Though New York becomes its own magical holiday wonderland throughout November and December, it’s fun to travel to some smaller towns and pretend you’ve hopped on Santa’s sleigh and taken a visit to the North Pole.
Here are 8 options for adorable Christmas Towns near NYC that we found — yes, the exact places you can just imagine a cheesy Hallmark movie taking place!
1. Bethlehem, PA
Did you know the country’s most Christmassy city is only an hour and a half from NYC? Home of the first-ever Christmas tree in the United States in 1747, now this perfectly-named eastern PA city has fully embraced its holiday history, becoming a popular destination every single year. Read more about “Christmas City USA” here.
Distance from NYC: 1 hr 45 min by car
2. Rhineback, NY
This historic town in upstate New York is the perfect place to get in the holiday spirit! Their annual Sinterklaas Festival — a Dutch tradition that features children’s workshops, dance, theatre and music all over the village of Rhinebeck, plus a giant puppet parade at night — is coming up on December 3. Plus, there are tons of beautiful decorations on the streets, decked-out places to eat, and lovely shops to get all your needed gifts. See more about it here.
Distance from NYC: 1 hr 45 min by train (Metro-North), 2 hr 20 min by car
3. New Hope, PA
This little town right near the New Jersey/Pennsylvania border is an artistic haven with tons of galleries, markets and more (there’s even a giant Arts & Crafts festival each September!). For the holiday season the true must-visit is Peddler’s Village within the city, offering 65 specialty shops and boutiques, and 1 million Christmas Lights lighting the way through the village. There’s even a special North Pole Express Train ride on the New Hope Railroad, and a giant gingerbread competition & display!
Distance from NYC: 1 hr 35 min by car
4. Cape May, NJ
Though this beach town is known more for its summer haunts, it’s quite quaint during the holiday season! There are holiday-themed trolley rides, tree lightings, and an outdoor shopping village and concert series at their Congress Hall in the center of town. See details on their website here.
Distance from NYC: 2 hr 45 minutes by car
5. Kingston, NY
This Catskills town that is also accessible via Metro-North is perfect for a holiday getaway from the big city. They host a Snowflake Festival every year (this year’s is December 3), and have tons of Christmassy events like the Polar Express train ride to the “North Pole,” a holiday makers market featuring 60+ artists, and more! Plus the village itself looks adorable.
Distance from NYC: 2 hr 15 min by car, 2 hr 45 min by train
6. Bernville, PA
The main feature of this rural Pennsylvania town is the completely and utterly magical Koziar’s Christmas Village. What began as a tradition in 1948 now spans three generations of the same family, and welcomes thousands of visitors from all over. Tucked into a valley is a brilliant and bright Christmas town covered in over 1 million lights, adorning buildings, gift barns, and landscapes.
It’s open rain or shine every night and is celebrating its 75th year this year. Find more exact hours and more about how to visit on their website here.
Distance from NYC: 2 and half hours driving
7. Beacon, NY
This artsy town located right under Beacon Mountain is great for a quick day getaway from the city (and you can get there without a car). It’s so charming around Christmas time as you see the mountain tops from town, with wreaths and lights adorning the quaint lamp posts. There are also tons of shops for last-minute gifts, and lots of events from breakfast with Santa, holiday craft fairs, and holiday gallery shows. Check out A Little Beacon Blog for more insights.
Distance from NYC: 1 hour 30 minutes driving, about 2 hours via train on Metro North
8. Corning, NY
Though a bit far from NYC, it would still make a nice weekend getaway (and hey, you could split up the driving by stopping at another one of the cities on the way — making a holiday road trip!). It was actually named one of the top Christmas towns in the entire country by Country Living magazine, for its various events like the Parade of Lights, the “Sparkle” festival, and the completely illuminated Gaffer District complete with a massive Christmas tree decked out with hand-blown glass ornaments. The town itself described it as “shak[ing] a snow globe and marvel[ing] at the magical scene within of snow swirling around a winter wonderland” as what it feels like to stroll through the Gaffer District.
Distance from NYC: 4 hours driving