Asheville, North Carolina/ United States of America - December 9 2018: Biltmore Estate interior decorated for Christmas
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Take a Festive Stroll Through the Past with the Best Holiday Historic Home Tours in America

Exploring history can become especially enchanting during the holiday season when homes that once belonged to prominent historical figures and celebrities open their doors to showcase yuletide traditions of the past. Imagine stepping through the ornate front doors of these residences, now adorned with festive decorations, each telling a story of bygone holiday celebrations.

The best holiday historic home tours in the U.S. (as voted on by readers of USA Today 10Best) offer a unique glimpse into how these stately homes celebrated the festive season.

Each tour promises to let you experience the holidays through the eyes of those who shaped history. From the glow of vintage Christmas lights to the scent of fresh pine, these tours are an invitation to a seasonal journey unlike any other.

Asheville, North Carolina/ United States of America - December 9 2018: Biltmore Estate interior decorated for Christmas
Biltmore Estate, Asheville NC | Photo Credit: Delaney Juarez/Shutterstock

10. Biltmore | Asheville, NC

Embark on a journey back in time to America’s Gilded Age with a holiday visit to the Biltmore, the largest private home in the United States, located in the picturesque Asheville.

This architectural marvel, a 250-room French Renaissance chateau, was first unveiled to guests on a memorable Christmas Eve in 1895 by its original owner, George Vanderbilt. Today, the grandeur of the Biltmore continues to captivate visitors, especially during the holiday season.

As you wander through the opulent halls of this magnificent estate, you’ll be stepping into a world where the Christmas spirit, initiated by Vanderbilt himself, is still very much alive and cherished.

The Biltmore, now proudly maintained by Vanderbilt’s descendants, offers a unique glimpse into the holiday customs and traditions of a bygone era, all preserved within its historically rich walls.

Key Highlights of the Biltmore Experience:

  • Opened: Christmas Eve, 1895
  • Original Owner: George Vanderbilt
  • Architectural Style: French Renaissance
  • Size: The Biltmore holds the title of America’s largest private home
  • Holiday Tours: These special tours are a highlight, showcasing the Christmas traditions and decorations that have been a part of the estate since its inception.

Visiting the Biltmore during the holiday season is more than just a tour; it’s an immersive experience into the lavish lifestyle of the Vanderbilt family and a chance to witness the enduring legacy of their festive celebrations.

The Biltmore’s holiday tours offer a peek into the past and bring the holiday spirit to life with their unique and festive decorations, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking a blend of history and holiday cheer.

9. Filoli Historic House and Garden | Woodside, California

Step into the enchanting world of Filoli this Christmas season, a historic gem nestled in Woodside, California, built in 1917 for William Bowers Bourn and his wife.

This remarkable estate is not just a showcase of architectural beauty but also a reflection of Bourn’s deeply held philosophy: to fight for the right, to love others, and to live a life of virtue. The name “Filoli” itself is a creative amalgamation of these guiding principles, encapsulating the spirit and ethos of its original owners.

As the holiday season unfolds, Filoli transforms into a magical wonderland. Visitors are invited to experience the grandeur of the estate, illuminated by the soft glow of twinkling lights in the gardens as dusk falls. The beauty of the season is further enhanced by the festively adorned house, where each room tells a story of tradition and elegance.

“We are so grateful to receive a placement in USA Today’s 10Best Holiday Historic Home Tours for the fifth year in a row. This year, Filoli’s 54,000 square foot Georgian mansion is decked out with 24 trees, over 3,200 feet of garland, and thousands of ornaments. Plus we turned this holiday splendor out in less than 48 hours following the historic visit from President Biden and President Xi so we are a little extra proud!”

Dani Hielscher, Director of Marketing at Filoli

Key Highlights of the Filoli Experience:

  • Built: In 1917, for William Bowers Bourn and his wife
  • Location: Woodside, California
  • Philosophy: The estate’s name, Filoli, represents Bourn’s ideals – to fight for the right, to love others, and to live a life of virtue.
  • Holiday Tours: The estate offers a special experience during the holiday season. Visitors can enjoy a serene walk through the illuminated gardens at dusk or partake in a Gilded Guide tour. These tours are led by knowledgeable curators who bring to life the festive traditions and rich history of the estate.

A visit to Filoli during the holidays is more than just a tour; it’s an immersive journey into the past, celebrating the timeless virtues of its founder while basking in the festive ambiance of the present.

The estate’s holiday tours provide an intimate look at the seasonal decorations and traditions, making it an ideal destination for those seeking to experience the elegance and charm of a bygone era, beautifully preserved in the heart of California.

8. Trail End | Sheridan, Wyoming

Journey into the heart of the early 20th century at Trail End State Historic Site (aka the John B. Kendrick Mansion), the former abode of a prominent Western cattle baron.

This historic mansion, adorned with the distinctive Flemish Revival architecture, stands as a captivating portal to a bygone era. Trail End is more than just a historical site; it’s a place where the past and present merge, especially during the holiday season.

“Trail End is grateful for the support that our followers gave in helping us reach the #8 spot on USA Today’s 10 Best Holiday Historic Home Tours! It was so encouraging to watch our community root for us, and it truly was an honor just to be nominated among so many fantastic historic house museums across the country.”

Sharie Mooney Shada, Trail End Site Superintendent

Key Features of the Trail End Experience:

  • Festive Season Tours: Embrace the holiday spirit at Trail End, where the halls are decked with seasonal decorations. Visitors can indulge in the nostalgia of traditional treats like figgy pudding, adding a sweet touch to the exploration of this historic mansion.
  • Electric Candlelight Evenings: For a truly immersive experience, the mansion offers special evenings under the warm, inviting glow of electric candlelight. These events are further brought to life by actors portraying the Kendrick family, reenacting their festive celebrations and offering a unique glimpse into the holiday customs of the early 1900s.

“It is clear that Trail End is beloved by the community. Superintendent Shada’s commitment to stewardship of the site keeps it in stunning condition and open for the public to enjoy. The holidays are a busy time of year, and Trail End is such a beautiful pause for people.”

Misty Moore, Wyoming Parks Absaroka District Manager

Visiting Trail End during these special events is an enchanting experience. The combination of the mansion’s architectural beauty, the festive decorations, and the interactive elements of the candlelight evenings create a vivid and memorable journey into the past.

It’s an opportunity to not only see but also feel the essence of the holiday traditions as they were celebrated over a century ago, making Trail End a must-visit destination for travelers.

Newport, Rhode Island-November 7, 2022: staircase and hallway of gilded Marble house
Newport Mansion, Newport RI | Photo Credit: Yingna Cai/Shutterstock

7. Newport Mansions | Newport, Rhode Island

Delve into a world where history and architectural grandeur meet festive elegance at the Newport Mansions during the holiday season.

This experience is a dream come true for history enthusiasts and architecture aficionados. The Holidays at the Newport Mansions event presents a unique opportunity to explore three of the most iconic historic estates: The Breakers, Marble House, and The Elms, each dressed in its holiday best.

Key Highlights of the Newport Mansions Holiday Experience:

  • Historic Estates: The event features The Breakers, Marble House, and The Elms, each a testament to the opulence of the Gilded Age.
  • Festive Decorations: The holiday season brings these mansions to life with nearly 30 Christmas trees, creating a festive atmosphere. The beauty is further enhanced by hundreds of garlands, an array of fresh florals, and vibrant poinsettias, all adding to the holiday charm.
  • Architectural Splendor: Each mansion, with its unique architectural style, offers a glimpse into the luxurious lifestyles of the past, making the experience educational as well as visually stunning.

Visiting the Newport Mansions during the holidays is like stepping into a bygone era of extravagance and celebration.

The combination of historical significance, architectural beauty, and lavish holiday decorations make this experience a must for anyone looking to immerse themselves in the spirit of the season while appreciating the grandeur of America’s Gilded Age. It’s an enchanting journey through time, filled with the warmth and joy of the holiday season.

6. Brucemore | Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Discover a festive wonderland at Brucemore in Cedar Rapids, a historic mansion that transforms into a holiday spectacle.

As you step through its doors, you’re greeted by an enchanting display of seasonal cheer, perfect for those seeking to immerse themselves in the spirit of the holidays while exploring a piece of history.

“We are very honored that we’re considered one of the best in the country alongside other amazing historic house museums.”

Brucemore Facebook page

Key Features of the Brucemore Holiday Experience:

  • Decorated Trees: The mansion boasts over 12 beautifully decorated Christmas trees, each adding a unique touch of holiday magic to the surroundings.
  • Twinkling Lights: The sparkle of twinkling holiday lights throughout Brucemore creates a warm and inviting atmosphere, enhancing the mansion’s already elegant charm.
  • Elegant Garlands: Each of the home’s three levels is adorned with elegant garlands, contributing to the overall festive ambiance and showcasing the mansion’s architectural beauty.

Your tour of Brucemore during this special time will reveal the mansion’s yuletide splendor and its historical Christmas charm. It’s an opportunity to experience the joy and elegance of a traditional holiday celebration, all within the walls of a storied residence.

This visit promises to be a delightful journey through a winter wonderland, filled with the sights and sounds of the holiday season, making it an ideal destination for those who cherish both history and holiday festivities.

5. Glensheen Mansion | Duluth, Minnesota

Embark on a captivating holiday journey at the Glensheen Mansion in Duluth, Minnesota, a stunning example of Jacobean architectural grandeur.

Perched on the edge of Lake Superior, this majestic mansion offers a unique blend of historical elegance and festive charm during the holiday season.

Glensheen is honored to have been selected as one of USA Today’s 10Best Holiday Historic Home Tours. The Holiday season is a magical time at Glensheen, where we go all out with decorations, which include thousands of lights, hundreds of feet of garland, and over 25 Christmas trees. Guests of all ages are sure to enjoy our Christmas elf hunt throughout the mansion. Be sure to add Glensheen to your holiday bucket list and learn more at”

Mike Mayou, Marketing Manager at Glensheen Mansion

Key Highlights of the Glensheen Mansion Holiday Experience:

  • Architectural Splendor: The mansion is a masterpiece of Jacobean architecture, offering a glimpse into a bygone era of opulence and grandeur.
  • Scenic Location: Set against the backdrop of Lake Superior, the mansion provides a picturesque setting that enhances the holiday experience.
  • Holiday Ambiance: The mansion comes alive with the magic of the season, featuring 27 twinkling Christmas trees during its special candlelight tours.
  • Tour Experience: Guests can enjoy a self-guided tour through the main areas of the mansion, allowing them to explore at their own pace.
  • Accessibility: The tour includes the lower level, first floor, and second floor, ensuring that the beauty of Glensheen is accessible to all visitors.

As you meander through the 20,000 square feet of the mansion, you’ll be enveloped in the comforting glow of holiday lights. This illumination not only highlights the architectural beauty of Glensheen but also creates an atmosphere that is both grand and intimate.

The combination of the mansion’s historical significance, stunning location, and festive decorations makes for an unforgettable holiday experience. It’s a perfect blend of history, beauty, and holiday spirit, making Glensheen Mansion a must-visit destination for those looking to indulge in the warmth and joy of the season.

exterior Christmas light display at Meadow Brook Hall in Rochester, MI
Meadow Brook Hall, Rochester MI | Photo Credit: Visit Detroit

4. Meadow Brook Hall | Rochester, Michigan

Meadow Brook Hall in Rochester, Michigan, stands as a magnificent testament to America’s automotive heritage.

Constructed between 1926 and 1929, this 110-room Tudor-style mansion is not just a historical landmark but a festive destination during the holiday season.

“This national recognition from critics and readers around the country is such a point of pride for us at Meadow Brook Hall. It is a special honor to be ranked among the nation’s magnificent historic house museums for our incredible Holidays at Meadow Brook experience.”

Shannon O’Berski, Director of External Relations at Meadow Brook Hall

Key Highlights of the Meadow Brook Hall Holiday Experience:

  • Location: Nestled in Rochester, Michigan, Meadow Brook Hall boasts a rich history and stunning architecture.
  • Architectural Significance: The mansion is a grand 110-room Tudor-style estate, reflecting the luxury and opulence of the era.
  • Original Elements: Inside, visitors can admire artwork and furnishings from the Dodge family, offering a glimpse into the lives of one of America’s most influential automotive families.
  • Tours: During the day, guests can embark on self-guided tours, allowing them to explore the mansion’s intricate details and festive decorations at their own pace.
  • Winter Wonder Lights: In the evenings, Meadow Brook Hall transforms into a magical light display. The Winter Wonder Lights event features enchanting music and seasonal treats, adding to the festive atmosphere.

Visiting Meadow Brook Hall during the holiday season is an experience that blends historical grandeur with the charm of holiday enchantment.

The mansion, adorned with festive decor, invites visitors to step into a world of yesteryear luxury, illuminated by the warm glow of holiday lights. It’s an ideal destination for those who appreciate the beauty of history, architecture, and the joyous spirit of the holiday season, all wrapped up in one spectacular setting.

3. Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens | Akron, Ohio

Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens in Akron, Ohio, is a remarkable destination that combines historical elegance with the festive spirit of the holiday season.

This majestic estate, a testament to early 20th-century opulence, offers visitors a unique blend of history, architecture, and holiday cheer.

“Stan Hywet is delighted to be named to this list with so many other beautiful historic homes in the nation. We invite everyone to visit our historical estate during our holiday event, Deck the Hall, now through December 30. Or plan to visit after we reopen on April 2, 2024.”

Donna Spiegler, Communications Manager at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens

Key Highlights of the Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens Holiday Experience:

  • Historical Significance: Stan Hywet Hall, built between 1912 and 1915, is Akron’s first and largest National Historic Landmark, and one of the nation’s largest historic homes open to the public.
  • Architectural Grandeur: The estate showcases Tudor Revival architecture, reflecting the wealth and taste of F.A. Seiberling, co-founder of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.
  • Festive Celebrations: During the holiday season, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens hosts the “Deck the Hall” event, where the Manor House and its grounds are adorned with nostalgic decorations and over one million holiday lights.
  • Immersive Experience: Visitors can explore the beautifully decorated rooms of the Manor House, each offering a glimpse into the past, enhanced by the festive ambiance of the season.

A visit to Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens during the holidays is a journey into a world of early 20th-century elegance, illuminated by the joy and warmth of the festive season.

The combination of the estate’s historical significance, architectural beauty, and enchanting holiday decorations make it a must-visit destination for those seeking to experience the grandeur of the past while celebrating the present holiday season.

The Christmas Mansion at Stetson Mansion in DeLand Florida
The Christmas Mansion, DeLand FL | Photo Credit: Stetson Mansion

2. The Christmas Mansion | DeLand, Florida

Imagine stepping back in time with a visit to the historic The Christmas Mansion (aka Stetson Mansion) – once the winter haven for famed hatter John B. Stetson. 

Constructed in 1886, this Victorian gem, located in DeLand, stands as a testament to opulence and architectural finesse from a bygone era.

“The Christmas Mansion is Florida’s most historic private home and our annual “Christmas Spectacular!” has made the 10Best list 5 years in a row. Each year owner JT Thompson designs and builds 10 different very elaborate room themes that relay the reason for the season, after all this is really a Christmas tour. We are touched that our guests leave with having a joyous and emotional experience.”

Michael Solari, Owner of Stetson Mansion

Key Features of The Christmas Mansion Experience:

  • Historical Significance: Established in 1886 by John B. Stetson, this mansion is steeped in history, once serving as a winter sanctuary for the famous hat maker.
  • Architectural Marvel: The mansion is renowned for its exquisite mosaic parquet flooring and the original leaded glass features, each element showcasing the grandeur of the Victorian era.
  • Holiday Decor: During the festive season, each of the mansion’s 10 distinct rooms is adorned with unique decorations sourced from around the globe, offering visitors a new and enchanting experience every year.
  • Tour Availability: The festive tours are available from early November through late January, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the holiday spirit within this historic setting.

Visiting The Christmas Mansion during the holidays is like stepping into a world where history and festive elegance intertwine. The global flair of the decorations in each room adds a unique touch to the mansion’s already impressive interior, making every visit a fresh and captivating experience.

This historic estate not only celebrates its rich heritage but also embraces the joy and wonder of the holiday season, making it a must-visit destination for those who cherish both history and holiday festivities.

1. Graceland | Memphis, Tennessee

Graceland, the iconic home of Elvis Presley in Memphis, Tennessee, offers a unique yuletide experience steeped in music history and festive charm.

During the holiday season, this famous residence transforms into a dazzling display of Christmas spirit, attracting visitors from all over the world.

“All of us at Graceland are thrilled to be recognized for the sixth year in a row. We do everything possible to honor Elvis’ love of the holidays and continue his traditions. Thank you, thankyouverymuch to all who voted!”

David Beckwith, Public Relations at Graceland

Key Highlights of the Graceland Holiday Experience:

  • Location: Situated in Memphis, TN, Graceland is not just a home but a landmark deeply associated with the legacy of Elvis Presley.
  • Christmas Season: The holiday festivities at Graceland kick off in mid-November, enveloping the estate in a festive atmosphere.
  • Holiday Displays: Visitors can marvel at the traditional Christmas lights, a life-size nativity scene, and an Elvis-themed Santa, all adding to the unique holiday experience.
  • Special Exhibits: The mansion showcases authentic Presley family holiday keepsakes, offering a personal glimpse into the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s family life.
  • Visitor Attraction: Annually, over half a million people visit Graceland during the holiday showcase, drawn by its unique blend of music history and festive decor.

A visit to Graceland during the Christmas season is more than just a tour; it’s an immersive experience into the world of Elvis Presley, adorned with the warmth and joy of the holidays.

The combination of the estate’s musical significance, the festive decorations, and the intimate display of Presley family keepsakes make it a must-visit destination for fans and holiday enthusiasts alike. Enjoy the unique yuletide atmosphere at the King’s castle, where music history, and holiday cheer come together in perfect harmony.

The Christmas Mansion at Stetson Mansion in DeLand Florida
The Christmas Mansion, DeLand FL | Photo Credit: Stetson Mansion

Take One of the Best Holiday Historic Home Tours This Christmas

These historic homes across the United States offer more than just a glimpse into the past; they provide a unique and immersive experience into the festive traditions of yesteryear.

From the opulent Biltmore in North Carolina to Elvis Presley’s iconic Graceland in Tennessee, each estate showcases its unique charm and history, adorned with holiday splendor.

These tours are not just about exploring grand architecture and historical artifacts; they’re about stepping into a world of holiday magic, where each room tells a story and every decoration sparks a sense of wonder. These homes are a must-visit for anyone looking to combine their love for history with the joy of the holiday season.