Picture this: a light snow falls as you walk through a small town. Colorful lights twinkle at you, and you can hear carolers sing your favorite holiday tune somewhere in the distance. If that sounds like a perfect evening during the holiday season, you’ll want to check out these 11 magical downtowns and main streets in towns across Minnesota.
1. Red Wing
Red Wing's Holiday Stroll down Main Street featured a Santa visit, a reindeer, and a lighted parade. It may have already happened this year, but there's no reason not to add it to your bucket list. This cute town is worth the wait. But if you have your heart set on seeing a small town Main Street this winter, Red Wing is a great choice. With twinkling lights and great local stores, you'll find plenty to do.
Stillwater is one of the most quaint towns in all of Minnesota - and it gets even better at Christmastime. On weekends until December 30, you'll find various attractions wandering Main Street. Depending on the day you go, you'll see Santa, carolers dressed in Victorian costumes, or an old-fashioned - and completely free - horse-drawn carriage ride.
3. Pine City
Each year, Pine City strings its Main Street with attractive lights and decorations. And on December 3, the annual holiday parade will wind its way down Main Street and through downtown Pine City. But it doesn't stop there - the whole town gets the holiday treatment. Even the 30-foot-tall statue at Voyageur Park dons a giant Santa hat.
Winona is such a cute town all year, but it's especially beautiful when it celebrates Christmas. The town is part of the 100 Miles of Christmas Event on December 3-4, and it also has a special trolley that offers a holiday lights tour until December 18. When you're done, do some browsing at one of the many cute shops in Winona's main drag.
5. Little Falls
Little Falls is a small town, but it doesn't skimp on holiday celebrations. The sweet downtown area is covered in lights, and there is even a special event to get everyone out to celebrate. On December 10, horse-drawn carriage rides, an arts and craft fair, and a meet-and-greet with Santa will help anyone who visits get into the holiday spirit.
This Minneapolis suburb knows how to celebrate Christmas. The main drag brings the Christmas cheer with lights and decorations, and the people bustling from shop to shop add an air of excitement to an otherwise quiet community. Check it out throughout December to catch a glimpse of a real small-town Christmas not far from the big city.
Now that the famous Ice House Parade has passed, Aitkin can get down to business for the holiday season. The season truly kicks off on December 3, when parents are invited to drop their kids off for a free movie at Rialto Theater so the adults can do holiday shopping in downtown Aitkin!
Everyone knows Nisswa is a great place to get away for an outdoor retreat, but did you know that it has a great Main Street too? And during the holiday season, it twinkles red and green to add a little holiday cheer to visitors who come to stay in the town's many lakeside resorts. Quaint local shops add to the festivities.
9. New Ulm
While New Ulm already had its Parade of Lights down Main Street this year, it's definitely worth adding to the bucket list for next year. That said, this little German town still has much to offer for the rest of the holiday season. Enjoy the lights strung across the main street, check out a holiday concert on December 3 and 4, and participate in the annual local shopping event on December 15.
Lanesboro is one of the cutest towns in southern Minnesota, and one of its most charming events happens during Christmastime. The annual Christmas Inn tour lets visitors catch a glimpse of eight different historic hotels decked out in their best holiday decor. Many of these are located right in the downtown area, so you should have no trouble catching a glimpse from the street. This year's event is on December 4.
Clearly, Montevideo goes all out with the Christmas lights - and a lighted holiday parade on top of that. This year's parade is December 3, so be sure to visit then if you want to experience the full extent of Christmas in this little town. But don't worry if you miss it - there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the lights throughout the rest of the season.