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5 Magical Small Towns for Christmas Romance

By Julia Hunter
Special to TravelWisconsin.com

It’s undeniable – there’s something magical about Christmastime in Wisconsin.

Glistening snowflakes blanket the landscape. Thousands of gleaming bulbs bring towering pines to life. Horses pull carriages through cobblestone streets, and carols echo in the air.

There are few backdrops more romantic. So grab your winter coat and your special someone before the snow melts and experience the holiday festivities some of these small towns have to offer. You’re sure to make some memories.


Downtown Ripon brings Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to life as actors depict scenes from storefronts during its annual Dickens of a Christmas’ Living Windows event. Try roasted chestnuts, get your picture taken inside the Dickens snow globe and stroll hand-in-hand through the Enchanted Forest—a locally decorated Christmas tree display—as live musicians perform.

With an orchestra performance, gift fair, tour of homes, quilt show and gingerbread house contest, there’s something for everyone in Ripon during the first weekend in December. Be sure to make time to check out the nativity collections from around the world and take your photo with a live reindeer before you leave.


For each of the six Fridays leading up to Christmas, downtown Cedarburg celebrates the holiday season in a fun and unique way.

From a Settlement Christmas Showcase to its Taste of Christmas event there are several opportunities to summon your Christmas spirit. The Home for the Holidays themed weekend spans three days during the first weekend of December and features handmade artisan crafts, live music, wine and cheese.

Relax after a day of fun and Christmas shopping by retreating to the charming Washington House Inn or the Hidden Serenity Bed and Breakfast.

Sturgeon Bay

Kick off the holiday season with Sturgeon Bay’s traditional tree lights at Merry-Time Festival of Trees. Beautifully decorated, and scattered throughout the Door County Maritime Museum, each of these extraordinary trees is adorned with beautiful ornaments and special surprises. Don’t miss the event’s final gala, “Jingle, Jingle, Mix & Mingle." You may even go home with one of the trees if you take part in the raffle drawing. That would make decorating this year super easy!

Reserve a suite or cabin at the rustic Chanticleer Guest House, where you can warm up in front of the fireplace or in your own private whirlpool. After breakfast, take in the holiday parade, which departs from Sawyer Park.


For three full days of holiday fun, hit up Cambridge’s Classic Christmas which transforms this Victorian village into this season’s holiday hot spot. Be toted around by horse-drawn carriage as you visit the adorable shops or check out the decorations and lights covering downtown. Indulge in some holiday goodies and let the holiday tunes consume you.

Looking to get out of the cold? Head to CamRock Café and enjoy a couple of their 100-plus craft beer options or gourmet espresso drinks. They also serve food for a healthy lifestyle with their collection of toasted sandwiches, salads and flatbreads.


Tour the historic 1850s Octagon House and lower level of the Phipps Inn B&B, decorated in their meticulous holiday splendor during Hudson’s Octagon House Victorian Christmas Night. Built in 1855, see the house by the glow of lamplight, just like the original owners did. The elegant Phipps mansion was built in 1884 for a local businessman.

Wine and cheese will be served in the Carriage House for tour guests, and be sure to pop into the Museum Gift Shop to do a bit of Christmas Shopping for those history buffs on your list.

End your night under the stars while ice skating at Burton Field.


The celebration doesn't stop there. Check out even more holiday happenings.