Virginia’s Favorite Christmas Towns

by Casey Higgins | Posted: Dec 10, 2014 | Updated: Nov 17, 2016

Comments: 29 Comments


Do you ever get lost in the art of Norman Rockwell, Currier and Ives, or maybe Virginia’s own P. Buckley Moss? The scenes of snow-covered streets, candles in windows, and families in sleighs have always given me a warm and fuzzy “this is what Christmas should be like” kind of feeling. To that end, I set out to find some Virginia towns and cities that really “do it up” for the season and give off the same vibe, just in case you were searching for that kind of nostalgic feeling, too.



“While the Town of Fincastle decorates with wreaths and such as so many other towns do, one thing they do that I feel is unique is that they also string the large retro Christmas lights across the streets. With it being a historic, quaint town, it really looks like a Norman Rockwell photo.” – Lisa M.

My favorite as a child was Fincastle. The huge colored light bulbs that they would string across the streets were, for me, so much more enchanting than any other place decorated twice as much.” – Cathy S.

If You Go

Stay – Fincastle Vineyard Bed & Breakfast

Eat – Greenwood Family Restaurant * Pomegranate Restaurant & Gathering Place

Don’t Miss – Holiday Home Tour



“Reminiscent of a simpler time, dozens of independent boutiques welcome you with greenery at their doorsteps, offering everything from chic fashions and home décor to classic toys and gifts for dogs. Duck into cozy cafés and chef-driven restaurants tucked into 18th-century buildings to warm up with loved ones and good cheer. Under a canopy of sparkling lights, a stroll on historic King Street is like being in a real-life Dickens Village, complete with European flair. Named a Top 10 Christmas Town by HGTV, Alexandria offers an authentic holiday experience – the way it was meant to be.” – Val P.

If You Go

Stay – Lorien Hotel & Spa * Hilton Alexandria Old Town * Many More Options

Eat – Restaurant Eve * Vermilion Restaurant

Don’t Miss –  First Night Alexandria



Small town charm wrapped up in a bow.  The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is alive with wintering and migrating waterfowl either passing through or coming in for the season. Snow geese are here, along with buffleheads, swans, coots, mergansers, and others.  Chincoteague art galleries are filled with one-of-a-kind creations by local artisans.  Dining pleasures on every corner with delectable Chincoteague Salt oysters as the main attraction.” – Evelyn S.

If You Go

Stay – Hampton Inn & Suites * Channel Bass Inn B&B

Eat – Don’s Seafood * AJ’s on the Creek

Don’t Miss – Onancock Christmas Homes Tour * New Year’s Eve Pony Island Horseshoe Drop



Abingdon is your picturesque small town at the holidays. The streets are lined with lights, the light poles are wrapped with garland and there are wreaths in abundance. Barter Theatre has their annual holiday shows playing that get everyone in the Christmas spirit. Stay at The Martha and cozy up by their fireplace all decorated with some hot chocolate.” – Tenille M.

If You Go

Stay – The Martha Hotel & Spa * Copper Lantern Inn * More Options

Eat – The Tavern * Ellis Soda Shoppe & Grill

Don’t Miss – Holiday Performances at Barter Theatre * Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Center



Known as the entrance to Skyline Drive and the “Canoe Capital of Virginia,” Front Royal is often overlooked as a beautiful small town. The photos below clearly show off this Shenandoah Valley destination seeped in history.

If You Go

Stay – Killahevlin * Holiday Inn & Suites Blue Ridge Shadows * More Options

Eat – Houlihan’s Restaurant + Bar * L’Dees Pancake House

Don’t Miss – Skyline Caverns * Belle Boyd Cottage



“I love Old Town Manassas, a Virginia Main Street Community all lit up for the Holidays where shop keepers more than likely know your name and you can enjoy free Horse Drawn Carriage Rides, ice Skating at the Harris Pavilion, and go back in time while you enjoy The Winter Wonderland Train Show this week at The Center for the Arts!” – Kathleen R.

If You Go

Stay – Bennett House B&B * Manassas Junction B&B * More Options

Eat – Okra’s Louisiana Bistro * Monza

Don’t Miss – Holiday Performances at the Hylton Performing Arts Center



Downtown Fredericksburg in December is a classic holiday destination. The shop windows, the lights, the Virginia hospitality, the centuries of history – it all combines in a magical experience for all ages!” – Julie P.

If You Go

Stay – The Richard Johnston Inn * Courtyard by Marriott – Historic District * More Options

Eat – Bistro Bethem * FoodE



“I currently live within an hour of Williamburg and I love all the traditional decorations at Christmas.” – brmsimmons

“Williamsburg, Va is my favorite! They have Colonial Williamsburg all ‘dressed up’ for the holidays. Grand Illumination is the first weekend of Dec and they have fireworks, fife and drum, etc. It’s worth every minute!” – TravelingBlondie

If You Go

Stay – The Williamsburg Lodge * The Williamsburg Inn * More Options

Eat – The Trellis * DoG Street Pub

Don’t Miss – Colonial Williamsburg * A Colonial Christmas at Jamestown Settlement



Clifton Forge, VA


@cfmainstreet tells us to look for “31 elementary classroom trees on lamp posts, 55 wreaths on merchants’ doors,” and that the Christmas Home Tour includes 11 homes. Clifton Forge sounds like a sweet small town for the season.

If You Go

Stay – The Red Lantern Inn * The Smith Creek Inn

Eat –  The Club Car Shop & Deli

Don’t Miss – C&O Railway Heritage Center * Allegheny Highlands Arts & Crafts Center


Middleburg, VA.— MIDDLEBURG —

“Driving 3 1/2 hrs. each way is so worth the Christmas feeling you can only get in Middleburg. Where else can fellow horse and animal peeps gather to bring in the Christmas?” – NJ Visitor

If You Go

Stay – Salamander Resort & Spa * Goodstone Inn & Restaurant & More Options

Eat – Red Fox Inn Restaurant * The French Hound

Don’t Miss – Special Events at Salamander Resort & Spa * The Wineries of Middleburg


Lexington, VA


“I spent summers and Christmas breaks here my entire childhood, and it is one of the most beautiful towns I’ve ever visited.” – Maggie R.

If You Go

Stay – The Georges * The Robert E. Lee Hotel * More Options

Eat – Haywoods Restaurant * Bistro on Main

Don’t Miss – Blue Lab Brewing Company * Lee Chapel and Museum


Charlottesville, VA. Rutherford Studios. Boar's Head.CHARLOTTESVILLE

“One of our top 3 favorite urban places in the USA. Wish every American city had a Downtown pedestrian mall.” – Arthur W.

If You Go

Stay – Omni Charlottesville Hotel * Boar’s Head Inn * More Options

Eat – Hamiltons’ at First & Main * Ace Biscuit & Barbeque

Don’t Miss – Holiday Performances at The Paramount Theater * Breweries & Wineries of Charlottesville

Pufferbellies— STAUNTON —

Staunton‘s downtown shopkeepers competed for the best window display this season under the theme “It’s a Wonderful Life.” As if Staunton weren’t beautiful enough during the holiday season, the storefronts are quite the attraction. Pufferbellies won first place, and taking a look at the image, it’s easy to see why. Beautiful!

If You Go

Stay – Stonewall Jackson Hotel * Berkeley House Bed & BreakfastMore Options

Eat – Zynodoa * Byers Street Bistro

Don’t Miss – Performances at the American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse * Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum


Richmond, Virginia— RICHMOND —

Richmond is beautiful year-round, but there is something magical about the holidays. I love being a part of an amazing community which comes together to make the season even brighter! From the festivities, to the beautifully decorated plantations, homes, and window displays, just walking down the street can feel like a winter wonderland.” – @ourwanderlife

If You Go

Stay –  The Jefferson Hotel * Linden Row Inn * More Options

Eat – Balliceaux * Heritage

Don’t Miss – Dominion GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens * Holiday Performances at Altria Theater


Virginia Beach Town Center— VIRGINIA BEACH —

While not a traditional, vintage feeling Christmas atmosphere, I’d be remiss to exclude Virginia Beach from the list as TLC’s Parentables includes the Boardwalk and 100 Miles of Lights event as one of the “50 Best Places to See Christmas Lights in America.” Their suggestion is one I’d agree with. “Seeing this display will take a while, and you might need to book a hotel.”

Additionally, the Virginia Beach Town Center is a beautiful place to shop and dine this season!

“Virginia Beach has the prettiest lights for the kids.” – Anna J.

If You Go

Stay – Hilton Garden Inn Virginia Beach Town Center * Westin Virginia Beach Town Center * More Options

Eat – Yard House * Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant

Don’t Miss – Holiday Performances at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts * McDonald’s Holiday Lights at the Beach



At this time of year, any small town in Appalachia is my favorite. There is nothing like knowing your neighorbor and remembering together. It seems like the hustle and bustle stops here. You just stop and enjoy the company of those your haven’t seen in a while and giving hugs you have been wanting to share all year. Even without all the lights of a big city Christmas; the clarity of what the season is truly about seems to shine brighter in a small town.” – Ashley S.

Honaker, Virginia should be in the running for cutest small town this Christmas season.” – @aponyrider

If You Go

Stay – Holiday Inn Express – Claypool Hill, Pounding Mill * The Cottage at Crab Orchard, Tazewell

Eat – Cuz’s Uptown Barbecue, Pounding Mill

Don’t Miss – Appalachian Arts Center, Cedar Bluff * Crab Orchard Museum & Pioneer Park, Tazewell


Winchester, Virginia— WINCHESTER —

“Love Old Town Winchester pedestrian mall. Reminds me of a scene in an old movie. The lights, hustle and bustle, all the storefronts decorated and lights everywhere. You can’t help but feel like a child again.” – Cathy S.

If You Go

Stay – George Washington Hotel More Options

Eat –  Union Jack Pub & RestaurantOne Block West

Don’t Miss –  Walking in a Winter Wonderland in Clear Brook Park * Patsy Cline Historic House


Culpeper, Virginia— CULPEPER —

“Friendly shops with friendly staff. Great parking and distinctive items for everyone all in a quaint, attractive setting.” – Jeff S. “Love the nostalgic feel of Culpeper.” – Michelle H.

If You Go

Stay – Thyme Inn * Suites at 249 More Options

Eat – It’s About Thyme * Copper Fish

Don’t Miss – Holiday Performances at The State Theatre of Culpeper * Belmont Farm Distillery


Warrenton, Virginia— WARRENTON —

Gumdrop Square in Old Town Warrenton is a magical tradition. Opens right after the Warrenton Christmas parade.” – @ShopFauquier

“Love Christmas in a small town!” – @ashleevirginiaevents

If You Go

Stay – Black Horse Inn * Holiday Inn Express More Options

Eat – McMahon’s Irish Pub & Restaurant * Red Truck Bakery

Don’t Miss – Fauquier County Wine Trail



Portsmouth, VirginiaPORTSMOUTH

“Winter Wonderland at Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center is a super exhibit for all ages! From Santa’s Workshop to Ice Skaters and hard-working elves, the animatronic collection in this exhibit is incredible! Definitely a must-see!” – Stephanie K.

If You Go

Stay – The Governor Dinwiddie Hotel & Suites * Renaissance Portsmouth Hotel & Waterfront Conference Center More Options

Eat – HomeGrown * Mosebeth’s Fried Chicken

Don’t Miss – Holiday Events at the Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center * Children’s Museum of Virginia


Clarksville, Virginia— CLARKSVILLE —

Clarksville is a small town situated right on the lake. In fact, it’s Virginia’s only lake-front town. Stroll along and feel right at home with the welcoming atmosphere that awaits.

If You Go

Stay – Cooper’s Landing Inn & Traveler’s Tavern More Options

Eat – The Lake House Restaurant * Lamplighter Restaurant & Lounge

Don’t Miss – Prestwould Plantation * Beaver Pond Creek Hiking Trail

Which Virginia city or town is your favorite for the holiday season? Let us know by leaving a comment!


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Michele Wright says:

Thanks for including Clifton Forge and please don’t forget Michel’s Cafe has returned to the town, but reservations are necessary. Jack Mason’s Tavern continues to be popular for locals and visitors plus we love The Club Car.

Thanks for the info on FRONT ROYAL….”Favorite Christmas Towns”…and don’t forget their yearly Farmers Market CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL & BAZAAR (indoors from 6AM-3PM) on the first Saturday of December with vendors and FREE ENTERTAIMENT all day….along with the Chamber’s CHRISTMAS PARADE at 4PM!

JC says:

Glad to see one of our Southside Virginia towns make it only the list. We have quite the sites, history, and beautiful natural scenery in Southside–if you appreciate small/ old/ possibly-unrestored things enough to take the time to get to know Southside. Clarksville is the Southside town mentioned above. I never tire of the drive on US 1 from South Hill to Petersburg. Also Virginia, please build your portion of the Amtrak higher-speed Southeast corridor soon for better Atlanta-Richmond/DC service.

Clifton Forge has long been known as “Ole’ Scenic~ Busy~ Friendly”. We hope you will come for a visit and see for yourself how true that is!! Nestled in a valley in the beautiful Alleghany Highlands, Clifton Forge is filled with great restaurants, antique shops, The Alleghany Highlands Arts and Crafts Center, The Clifton Forge School of the Arts, an National award winning Amphitheatre and the C & O Heritage Center, all located within walking distance of one another in the charming Historic Downtown Shopping District. Come see us! Stay for a weekend! We have for B & Bs ready to host you during your visit.

Lizz Chambers says:

I live in Portsmouth and I would recommend Bier Garden, Manninos ( don’t miss the awarding winning She Crab Soup) Stll, Gosport and Cafe Eurioa for fine dining and take advantage of the homemade desserts. The two you named not so much.

In Fincastle’s eat at Old Mill, Leonardo’s, get sandwiches at Family Heritage Market and chicken at Quickette.

Lee Langston says:

When you visit Culpeper, start your day at the Visitor Center in the historic train depot for lots of interesting information, AND, before you leave the depot, walk down the hall to one of Virginia’s BEST small town museums! The Museum of Culpeper History is amazing! Open daily, with only a small admission fee, and terrific exhibits. From dinos to modern art…this facility has it all!

New Market and Mt. Jackson as well as Luray are also lovely!

Lorna Fryer says:

Love colonial Williamsburg! Next year, plan to go to Grand Illumination on the first Sunday of the first full weekend in December for the 7 PM fireworks. Spectacular! If you plan to stay the night, book months ahead–word is out and many people come. The homes are decorated with handmade wreaths adorned with real fruit.

Kilmarnock, on the Northern Neck, has a 36 year tradition with its Lighted Christmas Parade-Dec. 12th this year. Oldest night time parade for the holidays in Virginia! If you go:
Stay: Kilmarnock Inn, Back Inn Time, Tides Inn, Hope & Glory Inn
Eat: Car Wash Cafe, Carried Away Cuisine, Lee’s Restaurant, Thai Pot, Rappahannock Grill, Northern Neck Burger Co.
Don’t Miss: Kilmarnock Lighted Christmas Parade