I grew up in Michigan but my family spent every summer in Santa Cruz, California (my dad is a professor and he taught at USCS, at their summer language institute). We looooooved going there, it's such a cool town and the campus is gorgeous. I have tons of amazing memories, but one of the most random ones is of a little place called Santa's Village. Santa's Village was a Christmas-themed, er...."theme" park built in 1958. The idea was to bring Christmas joy to children all year round. Kind of insane and yet....totally amazing! My brother and I were fascinated by the place (we would pass it on the highway whenever we were taking a weekend road trip) and would beg our parents to let us go. Sadly it was already shut down (I think it closed in 1978??), but one day they pulled over and we were able to sneak on to the grounds and wander around the cobwebby rides. My favorites were the flying Christmas balls (kind of like the Dumbo ride at Disneyland, only with xmas ornaments!) and of course all the little gingerbread houses.
[EDIT: I just asked my mom if we actually went inside, because I for some reason I felt like I actually was able to go inside when it was still running but then I thought maybe it was just wishful thinking on my part. Mom confirmed that we actually DID visit Santa's Village in 1977, the year before it closed! She said somewhere there are some photos of us on the little train ride. Whoo hoo!]
"Residents of Santa's Village included Santa and Mrs. Claus, their elves who operated the rides and sold tickets. There was a baby petting zoo filled with goats, sheep, bunnies, ducks, deer and a Mexican burro. All the buildings were designed to look like log chalet-type structures, repleat with snowy roofs and gingerbread trim. The park had a gingerbread house, a elf toy factory, a lollipop tree and brightly colored gift shops. Around the village were tree-top tall wooden soldiers and candy canes. Santa himself had a huge mailbox to accept all the letters from children around the world."