From the simple to the sublime, there is something about twinkling Christmas lights that takes the Grinch out of everyone. From the rainy streets of Seattle to the Blackland prairies in Texas, everyone seems to get in on the act. With miles of twinkle lights, singing snowmen and even a two-story-tall Santa Claus, we found some of the best Christmas light displays from coast to coast. Truly, these neighborhoods are hard to beat, so bundle up, because you’ve never seen anything like these Candy Cane Lanes.
***COVID Update: Please check each individual website for updated information.***
Highland Park - Dallas, TX
Highland Park is all dressed up from Nov. 29 through Dec. 31, with a big "Christmas Lights and Shopping Stroll" at Highland Park Village from 4-8 on Dec 5. Other great views can be found near Mockingbird, along Armstrong & Preston, where giant pecan trees glitter with lights and old historic homes are decked out with professional quality light shows. The best part? This neighborhood has taken a back seat to the more popular Interlochen in Arlington—which means way fewer crowds and tons of snap-worthy spots. There are several carriage services to choose from, be sure to BYOC (that’s hot chocolate to you) and don’t forget carrots for that pony up in the front.
Happyland Christmas - Raleigh, NC
For almost 20 years the Moore family has been putting up quite a show at their home in Raleigh, NC (5504 Huntingwood Dr.). Bobby Moore says that the lights are put up in the memory of his nephew Rick who passed away in 2004. "In his short life, he always wanted us to put up "more lights," he says on his Facebook page. Their home was even chosen for ABC's Great Christmas Light Fight.
Wakefield Winter Wonderland - Saugus, CA
Featuring live music and over-the-top Christmas decorating, Wakefield Court’s Winter Wonderland keeps the lights on nightly from Sun. Dec. 1 until Fri. Dec. 27 from 5:30-10:30 p.m. With over 40 homes taking part this neighborhood, it's pretty popular, and with a wait of over an hour at times, it’s a great idea to park and enjoy a brisk winter walk while oohing and aahing over the displays. Adding meaning to the season, there is a charity toy drop off near where the band plays. Wakefield Court is located in Saugus, CA.
Check out more of the best lights Los Angeles has to offer here.
Christmas Tree Lane - Alameda, CA
The whole block between High and Fernside on Thompson Avenue in Alameda is home to Christmas Tree Lane, which is one of the most festive spots in all of the Bay Area. You'll find friendly folks out for viewing parties, beautiful lights, and even a tap-dancing tree or two (We swear!). The lights will be on Sat. Dec. 1 through New Year's Eve and Santa will be there, weather permitting. Check out their Facebook page for the most up-to-date info!
Find all of the Bay Area's best spots by clicking here.
The Lights of Christmas - Stanwood, WA
More than one million Christmas lights will be displayed over 15 acres at Warm Beach Camp in Stanwood, WA (20800 Marine Dr.) The Lights of Christmas Festival is the largest holiday light display in the Pacific Northwest and this year, it's a drive-thru experience! Also, reservations can be made for overnight accommodations in holiday-themed lodges and for Dinner Theatre and Sunday Dessert Matinee. The lights will be on from 5-10 p.m. from Nov. 27-29, Dec 2-6, 9-13, 16-23, 26-30. Tickets range from $20-25.
Find more sweet spots in Seattle here.
Peacock Lane - Portland, OR
Peacock Lane has been a Portland tradition since the 1920s, and every home in the community has been decorating since 1932. Located between SE Stark Street and Belmont Street & one block East of Cesar Chavez/SE 39th, this row of beautiful Tudor-style homes shine from Dec. 15-31 from 6-11 p.m. Not only will you find beautiful sparkling lights, but also nativity scenes, rotating Christmas trees and stunningly life-like replicas of Santa and Frosty. Since this is pretty popular, Dec. 15-17 have been designated “pedestrian only” nights.
Find the prettiest lights in all of Portland here.
Dyker Heights - Brooklyn, NY
When thinking about how to describe the holiday light displays in the southwest Brooklyn neighborhood of Dyker Heights, “totally” and “awesome” hit the nail on the head. Residents are always engaged in friendly competition to out-dazzle each other, so homes here are decked out with two-story-high toy soldiers and Santas, mannequins enacting holiday scenes, armies of oversized inflatables, and yes, lights. Lots and lots of lights. Book a tour with a local Brooklynite or brave the crowds on your own. Best streets to stroll include 83rd through 86th Sts. and 11-13th Aves.
Grab all the holiday displays in New York here.
Wright's Lights and More - Dayton, TX
No snow? No problem! The Wright family plan months ahead of time for their magical "Wright's Light and More" presentation featuring vintage blow molds, a reindeer forest, a life-size manger scene, a peek into Santa's workshop, playful penguins playing on the lake and a 15-foot-tall reindeer! You can find it 8605 FM 1960, Dayton, TX, 77535.
Belardo Lights - San Diego, CA
Located in Tierrasanta at 5306 Belado Dr., this one-house masterpiece is truly a must-see beginning on November 30, 2019. Belardo Lights started in 2006 as a way for the Schimka family to give their two autistic sons, Brandon and Stephen, their very own light show for the holidays. This labor of love has more than 100,000 lights, is a heartwarming tradition for many families and continues to be an anxiously anticipated event each holiday season. In 2018, they were able to raise $13,000 in donations to help support the Stein Education Center. Turn your car radio to 106.1 FM to hear the holiday music played in sync with the lights.
Discover other SoCal spots to see light here.
Historic Brookhaven - Atlanta, GA
Home to several impressive displays, this historic Atlanta neighborhood deserves a look. A local favorite at the corner of Winall and Peachtree Dunwoody (located at 901 Winall Down Road) shines the brightest. Using hundreds of light-up inflatables, this spot is totally worth any potential late-night meltdowns from little passengers. Admission to the wow-worthy display is free, but for a cause; visitors can purchase baked goods or make a donation to benefit The Genesis Shelter, a women’s shelter.
Find more amazing Atlanta spots here.
Winter Lights Festival - Washington D.C.
Trip the lights fantastic with an impressive tour of the Winter Lights Festival in Seneca Creek State Park at 11950 Clopper Rd. (Gaithersburg, Md), where more than 450 illuminated displays and trees might the night time bright. Drive through a 3.5 mile Winter Wonderland, have tea in Teddy Bear Land, hit up the North Pole and watch the penguins slide, all from the cozy comfort of your own ride. Open nightly from Nov. 29 – Dec. 31 (closed on Christmas). Drive-thru cost $15 (Mon.-Thur.), $20 (Fr.-Sun.) Save $3 if you purchase your tickets online!
Find more dazzling displays in Washington D.C. here.
Candy Cane Lane - Seattle, WA
Celebrating 70 years, Candy Cane Lane has been a Seattle institution since 1949. Located on NE Park Road, just off the main drag of Ravenna Boulevard at the cross street of 21st Avenue NE and just north of U Village, this neighborhood features a curved row of 23 adorably decorated houses—mostly 1920s-era Tudors that are so sweet they look like you could have plucked them right off a gingerbread house display. Be on the lookout for the big guy in red; he can be found handing out candy canes to the brave (and well bundled!) bunches out for a stroll. The lights will be on from Dec. 7 through Jan. 1, 2020. Candy Cane Lane is open 4-9:30 p.m. Sun-Thur, and 4-11 p.m. Fri. and Sat. Dec. 19 has been designated at a "pedestrian only" night.
Find more sweet spots in Seattle here.
Franktown Festival Of Lights - Nashville, TN
Williamson County's only drive-thru light display is set up for their second year with some big new additions. Over 200 displays can be seen at the Christmas and Holiday Lights Spectacular. Families can relax in the comfort of their own car as they wind their way through a mile of fantastic displays while listening to Christmas classics on the radio. Plus, look for Lee Company's Santa Village, where you can get your photo with Santa and enjoy hot drinks and cookies; kids can experience a camel ride, visit the petting zoo, take in some holiday activities and hop on the Ferris wheel and carousel! Located at Williamson County Ag Center at 4215 Long Lane, viewings will be available nightly Nov. 22 - Dec. 28, 2019 from 6-10 p.m. The $25-per-car ticket will help support inner-city youth through Franktown Open Hearts. Tickets can be purchased here.
Christmas in the Park - Lee's Summit, MO
This year marks the 32nd annual Christmas in the Park, a favorite yuletide attraction for many families and with good reason. Held at the Longview Campground (1499 SW County Park Rd.), this event boasts of over 500,000 lights and 175 animated displays. Admission is free, but donations are gladly accepted and will go toward 35 local charities, so it’s a win-win for everyone! Christmas in the Park runs from Nov. 25 – Jan. 2, 2020. Hours are 5:30-10 p.m. Sun.-Thur. and 5:30-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat.
Legendary Lights - Clifton, OH
Featured in both Midwest Living and Ohio Magazine, the Clifton Mill Legendary Lights has been known as one of the country’s best light displays for 30 years. Located at 75 Water St., over 3.5 million lights illuminate the mill, gorge, riverbanks, trees and bridges. There's even a 100-foot “waterfall” of twinkling lights! Don’t miss the miniature village, the Santa Claus Museum, the large toy collection and a spectacular synchronized lights and music show that features the old Covered Bridge. The lights come on every night at 6 p.m. and shut down at 9 p.m. (except for Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Eve in which they close at 8:00 p.m.) from Nov. 29 – Dec. 30, 2019. Tickets are $10 a person, and kids age 3 and under get in free.
Illuminations Tour - Boston, MA
Every year, families revel in the annual Illuminations Tour by way of a trolley car in Sommerville. Each house adds its own artistic spin on the decorations—you’ll even catch a glimpse of an animatronic elf or two. The 45-minute trolley tour leaves from the Somerville High School Field House where you’ll find hot coffee, hot chocolate and cookies not to mention craft activities for the kids. This year’s tour will take place on Dec. 11- Jan. 1st with trollies leaving at 4:30, 5:00, 5:45, 6:15, 7:00, 7:30, 8:15, 8:45. 9:15. As a fundraiser for the Arts Council, tickets to the event are $15/adults and $8/kids age 12 and under as well as seniors age 65 or better!
—Jeff Totey with Gabby Cullen
Featured image: iStock