The biggest and best Christmas stores in the U.S. where the holidays never end
Giant Santas, intricately made ornaments, tinsel and twine—these decorations and so much more await you at the best and biggest Christmas stores in the US. One things for sure, we’re not talking about the holiday decor section that pops up for a couple of months your local big box store. No, these stores take the holidays and put them on steroids. And we mean that in the best way possible. Made for the Christmas-obsessed and those who believe it’s never too early to start preparing for the holiday season, these stores offer Christmas year-round: spring, summer, fall and winter. They range from the massive, 45-acre Bronner's Christmas Wonderland in Michigan to a charming Christmas village in the Smoky Mountains in Tennesse. Others take center stage at the best Christmas towns in America, like Santa Claus, Indiana or the North Pole, Alaska. Step inside these dazzling (and somewhat disorienting) wonderlands featuring awe-inspiring light displays, perfected model villages, and other novelties. 'Tis the season to be jolly, and what better way to spread the holiday cheer than by exploring the most magical, whimsical, and festive shops across the nation?
The best Christmas towns in the U.S. to get you in the holiday spirit
Christmas can bring magic to your life no matter where you are. But there are certain places where holiday magic is taken to the next level. Picture snow-capped trees, twinkling lights charting a path down the main street, charmingly decorated vintage homes and inns, carriage rides, carolers—the whole works. The best Christmas towns in the U.S. feel like Hallmark Christmas movies in real life (and often, they are the real settings of these films.) If you're a die-hard Christmas enthusiast or simply appreciate a little Yuletide joy, grab your scarf and head to one of these holly, jolly towns. On our list of the merriest towns in America, you'll find cities with Christmas as their main claim to fame (like North Pole, Alaska and Santa Claus, Indiana), charming New England villages (like Essex, Connecticut and Stockbridge, Massachusetts) and European-style destinations like Solvang, California and Leavenworth, Washington. From coast to coast, take in stunning Christmas light displays, shop local holiday markets, and cozy up next to a fire. Ho, ho, let's go!
These spectacular Christmas cities in the U.S. go all out for the holidays
When Christmas time rolls around, some cities sparkle—and others downright shine. For the best Christmas cities in the USA, the holidays are more than just a season; they’re what they've been preparing for all years and often their claim to fame. Take North Pole, Alaska, where you can visit the world's largest Santa and walk down Kris Kringle Drive, outfitted with candy cane-striped street lights. Or Santa Claus, Indiana (yes, that's really the name) whose local "elves" volunteer at the local post office to answer buckets full of children's letters to Santa every year. Other cities put their own personal twists on celebrations, like a Colonial-style affair in Williamsburg, Virginia or the Charles Dickens-inspired festival in Franklin, Tennessee. Sure, big cities like New York, Chicago and Boston are beautiful in December, but with their over-the-top celebrations, these smaller locales offer something even better. Whether you want to visit magical Christmas markets, check out impressive Christmas light displays or visit impressive Christmas light displays or visit some of the best Christmas stores, you won't be disappointed in these festive Christman cities in the U.S.
The most beautiful cemeteries in the U.S.
Some people consider cemeteries eerie places to visit, but in reality, they are often quite the opposite: serene and full of subtle beauty. Taking in a moment of zen on these sacred grounds is a welcome departure from the busyness of everyday life. Across America, the most beautiful cemeteries are also cultural and historical landmarks, drawing in visitors who come to appreciate the natural surroundings and prominent individuals resting beneath. In the Northeast, you can encounter some of the nation's oldest modern cemeteries that are the final resting places for American historical figures. Down south, take in enchanting moss-covered landscapes, like Savannah's Bonaventure Cemetery. And in the Midwest, stroll expansive sites such as Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, an urban forest with over 130 tree species. Each cemetery on our list has its own unique charm and beauty. Of course, these cemeteries can also be a bit spooky. Looking for more creepy fun? Whether it’s Halloween season or not, we recommend the best haunted Airbnbs and haunted hotels to fuel your nightmares—that is, if you can get to sleep—and for creepy ghost towns filled with the spirits of days gone by.
The 15 best ghost tours in the U.S. for a good scare
Every town has a past worth exploring—both pleasant and sinister. If you want to learn about a city’s dark side, consider signing up for a ghost tour. These tours mesh history, mystery, and entertainment all in one evening as guides tell tales of the supernatural, take you by haunted sites and often show you mysterious local cemeteries. In New Orleans, stroll the cobblestone streets of the French Quarter while learning about the world of voodoo, haunted mansions, and even pirate legends. In San Francisco, board a ferry to Alcatraz for a gripping night tour of the former prison to hear tales of daring escapes and those who disappeared without a trace. Other choices include the eerie "Trolley of the Doomed" in Key West, a chilling Chicago bus tour, or a family-friendly tour to hear about the ghosts of Colonial Williamsburg. No matter which ghost tour experience you choose, be prepared to learn something new, visit sites that will make you shiver—and maybe even encounter a ghost or two.
The most haunted hotels in America where you can stay the night
If you love traveling and haunted houses, your ideal getaway may very well be an overnight in one of the best haunted hotels in America. Whether you're a skeptic or a die-hard believer, the allure of the paranormal and the intrigue of spine-tingling ghost tales are hard for anyone to resist. The most haunted hotels in America range from historic inns to grand hotels, but all have stories passed down through generations of hair-raising encounters that defy rational explanation. Guests have reported hearing unexplained whispers or echoing footsteps in empty hallways, faucets or lights randomly turning and specific energies that will have you watching your back. From the iconic Stanly Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, which served as inspiration for Stephen King's chilling novel The Shining, or the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, FL, which was a military hospital during World War II—each hotel has its own charm and eerie history. Many of these properties embrace their ghostly reputation and offer special packages or tours in October or year-round. Head to one of these hotels where the living and the dead coexist in...harmony? Their reputation may keep you up at night but that's part of the fun. Looking for more spooky travel? Try a stay at one of these haunted Airbnb listings, visit real-life haunted houses, or take a jaw-dropping ghost tour.
The best LGBTQ+ friendly small towns in the USA
Small towns are all about your neighbors, and when big hearts are open on Main Street, everyone benefits. We’re happy to share this listing of the best small towns for LGBTQ+ folks in the U.S. because we know home is where we can be ourselves. In these small-scale burgs, gay-owned businesses abound—or maybe there’s just one, and that’s okay. Besides annual Pride celebrations, there are events around the rainbow community like drag shows, book clubs, and history tours. And if you’re not lucky enough to live in one of these towns, gay travelers are welcomed with gay-friendly accommodations. Time to book a visit! RECOMMENDED: 🌈 The best cities to celebrate LGBTQ+ rights🕺 The best gay clubs and bars in America
5 scary movie houses and hotels in the USA that you can actually book
If you’re the kind of person who watches a slasher flick and thinks, “look at the bones of that house,” we’ve got good news: you can actually spend the night in the horror-fueled houses and haunted hotels used in your favorite scary movies. Whether you want to invite a sparkly vampire or swoon-worthy werewolf into Bella Swan’s Twilight home, pound a typewriter like Jack Torrance in multiple Shining hotels, or make an overnight pit stop at the infamous Texas Chainsaw Massacre gas station, these scary movie houses and filming locations are a great place to reenact iconic scenes and feel like a part of the movie. Just remember: axe murderers and ghosts aren’t part of the script! RECOMMENDED: real-life haunted houses in the USA