If you’re craving a snowy ambiance illuminated by colorful light displays, then Minnesota is the place to go. Enjoy the winter wonderland and storefront displays in Duluth, or drive through Eden Prairie to listen to your favorite holiday tunes synchronized with flashing lights. Spend your days sipping on hot cocoa while shopping at the Twin Cities’ downtown areas. During the evening, admire the lights of Santa’s Workshop in Mankato. Book a stay at a Minnesota vacation rental during the holiday season for an unforgettable getaway. Check out these cities in Minnesota featuring impressive light displays and Christmas-themed activities.

1. Eden Prairie

The residents of Eden Prairie go all out during the holiday season with residential displays synchronized to music on the local FM station. Target the areas of George Morgan Drive and Donegal Cove to see the rows of houses lit up with Christmas lights and extravagant displays of deer and Santa’s elves. All proceeds donated to the volunteers lining the streets benefit the nearby Ronald McDonald House.

After the amazing light show, satisfy your hunger with woodfire pizza at Punch Pizza, or dine on steak and seafood at Wildfire. This small town also offers attractions to keep you and the kids entertained during your holiday stay with the local Wings of the North Air Museum inside the city limits. Take the kids to a holiday-themed event at the AirMaxx Trampoline Park and Fun Center, or get in some retail therapy at the Eden Prairie Mall.

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2. Mankato

Book a vacation rental in Mankato during the holidays, and enjoy the large crowds that gather at the Kiwanis light show in Mankato each year. This extensive holiday display and light show estimates nearly 180,000 visitors to wander through Sibley Park to see tens of thousands of lights. Local food and craft vendors are on site to help fill your bellies and gather the perfect gifts for your family. Let the kids visit with Santa during weeknight evenings or all day on the weekends at this light show.

Thrill the kids with a trip to the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota to see the holiday decorations and test out the interactive exhibits, or reserve tickets for a performance by the Mankato Symphony Orchestra to hear your favorite Christmas medleys.

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3. Twin Cities – Minneapolis and Saint Paul

With more than 60 light displays often described as whimsical and wintery, St. Paul has become a popular vacation destination for the holidays. Beginning in late November, St. Paul’s Phalen Park comes alive with twinkling lights, live reindeer, and plenty of tourists who make the drive through this holiday extravaganza.

With a vacation rental in the St. Paul or the Minneapolis Twin City area, you have access to festivals, such as the Folkways of the Holidays that features live entertainment, along with horse-drawn trolley rides, and displays of ethnic holiday traditions right along the Minnesota River. The Union Depot transforms into a European Christmas market in December where locals host booths and shops with handmade gifts. Let the kids visit Santa in a unique way when you stop by the Canadian Pacific Railroad’s Holiday Train. When planning your trip for early December, don’t miss out on the fireworks and ceremonial tree lighting at the Union Depot in St. Paul.

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4. Shakopee

For a small town atmosphere with big city lights, plan your next holiday vacation in Shakopee. This city is home to the Shakopee Winter Wonderland where the downtown area is lit up with thousands of lights and a path that leads to Santa. Beginning the weekend after Thanksgiving, tourists and locals spend their days shopping the craft vendor booths and sipping on sweet treats before the lights start to twinkle above at dusk.

Stroll through the displays at Canterbury Park or check out the horse-themed decor at the Canterbury Downs Horse Racing Track before retreating to your warm and cozy vacation rental to escape the cold temperatures. You can also warm up and keep the kids entertained with a visit to Jumps and Downs, an interactive activity center in the heart of Shakopee.

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5. Duluth

The cozy city of Duluth is comparable to a winter wonderland when December rolls around each year. The Duluth Winter Village is decked out in thousands of lights that surround the local shops and downtown streets. However, you can’t miss the lights and the action at the AMSOIL Duluth National Snocross in late November. Watch as the athletes begin racing season under the lights at this annual snowmobile race.

Indoor light displays give you a chance to warm up and see the creativity of the locals on the Glensheen Christmas Tour that leads you through mansions lit up and decked out with more than 20 trees. Time your trip to mid-November to see the Christmas City of the North Parade, complete with lighted floats and Santa Claus. The lights are also aglow on board the Christmas City Express Train of the North Shore Scenic Railroad. Sign up for a ride where the narrators read the Christmas City Express story and carolers serenade you from cars decorated with thousands of lights.

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