There’s just something about twinkling lights that helps bring out the magic of the holiday season. Synced to music, boosted by Santa meet and greets, and even dusted with a sprinkling of snow (real and faux), these homes and sometimes entire streets, known as “Candy Cane Lanes,” bring the joy. Get out to take a gander or peer in wonder from the warmth of your car – either way these displays are sure to wow.

Photo: Hal Morgan via flickr

Baltimore, MD
Also known as the “Miracle on 34th Street,” this strip in Hampden has been featured on “Nightline” and the Travel Channel. It started over 70 years ago – yes, you read that correctly – and has grown into a much-anticipated event that lights up holiday nights and hearts. Check the website for a map on where to park.

Where: 700 block of 34th St., between Keswick Rd. and Chestnut St. (Baltimore, Md)
When: Daily from 6 pm to 11 pm (through Jan. 1)

Sterling, VA
This area is a hot spot for holiday happiness. Several homeowners in this neighborhood break out their extension cords to create twinkling presentations. Holly’s Tacky Christmas Lights recommends swinging through nearby Sterling Boulevard and side streets off Juniper such as Coffee and Elm Tree, particularly the musical light show at 47807 Blockhouse Point Pl. While you’re in the area, stop at 21244 Millwood Square, a townhouse that has packed a lot into a little space.

Where: East Juniper Ave. (Sterling, VA)

Alexandria, VA
Homeowner Bill Vaughan began decorating his house more than two decades ago, but when a worker at a retirement home across the street told him how happy the display made the residents, he realized that “this was bigger than decorating the house for the whole family.” Today, it is the largest animated residential display in Virginia, according to his website.

Where: 1601 Collingwood Rd. (Alexandria, VA)
When: 5 pm to 10 pm weekdays; 5 pm to 10:30 pm weekends and Christmas week; through Jan. 6

Clifton, VA
This adorable, historic town is worth a look during the day. At night, take a drive along Henderson Road to look at the lights at one house in particular that has been doing it up for years, according to Holly’s Tacky Lights. Try to squeeze in the town’s Holiday Homes Tour, an annual December event during which residents open their homes to the public, and local eateries and stores offer specials.

Where: 11610 Henderson Rd. (Clifton, VA)
When: 5:30 pm to 11 pm, through Jan. 6

Reston, VA 
More than 200,000 white lights cover this lovely home and its landscaping on the corner of Stones Throw Drive. The homeowner uses the display to accept donations from onlookers for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Other homes in the area also go all out, so leave yourself some time to drive around.


Where: 11303 Stones Throw Dr. (Reston,VA)
When: Nightly, through Jan. 6

Dowell, MD
The walking tour at Annmarie Garden takes visitors on a stunning trek through handmade light sculptures, featuring everything from animals to pirates. Bonus: Stick around after your stroll for some family-fun entertainment. You’ll feel good about spending $7 (ages 5 and up) for this sparkling showcase.

Where: 13480 Dowell Rd. (Dowell, MD)
When: Nov. 30-Jan. 1, 6 pm-9 pm (closed Dec. 7-9, 14-15, 24-25)

—Ayren Jackson-Cannady and Stephanie Kanowitz