Feel the Christmas cheer and charm with a visit to Washington State each December. Enjoy the spirit of a Hallmark Christmas movie through events like community parades, the most lit Christmas trees in one location, strolling Christmas carollers, and town centers aglow with sparkling lights. Here are some endearing towns in Washington that feel like a Hallmark Christmas movie.
Some lodging information included in this article was obtained during a press trip. All opinions and ideas are my own.
Nestled in the Cascade Mountain Range approximately 135 miles east of Seattle, Leavenworth feels like a Hallmark Christmas movie with old-world Christmas charm. The Bavarian village’s Village of Lights celebrates the season with Christmas lights every day through February and Christmas Town from late November to Christmas Eve. The Village of Lights includes over half a million LED lights sparking downtown, live music, photo ops with Santa, chestnuts roasting, and holiday characters.
Check the calendar for all the activities at the Festhalle, including the gingerbread houses at the Gingerbread House Exhibit, letters to Santa, and Lebkuchenherzen Necklaces for children. Enjoy the European-style Christmas Market without having to fly to Europe!
Hear the sounds of Christmas with the Festival Carolers, featuring live music and strolling singers. Marvel at the antique nutcrackers at the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum. Can’t you just picture a Hallmark Christmas movie starring nutcrackers?
Visit also the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm, just one mile north of the village. Farm tours are offered every 30 minutes and include hot chocolate and apple cider. Photo ops with Santa are available through December.
To reach Leavenworth, take Highway 2 from Seattle. The trip travels through the Cascade Mountains, so be certain to check road conditions before you leave. Or consider riding the Amtrack Christmas Train which leaves from Seattle every Saturday in December.
Check out the beautiful accommodations at the Bavarian Lodge.
Known as “Christmas Town, USA,” Shelton is the epitome of a town that feels like a Hallmark Christmas movie. Shelton is located along the shores of Oakland Bay — just west of Olympia and about 20 miles south of Hood Canal. Shelton first became known in the 1960s as the area that supplied most of the Christmas trees for the entire nation.
Shelton holds the Guinness World Record for the “Most Lit Christmas Trees” in one location — a record 797 lit trees! Shelton broke the New York Hallmark record of 559.
Christmas Town heralds many Christmas scenes and activities, including the 32-foot-tall Santa initially built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, streets decorated with vintage decorations and lights, and each doorway sporting a welcoming wreath. Businesses vie for the title of Best Decorated Storefront. Crafting Workshops for children are held at Christmas Town Market. For adults, there are also daily wreath workshops.
Blondie’s Restaurant is popular for home cooking. Head north about 27 miles to the Hama Hama Oyster Saloon for the most delicious Hood Canal oysters — one of my favorite dining places in the entirety of Washington State!
Stay at the family-run Shelton Inn, located close to all the holiday action.
To reach Shelton, from Olympia, head west on U.S. Highway 101.
Celebrate Hometown Holidays right from a Hallmark movie and the theme of the festivities in Camas. Events include hometown entertainers, food vendors, photo ops with Santa in his magical sled, shopping at local businesses, and dining at area restaurants. This year, starting December 2, friendly elves will hand out festive goodies, free hot cocoa will be available, and the city promises that there will be snow! Check out the free shuttle operating from four parking lots around town.
Camas is located on the banks of the Columbia River, along Highway 14, a mere 10-minute drive from Vancouver, Washington.
4. Port Townsend
Port Townsend, Washington’s Victorian City, is ready for a Hallmark Christmas movie. Cruise through the city and enjoy the architecture and old-world Victorian charm.
Santa arrives in town for the Christmas Tree Lighting at Tyler Plaza in early December. This year there will be a heated tent, photo ops with Santa, strolling choral singers, and a children’s craft session.
This year, enjoy the Key City Public Theatre for their production of New Moon: A Dog’s Tale. Shows run from December 1 to 23. Also, watch for performances of A Christmas Carol on December 20 and 21.
Climb aboard the trolley for Choo Choo Rides for Families.
You can also tour some of the historic inns and homes all decked out for Christmas. Stop by the Port Winter Holiday Farmers Market for unique gifts, delicious food, and arts and crafts for the children.
A historic accommodation right downtown is the Water Street Hotel.
5. Walla Walla
Just like in a Hallmark Christmas Movie, the Holiday Parade of Lights in Walla Walla is where families join together in the spirit of the season to watch the annual parade. Look for Santa’s arrival on the final float.
Spend the night at the historic Marcus Whitman Hotel and Conference Center, where you can walk to all the festivities at many tasting rooms and businesses.
Walla Walla is located in the southeastern portion of Washington State.
One of the highlights of the Christmas celebrations of the Yakima Valley is the Lighted Farm Implement Parade, the oldest farm implement parade in the nation. This parade highlights the importance of agriculture to the area and the Hallmark-type communities that come together to celebrate the season. Antique farm equipment from the Central Washington Agriculture Museum joins dozens of present-day tractors and combines; all dressed in their Christmas splendor with thousands of twinkling lights.
Enjoy the Hallmark Spirit at the Holiday Drive-thru Light Fest held from late November through mid-December. Thirty miles of delight will bring sparkling enjoyment for all. Look for the mailbox to the North Pole to drop off your letters to Santa.
Businesses are dressed in their best Hallmark Christmas decorations as they compete for one of the Winter Wonderland Awards. Check out both interior and exterior decorations, as there are awards for both. Check out all the holiday events, lights, and shopping throughout downtown Yakima on the Yakima event calendar.
The Yakima Valley lies in eastern Washington approximately 2 hours from Seattle and 3 hours from Portland.
This year, children can participate in hands-on activities — like making ornaments, tassels, and tops — at the interpretive site on December 10 and 17. There will also be cultural demonstrations about past holiday traditions in the kitchen and blacksmith shop.
Ride the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad Special Christmas Train at the small town of Yacolt, just 25 miles north of Vancouver, WA. Every Saturday and Sunday from late December to a bit before Christmas, trains depart three times daily — check the train schedule for details. You can also have fun at the Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest.
To get to Yacolt from Vancouver, head north on Highway 503.
Wherever you are visiting in Washington State, there are quaint, friendly towns that exude the feelings of a Hallmark Christmas Movie. Plan a visit soon. You will be glad you did!
Read all the TravelAwaits‘ Hallmark Christmas articles and get into the spirit of the season. Plus, check out more Washington State information: