Top 15 Christmas Movies set in the USA

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This post may contain affiliate links. (Disclosures)
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Christmas Movies set in the USA

Get into the holiday spirit with these American Christmas Movies.

My favorites range from the picture-perfect Hollywood musical films of the 1940’s that brought us our favorite Christmas songs, movies that reveal crazy family traditions & dynamics and movies to inspire belief in the Christmas Magic.

Discover these great family-friendly films and perhaps travel to one of the locations to re-live your favorite holiday film.

1

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A Christmas Story  is usually played 24 hours straight in America every Christmas so it’s unlikely you can miss it. If your are like my family, you will race into the room to see your favorite scenes (the flag pole is our favorite).

This classic has captured so many elements of Christmas in America from writing out your Christmas list, visiting the Mall Santa, and the Christmas morning tradition of running to see the tree.

Not to mention now infamous scenes and sayings – “I double dog dare you”, the fragile leg lamp, Red Ryder BB guns, and the lesson to never take your friend’s bet to lick a frozen pole.

This is the American Christmas classic that will make you both nostalgic and also grows on you as you see Christmas at different stages in life.

Movie Location: Hammond, Indiana

2

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Elf captured the magic of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and reimagined the magic for a new generation.

Buddy, a human, was transported to the North Pole as a baby and grew up thinking he was an elf. He blunders not fitting into the elf world in memorable scenes as the elves prepare for Christmas. He then takes a trip to NYC to find his biological father. Buddy’s child-like sense of magic is captured in this movie as he interacts with humans with elf-like mischief and innocence.

Make sure to look carefully at Ming the Elf who is actually Ralphie from A Christmas Story.

Movie Location: New York City – Many of the scenes were filmed in NYC to include Manhattan exteriors including scenes shot at Rockefeller Center, Central Park, and Central Park West.

3

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This Frank Capra’s film, It’s a Wonderful Life, isn’t just one of the best Christmas movies of all time, it is also one of the best movies in American film.

George Bailey has so many problems he is thinking about ending it all – and it’s Christmas! As the angels discuss George, we see his life in flashback. As George is about to jump from a bridge, he ends up rescuing his guardian angel, Clarence – who then shows George what his town would have looked like if it hadn’t been for all his good deeds over the years.

Movie Location: Seneca Falls, New York, claims that Frank Capra was inspired to model Bedford Falls after the town after a visit in 1945. The town has an annual “It’s a Wonderful Life Festival” in December. In mid-2009, The Hotel Clarence opened in Seneca Falls, named after George Bailey’s guardian angel.

4

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In this Irving Berlin musical, Jim (Bing Crosby) and Lila are members of a performing trio who plan to quit and run a country hotel. When Lila says she has fallen in love with the dancer in the act, Ted (Fred Astaire), Jim leaves town with a broken heart.

After turning the inn into a holidays-only live entertainment venue, Jim winds up booking and falling for Linda (Marjorie Reynolds). But when Ted shows up at the place after being dumped by Lila, he too sets his sights on beautiful Linda.

Holiday Inn features a song for each holiday of the year beginning and ending Christmas. The movie also debuts Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” where it became the most popular pop song ever written.

Movie Location: Village Inn Resort in Monte Rio on the Russian River, in Sonoma County, California. You can stay here as it runs as a hotel today.

5

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Is Santa Claus real? In this Christmas classic, an old man going by the name of Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) fills in for an intoxicated Santa in Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade.

Kringle proves to be such a hit that he is soon appearing regularly at the chain’s main store in midtown Manhattan.

When Kringle surprises customers and employees alike by claiming that he really is Santa Claus, it leads to a court case to determine his mental health and, more importantly, his authenticity. 

By the end of the movie, you will be believing in the Miracle on 34th Street.

Movie Location: Miracle on 34th Street was shot on location in New York City, with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade sequences filmed live during the 1946 parade.

6

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When a pair of army pals who become big-time stars (Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye) team up with two sisters (Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen), there’s nothing that can stop them from saving their former general’s Vermont inn — except for a busybody receptionist and a snowless Christmas.

White Christmas is another old time Hollywood film for family viewing. It will make you dream of an idyllic Christmas with beautiful sets, wonderful songs and uplifting Christmas message.

Movie Location: The imaginary town of Pine Tree, Vermont. The film was actually filmed on the Paramount Studios set in Hollywood but will have you dreaming of a White Christmas in Vermont

7

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In Christmas in Connecticut, Barbara Stanwyck plays Elizabeth Lane, an NYC magazine columnist who writes about domestic bliss but herself needs instructions to boil water.

She risks being exposed as a phony if she can’t create the perfect Christmas at the Connecticut home she’s writing about as part of a PR stunt to reward recuperating GI Jefferson Jones (Dennis Morgan), who’s been dreaming of tasting her recipes while serving in World War II.

The only problem: There is no Connecticut home, and she can’t cook.  It’s off course a perfect set-up for a romantic comedy set against a Christmas backdrop.

Movie Location: This is another Hollywood backlot production filmed at the RKO Encino Ranch in California. However, Elizabeth’s character was loosely based on Gladys Taber, a popular magazine columnist at the time, who lived in a farmhouse in Southbury, Connecticut called Stillmeadow.

8

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Set in 1903-1904, Meet Me in St. Louis follows a Missouri family through four seasons starting in the Summer of 1903 and ending in the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louise. It’s Hollywood technicolor magic starring an adult Judy Garland and her magical singing voice.

The musical is a beautiful view into turn of the century America. What makes it a Christmas movie is Winter season of sleigh rides and Judy Garland singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

Movie Location: The movie was filmed in Los Angeles on the MGM backlot. The lot (sold off in the 1970’s for land) was the location of many Hollywood films with sets including Victorian streets, English streets, an NYC set, waterfronts, and lagoons. But as the name implies, the movie will transport you to St. Louis.

9

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What can go wrong when you insist on having a perfect old-fashioned Christmas? …. Everything!

In the third installment of the National Lampoon franchise, Chicago resident Clark Griswold encounters all the joys of Christmas from getting a tree, house decorations, extended family and in-laws, and a Scrooge-like employer holding back his holiday bonus.

Movie Location: Summit County, Colorado including Silverthorne, Breckenridge, and Frisco.

10

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In The Santa Clause, divorced dad Scott (Tim Allen) has custody of his son (Eric Lloyd) on Christmas Eve. After he accidentally kills a man in a Santa suit, they are magically transported to the North Pole, where an elf explains that Scott must take Santa’s place before the next Christmas arrives.

Scott thinks he’s dreaming, but over the next several months he gains weight and grows an inexplicably white beard.

It’s pure fun as Tim Allen must juggle his human life along with the elf production timelines for next Christmas all while navigating the quirky events with his ex-wife, while providing a magical experience for his young son..

Movie Location: The film is set in Lakeside Illinois, however it was entirely shot in the Greater Toronto Area including Oakville.

The magical fun also continues in The Santa Clause 2.

11

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When bratty 8-year-old Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) acts out the night before a family trip to Paris, his mother (Catherine O’Hara) makes him sleep in the attic. After the McCallisters mistakenly leave for the airport without Kevin, he awakens to an empty house and assumes his wish to have no family has come true.

His Home Alone excitement sours when he realizes that two con men (Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern) plan to rob the McCallister residence and that he alone must protect the family home.

Movie Location: Chicago, Illinois

12

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In Home Alone 2, Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) mischievous lands him in trouble again as he loses track of his father at the airport. He mistakenly gets on a plane headed for New York City — while the rest of the McCallisters fly to Florida.

Now alone in the Big Apple, Kevin cons his way into a room at the Plaza Hotel and begins his usual antics. When Kevin discovers that the Sticky Bandits (Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern) are on the loose, he struggles to stop them from robbing an elderly man’s toy store just before Christmas.

Movie Location: New York City

13

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In this romantic comedy, Jonathan (John Cusack) meets Sara (Kate Beckinsale) on a magical night during the Christmas season in a Christmas shopping meet-cute. He determines it love at first sight, but Sara believes in destiny. So she writes her number in a book and gives it way proclaiming that if Jonathan finds the book, they were meant to be together..

After 10 years, the two have gone on with their lives. When Jonathan finds the book, the two must decide if fate wants them to be together again.

When love feels like magic, it is called destiny; when destiny has a sense of humor, it is Serendipity.

Movie Location: New York City with the iconic scene at the skating rink in Central Park.

14

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In The Family Stone, four adult children return to their family home in Connecticut with girlfriends, boyfriends, and extended family in tow for the Christmas holiday

The main storyline follows Everett Stone (Dermot Mulroney) who wants to bring his girlfriend, Meredith Morton (Sarah Jessica Parker), to meet his bohemian Connecticut family at Christmas. Straitlaced Meredith hopes to win the approval of her boyfriend’s parents Sybil (Diane Keaton) and Kelly (Craig T. Nelson) and the rest of the family.

Things get messy as the family dynamics play out. It’s more than likely you will relate to one of the family members during the Christmas season.

Movie Location: Greenwich, Connecticut

15

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In The Holiday, two heart-broken women decide to escape during the holidays by exchanging homes to experience a different location for Christmas.

Kate Winslet leaves her cozy English cottage for sunny California swapping places with Cameron Diaz.

This romantic comedy highlights England’s small towns with a White Christmas, cozy pubs, and winter locations. If only it snowed in England every year on Christmas.

Christmas Movie Locations: All interiors were filmed on studio set, but the California town and England town do exist.

California:  The house in the film was built in 1928 and located at 1883 Orlando Road in San Marino. It is a stunning, distinctive Mediterranean-influenced California mansion, filled with all the luxurious, modern conveniences.  Filming also took place at several locations in Los Angeles.

England: Filmed in Shere, an idyllic English village with a population of under 4,000 in the Guildford district of Surrey, south-west of London. It claims to be the most photographed town in Surry. Rosehill Cottage unfortunately is not real. Several scenes were also shot at Cornwell Manor in Oxfordshire.

Which American Christmas Movie is your favorite?

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