There is a movement going on in this country, and it isn’t about your political affiliation, your favorite sports team, or whether you grill with propane or charcoal. The movement has to do with Christmas and its observance as a gift-giving enterprise. Yesterday was all about expensive gifts under expensive trees, but today’s movement eschews those traditions in favor of experiential gifts. Gildshire, the cradle of The Greatest Road Trip Ever Taken (available from Amazon, as well as on the Gildshire home page), affirms the movement as a positive change! We believe in travel, and the memories made while on the road. That’s why we are so excited to share with you some Christmas trips to a Christmas town.
Okay, I’ll bite. What makes a “Christmas town? Is it a 12 month a year Christmas celebration?”
It can be, but not necessarily. A Christmas town may look like any other town 11 months out of the year. But, it is one that goes all-out once December arrives. A Christmas town takes special pride in its Christmas attire and is a destination for people looking for a December experience. Here are Gildshire’s favorite Christmas towns, in no particular order. Because we can’t bear to vote against any of them and hurt their feelers.
North Pole, Alaska
We didn’t say it COULDN’T be a 12-month a year Christmas celebration. We said it didn’t HAVE TO BE a 12-month a year Christmas celebration. Fourteen miles southeast of Fairbanks, find the postcard village of North Pole. It would be a crime against humanity if this place didn’t celebrate Christmas year-round. Visitors will love the Santa Claus House, which is equal parts post office, general store, and holiday shop. A walkabout here will find streets such as Kris Kringle Dr, and Snowman Lane. While we recommend this as one of our Christmas trips to a Christmas town, the 4th of July parade here features…you guessed it. Santa and Mrs. Claus.
A featured stop in The Greatest Road Trip Ever Taken any time of year, Frankenmuth is a unique and lovely Christmas trip destination. During the holidays, the town’s highlights include meals with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, a Euro-style Christmas market, and horse-drawn carriage rides. Of course, the raison d’etre for the shoppers among us will be Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, all 150 yards of retail joyfulness.
Eschewing humility altogether, Williamsburg flat out calls itself the best Christmas town in America, but it has some justification for doing so. Colonial Williamsburg sparkles at Christmas. Caroling by torchlight and a nightly gun-salute display are a couple of the highlights. But, what really moved Gildshire was the tradition that every home in the historic district puts a lit a candle in the windows. That tradition dates to the 18th Century. For modern-day lighting, nearby (just five miles), Busch Gardens dons 10 million lights for the largest Christmas light display in North America.
Can 100,000 people be wrong? That’s how many Christmas revelers go to Franklin, Tennessee every year for its “Dickens of a Christmas.” It’s a two-day festival featuring 200 musicians, dancers, and characters from the Charles Dickens stories. Other special events include a Victorian Christmas Village and carriage rides through town.
We started out by saying we don’t have favorites…and we don’t…but Leavenworth is pretty special. As close to a Bavarian village as you can find in North America, this small town in the Cascade foothills comes alive December 1. It’s a winter wonderland of sleigh rides and carolers. There are roasted chestnut vendors (the chestnuts are roasted, not the vendors), 1.2 million lights, festivals that change by the week, a traditional Christkindlmarkt, and an enormous Christmas tree in the center of town. The Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum is open all year, with nearly 5,000 items to admire.
You have enough “stuff.” If you are like many Americans, you rent a storage unit to keep your “stuff” overload. You don’t need any more “stuff.” But you can’t have too many memories. That’s what Christmas trips to a Christmas town is all about.