If you’re planning a trip for the holiday season, consider these charming small towns that feature annual festivities, seasonal decorations, and community events.
Editor’s Note: Obviously, a lot of places are closed during the Coronavirus pandemic. We are aware that the situation is continuously changing and all are encouraged to stay home. But we will continue to write stories to inspire you for when places are open again.
Tuscumbia is one of the towns that make up the Muscle Shoals region of northern Alabama. It played an important role in the music industry with its recording studios that brought artists from around the world.
The town also plays host to “Dickens Christmas Y’all,” an annual event inspired by the Dickens tale. Costumed performers lead carriage rides and musical performances, along with arts and food vendors.
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
The Victorian town of Eureka Springs is transformed for the holiday season in festive decorations. Inspired by the Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol,” the shops and restaurants take on the look of a gingerbread village.
The Great Passion Play is open for visitors, including its museums and attractions. But it’s the Christmas lights and tree forest that brings people back year after year.
Amelia Island, Florida
Amelia Island is one of the most charming beach towns in Florida, especially historic Fernandina Beach. It serves as a jumping-off point for nearby destinations like Cumberland Island to the north and Jacksonville to the south.
Dickens on Centre is the island’s biggest holiday celebration, featuring costumed performers singing carols. Booths line the streets, selling crafts and food. There are also incredible gingerbread houses at the Omni Amelia Island.
Adairsville in Northwest Georgia was originally established as a Cherokee settlement. It’s also home to Barnsley Resort, an award-winning luxury resort on the grounds of the ruins of the historic home of Godfrey Barnsley.
The Manor House ruins at the center of the resort are decorated with lights, surrounded by the English garden, and are open to non-guests. There are also Christmas meals at the Rice House and family programming.
Annual festivities include Christmas in the Trees, a drive-through lights experience, and Christmas in the Park, a holiday lights display.
Natchitoches, Louisiana is over 400 years old and was once a French settlement on the Cane River. It’s home to the annual Natchitoches Christmas Festival, a lights display along the river with over 30,000 lights.
The southeastern Mississippi town of Hattiesburg dates back to 1882, named for the wife of the town’s founder. Festivities include the Christmas tree lighting, the annual Christmas parade, and lights at the Hattiesburg Zoo.
But the main draw is the Victorian Candlelit Christmas, which transforms the charming town with lights and decor. There’s also a Ghosts of Christmas Past walking tour with hot cocoa and a cash bar.
Winston Salem, North Carolina
Other ways to celebrate around town are visiting the lights at Tanglewood Park and Paul J. Ciener Botanical Gardens. Old Salem hosts candlelight tours. Don’t miss the festive decor at historic homes like Reynolda, Graylyn Estate, and Körner’s Folly.
Newberry, South Carolina
Holiday festivities include the lighting of the community tree, a gingerbread competition, letters to Santa, and sightings of the man in red himself.
The towns that make up the Smokies, and especially Gatlinburg, go all out for the holiday season. The Village becomes covered in trees and decor.
Colonial Williamsburg in the Tidewater region of Virginia has long been a favorite place for those celebrating Christmas. The holiday traditions date back to the early days of the settlement.
Decorations cover the historic homes, especially wreaths made with apples and Osage oranges. Trees are decorated with handmade ornaments and candles are placed in windows. Costumed interpreters host talks, carriage rides, and performances.
Where would you most want to spend the holidays?