2022 Best Holiday River Town

River Travel Magazine is excited to announce the 2022 Best Holiday River Town Contest! This annual holiday contest highlights and features river communities from all around the United States and allows members and visitors of these communities to recognize them as some of the country’s best holiday river towns. The survey will include pre-picked river towns and communities chosen by our writing team, but visitors and locals are encouraged to take the survey and vote for/nominate their favorite river communities, too.

The voting period opens now and runs until December 8th, with the winners being announced December 12th. The pre-picked options and survey takers’ nominations can range from quaint river towns and small alpine villages with charming holiday traditions to bigger river communities bustling with holiday events and spectacular light shows. Some of last years winning communities included Prairie du Rocher (IL), Red Wing (MN), La Crosse (WI), Grand Lake (CO), Natchitoches (LA), Missoula (MT), and more.

In 2021, thousands of survey takers nominated their favorite communities along rivers throughout the United States. Over 80 river communities throughout the US were voted on, spread out between 8 categories based on population. This year, River Travel Magazine is hoping with the opportunity to both nominate and vote, many visitors and locals of river communities will participate in choosing their favorite river community picks to share what makes their towns so special during the holidays!

Find the survey here and vote for one of our pre-picked towns in each category, or nominate up to eight of your favorite Holiday River Towns based on population. Let us known what makes your town so special during the holidays and help give some recognition to the Best Holiday River Towns of 2022!

Best Holiday River Town Contest 2021 Winners

See the winners from the 2021 Best Holiday River Town Contest, and learn about by the first place winners were nominated to be Best Holiday River Towns!

Best Holiday River Town (Below 500 Pop)

  1. Kimmswick, Missouri – The shops will be decked out in their Holiday Splendor, carolers will be strolling the streets, and horse drawn carriage rides will carry you back to an old fashioned Christmas. Luminaries will line the streets, historic building tours are offered in candlelight, and over 25 unique shops to  make your holiday shopping a breeze.
  2. (Tied) Harpers Ferry, Iowa  & Stockholm, Wisconsin 
  3. Clarksville, Missouri 
  4. Marquette, Iowa 
  5. De Soto, Wisconsin 

Best Holiday River Town (501-1000 Pop)

  1. Prairie du Rocher, Illinois – Featuring the La Fete de Noel, an All Christmas Craft show, and the La Petite Lumiere Toy Parade with lighted ‘toys’ ranging from 4-wheelers, tractors, bicycles, motorcycles, lawn mowers and more. After the parade, visitors will be able to see the grand lighting of the village Christmas tree at the Prairie du Rocher Community Park, where Santa Claus makes his appearance, and children have the opportunity to visit with Santa. 
  2. Elsah, Illinois
  3. Lansing, Iowa
  4. Elizabeth, Illinois
  5. McGregor, Iowa

Best Holiday River Town (1001-5,000 Pop)

  1. Red Bud, Illinois – Red Bud, Illinois offers a lighted parade and Santa’s Village, which comes alive and coincides with Santa’s Village Tree Lighting and a Christmas Walk Open House. All nestled between opportunities for antique shopping, family owned restaurants, great pubs and a winery. 
  2. Le Claire, Iowa
  3. Galena, Illinois
  4. Ste. Genevieve, Missouri
  5. Wabasha, Minnesota

Best Holiday River Town (5001-15,000 Pop)

  1. Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin – Holiday Parade featuring floats and Santa, Santa’s Wonderland at Cabela’s, various Community Christmas dinners, and a walk amongst the many storefronts downtown. Thousands of visitors travel to Prairie du Chien to attend annual events, festivals, riverboat cruises, state and local parks, apple orchards, wineries, casinos and historic tours. 
  2. Fort Madison, Iowa
  3. Lake City, Minnesota
  4. Natchez, Mississippi
  5. Blytheville, Arkansas

Best Holiday River Town (15,001- 30,000 Pop)

  1. Muscatine, Iowa – The Holiday Stroll in downtown Muscatine has been celebrated for over 30 years, which visitors can gather to celebrate the holidays. Dozens of downtown stores participate in the stroll and decorate their storefronts, offer refreshments, and spread holiday cheer with pop-up performances. The night kicks off with the lighting of the Christmas Tree. The crowd enjoys all the live entertainment and fellowship downtown for the evening, bringing the holiday spirit to life.
  2. Hannibal, Missouri
  3. Stillwater, Minnesota
  4. Paducah, Kentucky
  5. Alton, Illinois

Best Holiday River Town (30,001- 60,000 Pop)

  1. La Crosse,  Wisconsin – Three million lights illuminate La Crosse’s Riverside Park. Featuring a 140- foot Christmas tree, animated light displays, an Igloo, Santa and a Live nativity. Admission is free but visitors to the park are encouraged to make voluntary contributions of cash and/or food as they exit the park. Donations assist area non-profits and food pantries. 
  2. Cape Girardeau, Missouri
  3. Dubuque, Iowa
  4. Quincy, Illinois
  5. Bettendorf, Iowa

Best Holiday River Town (70,000+Pop)

  1. Davenport, Iowa – The riverfront lights up with a Traditional European Christkindlmarkt at the Freight House. Enjoy over 60 merchants in this temporary Christmas village. St. Nicholas Dinner and Sneak Peak Party kicks off this FREE event of live music, a heated beer garden, gluhwein, a kids area, Fresh Christmas Tree farm, and so much more!
  2. St. Charles, Missouri
  3. Saint Paul, Minnesota
  4. St Louis, Missouri
  5. New Orleans, Louisiana

Best Holiday River Town (Overall) 

  1. Muscatine, Iowa – The Holiday Stroll in downtown Muscatine is a festival with dozens of downtown decorated storefronts, which offer refreshments like hot chocolate or become performance venues for singers, dancers, musicians and others spreading holiday cheer. The night kicks off with the lighting of the Community Christmas Tree. 
  2. Hannibal, Missouri
  3. Prairie du Rocher, Illinois
  4. Red Bud, Illinois
  5. Stillwater, Minnesota