Come Christmas and the holiday spirit gets charged up. There is lighting, decorations, Christmas markets across the famous Christmas towns in the USA. There are happiness and excitement in the air. It is great to celebrate the holiday with family and friends and what better to plan a Christmas vacation in the USA.
Enjoy Christmas year-round in the small town of Santa Claus, Indiana. Known as America’s Christmas Town, Santa Claus offers visitors a unique Christmassy experience for all ages. Explore the thrills of Holiday World, a Christmas themed amusement park, to relaxing in one of Santa’s Cabins overlooking Lake Rudolph.
The holiday season goes unmatched as parades, pancake breakfasts, light displays, and endless festive events take center stage during their Christmas Celebration. Local organizations get caught up in the holiday spirit with special activities such as storytimes, cookie baking, and more.
Venture to Santa’s Candy Castle to attempt their Fire & Ice Challenge, which features their signature frozen hot chocolate and “Fire” popcorn. Then stock up on plenty of goodies before trying to find all the Santa Statues scattered throughout the town.
Send a special letter to Santa at the original Santa Claus Post office and then discover how the town got its iconic name at the Santa Claus Museum and Village. Peer inside the original church adored for the holiday before snapping a photo of the impressive 22-ft solid concrete Santa Claus Statue.
Take a break from the Christmas hoopla to discover the historical landmarks nearby. Visit the site where Abraham Lincoln spent his childhood and learn about the pioneer community he lived in. Take a stroll through Lincoln State Park to enjoy the rolling forested hills and scenic lakes.
Return to sip hot cocoa while Christmas shopping, enjoy a lovely dinner with Kris Kringle, then end the day roasting chestnuts over an open fire. No doubt it is the best Christmas towns in America. A visit to Santa Claus is an ideal way to get into the Christmas spirit!
The coastal Southern town of Mobile, Alabama is probably not the first place you would think of for a Christmas escapade. After all, winters here on the Gulf of Mexico are usually pretty mild, so you’re unlikely to experience a white Christmas. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a place to escape from the bitter cold of the north while still reveling in the Christmas spirit, then Mobile is a great choice. The city feels very festive during the holidays, and with a little imagination, you can even pretend that the white sand at the nearby beaches is snow!
Mobile’s top Christmas attraction is the spectacle known as “Magic Christmas in Lights“, which happens every year at the Bellingrath Gardens and Home just outside of town. All year-round, this private estate attracts visitors who come to see the carefully manicured lawns and beautiful flowers in bloom. But during the month of December, the real show takes place after dark, when the gardens are lit up with more than 3 million Christmas lights. You can take your time walking along the pathways and stopping to look at the different displays, which change each year.
Another fun activity to do during the Christmas holidays is to visit the Historic Oakleigh House Museum. Located in the Oakleigh Garden Historic District in downtown Mobile, this mansion was built in 1833. Inside are more than 1,000 artifacts related to life in Mobile between 1830 and 1900. And at Christmas time, the mansion plays host to a special “Christmas at Oakleigh” event. The crowds are decorated with old-fashioned Christmas decorations like the ones used in the 19th century. Local high school students, known as “Oakleigh Belles”, dress up in period costumes and make the history of this place really come to life.
Insider Tip: Unlike “Magic Christmas in Lights” though, the Oakleigh event is one day only, so plan your trip accordingly.
While you’re in town, stop in at some of the great restaurants Mobile has to offer. Many of them serve local seafood specialty dishes, but a growing number also provides options for vegans and vegetarians.
When I think of Christmas in the USA, the first destination that comes to my mind is New York City aka NYC. The holiday spirit perfectly matches with this city that never sleeps.
The holiday season is special in New York, guess that’s the reason Christmas in New York has been part of so many Hollywood movies from Home Alone, Serendipity, Elf to Miracle on 34th Street.
The whole city lights up like no other. Start from Manhattan by visiting the Rockefeller Center that is synonymous with Christmas celebrations. Be a part of the large Christmas tree lighting ceremony in late November or early December or visit it later. Don’t miss the Christmas decorations all across the Rockefeller Center. This is also the best place to watch the Christmas light show at the Saks Fifth Avenue building. It is a sight to watch the colors and light play magic with the creations. The Rockefeller Ice skating rink is famous among the skaters with the gold Prometheus statue in the backdrop.
Another place that cannot be missed is Central Park. The Wollman and Lasker ice skating rinks in the park are a delight for skaters with views of the mighty sky skyscrapers.
Macy’s has been a big part of holiday season celebrations with the popular Christmas themed window displays.
The Christmas holidays are definitely magical in Philadelphia. With shimmering lights and Christmas markets, there is so much to do and enjoy in the cold winter nights. So dress up warmly and grab a cup of hot cocoa.
Ice skating at the Olympic-size Blue Cross River Rink Winterfest overlooking the Delaware River is popular mostly in the evening with a majestic Christmas tree sparkling bright. Or head over to the Rothman Ice Rink at the Dilworth Park.
For all those shoppers, visiting the authentic German market at the Christmas Village in Center City is a must. With both international and local vendors, there is a wide variety of gifts and eatables to shop for.
Kids for sure are in for a treat with ample activities during winter. One of the popular highlights is the holiday special video at the world’s largest state of the art wall screen at Comcast Center. Walk-in any time to a house full of people gathered to watch the 15-minute spectacular show.
Macy’s in the heart of the city is another place to visit for some spectacular decorations. Even if you don’t want to shop, head over to see the huge wall display of Christmas tree made with thousands of lights. The store even creates Dicken’s village based on the Christmas theme.
Insider Tip: There is a long line on weekends in Macy’s for the Dicken’s village, so plan to visit on a weekday.
Although it is not in Philadelphia city, if there is time in hand then Christmas lighting at Longwood Gardens is a great day trip from Philadelphia. Located in Kennett Square in the suburbs of Philadelphia, the garden is decorated with millions of lights and exotic flowers that pull visitors from all across. It gets very busy during the holidays so it is advisable to book your online tickets to Longwood Gardens in advance.
When thinking of magical Christmas towns, it’s absolutely imperative to visit Grand Rapids Michigan. This city is just bursting with Christmas joy. There’s nothing more nostalgic than ice skating, so slip on a pair of skates (bring your own or rent a pair) and glide across the ice at Rosa Parks Circle. Plus, if you time it right, you can be skating during the exciting city tree lighting ceremony. What a great way to kick off the holiday season!
Another must-see is the spectacularly decorated international trees at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Dozens of indoor trees are decorated to represent countries and cultures from all over the world. The delicate ornaments and twinkling lights are absolutely breathtaking to see! While you are there, bundle up and head outside to walk the boardwalk overlooking their beautiful pond. It’s also fun to find the dozens of impressive sculptures throughout the gardens.
Once it gets dark, drive over to the 5th 3rd ballpark and get ready for an explosion of lights At the Christmas Lite Show! This drive-through light park is a great way to see thousands of moving light displays and twinkling lights from the comfort and warmth of your vehicle. There are several light tunnels and in the end, you can stop at Santa’s house to see the jolly man himself. If it’s not too cold, you can also reserve a seat on the open-air train as it chugs along the tracks past all the lighted displays. What a great way to get into the Christmas spirit!
Grapevine, Texas is the perfect place to visit if you are looking for magical Christmas towns in the United States. Known as the Christmas Capital of Texas, Grapevine is full of magic during the holiday season. The town hosts over 1,400 events to celebrate Christmas! Making it one of the many Texas Christmas destinations, we love!
Guests will love staying at the Gaylord Texan Hotel where they will find themselves surrounded by the holiday spirit. The hotel goes all out decorating for the season. In addition to all of the decorations, you will find ICE! here also. ICE! is an annual event that allows visitors to explore a holiday scene completely constructed of ice sculptures.
As you explore the town of Grapevine, you will find its Main Street to be brimming with holiday decorations. The charming shops and great restaurants found here will have you singing Christmas carols in no time.
You will also find the town draped in Christmas lights and several displays where you can take the perfect selfie. Ensure that you make time to visit the Grapevine Vintage Railroad as well. The Grapevine Vintage Railroad has several theme events throughout the year, and during the Christmas season, riders can enjoy The Polar Express!
All of this and more makes Grapevine one of the best places to visit at Christmas in the USA for visitors of all ages!
Christmas is the most magical time. I love the way the dark nights become lit up with colorful lights. The most magical Christmassy city in the USA has got to be Salt Lake City. Downtown Salt Lake turns into a winter wonderland. People from all over flock here this time of year to see the millions of lights downtown.
On the Main square (Temple Square), is the most spectacular display of Christmas lights that you will ever see. Over 800,000 Christmas lights are found here. Every tree in this large square is decorated from trunk to each little branch. As you wander through the lights, make your way to the live nativity towards the back of the square. Take in the magic of Christmas one brightly lit tree at a time.
The second reason Salt Lake City is the most magical Christmassy city in the USA is that you can take a step back in time at This Is the Place’s Candlelight Christmas and market. The market is also known as Christkindlmarkt. This is one of Salt Lakes’ oldest and only Christmas Markets. This is my most favorite thing to do at Christmas. Dress warm as you wander through the Christmas market to find homemade gifts and Christmas goodies.
Then stay awhile as the sun goes down and the village transforms into a sparkling small town with the Christmas lights shining off the fresh Utah snow. It looks like something right out of a postcard. It’s hard to describe just how magical this place is at Christmas. This market is great for adults to find their favorite adult Christmas indulgence and for kids. The old traditional homes have activities, crafts, storytimes, a live nativity, and so much more for all to enjoy.
Salt Lake City is by far one of the best cities for Christmas in the USA. The Christmas transformation makes it feel like something out of a Disney movie. The magic is impossible to describe, you must visit Salt Lake City this holiday season to experience it for yourself.
With its historic Courthouse Plaza twinkling with lights, it’s easy to see why Prescott is Arizona’s designated Christmas City. There’s an annual Christmas Lighting ceremony (usually on the first Saturday of December) at the white-columned courthouse and a fun Christmas parade that puts even the most cynical soul into the holiday spirit.
The downtown is charming enough to compete with Gilmore Girls’ Stars Hollow. Tall elm trees line the streets and there’s a historic Whiskey Row that features The Palace – Arizona’s oldest frontier saloon and bar. If you wander the residential side streets, you’ll spot Victorian-style homes and old buildings converted into adorable boutiques and tempting restaurants.
And Prescott’s great selection of antique shops, art galleries, and the independent Peregrine Book Company will tempt you to come early and do your holiday shopping away from Phoenix’s shopping mall rush. Browse and pick up an underrated novel recommended by a local, some beautiful turquoise jewelry or soap infused with herbs.
There’s also Acker Night in early December to kick off your holidays with some music. Put on solely by volunteers, Acker Night was created to keep music alive and thriving for local youth and to promote Prescott’s beautiful downtown.
For a bit of history, head to the Bashford House, a historic Victorian home that’s part of the larger Sharlot Hall Museum dedicated to preserving the region’s history and early days of the pioneers.
The Bashford House is linked to some of Prescott’s earliest residents and features a charming interior that includes a wooden solarium and a fireplace with hand-carved designs. It’s done up beautifully at Christmas so step inside for a bit of old-time Christmas magic in the US.
When people think of Florida, they don’t automatically think of Christmas. However, during Christmas time, St. Augustine, Florida is one of the most magical cities you can visit for the holiday season.
The famous Nights of Lights turn the city into a wonderland. Sprawling over 20 city blocks, millions of white lights hang from palm trees, greenery, city balconies, and the famous Bridge of Lions.
Note: Nights of Lights begins the Saturday before Thanksgiving and continues until the end of January. Book the Nights of Lights tour to view the display of holiday lights that have been voted among the top 10.
There are many ways to experience this wondrous display. Book a tour on the Old Town Trolley or the Ripley’s Big Red Christmas Train for a tour of the lights at night. Or, take a boat tour and see the lights from the water. Other options include a horse and carriage ride or a golf cart tour. Simply walking among the lights in the historic district is a magical experience in itself.
During the day, can even opt for a Hop-on Hop-off Trolley tour to see one of the oldest cities.
If you visit St. Augustine on a Saturday and December, there will be even more Christmas magic. The first Saturday of December marks the annual Christmas parade. The second Saturday in December hosts the Holiday Regatta of Lights: all of the boats in the harbor are decorated with festive lights.
On the first Wednesday in December, attend the Luminary Festival at the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum. There is Christmas fun for the whole family including visiting with Santa, holiday treats, and a beautiful light display.
St. Augustine kicks normal tours up a notch during the holiday season. Options include touring the Castillo de San Marcos by candlelight or candlelight tours of Villa Zorayda.
No matter what you decide to do in St. Augustine during Christmas time, you are certain to feel the holiday magic in this small town. For more amazing reasons to visit St. Augustine, check out the best things about St. Augustine!
Mammoth Lakes in California is one of the best US cities for Christmas. Spend the day skiing or snowboarding some of the best snow in California. If you’re new to it, there are lessons and a variety of runs perfect for beginners to advanced skiers and snowboarders. You can also opt in to go tubbing or snowshoeing instead.
The holiday season usually kicks off with the tree lighting ceremony at the Village, which is usually shortly after Thanksgiving. Through the month of December, there are concerts, pop-up holiday shops, and Santa Claus events. The whole town is decorated in lights with Christmas lights twinkling and snow falling. It’s truly a winter wonderland nestled in California.
One of the best holiday events that Mammoth puts on is Night of Lights. The whole town gathers at Canyon Lodge for a light show put on by the staff, and for a grand firework show. Dress warmly and wear good insulated boots, it can get chilly. Buy the insulated boots from the recommendations below:
After the firework show, you can stay at Canyon Lodge for the live concert, or head down the Village where there is usually another live concert going on. Everyone is having a blast and dancing in their snow clothes. Kids, adults, teenagers, everyone is just having a blast and dancing around in their snow clothes. For more things to do in Mammoth Lakes during the winter months, read through this blog post.
San Diego, in sunny Southern California, has some really fun and unique things to offer during the Christmas Holidays. It the perfect winter destination, especially if you are looking to escape the cold and maybe even stay on the beach. Temperatures San Diego in December are usually in the mid-50s to low 60s and sunny, but they are also known to reach the mid-70s – the perfect temperature to go out and explore.
San Diego will get you a seeming paradox Christmas. Want to go skiing and surfing in one day? No problem! In San Diego, you can actually do that. But I honestly never met anyone who has.
Here in SoCal, we celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season with the arrival of Surfin’ Santa rather than Christmas Carols. And did you know that there is an actual ice skating rink on the beach? Nothing cooler than hitting the ice, while looking at palm trees and hearing the ocean waves crash in the background.
Another fun Christmas event – usually the first weekend in December – is December Nights. This event will definitely put you in the Christmas spirit – it is our San Diego Christmas Market with lots of beautiful light displays and Christmas decorations, Christmas music, booths selling treats and gifts, Glühwein and delicious snacks.
Insider Tip: Parking is really bad, so I recommend taking either public transportation or Uber/Lyft.
Highly Recommend: Theodore Seuss Geisel aka Dr. Seuss lived the majority of his life in San Diego. Every year, the Old Globe in Balboa Park – a replica of the Globe Theatre in London – puts Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! on its schedule and I highly recommend it.
One of the Most Magical Christmassy Towns in the USA is Washington, D.C. At first thought, you wouldn’t think it because the city is so much of a concrete jungle, but alas, the city comes alive. Christmas is one of the best times to visit Washington, D.C.
If you arrive via Union Station, your first sight into the city upon leaving the station will be the gargantuan Christmas tree in the lobby. This unmissable sight is extra magical and is a great start to a Christmas getaway.
Each year the National Christmas Tree is put up on The Ellipse by the White House. It stands about 34 feet tall and glimmers with light. Even more magical when it is snowing. You can visit the city when they do the lighting to see it first come on.
Georgetown has an amazing light spectacle called GLOW which is installations in the area that are great to see at night. You can walk through to them enjoying each of them.
Palmer’s Alley in City Center lights up above with snowflakes and lights making the perfect magical walk for shopping.
The city has a Christmas market with delicious foods and gifts. While it is not Europe, it is a nice market.
Last but certainly not least, the city hosts a boat parade each year around the holiday where people decorate their boats with lights and boats from Alexandra to the Wharf. It is quite the view of magic on the Potomac River and should not be missed if you are looking for that extra something special.
If you’re looking for a winter-getaway this Christmas season for festive-activities to create folklore for your entire family, plan your trip to the Most Magical Christmassy Towns in the USA– Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
Assuredly, the Christmas celebration in Lake Geneva is all about vibrant-colors, briskness, and refreshing weather, which never fails to delight its visitors.
Geneva goes all-in on its Christmas embellishments, and the city is elegantly decked-out throughout November-December.
The surroundings are filled-up with more than two million Christmas lights, in-and-outs, offering a short family-favorite Christmas drive-through light show. Explore a mixture of activities, from Breakfast with Santa to classic Christmas-tale readings, making this the most mystic-time of the year. Plus, the six-week-long picture-perfect Christmas-celebration greets the citizens and visitors alike to encounter the festive holiday spirit.
Alongside this, Lake Geneva converts into a new ideal winter-getaway spot during Christmastime, where there are plenty of other things to do during Christmas, in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. It includes Skiing, Snowboarding, Sledding, Ice Skating/Fishing, Ziplining, attending the Winterfest, and so on! In addition to all on-site activities, you can also ride on Santa’s boat cruise and reindeer calls in downtown Lake Geneva.
Besides that, you’ll enjoy the festive window displays of the city’s excellent shopping scene at the traditional antique shops in the Old Town, opening in late-November-December. The typical range of stalls offers Christmas-gifts, trinkets, locally-baked treats, handmade-ceramics, artworks, jewelry, candles, and more. Further, taste dishes, like pasta, fried calamari, seafood, cubed-cheeses, cookies, tortes, muffins, etc.
Apart from that, plan your stay at one of the most fabulous luxury resorts in Wisconsin, Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, which are well-decorated, providing diverse ventures for its visitors.