Nothing says Christmas cheer like a fabulous display of winter wonderland lights. No matter where you live in the United States, there is probably a twinkling show nearby. From neighborhoods and zoos to parades and town squares this country has a myriad of bright and colorful options for walkers and drivers alike.
Zoo Lights at the Smithsonian National Zoo
With animal shaped displays and more than 500,000 LED lights gracing the walkways, trees, and buildings, the Zoo is transformed into a color-filled Christmas wonderland between Thanksgiving and the new year. Enjoy themed treats, tons of photo areas, and family friendly fun.
Christmas at the Biltmore
Asheville, North Carolina
Enjoy a decorative display that will take you back to 1895 when the Vanderbilt family celebrated their first Christmas at the Biltmore. Between the trees, ornaments, and sparkly holiday lights, you’ll have an experience unlike any other. Every area of the estate from the house to Antler Hill Village is decked out and ready to put you in the holiday spirit.
Miracle on 34th Street
Aptly named after the famous Christmas movie, this Miracle on 34th Street is a spectacular neighborhood light display that takes place every year. Thousands of lights adorn the homes and other displays are set up for your viewing pleasure.
Garden Lights, Holiday Nights
Located at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, the Garden Lights, Holiday Nights event sells out quickly. It is one of the most spectacular light displays in the south. Regular attendees should expect lots of favorite features from years past. But also some new and exciting displays including lit up sculptures.
Holiday Festival of Lights
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston plays home to the Holiday Festival of Lights, a beautiful display of millions of lights along a three-mile long road that wraps around a lake. Drive around as many times as you like or purchase train tickets to see the lights up close.
After the light display, you can walk down to Santa’s Village and meet Santa, enjoy a ride on the carousel, and visit the Reindeer Workshop. Wander through the Winter Wonderland and browse the gift shops, indulge a sweet tooth. Visit the impressive Holiday Sand Sculpture, made from more than 50-tons of sand each year.
Glittering Lights of Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Las Vegas, Nevada
Not only do you get to enjoy one of the greatest annual events in Las Vegas and one of the best Christmas light displays in the country. But you also get to support local charities, schools, and churches in the process.
Take a ride on the Santa Tram, don’t miss the Neon Forest, and purchase a Fast Pass to bypass the lines on the busiest nights. Purchase snacks and support area boy scout troops and enjoy the incredible event as it celebrates 20 years!
Lights Under Louisville
A former limestone mine, the Mega Cavern in Louisville Kentucky is considered the largest building in the state. This is due to its support structures. So you can imagine the Christmas explosion that occurs every year during the holidays. Over 4 million lights and around 900 lit characters adorn the cavern.
You can drive your own car through or opt to ride the Christmas Express, an open topped trailer, for an incredible 30 minute ride through a portion of the 17 miles of passages of the Mega Cavern. It’s a truly unique experience that is sure to become a family tradition. Lights Under Louisville is the world’s only underground light display of its kind.
Blossoms of Lights at the Denver Botanic Gardens
The biggest event of the season at the Denver Botanic Gardens, Blossoms of Lights has been entertaining the masses for more than 30 years. New this year is a 17-foot-tall and 200-foot-long tunnel located at the beginning of the tour.
It will take you at least an hour to walk the entire outdoor display, so come dressed appropriately. You won’t be disappointed by this sparkling display of color-changing lights!
While in Denver, be sure to stay at one of our favorite family-friendly hotels. Maybe even also make a weekend of it at the Gaylord Rockies Christmas Spectacular. Enjoy snow tubing, ice skating, ice sculptures, ice bumper cars, shows and so much more.
Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum
A unique experience across 50 acres, enjoy the lights, festive music, and projections along the one-mile path through incredible trees. With fires along the path to warm up or roast marshmallows, you’re sure to get into the holiday spirit at The Morton Arboretum.
Celebration in the Oaks
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans City Park’s biggest fundraiser every year, Celebration in the Oaks has been entertaining visitors since the 1980’s. Enjoy more than a million lights adorning the beautiful oak trees over the 25 acres of the park.
With options to drive through the magnificent light displays or enjoy unlimited rides at the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, your whole family will enjoy this annual tradition. Some years you may even get to take pictures with Santa.
Festival of Lights at the Mission Inn
Dazzling visitors since 1992, the Festival of Lights at the Mission Inn was voted “Best Public Lights Display.” This display features millions of lights with hundreds of animated figures, gorgeous Christmas trees, and even fireworks displays. This is a must-see holiday light collection if you are in the Riverside area.
Night of Lights
St. Augustine, Florida
Adorning around 20 blocks of the nation’s oldest city’s historic district, millions of white lights cascade down the Spanish Colonial architecture. They cover roof to sidewalk of public and private buildings and spaces alike. Listed among the top ten holiday light displays by National Geographic, St. Augustine is a magical place to visit during the holidays.
A few of the best locations to see include the Bridge of Lions. Here you can see the lights sparkle on the water and The Plaza de la Constitución. A gorgeous Christmas tree lights up the center of the plaza.
The Grotto’s Christmas Festival of Lights
A truly unique experience with over two million lights, The Grotto’s Christmas Festival of Lights is also the world’s largest Christmas choral festival. It features holiday concerts with performances by regional churches, schools, and civic choirs. The music combined with the lights, is a beautiful mixture of holiday spirit.
While the outdoor walk itself is only about a quarter-mile long, the visitation times usually average around 90 minutes. All entertainment areas are either covered by tents or indoors. The plaza will have continuous entertainment that is fun for all ages.
Where are your favorite winter wonderland lights? Tell us in the comments below!