There’s a reason why Hallmark Christmas movies are eternally popular. It’s easy to get swept away in the romance and magic that can be discovered in the heart of a quaint, charming town that is decked out for the holidays and features a cacophony of characters that seem to lead idyllic lives.
Throughout Michigan, there are plenty of places where you can seemingly step back in time and enjoy an old-fashioned Christmas, much like the ones that are portrayed in those Hallmark movies. These are the best Christmas towns in Michigan to visit during the holiday season.
Enjoy All Things Merry and Bright in Marshall
For nearly 60 years, the city of Marshall has been ushering in the holiday season with a classic downtown parade. The Annual Christmas Parade takes place the Monday following Thanksgiving, and it will be filled with festive floats, cheerful marching bands, and plenty of holiday spirit.
Parade attendees can sip on hot cocoa from local vendors as they delight in the sights and sounds of the season.
Of course, even when the parade has come and gone, everyone in Marshall can enjoy the vintage holiday decorations that are on display in the homes and businesses in the city’s historic downtown area.
If you want to feel as if you are in a scene from your favorite Hallmark Christmas movie, then be sure to start your season off in Marshall Michigan.
Visit Frankenmuth Michigan’s Christmas Town
Christmas is a holiday worth celebrating all season long in Frankenmuth, which is known as Michigan’s Christmas Town. This city — which is inspired by Germany’s Bavarian region and is one of the most unique places to visit in the state — is home to Bronner’s, the World’s Largest Christmas Store.
While shopping for ornaments and holiday decor should certainly be on your to-do list while you are in Frankenmuth, it’s not the only way to celebrate Christmas here.
When you head into the downtown area of this Bavarian village, you will see that festive lights are strung across the streets and the businesses are bursting with holiday joy. The best way to see the lights is to enjoy a merry horse-drawn carriage ride.
Of course, don’t forget to visit Grandpa Tiny’s Farm to say hello to Santa’s reindeer.
See the Bright Lights of Rochester This Holiday Season
While many communities in Michigan are proud of their holiday light displays, there is nothing quite as bright or captivating as the holiday lights in Downtown Rochester.
This suburban community is located just outside of Detroit, and its downtown businesses are completely covered in colorful lights during the month of December. Known as the Big Bright Light Show, this festive display has become a well-known tradition in the community.
Experience the Hustle and Bustle of Holidays in Detroit
The average plot of your typical Hallmark Christmas movie involves a big city professional finding themselves unexpectedly spending the holidays in a small town, only to fall in love with the place as well as its people. However, not every Christmas season needs to be set in the splendor of a small town.
If you are more in the mood for the buzzing sense of excitement that can be found in the city, then Detroit is the place for you. Campus Martius is the heart of the city during the holidays, with its towering, glittering Christmas tree and its open-air ice skating rink.
You also will find open markets, plenty of vendors selling delicious spiced treats, and carols being piped into the city’s streets.
Indulge in a European Christmas in Holland
On the west side of the state, you can visit Kerstmarkt, a holiday market that is designed in the same style as the open-air Christmas markets that define the holidays in Europe.
Of course, no Kerstmarkt event would be complete without the annual Sinterklaas Eve event, which allows children to follow the Dutch version of Saint Nicholas around the town, pose for photos with him, and learn about the Sinterklaas legend.
Send Holiday Greetings From Christmas, Michigan
While the larger-than-life Santa Claus that anchors the town is a must-visit photo opportunity, perhaps the most popular destination in this town is the U.S. Post Office.
When you drop your Christmas cards off at this post office, they will be stamped from “Christmas, Michigan,” transforming your cards into a unique keepsake that your friends and family members will cherish for years to come.
Travel Through Time While Celebrating Christmas in Dearborn
In the city of Dearborn, visitors can quite literally transport themselves to a different era in order to experience what the holidays were like in the past.
At the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, one of the most popular holiday activities is the annual Holiday Nights event. This outdoor evening event invites guests to come into the village, which features a collection of homes and buildings from American history, in order to stroll Main Street while listening to classic carols.
Other elements of the event include family tradition displays in the various homes and buildings, interactions with Santa Claus, Model T rides, and horse-drawn carriage rides, as well as a firework finale.
Experience the Magic of Christmas in Manistee
Nostalgia reigns supreme throughout the holiday season in Manistee. This northern Michigan town hosts the Victorian Sleighbell Parade & Old Christmas Weekend during the first weekend of December each year, as a way to kick off the season in a way that pays homage to the past.
This Victorian-themed event features a Christmas parade that includes horse-drawn carriages, reindeer, Victorian carolers, and bagpipers. Of course, the best part of the parade are the strong and sturdy horses that are tugging a 30-foot Christmas tree down the street that will eventually be lifted and lighted to illuminate the town square.
In addition to the parade, visitors are able to enjoy the Festival of Trees throughout the entire weekend, which includes a craft show and 5K race.
Relish in the Joy of a Country Christmas in Ashley
In any good Hallmark movie, the entire town pulls together in order to make magic happen — and that’s just what the Village of Ashley does every weekend in November and December.
The Village of Ashley Country Christmas is the destination for the North Pole Express, which is a historic train ride that mimics the iconic Polar Express. The entire Christmas festival in Ashley is put on by community volunteers, requiring the help of residents of all ages in order to bring the spirit of the season alive to the many visitors who come in on the train.
At the Village of Ashley Country Christmas, the young and the young at heart can take a horse-drawn wagon ride, build a toy in Santa’s workshop, ride carnival rides, enjoy flavorful food, and of course, watch as Santa Claus himself delivers the first gift of Christmas.
Soak Up the Spirit of the Season on Mackinac Island
When you find yourself on an island off the coast of Michigan where cars are not allowed and the Victorian charm has been perfectly preserved, it’s impossible not to get swept up in the festivities of the holiday season.
Mackinac Island is a wonderful place to enjoy the Christmas holidays as a beautiful tree glimmers on Main Street throughout the month of December, and there are many Christmas bazaars to attend.
Winter on Mackinac is peaceful, quiet, and romantic, making it a favorite destination for people of all ages during this magical time of year.
Go to Grand Rapids to Enjoy a Festive Start to the Season
In Grand Rapids, you will find yourself aglow with the more than 350,000 lights that illuminate the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. This attraction has a famous holiday season event, which highlights the way that light spreads hope for people of all cultures throughout the dark winter season.
From shimmering Christmas trees to a flickering menorah, there are displays that showcase the beauty of all holidays and cultures. Visitors will enjoy both indoor and outdoor walks at this attraction, making it a wonderful stop for anyone during the holidays.
Explore the Best Christmas Towns in Michigan
From small towns bursting with history and charm to big cities with bright lights, there are plenty of Christmas towns in Michigan to choose from. Within these communities, you will quickly discover that people throughout Michigan come together to share the spirit of the season and enjoy the holidays with one another.
And if you want to extend your travels beyond the holiday season, be sure to explore the best Michigan towns to visit in the winter!