Travel: Holiday Travel Destinations

There are some cities that really get into the Christmas spirit — places that are bedecked with Christmas decorations, twinkling lights at dusk and bustling with holiday events. If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas but also want to get away, these six Midwest destinations will add some extra sparkle to your holiday memories this season. Plan a road trip to one of these family-friendly areas that really embrace the Christmas spirit!

Santa Claus, Indiana

Like the name suggests, Santa Claus, Indiana, is perhaps the most famous of all the Christmas towns in the Midwest. Its claim to fame is Santa’s Post Office, the only post office in the world with the Santa Claus name. Santa Claus, Indiana, is also home to many other attractions, including Santa’s Toys, Santa’s Candy Castle and more. The 2023 Christmas season is packed with family-friendly events happening throughout the area, including parades and festivals.


Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

This charming lakeside town is bedecked with all-things merry each year, during the Old World Christmas Market at The Osthoff Resort, voted the No. 5 Best Holiday Market by USA Today’s Readers’ Choice in 2022. From horse-drawn wagon rides, ornament making and cookie decorating for children, breakfast with Santa or a brunch with St. Nicholas and his reindeer, there is a Christmas activity for everyone.

Frankenmuth, Michigan

In Frankenmuth, Christmas is a big deal all year round. The town is home to Bronner’s, the world’s largest Christmas store, which is open 361 days a year. This store with all-things Christmas is almost two football fields in size and has almost every imaginable ornament, decoration and trinket you can think of to add to your holiday collection. On weekends from Thanksgiving through mid-December, enjoy the Frankenmuth ChristKindleMarkt, mid-Michigan’s largest open air holiday market.

Clifton, Ohio

Historic Clifton Mill puts on a mesmerizing holiday light show every year, with more than 4 million lights strung along the outside of the historic mill, along the gorge and riverbanks, and in the surrounding trees and bridges. It’s worth the trip just to experience the lights, but you should also visit the Santa Claus Museum and the Miniature Village. Santa is there each night, checking his list, right up until Christmas.

French Lick, Indiana

French Lick Resort is the place for all things jolly this holiday season. The 50 Days of Lights begin with two grand tree lighting ceremonies and the holiday hoopla stretches all the way into the new year, with Thanksgiving feasts and Christmas cheer spread throughout. With family-friendly activities and a half-million lights brightening the resort, the holidays illuminate brightest at French Lick Resort.

Chicago, Illinois

During the holidays, Chicago’s Daley Plaza transforms into a European-style Christkindlemarkt. Visitors to this annual and free festival will find entertainment, shopping opportunities, German food and hot mulled wine. The festivities also extend to other parts of Chicago, too. You’ll find a mini version of the Christkindlmarket in Wrigleyville, the State Street Holiday Market with artisans and festive gift options, Holidays in the Loop where Chicago’s downtown area is transformed into a winter wonderland, and lots more charming events popping up in every corner of the city.

Nicole Sipe
Nicole Sipe
Nicole Sipe is the editor of Indy's Child and Southwest Ohio Parent magazines. She has a BA in Journalism from California State University Northridge, and has been involved in the print and digital publishing world for most of her life. Born and raised in Southern California, Nicole traded the city and sun for corn and creeks, and now lives in central Indiana with her husband, two sons and Collie. Her latest book for children, “All About Me! Art Journal” was published in 2022 by Walter Foster Jr. In her spare time, she likes traveling with her family, enjoying good food and drink, volunteering at her children’s schools and around her community, and practicing yoga.

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