North Pole, Alaska

I love the street names in North Pole: Snowman Lane, Kris Kringle, Mistletoe, Blitzen, Donner, Saint Nicholas Drive, North Star Drive. Residents say that this is where “the spirit of Christmas lives year round” and I think they’re correct.

This 4.1 square-mile city that lies 14 miles south of Fairbanks transports you back to childhood with the magic and wonder of Christmas all around you.

It’s a busy time of year for the big guy in the red suit, but he makes time for everyone who comes to see him at his home at the Santa Claus House, 101 St. Nicholas Drive, North Pole, Alaska. Live reindeer wait outside for you to visit and pet.

Built in 1949 by Con and Nellie Miller, the Santa Claus House remains in the Miller family and is home to “the world's largest Santa," which towers at 42 feet tall. (Photo is from my first visit there in 1959 when they were at their original location on Santa Claus Lane.)

The shop offers a plethora of Christmas-themed items. Keep toasty warm with an espresso from Santa's Coffee Cache while you browse.

You can mail your holiday cards here and your friends will receive them with a postmark from North Pole, Alaska.

A lodging option is Hotel North Pole on North Santa Claus Lane (877-488-4801). If you’re there on Christmas Eve, you may just be tempted to wait on the roof to catch a glimpse of those flying reindeer.

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