Michigan boasts pristine Great Lakes shoreline, world-class Upper Peninsula snow conditions, and spectacular pine forests. This gorgeous state is tailor-made for a classic Christmas getaway. Whether you’re looking for a symphony Christmas concert in Detroit or a moonlit snowshoe in the Keweenaw Peninsula, Michigan welcomes you with a friendly Midwestern attitude and plenty of one-of-a-kind holiday gatherings. As you plan your holiday trip, look for Michigan vacation rentals in these Christmas-loving Michigan cities.
1. Mackinac Island
Step back in time for an old-world Christmas on Mackinac Island, which HGTV named “One of the Top Ten Christmas Towns in America.” This postcard-perfect island prohibits cars, so you can get into the holiday spirit immediately with a ride to your vacation rentals on a horse-drawn sleigh. Then, enjoy a stroll past historic homes decked with evergreen and lights to the annual Mackinac Island Christmas Bazaar. Head to Main Street to watch the tree-lighting ceremony, and participate in the Christmas carol singalong. During the day, do as the locals do and explore the island on snowshoes or cross-country skis. Feel like you’re walking through a storybook with a nighttime walk along Main Street in the dark as the snow falls silently and Christmas lights glow in the windows of Victorian cottages.
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One of Lower Michigan’s favorite Christmas vacation destinations, Dearborn is a delight for everyone in the family. Here, the holiday season revolves around Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village, a month-long event at the Henry Ford Museum. Each year, this charming village turns into a festive wonderland. Enjoy roasted chestnuts by a bonfire as carolers sing Christmas songs, follow lantern-lit paths to visit Santa and his reindeer, or try ice skating on an outdoor rink. When you’re tired of walking, hop into a horse-drawn wagon and sing carols as you ride through town. At the end of the evening, watch fireworks light up the sky. In downtown Dearborn, keep the holiday spirit going with the family-friendly Christmas Celebration at The Arab American National Museum, or attend the Pop-Up Holiday Gala and Auction.
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Put a Dutch spin on Christmas in Holland, where you can come face to face with the Netherlands’ version of Santa, Sinterklaas. Don’t miss the Sinterklaas Eve procession as it parades through downtown. Afterward, join the locals in a tree-lighting ceremony. For a European-inspired Christmas experience, sip mulled wine as you shop the Holiday Kerstmarkt, and watch bands and floats in the Holland Parade of Lights. At the Cappon House, you can explore a historic Victorian home and marvel at the spectacular holiday decorations. All through December, bring the kids to Santa’s House in downtown Holland.
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Frankenmuth celebrates Christmas year-round, thanks to Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland, the largest Christmas store in the world. In December, the rest of the town joins in the fun with over-the-top decorations for the Holiday Celebration and Candlewalk. Browse local artisan goods at the Christkindlmart, and sip a hot cocoa as you stroll past the Bavarian-inspired downtown shops. On select Saturdays, stop in to Zehnder’s Restaurant to have breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus, or drop by Bronner’s for a photo with Santa.
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Detroit, with its newly revitalized downtown, is a beautiful place to spend the holidays. Start your trip with an outdoor ice skating experience at Campus Martius Park; in the evening, the trees around the rink glow with lights, and an enormous Christmas tree adds an extra touch of magic. Walk under awe-inspiring LED light displays at the Detroit Zoo’s Wild Lights, and stay for holiday crafts, caroling, and Christmas storytelling. On weekends, your family can have dinner or breakfast with Santa at the zoo. If you’re looking for cultural events, attend the Detroit Concert Choir’s Christmas concert, watch a holiday touring show at the Fox Theatre, or attend the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Home for the Holidays extravaganza.
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Charlevoix, which is tucked between Lake Charlevoix and Lake Michigan, turns into a veritable wonderland each December as lake-effect snows blanket the hillsides and sunlight glints off the cool blue water. Christmas in this beautiful village is a friendly, community-focused affair. During the annual Holiday Parade, locals gather to sing along with carolers, watch dramatically lit floats, and greet Santa as he rolls into town. Afterward, you can sip cocoa and sing Christmas songs at the community tree lighting. Each weekend, downtown comes alive at the Merchant’s Holiday Open House, which features cookies and visits with Santa. During the day, snowshoe along the shores of Lake Michigan, or make the short drive to Boyne Mountain Resort for skiing and snowboarding.
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If your idea of the perfect Christmas vacation includes snow sports, miles of silent pine forests, and watching the northern lights on the shores of Lake Superior, head for Houghton. Located in the northern tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, this charming town is perfect for travelers who want to get off the beaten path. During the day, make the most of the area’s heavy snowfall by downhill skiing at Mt. Ripley and cross-country skiing at Michigan Technological University’s Tech Trails. In the evening, attend the Keweenaw Symphony’s annual Christmas concert, or participate in the annual Christmas Parade and pay a visit to Santa in neighboring Hancock. If you’re still searching for presents, shop for handmade items at the Holiday Craft Fair in Calumet, which lies 10 minutes to the north. After a day in the snow, pull up a couch near the fire at the Keweenaw Brewing Company and chat with the locals as you enjoy a locally made craft beer under twinkling Christmas lights.
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