9 Small Georgia Towns That Are Magical at Christmas

Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/Getty Images

You need only watch a Hallmark movie to catch on: Christmas and small towns go together like hot cocoa and marshmallows. Venture to a quaint downtown, and you'll see how cobblestone streets turn gift-shopping into an adventure and twinkling lights make finding the perfect dress for the annual Christmas party seem trivial. Because, well, it's Christmas—and the season only lasts a handful of weeks, which small towns take to heart. Dress shopping can wait; creating memories can't.

These Georgia towns grant you permission to take a break from checking off your holiday to-do list and focus instead on making the first few weeks of December the best Christmas kickoff ever. Visit one of these jolly destinations to take a ride on a real-life Christmas train in the mountains, line up to watch a beachy parade comprised of decked-out golf carts, or mail a letter from Santa's Southern headquarters. These Christmas-crazy places know how to deck the halls and celebrate in true, over-the-top Southern fashion—and they don't even need snow to pull it off.

01 of 09

Dahlonega, Georgia

Carriage Ride in Dahlonega, GA
Robbie Caponetto

In case you missed our ode to Dahlonega's Old-Fashioned Christmas, it's time we introduce you to this small town that takes December 25th very seriously. Catching Dahlonega during Christmastime is like 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 Santa parade to a charming tree lighting.

02 of 09

Thomasville, Georgia

Nan Myers Owner of Firefly
Robbie Caponetto

We'll forewarn you: You just might 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. Prime time to tour is during the annual two-night Victorian Christmas celebration, when clusters of carolers dot the streets, real reindeer arrive, and a live nativity brings joy to adults and children alike.

03 of 09

Helen, Georgia

SeanPavonePhoto/Getty Images

If you've dreamt of visiting a Bavarian winter wonderland, this North Georgia town will give you a taste. Helen packs a lot of Christmas charm into its tiny two square miles: Think everything from a traditional Christkindlmarkt (a German holiday market) to the annual downtown parade. Because you can't miss Santa on his Bavarian sleigh, now can you?

04 of 09

Pine Mountain, Georgia

christmas georgia callaway fantasy in lights
Jim Dillard

If you've never heard of Christmas at Callaway, let's talk. Located in the little town of Pine Mountain, Callaway Gardens hosts what we like to call "the ultimate Christmas extravaganza." Throw snowballs in the Christmas Village, meet holiday characters up close, and ride through the dazzling illuminated forest (with eight million lights!). You'll fit right in with the sweater-swathed crowd craning their necks to catch every music-coordinated display. Make sure to stop by the market for a cup of hot cocoa afterward.

05 of 09

Santa Claus, Georgia

Santa Claus, Georgia

Oh, yes, you read that right. This town loves Christmas so much that it's named after jolly ol' Saint Nick himself. Even the streets are holiday-themed with names like Candy Cane Lane and Reindeer Street. Santa Claus, Georgia, is teeny-tiny with a population just below 200, but don't you dare underestimate its holiday enthusiasm. You'll find Santa's mailbox outside of the Santa Claus City Hall (located, of course, at 25 December Drive); letters receive a special Santa Claus postmark your kiddos will love.

06 of 09

Jekyll Island, Georgia

Jekyll Island, Georgia
Facebook/Jekyll Island

We'll take any excuse to head to the beach, especially when it means missing 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 Christmas parade consisting of decked-out golf carts, this coastal town isn't shy about its love for the holiday season. Prepare to marvel at the sprawling live oaks wrapped with white lights.

07 of 09

Blue Ridge, Georgia

Blue Ridge, Georgia
Facebook/Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

This mountain getaway has us asking one thing: This isn't where we get on the Polar Express? Because you could've fooled us. Take a one-hour holiday journey on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway's Santa Express. Your family will hear a Christmas story, sing carols, and visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus as they make their way through the train. Each child takes home a souvenir jingle bell—and memories to last a lifetime.

08 of 09

St. Simons Island, Georgia

Christ Church, Frederica on St. Simons Island
Facebook/Sea Island Resorts

Sometimes even Saint Nick needs a beach vacation. This Georgia barrier island will instantly get you in the spirit with its canopied oak trees dripping with Spanish moss and Christmas lights. Make the King and Prince Resort your headquarters (look for the gingerbread houses on display) as you visit historic spots around town: The stunning Christ Church, Frederica, dresses up for the season, while Sea Island, a nearly 100-year-old ritzy resort, hosts a "Reindog" Parade, featuring pups in their Christmas best.

09 of 09

Moultrie, Georgia

Moultrie, Georgia
Facebook/City of Moultrie

Off the beaten path, this tiny South Georgia town possesses a quiet charm that's never put on. But don't expect Moultrie to celebrate quietly: Down here, folks are crazy about Christmas and hold back nothing for the holidays. Walking around the old-timey town square, anchored by a courthouse, you'll feel the small-town magic: A canopy of twinkling lights extends from the courthouse in all directions, and the community gathers in the square to watch the annual lighting. Stake out a spot downtown for the Christmas parade, which dazzles with elaborate floats and a dizzying number of lights.

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