9 Small Towns in Georgia That Go All Out for Christmas
In case you missed our ode to Dahlonega's Old-Fashioned Christmas, it's time for a second glance. Catching this place during Christmastime is really something. You'll feel like you're stepping into a snow globe: The North Georgia town is draped in twinkling lights and flush with rambling horse-drawn carriages—and hosts a month-long celebration, featuring everything from a hometown parade to a charming tree lighting. See? Really something.
Be careful—you might just bring Thomasville's festive, old-fashioned charm back home for the holidays. Start walking within the quaint eight-block downtown area, and don't stop until you've hit every store and restaurant. They're all worth a visit and absolutely decked out for Christmas. Book a room at The Paxton, where you'll find trees in all the rooms and the common areas dressed up in a classic mix of citrus, greenery, cotton, and feathers.
If you've dreamt of a Bavarian winter wonderland, this North Georgia town will give you a taste. Helen packs a lot of Christmas charm into its tiny square mileage. (2.1 square miles, to be exact.) Think everything from a traditional Christkindlmarkt—a holiday market of sorts—to the annual downtown parade. Because you can't miss Santa on his Bavarian sleigh, now can you?
Pine Mountain, Georgia
If you've never heard of Christmas at Callaway, let's talk. Callaway Gardens, which you'll find in the small town of Pine Mountain, hosts what we like to call "the ultimate Christmas extravaganza." Make merry in the Christmas Village, meet holiday characters up close, and ride through the dazzling illuminated forest. You'll instantly fit right in with the rest of the sweater-swathed crowd craning their necks to catch every music-coordinated display.
Santa Claus, Georgia
Oh, yes, you read that right. This town loves Christmas so much that it's named after jolly 'ole Saint Nick himself. Santa Claus, Georgia, is, by all marks, teeny-tiny with a population hovering below 200. Not to mention, it fancies itself quite clever, with street names like December Drive and Reindeer Street. You'll find Santa's mailbox outside of the Santa Claus Post Office, which is a helpful tip for those traveling with little ones (with important letters to be delivered).
Jekyll Island, Georgia
We'll take any excuse to head to the beach, especially when getting to miss the spring and summer crowds. Enjoy the most festive time of year in Jekyll Island's historic district. With twinkling twilight tours, an ice-skating village, and a beachy Christmas parade lined with decked-out golf carts, this coastal town isn't shy about its love for the holiday season.
Blue Ridge, Georgia
This mountain getaway has us asking one thing: This isn't where we get on the Polar Express? Because you could've fooled us. Set out on a holiday journey by hopping on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway's Santa Express. Your family will hear a Christmas story, sing Christmas carols, meet Christmas characters, and visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus as they make their way through the train.
St. Simons Island, Georgia
Sometimes even Saint Nick needs a trip to the beach. This Georgia barrier island might seem like a dark horse winner, but it'll instantly get you in the spirit with its canopied oak trees dripping with Spanish moss (and Christmas lights!) and old-school Southern charm. Stay at the King and Prince, where you'll find gingerbread houses on display; and visit historic spots like the stunning Christ Church, Frederica, while it's dressed up for the season, and 90-year-old ritzy resort, The Cloister at Sea Island (where you can catch a "Reindog" Parade featuring pups in their Christmas best and an annual Yule Log Ceremony). But don't leave before indulging in the South's Best Barbecue Joint, Southern Soul Barbecue.
Off the beaten path, this tiny South Georgia town sits with a quiet charm that perhaps feels the most authentic. Down here, folks are crazy about Christmas and celebrate the only way they know: loud and proud. Walking around the old-timey town square, centered by a courthouse, you'll feel the small-town magic. A canapy of twinkling lights drape from the courthouse out in all directions, and the whole community gets together in the square to watch the annual lighting. (Anyone else getting Stars Hollow vibes?)