturesque Carolers serenade townsfolk and everyone gathers for the lighting of the tree and Yule log. Historic homes and farms open to celebrate rural holiday heritage. You may have to pinch yourself to believe the charming New England spectacle!

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Asheville, NC

Not surprisingly, much of holiday focus is on , the historic Vanderbilt mansion, which dresses up lavishly with ribbons, garlands, and sparking lights. Elsewhere in this active mountain town, locals gather to watch Santa rappel down Chimney Rock as a warm-up exercise for his upcoming . The well-established arts scene in town makes shopping for unique gifts easy at craft shows and studio visits in the River Arts District.

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Frankenmuth, MI

Known as European heritage is on full display during the Christmas season. Some of the town's charming holiday highlights include a traditional Christkindlmarkt, a holiday home tour hosted by the Frankenmuth Women's Club, whimsical light displays, and Bronner's Christmas Wonderland — the world's largest Christmas store.

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Jackson, WY

No town lights up for the holidays quite like . The town at the base of the Tetons has a spectacular town square any time of the year, with monumental arches of elk antlers at the four corners. But around the holidays, the arches are wrapped in strings of lights to illuminate the nights with a festive glow. Stick around until New Year's Eve if you want to see the torch parade of ski instructors snaking down the mountain at the town's two ski resorts.

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Natchitoches, LA

Christmas in begins in June when the bulbs on the strings of holiday lights are tested in anticipation of the town's proud Festival of Lights. The town of 18,000 celebrates the season with more 300,000 lights and 100 set pieces displayed along the banks of Cane River Lake, honoring the holiday and their Creole heritage. Festivities, including carriage rides, historic home tours, a children's festival, fireworks, a 5K race, parades, and live performances, go on until early January.

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Helen, GA

You may not expect to find an Alpine village along the banks of Georgia's Chattahoochee River, but , a former logging town at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, reinvented itself long ago as a Bavarian town. Visitors come to town in December to view the wreaths and artist-decorated holiday trees on auction at the Festival of Trees and to participate in the Kinderfest, the Christkindlmarkt, and tree lighting in tiny downtown Helen.

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Michael Culbertson/Flickr Creative Commons
Williamsburg, VA

Colonial holiday traditions like caroling by torchlight, fife and drum performances, and interpretive programs (care to celebrate with the Madisons and Jeffersons?!) set the stage for Christmas in charming . The activities culminate in a , a celebratory fireworks and historic gun-salute display, best viewed from the town green. For the less historic minded, nearby opens for the holiday with Christmas Town, a stroll through European holiday traditions.

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Richard Semik/Alamy
Durango, CO

This uses the local steam-engine train to festive advantage with snowy rides through the surrounding mountains along the Animas River. The narrow gauge train operates year-round but in December, its runs include a Polar Express-inspired trip for kids as well as weekend Christmas Tree runs on which passengers can cut their own tree and get it transported back to town.

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Delray Beach, FL

A is just the thing to shift the mood from to holiday. At the center of the aptly named Old School Square (a historic district revived as a cultural center), the tree magically opens to reveal a wonderland inside, with toy trains running around miniature scenes depicting holiday traditions.

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Annapolis, MD

showcases its impressive 18th-century historic district at the holidays, with candlelit strolls and guided tours of some of the town's grand homes. The town is lavishly trimmed with evergreen garlands and, down on the , reflections of the holiday tree twinkle in the water of the harbor. The town's nautical traditions are honored with a lighted boat parade in December.

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Sierra Madre, CA

Where do Southern Californians go to get the Christmas spirit? , a foothills town just a few miles east of Pasadena, imports snow from the San Bernadino Mountains every year to build a big snowman in the town's central square, Kersting Court, until the balmy local temperatures send him downstream. There's still plenty to see, with the town's houses and businesses decorated for the season, a life-size nativity scene, and a 154-tree-long Christmas Tree Lane.

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Spencer County Visitors Bureau
Santa Claus, IN

with a strong year-round commitment to the holiday, calls itself . In the late 1920s, the local postmaster began to promote the town and pretty soon, children's letters to Santa began pouring in. Every year, thousands of letters are answered by volunteer Santa's Elves. Local festivities include a themed parade, a candy castle (selling nostalgic hard-to-get favorite treats), and , a 1.2-mile drive-through holiday light show.

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Taos, NM

In the days leading up to the holidays, holds tree-lightings, concerts, and crafts fairs like many other towns, but on Christmas Eve, the game changes. A religious procession in ancient , the Native American settlement outside town, includes bonfires, luminarias, and historic gun salute, and can make the most jaded Scrooge feel holiday magic stir.

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Courtesy of the Oxford, MS Tourism Board
Oxford, MS

It might not often get cold and snowy in but the locals have a clear understanding of Christmas giving. , elaborate structures made from scratch each year by volunteers, benefits local food banks. The town also holds an Ornament Auction, selling unique decorations made by local artists, to raise money for its arts council.

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Fredericksburg, TX

that still honors its original German settlers, kicks off its holiday with a Christkindlesmarkt in November and continues the celebration with a Texas-scale flurry of parades, tree lightings, choral concerts, Nutcracker performances, craft shows, cookie decorating events, charity balls, and—in a nod to its German heritage—locally brewed seasonal beers.

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Red Wing, MN

Every year, all of turns out for the , an event that starts with a pancake breakfast and goes on all day to include parades, cookie decorating, live penguins and baby reindeer, visits with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, sleigh rides, a live Nativity scene, and lots and lots of music. The annual festival, which takes place on the Friday after Thanksgiving, marks the start of the holiday celebrations in this town on the bluffs above the Mississippi.

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Ogunquit, ME

is what this charming calls its calendar of old-fashioned activities. Throughout December, families gather for bonfires, hayrides, caroling, crafts fairs, and a living manger. The fun gets a little noisy, too, with a benefit Polar Bear plunge into the chilly Atlantic.

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Corning, NY

home of , is also home to a sparkling holiday season, beginning with a through the Gaffer District (where the master glass blowers still ply their trade). A Christmas tree—decorated with glass ornaments, of course—stands in Centerway Square, the town's historic meeting place.

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Prescott, AZ

The holidays take on a Western twang in Activities center around historic Courthouse Plaza, ablaze with more than a million lights for the season and site of the town's Christmas tree. On the day of the tree-lighting, hosts a Frontier Christmas Open House where locals enjoy hot cider and cookies while listening to stories about pioneer holidays.

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Newport Beach, CA

Every year boat owners and residents prepare for the on the water: the Christmas Boat Parade. More than 100 boats ranging in size from yachts to canoes light up and sail 14 miles around Newport Harbor for five consecutive nights. Prizes are given out for categories such as best animation and originality—some owners are even known to spend months (and up to $50,000!) decorating.

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Dyker Heights, Brooklyn

Okay, okay. It's not technically a small town, but , a neighborhood in South Brooklyn, shares a lot of traits with small towns—loyalty, pride, close-knit families and a deep, slightly competitive affection for Christmas lights. Residents of this walkable Italian-American enclave erect intricate and spectacular displays on and around their homes. Strolling around Dyker Heights will convince you that there's a small town lurking in the heart of the big city.

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