Visit Santa at the Midwestern Christmas town of Cedarburg, Wisconsin, photo courtesy of cedarburgfestival.org
Visit Santa at the Midwestern Christmas town of Cedarburg, Wisconsin, photo courtesy of cedarburgfestival.org

The Best Christmas Towns in the Midwest

Transport your family to an idyllic Christmas town right out of A Christmas Carol. With cobblestone streets and picturesque brick storefronts, a visit to a Christmas town is a magical place to Christmas shop, visit Santa, and get into the holiday spirit. From Santa Claus, Indiana to Duluth, Minnesota, we’ve rounded up the best Christmas towns in the Midwest for shopping, sleigh rides, Santa sightings, Christmas caroling, tree lightings, and more. 

For a full list of Christmas towns across the country, check out the Top Christmas Towns and Villages to Visit in the U.S. And for more holiday ideas, check out our Guide to Holiday and Christmas Activities for Chicago Families.

Indiana Christmas Towns

Santa Claus, Indiana

When it comes to Christmas towns, it can’t get any more iconic than the town named after the big man himself. Santa Claus, Indiana is home to a year-round Christmas town. The three weeks leading up to Christmas, the town kicks off its yearly Santa Claus Christmas Celebration. In addition to the giant 22-foot Santa statue, you’ll also find over 15 other statues of Mr. Claus. Santa Claus is also home to the iconic Santa’s Candy Castle, countless gift shops and bakeries, a drive-thru LED Christmas light display and more. 

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 "Dedicated to the Children of the World" - One of the many statues in Santa Claus, Indiana

Michigan Christmas Towns

Manistee, Michigan

Manistee is an idyllic Christmas town located in Northwest Michigan. This old-world town features adorable brick storefronts, brightly light Christmas trees, and an impressive Christmas festival that takes place the first weekend in December every year. Manistee’s Victorian Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend boasts over 10,000 visitors from all over the country. You’ll find a parade of Belgian Draft sleigh horses, carolers in period costumes, Christmas concerts, holiday cookies, a Jingle Bell 5k, carriage rides, and more. 


Manistee, Michigan, a Christmas town in the Midwest - photo courtesy of the Manistee Sleighbell Parade, Facebook

Frankenmuth, Michigan

Frankenmuth, Michigan is known as Little Bavaria. Named by TIME as one of the most Christmassy towns in America, you can feel the Christmas spirit everywhere you look. From the world’s largest Christmas store (Bonners Christmas Wonderland) to taking a horse-drawn carriage down Main Street, you’ll find Christmas magic at every turn. At night, head back to Bonners for a half-mile LED twinkle light display known as 25 Christmas Lane. From the covered wooden bridge to the Bavarian-style architecture, your kids will feel like they have been transported to the North Pole. 

 
Frankenmuth, Michigan will make kids feel like they're visiting the North Pole. Photo courtesy of frankenmuth.org / metro.detroiter

Wisconsin Christmas Towns

Cedarburg, Wisconsin

The town of Cedarburg, Wisconsin looks straight out of a Christmas card. Located about 20 miles north of Milwaukee, you’ll find quaint brick shops, covered bridges, cozy cafes, and charming historic buildings. Their Cedarburg Christmas festival runs from mid-November through Christmas. You’ll find Festive Friday Eves, a Holiday art fair, Santa’s Workshop, seasonal entertainment, and cozy inns to call home for the weekend. 

Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

The Old World Christmas Market in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin is an adorable Christmas market with something for everyone. This German market takes you back with old-world crafts, traditional German fare, hand-painted gifts, and more. Father Christmas even stops by daily so bring your camera. The market is located in the Osthoff Resort

New Glarus, Wisconsin

New Glarus, Wisconsin is an adorable Swiss town. Not only is it home to New Glarus Brewery but it’s also a quaint Christmas village. From the architecture to the storefront window displays, you’ll feel transported to Christmas in Switzerland.  Enjoy holiday open houses at every shop, a St. Nicholas Day Cookie sale, the annual tree lighting ceremony, lunch with Santa, and more. 


Get into the holiday spirit with a trip to New Glarus, Wisconsin - photo courtesy of Swisstown.com

Minnesota Christmas Towns

Duluth, Minnesota

Duluth, Minnesota is a beautiful port city located on Lake Superior. In the winter months, this chilly yet cozy town comes alive with the Christmas spirit. Right on the lakefront, you’ll find Bentleyville. This amazing Christmas village is free to walk-thru, however, there is a fee for parking. Stroll through thousands of string lights, Christmas shops, light-up arches, a massive LED tree, and more. The Christmas village runs the week before Thanksgiving through Christmas. 

 
The Bentleyville Tour of Lights in Duluth, photo courtesy Bentleyville USA, Facebook

Illinois Christmas Towns

Christkindlmarket, Chicago, Illinois

The Christkindlmarket has been a Chicago staple since 1995. Established by the German American Chamber of Commerce, this market mixes German Christmas traditions with local charms. In its Daley Center and Wrigleyville locations, you’ll find aisles of ornaments, Christmas trees, hand-painted goods, traditional German cuisine, and treats. Be sure to collect your annual Christkindlmarket mug that comes free with your wine, beer, hot cider, or hot chocolate purchase. 

 
Christkindlmarket, Chicago - photo courtesy of Facebook

Galena, Illinois

Galena is one of those picturesque cities that gives all the holiday feels. During the holiday season, you’ll find beautiful Christmas window displays, tree-lined streets, festive twinkle lights, and tons of holiday shopping. The quaint gift shops are filled with holiday treasures for everyone on your list. While in town, there are also plenty of places to go skiing, sledding, and snowshoeing. 

 
The Inn at Irish Hollow, courtesy of visitgalena.org

Ohio Christmas Towns

Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio brings their Christmas A-game. Would you expect anything less from the iconic home of A Christmas Story? While the Christmas Story House & Museum is open year-round, the holiday season makes it even more festive. See where Ralphie donned his famous bunny suit, other costumes, and behind-the-scenes photos from the film. In addition to the museum, you’ll find a drive-through holiday lights show at the Cleveland Zoo, the Winter River Fest, and Winterfest in the city center.  


The Christmas Story House Museum, photo by Kevin Messner

 

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