2022’s Most Festive Cities

Family looking up at snow and clutching warm beverages at a Christmas market

Sleigh bells are ringing, snow is glistening, while Mariah Carey serenades shoppers at department stores — it’s the most wonderful time of the year. 

Which of the 200 biggest U.S. cities most resemble a scene out of a Hallmark movie?

LawnStarter made a list of 2022’s Most Festive Cities and checked it twice. We looked for cities with bags of fun, like holiday festivals and European-style Christmas markets serving delicious goodies.

Of course, no winter wonderland is complete without snow, so we also measured the average snowfall in each city to find the most Instagram-worthy backdrops.

Check out our ranking below, followed by some highlights, lowlights, and expert holiday planning tips.


City Rankings

See how each city fared in our ranking:

Overall Rank (1=Best)CityOverall ScoreFrolicking RankMerrymaking RankEntertaining RankEating and Drinking RankShopping Rank
1New York, NY82.9981111
2Las Vegas, NV50.661312442
3Los Angeles, CA49.966832320
4Chicago, IL49.1894828
5Denver, CO39.8722516187
6Houston, TX37.2512633389
7San Antonio, TX35.66173951014
8San Diego, CA33.8887136716
9Charlotte, NC33.53188714396
10Philadelphia, PA32.6923633644
11Seattle, WA31.9641828923
12Portland, OR30.04592831134
13Colorado Springs, CO29.927914246110
14Boston, MA28.865161431228
15Austin, TX28.8114719101725
16San Francisco, CA27.85382134533
17Albuquerque, NM27.781051841375
18Raleigh, NC27.6515110354512
19Honolulu, HI27.34713286203
20Dallas, TX26.821213571627
21Columbus, OH25.856522392318
22Orlando, FL25.4015545171111
23Phoenix, AZ25.391542992835
24Washington, DC25.153311502753
25Omaha, NE24.875261205013
26Atlanta, GA24.2111239121926
27St. Paul, MN23.9819121275952
28Pittsburgh, PA23.951837682232
29Buffalo, NY23.872401003674
30Minneapolis, MN23.7210581393115
31Miami, FL23.495377131538
32Louisville, KY23.3410826183534
33Jacksonville, FL22.9319820264819
34Detroit, MI22.782915946461
35Tampa, FL22.549689112917
36Baltimore, MD22.504236742124
37Cincinnati, OH21.695744372536
38Nashville, TN21.2316523472622
39Indianapolis, IN20.268324214075
40Grand Rapids, MI20.024416079119
41Syracuse, NY19.851931746897
42Sacramento, CA19.7311463193042
43Rochester, NY19.663981204171
44New Orleans, LA19.5688251041446
45Virginia Beach, VA19.4711517616355
46St. Louis, MO19.454427432493
47Oklahoma City, OK19.1514156274431
48Salt Lake City, UT18.971392734747
49Tucson, AZ18.7913949253845
50Reno, NV17.337666886729
51Kansas City, MO17.309065305349
52San Jose, CA17.2299104153259
53Worcester, MA16.94654183103104
54Providence, RI16.5911801865866
55Scottsdale, AZ16.4218055225164
56Richmond, VA16.227434927769
57Anchorage, AK16.10273015482115
58Memphis, TN16.0816468804321
59Boise, ID15.957382787840
60Savannah, GA15.88123641245630
61Mesa, AZ15.7415067297450
62Fort Collins, CO15.68495911110967
63El Paso, TX15.66101128324239
64Charleston, SC15.43144621066937
65Tulsa, OK15.3112257444660
66Cleveland, OH15.1612919134117
67Milwaukee, WI15.12157414533109
68Arlington, TX15.0114947529056
69Akron, OH15.0131751678968
70Aurora, CO14.684584538378
71Tacoma, WA14.5375601637657
72Madison, WI14.40285212695127
73Greensboro, NC14.1016831668677
73Lincoln, NE14.1064867210863
75Fresno, CA13.89124483670106
76Des Moines, IA13.84507617010065
77Sioux Falls, SD13.745550129131100
78Baton Rouge, LA13.6616770598748
79Toledo, OH13.53395112384139
80Fort Worth, TX13.13162148234954
81Huntington Beach, CA13.1282713813496
82Plano, TX12.75117694811176
83Anaheim, CA12.7085536573114
84Lexington, KY12.689588517272
85Little Rock, AR12.6717243799684
86Salem, OR12.341071298910741
87Huntsville, AL12.32195724911851
88Long Beach, CA12.05581194552103
89Alexandria, VA11.814010615311694
90Spokane, WA11.802612410255123
91Rockford, IL11.43518518815395
92Dayton, OH11.32621571417558
93Tempe, AZ11.10974214881152
94Aurora, IL11.0436120173105102
95Jersey City, NJ10.937154192102165
96Fort Lauderdale, FL10.7191835854121
97Orange, CA10.633218142155135
98Winston-Salem, NC10.38127861248879
99Newark, NJ10.3614145185136155
100Wichita, KS10.231101034671107
101Shreveport, LA10.091874669168130
102Torrance, CA9.92671728312980
103Eugene, OR9.871029017710688
104Jackson, MS9.7310317119414543
105Henderson, NV9.69171105569986
106Bakersfield, CA9.49178815566113
107Fort Wayne, IN9.4869107121149125
108Joliet, IL9.4847156147112105
109Riverside, CA9.47142796780128
110Springfield, MA9.4520135197169185
111Naperville, IL9.3034149105141183
112St. Petersburg, FL9.27138125906283
113Killeen, TX9.244816814219298
114Irvine, CA9.23111979691108
115Overland Park, KS9.20801409813390
116Yonkers, NY9.2017169199139167
117Norfolk, VA9.188910818017787
118Lakewood, CO9.1646117165114161
119Lubbock, TX9.0812011340110137
120Oakland, CA9.056013617160110
121Bridgeport, CT9.0121146178161189
122Knoxville, TN8.981561006357111
123Grand Prairie, TX8.8916338193190192
124Pasadena, CA8.826614370101141
125Hialeah, FL8.746319611318092
126Stockton, CA8.681409477154118
127Thornton, CO8.6624134195200199
128Paterson, NJ8.4516195198175193
129Birmingham, AL8.42184147716573
130Tallahassee, FL8.40192737685129
131Irving, TX8.391139981159146
132Fullerton, CA8.2825186161179173
133McKinney, TX8.271577864170180
134Fremont, CA8.2010411293186120
135Mobile, AL8.0618311612212581
136Springfield, MO7.909313775123124
137West Valley City, UT7.8935150191197195
138Salinas, CA7.8643190133135151
139Pomona, CA7.8537173138164190
140Warren, MI7.8230193158143197
141Augusta, GA7.7372152115137133
142Santa Ana, CA7.707017783104136
143Santa Rosa, CA7.63106110144126134
144Amarillo, TX7.5156162155150147
145Glendale, CA7.5054179109146150
146North Las Vegas, NV7.4861131166165188
147Garland, TX7.481359597174175
148Oxnard, CA7.2081123160115157
149Vancouver, WA7.1911616357122122
150Chattanooga, TN7.111861391319482
151Chandler, AZ7.0415810911093148
152Corpus Christi, TX6.91159122117113112
153Durham, NC6.9017496156127126
154Bellevue, WA6.9092130168132131
155Chesapeake, VA6.8718215510318385
156Clarksville, TN6.8119018212818762
157Newport News, VA6.52129101184188149
158Montgomery, AL6.4819611117617299
159Escondido, CA6.4511916462148160
160Roseville, CA6.40145141112147116
161Columbus, GA6.3620012116416389
162Ontario, CA6.35109127150120174
163Modesto, CA6.2311816195117140
164Hayward, CA6.218619182173153
165Santa Clarita, CA6.1512515954119196
165Chula Vista, CA6.159817810892132
167Peoria, AZ6.10176102114191184
168Fontana, CA5.9413713387199186
169Surprise, AZ5.9119317617919570
170Garden Grove, CA5.8577197149130172
171Pembroke Pines, FL5.82160118137155168
172Fayetteville, NC5.77194115118124138
173Murfreesboro, TN5.7017517016919691
174Carrollton, TX5.68132132136167178
175Macon, GA5.66189151134181101
176Kansas City, KS5.63100138151184194
177Elk Grove, CA5.5916912699185182
178Glendale, AZ5.5815315311698145
179Denton, TX5.46152114189176169
180Laredo, TX5.17143165101157166
181Hollywood, FL5.169417518797156
182Frisco, TX5.06166142107152180
183Sunnyvale, CA5.0278187196182177
184McAllen, TX4.94128160172166144
185Corona, CA4.8014818585162171
186San Bernardino, CA4.72136174162138142
187Rancho Cucamonga, CA4.60134187130158159
188Oceanside, CA4.55146167146142176
189Olathe, KS4.5184194181198191
190Waco, TX4.42179158140144162
191Pasadena, TX4.32130198135178170
192Brownsville, TX4.12161183152140143
193Hampton, VA3.94133183182194158
194Mesquite, TX3.86170166190151154
195Cape Coral, FL3.79197144159121163
196Moreno Valley, CA3.36181200132160187
197Lancaster, CA3.35185180157128163
198Palmdale, CA3.25191192119189179
199Miramar, FL2.21177199200193200
200Port St. Lucie, FL2.03199189175171198
Infographic showing the Most Festive Cities in America, a ranking based on 20 factors, such as snowfall, holiday festivals, and ice rinks
Note: For presentation purposes, not all ties may be displayed for certain metrics above.

Highlights and Lowlights

Christmas in New York

Kids from 1 to 92 will find it hard to sleep in The City That Never Sleeps. New York is our No. 1 most festive city for the second year in a row. 

Earning over 32 points more than Las Vegas, our silver-bell medalist, the Big Apple dominated four out of five categories in our holiday ranking. 

Even though New York placed eighth in “Frolicking,” no other city holds a fir-scented candle to America’s most popular tourist destination. It would take a miracle on 34th Street to beat the city with the most holiday festivals, attractions, music venues, gift shops — you name it.

Only in New York will you find time-honored traditions like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting, and the Times Square Ball Drop. So, if you want a unique holiday experience, add New York to your bucket list.

Polar Opposites

Baby, it’s warm outside in some of our top 10 cities. If you loathe snow, Las Vegas (No. 2), San Antonio (No. 7), and San Diego (No. 8) will not only keep you toasty, but they’ll warm up your holiday spirit, too. 

The average snowfall between November and December in these cities ranges from nada to less than a fifth of an inch. There’s no shortage of holiday cheer, though. Each of these cities ranked in the top 20 of every category except “Frolicking,” as expected.

To rub icy elbows with your pal Jack Frost, head to Upstate New York. Syracuse, Buffalo, and Rochester are true winter wanderlands, boasting excellent walk scores and the highest average snowfalls among all 200 cities. The region already hit an icy milestone, a historic 4 feet of snow in a single day, back in November.

There’s plenty of merrymaking to be had in these frigid cities, but you’ll need the warmest pair of winter boots — or even snowshoes — and a well-insulated coat.

Where the Grinch Stole Christmas

Crowd-averse residents of several California, Florida, and Texas cities can enjoy more than one silent night this holiday season. Three cities from each of these states make up most of our bottom 10.

Let’s just say St. Nick won’t be stopping by Port St. Lucie, the least festive city of all. He might skip over cities on the outskirts of Greater Los Angeles, Houston, and Dallas, too, along with Brownsville, Texas. 

What went wrong? Each of these cities is lacking in most holiday-themed anything — with a few exceptions. Cape Coral, Florida, sped past 155 cities in holiday-themed races. Moreno Valley, California, made its merry way to 63rd place in party supply stores, while Mesquite, Texas, gave a nutcracking performance in number of bakeries, at No. 65.

Where these cities really shine: low crime. If you’re home alone this holiday season, you can forget setting up booby traps in one of our least festive cities, especially Port St. Lucie and Cape Coral, our third and seventh safest cities overall.

Ask The Experts

A few travel smarts can go a long way, especially during the holiday season. We turned to a panel of travel experts for tips and insights. Read their thoughts below.

  1. What are some holiday trends, if any, that you’ve observed this year?

  2. Why aren’t Christmas markets more prevalent in the U.S.?

  3. What is the best way to avoid tourist traps and discover a city’s hidden gems?

  4. Where are the best places to do last-minute holiday gift shopping?

  5. How far in advance should consumers book their winter holiday travels to avoid paying more for flights and hotels?
Julie S. Son, Ph.D.
Professor and Director of the Recreation, Sport, and Tourism Management program
Adjunct Professor
Julie S. Son, Ph.D.
Professor and Director of the Recreation, Sport, and Tourism Management program
University of Idaho

What are some holiday trends, if any, that you’ve observed this year?

After being cooped up during pandemic restrictions, people are excited to travel and will travel farther to visit family or go to a long-desired destination. One trend is the huge demand for travel despite inflation-spiked rates.

The pandemic has underscored the necessity of seizing the moment and the importance of spending and cherishing time with family and friends. A concept called “socioemotional selectivity” suggests that when our mortality is spotlighted, we’ll seek out our dearest friends and family with whom to spend our precious moments. People are “zoomed” out and ready for these meaningful in-person interactions, so expect busy holiday travel as a result.

Why aren’t Christmas markets more prevalent in the U.S.?

There are two primary reasons why Christmas markets aren’t more prevalent in the U.S. Given the longer history of towns and cities in Europe, European countries boast a much longer tradition of holiday market shopping compared to the U.S. Additionally, the U.S. system of city planning centers on shopping malls and big box stores in contrast to European cities that typically have a more centralized market square with less traffic and roadways.

This allows for a more open space for a “charming” market feel than U.S. main streets with busy roads and large road dividers. One exception in the U.S. is Leavenworth, Washington which is a Bavarian Christmas-themed town that has a series of small roads and lanes with sidewalks on both sides to encourage walking and strolling to window shop.

What is the best way to avoid tourist traps and discover a city’s hidden gems?

No joke but one of the best ways to discover a city’s hidden treasures is by talking to your hotel concierge or BnB host, as well as restaurant servers and bartenders. Hospitality people know the city the best!

Where are the best places to do last-minute holiday gift shopping?

Go to your chamber of commerce website for announcements on holiday shopping events. If you prefer alternative giving, see what your local nonprofits are doing –– they may have a holiday giving market. And, of course, visit your local stores to support the local economy and community. Not only will you be giving a unique local gift, but you will be helping local vendors and artists.

How far in advance should consumers book their winter holiday travels to avoid paying more for flights and hotels?

This has been a challenge the past year. When possible, try to book several months in advance of your planned travel. Additionally, if you can be flexible on your arrival and departure days, certain days of the week tend to be less expensive. For instance, traveling on Saturdays tends to be the most expensive. A general rule of thumb is to book no less than two weeks prior to travel, with more time from booking date to departure date providing the best prices.

Adjunct Professor
University of Florida Tourism, Hospitality, and Event Management (THEM) Program

What are some holiday trends, if any, that you’ve observed this year?

Consumers (including tourists and vacationers) seem to be a bit more conservative with their spending based on the uncertain state of the economy and the potential for a recession in the near future. This follows on the heels of comments from business magnates such as Jeff Bezos, who encouraged people not to make big purchases this season.

Why aren’t Christmas markets more prevalent in the U.S.?

With so many consumers today transitioning predominantly to online shopping (especially for non-perishable purchases), traffic for Christmas markets (not unlike shopping malls) is fading.

What is the best way to avoid tourist traps and discover a city’s hidden gems?

Two of the best ways to avoid tourist traps and discover value-oriented points of interest in a vacation destination are to research carefully online before visiting and to talk to locals from the area who do not have an interest in trying to sell something to the would-be tourist.

Talk to restaurant servers, postal workers, taxi or Uber drivers, and others who know the community well but don’t necessarily have a motivation for any kind of personal gain in the conversation.

Where are the best places to do last-minute holiday gift shopping?

This obviously depends largely on what kinds of gifts are being sought, where they can be purchased, and how strong demand is. Shopping online for holiday gifts has become a preferred method for many shoppers. And even last minute gifts can either be delivered in time via expedited shipping or, in the case of gift certificates, event tickets, and other intangibles, delivered electronically via email.

How far in advance should consumers book their winter holiday travels to avoid paying more for flights and hotels?

Travel costs will ultimately vary with demand in a particular season. Normally, holiday seasons see heavy demand and consequently drive prices up. However, in unusual years (such as 2020 and 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic), demand can be unpredictable.

It is generally a good idea to book airfare and other accommodations at least four to six weeks before traveling in order to avoid last-minute price gouging from travel markets. Earlier is generally better, though sales and promotions throughout the months leading up to a trip may also affect the optimal time for booking.

Behind the Ranking

For each of the 200 biggest U.S. cities, we gathered publicly available data on the factors listed in the table below. 

We then grouped those factors into five categories: Frolicking, Merrymaking, Entertaining, Eating and Drinking, and Shopping.

Next, we calculated weighted scores for each city in each category. 

Finally, we averaged the scores for each city across all categories. 

The city that earned the highest average score was ranked “Most Festive” (No. 1), while the city with the lowest was ranked “Least Festive” (No. 200). (Note: The “Least Festive” among individual factors may not be No. 200 due to ties.) 


MetricWeightingLowest ValueHighest ValueBest
Average Snowfall (in Inches) Between November and December3023Highest
Walk Score21397Highest
Crime Index0.5085Highest
Holiday Festivals307Highest
Music Venues10189Highest
Ice Skating Rinks2015Highest
Holiday-Themed Races1013Highest
Holiday Decoration Shops2028Highest
Holiday Decorating Services2028Highest
Independent Christmas Tree Vendors0.5044Highest
Big-Box Christmas Tree Vendors12117Highest
Party Supply Stores11136Highest
Eating and Drinking
Candy Stores10128Highest
Nightlife Options10779Highest
Holiday Markets306Highest
Shopping Centers and Department Stores24219Highest
Gift Shops12181Highest
Holiday Card Stores0.50162Highest

Sources: Ace Hardware, Big Lots, Christmas Market Guides, Everfest, FestivalNet, Find Skating Rinks, Hobby Lobby, Home Depot, Kmart, Lowe’s, Menards, Michaels, NeighborhoodScout, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Running in the USA, Sutherlands, Target, TripAdvisor, True Value, Walk Score, Walmart, and Yelp

Holiday Markets in America

Craving mulled wine, bratwursts, and blintzes? You’re in luck.

Although Christmas markets are a bigger tradition across the pond, they’re catching on here at home. You just might be able to get a taste of this European experience in your own backyard.

Be transported to another continent in one of these holiday markets:

Modeled after the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany, Chicago’s annual Christkindlmarket starts in mid-November and ends Christmas Eve. Here you’ll find authentic Glühwein, or mulled wine, imported all the way from Germany.

Photo Credit: Marcin Wichary / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
The Savannah Christmas Market in Georgia offers a unique Southern twist on the Salzburg Christmas Market in Austria and lasts into the new year. Enjoy breakfast with Santa, take a horse-drawn carriage tour, and soak in the Savannah Harbor Boat Parade of Lights.

Photo Credit: john / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0
Solvang, California’s traditional Danish architecture will transport you straight to Europe. The town’s annual Julefest kicks off with a tree lighting event then delights visitors with candlelight tours, live jazz, and a Danish dance number. The festivities culminate in a popular tree burning ceremony on the market’s last day.

Photo Credit: b r e n t / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Photo Credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/sean_oneill/48209197391/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Shutterbug Fotos</a> / Flickr / <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">CC BY-ND 2.0</a>
Leavenworth, Washington, hosts more than a holiday market — it’s the site of an entire Bavarian-style village dubbed “Christmastown,” which holds events all season long. The organizers pared back its Christkindlemarkt this year. However, you’ll still be able to devour Bavarian treats and entertainment and bask in the town’s light-doused atmosphere with the Cascade Mountains as your backdrop.
Another holiday market inspired by the Germans, Philadelphia’s Christmas Village takes center stage at LOVE Park every winter. Treat yourself to waffles, gingerbread, and bratwurst, then wash it all down with some warm mulled wine. Let your kids take a spin on a vintage carousel, while you browse through trinkets and other crafts from international artisans.

Photo Credit: Opeyemi / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Every year, the Kerstmarkt in quaint Holland, Michigan, draws crowds from all over the U.S. Open even before Thanksgiving, the market features a Santa Claus Parade and a Sinterklaas Eve procession march through the market.

Photo Credit: David Wilson / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Now in its 62nd year, the Georgetown Christmas Market in Colorado describes itself as “the quintessential winter town event, right out of a Christmas movie.” The Victorian-inspired town sits atop the Rocky Mountains, guaranteeing scenic views as you enjoy traditional holiday market fare and activities. Don’t miss St. Nicholas touring the town or the Georgetown Community School carolers singing a traditional Swedish Christmas tune.

Photo Credit: Amy Aletheia Cahill / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Main Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Richie Bernardo

Richie Bernardo

Richie Bernardo is a managing editor who previously wrote about personal finance and immigration. Philippine-born, Kansas City-bred, and barbecue-fed, Richie enjoys baking, deal hunting, and binging “Ancient Aliens.”