Some families prefer staying home for the holidays, but others are looking for a little more Christmas cheer this year. After all, not every town is brimming with twinkling lights, holiday parades, sleigh rides, and Christmas carolers. If your hometown isn’t super passionate about Santa, head to one of these best small towns to visit for Christmas.
From carriage rides, reindeer farms, colorful parades, and Christmas markets, to a gigantic 27-feet tall Christmas tree, these charming Christmas towns and villages will definitely get you in the holiday spirit.
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**If you are considering one of these small towns to visit for Christmas, please be sure to check official websites and state guidelines before traveling and know the local regulations.**
Best Christmas Towns to Visit This Year
1. St. Augustine, Florida
Unlike most Christmas towns on this list, St. Augustine offers plenty of sunshine and mild winter weather, so you won’t need to pack layers of clothing if you’re planning on visiting this colorful Christmas town.
St. Augustine has plenty of holiday cheer complete with an annual Nights of Lights Festival where 20 blocks of the Historic District are draped with sparkling Christmas lights and all the holiday cheer your inner child desires.
Best of all? The festival is free, so you won’t need to book tickets in advance. You can also view this adorable spectacle of lights by jumping on a horse-drawn carriage, taking a train ride tour, or hopping on a boat tour to see the sparkling lights show from the water.
Where to stay in St. Augustine
It doesn’t get any cuter than the Anastasia Grand #1 located within walking distance of the Night of Lights. This fully renovated 1920s luxury apartment has stunning decor and is walking distance to the historic downtown area as well as the beach. The property offers complimentary bikes can explore Anastasia Blvd and check out the local eateries, a craft brewery, and live music venues.
2. Solvang, California
Looking for a “Christmassy” town that goes all-out for the holidays? Then visit the tiny village of Solvang. The streets are lined with authentic Danish architecture, thatched roofs, picturesque windmills, twinkling Christmas lights, candlelight tours, and the charming Julefest parade.
Solvang is so magical, it feels festive all year long. Enjoy the northern European cuisine, and make sure to join in on a city-wide hunt where people will be keeping an eye for the elusive Solvang Nisse, which are elf-like Danish creatures. Find as many as you can and you’ll win incredible holiday prizes.
Where to stay in Solvang
Get blown away by this luxurious farmhouse-style retreat. The Anavo Farm’s Chic Sheep Retreat is nestled in the heart of wine country, in the peaceful and quiet village of Ballard. Wake up and have breakfast together while you listen to sheep, roosters, and horses, roaming free in acres of green land. The hosts allow guests to feed the sheep so if your kids are major animal lovers, they might never want to go home!
3. Blue Ridge, Georgia
From day to night, you’ll get to celebrate Christmas aboard the unbelievable Santa Express. It’s a one-hour-train ride where you’ll get to sing and listen to Christmas songs, read stories, and take thousands of photos. Oh, and every child will get a candy cane and their own sleigh bell to spread joy. Make sure to plan ahead and get your tickets in advance.
Due to the current situation, Santa and Mrs. Claus may not ride the train along with everyone else, so if you miss your chance to meet them during the Santa Express ride, you might get another chance during the Light Up Blue Ridge Parade.
Don’t forget to stick around for the lighting of the enormous 27-foot tall Christmas tree in the town square.
Where to stay in Blue Ridge
It doesn’t get any more paradisiacal and luxurious than the Old Iron Bridge Cabin on the Toccoa River. This uber spacious Airbnb accommodates 6 guests and is really close to Blue Ridge. You can go tubing, gem mining, hiking, or kayaking with the whole family, or relax after walking around town on the outside fire pit. Wake up with the sound of the river and have breakfast on the porch.
4. Park City, Utah
Park City is the ultimate winter wonderland. Surrounded by mountains and pine trees, this picturesque oasis looks like a picture-perfect Christmas postcard.
Aside from the outdoor Christmas lights and holiday markets you’ve come to expect, you’re in for a real treat during the Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade, where snowboarders and skiers lead Santa to town by coming down the mountain with their torches.
Where to stay in Park City
Grab the whole family and hide from the world in The Luxe Chalet At Old Town. This massive 3 bedrooms 3.5 bath home is steps away from the slopes at Park City Mountain Resort and the dining and shopping on Historic Main Street. Nearby bus stops will take you to Deer Valley, Park City or Canyons ski Resorts. After a day at the slopes, come back and play games with the family, watch a movie, or spend some time in the Jacuzzi.
If you’re looking for a place in Park City that’s only a few steps away from the lifts, then the Crescent Ridge Ski Condo is perfect for you. This ski in, ski out Airbnb is 5 minutes from Main Street, or 5 minutes walking to the nearest free Park City bus stop. Talk about convenient.
Looking for other places to ski this winter? Don’t miss these best ski resorts to visit for Christmas!
5. Duluth, Minnesota
A Christmas village set up right in front of the fabulous Glensheen mansion is just one of the things that awaits you in Duluth. But the real reason why thousands of tourists come to this Christmassy city is to experience the Bentleyville “Tour of Lights,” a walk-through colorful tour of lights on the shores of Lake Superior that’s decorated with over 4 million lights. You truly have to see it to believe it. And it’s free!
Where to stay in Duluth
Stay in the magnificent condo in the same building as the Blacklist Brewing Co. and tap room. It is has stunning views of Lake Superior and Canal Park. Duluth’s Lake Walk is directly behind the building and a pedestrian bridge connects you to the park. Walk to nearby restaurants, or go for a hike along beautiful Lake Superior.
Check out some of these other places to celebrate Christmas in the Midwest!
6. Leavenworth, Washington
Visit this mountain town known for its Bavarian-style architecture that will make you feel like you’re in Europe. Experience the usual lighting ceremonies and sleigh rides you’ve come to expect from a Christmas town. But at Leavenworth, you’ll also get to visit a reindeer farm where you can take a photo with Santa and pet a few friendly reindeers. You also get some complimentary cocoa and cookies too, so double score!
Where to stay in Leavenworth
The Alley House is a charming guest house detached from the main residence. This quiet retreat just outside Leavenworth is surrounded by forest and is steps away from the Wenatchee River. Centrally located to downtown, it is perfect for enjoying holiday events, dining out, shopping.
7. Bernville, Pennsylvania
Bernville’s population of under 1,000 may be small, but one family sure knows how to celebrate the holidays, and they want you to join in on the fun. What started out as Christmas decorations for the Koziar family back in 1948 has turned into the Koziar’s Christmas Village, one of the state’s top holiday attractions. And as a visitor, you’ll get to enjoy the various displays of holiday lights throughout the 8-acre property.
Where to stay in Bernville
This charming farmhouse style home is 15 minutes from Koziar’s and offers everything you need in a vacation rental. It is walking distance to the local diner, sleeps 8, and has a backyard patio for relaxing in the evening.
8. Franklin, Tennessee
Take a trip to Franklin, Tennessee this holiday season and enjoy Dickens of a Christmas, a fabulous two-day event that recreates the time of Charles Dickens (CANCELED FOR 2020). You’ll be able to see tons of people dressed as characters from various Charles Dickens stories, as well as dancers, and musicians. As long as you’re here, you might as well take advantage of the carriage rides and the Victorian Christmas Village.
Where to stay in Franklin
This updated 1930s bungalow in the heart of Franklin has everything you need for a holiday getaway. Just a few minutes from shopping and restaurants, you’ll find this perfect oasis. Relax on the covered porch and enjoy make s’mores around a rustic fire pit. It’s perfect after a day of exploring the town.
Don’t miss these other places in the US to celebrate Christmas!