The holidays are upon us and while I’d love to wax poetic about how I claimed to see Santa Claus in my house as a nine-year old and didn’t stop believing until sometime in junior high school, I’ll save that for some other time.
Instead I’m in the mood for some holiday destinations of a different sort. I’m not talking about the Caribbean or a snowy cabin retreat, I’m talking about places like Christmas, Michigan or Santa Claus, Indiana.
Yes there are really towns with those names, and while most are not a secret to fellow keen geo-geeks, they are all worth a mention here seeing as holiday cheer is in full swing across our country.
The first is Santa Claus, Indiana – which took the name after a dispute over the name Santa Fe (the more notable of which was in New Mexico). The town instead took the name Santa Claus and has remained so for over 160 years since. “America’s Christmas Hometown” receives thousands of letters addressed to Mr. Claus at the local post office – considering it’s the only P.O. in the nation to adopt the famous folk figure’s name. Oh, and it’s also the birthplace of Jay Cutler, the oft-injured quarterback of the Chicago Bears.
There are a couple other notable Santa Claus’s in the U.S. One can find the remains of Santa’s Land Office in Arizona near Kingman, Arizona. It’s obvious Santa doesn’t frequent here much anymore, as the village attraction has fallen into disrepair and is a veritable ghost town. A small community in Georgia called Santa Claus plays host to a few Christmas themed roads like Sleigh Street, December Drive and Reindeer Way (with the strangely thrown in Salem Street – apparently someone liked Halloween in the town).
Christmas exists year-round in the towns of Christmas, Florida and Christmas, Michigan. The Florida town takes its name from Fort Christmas (used during the Seminole Wars of 1837), now a historical attraction. In Michigan – where I actually visited during a family cross-country trip that went through the northern peninsula – the town is all about embracing (and commercializing) the yuletide. From what I recall (in the mid-90s) the town was filled with businesses either outright selling Christmas or at least taking part in the fun. Both towns also receive a bounty of mail during the holidays.
Finally the twin towns of North Pole, Alaska and North Pole, New York play host to a variety of Christmas themed events. New York’s town is home to the Santa’s Workshop theme park while a visit to the Alaskan version will get you into Santa Claus’s house while experiencing weather somewhat more typical of the actual North Pole.
A few other places with Christmas or season-themed names in North America:
- Mistletoe, Kentucky (appears to be nothing more than a remote outpost in Western Kentucky)
- Christmas Valley, Oregon
- Santa, Idaho
- Yule, Ontario
- Holly, Michigan
- Holiday, Florida
- Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (dubbed “Christmas City”. Many other towns share this name)
- Shepherd, Montana (a stretch, I know, but I’ve been there…also in Texas and Michigan)
- Turkey, Texas
- Snow, Oklahoma
- Xmas Mountain and Xmas Canyon (in Utah)
- New Year Lake (in Nevada)