Need a little Christmas? 8 places that feel like a holiday movie

Dec 25, 2021

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When I wrote my first Hallmark movie Christmas Camp it was inspired by several charming towns I’d visited doing my Travel Therapy TV segments and one magical historic home, the Quartermain House B&B in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.

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As I went on to write more Christmas movies for Netflix, Hallmark, and Lifetime, I continued to draw from the places I had visited that brought me such comfort and joy, like a hug from an old friend. I think now more than ever we all need to feel that same boost of positivity and uplifting escape so why not visit the destinations that can give us the same warm and fuzzy vibe all winter long?

Here are my eight favorite places to visit where you can feel like you’re starring in your own Christmas movie.

In This Post

Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada

Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, Quartermain House B&B. (Photo courtesy Quartermain House B&B)
Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, Quartermain House B&B. (Photo courtesy Quartermain House B&B)

On my first visit to Fredericton, the capital of beautiful New Brunswick in eastern Canada, which runs along the Saint John River, I was immediately captivated by this quaint, artsy city.

Fredericton is known for its rich history, culture, music, unique local shops, restaurants and bars, and nature.  The city says you’ll find more trees in Fredericton, aka, ‘Forest City, than anywhere in Canada turning Fredericton into what looks like a magical Christmas movie set as soon as the snow starts to fall.

Where to Stay: Voted one of the best B&Bs in North America the Quartermain House B&B is just like stepping into a Hallmark movie. When I wrote my first script Christmas Camp I remembered my special stay at Debra Quartermain’s B&B where her whimsical historic home, warm welcome and delicious cooking had my heart from the moment I arrived.

Don’t Miss: A visit to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, one of Canada’s best art museums.

Insider Tip: If fiddleheads are on the menu order them. This edible fern top is a delicious local culinary gem.

Closest Airport: Fredericton Airport (YFC) is right outside the city. Other nearby airports include Saint John (YSJ) and Moncton (YQM). You’ll find the most flight options on Air Canada and United Airlines.

Leavenworth, Washington

Leavenworth, WA (Photo by Connie Coleman)
Leavenworth, WA (Photo by Connie Coleman)

I grew up in Washington State so a trip to the small Bavarian-style Alpine village of Leavenworth at Christmas was always on my wish list. The dreamlike gazebo inspired the cover for my Finding Christmas novel. Leavenworth’s many unique shops, art galleries, and restaurants bring all the Christmas cheer. With more than a half-million Christmas lights, this Northwest gem is sure to spark your Christmas spirit.

Where to Stay: The Bavarian Lodge and Icicle Village are popular picks and there are cabin rentals throughout the area if you’re looking for extra space,

Don’t Miss: The Nutcracker Museum with more than 7000 nutcrackers.

Insider Tip: Download the event guide on Leavenworth’s website to make sure you don’t miss any of the festive fun.

Closest Airport: The closest major airport is Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and then it’s about a two-and-a-half-hour drive in the Cascade Range up to Leavenworth.

Quebec City, Canada

Old Quebec in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. (Photo credit: Gaelle Leroyer)
Old Quebec in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.(Photo credit: Gaelle Leroyer)

Quebec City will remind you of those royal romance Christmas movies that always top the ratings. Old Quebec is a 400-year-old UNESCO world heritage treasure with its charming cobblestoned streets, boutiques, and bistros that helped inspire the two royal rom-com’s I wrote, Netflix’s A Christmas Prince and my latest novel A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale.

Related: 5 small Canadian towns where you can use your points

Where to Stay: I felt like a princess staying at the five-star Chateau Frontenac that looks like a majestic castle and is consistently rated one of the top hotels in Canada.

Don’t Miss: The shops and street vendors rolling up maple taffy on ice its unique to Quebec City.

Insider Tip: Have an authentic meal of local cuisine at Aux Anciens Canadiens that’s located in one of the oldest buildings in Quebec City.

Closest Airport: Quebec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB) is about six miles outside the city. It’s only an hour-and-a-half hour flight to Quebec City from New York City or Toronto.

Redding, California

Redding Garden of Lights in Redding, California (Photo credit: Seth McGaha)
Redding Garden of Lights in Redding, California (Photo credit: Seth McGaha)

In Redding, California, they’re all about celebrating romance in the same kind of enchanting settings Hallmark Christmas movies are celebrated for. At the dazzling Redding Garden of Lights, the Sheraton Redding Hotel at Sundial Bridge has brought in renowned artist Tres Fromme to use more than one million twinkle lights to create stunning festive displays covering ten acres. Some highlights, the Candy Cane Causeway covered with red, green, and white lights where machines pump in the mouthwatering scent of peppermint for an immersive experience and the reindeer encounters.

Where to Stay: Stay in the heart of where all the action is at the Sheraton Redding Hotel at Sundial Bridge where there are several overnight hotel packages and Marriott Bonvoy Moments.

Don’t Miss: The Polar Pathway, featuring a super cool thirty-foot wide illuminated igloo and a snowy pathway to explore.

Insider Tip: The Holiday Village is a great place to pick up some delicious food, artisanal snacks, and s’mores.

Closest Airport: For international airports, Sacramento (SMF) is 154 miles, Oakland (OAK) is 220 miles and San Francisco (SFO) is 228 miles.

Sun Valley, Idaho

Sun Valley, Idaho. (Photo from Visit Sun Valley / Travis Amick)
Sun Valley, Idaho. (Photo from Visit Sun Valley / Travis Amick)

For one of my first jobs as a TV reporter, I worked at KMVT-TV in Twin Falls, Idaho, and the resort town of Sun Valley was my beloved winter skiing escape. Made famous by Hollywood’s elite, Sun Valley is a superstar without the attitude. The romantic sleigh ride from the Sun Valley Inn to the Trail Creek Cabin for dinner is an all-time favorite experience that I can’t wait to include in an upcoming movie I’m working on.

Related: Overlooked ski resorts

Where to Stay: Stay in the legendary, newly renovated, Sun Valley Lodge, a favorite of writer Ernest Hemingway.

Related: A wellness trip through the northwest

Don’t Miss: The Sawtooth Botanical Garden where there’s a prayer wheel blessed by the Dalai Lama.

Insider Tip: If you like unique cocktails try Duchin Lounge for drinks like the Jack Winter Sour made with Jack Daniels whiskey, cranberry-cinnamon simple syrup, Becherovka liqueur, fresh lemon and orange juice, and egg whites.

Closest Airport: Sun Valley’s closest major airports are Boise (BOI) and Salt Lake City (SLC). You can find nonstop flights from 6 major cities including Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Denver, and Chicago.

Related: Why you should visit Twin Falls, Idaho

Park City, Utah

Park City, Utah, Main Street. (Photo by Jason Cameron)
Park City, Utah, Main Street. (Photo by Jason Cameron)

When I lived in Salt Lake City, I visited Park City as much as possible because I loved the city’s authentic charm and its two world-class ski resorts. The city’s Snowfest celebration is Christmas movie gold with ice sculptures, music and carolers, and Santa making his appearance riding on the town’s ski lift.

Where to Stay: For a ski-in, ski-out property the luxurious Grand Summit Hotel is a fabulous choice. If you’re traveling with your family or friends the Apex residences in Park City will help you find the vacation rental that’s right for you.

Related Top ski-friendly points hotels

Don’t Miss: Spend some time on Main Street that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places where you’ll find some unique local shops, restaurants, bars, and art galleries.

Insider Tip: If you’ve always wanted to try dog sledding this is your place. Park City has several companies with some furry four-legged rock stars that are ready to take you on the ride of a lifetime. Mush! Mush!

Related: These destinations are the next wellness hot spots

Closest Airport: Salt Lake City (SLC) is the closest airport and is just under 30 miles away from Park City.

Paris

'Le Printemps Haussmann' department store, Paris. (Photo by Chesnot)
‘Le Printemps Haussmann’ department store, Paris. (Photo by Chesnot)

I’ve spent the holidays in Paris and I’ve seen first-hand how this dreamy ‘City of Lights’ is illuminated even more during the holidays making it feel like one of the most romantic cities in the world. From the famed Christmas markets to the lovely nativity scenes at the city’s historic churches, Paris embraces Christmas with an exuberant joie de vivre that our favorite holiday movies are famous for.

Related: Paris in the winter

Where to Stay: The award-winning Dorchester Collection’s Paris properties, Le Meurice and Hôtel Plaza Athenee are always my top hotel pick when you’re looking for world-class hospitality and cuisine, in a gorgeous Christmas setting.

Don’t Miss: The breathtaking Christmas lights and holiday display along the Avenue des Champs-Elysees, Avenue Montaigne, in the Montmartre district and at Bercy Village.

Insider Tip: Indulge and relax with a special Christmas tea at Le Meurice where you can sip champagne while enjoying French pastry chef Cedric Grolet’s glazed chestnuts, gingerbread, truffles, and sugar and cinnamon brioche.

Related: The best ways to get to Paris using miles and points

Closest Airport: Orly (ORY) is the closest airport to Paris, just 8-miles away. Charles De Gaulle (CDG) is the main airport and is 14-miles from Paris. It is also the busiest airport in France.

Related: 11 things I learned going to Paris

New York City

Rockefeller Center at Christmas. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
Rockefeller Center at Christmas. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

I’ve lived in New York City for the last fourteen years and it will always have my heart at Christmas and I’m not alone. Millions of visitors come to see Manhattan’s spectacular Christmas decorations with a highlight being the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. Skating at this magical ice rink always makes me feel like I’m in a Christmas movie and that anything is possible at Christmas.

Where to Stay: For a phenomenal festive view of Central Park, the Mandarin Oriental is one of my favorite places to stay where the award-winning spa is just what you need to unwind during the hectic holiday season.

Related: Best NYC hotels for every type of traveler

Don’t Miss: The New York Botanical Garden Glow where you can explore this sensational setting that’s all lit up for the holidays while enjoying live music and fun holiday-themed food and drinks.

Insider Tip: If you love Christmas lights go to the Dyker Heights neighborhood where you’ll be blown away by the millions of lights decorating all the houses.

Closest Airport: New York La Guardia (LGA) is just about five miles from the city. Other nearby airports are John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).

Other options to get you in the spirit

If you’re looking for even more magical places to visit that feel like you’re walking into one of your favorite Christmas movies you can do a little research and find out where those movies were filmed. Movie locations are often mentioned in the show’s credits and movie databases like IMDB.

Related: Famous holiday movie destinations

A Google deep dive will show you that many holiday movies are shot in Canada, especially in Vancouver, British Columbia, known as “Hollywood North.” But before you pack your bags and go searching for hot chocolate and romance make sure the places you’ve found where the movies were shot actually have the real-life things you’re looking for and weren’t just brought in as part of the movie sets. For more festive fun, make a list of places in your community that have elements that feel like they’re Christmas movie-worthy and create your own holiday staycation.

Featured image of Rockefeller Center at Christmas by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images.

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