50 Best Places to See Christmas Lights in America

Family Travel on 12.14.11
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Photo: Sister72/Creative Commons

No matter where you're spending your holidays this year, there's a beautiful light display near you. You may need to shell out a few dollars for the right to drive through a few miles of dancing reindeer and twinking snowmen, or you might be lucky enough to have an entire neighborhood of Griswolds in your area. Here are 50 of the best places in America to see Christmas lights in 2011.

1. Bellingrath Gardens Magic Christmas in Lights (Mobile, Alabama)

Stroll through over 3 million sparkling lights and over 950 displays throughout the 65 acre Garden estate.  Enjoy nightly choral performances on the South Terrace of the Bellingrath Home. (Bellingrath Gardens, 11/25 - 12/31, closed 12/25)

2. Christmas in Ice (North Pole, Alaska)

The city claims to have the Christmas spirit all year long, but only during the winter holidays can you enjoy Christmas-themed ice art in the park next door to Santa's house. (Ice Park, 12/3 - 1/8)

3. Arizona Celebration of Lights (Phoenix, Arizona)

More than 7  million lights will make up one mile of light displays you can drive through. You can also visit Santa's Village and enjoy hot chocolate and photos with Santa. (Phoenix Event Complex, 11/18 - 1/1)

christmas lights along the water
Photo: Corey Leopold/Creative Commons

4. Lights on the Landscape (Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas)

More than 1.8 million holiday lights transform the woodland landscape of Garvan Gardens into a winter wonderland.  The displays feature traditional holiday scenes as well as themes from nature, like the butterfly display. (Garvan Gardens, 11/19 - 12/31)

5. Riverside Festival of Lights (Riverside, California)

The historic Mission Inn is decorated with about 3.5 million lights  and over 400 animated figures decorate the surrounding area. Dickens' carolers sing from the balconies above and you can visit Santa in his workshop, or go ice skating at the Main Street rink. (Main Street Riverside, 11/25 - 12/24)

6. Blossoms of Light (Denver, Colorado)

A unique viewing experience, this light display highlights the beauty of a winter garden. Marvel at lights, ice sculptures, and an ice sleigh available for family photos. (Denver Botanical Gardens, 12/2 - 1/1)

best places to see christmas lights
Photo: Denver Botanical Gardens

7. Fantasy of Lights (New Haven, Connecticut)

This drive-through light display celebrates 17 years of holiday tradition this year. Proceeds benefit the local Easter Seals organization. (Lighthouse Point Park, 11/18 - 1/7)

8. Faucher Family Christmas House (New Castle, Delaware)

Local and national news repeatedly compares this family home to Clark Griswold, but the reality is Clark's display didn't come close to what the Fauchers do each year. Over 1 million lights illuminate this private home at a cost of about $82,000 per Christmas season. (1054 Red Lion Road, New Castle)

9. The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights (Orlando, Florida)

What started as an Arkansas family's home display has become one of the largest light display in the country - so big it had to go Disney! Hollywood Studios hosts this spectacle of dancing lights and has added free hot chocolate and magical snow fall. (Hollywood Studios, 11/10 - 1/7)

osborne christmas lights
Photo: jeffNdeb/Creative Commons

10. Magical Nights of Lights  (Buford, Georgia)

Walk or drive through a  seven-mile tour of holiday displays featuring millions of lights. The trail ends at the Holiday Village, where kids will can visit to Santa and go for a pony ride. (Lake Lanier Island Resorts, 11/18 - 1/1)

11. Kauai's Festival of Lights (Kauai, Hawaii)

This is a celebration of the holidays and folk art. For nearly 40 years, this tradition started by local artist Auntie Josie Chansky has allowed visitors to enjoy Christmas folk art decorations. (Kauai County Building, 12/2 12/24)

12. Coeur d'Alene Resort Holiday Light Show (Coeur d'Alene, Idaho)

Billed as the largest floating holiday light show, more than 1.5 million lights sparkle on the water of Lake Coeur d'Alene. Watch from the shore or take a holiday cruise to get a closer look. (The Coeur d'Alene Resort, 11/26 - 1/1)

christmas lights
Photo: Jurvetson/Creative Commons

13. ZooLights (Chicago, Illinois)

Lots of zoos put up holiday lights this time of year, but the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago takes it a step farther by handing out 3D glasses to enhance the experience. (Lincoln Park Zoo, 12/16 - 1/1, closed 12/24 and 12/25)

14. Christmas in The Country (Sharpsville, Indiana)

The lights blink and dance in time to holiday music. Every night you can enjoy a 45-minute show featuring 10 holiday songs played over your car radio. (Sharpsville Lights, 11/25 - 12/30)

15. Reflections in the Park (Dubuque, Iowa)

Twinkling lights, animated displays, and holiday music bring the small town park to life each year. (Murphy Park, 11/24 - 1/1)

christmas lights on a wreath
Photo: Aloshbennett/Creative Commons

16. Isle of Lights (Winfield, Kansas)

This drive-through community light display is set to holiday music. This year the display is going green with new LED lights. (Island Park, 11/24 - 12/30)

17. Winter Wonderland of Lights (Ashland, Kentucky)

Park the car and stroll through 52 acres of holiday displays. Children can hop aboard a train and visit with Santa. (Central Park, 11/14 - 1/5)

18. Celebration in the Oaks (New Orleans, Louisiana)

New Orleans' City Park is one of the country's most beautiful public parks, and the holidays add even more beauty. Walk through lights, play in the amusement park, or go ice skating. (City Park, 12/2 - 1/1, Closed 12/24 and 12/31)

christmas light display
Photo: MSVG/Creative Commons

19. Wilton Lights (Wilton, Maine)

This animated light display is put on by a local family every year and includes holiday music transmitted to your car radio by a low-wattage transmitter. (Wilton, 12/11 - 1/6)

20. Miracle on 34th Street (Baltimore, Maryland)

For more than six decades, homeowners on Baltimore's 34th street have been going all out every year to wow visitors with light displays. One house has trains on the roof and another displays Christmas trees made from hub caps. There's even a ball drop on New Year's Eve. (Christmas Street, 11/26 - 1/2)

21. Bright Nights ( Springfield, Massachusetts)

Giant displays feature more than 600,000 lights along a three-mile route through historic Forest Park. (Forest Park, 11/23 - 1/1)

christmas decorations
Photo: Jennifer Donley/Creative Commons

22.  The Big, Bright Light Show (Rochester, Michigan)

Local business owners get together to light up the night. Buildings are covered with holiday lights and a massive tree is turned into the Dazzling Tree of Lights. (Downtown, 11/28 - 1/1)

23. Bentleyville Tour of Lights (Duluth, Minnesota)

More than 3  million lights make the shores of Lake Superior sparkle in one of the Midwest's largest holiday lights displays. (Bayfront Festival Park, 11/19 - 12/26)

24. Southern Lights (Southaven, Mississippi)

The city of Southaven sets out over half a million lights for visitors in an effort to raise money for local charities each year. (Central Park, 11/24 - 12/31, closed 12/25)

holiday lights
Photo: DaveyNin/Creative Commons

25. Santa's Magical Kingdom (St. Louis, Missouri)

Wind your way through over 35 acres of holiday lights and displays. Highlights include Santa's flying reindeer, Candy Cane Village, and the Waterfall of Lights. (Jellystone Park, 11/18 - 1/8)

26. Zoo Lights (Billings, Montana)

Zoo Lights is a 2.5 mile drive through holiday lights. Proceeds benefit the Easter Seals organization. (Zoo Montana, 12/15 - 12/24)

27. Shining Light Celebration (Gothenburg, Nebraska)

The local KOA campground lights up for the holidays and welcomes visitors - with our without a tent - to celebrate. (KOA, 12/18 - 12/31)

holiday light display
Photo: Tiffany/Creative Commons

28. Glitter Lights (Las Vegas, Nevada)

Drive through more than two miles of lights and be dazzled by more than 400 animated displays. (Las Vegas Motor Speedway, 11/18 - 1/1)

29. Gift of Lights (Loudon, New Hampshire)
Another speedway spectacle, this one features more than 1 million LED lights. (New Hampshire Motor Speedway, 11/18 - 1/1)

30. Holiday Festival of Lights (Camden, New Jersey)

Friday and Saturday nights come alive at the local Children's Garden during the holiday season. Enjoy over 100,000 lights decorating 4.5 acres of gardens. (Camden Children's Garden, 11/28 - 1/2)

christmas lights in a garden
Photo: chrisbb/Creative Commons

31. River of Lights (Albuquerque, New Mexico)

Enjoy the New Mexico's largest walk-through light show at the Botanic Garden. (Botanic Garden, 11/26 - 12/30, closed 12/24 and 12/25)

32. Dyker Lights (Brooklyn, New York)

One of the most famous lighting displays in one of the most famous cities in the world is in a residential neighborhood in Brooklyn. Hop on the subway and head out to see neighbors out doing neighbors in the spirit of holiday tradition. (Dyker Heights, no official date, mid-December recommended)

33. Christmas at Biltmore (Asheville, North Carolina)

America's largest house, Biltmore House, features dozens of Christmas trees and miles of ribbon, garland and lights. Live holiday music is performed inside the house during the season. (Biltmore Estate, 11/11 - 12/31)

go to see christmas lights
Photo: alwright1/Creative Commons

34. Christmas in the Park (Bismarck, North Dakota)

For just $5 per car, families can drive through the local park and enjoy a holiday lighting display sponsored by local businesses. (Sertoma Park, 12/1 - 12/31)

35. The Legendary Lights at Clifton Mill (Clifton, Ohio)

More than 3.5 million lights cover the countryside for a display that's been featured in national magazines and other media. Drive through a lighted covered bridge and visit a Santa museum. (Clifton Mill, 11/26 - 1/1)

36. Garden of Lights (Muskogee, Oklahoma)

City volunteers come together to create spectacular lighting displays through the city park each year. The animated displays featuring animals and children playing in the gardens are always a big hit. (Honor Heights Park, 11/25 - 1/1)

christmas lights on a house
Photo: daveparker/Creative Commons

37. The Lights of Peacock Lane (Portland, Oregon)

Since the 1920s, each house in this Portland neighborhood has been decorating for the holidays. Today, displays include bright lights, nativity scenes, and Christmas trees. (Peacock Lane, 12/15 - 12/31).

38. Hershey Sweet Lights (Hershey, Pennsylvania)

You have to believe that a candy company knows how to make kids smile during the holidays. This drive-through display boasts over 600 lighted scenes. (Hershey Park, 11/18 - 12/31)

39. Christmas at the Newport Mansions (Newport, Rhode Island)

You can't move in, but you can marvel at the beautiful decorations at The Breakers, The Elms, and Marble House. (Newport Mansions, 11/19 - 1/2)

big christmas light display
Photo: MSVG/Creative Commons

40. Lights of Hope (Anderson, South Carolina)

Enjoy the glow of 2.5 million lights and the warm, fuzzy feeling of knowing your money is going to help children in need. (Darwin Wright Park, 11/24 - 12/25)

41. Festival of Lights (Aberdeen, South Dakota)

If driving through your neighborhood doesn't give you enough holiday cheer, head to Wylie Park and pay $5 per car to see twinkling lights and dancing Santas. (Wylie Park, 11/26 - 12/26)

42. Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland (Nashville, Tennessee)

There are four Shadrack locations around the country, including this bright light bonanza that comes to life once a year. What started as a local holiday display behind a boat store  in West Knoxville has turned into one of the world's largest drive through light displays. (Jellystone Park, 11/1 - 1/8)

best christmas lights
Photo: MSVG/Creative Commons

43. Austin's 37th Street (Austin, Texas)

There might have been a miracle over on 34th, but in Texas you'll find all the action on 37th. This residential street brings the "everything's bigger in Texas" philosophy to holiday decorating. (37th Street, no official dates)

44. Christmas Utah (Murray, Utah)

Every year one man puts out a display so spectacular, he stops traffic for miles around. Marty, the magician behind the lights, has said that 2011 will be the last year for his notorious display. (Whispering Pine Circle, 11/25 - 1/1)

45. Billings Farm (Woodstock, Vermont)

While not especially known for their lights, Woodstock has been voted one of the most "Christmassy" towns in America. Hop in a sleigh and tour Billings Farm & Museum to see how the holidays were celebrated in the 19th century. (Billings Farm, 12/3 - 1/1)

pretty christmas lights
Photo: Phil Roeder/Creative Commons

46. 100  Miles of Lights (Richmond to Virginia Beach, Virginia)

Seeing this display will take a while, and you might need to book a hotel. Actually, this is a collection of lights and decorations spread over 7 Virginia towns. (Virginia, no official dates)

47. Candy Cane Light (Seattle, Washington)

Another neighborhood celebration, this one has been lighting up ark Road and Ravenna Boulevard in Seattle since the 1940s. (Ravenna Boulevard, 12/10 - 12/31)

48. Oglebay's Winter Festival of Lights (Wheeling, West Virginia)

Take a six-mile drive through one of the largest and light displays in the country. Pass through a tunnel filled with twinkling snowflakes and wave as you pass by Snoopy and the gang. (Ogelbay Resort, 11/11 - 1/8)

home christmas lights
Photo: CP Storm/Creative Commons

49. WPS Garden of Lights (Green Bay, Wisconsin)

There may be other light displays in other parts of the state, but this is the town they bring the Super Bowl trophies to, so we're featuring this one. Visitors can walk through a 60-foot lighted caterpillar and take a wagon ride through an icicle forest. (Green Bay Botanical Garden, 11/25 - 12/18, 12/26 - 12/29)

50. Cheyenne Holiday Trolley tours (Cheyenne, Wyoming)

You don't even have to know who has the best displays in town. Just hop on the Holiday Trolley and let the driver take you by Cheyenne's most illuminated neighborhoods. (Street Railway Trolley, 12/15 - 12/24)

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