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The Single Best Spot to See Holiday Lights in All 50 States

The holidays are lit at these renowned holiday light displays, drive-thrus, and festivals around the U.S.

The holidays are here again and if you’re feeling grinchy, there are literally hundreds of places around the country where you can see colorful lights and soak in the spirit of the season. We’ve rounded up the best of the best spots to visit this holiday season, so gather your crew, make some hot cocoa (don’t forget the marshmallows!), and get in the car for these holly jolly holiday displays.

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Magic Christmas in Lights

WHERE: Theodore, Alabama

Sixteen colorful holiday scenes created using more than 3 million lights illuminate the walking path at Bellingrath Gardens and Home’s Magic Christmas in Lights. You can also tour the fully decorated historic Bellingrath Home for an additional fee.

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Santa Claus House

WHERE: North Pole, Alaska

It’s Christmas every day at Santa Claus House in North Pole, Alaska. You can write a letter to Santa and meet his reindeer, but you won’t see the typical holiday light displays. If you time your visit right, however, you may see nature’s holiday lights, the aurora borealis.

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Zoolights Phoenix

WHERE: Phoenix, Arizona

Most of the Phoenix Zoo animals might be snoozing during Zoolights Phoenix, but there’s still plenty to see, including colorful lights, animal sculptures, and more. You can also snap a photo with Santa, sip hot cocoa, and view musical light shows that take place nightly on the zoo’s main lake.

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Lights of the Ozarks

WHERE: Fayetteville, Arkansas

Lights of the Ozarks transforms Fayetteville’s Downtown Square into a glittering winter wonderland. There’s also a vendor fair with food, beverages, and gifts, and Santa makes appearances on select dates.

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WHERE: Palm Desert, California

WildLights is an annual tradition at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Along the zoo’s walking paths, you’ll encounter brightly lit, life-size animal lanterns, a tunnel of lights, and an elaborate model train display.

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Blossoms of Light

WHERE: Denver, Colorado

Blossoms of Light is a dazzling holiday light display at the Denver Botanical Gardens. While you stroll through the gardens, you can sip hot chocolate, cider, or a cozy latte to stay warm.

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Fantasy of Lights

WHERE: New Haven, Connecticut

Fantasy of Lights is a mile-long drive-thru holiday light display at Lighthouse Point Park. Ticket sales benefit the Goodwill of Southern New England and you can enhance your visit with a pair of 3D glasses.

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Winter WonderFest

WHERE: Milton, Delaware

Winter WonderFest is more than just a drive-thru light spectacular. You can participate in an interactive scavenger hunt during your drive and visit Santa’s workshop to share your holiday wish list.

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Night of a Million Lights

WHERE: Kissimmee, Florida

Give Kids the World Village is a storybook-themed non-profit resort that provides cost-free vacation to critically ill children and their families. During Night of a Million Lights, the entire resort becomes a winter wonderland of lights, Santa visits, photo opportunities, and snow.

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World of Illumination

WHERE: Marietta, Georgia

World of Illumination is a drive-thru holiday light and music show that takes place at Six Flags White Water water park. For an additional fee, you can take part in a 3-D Treasure Hunt and don special glasses that will reveal hidden images during your adventure.

INSIDER TIPThere’s also a second location in Georgia this year, Arctic Adventure in Hampton, Georgia.

11 OF 50

Honolulu City Lights

WHERE: Kaneohe, Hawaii

Honolulu City Lights, now in its 40th year, is held in downtown Honolulu. The entire Honolulu Hale (the city hall) area is decorated with lights and there are indoor and outdoor tree displays. Giant Shaka Santa and Tūtū Mele sculptures are there, too, with their bare feet in the water because they definitely don’t need snow boots in Hawaii.

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Coeur d’Alene Resort Holiday Light Show

WHERE: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

Coeur d’Alene Resort Holiday Light Show takes place nightly during the holiday season on Lake Coeur d’Alene. Guests can watch from the shore onboard a “North Pole cruise” that travels past light displays and a floating Christmas tree on the way to Santa’s workshop.

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Light Up the Lake

WHERE: Chicago, Illinois

Light Up the Lake is held indoors at Chicago’s Navy Pier, so you can enjoy the holidays even when it’s too cold and snowy to be outside. You’ll find twinkling light sculptures, train rides, a beer garden, ice skating, and, of course, the jolly ol’ man in red.

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Santa Claus Land of Lights

WHERE: Santa Claus, Indiana

The small town of Santa Claus, Indiana never stops celebrating Christmas, but it gets even more Christmassy  during the holiday season. One example is Santa Claus Land of Lights, a 1.2-mile drive through the Lake Rudolph Campground that tells the story of Rudolph and his bright red nose using colorful LED light displays.

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Mt. Pleasant Festival of Lights

WHERE: Mt. Pleasant, Iowa

Mt. Pleasant Festival of Lights is Southeast Iowa’s largest drive-thru holiday light event, with over 100 brightly lit displays. You can ride through in your car or opt for an old-fashioned horse-drawn carriage ride.

16 OF 50

Christmas City of the High Plains

WHERE: WaKeeney, Kansas

Wakeeney, Kansas, has been known as the Christmas City of the High Plains since 1950. A four-square block area surrounding the main downtown intersection is done up with greenery and lights, with a 35-foot fully-decorated tree at the center.

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Lights Under Louisville

WHERE: Louisville, Kentucky

Kentucky is well known for its caves, but Lights Under Louisville is the only cave you can drive through to see holiday light displays. You tune into a radio station that plays holiday tunes as you enter the cave and displays are themed to everything from local sports teams to classic holiday movies.

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Covington’s 12 Days of Christmas

WHERE: Covington, Louisiana

Covington’s 12 Days of Christmas takes visitors on a journey around historic downtown Covington, Louisiana, searching for 12 lighted displays that depict scenes from the classic Christmas carol. Download the free map online, hit the roads, and create some Christmas memories.

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Gardens Aglow

WHERE: Boothbay, Maine

Gardens Aglow at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens uses more than 600,000 lights to create its holiday displays, but that’s not all. You can make an evening of it by visiting local homes participating in the holiday light contest (a downloadable map is available on the website) and voting for your favorite.

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Christmas at Gaylord National

WHERE: North Harbor, Maryland

Christmas at Gaylord National is so much more than holiday decor in every corner of the resort (though they do have that, too). Visitors can view a nightly laser light show in the atrium, participate in activities like gingerbread house decorating and snow tubing, and jump into interactive scenes from their favorite holiday movies at the resort’s signature event, I Love Christmas Movies.

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WHERE: Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Winterlights takes place at three different gardens around Massachusetts, but the event at ​​Naumkeag in Stockbridge allows visitors to peruse the decorated walking paths and explore the interior of the onsite historic home.

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The Big, Bright Light Show

WHERE: Rochester, Michigan

During The Big, Bright Light Show, the buildings of downtown Rochester, Michigan, are draped with more than one million holiday lights. You can see the lights while you’re passing by in your car or you can hop out and visit the local businesses that are participating.

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Bentleyville Tour of Lights

WHERE: Duluth, Minnesota

The Bentleyville Tour of Lights is a walking holiday light tour through Bayfront Festival Park in Duluth. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on hand to greet guests and they even have gifts and cookies for kids under 10.

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Downtown Hattiesburg Window Tour

WHERE: Hattiesburg, Mississippi

The Downtown Hattiesburg Window Tour is a self-guided tour of holiday-themed window displays in downtown businesses. Thanks to a “go-cup ordinance” put in place to bolster local business, visitors are permitted to grab a drink from one of the area bars or restaurants and sip while they stroll.

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An Old Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City

WHERE: Branson, Missouri

From early November through the end of the year, Christmas takes over Silver Dollar City with food, decor, entertainment, and more. Highlights of An Old Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City include a Dickens’ Christmas Carol Broadway-style show, Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Christmas Light Parade, and a living nativity scene.

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Downtown Bozeman Christmas Stroll

WHERE: Bozeman, Montana

The Downtown Bozeman Christmas Stroll takes place on the first Saturday in December as the city’s official kickoff to the holiday season. Santa will be there, of course, along with decorations, lights, a gingerbread house contest, and festive window displays.

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Holiday Lights Festival

WHERE: Omaha, Nebraska

Omaha’s Holiday Lights Festival takes place across three locations around Omaha, the Old Market, South Omaha, and North Omaha. All three areas are fully decorated and select locations collect nonperishable food items and monetary donations to support the local community.

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Glittering Lights Las Vegas

WHERE: Las Vegas, Nevada

Glittering Lights Las Vegas is held at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but you won’t want to drive through at top speed or you’ll miss the millions of glittering lights along the 2.5-mile track. You can drive your own car or purchase a ticket for the open-air Santa tram experience.

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Gift of Lights

WHERE: Loudon, New Hampshire

Held at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Gift of Lights features more than 3 million lights, 520 displays, and 80 festive holiday scenes along 2.5 miles of track. Before you leave, you can toast marshmallows and make s’mores over the pre-lit fire pits.

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Skylands Stadium Light Show

WHERE: Augusta, New Jersey

Skylands Stadium is home to the Sussex County Miners baseball team and various annual festivals. During the holidays, that means the Skylands Stadium Light Show featuring a drive-thru holiday light trail, a Christmas village, and holiday treats.

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River of Lights

WHERE: Albuquerque, New Mexico

River of Lights is held at the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden and has a large collection of lighted sculptures and displays made by local craftsmen. Santa will also be present at this walk-thru experience, so make your list because he’ll be checking it twice.

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Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

WHERE: Brooklyn, New York

Dyker Heights is a neighborhood in Brooklyn that just so happens to get very excited for the holiday season. You can drive through the neighborhood to view the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights on your own or book a number of different bus or limousine tours that’ll do the driving for you.

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Speedway Christmas

WHERE: Concord, North Carolina

Speedway Christmas takes place at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and it’s probably the only time most of us have any business being on a race track. All of the light displays along the 3.75-mile course are synchronized to holiday music.

34 OF 50

Spring Lake Park Holiday Lights Drive

WHERE: Williston, North Dakota

From just after Thanksgiving until the end of the year, Spring Lake Park in Williston, North Dakota, lights up the night sky with its Spring Lake Park Holiday Lights Drive decorative displays. On select nights, guests can see reindeer, watch an ice carving demonstration, take-home craft kits themed to a Christmas Luau, the Grinch, and more. 

35 OF 50

Clifton Mill Legendary Christmas Lights

WHERE: Clifton, Ohio

Clifton Mill Legendary Christmas Lights covers the mill and surrounding trees, riverbanks, and bridges with over 4 million lights. There’s also a miniature village, Santa Claus Museum, a toy collection, and an opportunity to peek inside Santa’s workshop.

36 OF 50

Chickasha Festival of Light

WHERE: Chickasaw, Oklahoma

Chickasha Festival of Light is a drive-thru experience that takes place in Shannon Springs Park. There are more than 100-holiday scenes along this scenic drive, along with a brightly-lit 172-ft Christmas tree and an ice skating rink.

37 OF 50

Christmas Festival of Lights

WHERE: Portland, Oregon

Christmas Festival of Lights is an outdoor walkthrough experience with lights draped around trees and bushes and numerous colorful holiday scenes. Visitors can also listen to holiday concerts, shop for gifts, and take in a puppet show.

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Hersheypark Sweet Lights

WHERE: Hershey, Pennsylvania

You can’t hop on Hersheypark’s coasters during Hersheypark Sweet Lights, but you can see them as you drive along the two-mile trail of animated holiday displays. 3-D “holospec” glasses to make the experience even more magical.

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Rhode Island Holiday Light Show

WHERE: Hope, Rhode Island

The Holiday Light Show has multiple locations across the Northeast U.S., including Hope, Rhode Island. Visitors drive through a series of holiday light displays, all from the comfort (and warmth) of their cars.

40 OF 50

The Great Christmas Light Show

WHERE: Little River, South Carolina

Held at the North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex, The Great Christmas Light Show is a drive-thru experience with animated displays. The event runs most days through the end of the year, with a special Santa’s Village open on weekends.

41 OF 50

Falls Park Winter Wonderland

WHERE: Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Sioux Falls gets the full Christmas treatment during Falls Park Winter Wonderland. Trees, light poles, buildings, and basically anything that can’t get up and run away are covered in lights.

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Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas

WHERE: Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

There’s not much more beautiful than winter in the snow-covered Smoky Mountains. In fact, the only thing we can think of is Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas. In addition to Dollywood’s attractions and shows, the entire park is decorated for Christmas and there is a holiday fireworks spectacular at night.

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Holiday Lights on the River Walk

WHERE: San Antonio, Texas

If you’re visiting San Antonio during the holiday season, take a walk to see the Holiday Lights on the River Walk. Walking the path is free, but if you’re feeling festive you can spring for a holiday caroling boat tour.

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Gallivan Center

WHERE: Salt Lake City, Utah

The Gallivan Center welcomes holiday visitors to downtown Salt Lake City each year with glittering lights, ice skating, and a towering Christmas tree.

45 OF 50

Christmas at the Farm

WHERE: Woodstock, Vermont

Christmas at the Farm is held annually at Billings Farm. In addition to holiday lights and trees, visitors can roast s’mores, make candles, go on a sleigh ride, and take a snowshoe trek by the river.

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WHERE: Sterling, Virginia

Tinsel! Is a fully immersive holiday experience with activities for all ages. Yes, there’s plenty of decor, but there’s also wine tastings, food trucks (and heated tents in which to enjoy your meal), crafts, carolers, and more.

47 OF 50

Oglebay Festival of Lights

WHERE: Wheeling, West Virginia

The Oglebay Festival of Lights has been a Wheeling, WV mainstay since 1985. Today, the event uses more than one million lights to create 90 light displays. While you’re there, don’t miss the animated Magical Mansion Show and 70-foot-tall Christmas tree.

48 OF 50

Village of Lights: Christmastown!

WHERE: Leavenworth, Washington

Every single day from Thanksgiving through February, the city of Leavenworth (which is also on this year’s Go List) is lit up with holiday decor. On select days during Village of Lights: Christmastown!, guests can also roast chestnuts, take photos with Santa, and participate in other family-friendly activities.

49 OF 50

Garden of Lights

WHERE: Green Bay, Wisconsin

Garden of Lights embellishes the natural beauty of the Green Bay Botanical Garden with more than 325,000 holiday lights. You can walk the paths on foot or take a horse-drawn wagon ride for an entirely new experience.

50 OF 50

Cheyenne Street Railway Holiday Trolley

WHERE: Cheyenne, Wyoming

The Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley takes residents and visitors around the city’s landmarks all year round. The Cheyenne Street Railway Holiday Trolley tour showcases areas homes that go all out for the holidays.

Travelsimplygo December 3, 2021

There's nothing compared to the lights in Vegas, it's too good. Though I am impressed with the places listed.

surfercharlie December 3, 2021

Storybook Island in Rapid City is the best place to see Christmas lights in South Dakota.

bethneal5836 December 3, 2021

I think Griffith Park would have been a better choice for California.  We took our kids every year for that long, slow drive through the park.  Absolutely amazing.  

Avatar for WeisserTee
WeisserTee December 2, 2021

I wish you had picked Bethlehem for PA instead of Hershey. Yes, Hershey is the more obvious (and gaudily commercial) choice, but Bethlehem's lights are a better reflection of a traditional Christmas. Its holiday decorations (the non-electric versions, anyway) date back to the 18th century and strongly relate to the local culture as well as to an authentic German Christmas celebration.