From the unique landscape of the Badlands to the majesty of Mount Rushmore, South Dakota offers many fabulous sights year-round. Additionally, visitors at Christmastime can also enjoy festive light displays and holiday celebrations. Imagine yourself strolling through beautifully decorated streets, while being serenaded by carolers, and then retiring to your South Dakota vacation rental for hot cocoa near the fire place. Take a look at these top South Dakota towns perfect for a spectacular Christmas getaway.

1. Pierre

Christmas time is a magical time it this state capital city. For a true taste of Christmas spirit, head to the Capitol building for Christmas in the Capitol, and wander among the nearly 100 decorated trees that adorn its halls. This event is open to the public daily throughout the holiday season, but try to visit on a weekend when carolers serenade you and holiday treats are available for your enjoyment. For a little Yule-time humor and some first class entertainment, make reservations for Pierre’s annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Party. Sponsored by the local chamber of commerce, this event is open to the public, and includes dinner and live entertainment as well as a prize for the best ugly sweater.

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2. Sioux Falls

For an especially festive holiday vacation, book a vacation rental in Sioux Falls. The city’s festivities start in late November with a gorgeous parade of lights featuring whimsical illuminated floats and then continue all through December when the city hosts a family-friendly First Night celebration on New Year’s Eve. Head downtown any weekend in December for wagon rides and visits with Santa. For a fabulous light display, take your family to Falls Park after dark. From mid-November to the first week in January, the park is lit up with thousands of glittering lights, and the falls themselves glow in alternating colors for an ever-changing cascade of beautiful watery light.

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3. Deadwood

Deadwood does Christmas right with fantastic decorations around every corner and spectacular entertainment at its many venues. If you love a great show, make reservations for the Christmas Spectacular at the Deadwood Mountain Grand. This show runs throughout late November and December and features big-name entertainers performing their holiday best. While you’re in town stop by the History and Heritage Center to see its historically decorated trees and learn more about the city’s gold rush history. Don’t forget to stop into the local shops, with stores, such as Deadwood’s Wild Bills Trading Post, Chubby Chipmunk Hand-dipped Chocolates, and Korczak’s Heritage, offering fabulous deals on Western attire, Native American art, vintage decor, and more.

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4. Watertown

Watertown offers something special for art lovers during the winter holiday season. The Redlin Art Center hosts a holiday extravaganza with sleigh rides, Christmas treats, and entertainment. Be sure to tour the museum’s extensive collection of American art while you’re there. Continue your celebration at the Holiday Festival of Trees perusing the decorated trees, wreaths, and ensembles displayed artistically in the Lake Area Technical Institute Student Center. While you’re in town, make reservations for breakfast with Santa and his reindeer at Bramble Park Zoo, and be sure to take a look at the town’s event schedule for the dates of the annual Christmas fireworks displays.

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5. Rapid City

Make Rapid City your Christmastime vacation destination, and be sure to book your vacation home for the date of the annual Parade of Lights. This dazzling parade travels down Main Street and Joseph Street with a seemingly endless stream of lighted floats, carriages, and vehicles. The highlight is a full-size locomotive covered with over 100,000 twinkling lights. The parade also includes marching bands, costumed characters, and animals in their holiday finery. If you miss the parade, there is still plenty to do in Rapid City during the holiday season. Head to Main Street Square for ice skating and hot cocoa while you enjoy the city’s many beautiful light displays. In mid-December, the annual Black Hills Cowboy Christmas concert and dance takes place at the Historic Homestake Opera House on Main Street with holiday music followed by a down-home country dance.

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6. Brookings

The Brookings Festival of Lights is sure to light up the eyes of your crew as they take in the displays. Early December kicks off the festival with an illuminated parade with floats constructed around a theme that changes yearly. Take a horse-drawn trolley ride, reminiscent of Christmas past, and tour the Festival of Trees at the Brookings Arts Council. If you have little ones, be sure to stop in at the Children’s Museum of South Dakota for cookie decorating and hot chocolate, and at Hitch Studio where the younger set can write and decorate letters to send to Santa at the North Pole. For more Christmas fun, spend an evening enjoying the garden glow at McCrory Gardens on the campus of South Dakota State University.

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7. Renner

For a country Christmas, settle into a cozy vacation rental in Renner to enjoy the peaceful surroundings and beautiful views. Add a little adventure to your Renner holiday stay with a trip to the Strawbale Winery for its December Twilight Flights events. Wine lovers are sure to enjoy the wine tasting and appetizer buffet that starts the evening, but the highlight of the evening is a helicopter flight to view area holiday lights. After your flight, there is more wine and a selection of decadent desserts to finish your evening. Twilight Flights are held the three weekends before Christmas and reservations are required. Children are welcome and provided with soft drinks at the buffet.

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