You want to dazzle your kids with a spectacular display that will make Times Square look dim. You’re craving the sight of streets and homes that pack so much wattage they look like they might short circuit a whole city block or two, Clark Griswold style. Well, one of these bright spots is sure to have exactly what you’re looking for.
photo credit: Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association
Wild for Lights: Los Angeles Zoo
The all-new “L.A. Zoo Lights” event brings holiday dazzle back in a big way to Griffith Park for the first time since the beloved DWP Light Festival closed in 2009. Starting November 28 from 6-10 p.m., visit the zoo while the animals sleep and watch it transform into a magical winter jungle with lights, lasers, 3D projections and interactive displays. Animated LED “monkeys” lead the way through various “only in Los Angeles” displays (including animals on a freeway). Giant floating snowflakes, weekend visits from Santa, holiday themed treats, and the only place in town to visit real reindeer make this an experience your family won’t forget. Admission is $13 for adults and $11 for children ages 2 to 12. Get the early bird online rate of $8 when you go before December 11.
photo credit: Wakefield Court’s facebook page
Storytime Walk: Wakefield Court, Saugus
BYOC (cocoa, peeps) to this winter wonderland in the northern Los Angeles area. You can drive or walk in and out of the glowing double cul-de-sacs which feature unique themes from Star Wars to Gingerbread House displays. Because of the self-guided Night Before Christmas story you can read along the route, it’s best on foot. There’s always a community charity drive (this year it’s to bring unwrapped toys for the local Boys and Girls Club). Weeknights are the least congested times to visit and the lights are on from 5-10:30 p.m.
photo credit: The Grove’s facebook page
The Biggest Tree: The Grove, Los Angeles
Complete with Santa and his reindeer streaking across the sky, The Grove is a great spot to see some beautiful holiday lights. With Los Angeles’ largest Christmas tree and the fountain’s water show set to holiday tunes, this place is sure to elicit “oohs” and “ahhs” from your little ones. While you’re there you can try to catch Santa in his gingerbread-themed workshop.
Not So Sleepy: Sleepy Hollow Christmas Lights Extravaganza, Torrance
One of the more popular light displays on this list, the entire neighborhood comes out with lights, Christmas icons, and tons of holiday cheer. You’ll find this California winter wonderland at Robert Road off Pacific Coast Highway, north of Calle Mayor. This neighborhood comes out in full force for the holiday with groups touring the area in golf carts and local kids selling hot chocolate. Park and walk – traffic moves at a turtle’s pace.
photo credit: Naplesca.com
A Beachy Display: Naples Island, Long Beach
If you are looking for a beachy Christmas vibe, check out the canals of Naples. Nestled in a Long Beach inlet, this tiny island provides some really splendid private home light displays, a Christmas Boat Parade on December 13, and a stunning view of the bay dotted with floating lighted Christmas trees. A great spot for an evening stroll, the waterfront walkways are child friendly, and there’s no traffic to worry about.
photo: Julia H. via Yelp
Drive By Lighting: Candy Cane Lane, Woodland Hills
This little West Valley neighborhood is a couple blocks, centered on the intersection of Oxnard Street and Lubao Avenue in Woodland Hills. It’s more of a stay-in-your-car adventure, but the closer you get to Christmas, the longer it can take (up to two hours), so plan on going early. Several houses sell hot chocolate and holiday snacks. This is a baby-friendly spot with lots of families walking with baby carriers and strollers.
photo credit: Love Beverly Hills’s facebook page
Posh Electricity: Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills
For a more glamorous excursion, check out the brightly lit storefronts and street displays on Rodeo Drive. Grab a hot chocolate and stroll south down Rodeo Drive starting at South Santa Monica Boulevard. Make sure you make it down to Rodeo Two, a pedestrian street between Dayton Way and Wilshire Boulevard, where you can catch Santa, the Mrs. or some carolers, depending on the night. This year there are crystal chandeliers galore, making it the sparkliest outing on our list.
Thematically, Spot On: Hastings Ranch, Pasadena
This Pasadena area neighborhood will be a sure hit with your little elves. Starting December 7, each block has its own theme – from Santa’s Toy Shop to a snowy Winter Wonderland. This is a large neighborhood with a ton to see, so driving is recommended. Most drivers go slowly so you can enjoy it as if you’re walking.
photo credit: Jen S. via Yelp
Oldie & Goodie: Christmas Tree Lane, Altadena
Purported to be the oldest large scale Christmas light display in the country, Altadena’s Christmas Tree Lane is sure to get you in the spirit. If you head out this way be sure to visit the Balian House, a 4-acre property and mansion with over 10,000 holiday lights and Christmas decorations.
A Majestic Stroll: Saint Albans Road, San Marino
Saint Albans is lined with tall majestic pines that are all bedecked in colored lights for the season. This old San Marino neighborhood will delight munchkins and grownups alike with its stately old California architecture all dressed up for the holidays. This is a short trek, so bundle up, park the car and take a stroll.
photo credit: Yolandalights.com
Tunnel of Lights: Yolanda Lights, Reseda
Located on the 7300 block of Yolanda Ave south of Valerio, this holiday light tunnel is ideal for those who want to walk, bike, blade, or take a stroller through a beautifully lit tunnel. It runs down both sides of the street, so there’s plenty of room for your little ones to go zooming through. Don’t forget to sign the photo guestbook at the end of your walk.
photo credit: Mission Inn
There’s Light at the Inn: Mission Inn, Riverside
The Festival of Lights at the Mission Inn Hotel features one of the nation’s largest holiday light displays of its kind. The castle-like, historic hotel is illuminated nightly with nearly 4 million holiday lights. There are also visits from Santa Claus, the world’s largest man-made mistletoe, horse-drawn carriage rides, freshly fallen snow, an elaborately decorated Christmas tree in the hotel lobby and tasty holiday confections at Casey’s Cupcakes in the Inn.
Do you have a favorite neighborhood spot to see festive lights? We want to hear about it!