12 Small Towns That'll Make You Feel Like You're in a Hallmark Christmas Movie
Feel like the main character of your own made-for-TV movie in any of these quaint spots.
When the holiday season rolls around, it's time to cozy up on the couch and watch an endless amount of Hallmark Christmas movies. The storylines in these romances are always formulaic—with our two main characters getting together at the end—and the small-town settings are just as predictable. But that's what's so comforting about a good Hallmark movie: Who doesn't want to spend some time in a cozy community with kitschy holiday traditions? If you've always dreamt of doing so, we've got you covered. Read on to find out which small towns will make you feel like you're actually in a Hallmark Christmas movie.
Small Towns That Feel Just Like a Hallmark Christmas Movie
1. Leavenworth, Washington
For any Hallmark movie lover, Leavenworth should be at the top of the travel bucket list.
"For those visiting Seattle or planning a trip through Washington, Leavenworth is the perfect small town to visit this winter season as it magically transforms into a scene straight out of a Hallmark Christmas movie!" Kristin Lee, travel expert and author of the travel blog Global Travel Escapades, tells Best Life. "Visitors can admire the charming Bavarian architecture that's adorned with festive lights and taste traditional Bavarian treats, such as giant salted pretzels and hearty schnitzel!"
But not to be missed is what could easily be a setting for a Hallmark production: a family-run reindeer farm.
"If you're looking to experience some of the European Christmas market magic without crossing the Atlantic, Leavenworth is the perfect place to visit," Lee says.
2. Santa Claus, Indiana
Protagonists in Hallmark movies typically come from quirky hometowns, and Santa Claus, Indiana, is quirky in the best way.
"Hidden away near the border of the southwest corner of Indiana is the aptly-named town of Santa Claus," Adam Marland, travel photographer and blogger for We Dream of Travel, shares. "Few places in the world embrace the holiday spirit like this small town, often referred to as 'America's Christmas Hometown.'"
Every year, the local post office receives letters to Santa, which they then sort, answer, and deliver, Marland says, truly keeping that Hallmark-esque "magic of Christmas" alive.
"Between the giant statue of Old Saint Nick, the candy castle, live reindeer, and the one-mile Christmas light drive through known as 'Santa's Land of Lights,' a winter visit to this quaint town will make even the Grinchiest tourist discover the holiday spirit," Marland says.
3. Solvang, California
Another town that will have you feeling like you've traveled abroad is Solvang, California—and there's no shortage of Christmas cheer here.
"With its Danish-inspired charm and a population of just under 6,000 residents, Solvang transforms into a delightful Christmas town during its annual Julefest celebration," Beth McCarter, family travel blogger of The Travel Fam, says. "The Tree Lighting ceremony, featuring dancers, ballerinas, carolers, and live entertainment, sets the stage for a magical evening, while the Maker's Market offers unique holiday gifts and seasonal treats reminiscent of European night markets."
Even better, fun and festive events like a hunt for Danish gnomes (nisse) and light and music shows in Solvang Park make for a perfect Hallmark meet-cute spot.
4. Northport Village, Long Island, New York
For an idyllic Hallmark-esque spot in the Northeast, check out Northport Village on Long Island, New York.
"To get a feel for walking down Main Street in Northport Village during the holiday season, visualize tiny Christmas trees outside every shop door, decorated with lights and ornaments, giant lit-up snowflakes lining the street, holiday music playing from loudspeakers at the local small-town pharmacy, and shoppers popping in and out of our mom-and-pop shops, their hands full of bags," Chrissy Ruggeri, co-owner and founder of Northport Journal, tells Best Life.
In a quirky twist, Northport Village also hosts its annual "Leg Lamp Lighting" event at the local art gallery, where actors reenact the famous scene from another holiday favorite, A Christmas Story.
"There is also an annual tree-lighting ceremony in Northport, which begins with a chorus performance and a visit from Santa, who arrives after a decorated fire truck parade," Ruggeri says. "Families circle the park, waiting to get a glimpse of Santa and his reindeer—and a night of gathering and singing at the menorah downtown also takes place."
Plan to stick around for New Year's Eve? This small town rounds out the holidays with a fireworks show over its secluded harbor.
5. Nashville, Indiana
According to Pam Howard, owner and author of Our Adventure is Everywhere, there's another "Nashville" you should know about—and it's not Music City. This Nashville, just south of Indianapolis, "has all the things you'd expect in a Hallmark Christmas movie," Howard says.
You can shop for gifts for loved ones and speak with local artisans downtown, she adds, and when you're hungry stop into one of the cute local restaurants for a bite. (An ideal spot to bump into a struggling but charming restaurant owner, or a quiet but witty barista!)
"The town goes all out decorating, and if there is light snow—it's stunning in its rustic beauty," Howard says. If you're in the mood to venture outside of town, you'll also find distilleries and wineries like Hard Truth Distilling Company and Brown County Winery.
"They often have holiday drinks and even classes to participate in during the winter months," she notes. "If the weather cooperates, enjoy a hike in the gorgeous nearby wooded Brown County State Park."
6. Poulsbo, Washington
Technically a little city, this quaint spot is located on Liberty Bay in Washington. While it's scenic and charming at any time of year, at Christmastime, you feel like you're about to be swept off your feet by a former flame.
"Poulsbo, Washington is aptly nicknamed 'Little Norway' for its quaint holiday village ambiance," McCarter tells Best Life. "This small town exudes the charm of a Hallmark Christmas movie with its picturesque streets and cozy atmosphere."
If you're not on the market and touring with your partner, McCarter notes that it's easy to stroll through town "hand-in-hand while window shopping candle-lit [displays]."
"Along its waterfront, Poulsbo boasts a selection of charming restaurants, providing the perfect backdrop for long, romantic conversations over dinner," she says. "The combination of its scenic beauty and inviting dining options transforms Poulsbo into a real-life setting that evokes the warmth and romance of a Hallmark holiday film."
7. McAdenville, North Carolina
Did you know that tucked away in North Carolina is a little hamlet that's also known as Christmas Town USA? According to McCarter, McAdenville "magically transforms into a real-life Hallmark Christmas movie setting every December."
She continues, "With its enchanting lake adorned with floating Christmas trees, the historic Bell Tower serenading visitors with seasonal music, and cherished traditions like the Tree Lighting Ceremony and the Yule Log Parade, McAdenville captures the true spirit of the holiday season, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking a heartwarming Christmas experience."
In summary, it's the perfect place to remind any Scrooge-like starlet about the true meaning of Christmas.
8. Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Eureka Springs feels like it should be the next set for any remake of A Christmas Carol or a cute Christmas love story from Hallmark. Throughout the holiday season, the charming town hosts a variety of festive events that locals and visitors can take part in.
"As you walk the winding streets of Eureka Springs, it's easy to feel swept away to a Victorian village reminiscent of a Charles Dickens novel," Madison Dawson, tourism director of the Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotion Commission, shares. "Whether you're perusing the many unique local shops, galleries, and boutiques for the perfect Christmas gift or viewing the dazzling, twinkling lights that adorn the peaceful downtown streets, you're sure to be filled with merriment and delight."
While touring the town, you can stop into Basin Park to see Santa and let him know that you've been nice all year long. Or you can walk along the downtown shopping area and see the Living Windows event, where real people act our holiday scenes in storefronts.
9. Lititz, Pennsylvania
For a rustic Hallmark setting in Pennsylvania, check out Lititz in Lancaster County.
"Lititz is such a tiny town that is just bursting with Christmas spirit during the month of December," Taylor Beal, owner and author of the travel blog Traverse With Taylor, tells Best Life. "Everywhere you walk, there are decorations and holiday cheer and plenty of places to enjoy Christmas treats, including delicious hot chocolate and mulled ciders. The town even had a special event on Dec. 1 with caroling and the official tree lighting!"
If singing really gets you into the Christmas spirit—as it does in any good Hallmark movie—Lititz also hosts an Annual Christmas Carol Sing and Christmas Candlelight Tour. If you need a place to stay, check out the iconic Wilbur Chocolate factory, which has since been turned into The Wilbur Lititz Hotel. (Just another plot line that feels like it would fit nicely in a Hallmark Christmas movie.)
"It's the perfect place to feel like you jumped straight into a Christmas wonderland!" Beal gushes.
10. Sylva, North Carolina
This tiny town of just 2,700 residents is sure to charm you this holiday season—all with the Great Smoky Mountains in the background. According to McCarter, Sylva "epitomizes the idyllic setting of a Hallmark Christmas movie."
"It has earned its reputation as one of the top 'Christmas towns' in western North Carolina, thanks to its quintessential holiday charm," McCarter says. "The town comes alive during the festive season with a rustic Christmas parade and a dazzling fireworks show that lights up the night sky."
Strolling down Main Street, you'll also indulge in the annual winter market that "adds a touch of magic with local crafts and seasonal treats," according to McCarter.
11. Placerville, California
Even though it's known as a gold rush town, Placerville is an adorable place that actually inspired a real Christmas movie, 2008's Thomas Kinkade's Christmas Cottage, starring Jared Padalecki as the famed artist.
"It was here that Thomas Kinkade got his inspiration for his painting Hometown Memories. Every shop and restaurant along historic Main Street has something unique and different and the holidays are the perfect time to enjoy the small-town charm," explains Jody Franklin, executive director at Visit El Dorado.
Each year, the small town hosts a Christmas parade that makes its way down Main Street with horses, bands, and floats.
12. Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Portsmouth is one of the oldest settlements in New Hampshire, but over the years, the town invested in its downtown area to add more restaurants, bars, museums, and shopping, drawing in locals and tourists alike—especially over the holiday season.
"During the holiday season, storefronts and streets are decorated tastefully [and] it feels like you're in a snow globe. It's perfect for a holiday Hallmark movie," says Armani Thao of ForkingWithArmani.
"The city hosts incredible holiday-themed events for families. From Christmas-themed plays at The Portsmouth Music Hall to an annual holiday parade, holiday strolls, and much more. The whole downtown area of the city is decked out for the holidays," Thao continues.
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