9 small towns that go all out for Christmas

Leavenworth, Washington Ever wonder what Christmas in Bavaria looks like? Before you travel to Germany, consider visiting Leavenworth first. Situated at the base of the Cascades, Leavenworth is a small Washington town that was designed to mirror Bavaria’s Alpine charm. And once Christmastime hits, the already picturesque town becomes even more magical. Christmas celebrations abound throughout the month thanks to the Christmas Lighting Festival held every weekend from Nov. 30 to Dec. 16. Festivalgoers can admire the lights (there are more than 500,000), meet Santa, watch a variety of musical performances, enjoy mulled wine and roasted chestnuts, and collect free cookies along the cookie crawl. (Thinkstock ESS) (Thinkstock ESS)
Durango, Colorado Once December hits, the mountainous hamlet of Durango turns into a winter wonderland. The quaint town truly looks like the inside of a snow globe, making seasonal activities, such as sleigh rides and ice skating, downright magical. But the main reason to visit during the holiday season is to experience The Polar Express. Hosted by the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, the journey brings the book to life by taking visitors to the “North Pole” to pick up Santa. Along the way, passengers receive tasty treats, such as hot chocolate, and are greeted by characters from the book, including Santa himself. There are also Christmas singalongs, a reading of the book and a present for each child. (Thinkstock ESS) (Thinkstock ESS)
(Thinkstock ESS)
Woodstock, Vermont If you want to experience a traditional white Christmas complete with small-town charm, Woodstock is your best bet in New England. Woodstock is best known for its skiing, but the town comes alive come Christmastime thanks to the popular Wassail Weekend. This three-day celebration is jam-packed with a variety of things to do. You can attend grand events, such as the annual Wassail Parade, or sit back and relax with a holiday movie screening. There are also traditional activities, such as caroling, as well as things for the kids, including craft making and holiday storytime at the local library. (Thinkstock ESS) (Thinkstock ESS)
(John Hagen/The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner via AP, File)
North Pole, Alaska Next time your kids say they want to go to the North Pole to visit Santa, take them here. Located about 15 miles southeast of Fairbanks, Alaska, North Pole is dressed in Christmas decorations year-round and is home to the Santa Claus House. The structure dates back to the 1950s, when a jovial local who was known for dressing up as Santa Claus opened a general store. Today, the house sells all things Christmas and is home to Santa’s sleigh and team of reindeer. When you’re not visiting Santa, soak up the one-of-a-kind setting by venturing down streets like Kris Kringle Drive and Snowman Lane, or head to the annual Winter Festival for its holiday bazaar and fireworks. (John Hagen/The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner via AP, File) (AP)
(Thinkstock ESS)
(John Hagen/The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner via AP, File)

Have yourself a very merry Christmas in these nine charming locales across America.

While you might want to visit holiday hot spots like New York City or even Disneyland to get into the holiday spirit, you should consider some of America’s small towns, as they have just as much holiday cheer and festivities as their big-city counterparts. These nine destinations offer plenty of Christmas spirit alongside fun and one-of-a-kind activities, from themed train rides into the snowy mountains to five-day-long holiday parades.

More from U.S. News

Best Christmas Vacations

Best Winter Vacations

5 Top Places to Spend Christmas

9 Small Towns That Go All Out for Christmas originally appeared on usnews.com

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up