A stunning display of twinkling lights can dazzle the spirits and delight family members, both young and old. For many Portlanders, touring fantastic holiday light displays is a family tradition that appears at the top of to-do holiday list as soon as the last bite of Thanksgiving turkey is gone. Here are a few local holiday displays that will keep little eyes sparkling for day, so don’t delay!

girl-and-lightsphoto: Rain0975via flick

1.6 million lights will light up the Oregon Zoo at ZooLights. Families wander through the displays, which celebrate the animals who make the zoo home, as well as the rest of the natural world and the holiday season. Parking can be tricky, so go early, take MAX or bring plenty of patience and be ready to take a shuttle from the overflow lot.

$4.95-$14.95, free for members and kids 2 & under
Nov. 25-Jan. 1, 5-9 pm or later
4001 SW Canyon Rd.
Portland, Or
Online: oregonzoo.org

Aspen Meadow Lights
Come enjoy a family-focused experience at Aspen Meadow, where the pace is slow, and plenty of volunteers have been working at this free light display over their 20-plus years. This year’s theme is “Believe in Hope,” so your hearts should be warm, even if Jack Frost nips at your nose.

Dec. 10-27. Mon.-Thurs. 5-10 pm, Fri.-Sun. 5-11pm
24232 S. Upper Highland Rd.
Colton, Or
Online: aspenmeadowlights.com

Fantasy Trail at Wenzel Farm
Step into the woods for a walk through a lighted trail, as well as a Christmas-themed castle, suspension bridge, tunnel, maze, and crooked house. Refreshments and bonfires are offered every night for chilly wanderers.

Adults $6, kids 12 & under $5. Cash only.
Dec. 2-30, 6-9 pm, Mon. through Sat. Closed Dec. 24 & 25.
19754 South Ridge Road
Oregon City, Or
Online: fantasytrail.com

Festival of Lights at The Grotto
The Grotto is known as a place to walk in beauty and peace, and the annual Festival of Lights is no exception. But don’t worry — it’s not too austere for your young family, with plenty of kid-friendly activities like puppet shows, caroling, and live animals to go along with the opportunity for serene reflection.

$6-11, 2 & under free
Nov. 25-Dec. 30, 5-9:30 pm. Closed Christmas Day.
8840 NE Skidmore St. Enter at 85th and Sandy.
Portland, Or
Online: thegrotto.org

Christmas in the Garden-Kelley Gardiner (5)

photo: Christmas in the Garden by Kelley Gardiner

Christmas in the Garden
About an hour south of Portland, the Oregon Garden’s Christmas in the Garden may be more of a destination, but they make it worth your while with more holiday activities that will please every member of your family: ice skating, traditional German market for shopping, 500,000 Christmas lights in the forest, a snowless tubing track (new this year!) and carolers. There’ll be beer, spirits, mulled wine and hot chocolate to sip around bonfires as you explore the lights, too.

Check the website for hours, dates and rates for specific events and activities.
879 W. Main St.
Silverton, Or
Online: oregongarden.org

Christmas Ship Parade
Find your perfect perch, put some hot chocolate in the thermos, and watch the decorated ships head down the Willamette or Columbia. For an extra adventure, try taking Lake Oswego’s Willamette Shore Trolley to see the ships head down the Willamette. Be sure to check the schedule, as the ships take different routes throughout the season.

Dec. 2-18
Online: christmasships.org

Victorian Belle
The Victorian Belle, built in 1885, is a true beauty that serves as a wedding venue for most of the year. Over Christmas, it’s transformed to “The Miracle of a Million Lights” and crowds flock to see the elaborate display throughout the house and 2.5 acres of grounds. See over 30 decorated Christmas trees, drink hot chocolate and do some arts and crafts while you’re at it.

$3-6, 3 & under free
Dec. 10-23, 6-10 pm
1441 McClellan St.
Portland, Or
Online: victorianbelle.com


photo: Christmas Ships by Sam Churchill via flickr

Peacock Lane
Every year, residents of Southeast Portland’s Peacock Lane pull out all the stops to put on a dazzling light display that draws people from all over the Portland area. The organizers recommend that you enjoy the lights on foot, and we have to agree. There’s going to be traffic, so park several blocks away, head to the cocoa station, and enjoy your stroll! If you need to go by car, check out the schedule for car-free nights and Facebook for as-needed street closures.

Dec. 15-31, 5-11 pm
SE Peacock Lane, between SE Stark and Belmont Streets
Portland, Or
Online: peacocklane.org

What’s your family’s favorite holiday light display? Let us know in the comments!

—Kelley Gardiner