A quaint downtown area filled with cheery small-town residents. Twinkling lights, festive trees and ornamented garland decorate the boutique storefronts. Made-for-TV movies bring whimsy to the holiday season, and no doubt leave viewers yearning to experience the charm of the impossibly cute towns that serve as the backdrop for romance. If you’re looking to experience some homespun hospitality of your own this winter, check out these endearing destinations.
New Britain, Connecticut
There’s nothing more Americana than a small New England town, and New Britain fits the bill when it comes to a picture-perfect main street that’s brimming with classic old-world architecture and local-run businesses. It’s the perfect setting to share a kiss under the mistletoe with a local bookstore owner, or the passionate proprietor of a tiny toy shop, as you join forces to prevent a takeover of their business by a large corporation!
Feel like a local as you take part in holiday celebrations in the town’s Central Park, which is home to an annual tree-lighting ceremony and visits from Santa. Book your stay DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Bristol, Connecticut, located in an equally charismatic city that bills itself as being “all heart,” and enjoy even more small town vibes in a city-sized package.
Breckenridge is a stunning ski town that offers the best of everything the Rocky Mountains has to offer: A main street erected in the late 1800s, majestic snow-capped mountains, a bustling art district, craft breweries and more. While out for a stroll, you may bump into an attractive stranger you seemingly have nothing in common with; but if a snowstorm forces you to hunker down in a chalet together, you may learn you’re not so different after all!
Every winter the historic downtown turns into a sparkling snow-globe scene with more than 250,000 lights, and the town plays host to numerous special events, including a jolly Race of the Santas and the Bernese Mountain Dog Holiday Processional. Stay at the Valdoro Mountain Lodge, a traditional ski lodge where you can stay toasty in the spa and outdoor hot tub.
For those craving the allure of an adorably tiny town, but hoping for milder temperatures, consider a visit to the North Georgia city of Dahlonega. Situated amongst rolling hills and grapevines, you can alternate between exploring the quaint, Southern-style downtown area and visits to one of the many nearby wineries. Here you might spill your drink on a fellow patron, leading to a starry-eyed meet cute when you offer to pay the dry-cleaning bill.
Dahlonega gets into the holiday spirit with glimmering lights, carriage rides, a festival of trees and more. Nearby, the picturesque town of Helen offers holiday celebrations and traditions from Germany. Explore their European style Christkindlmarkt, visit the Festival of Trees at Unicoi State Park, and embark on a Winterfest Arts Tour. The Alpine-inspired Hampton Inn by Hilton Helen is perfectly positioned along the Chattahoochee River in Helen’s Bavarian Village.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
If you’re seeking the rugged romance of the Wild West, Jackson offers a delightful Town Square with iconic antler arches, a wildlife museum and National Elk Refuge, as well as easy access to the breathtaking peaks of Grand Teton National Park. While the town is a sight to behold in any season, late December offers a bevy of special experiences that are sure to delight even the grinchiest hearts. Plus, you never know: If you happen to fall in love with a soft-spoken, boot-clad local, that cowpoke might be royalty in disguise.
New Year’s Eve is a big affair here, and the town comes alive with fireworks, concerts, and a torchlight parade down the main street. Be sure to duck into the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar to party the night away, before tucking into your spacious suite at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Jackson.