Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas movie marathon fans don’t just want to watch small-town strangers becoming friends, and romance kindling on every charming Northeastern street corner — they want perfectly timed snowfall, twinkling downtown evergreens, and long-awaited (yet surprisingly chaste) kisses under the mistletoe for themselves, alright? For holiday movie fans who want to have their Christmas cake and eat it too, here are three destinations in Vermont, Connecticut, and Maine where the season feels magical in that specific Hallmark Channel way. These are places where you’re guaranteed to have a coincidental run-in with the love of your life — or at the bare minimum, enjoy a good meal while daydreaming about them.
Revel in holiday movie tropes in Woodstock, Vermont
Covered bridges? Check. Sprawling historic colonial homes? Check. A charming reel movie theater with maple popcorn? Check and check. During the holiday season, Woodstock, Vermont, already feels like a Hallmark movie set, so it’s no surprise it’s the setting of Last Vermont Christmas (2018), wherein seasonal festivities pay homage to Woodstock’s Wassail Weekend — a Victorian-style celebration complete with carriage rides, a gingerbread competition, and a local craft fair.
Film an iPhone audition for you and your sweetheart as stars of the next installment of the series Christmas in Evergreen (2017, 2018, 2019), or just take some sexy snaps for Instagram during a romantic dinner of cider-brined pork chops and spiced apple cake at nearby Simon Pearce, a famous glassmaker with a stunning restaurant overlooking the dramatic mill falls. You could also predict your romantic future playing M.A.S.H. with your best friend over Solstice Negronis and moss and chanterelle chocolate truffles until close at sexy cocktail bar Au Comptoir. You’ll be begging to get snowed into this cozy town in no time.
Ghost your lover in Hartford, Connecticut
The Ghost of Christmas Always (2022) offers a serious dose of Hartford pride, championed by the literal ghost of Christmas present, Katherine, and her endearing nostalgia for her hometown. At the heart of the story, after a good Scrooging, Katherine and her soulmate Peter dream of reopening neighborhood bar Rooty Tooty as a gathering place inspired by her best friends’/his grandparents’ (see: magical ghost time travel) former community center. Diners will find a similar spirit reflected at Gather55, an initiative from the nonprofit Hands On Hartford, which features rotating pay-what-you-can menus produced by renowned regional chefs.
Hartford is also a popular location for filming Hallmark movies, even when they’re not officially set here. Those snow-dusted brownstones in A Holiday in Harlem (2021)? Forget New York — that’s Hartford. Take inspiration and plan a romantic holiday weekend complete with tickets to Hartford Stage’s It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play and a steamy night by a private fireplace at the Goodwin hotel. Intersperse the good times with a variety of memorable meals, whether you grab Jamaican and African vegan takeout from the excellent Fire-N-Spice to eat in your PJs, dress for a dinner of barrel-cut filet mignon and single malt scotch at chophouse Max Downtown, or cozy up over Guatemalan pan dulce, tamales, and whole fish mojarra frita at Aurora’s, a gem on Capitol Avenue. Add a sweet finish to the trip with a jaunt to nearby Rocky Hill for an eggnog chip cone at Scoops & Sprinkles — its ice cream cart scored a cameo in the block party scene in A Holiday in Harlem.
Become a romantic cliché in Bar Harbor, Maine
After weathering an influx of 300,000 visitors to Acadia National Park each summer, Bar Harbor, Maine, and its year-round residents — numbering barely over 5,000 — practically roll up the sidewalks come the end of October. Add a case of amnesia or two, rare everywhere but the Hallmark movie genre, and you’ve got a recipe for seasonal small-town romance. Like amnesia patient Lucy in Christmas on my Mind (2019) or Jane-aka-Rebecca in Time for Them to Come Home for Christmas (2021), you too can make new memories in one of the most beautiful places in the country.
If you take a snowy hike in Acadia, maybe you’ll slip on a wet rock at Thunder Hole and twist an ankle so an attractive townie has to carry you back to the adorable Elmhurst Inn for slightly safer Thunder Hole activities — or to a screening of a romcom at Reel Pizza, where you can cuddle up with your crush over a Moonstruck pie featuring ricotta, parmesan, Monterey Jack, and mozzarella. If you catch a chill while rekindling your romance under the sparkling Christmas tree on the Village Green, warm up with a lobster moqueca seafood stew or Ancho-braised short ribs and a bottle from the impressive wine list at one of Maine’s essential restaurants, Cuban favorite Havana.
And if things get as far as a proposal, save yourself the trouble that Gabe faced in Cranberry Christmas (2020): While he proposed with a cranberry twig years prior and ultimately needed to step it up with an actual engagement ring, you could skip ahead to buying your future spouse a piece from nearby Shaw Jewelry’s gorgeous twig collection.