By: Tina Donvito | From: Reader's Digest

From lighting festivals to giant trees, these Christmas towns really get into the holiday spirit. Experience the best the season has to offer, from coast to coast!


The soft glow of lights, the window displays, the snow crunching underfoot, the warm scent of cinnamon and spice in the air … these Christmas towns are chock-full of all the things we’ve come to associate with the holiday season. But what makes these villages the absolute best? Whether they have the best Christmas light shows, old-fashioned Victorian decorations, fun Christmas activities, things for kids to do—or they’re your best chance for a white Christmas—these are the places you’ll want to visit to feel as if you’ve stepped into a Hallmark movie.

Some of the Christmas towns on our list exude Old World charm, with German markets, centuries-old traditions or a focus on the history of Christmas, while others feature huge, kitschy Christmas shops and even a giant Santa statue. Many are located in regions that get a lot of snow—but some southern locales also made our list, for those who prefer warmer weather and Christmas lights on palm trees. So no matter where you’re located, there’s a “Christmas village near me” to find. They all make for great Christmas getaways, so we’ve also included holiday travel tips on what to see and do, and where to stay, at each destination.


Many of these towns have gained a reputation for going all out for Christmas, so our reporting included recommendations and ratings from travel experts and real travelers, including our own personal experience. Without further ado, these are the best Christmas towns from coast to coast.


Best for: Riverside strolls

San Antonio stands out as one of the best Christmas towns for the unparalleled setting of its River Walk, decorated for the holidays with thousands of lights hung on the bald cypress trees that line the river. The season kicks off with a Holiday River Parade of floats on boats along the river, then the illuminated River Walk is open (and free) nightly. Visitors can also book a caroling boat and belt out their favorite Christmas tunes, or enjoy them from the riverside. The San Antonio Botanical Gardens also have amazing illuminations with their Lightscape walking event, featuring lights set among the gardens as well as a “Cathedral of Light,” 100,000 bulbs in a glorious archway. Food, drinks and s’mores round out the festivities.

Stay at the historic 1859 hotel The Menger, with an awesome location one block from the River Walk, as well as a block from the famous Alamo. Surprisingly affordable, the property includes an amazing lobby atrium that looks fabulous decorated for Christmas.