10 Romantic Small-Town Holiday Shopping Getaways
Forget the mall and spend the weekend gift-hunting in these adorable and romantic towns across America.
Photo By: R. Kennedy for Visit Alexandria
Photo By: Visit McMinnville
Photo By: Bardstown Tourism
Photo By: Discover Newport
Photo By: Visit Carmel-by-the-Sea
Photo By: DiscoverLancaster.com
Photo By: David H. Smith
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Just outside Washington, DC, the once bustling port city of Old Town Alexandria, Virginia evokes charm and history with every step along the red brick sidewalks lined with trees lit up with twinkle lights. Shop adorable small boutiques, like The Antique Guild, which specializes in antique jewelry and sterling silver items, as well as The Christmas Attic for eclectic holiday collectibles and ornaments, even Santas and snow globes. Make it a weekend with a stay at Morrison House, a 45-room inn that seamlessly blends into historic Old Town Alexandria.
Just south of Portland, the small town of McMinnville, Oregon boasts more than its share of farm-to-fork restaurants, tasting rooms and eclectic shops, like Third Street Oil and Vinegar and Mes Amies. Given its location in the heart of Oregon’s Wine Country, it’s also a great place to shop for award-winning wines and wine gifts as you wander the maple lined streets of the picturesque downtown shopping district. Nosh on handmade pasta and wood oven-fired pizza at Nick’s Italian Café, then turn in at The Victorian on 10th, a quaint, dog-friendly bed and breakfast in-town.
Less than one hour from Louisville, the quaint town of Bardstown, Kentucky is as adorable as they come. Stroll along lavishly festooned Court Square, making stops for holiday gifts at chic boutiques like Peacock on Third, a fun and fashionable clothing store, and Barbara’s Etc, a shop devoted to interiors and home décor gifts. Tour historic plantation, My Old Kentucky Home, where the mansion is dressed to the nines for the month-long "Merry and Bright" celebration. Enjoy delicious southern flavors at family-owned Mammy’s Kitchen, then settle in with a full stomach at Bourbon Manor Bed & Breakfast Inn.
Newport, Rhode Island
There’s nothing quite like Christmas in Newport, Rhode Island thanks to a month-long celebration toasting the holiday season. Twinkle lights illuminate legendary mansions, art galleries, boutique shops and world-class restaurants. Strap your skates on for a lap around the rink at the downtown skating center, then make time for gingerbread replicas of every Newport mansion, as well as the largest gingerbread lighthouse in New England. Feast on modern flavors at Brick Alley Pub, then settle in at the five-star Cliffside Inn, which is just steps from Newport’s famed Cliff Walk.
The one square mile village of Carmel-by-the-Sea on the Central Coast of California is known for family-owned boutiques, art galleries and award-winning restaurants. During the holidays, this storybook town becomes even more merry and magical with twinkle lights and delightful window displays aplenty. Stop in Kris Kringle of Carmel for all the holiday trimmings, then cross off everyone on your gift list at shops like Two Sisters Designs, which sells unique glass and beaded gifts. Dine on maple leaf duck breast or rack of lamb at Anton & Michel before turning in for the evening at the historic Cypress Inn.
Once voted the Coolest Small Town in America, it’s easy to see what makes Lititz, Pennsylvania such an easy pick thanks to its colonial-era history, rolling farmland and serene location in Lancaster County. During the winter holidays, Lititz is even more cool, all decked out in ribbons, bows and festive twinkle lights. Pop in The Moravian House for vintage antiques, hand-dipped candles and country accents, then browse the shelves at Aaron’s Books. Take an afternoon break with a latte and a chocolate crepe at Café Chocolate, then wrap up your day at Lititz House B&B.
Just south of Tucson, visitors will quickly see the charm in the artist’s colony of Tubac, Arizona. Lined with more than 80 artisan shops and galleries, artwork of the American Southwest is showcased around every corner. As you can imagine, you won’t find ho-hum holiday gifts here. Instead, plan to pick up handcrafted Native American jewelry and Southwest-style pottery, rugs and wall hangings. Take a break for margaritas and Mexican cuisine at Elvira’s Restaurant, then enjoy a respite at the quaint Tubac Secret Garden Inn.
Only 25 minutes from Austin, the small village of Georgetown, Texas is quickly making a name for itself. Known for having the "Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas," Georgetown’s restored Victorian-era buildings, family-owned shops, art galleries and wine tasting rooms are a real draw for visitors, particularly during the holidays. Enjoy a walking sculpture tour along brick sidewalks lined with antique streetlights. Dine on small plates at French-inspired The Hollow and book a room at the historic San Gabriel House Bed & Breakfast, a 1914 mansion that’s an easy walk from the Georgetown Square.
Amelia Island, Florida
Situated in the northeast corner of Florida, Amelia Island is replete with charm and a distinct character all its own. Fernandina Beach’s delightful 50-block historic district has something for everyone, particularly along Centre Street where you’ll find antique shops, boutiques and local favorites, like The Book Loft, an indie bookstore with 1,500 rare or signed books, as well as the largest collection of pirate books. Enjoy afternoon tea at The Hoyt House Bed & Breakfast, one of six charming inns, before settling in for dinner at one of several bistros housed in restored cottages, including Le Clos and 29 South.
Greenville, South Carolina
Tucked in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Greenville, South Carolina offers visitors a delightful mix of captivating southern charm and natural beauty. Main Street is the place to be, particularly during the holidays. Stroll across a main square strewn with twinkle lights to explore art galleries and quaint boutiques, then strap on skates for Ice on Main, an open-air skating rink. Wrap up a day of holiday shopping at UP on the Roof, a rooftop bar boasting craft cocktails and first-class views. Turn in for the night at Swamp Rabbit Inn, a relaxing bed and breakfast in downtown Greenville.