Have you ever wondered what it would be like to celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem or the North Pole? How about in a town called Santa Claus? Ho-ho-hop in your sleigh with your holiday hound and tour these yuletide towns named after the most wonderful time of the year.
Posted by Billy Francis
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North Pole, AK
Thousands of letters are mailed to the man in the big red suit every Christmas, but do you ever wonder where they go? Wonder no more after you and Santa’s Little Helper visit the Alaskan town of North Pole. A featured destination in the 2021 edition of our Ruff Guide to the United States, this holiday-themed village just 20 minutes from Fairbanks allows you and your pup to view the World’s Largest Santa outside the Santa Claus House. Next door to St. Nick’s workshop, you’ll find Antler Academy, where your fur child can get a good look at the resident reindeer from a safe distance. Take a walk through town along candy cane painted streets, stop for a photo op on Santa’s sleigh, and, if Fido has been a good boy this year, he may even get to visit with Kris Kringle himself! There are no admission fees to tour this winter wonderland. When you are ready to leave, ask one of the elves to point you in the direction of the North Pole Dog Park, where your pup can have some off-leash fun.
Keep in the holiday spirit with a stay at the Hotel North Pole, where a crackling fire and Christmas decorations help spread the cheer to two- and four-legged guests. Fido is welcome in ground-floor rooms, providing easy access for early morning and late night walks. The hotel is just steps away from the Santa Claus House and the North Pole Plaza, where you’ll find convenient shops and restaurants.
Santa Claus, IN
In 1856, the townsfolk of Santa Claus, IN, had a decision to make. The proposed town name of Santa Fe was already taken. On Christmas Eve, at a town meeting to discuss a new name, the door swung open and a child announced “It’s Santa Claus,” or so the tale goes. Although the city isn’t as prosperous as it was when it boasted three different amusement parks dedicated to Christmas (only Holiday World remains), there are still gems worth checking out. Take Fido to visit the World's Oldest Santa Statue, the only remaining artifact from Santa Land, built in 1935.
Treat your little elf to a stay at this cozy cabin at Patoka Lake in nearby Birdseye, IN. This cozy and secluded Airbnb is a perfect winter getaway.
Spend Christmas in Christmas with Fido. What started life as a factory for making festive ornaments and decorations has grown into a small community that makes merry throughout the year. Pose for a picture next to a 35-foot-tall Santa Claus adjacent to his workshop, which closed due to elf and safety issues. After securing the photo for your next Christmas card, take a stroll on Munising Falls Trail together. This pretty path leads to a nice waterfall, and you can enjoy the beauty of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore along the way.
Stay the night in this miniature cabin fit for an elf in Au Train. Don’t forget your s’mores ingredients to roast on the fire pit.
Located at the opposite end of Christmas, MI, Holly is a seriously jolly destination. Starting at the end of November, dress your dog up as Bullseye, Bill Sikes’ dog in “Oliver Twist,” and attend the annual Holly Dickens Festival. The event is the oldest Dickens Festival in the United States. Wrap Tiny Tim up in his warmest sweater and enjoy a light parade, Santa Claus photos, Yule eats and treats, fun activities and reenacted scenes from the greatest Christmas story of them all, “A Christmas Carol.”
After a busy day in Victorian times, retreat to a recently renovated Lakefront Horse Farm. This Grooms Cabin boasts an exquisite interior in secluded surroundings, making it ideal for a family Christmas vacation.
Christmas Cove, ME
Disney fans will recognize the name John Smith from “Pocahontas.” Believe it or not, leading man Smith was a real-life explorer. Around Christmastime in 1614, he was said to have given Christmas Cove its name while he was moored there. Today, you can explore this quaint coastal town with your intrepid pooch. The pebbly terrain of Christmas Cove Beach is a common sight in Maine, but it doesn’t make the beach any less inviting. Staring out over the wintry waters like Smith and his crew, the world is Fido’s oyster.
Hang with your Husky in the hammock of this cute cottage in the woods. Walk to the water together and catch the sunset.
Like Mary and her trusty donkey, travel with your four-legged friend to Bethlehem this Christmas. The town was named by the German Moravian Brethren on Christmas Eve, 1741. Just four years later, the church founded the Moravian Book Shop, the oldest bookstore in America and the oldest continuously operating bookstore in the world. Is there anywhere cozier than a pet-friendly bookshop around Christmastime?
When there’s no room at the inn, stay at the Sonesta ES Suites Allentown Bethlehem instead. This affordable hotel has everything the weary traveler needs for a comfortable stay.
Garland is a Christmas city that plays host to a bounty of happenings during the festive season. Hollywood Feed, a popular local pet store, invites Fido to get his photo taken with Santa himself on select dates.
Cap your Garland trip off with a night at the pet-friendly La Quinta Inn & Suites Garland Harbor Point. The hotel has a grassy field next door, perfect for late-night bathroom breaks.
Santa Claus, GA
It’s hard to believe that there’s more than one Santa Claus. We’re talking pet-friendly towns, not jolly round gentleman. The name came from a peeved pecan farmer named C.G. Greene. Tired of people driving by his stall without purchasing his precious pecans, he chose the name to make them stop and look around. Nowadays, you’ll find much more than pecans in this little city. Don Fido’s festive apparel for a photo in front of the City Hall of Santa Claus and streets like Candy Cane Road, December Drive, Rudolph Way and Sleigh Street.
While you’re in the area, take a trip to the charming coastal city of Savannah. Spend the night with your furry elf at Residence Inn by Marriott Downtown Savannah near the historic district, and check out our guide to the pet-friendly activities you can enjoy while you’re there.
Noel is inundated with requests for stamps at Christmastime. The post office is always happy to oblige if supplies don’t run out. If the weather outside is frightful, sightseeing from the car can be delightful. The Christmas City: Anderson to Noel scenic drive is just the ticket. This journey features views of Elk River, Indian Creek Roadside Park, Mt. Shira Stream, the town of Noel, and impressive overhanging bluffs. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for frozen waterfalls in the limestone.
This secluded cabin is an adventurer’s retreat. Huddle up around the fire pit and share Christmas stories with your best friend.
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