The holiday season is fast approaching and small towns across America are preparing to celebrate. Spread the holiday joy with special getaways to these small-town communities that transform their homes into scenes straight out of Hallmark movies for visitors and locals alike.
Meet Santa Claus and his reindeer or take a stroll and enjoy the warm glow of the lights against the snow. Have your “movie moment,” in some of the most magical places in the United States and really get in the holiday spirit by taking a vacation to one (or more) of these unique winter wonderland destinations.
One of my most magical memories as a child - just a few hours drive from Seattle, Leavenworth is a unique traditional German town year-round but transforms into a winter wonderland for the holidays. Called the Village of Lights, the town is decorated with half a million dazzling lights, equal to 21 miles, each season. Visitors can expect to run into carolers, enjoy live music and entertainment, and even meet some reindeer. Families can also participate in gingerbread house-making competitions for a chance to win a Leavenworth-themed tree filled with gifts.
This small town is well known for its light boat parades and fireworks to celebrate the holiday season. During the light boat parade, you’ll have the opportunity to meet the Christmas Queens. The Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights is celebrated in the downtown district and on the Cane River Lake. Natchitoches is full of history and offers carriage tours of the National Historic Landmark District throughout the city. The Natchitoches Christmas Festival is celebrating its 96th year in 2022 with over 100 lighted sets and 300,000 lights illuminating the town.
Off the shores of the picturesque Flathead Lake, you’ll find the quaint town of Bigfork, Montana. Each year, more than 200 elves turn Bigfork, MT into a spectacular Christmas town. Locally grown garland is handcrafted here and over 10,000 feet of it decorates downtown each year. Special events are hosted each weekend during the winter months for visitors to enjoy. This year, during the first weekend of December, guests can throw Santa a proper welcome as he arrives in town with a themed parade.
Visitors come from all over to experience Stockbridge’s Main Street at Christmas, as this town was made famous by a painting from Norman Rockwell. The town recreates the painting each year by lining the streets with vintage cars and lights covering all the buildings and trees in sight. This town turns into a magical place with live performances and unique holiday markets to shop.
Snowmass Village, CO
Surrounded by mountain peaks, Snowmass is a true winter wonderland during the holidays. Here, the town hosts a Snowmassive Celebration where guests can tour Santa’s village and participate in interactive light shows. Incredible ice skaters perform while guests enjoy s'mores and get serenaded by carolers, too! If you want to experience the true Colorado outdoors, venture out into the Rocky Mountain slopes for great skiing and snowboarding.
Solvang is a Danish Village hidden in southern California’s Santa Ynez Valley and has been named “The Best Christmas Town in California.” Copenhagen Drive is lined with Danish shops, bakeries, and restaurants and is the center of attention during the holiday season. The Julefest hosted by the town has a ceremonial tree lighting each year at kick-off of the event. Immerse yourself in the culture by taking food and candlelight tours throughout the village. And be sure to stop by the historical windmill, a village landmark, while you’re here!
North Pole, AK
The North Pole in Alaska serves as a beacon of holiday spirit year-round (yes, even in the summer months!) Take the kids to visit Santa and meet his trusted reindeer at the Santa Claus House or visit during the annual Winter Festival. Sometimes covered on national TV, North Pole, AK has intricate ice sculptures and lots of activities for the whole family to enjoy. It doesn’t get more “Christmas” than this!