With the holidays fast approaching Angela Longwood, a retired Deputy Sheriff from Florida and now the successful owner of Worlds Away Travel, suggests some festive American small towns as good places to visit and celebrate the season.
- Leavenworth, WA gives off an Alpine holiday air and, during snowy December, there are 21 miles of lights tracing each peaked roof of the village. Enjoy handbell concerts, a lively weekend-long Christkindlmarkt, a harp market and a weekly festival around the town tree with carolers, Glühwein and sledding.
- Woodstock, VT is exactly what you would imagine a Christmas card setting to be. During the annual Woodstock Wassail Weekend, a parade of horses and buggies circles a snowy village green. Carolers serenade townsfolk and everyone gathers for the lighting of the town tree and Yule log. You will think you are actually living in a beautiful snowglobe!
- Asheville, NC focuses much of its holiday on the historic Vanderbilt mansion, Biltmore. The Biltmore dresses up lavishly in ribbons, garlands and sparkling lights. Elsewhere in Asheville the locals gather to watch Santa rappel down Chimney Rock and enjoy shopping for unique gifts at craft shows in the River Arts District.
- Jackson, WY is located at the base of the Tetons and has a spectacular town square any time of the year, with monumental arches of elk antlers at the four corners. Around the holidays, the arches are wrapped in strings of lights to illuminate the nights with a festive glow. If you’re there to ring in the New Year, you will see the torch parade of ski instructors snaking down the mountain at the town’s two ski resorts.
- Helen, GA may be a surprise to imagine, but with Helen being a former logging town at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the city has reinvented itself long ago as a Bavarian town. When you visit in December you will view the wreaths and artist-decorated holiday trees on auction at the Festival of the Trees and can participate in the Kinderfest, the Christkindlmarkt, and the tree lighting in tiny downtown Helen.
- Williamsburg, VA maintains Colonial holiday traditions like caroling by torchlight, fife and Williamsburg. Start off the season with a celebratory fireworks and historic gun-salute display, best viewed from the town green.
- Durango, CO is a historic mining town that uses the local steam-engine train to enhance the festivities with snowy rides through the surrounding mountains along the Animas River. The Durango & Silverton narrow gauge train operates year-round but in December, it runs a Polar Express-inspired trip for kids as well as weekend Christmas tree runs where passengers can cut their own tree and get it transported back to town.
- Delray Beach, FL may not include snow, but the 100-foot tall Christmas tree is just the thing to shift the mood from beach to holiday. At the center of the Old School Square, the tree magically opens to reveal a wonderland inside, with toy trains running around miniature scenes depicting holiday traditions.
- Ogunquit, ME calls its calendar of old-fashioned activities “Christmas by the Sea”. Throughout December, families gather for bonfires, hayrides, caroling, crafts fairs and living manger. The fun continues with a benefit Polar Bear plunge into the chilly Atlantic.
- Santa Claus, IN has a strong year-round commitment to the holiday, calling itself America’s Christmas Hometown. In the late 1920s, the local postmaster began to promote the town and pretty soon, children letters to Santa began pouring in. Every year, thousands of letters are answered by volunteer Santa’s Elves. Local festivities include a themed parade, a candy castle and Santa’s Land of Lights, a 1.2-mile drive through a holiday light show.
Feeling tempted? Then get in touch with Angela who writes, “I have found there is nothing more rewarding than helping families plan their vacations, hearing what a great time they had and the memories they made.”
Angela Longgood, Travel Consultant/Owner
Worlds Away Travel