Virginia’s Favorite Christmas Towns

by Casey Higgins | Posted: Dec 10, 2014 | Updated: Mar 2, 2020

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

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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Avatar Frances says:


Avatar Fay says:

Surprised that Gordonsville isn’t on the list. The light display this year is breathtaking.

Avatar Debbie Jackson says:

Gordonsville Virginia has taken so much care in lining the streets with beautiful lights, wreaths on every lamp pole and the entire strip is lit, not to mention our Tree?. There are wonderful quaint shops with art, wrought iron custom work and much more. For eating visit The Pomme, or The BBQ exchange. Both have made maginzines and voted places you must visit. We look forward to your visit. Enjoy your holiday!

Avatar Elisabeth Thompson says:

Growing up in small town Clifton Forge I never would have imagined that it would have turned into the wonderful vibrant community that it is! The people were salt of the earth, and that hasn’t changed, but the way they have pulled together to build something so charming and welcoming is nothing short of amazing. If you haven’t visited, you really should consider it.

Avatar Linda says:

Appomattox Va. is a beautiful small town , filled with history !!!!

Avatar Molly Kratt says:

We love our friendly lake town of Clarksville Va. Our friendly locals like to say “Welcome Home”!

Avatar Lisa Clary says:

Please check out South Hill. The chamber and town are decorated wonderfully. Check out on face book at South Hill Chamber of Commerce or under Lisa Clary.