Add this to your seasonal to-do list: After you finish a holiday movie marathon, you can put yourself at the center of a festive Hallmark scene. There’s a natural cheery feeling that comes with a stroll down a small town’s Main Street, holiday lights twinkling and evergreen wreaths crowning every door. Towns including Leavenworth, Washington; Frankenmuth, Michigan; and Santa Claus, Indiana, have grown in popularity because of their merry (and affordable) traditions. If you’re looking for a new small town with impeccable Hallmark Christmas movie ambience, consider these five gems found all across the United States.
No other region in the United States delivers small town holiday cheer the way New England can. In Kennebunkport, Maine, the cozy comforts begin with a stay in one of the town’s many inns or bed and breakfasts. Kennebunkport’s small shops will be decorated with lights beginning Nov. 30, when the town’s annual Christmas Prelude kicks off with gingerbread house decorating and s’mores roasting over a bonfire. That weekend, the celebration continues with a tree-lighting ceremony Dec. 1, but the highlight happens Dec. 3, when Santa arrives in Kennebunkport in true New England fashion — by riding in a lobster boat. Christmas Prelude events continue through Dec. 10, but the holiday cheer carries on throughout the season.
This small town in the north Georgia mountains was a well-known gold rush town in the 19th century. Today, it’s transformed itself into a holiday destination, especially for winter wonderland lovers who may be less enthusiastic about a forecast of snow. You may recognize Dahlonega’s downtown from Hallmark’s 2015 film Christmas in the Smokies. Lifetime’s 2020 movie A Taste of Christmas also was filmed across the town, including at its Festival of Trees.
Dahlonega starts decorating for the season in early November, then multiple events begin the day after Thanksgiving, including carriage rides and caroling. The city’s Christmas Market opens Dec. 1. Check Dahlonega’s Old Fashioned Christmas website for specific event time.
Alexandria is technically a midsize city, with a year-round population of slightly more than 155,000, but this Washington suburb still gives cozy small town vibes, especially during the winter months. Take a stroll down King Street’s brick-laden sidewalks through Alexandria’s historic district, and you may feel like you’re in an old European village.