If your holiday travel notions center around crowded airports and grumpy travelers, you don’t have to throw in the bah humbug towel just yet. From the world’s largest Christmas store to hundreds of thousands of lights adorning an entire community, some towns in the US truly pack in the festive punch for the holidays. When you need a little holiday spirit, head for these Christmas towns all across the country.
Settled by German immigrants, Frankenmuth has a decidedly European feel. Known as Michigan’s Little Bavaria, the town turns up the volume for the holidays. You can first explore Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, the world’s largest Christmas store. Measuring roughly the size of one and half football fields, the store uses 50,000 lights just to illuminate its Christmas lane. After a visit to Bronner’s, you can explore the Old Christmas Station, a restaurant with a museum dedicated to antique ornaments. The town’s farmer’s market even transforms for the holidays into a traditional Christkindlmarkt that sells fresh chestnuts, handmade garlands, and apple cider. Other holiday-themed activities include dining with Mr. and Mrs. Claus at the 160-year-old Zehnder’s Restaurant along with a holiday home tour.
Santa Claus, Indiana
In Santa Claus, Indiana, it’s technically Christmas year round! However, for the holiday season, the town named for old St. Nick relishes in its namesake. Home to the only post office in the world with Santa’s name, more than 13,000 letters arrive here each year addressed to none other than Mr. Claus himself. Not only can you send a letter to Santa and receive a response from volunteers known as Santa’s Elves, but you can also partake in a number of festivities during the holiday season.
The town boasts the Santa Claus Museum and Village, with original town buildings from 1856. You can write a letter to Santa from the town’s first post office or bask in the glory of the town’s 1935 Santa Claus statue measuring 22 feet tall. The town hosts the Santa Claus Christmas Celebration each year during the first three weekends of December. Festivities include a themed parade, candy castle, meet and greets with Santa, roasted chestnuts, and a 1.2-mile “Land of Lights”.
McAdenville, North Carolina
Just west of Charlotte, McAdenville sits as a quaint town in Gaston County. During the holiday season, the town seemingly lights up the entire state with its light displays. Every year since 1956, the town is decorated with 450,000 lights. A route is set up along the 1.3-mile long display so you can enjoy the illumination in all its glory. The lights glow nightly from December 1 through 26. Over 375 trees are also lit up and 200 wreaths adorn the town’s streets. McAdenville also hosts other events for the season like the Annual Christmas Town Festival.
Seneca Falls, New York
Fans of the holiday movie classic It’s a Wonderful Life will need to add Seneca Falls, New York to their bucket list. Right in the heart of the Finger Lakes region, this Christmas town is widely believed to be the inspiration for Bedford Falls in Frank Capra’s famous movie. Throughout the month of December, the town celebrates its connection to the film with the It’s a Wonderful Life Festival. Festivities include a ride on the Bedford Falls Express complete with carols, snacks, and drinks, while shops and restaurants serve up It’s a Wonderful Life fare. There are even replica Christmas light decorations all over town to make it look like the imaginary Bedford Falls.
While there’s no place like home for the holidays, these small towns across the US — with their warm cheer and holiday spirit — might just lure you away for a visit come December.