Delaware’s a quaint state nestled between Maryland and the Atlantic Ocean. It boasts a long history with charming Colonial-era towns, making it the ideal place for a little holiday relaxation. Experience lit-up downtown areas, interesting entertainment, and plenty of chilly New England weather to make your Christmas merry and bright. Book a stay at one of many vacation rentals in Delaware. Here are the top Christmas getaway locations in this picturesque state.

1. Rehoboth Beach

Rehoboth Beach combines the togetherness of a small town with its location on the Atlantic Coast for some unique Christmas entertainment. The fun begins with a Christmas tree lighting that brings out the entire town in participation. The boardwalk that runs along the beach becomes a magical gateway to the North Pole. Here you can find Santa’s house and light displays. Don’t miss out on the Hometown Parade or Winter WonderFEST. First, drive through the Light Spectacular in the Cape Henlopen State Park, made up of dozens of light displays, then stop for fun at the Christmas Village. Ice skate, visit Santa’s workshop, have fun on some carnival rides, and enjoy live music. You can even take part in the 5K run or two-mile walk.

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2. Wilmington

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Wilmington lies on the other end of Delaware, near Pennsylvania and New Jersey. One of the biggest vacation destinations is Hagley Museum, or Holidays at Hagleys during the Christmas season. The Hagley house is dressed up from head to toe in early 19th-century holiday splendor with Christmas decorations from the original owners. Walk through the rooms and learn not only about how people spent their time in the 1800s, but how they celebrated Christmas and Twelfth Night. Christmas events take place regularly at the museum, including Holiday Brunch and Wonders of Winter Camp, where your kids (and you) can learn about the science of snow. While in the history spirit, go to Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library, and see the giant dried flower Christmas tree. Wilmington boasts plenty of live entertainment, from the classic “A Christmas Carol” musical to an Irish Christmas in America.

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3. New Castle

old new castle courthouse
Source: Flickr/Ron Cogswell

New Castle takes the holidays seriously with The Spirit of Christmas, set up by the New Castle Historical Society in an effort to capture both the holidays and its colonial history through street theater, historic house tours, and other festivities. The event culminates at the Market Square, where you can purchase all sorts of holiday goodies and gifts while enjoying the tree lighting ceremony. Finish off your fun with the Dickens Experience, featuring an interactive “A Christmas Carol” play, carolers, and bell ringers that get you in the spirit.

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4. Odessa

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Odessa’s a small town with big Christmas cheer as seen in the annual Holiday Candlelight Tour. Tour the old houses of Historic Odessa, saving the Collins-Sharp House for last, where you end with refreshments. The Historic Odessa Foundation also puts on exhibits every Christmas based on scenes from literature. For instances, “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” is recreated in the Wilson-Warner House. The Storybook Trees exhibit, located in the Corbit-Sharp House, introduces literature in a unique way by decorating Christmas trees in themes from children’s books. Don’t forget to enjoy food and drink while in town. There’s a children’s Christmas tea, complete with treats and festive food demonstrations. The only catch is that these are festive foods popular in the 1800s.

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5. Hockessin

eleutherian mills hagley museum wilmington
Source: Flickr/Ron Cogswell

The Western Railroad Holiday, a museum on wheels, lies on the outskirts of Hockessin, where visitors can hop on for either the Lights Express or Santa Claus Express. The locomotive and antique Doodlebug railcar, decked out in 7,750 lights, take visitors along a stretch of track with well-lit houses, many decorated specifically to entertain passengers. The Santa Claus Express is a ride and a show, with the head honcho himself showing up to great kids, pass out treats, and pose for pictures.

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6. Milford

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Milford has one of the most strollable downtowns, making it the perfect place to visit when getting into the swing of the season. In fact, every year, it has a Holiday Stroll, a festival with strolling carolers dressed up in Victorian garb, horse-drawn carriage rides, and a visit from the famous North Pole couple, Mr. and Mrs. Claus. While exploring this historic river town draped in its holiday finest, check out some of the historic buildings, also dressed up. The Peter L. Lofland Home, located in the heart of the Holiday Stroll area on Walnut Street, is a Victorian house, at home among the Victorian Christmas decorations around town. There’s also the Causey Mansion, Parson Thorne Mansion, and Milford Museum.

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7. Dover

One of the bigger cities on the list, Dover still has that quaint, small-time vibe thanks to its rich Colonial history. That same history and long tradition gives it one of the most festive downtown areas. The Green, a park downtown surrounded by historical buildings such as the Old State House and the Johnson Victrola Museum, undergoes a Christmas makeover with decorations and lights. Santa visits, of course, and there are holiday crafts for the kids. Enjoy the free cocoa and cookies. The Holiday Cheer festival focuses on the historical part of the season with the Biggs Museum of American Art holiday celebration, which features kids’ crafting and performances. While the kids enjoy that, go to Good Cheer: 18th Century Tavern Life that features tavern food and drinks during the Colonial period.

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