In the Midwest, you can enjoy the big city and small-town holiday celebrations with a homey feel. The residents are friendly and welcoming, and the holiday traditions represent a cultural mix. Many locations are near enough that you can visit and enjoy multiple destinations.

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago offers a full spectrum of holiday events. At Millennium Park, you can view the official Christmas tree and the stainless steel sculpture, known as Cloud Gate or the bean because of its shape. You can walk under the bean to enter the park and see the surrounding skyline reflected on its surface. You can also enjoy ice skating at Millennium Park and other outdoor rinks throughout the city.

You can do some Christmas shopping and enjoy the Lights Festival in the Magnificent Mile district of downtown Chicago. On the weekends, you can experience the fireworks. You can also find unique gifts and food items at the Christkindlmarket, a European-style holiday market. Of course, Chicago is known for its dining options, and during the holiday season, you will find many hot chocolate variations to try.

You can explore more light displays at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Lightscape. Then, you can warm up indoors while viewing the 68 Thorne Miniature Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago. The rooms are decorated for the holidays. They are in perfect scale, and the decorations match the period and style of the room.

From the Art Institute, you can travel to the special holiday version of Art On theMART, a digital projection program of images and animations. Then, you can view more Christmas trees at the Museum of Science and Industry’s Christmas Around the World exhibit. The trees are decorated to represent different cultures and traditions. While you are wandering around Chicago, watch out for Santa riding at the rear of the CTA Holiday Train Or Bus.

Finally, catch your favorite Christmas movies at one of the two drive-in theaters in Chicago.

Galena, Illinois

Galena offers the Holidaze Festival, the Christmas Village, the Holiday Fire in the Sky fireworks, and the Night of the Luminaria and Living Windows. The Holidaze Festival features the works of artisans, a wreath sale, a silent auction, live music, caroling, and activities for kids. The Luminaria festival features over 5,000 luminaries and 30 decorated windows.

Santa Claus, Indiana

The city of Santa Claus promotes its history, the post office, and a church from the 1880s. The city’s celebration features a 22-foot-tall Santa Claus,15 other Santa Claus statues, and the Santa Claus Land of Lights. Be sure to get your Christmas cards stamped with the Santa Claus postmark. Your kids will enjoy a family dinner with Santa, live reindeer, and the town parade.

Davenport, Iowa

Davenport features a helium balloon parade and the Festival of Trees to raise funds for Quad City Arts. You can visit the Winter Nightsy Winter Lights at the Quad City Botanical Center, the Fejervary Holiday Lights at the Fejervary Learning Center, and the Riverfront Center. The Riverfront Center trees and decorations will be auctioned. Then, you can enjoy the Gingerbread House at the rear Vander Veer Conservatory and the German American Heritage Center’s Advent calendar. A new window is lit every night between December 1 through Christmas Eve. Students at Davenport’s Creative Arts Academy create windows. In Bettendorf, visit the Vibrant Nights display at Vibrant Credit Union.

Keokuk, Iowa

Keokuk focuses on the City of Christmas at Rand Park light display. You will see Santa’s Workshop, Santa’s barn and reindeer, Toyland, wind-up dolls, a moving train, a nativity scene, white-robed angels, and cultural displays of Christmas around the world.

Dearborn, Michigan

At Henry Ford’s historical Greenfield Village in Dearborn, you will enjoy carriage rides, rides in Model Ts, and people dressed in period clothes. You can also visit Santa and his reindeer, join in caroling, and enjoy ice skating.

Frankenmuth, Michigan

Frankenmuth is a Bavarian-style town with unique shops and restaurants. The lighting of the Tannenbaum includes a Candle Walk from the River Place Shops to the Chamber Platz. You can also enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides and a musical tree show.

Frankenmuth is also the home of the world’s largest Christmas store. The store can be overwhelming, but just start exploring and enjoying. The store carries tree ornaments and decorations for your home and commercial displays. You will be sure to develop new ideas for decorating your home.

Grand Rapids, Michigan

In Grand Rapids, you can view the Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World display at the Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park and the lights at Rosa Parks Circle. You can also enjoy ice skating and performances of your favorite Christmas shows.

Manistee, Michigan

Manistee celebrates an old-fashioned Christmas starting with the Old Christmas Weekend featuring a gingerbread house competition, a Festival of Trees, and a tour of the Babcock House. You can enjoy the carolers in period costumes and the Victorian Sleighbell Parade featuring Belgian horses pulling a 30-foot Christmas tree.

Duluth, Minnesota

Duluth features the Winter Village at Glensheen mansion. You can tour the mansion, listen to carolers, shop, and enjoy treats. You can enjoy the Christmas City of the North Parade, the 30-minute Christmas City Express, and the Bentleyville Tour of Lights located at the 20-acre Bayfront Festival Park on Lake Superior. At the Tour of Lights, you will view images of places around Duluth and Nativity scenes. You can also visit Santa, Mrs. Claus, and Rudolph.

St. Paul, Minnesota

St Paul features a 130-foot snow-packed Superslide and an ice skating rink at CHS field during Destination Winter Saint Paul. To warm up, you can enjoy a five-course afternoon tea at a historic local hotel. The Twin City Model Railroad Museum offers Night Trains display of model trains. At Hill mansion, you can experience Christmas as it was celebrated in 1910 on a guided or self-guided tour. Then, you can view the light show projected on the side of the Cathedral of Saint Paul and the Starry Night show inside the cathedral. At the state fairgrounds, you can enjoy the GLOW Holiday Festival. You can view the light display, Selfie Plaza, a bike-powered tree, and the three-story ice palace. You can also ride the Sky Glider and eat at the food court. The Germanic-American Institute holds a Holiday Open Haus to share German holiday traditions. Saint Paul also is home to numerous holiday markets.

Cambridge, Ohio

Cambridge features the Dickens Victorian Village with life-size figures in period clothes and settings. You can join in by enjoying Victorian tea. You will also want to view the decorated county courthouse, take a horse-drawn carriage ride, and join the Candlelight Walk and the Chocolate Walk. The National Museum of Cambridge Glass also decorates for Christmas and offers special programs.

Clifton Mill, Ohio

Clifton Mill offers a Christmas village and a fantastic light display featuring a light waterfall. It is truly worth the trip.

Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati offers two special holiday events – Saengerfest and the Duke Energy Holiday Trains. The Saengerfest features award-winning choirs from the World Choir Games performing at six churches in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. You can travel to the different churches by private bus. The Duke Energy Holiday Train display uses 1,000 feet of track, 50 engines, and 300 train cars. Kids can ride on a miniature train, play with a Brio train set, and visit Santa. You can also enjoy Light up the Square and Downtown Dazzle. Light up the Square kicks off the holiday season in Cincinnati. You can watch Santa rappel down a skyscraper, and the fireworks display highlight Downtown Dazzle. In addition, you can enjoy the Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo and ice skating at Fountain Square.

Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland is the location of the house used in the Christmas Story movie. You can actually tour the house and the museum. Winterfest in Cleveland features lights, ice skating, carriage rides, and lights. You can view more lights at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and the Cleveland Botanical Gardens.

Kirtland, Ohio

Kirtland features Unto Us, A Son is Given, an exhibit of over 600 nativity scenes at the Historic Kirtland Village. The nativity scenes show how different cultures celebrate the birth of Christ. They are made from an array of materials. The Historic Kirtland Village provides a room for children allowing them to dress in costumes and participate in a nativity.

Wooster, Ohio

Wooster presents the Wooster Window Wonderland featuring period Christmases and the Downtown Churches Holiday Walking Tour. You can travel to the eight participating churches to learn about their history, admire their decorations, and join in caroling.

Cedarburg, Wisconsin

Cedarburg celebrates Festive Friday Eves at the Cedar Creek Settlement with different activities. You can enjoy sleigh rides, campfires, and s’mores.

Madison, Wisconsin

Madison offers the Fair Trade Holiday Festival with proceeds going to causes supported by the sellers. You can also enjoy the Olbrich’s Holiday Express: Flower and Model Train Show and the displays at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens.

Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Elkhart Lake offers the Ten-day Old World Christmas Market, a European-style market. You can enjoy breakfast with Santa, hayrides, caroling, and cookie and ornament decorating workshops.