This Little Miami River Valley community has been celebrating Christmas since 1796, when Shakers founded the town (30 miles north of Cincinnati). Brick sidewalks line Broadway, the main thoroughfare, edged with narrow brick and stone storefronts. The downtown looks as if it could have been drawn from the pages of a Dickens tale.
Charles Dickens, in fact, numbers among notables who stayed at The Golden Lamb. The former stagecoach stop, now an inn and restaurant, remains the town's crown jewel and hub of Christmas merriment.
Holiday festivities peak the first weekend of December, with costumed characters, booths selling hot cider and cookies, and two antique horse-drawn carriage parades. Candles light the evening procession, which travels through the 12-block downtown past The Golden Lamb, sleigh bells tinkling in the night.
Visitors stroll through the inn's white-columned entry for feasts of turkey or goose. Most carry packages from the 30-plus antiques shops, along with galleries and gift emporiums.
Festive paisleys and plaids create a red-and-green wonderland at Oh Suzanna, which specializes in holiday linens, quilts, bedclothes and Indian blankets. For primitives and antiques, visit Country Traditions, where you also can shop for vintage ornaments for your tree and Christmas stockings.
Even if you're intent on only giving candy as gifts, you'll end up snacking on an opera cream or buttery macadamia toffee at the Golden Turtle Chocolate Factory near the towering Christmas tree at the Main and Broadway intersection.
For truly unusual buys, investigate Gerhardt Tribal Art at the north end of downtown, which sells tie-dyed dresses from the Ivory Coast, Navajo weavings and Asian antiquities. Specialty Candles just south of downtown scents the season with varieties in 22 custom-blended fragrances.
One of the handmade tapers there is perfect for the evening carriage parade on festival weekend. Light it and join the thousands celebrating the yesteryear flavor of Lebanon's holidays.