The countdown to Christmas means a little something different for everyone, and each year, cherished holiday traditions come alive in the month of December. For some, the Christmas season may begin with making their shopping lists, decorating cookies, or addressing cards, but for many, the season truly begins when the Hallmark Channel releases its Christmas movie premiere list. So much of the magic of a Hallmark Christmas movie comes from seeing the charming small towns the characters explore, and we want to make it easy for you to have the same experience. We’ve rounded up our favorite U.S. charming towns and quaint villages that come alive with holiday spirit each year and truly embody the same feel-good spirit as a Hallmark movie.
1. Freeport, Maine
If you’re looking to do your holiday shopping in a beautiful town sparkling with delightful decorations, then a trip to the shopping mecca of Freeport, Maine, is a must. Whether you’re looking for a gift for the Hallmark movie lover in your life or something unique for yourself, the shopping district in Freeport is a great place to walk and browse. Freeport is home to L.L. Bean’s flagship store, which is the perfect place to start your shopping spree. The shopping district is very walkable and filled with so many festive decorations you won’t be able to stop taking photos. Along with Freeport, here are our other picks for charming Maine towns that will make you feel like you’re in a Hallmark movie.
2. Woodstock, Vermont
The entire state of Vermont oozes classic New England charm so it’s difficult to pick our favorite Hallmark movie towns, but Woodstock has a special holiday appeal. Maybe it’s the town’s mountain scenery and stately white colonial homes, or the many charming bed and breakfasts where you can enjoy a long, cozy weekend. If you are visiting during the holidays, don’t miss the Victorian-inspired Christmas celebrations hosted by Billings Farm. The antique decor and beautiful scenery are sure to put you in the holiday spirit! See which other quaint Vermont towns made our list here.
3. Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania
With sparkling light displays, horse-drawn carriage rides, visits from Santa, and more, you will feel the holiday magic when you visit Tunkhannock during the holiday season. The tiny town of 1,682 residents puts on quite the show each holiday season when it hosts its popular Santa Train Rides and Christmas in Our Hometown event with carolers, cookie decorating workshops, movies, and more family activities. Even if you miss one of the festivals, you’ll still find plenty of holiday spirit in the many light displays around town and of course the gorgeous natural winter scenery. Along with Tunkhannock, see all our picks for our favorite Pennsylvania Hallmark movie towns.
4. Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
This year, the historic town of Harpers Ferry celebrated the 50th anniversary of its Olde Tyme Christmas and Holiday Light Tour when the entire town is lit up for the holidays. During colonial times, candles were put in windows as a symbol for good news or a welcome for visitors, and Harpers Ferry keeps this tradition alive when the beautiful Victorian-era homes are filled with candles for the holiday season. The locals help add to the historic holiday charm by dressing in period costumes, decorating the streets and shops in town, and hosting horse-drawn wagon rides. Learn more about the festivities in Harpers Ferry and other West Virginia towns here.
5. Rock Hall, Maryland
This friendly town of just 1,278 residents on the Chesapeake Bay hosts a variety of festive holiday events every year. The season kicks off with its Hometown Christmas celebration that features horse-drawn carriage rides and open houses at the local shops. Later in the season, there’s a lighted boat parade that welcomes Santa to Rock Hall for the tree lighting ceremony. Rock Hall’s tree is made of crab baskets, a nod to their charming location on the water. See all there is to do in Rock Hall and our other favorite festive Maryland towns here.
6. Middleburg, Virginia
The tiny town of Middleburg, Virginia, is big on Christmas spirit, and the holiday season kicks off with the Christmas in Middleburg parade. The parade features more than 150 men in full hunting attire on horseback leading 40 hound dogs. After the parade, the kids can enjoy crafts and caroling at Santa’s Workshop while the adults can partake in a craft beverage and food experience throughout the town. There are also beautiful light shows near town to explore all season long. Middleburg is just a short drive from Washington, D.C., and is the perfect place for a day trip to get out of the city and into the holiday spirit. See which other Virginia towns made our list of festive Hallmark Christmas movie towns.
7. Franklin, Tennessee
It seems like everyone in town participates in Franklin’s annual Christmas parade which kicks off the holiday season in this historic Tennessee town. The festivities continue with the annual Dickens of a Christmas Festival which brings characters to life from Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol and features tasty Victorian-era treats. The event also features a Victorian village with traditional decorations to admire. Tennessee’s small towns are filled with character, history, and charm, so be sure to explore all our picks on our list of Tennessee Hallmark Christmas movie towns.
8. Statesville, North Carolina
Statesville, North Carolina, brings the holiday cheer with a variety of events for adults and kids alike throughout the Christmas season. Everything kicks off with the annual tree lighting and horse-drawn carriage rides through town. The Holiday Shop & Stroll Spectacular is a great way to explore the town and get your Christmas shopping done, with trolly and train rides, open houses at the local shops, and a live nativity scene. The town also transforms its City Hall into Santa Central, where kids can send letters to the North Pole and get a personalized reply. With so much holiday magic in Statesville and elsewhere in the state, you’ll want to see our list of the best Hallmark towns in North Carolina.
9. Pendleton, South Carolina
You’ll find a taste of small-town Europe in Pendleton, South Carolina, during the holidays. Locals and visitors can stroll through the Christkindlmarkt, an authentic European-style Christmas market on the historic Village Green. Shoppers can browse hand-crafted goods, sip festive drinks, and sample local holiday treats. A giant 40-foot Christmas tree anchors the market and adds a festive atmosphere to the hustle and bustle. The town also celebrates the season with its annual tree lighting and Christmas parade, sure to brighten anyone’s spirits. Find out which other small South Carolina towns made our list of our favorite charming Hallmark movie towns!
10. Thomasville, Georgia
Thomasville, Georgia, doesn’t hold back when it comes to extravagant Christmas celebrations. The town is home to one of the country’s most acclaimed Christmas light displays and hosts many holiday events throughout the season to delight visitors. All of the buildings and the town square come alive each season with beautiful light displays and the locals go all out with holiday entertainment, including dances, caroling, and festive costumes. Throughout the month of December, you can participate in Sip and Shop where you can grab your favorite winter beverage and stroll the streets looking for the perfect Christmas gift for everyone on your list. For the ultimate small-town Christmas experience, be sure to check out all our recommendations here!
11. Foley, Alabama
The beautiful Gulf Coast town of Foley, Alabama, adds a dash of southern charm to its Christmas cheer each holiday season. The town hosts several events throughout the season to get locals and visitors in the spirit, including a Christmas parade, tree lighting, and the family-friendly Let It Snow Celebration complete with crafts, a petting zoo, and more activities everyone will love. Heritage Park in the center of downtown comes alive with hundreds of sparkling lights during the Christmas season and you can go on a train ride through the park to see the lights up close. In Foley, you’ll also find great restaurants, plenty of opportunities for holiday shopping, and seasonal shows sure to entertain. Be sure to check out all of our recommendations for how to spend a delightful holiday weekend in Foley here.
12. Glenwood Springs, Colorado
The snow-covered towns of Colorado come alive with holiday spirit each year, especially the town of Glenwood Springs. Glenwood Springs is a great day trip from Denver, and we recommend riding the train into the mountains so you can enjoy breathtaking scenery of the snow-covered Rocky Mountains. Once you arrive in Glenwood Springs, be sure to book time at Glenwood Hot Springs Resort to soak in the natural hot springs while surrounded by sparkling Christmas lights. Wander down the main street and take in views of dazzling lights and pop into the many little shops and restaurants in town. For even more magical mountain towns straight out of a Hallmark movie, check out our full list.
13. Mesilla, New Mexico
The small New Mexico town of Mesilla is full of history as it was once an important stop on the Butterfield Overland Trail that connected St. Louis and San Francisco. Each Christmas season, the historic buildings and town plaza come alive with thousands of luminarias that greet shoppers as they bustle in and out of the many unique boutiques in town. Just 15 minutes from downtown Las Cruces, Mesilla is a great place to complete your Christmas shopping with delicious and interesting gifts from small businesses. Christmas in the desert is a different feel than Christmas in the mountains or elsewhere, but it’s just as magical and worth experiencing! See where else to find the Hallmark movie spirit in New Mexico here.
14. Prescott, Arizona
Though Prescott is more a mid-sized city than a small town, the city embraces small-town charm during the many holiday events hosted during the month of December. Prescott is known as Arizona’s official “Christmas City” for good reason, with the anchor of the festivities being the Courthouse Lighting, which is in its 67th year. The event draws thousands to the courthouse plaza for a Christmas program followed by the illumination of thousands of lights on the courthouse and in the plaza. All season long, visitors can enjoy delicious food and drink at one of the many historic and charming inns and pubs that offer spectacular views of the courthouse lights. To see where else you can find Christmas magic in Arizona, see our list of our favorite Christmas towns here.
15. Newport, Oregon
The rugged beauty of Oregon, with its soaring mountains, enchanting forests, and wild coastline is the perfect backdrop for some Christmas magic and you’ll feel the holiday spirit when you visit Newport. This oceanfront town makes the most of its setting with a number of Christmas activities on the water where you can watch decorated vessels of all shapes and sizes participate in the Christmas Boat Parade. Newport has many charming accommodations right in the harbor for the best view of the parade and the holiday lights. Be sure to stroll through the town’s historic Bayfront area where you’ll find unique local items for gift giving and can enjoy seasonal refreshments. See where else you can experience the Christmas magic in Oregon here!
16. Leavenworth, Washington
In this Bavarian village in the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle, the Christmas season is extended thanks to Christmas lighting festivals that last through February. The lighting festivals include live music, holiday treats, and half a million lights in the downtown area. You can see reindeer up close at the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm where you can tour the farm and enjoy hot chocolate and apple cider. There’s also a large Gingerbread House exhibit sure to make your stomach rumble, and you can visit the Nutcracker Museum to see antique nutcrackers — what’s more festive than that? The scenery surrounding Leavenworth is beautiful and you’ll want to cozy up for a weekend of Christmas cheer and outdoor adventures. See the other beautiful Washington towns that will make you feel like you’re in a Hallmark movie here.
With so many towns in the U.S. that serve up big doses of holiday spirit, it really can start to feel like there’s Christmas magic all around — just like in a Hallmark movie! Be sure to add one of these towns to your holiday travel plans for good cheer, delicious food, beautiful light displays, and more. For the ultimate Hallmark fan experience, you can even book a custom-designed suite that will truly make you feel like you’ve stepped onto a Hallmark movie set. And if you’re venturing abroad for the holiday season, don’t miss the best Hallmark movie towns from around the world!