Santa Claus House and Statue
North Pole, Alaska
The town of Davis changed its name to North Pole in 1953 and adopted the slogan, "Where the Spirit of Christmas Lives Year Round." It hoped to attract toy manufacturers which could then boast, "Made at the North Pole," and although that plan failed, the town is still the northernmost Santa-themed tourist attraction -- and therein lies its flaw.
The joke with Santa Lands in the lower 48 is that they are plain silly -- akin to a Wild West Town in New Jersey, or a miniature China in Texas. Look, kids -- Santa sweating in 90 degree heat! Ho! Ho! Ho!
A North Pole in Alaska suffers from diminished comedy opportunities in its wan polar light. What's the fun of an artificially iced North "Pole" in a place where the winter temperature slides to 70 degrees below zero?*
Yet North Pole, Alaska -- a mere 150 miles south of the Arctic Circle -- has the edge on all those other North Poles and Christmas Lands when it comes to kid cred. The town receives mountains of mail from all over the world, answered by a "Santa," or SASEs at least postmarked from the North Pole (Zip code is 99705).
For those who make the trip in person, there are worthy sights. The town's streets are lit with candy cane light poles. And there really is a red-and-white "North Pole" in the town park, supposedly infused with Pole-power by a trip to the actual North Pole, courtesy of the local Air Force base.
A 42-foot-tall Santa, supposedly the World's Largest, stands on Richardson Highway. He was built in 1968 by Wes Stanley for Seattle's Westlake Mall. Con Miller, founder of Santa Claus House, bought Santa and moved him here in 1983. Santa's "nice list," which he is inspecting, was last updated in 2000.
* Turns out it can climb as high as 93 degrees in the summer, but all an overheated St. Nick has to do is throw himself down on the permafrost.