Looking for a magical experience to put you in the holiday spirit? Look no further than these real-life Christmastowns!
These cities and towns from across the United States transform into some of the most beautiful and magical places during the holiday season. With beautiful light displays, entertaining Christmas shows, visits from Santa, and even a ride on the Polar Express, these towns are going all out.
If you want a one-of-a-kind experience this year, check out these 7 places that are really decked out in Christmas spirit. You won’t be disappointed!
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville, North Carolina is home to the Biltmore, an enchanting mansion that was completed in 1895 and inspired by French Renaissance châteaux. The 8,000-acre estate includes the 3-story lavish mansion, carefully landscaped gardens and grounds, a glass conservatory, vineyards and winery, and the Antler Hill Village.
While the Biltmore is impressive enough year-round, the absolute best time to visit is during the holiday season. America’s Largest Home is extravagantly decorated with hundreds of thousands of lights, ribbons and garlands, candlelight, and a massive 35-foot Christmas tree in the banquet hall.
If you have ever wanted to ride the Polar Express in real life, you can in Durango, Colorado. Here, you will experience all of the characters from the award-winning book as you sip a hot mug of cocoa on a scenic train ride through the snow. You might even spot Santa himself, who has special gifts for the kids.
Shop for holiday gifts in Durango’s historic downtown area full of quaint local businesses. And of course, play in the snow while you’re here! Go skiing, fat biking, dog sledding, and snowmobiling.
Head to the Ozark Mountains for a truly magical holiday experience in Branson, Missouri. They call it America’s Christmas Tree City! The festivities begin in November and last through the first week of January. There are several drive-thru Christmas light displays to choose from, tons of Christmas shows to enjoy (including at Dolly Parton’s Stampede!), and a massive gingerbread village.
Head out on foot to see America’s Christmas Tree City Tour and finish up your Christmas shopping. Plus, Silver Dollar City is lit up with 6.5 million lights for An Old Time Christmas.
St. Augustine, Florida
Perhaps the warm weather of a coastal Florida city doesn’t scream Christmas to you, but St. Augustine might change your mind. America’s Oldest City transforms into a truly festive sight during the holiday season. The entire town gets into the holiday spirit with decorations. But St. Augustine also has the annual Nights of Lights, where the entire city comes to life with millions of lights.
The Holiday Regatta of Lights features boats on the bay decorated with brilliant lighted displays, or see the lighted boat parade at Ponte Vedra Beach. There is also a Holiday Tour of Homes, which takes you through homes in the Downtown Historic District.
Visiting Fredericksburg, Texas during the holidays is like stepping into a Hallmark Christmas movie. The must-see spectacle here is the giant 26-foot tall German Christmas Pyramid, with moving wooden figures and a spinning windmill.
You will also be able to marvel at the town’s 30-foot Christmas tree and listen to holiday carols as you enjoy outdoor ice skating. The Marktplatz is lit up each night as part of Fredericksburg’s Christmas Nights of Lights, too. You’ll also find a historic home tour to enjoy, and a holiday market for picking up the perfect gifts.
I know that Disney isn’t exactly its own city, but it’s hard to compete with the magic of Disney! For an exceptionally magical holiday experience, check out Walt Disney World from November through the beginning of January. Every inch of the parks are decorated to the nines for the holiday season. Main Street is lit up with tons of lights and Cinderella’s Castle has special holiday projections.
The crowning jewel of Disney’s holiday celebrations is in the Magic Kingdom. This is where you will catch Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, and snow on Main Street! There is also a special after-hours party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
New York City, New York
You really can’t beat the classic New York City holiday experience. It is one of the most exciting times to visit the Big Apple, and it’s definitely something you should do at least once in your life. The decorations throughout the city are remarkable, and there are plenty of festive shows to catch while you’re in the city. Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Musical Hall, anyone?
Absolutely do not miss catching a ride on the Holiday Nostalgia Train, a vintage eight-car subway train from the ‘30s. See Central Park in the snow. And head to the Rockefeller Center to be amazed by the gigantic Christmas tree.