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Need a little Christmas? 8 places that feel like a holiday movie

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When I wrote my first Hallmark movie, “Christmas Camp,” it was inspired by several charming towns I’d visited doing my “Travel Therapy” TV segments and one magical historic home, the Quartermain House B&B in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

As I went on to write more Christmas movies for Netflix, Hallmark and Lifetime, I continued to draw from the places I had visited that brought me such comfort and joy, like a hug from an old friend.

I think now more than ever, we all need to feel that same boost of positivity and uplifting escape, so why not visit the destinations that can give us the same warm and fuzzy vibe all winter long?

Here are eight favorite places to visit where you can feel like you’re starring in your own Christmas movie.

Fredericton, New Brunswick

The Quartermain House B&B in Fredericton, New Brunswick. QUARTERMAIN HOUSE B&B

On my first visit to Fredericton, the capital of beautiful New Brunswick in eastern Canada, which runs along the Saint John River, I was immediately captivated by this quaint, artsy city.

Fredericton is known for its rich history, culture, music, unique local shops, restaurants and bars, and nature. The city says you’ll find more trees in Fredericton, aka Forest City, than anywhere else in Canada, turning Fredericton into what looks like a magical Christmas movie set as soon as the snow starts to fall.

Where to stay: Voted one of the best bed-and-breakfasts in North America, the Quartermain House B&B is just like stepping into a Hallmark movie. When I wrote my first script, “Christmas Camp, I remembered my special stay at Debra Quartermain’s B&B, where her whimsical historic home, warm welcome and delicious cooking had my heart from the moment I arrived.

Don’t miss: A visit to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, one of Canada’s best art museums.

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Insider tip: If fiddleheads are on the menu, order them. This edible fern top is a delicious local culinary gem.

Closest airport: Fredericton International Airport (YFC) is right outside the city. Other nearby airports include Saint John Airport (YSJ) and Greater Moncton Roméo LeBlanc International Airport (YQM). You’ll find the most flight options on Air Canada and United Airlines.

Leavenworth, Washington

Leavenworth, Washington. CONNIE COLEMAN

I grew up in Washington state, so a trip to the small Bavarian-style alpine village of Leavenworth during Christmas was always on my wish list. The dreamlike gazebo inspired the cover for my novel “Finding Christmas.”

Leavenworth’s many unique shops, art galleries and restaurants evoke all the Christmas cheer. With more than a half-million Christmas lights, this Northwest gem will spark your Christmas spirit.

Where to stay: The Bavarian Lodge and Icicle Village are popular picks and there are cabin rentals throughout the area if you’re looking for extra space.

Don’t miss: The Nutcracker Museum with more than 7,000 nutcrackers.

Insider tip: Download the event guide on Leavenworth’s website to make sure you don’t miss any of the festive fun.

Closest airport: The closest major airport is Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), then it’s about a 2 1/2-hour drive in the Cascade Range up to Leavenworth.

Quebec City

Old Quebec in Quebec City. GAELLE LEROYER

Quebec City will likely remind you of those royal romance Christmas movies that always top the ratings.

Old Quebec is 400 years old and on UNESCO’s list of Treasures of the World Heritage of Mankind. The historic city’s charming cobblestone streets, boutiques and bistros helped inspire the two royal rom-coms I wrote, Netflix’s “A Christmas Prince and my novel “A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale.”

Related: 5 small Canadian towns where you can use your points

Where to stay: I felt like a princess staying at the five-star Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, which looks like a majestic castle and is consistently rated one of the top hotels in Canada.

Don’t miss: Shops and street vendors rolling up maple taffy on ice is unique to Quebec City.

Insider tip: Enjoy local cuisine at Aux Anciens Canadiens, situated in one of the oldest buildings in Quebec City.

Closest airport: Quebec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB) is about 6 miles outside the city. It’s only an hour-and-a-half flight to Quebec City from New York City or Toronto.

Redding, California

Redding Garden of Lights in Redding, California. SETH MCGAHA

In Redding, they’re all about celebrating romance in the same kind of enchanting settings Hallmark Christmas movies are celebrated for.

At the dazzling Redding Garden of Lights, the Sheraton Redding Hotel at the Sundial Bridge commissioned renowned artist Tres Fromme to use more than 1 million twinkling lights to create stunning festive displays covering 10 acres.

Some highlights include reindeer encounters and the Candy Cane Causeway, covered with red, green and white lights where machines pump in the mouthwatering scent of peppermint for an immersive experience.

Where to stay: Stay in the heart of where all the action is at the Sheraton Redding Hotel at the Sundial Bridge, where there are several overnight hotel packages and Marriott Bonvoy Moments.

Don’t miss: The Polar Pathway, featuring a super-cool 30-foot-wide illuminated igloo and a snowy pathway to explore.

Insider tip: The Holiday Village is a great place to pick up some delicious food, artisanal snacks and s’mores.

Closest airport: Sacramento International Airport (SMF) is 154 miles away, Oakland International Airport (OAK) is 220 miles away and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is 228 miles away.

Related: A wellness trip through the Northwest

Sun Valley, Idaho

Sun Valley, Idaho. VISIT SUN VALLEY/TRAVIS AMICK

For one of my first jobs as a TV reporter, I worked at KMVT-TV in Twin Falls, Idaho, and the resort town of Sun Valley was my beloved winter skiing escape.

Made famous by Hollywood’s elite, Sun Valley is a superstar without the attitude. The romantic sleigh ride from the Sun Valley Inn to the Trail Creek Cabin for dinner is an all-time favorite experience that I can’t wait to include in a movie I’m working on.

Related: Overlooked ski resorts

Where to stay: Stay in the legendary Sun Valley Lodge, a favorite of writer Ernest Hemingway.

Don’t miss: The Sawtooth Botanical Garden, which features a prayer wheel blessed by the Dalai Lama.

Insider tip: If you like unique cocktails, try Duchin Lounge for drinks like the Jack Winter Sour made with Jack Daniel’s whiskey, cranberry-cinnamon simple syrup, Becherovka liqueur, fresh lemon and orange juice, and egg whites.

Closest airport: Sun Valley’s closest major airports are Boise Airport (BOI) and Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC). You can find nonstop flights from six major cities: Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Denver and Chicago.

Related: Why you should visit Twin Falls, Idaho

Park City, Utah

Park City, Utah. JASON CAMERON

When I lived in Salt Lake City, I visited Park City as much as possible because I loved the city’s authentic charm and its two world-class ski resorts.

The city’s Snowfest celebration is Christmas movie gold with music and carolers, ice sculptures and Santa’s appearance riding on the town’s ski lift.

Where to stay: For a ski-in, ski-out property, the luxurious Grand Summit Hotel is a fabulous choice. If you’re traveling with your family or friends, the Apex Residences should have a vacation rental that’s right for you.

Don’t miss: Spend some time on Main Street, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, where you’ll find some unique local shops, restaurants, bars and art galleries.

Insider tip: If you’ve always wanted to try dog sledding, this is your place. Park City has several companies with some furry four-legged rock stars that are ready to take you on the ride of a lifetime. Mush! Mush!

Closest airport: Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) is the closest airport and is just under 30 miles from Park City.

Related: 15 of our favorite ski-friendly resort hotels you can book on points

Paris

The Printemps Haussmann department store in Paris. CHESNOT

I’ve spent the holidays in Paris and I’ve seen firsthand how the dreamy City of Light is illuminated even more during the holidays, making it feel like one of the most romantic cities in the world.

From the famed Christmas markets to the lovely Nativity scenes at the city’s historic churches, Paris embraces Christmas with an exuberant joie de vivre that our favorite holiday movies are famous for.

Related: Book this, not that: Getting the most from your hotel points in Paris

Where to stay: The award-winning Dorchester Collection’s Paris properties, Le Meurice and Hotel Plaza Athenee, are always my top hotel picks when you’re looking for world-class hospitality and cuisine in a gorgeous Christmas setting.

Don’t miss: The breathtaking Christmas lights and holiday display along the Avenue des Champs-Elysees, Avenue Montaigne, in the Montmartre district and at Bercy Village.

Insider tip: Indulge and relax with a special Christmas tea at Le Meurice, where you can sip Champagne while enjoying French pastry chef Cedric Grolet’s glazed chestnuts, gingerbread, truffles, and sugar and cinnamon brioche.

Closest airport: Paris-Orly Airport (ORY) is the closest airport to Paris, just eight miles away. Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) is the main airport and is 14 miles from Paris. It’s also France’s busiest.

Related: The best ways to get to Paris using miles and points

New York City

New York’s Rockefeller Center at Christmas. ROY ROCHLIN/GETTY IMAGES

I lived in New York City for 14 years, and it will always have my heart at Christmas.

I’m not alone — millions of visitors come to see Manhattan’s spectacular Christmas decorations, with a highlight being the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. Skating at the magical ice rink always makes me feel like I’m in a Christmas movie and that anything is possible at Christmas.

Where to stay: For a phenomenal festive view of Central Park, the Mandarin Oriental is one of my favorite places to stay. Its award-winning spa is just what you need to unwind during the hectic holiday season.

Don’t miss: The New York Botanical Garden Glow, where you can explore this sensational setting all lit up for the holidays while enjoying live music and fun holiday-themed food and drinks.

Insider tip: If you love Christmas lights, go to the Dyker Heights neighborhood, where you’ll be blown away by the millions of lights decorating all the houses.

Closest airport: New York’s La Guardia Airport (LGA) is just about 5 miles from the city. Other nearby airports are John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).

Related: 37 best hotels in New York City for every type of traveler

Other options to get you in the spirit

If you’re looking for even more magical places to visit that feel like you’re walking into one of your favorite Christmas movies, you can do a little research and find out where those movies were filmed. Movie locations are often mentioned in the show’s credits and movie databases like IMDB.

Related: Famous holiday movie destinations

A Google deep dive will show you that many holiday movies are shot in Canada, especially in Vancouver, British Columbia, known as “Hollywood North.”

Before you pack your bags and go searching for hot chocolate and romance, make sure the places where the movies were shot actually have the things you’re looking for and that they weren’t just constructed as part of the movie sets.

For more festive fun, make a list of places in your community that have elements that feel like they’re Christmas movie-worthy and create your own holiday staycation.



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