America may enjoy all of its holidays, but Christmas is in a league of its own. As soon as there’s a chill in the air, cities around the country start to get a little more magical. But some cities really pull out the stops, doing all they can to sing out their Christmas cheer for all to hear.
We decided to look for those cities. Using search engine data, we found out which cities spent the most time looking for “Christmas trees,” “Christmas decorations,” “Christmas gifts,” and “Santa Claus” online. After calculating searches per capita we assigned points, added them up, and ranked the top 10. Here’s what we found:
While the temperatures in Atlanta rarely reach freezing, the city still has as much spirit as Santa’s workshop. Dogwood City topped our list with the most searches in every category.
If you are in Atlanta in December, visit Lenox Square to see the giant Christmas tree, the holiday parade, and the historical Pink Pig Christmas ride. Then there’s the Atlanta Botanical Garden. It’s gorgeous all year long, but becomes truly breathtaking when lit up with countless Christmas lights.
When your city is home to “the most magical place on Earth” you simply have to join in when the most wonderful time of the year comes around. Orlando came in at a close second, trailing only in searches for “Christmas decorations.” This isn’t to say that Orlando doesn’t put on its Christmas best when December comes along.
Disney World is Orlando’s biggest tourist attraction, but it’s far from the only one. Universal Studios Florida, Legoland and Seaworld all celebrate the Christmas spirit with holiday events.
You can’t deny Miami’s dedication to Christmas after seeing this truly epic holiday display in the Aventura Shopping Mall. The number three spot is also the second Floridian city on our list. Miami may be known for its beaches and warm weather, but their climate has only inspired them to put their all into their Christmas displays.
Santa’s Enchanted Forest is the place to find one of Miami’s most unique Christmas events. It’s a Christmas-themed fair where you can dunk funnel cakes in hot cocoa. The Main Street Festival of Lights is a more traditional favorite. It starts with the lighting of the city’s official Christmas tree and continues with a party that brings Miami together in celebration.
4. Washington DC
People don’t often associate the word “cheer” with the work that goes on in Washington DC, but citizens of the nation’s capital have plenty of goodwill in their hearts. Even the politicians put aside their differences when December 25th rolls around.
The most famous DC holiday event is definitely the National Christmas Tree Lighting, but there’s much more you can do in the city. Both kids and adults alike will love Zoo Lights, where the National Zoo is transformed for the season. The Zoo is filled with Christmas light sculptures, music performances, and stands selling Christmas snacks.
The third and final Florida city on our list is Tampa. Their favorite search was for “Christmas decorations” and it shows in the lights hanging across Tampa. The city’s name comes from a Calusa phrase meaning “Sticks of Fire,” and it’s appropriate. When Christmas comes around Tampa lights up like millions of tiny and colorful fires are burning across the city.
If you like theme parks you definitely have to check out Christmas Town at Busch Gardens. The park is redecorated and unique events are held to celebrate the season. Another popular event is the St. Pete Illuminated Boat Parade. Since Tampa has Florida’s biggest port, it only makes sense that the boats would get decked out too.
6. San Francisco
If San Francisco has a white Christmas it’s because the fog rolled in, but snow is the only sign of Christmas missing from the City by the Bay. The center of the celebration is Union Square, where the city’s Christmas tree is set up, and residents get a once-a-year chance to skate outdoors.
Just about every town holds a production of the Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol” as the holiday approaches, but the Bay Area takes things a step further. Don’t just watch the story, take a trip back to Victorian London at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair. There are few better ways to keep Christmas in your heart.
The city’s most common search was for “Christmas presents,” suggesting they understand it’s better to give than to receive.
If you’re in Pittsburgh and looking to buy a gift of your own, consider stopping by the People’s Gas Holiday Market. The Holiday Market is a celebration of the city’s European heritage. This is represented by the unique items on sale, as well as the cultural activities and performances at the event.
Denver is a city that loves its lights. When Christmas comes around residents put lights on their parades, their zoos, their gardens and even their government buildings.
Since Denver is home to one of the largest performing arts centers in the world it’s worth catching a show. You might have already attended performances of “The Nutcracker”, “A Christmas Carol”, or Handel’s “Messiah,” but witnessing any of these shows in one of Denver’s beautiful theaters gives them a whole new life.
Anyone looking to enjoy a white Christmas while getting their shopping done would do well to stop by Minneapolis. The city is home to the busiest mall in the country, the Mall of America. In addition to the usual shopping options, the mall also holds a holiday music festival.
The other holiday festival in Minneapolis is Holidazzle. The event runs on the weekends from after Thanksgiving until right before Christmas. Held in Loring Park, the festival includes family-friendly events and activities, including movies, music, food, and fireworks. It’s truly a party for the whole city.
It seems like Nashville is as passionate about Christmas as it is about Country music. It might be number 10 on our list, but the city still does an astounding job of making sure that visitors and locals alike get into the spirit of the season.
For another uniquely Nashville event, look up the Antebellum Mansions and Holiday tours. Guests can take any of several home tours showcasing 19th-century homes with historically accurate decorations. From December to January the Gaylord Opryland Resort puts on “A Country Christmas.” The festivities include music, ice skating, and even authentic snow tubing.
From White Snow To White Sand
When most people think about a “Christmas town” they imagine snow-covered streets, frosty windows and chestnuts roasting on an open fire. But our research shows that it doesn’t matter what the weather’s like outside. The fact that almost half of the states in our list are located in the South proves that. With high-scoring cities in the Northeast, West Coast, Midwest, and South it looks like Christmas spirit can find a home just about anywhere in America.
Even if it never snows where you live it’s still possible to add a touch of winter magic to your house. If you can’t import snow like the Opryland Hotel, the next best thing is sprucing up your home and kitchen with winter-themed décor. After all, everyone deserves a white Christmas, no matter what the weather’s like outside.