Best Christmas Towns In The Midwest

Explore the best Christmas Towns in the Midwest

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Shell, in which I was compensated. The opinions and text are all mine.

This holiday season, explore the best Christmas towns in the Midwest. Many may be in your backyard, full of holiday festivities and Christmas cheer. 

This holiday season, explore the best Christmas towns in the Midwest. Many may be in your backyard, full of holiday festivities and Christmas cheer. 

Best Christmas Towns In The Midwest

It’s no secret the holiday season is my FAVORITE time of the year! I love everything about Christmas. From the music, the food, the smell of fudge, holiday lights, wrapping presents, hot chocolate, singing Christmas carols, sleigh rides and more. Yes, I love it all! One thing that has been on my bucket list is to start visiting the best Christmas towns. This year, I decided to start with the Midwest. Yes, I know there are a ton of great Christmas cities around the world, but there are several fantastic ones right in my backyard.

Explore the best Christmas Towns in the Midwest

If you have plans to travel around the Midwest this year, check out some of the best Christmas cities to visit during the holidays, and make plans to visit at least one! Before I can hit the road and start checking these towns and cities off my list, I’m stopping to fuel up on gas and snacks for the road.

Explore the best Christmas Towns in the Midwest

Thanks to Shell and the *Fuel Rewards® program, I will be able to save on gas while exploring Christmas towns and cities around the Midwest. As mentioned before, when you sign up for the Fuel Rewards® program, you will receive Instant Gold Status, saving you 5 cents off per gallon, up to 20 gallons per fill for at least six months.

Chicago, Illinois– There is always something fun to do in Chicago. One of the iconic things Chicago is known for during the holiday season is the Macy’s State Street display. “Recognized as a National Historic Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Macy’s State Street is a Macy’s flagship destination and a true American original. Join generations of Chicagoans as you shop and dine your way through this historic building filled with the best in fashion, cuisine and more.” This is on our bucket list to do this year, as well as discover other fun things to do during the Christmas season in Chicago. 

Best Christmas Towns around the Midwest

Santa Claus, Indiana– We explored Santa Claus, Indiana for the first time earlier this year. With a town named after Santa Claus, you know they are pulling out all the stops on Christmas activities. This small town celebrates Christmas all year, receiving millions of visitors to their family-friendly theme park, Holiday World, and events at Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort. Some of their Christmas activities include The Land of Lights display, a Christmas dinner hosted by Santa himself, a live Reindeer exhibit, and a Santa Claus Christmas parade. You can find quite a few things to do in the Santa Claus area during the holidays, visit their page to learn more.

Explore the best Christmas Towns in the Midwest

Frankenmuth, Michigan – I remember the first time I went to Bronner’s in Frankenmuth, Michigan. That store overwhelmed me. I mean, it was so hard to take it all in at once. It was Christmas overload but in a good way.

Explore the best Christmas Towns in the Midwest

Bronner’s is known as the BEST Christmas store. They bring in guests from all over the world, and you don’t leave empty-handed. But Bronner’s is not the only thing this quaint little town is known for– the whole town transforms into a Christmas town. You remember growing up watching A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens? Well, this is a real-life version of it. The streets are decorated to the max, window shops covered in holiday decor, and you will find actors dressed up in Dickens-Day apparel singing Christmas carols and wishing you holiday greetings. The smell of fudge and roasted chestnuts fill the air.

Best Christmas Towns in the Midwest
Photo Credit: Bob Stefko /Midwest Living

Manistee, Michigan– Last year when I was searching for holiday activities in the Mid-Michigan area, I was told about Manistee. If you want the nostalgia Christmas, then you want to head to Manistee. They kick off the holiday season with the Old Christmas Weekend, filled with activities, including a Gingerbread House contest, Festival of Trees, and guided tours of the Babcock House. You will find carolers decked out in period dresses, coats, and let’s not forget the top hats! There’s also a Victorian Sleighbell Parade, with the highlight being Belgian draft horses pulling a 30′ Christmas tree down River Street in downtown Manistee. Find a list of activities and dates by going to their website.

Best Christmas Towns in Michigan
Photo Credit: Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Grand Rapids, Michigan– You may not think of this Michigan city as a magical Christmas place, but it is. With a Christmas Open House, a decked out Rosa Parks Circle, which also offers ice-skating, performances of The Nutcracker, A Christmas Story, and Holiday Pops by the Grand Rapids Symphony, all of this will put you in the holiday spirit. And just down the road is the Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park’s “Christmas and holiday traditions around the world.”

Dearborn, Michigan– Another great place in Michigan to visit during the holiday season is the Dearborn area. Not far from Detroit (where you should make a stop at the zoo to see all the holiday lights), Dearborn offers an outdoor living-history museum during the holidays. During the Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village, you will find actors dressed in period clothing, carriage and Model T rides, Santa and his reindeer, ice-skating, and caroling.  They also host a variety of traditions and tastes of holidays past; chestnuts will be roasting as well as bonfires. As a life-long Michigander, I will be checking this one off my list this year (finally).

Branson, Missouri- We explored the Branson area a few years ago, and it’s a great family-friendly destination. During the holidays, you can check out the awesome light display at Silver Dollar City (theme park), and don’t forget to catch one of their Christmas shows!
Duluth, Minnesota- Home to America’s Largest Free Walk Through Lightning Display, you can walk through over 4 million lights in a 20-acre park right off Lake Superior in Bentleyville. The kids can see Santa, as well as enjoy hot cocoa, see Rudolph, and partake in other Christmas festivities. The Duluth area also offers a Polar Express ride dubbed Christmas City Express.
Omaha, Nebraska- If you love Christmas trees, visiting Omaha to see their Christmas tree which typically is about a 65-foot tree decked with the finest directions is the place to go. They also offer an Ethnic Holiday Festival, bringing in a variety of celebrations and cultures from around the world.
Garrison, North Dakota- Known as the Christmas Capital of North Dakota, you are taken back to the Charles Dickens era when you visit the Garrison area. You will get your fix of fruitcake, double-decker bus rides, and even watch a live performance of A Christmas Carol. The Dickens Village Festival is a must-visit for anyone who loves Christmas and wants to take a step back into time to enjoy the holiday season!

Best Christmsa Towns in the Midwest- Wooster

Wooster, Ohio- I fell in love with Wooster, Ohio last year on a press trip. A huge attraction that draws in a ton of visitors each year is the Pine Tree Barn. This is a restored Dutch bank barn featuring over 25,000 square feet of furniture, home decor, and all things Christmas. This family-owned shop and restaurant started back in the early 1960’s selling Christmas trees. Over the years they have expanded to a full-service, treating customers with hot cocoa while they picked out their trees, then over to the store and restaurant for gifts and pastries. After spending an afternoon at The Pine Tree Barn, you can explore downtown Wooster, where you will find one of their main Christmas attractions, the Wooster Window Wonderland. Windows along the main street are decked to represent times of the past, and from what I’ve been told, it’s a sight you have to see for yourself. You can explore each storefront’s window with a cup of hot cocoa, along with other Christmas activities going on to kick off the Christmas season.

Columbus, Ohio- I spent every Christmas growing up in Columbus, Ohio. So, I have to include this city. And not just for ole’ time sake, Columbus has a lot to offer families during the holiday season. One of their highlights of the season is The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Wildlights. With more than 3 million LED lights and a choreographed display of lights and music bursts every 30 minutes, you will quickly see why this is a family-favorite activity.
Cleveland, Ohio– If you grew up watching (and still watch) the iconic A Christmas Story, take a tour of the house museum during November- January. While you’re in Cleveland, be sure to check out the Glow Winter Show at the Cleveland Botanical Garden. It’s filled with handmade gingerbread houses, festive holiday flowers, and other holiday traditions.
Kirtland, Ohio– One more area in Ohio I have to mention is the Kirtland Nativity Exhibit. “Unto Us A Son is Given,” the annual Historic Kirtland Nativity Exhibit featuring more than 600 lovingly loaned nativity scenes, 100,000 outdoor lights, and sacred Christmas music, will open on November 27th at the Historic Kirtland Visitors’ Center, 7800 Kirtland Chardon Road, Kirtland, OH. The exhibit has been recognized by the American Bus Association as one of the “Top 100 Events in North America.”
The Osthoff Resort Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin- Deep into Wisconsin, you can join the 10-day Old World Christmas Market celebration. With activities ranging from cookie and ornament decorating workshops to hayrides, breakfast with Santa, and a caroling line that makes a living Christmas card, you will enjoy all the unique experiences this area has to offer!
 There are so many quaint and magical Christmas towns in the Midwest; I couldn’t include every single one. However, after spending a lot of time digging and exploring, I highlighted some of the best Christmas towns in the Midwest. We plan to check off at least five of them on this list during the Holiday season. Using the Fuel Rewards® program, I will earn additional savings at hotels and restaurants along the way. The Fuel Rewards® program also helps you save on everyday needs. When you sign up, send your referral link to your friends and family so they can join the Fuel Rewards program. Then, the first time a friend (or family member) uses the program by earning a reward or using their card at a participating Shell station after registering with your link, you will instantly earn 25 cents off per gallon (up to 20 gallons). There’s no limit to how many friends you invite or how many times you earn!
So before you hit the road to explore a Christmas city in the Midwest, sign up for the Fuel Rewards program so not only can you earn 5 cents off per gallon, up to 20 gallons per fill!
*Restrictions apply. To qualify for the Gold/Silver Status offers, you must be a Fuel Rewards® member and swipe your Fuel Rewards® card or enter your Alt ID when you fuel at a participating Shell station. With Gold Status, you will receive 5¢/gal in Fuel Rewards® savings on every fill-up. The 5¢/gal reward for Gold Status will be combined with other rewards in your Fuel Rewards® account. If you are an existing Fuel Rewards® member, you will receive Gold Status from 6/5/2017 through 12/31/17, the “Existing Member Introductory Period.” If you are a new Fuel Rewards® member, you will receive Gold Status for the initial month you join through the last day of the month, 6 full calendar months later, the “New Member Introductory Period.” The last 3 months of the Existing Member Introductory Period or the New Member Introductory Period (collectively the “Introductory Period”) is the “Qualification Period.” You will retain your Gold Status during the Qualification Period, but you must make 6 qualifying fuel purchases to qualify for Gold Status for the next 3 months, the “Benefit Period.” During the Benefit Period, you must continue to make 6 qualifying fuel purchases to maintain your Gold Status for the next 3-month Benefit Period. A qualifying fuel purchase is any fuel purchase at a participating Shell station in which you swipe your Fuel Rewards® card or enter your Alt ID and fill up with at least 5-gallons of any grade of fuel. For example, if you are a new Fuel Rewards® member and register on 6/15/2017, you will receive Gold Status through the New Member Introductory Period (i.e., 12/31/2017). You will need to fill up with at least 5 gallons of fuel at least 6 times during the Qualification Period (i.e., 10/1/2017 and 12/31/2017) to maintain Gold Status during the Benefit Period (i.e., from 1/1/2018 to 3/31/2018). Thereafter, if you continue to fill up with at least 5 gallons of fuel at least 6 times during the successive 3 consecutive month Benefit Periods, you will retain your Gold Status. If you do not maintain your Gold Status, you will receive Silver Status. With Silver Status, you will receive 3¢/gal in Fuel Rewards® savings. The 3¢/gal reward for Silver Status will be combined with other rewards in your Fuel Rewards® account. Redeem Fuel Rewards® savings with your Fuel Rewards® card or Alt ID at participating Shell stations. Fuel Rewards® savings are limited to 20 gallons of fuel per purchase, per vehicle, or fraud limits placed by Shell and/or limits placed on your financial card by your financial institution, each of which may be lower. Fuel Rewards® savings must be redeemed in a single transaction. Once you begin to dispense fuel using your Fuel Rewards® savings, you must dispense to the 20-gallon limit or you forfeit any remaining discounted gallons of fuel. For example, if you only pump fifteen (15) gallons of fuel, you would abandon the remaining five (5) gallons of discounted fuel. If you have a rewards balance greater than the current per-gallon price of fuel, the price will roll down to the maximum capability of the fuel equipment, and your remaining rewards will be saved for a future fuel purchase. Dispenser may require a price of up to 10.9¢/gal. It may not be possible to combine multiple discounts and/or rewards in a single transaction. For purchases of $75 or more, please go inside to pay. Unbranded diesel and alternative fuels may not be eligible. The Fuel Rewards® program is owned and operated by Excentus Corporation. Offer may be modified or discontinued at any time without notice. Not valid where prohibited by law. Please see for complete Fuel Rewards® program details and Terms and Conditions. Other restrictions may apply. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners. To learn more, visit or call (888) 603-0473

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Shell. The opinions and text are all mine.


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  1. December 12, 2017

    That’s so much fun! I love exploring all things Christmas this time of year. I’d love to go see all of these towns!

  2. December 12, 2017

    There is nothing better than the sights, sounds and smells of the holiday season. The towns you visited all seem to have that classic vibe, which I really enjoy seeing.

  3. December 12, 2017

    Horse drawn carriages, old school architecture, I love it! I want to visit.

  4. December 12, 2017

    I went to Chicago once in October and it was already getting decked out for XMAS – So I can only imagine what it looks like right now!! Ugh! I need to book a ticket back!

  5. December 12, 2017

    What a terrific list! We live in Chicago and have admittedly been to most of these destinations but there’s a couple that are new to me. Santa Claus, Indiana? I’m adding that to our must-visit list.

  6. It feels awesome that you don’t have to go that far to enjoy those Christmas towns that everyone’s been going to this season! Love that you shared all of these to us as well!

  7. Victoria Heckstall
    December 13, 2017

    Midwest is the perfect place for Christmas. I want to visit Michigan hopefully next year. I am amazed how they celebrate Christmas in midwest everything is so wonderful.

  8. I think this place looks a great place to visit on Christmas. But i dont think i can come here this year so i am spend my time to a nicest place like this town.

  9. Kathy
    December 13, 2017

    This looks like such a beautiful place! I just love the holidays. Being around everyone and seeing such beautiful sites is so nice.

  10. December 13, 2017

    I know of a couple and was surprised they weren’t on the list. My standards may be low so now I have to check out yours! I love this kind of post, thanks for sharing!

  11. December 13, 2017

    Wow so many pretty photo opps! These places look amazing to visit. I would totally be down for a horse drawn carriage.

  12. December 13, 2017

    These would be a lot of fun to visit during the holidays. I haven’t been to too many of these, at least not during the holidays. It would be fun too, to go somewhere warm!

  13. December 13, 2017

    I didn’t realize how many places in Michigan there were to visit! Thank you so much for sharing these – I think we may be up for a road trip soon

  14. December 13, 2017

    I’ve never been to the Midwest, but these towns look so fun! I need to see if there’s a similar experience here with the horse drawn carriage.

  15. December 14, 2017

    I can’t say I’ve been to the Midwest before but this post has me wanting to visit, especially during the Christmas season.

  16. This is such an amazing post! I love all of these features. I have never been to the midwest but goodness it would be fabulous.

  17. sara lafountain
    December 15, 2017

    We LOVE Grand Rapids! We visited this summer and we fell in love with all the awesomeness. Best food and beer we have every had.

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