Whether you live in the South and you’d like to find a great holiday destination, or you’re from elsewhere in the country or world, and you want a holiday experience, there are a lot of great options in the region. From small towns that transform into Christmas wonderlands to festive tourist attractions, the following are some places to consider enjoying a Southern winter holiday.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach may not be the first place you think of when you’re planning a Christmas or holiday trip, but it can actually be a great time of year to visit the area. There are hardly any tourists so you can enjoy the beauty of the beaches and waterways in peace.
Along with that, Myrtle Beach offers plenty of fun for all ages. You can visit the festival of trees at Ripley’s Aquarium, or you can head to Broadway at the Beach for their holiday-themed activities.
Another popular Grand Strand holiday event is the Night of a Thousand Candles at Brookgreen Gardens in Murrell’s Inlet. There are thousands of hand-lit candles for the aptly named Nights of a Thousand Candles, and it’s often voted as one of the best holiday events in the south and the country.
The Intracoastal Christmas Regatta takes place in nearby Little River, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The decorated boats head south and finish up at Dock Holiday’s Marina.
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville is an amazing mountain town in Western North Carolina, and it’s especially magical during the holiday season.
Staying at the Omni Grove Park Inn is one option. This luxury hotel features a yearly gingerbread house competition and plenty of decorations.
There’s also Christmas at Biltmore. During the holiday season, Biltmore is decorated much like it would have been when it was originally constructed as a wealthy vacation getaway. Biltmore at Christmas includes dozens of hand-decorated trees, including a 35-foot live Fraser fir in the Banquet Hall.
There are also poinsettias, live music, fresh garlands, and more.
During the holiday season, you can take a candlelight evening tour of the house, which features live music and choirs along with luminaries on the front lawn.
Beaufort, North Carolina
Beaufort is a small, coastal North Carolina town with a line-up of holiday activities throughout the month of December. The events kick off at the start of December with a Christmas street party. Shops stay open late, and there’s the Beaufort Tree Lighting Ceremony that takes place during this event.
The town hosts the annual Festival of Trees, and also at the start of December is the Light of the Christmas Boat Parade along the Beaufort River.
Dahlonega goes all out for Christmas with their “Old Fashioned Christmas” celebration. Located in North Georgia, this town has plenty of southern charm. Every November, they begin their Old-Fashioned Christmas celebration.
There are bed and breakfasts you can opt to stay in, and the town square is very walkable.
The Christmas celebrations start with a tree-lighting ceremony in the town square, and the town is so picturesque, especially during the holidays that they even film Hallmark movies here, including Christmas in Homestead.
The town of Grapevine, Texas, is referred to as the “Christmas Capital of Texas.” Grapevine boasts 1,400 Christmas events in 40 days, and there are millions of lights and decorations all around the town.
Historic Downtown Grapevine features Main Street where you can enjoy the decorations while doing some shopping. The Historic Palace Theater hosts many classic holiday movies as well as concerts. The North Pole Express is located at the Grapevine Vintage Railroad, and there’s the Grapevine Christmas Passport- Elf Adventure, which lets you get in on the holiday experience with hands-on activities.
Franklin, Tennessee is a town just a short drive from bustling Nashville. During the holidays, it becomes transformed into a wonderland that takes you back in time.
The signature holiday event in Franklin is called Dickens of a Christmas. During this celebration, downtown Franklin is transformed into something out of a Charles Dickens story.
The backdrop of Franklin’s Victorian architecture is perfect, and tens of thousands of people fill the streets.
This year will mark the 35th year of the celebration, and there will be carriage rides, vendors, and street performers. Many of the town’s residents even dress in Victorian-era clothing for the event.
If you’re looking for a true southern holiday experience, any one of these options may be great for you and your family this season.