Budget Travel loves celebrating America’s coolest towns as much as we love celebrating the holidays. So when Expedia mined data across social media platforms to see which local shops and holiday markets were getting the most buzz, we were psyched to learn the results. Here, five of the cool communities where you’ll find unique holiday gifts, a vibrant downtown, natural beauty, and an overall great travel experience.
FLAGSTAFF, AZ: A SHOPPING PASSPORT WITH PRIZES
The Flagstaff Holiday Shopping Passport is an appealing idea for nudging holiday shoppers to discover the bounty that local shops have to offer, rewarding shoppers who hit at least five stores (or spend at least $250) with the chance to win prizes. Flagstaff’s varied local businesses offer enough variety to check everybody off your shopping list, with outdoor and camping gear, books, home decor, candles, honey, personal care products, fine art, flowers, upscale clothing and much more.
MYRTLE BEACH, SC: CHRISTMAS CRAFTS BY THE SEA
Sure, you think of Myrtle Beach as one of your favorite summer destinations. So do we. But when the holidays roll around, the coastal community's ocean views and famous hospitality make for a beautiful backdrop for shopping and revelry. The Holiday Bazaar on Saturdays at Market Common, an annual Myrtle Beach tradition, offers seasonal craft vendors and fresh food. Plus, holiday events will be happening all over the Myrtle Beach area throughout the holiday season, including Crazy Country Christmas music and comedy shows, Motown Christmas Tribute concerts, and the Nights of a Thousand Candles at Brookgreen Gardens, a gorgeous arboretum and sculpture garden.
MISSOULA, MT: EUROPEAN-STYLE FOOD & FUN
You might not expect to shop at a traditional European-style Christmas market in the heart of the Montana Rockies, but Missoula’s Little Red Truck Vintage Market European Christmas, at the fairgrounds (with heated barns), is a pleasant cultural juxtapositions. Hand-crafted gifts, antiques, exquisite European-style baked goods (and bratwurst), live music, and a visit from Santa Claus in his sleigh make this one of the West’s unique holiday events. And don’t miss Missoula’s Hip Holiday Market, sponsored by the Lowell School PTA and featuring the work of 50 local artists.
BOWLING GREEN, KY: A FRESH MARKETPLACE
We love Bowling Green’s SoKY Marketplace, a year-round outdoor farmers market that offers not only fresh, locally grown produce but also handmade holiday crafts, baked goods, meats, cheeses, and an array of other locally sourced products. Downtown Bowling Green also boasts a holiday ice-skating rink and an annual Christmas parade.
MUSKOGEE, OK: CHRISTMAS IN A CASTLE
Castleton Village, in downtown Muskogee, will enchant visitors with thousands of lights (you can drive or take a hayride or train, or take a pony ride). Inside the Castle Christmas, families will savor the holiday shopping, ornament-decorating, cocoa and snacks, and a visit with Father Christmas.