Carolers and horse drawn carriages help make certain towns across the U.S. a must-visit during the holiday season. A nod to simpler times, these five small Christmas towns are bursting with holiday spirit.
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Skaneateles, New York
Have yourself a very Dickens Christmas in the picturesque town of Skaneateles. Every year, a Dickens festival transports visitors to a holiday celebrated with Tiny Tim and the Ghost of Christmas Past. Horse and wagon rides, live caroling, bagpipers and roasted chestnuts add to the traditional festivities.
A little town in southern Maine, Ogunquit is home to a Christmas By the Sea weekend filled with charming activities for the whole group. Christmas parades, bonfires, hayrides, caroling, craft fairs and a living manger are just a few of the cheery festivities that get visitors out of a Scrooge state-of-mind. The fun is taken to another level with the Polar Plunge into the chilly Atlantic to support Toys for Tots, a charity distributing toys to children in need.
Santa Claus, Indiana
It is only logical that a town called Santa Claus has a three-weekend Christmas celebration. Visitors can relax by sitting around an old-fashioned campfire to roast chestnuts or drive through the 1.2-mile Santa Claus Land of Lights at Lake Rudolph to learn the magical story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Holiday shopping is also an option with places like the Santa Claus Christmas Store, Evergreen Boutique and Holly Tree Christmas Shop.
This small Vermont town rich with colonial New England architecture is a fun excursion year-round, but the excitement is taken to another level during Wassail Weekend. Head to the center of town for wagon and sleigh rides, a holiday craft fair and performances by local theater and singing troupes as they parade through town.
Asheville, North Carolina
The biggest event of the holiday season takes place at the Biltmore. The historic mansion is adorned with 55 elaborate hand-decorated trees including the favorite 35-foot live Fraser fir, 1,000 poinsettias, miles of garland and live music. Visitors can take a candlelight tour of this year’s “A Vanderbilt Christmas” theme exuding a Gilded Age flare. Afterwards, hit the Biltmore Wintery (open until 9pm every night). It is decorated with 7,000 globe-shaped ornaments hanging from the ceiling, giving visitors “the feeling of being inside a bottle of sparkling wine.”