The Best Christmas Light Displays In Every State
Once we get passed the Halloween season, we start to see the Christmas lights go up. This is an incredible time of year when everyone is in a good mood and we all start to feel the holiday spirit. One of the best parts of Christmas is driving by the different neighborhoods to see all the different Christmas light displays. While some settle for the average decorations, others go the extra mile and really put some effort into their decorations. These light displays don't always get the recognition they deserve, so to give them the spotlight (no pun intended), here are some of the best Christmas light displays in every state.
In Alabama, the place to see holiday lights in all their glory is the Bellingrath Gardens and Home. The striking garden has been the spot in Alabama where fancy holiday lights have been displayed and enjoyed for over 20 years.
The display itself is worth all the hype it gets thanks to more than 1,100 set pieces and 3 million immaculately-arranged lights all over the 65-acre property. In continuation of a 26-year-strong tradition, the Gardens’ Magic Christmas in Lights display is put in place after Thanksgiving, and taken down in January.
Alaska’s North Pole has a year around Christmas-centric vibe to it thanks to being the place where Santa and his elves live. Therefore, it's only right that the area is lit up with flashy Christmas lights during the season.
There’s a Santa Claus house in the Christmas town that provides sufficient illumination from its stunning white lights. There’s also a Christmas in Ice display nearby that provides a nice visual effect by lighting up the already striking ice carvings.
In Arizona, Phoenix is the center of the glamorous Christmas lights and decorations. The Phoenix Zoo is the location of the city’s elaborate Christmas lights and décor. The Phoenix Zoo’s Zoolights: Let It Glow takes a lot of work, setting it up alone requires four months of work, and you only need to see the lights once to see why.
Once the whole thing has been set up, the entire zoo becomes illuminated by millions of lights that are connected to several animallike displays. There’s also a three-story Christmas tree illuminated by lights that tie the entire place together.
Arkansas has its own elaborate Christmas lights and decorations in the Garvan Woodland Gardens. The Gardens are home to some wonderful Botanics and architecture thanks to an affiliation with the University of Arkansas’ School of Architecture+Design.
Once the season kicks in, there is an annual Wonderland event that is held every day from the Thanksgiving season to New Year’s Eve. Lots of lights and holiday-inspired art pieces are used to give the Gardens a nice aesthetic appeal, and there are even nine creatively-themed worlds in the garden.
Candy Cane Lane is a unique attraction for California residents and visitors to enjoy during the Christmas season. The attraction is created by a special group of homeowners on Oxnard and Lubao streets in Woodland Hills. These individuals come together every season to create a remarkable sight.
Every home is assigned a special theme for the decorations, and there are inflatables, Santa and his reindeer, as well as a classic nativity scene. What it means is there are lots of homes to be amazed by on Candy Cane Lane.
Colorado’s unusual lighting of the ski tree tradition is an unusual one for non-residents of the mountain state but a remarkable one nonetheless. A Colorado community called Telluride comes together every year to light a 17-foot ski tree that was built from recycled sits and skis in the middle of the town.
While it’s not a traditional display or decoration by any means, the tradition of coming together to light this huge tree has grown on residents, and the tree itself is a sight to behold once it's been lit.
In Connecticut, three holidays are well-represented at the local Goodwin Park’s Holiday Light Fantasia in Hartford, and they are Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. The remarkable attraction in Harford has more than one million remarkable lights, and it even has it's own "Where’s Waldo."
The best part of the attraction is the hidden puppy Flurry that’s between the displays. He could be everywhere in the middle of the bright lights, even in Santa’s costume.
Without question, Wilmington is where you want to be on Christmas day if you are in Delaware. Wilmington is home to the Wilmington and Western Railroad ride that is sure to get you and the family in the holiday spirit.
The railroad takes you on a ride along the holiday lights in 100-year-old coaches that are decorated to look like Santa's sled. It is a one-hour ride through the Red Clay Valley neighborhood where residents decorate their homes and yards. Unlike some other attractions on this list, this one is only available during December, so get your tickets early.
Florida’s Coconut Creek is where all the beautiful Christmas lights and décor can be found in the state. Coconut Creek’s Holiday Fantasy of Lights is everything its name tells you it is.
These three miles of Broward Country are lit up with gigantic holiday displays and a massive and really fuzzy teddy bear that’s also lit up with lights. There’s also a ship-shaped display with pirate characters that are all lit up. These remarkable displays and lights attract more than 150,000 visitors and over 35,000 cars every year.
Just as the name implies you to do, you really need to be on the lookout once you’re in Georgia’s Lookout Mountain. What you need to see is Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights, it features more than 30-holiday scenes and almost one million mesmerizing LED lights.
There are also specialty drinks and food, gingerbread cookies, and a unique toy soldier named Jerry that wanders the grounds. Try to find Jerry in the midst of all the bright characters and lights that make up the remarkable holiday scenes.
On Hawaii’s Oahu island, some remarkable Christmas light displays can be enjoyed in the Honolulu City Lights Trolley Tour. The tour is a thrilling and uncommon way to enjoy holiday decorations and lights in Hawaii.
For about half an hour, everyone gathers at the site and sings Christmas carols, and graces the streets to enjoy more sights and adventure. There’s also a bus ride you can take to enjoy some great views of the lights, just sit on the left to see it all.
In Idaho, the Coeur d’Alene Resort is unlike any other light display, it features lights that sparkle all over Lake Couer d’Alene. The whole place looks like a fantasy island once the season kicks in and the decorations are put in place.
There are merry cruise boats around that also allow visitors to enjoy unique views of the gigantic floating tree, and the millions of bulbs reflecting all over the place. Winter Wonderland in Caldwell is another place that deserves mentioning in Idaho.
Christmas lights and decorations are done differently in Illinois for sure, as there’s the popular Aurora Festival of Lights which is essentially an outdoor drive-through that extends for more than a mile.
The Festival of Lights is hosted at Phillips Park, which becomes a paradise on Earth every Christmas season thanks to illuminated displays, a workshop for Santa, a Christmas holiday train ride, and a Father Christmas. While donations are highly-encouraged, the park and its Festival of Lights are all free.
Indiana has a town named Santa Claus so you know there are going to be some elaborate decorations there every holiday season. The Indiana community really does go all out to celebrate Christmas. First, there’s a three-weekend Santa Claus Christmas Celebration that features the story of Rudolph narrated with striking LED lights.
The best part is this story is narrated over the course of a 1.2-mile drive close to the Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort. So many beautiful Christmas lights to be seen in Indiana.
The Symphony of Lights is one of Iowa’s foremost Christmas attractions, and it is hosted at Eagle Point Park in Clinton. The Christmas Light attraction features over 40 light-up displays that make up more than 500,000 mesmerizing lights, and that’s not even the whole story.
There’s a 5k race on the Saturday after Thanksgiving for those that love running when it gets cold. This race also provides a rare way of taking in all the nice sights and lights at the park once the season is right.
In Kansas, Wichita’s Botanica is the place to go if you want to see some extraordinary illuminations. The place features well-illuminated and gigantic fish, flowers, and bugs that provide some striking views.
More than 30 gardens are transformed into themed spaces with more than one million twinkling lights. Everywhere you look, fairies, butterflies, and monster trees abound and because hot beverages complement the season perfectly, you can find lots of hot cocoa and a hot toddy bar for kids.
Kentucky hosts some remarkable Christmas lights every Christmas season. Every holiday season, these locations are lit up with festive decorations and they provide some of the best views you can enjoy. The Lights Under Louisville stands out as one of the most remarkable sights in the state once the season is right.
It is the only underground lights show in the world, and it runs from mid-November to early January. A visit to this destination at Christmas means you get to enjoy thousands of lights and decorative figures spread across several locations.
In Natchitoches, Louisiana, the Festival of Lights ensures a beautiful scenery thanks to more than 300,000 twinkling lights and over 100 set pieces that transform the town’s riverbank into a snowbank.
Despite only being a small town, Natchitoches is one of the best places to be in the US during the Christmas season because of all the things it offers. Besides the elaborate decorations and lights, there’s also classic Cajun cuisine, musical entertainment, and some Santa Claus action from the man himself.
In Maine, you can enjoy an experience that far trumps the regular Christmas fiesta thanks to the Gardens Aglow at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. This attraction is magical and sticks in your memory long after you’ve seen it, the enchanted glowing forest is illuminated by lights extending for roughly 60 miles.
Nature comes to life in the Gardens from mid-November to January 1st, with visitors and residents getting to see how thousands of lights spread over miles bring life to nature.
If you find yourself in Maryland on Christmas Eve, simply drive down to the Seneca Creek State Park to treat yourself to some remarkable sights. You may in fact find out that you enjoy Christmas better in Maryland than in your home state.
The Winter Lights Festival held there every year transforms nearly four miles of forest into a unique attraction thanks to more than 65 animated vignettes with winter-woods themes, the North Pole, and some teddy bears. Winter Lights Festival is also home to some unique events like a pets’ night, trolley rides, and a wine walk.
Massachusetts’ Forest Park is the place to go to see some wonderful holiday décor and lights during the holiday season. The Bright Nights attraction in Forest Park is a collaboration between the Spirit of Springfield, a private non-profit organization that has been lighting up Forest Park for nearly 3 decades, and the City of Springfield.
Bright Nights is the biggest lighting display in New England, the displays are as fun as they are fancy. And the lights aren’t just Christmas displays, they also feature Kwanzaa and Hanukkah as well.
Michigan’s most unique Christmas attraction is its Huckleberry Railroad, a real-life Polar Express that enables guests to go on a ride with a holiday theme while passing by lots of glamorous Christmas lights. The ride typically ends at Crossroads Village, but not before visitors have enjoyed lots of stunning sights during the ride.
Every year, the ride runs from Thanksgiving to December 30. Another notable mention in Michigan is the Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park which becomes a Christmas light show every year, but if we had to choose between the two, Huckleberry Railroad is the way to go.
Minnesota’s Bentleyville Tour of Lights is a gigantic free walk-through lighting display, the biggest of its kind in the US. Thanks to more than four million lights spread across 20 acres, this is a large lighting display.
There are so many lights there that the sight can be overwhelming for the non-initiated but the good thing is there’s an option to visit Santa and Rudolph whenever you want. And while Christmas Eve is one of the best times to visit, you can still catch some mesmerizing fireworks on the final night.
Mississippi is a good place to be during the holiday season because every year, the Holmes Water Park in Tylertown is transformed into Christmas in the Park. Once the season kicks off, the place becomes illuminated by millions of lights that depict everything from nativity scenes to Santa Claus, wintery landscapes, and more.
There’s also an emotional side to the attraction as visitors are allowed to honor their loved ones with a lighted display they only have to pay $75 for. This can be an emotional experience for someone who has lost a loved one.
The Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri is truly one of the best places to be in the US during the Christmas holiday season. Both the state and the city get a lot of hype from the park thanks to illumination from more than 6.5 million lights.
The park’s An Old Time Christmas is lit up by those six million lights in every nook and corner, and there’s also a Christmas in Midtown Light Spectacular Parade held every night. Rudolph typically makes an appearance before it comes to an end and that is usually everyone's favorite part.
Montana’s ZooMontana has been transformed into Zoolights every holiday season for the past 20 years. Portions of the Zoo are transformed into stunning Christmas decor thanks to strikingly bright LED light displays that are complemented by some festive Christmas music.
Yet, despite how amazing the lights are, they aren’t the only exciting things to see at the park, as visitors and residents get to register early for a chance to enjoy all the lights and excitement from the comfort of a traditional horse-drawn sleigh.
Thanks to hundreds of thousands of lights, Nebraska’s Downtown Omaha region becomes a stunning display during the Omaha Holiday Lights Festival. The lights are striking and satisfying in equal measure but they’re not the only attraction to be enjoyed during the holiday season.
There’s also ice skating for families to engage in together at the Old Market, there’s live music to keep everyone entertained, and a fireworks show downtown on New Year’s Eve. Downtown Dazzle is essentially forty blocks of bubbling Christmas lights and fun.
In Nevada, it's no surprise that you have to head to Las Vegas to enjoy the best Christmas lights and attractions. Once there, head over to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to see the Glittering Lights display that is as good as they sound.
The attraction is a fully LED-lit course that is spread over 2.5 miles, and with illumination from more than 3 million lights. Visitors also enjoy almost 500 animated displays in an outrageously good location to catch the holiday spirit and see some incredible sights.
One of the biggest Christmas attractions in New Hampshire has a direct link to alcohol. Anheuser-Busch’s Brewery Lights are lit up during the holiday season in Merrimack, New Hampshire to create a unique Christmas experience.
All over the brewery, thousands of lights are lit up and visitors can even go see a specially lit tree or take pictures with the popular Budweiser Clydesdales. And for those that want even more thrills, there’s an optional special tour in which you can drink some Bud Light.
One of the best Christmas spectacles in New Jersey can be found in the home of a regular guy with a lot of passion for the Christmas holidays. Keith Shaw’s love for the holidays is why he puts so much effort into his home holiday décor.
Shaw’s Christmas Spectacular is set up on Main Street, Cranbury, New Jersey, where his 36-foot Christmas tree provides a huge spectacle complete with more than 50,000 lights and is a must-see during Christmas. Every season, his yard features more than 120,000 lights and some beautiful complementary music.
In New Mexico, there are certain neighborhoods where residents walk to see Christmas lights during the holidays. One of them is Cabezon, a region outside Rio Rancho where elaborate light displays are set up.
Another is Old Town Alburquerque, where old buildings and storefronts are converted to holiday spectacles with holiday-themed décor and lights. Once the Old Town Holiday Stroll has been set up, the whole space feels like a mesmerizing holiday attraction that can only be truly appreciated in person.
The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree gets all the holiday hype and is a good reason to visit the Empire State during Christmas but it’s not the only Christmas attraction in the state. The Dyker Heights Christmas Lights are quite elaborate as well.
Set up in a Brooklyn neighborhood, Dyker Heights and Rockefeller Center both compete unofficially to see who has the best display. Experts are even involved in the unofficial competition but the good thing about competition is visitors get to choose from their options, and they have some great ones as a result.
In North Carolina, the Tanglewood Park Festival of Lights is incredibly famous for good reason, it is a striking park in the countryside that is decorated with more than a million lights and visitors can explore the sights in a variety of ways.
You can choose from a Horse-drawn carriage, a tractor-pulled hayride, or by car, which isn’t something you get in most parks. The elaborate lights are put in place in mid-November and remain there until January 1st, providing a nice window for everyone to enjoy the sights.
If you’re in North Dakota during the Christmas season, simply head over to Fargo’s Lindenwood Park to see the beautiful holiday displays. Once the season kicks in, the park becomes home to more than 65-holiday displays.
The local businesses provide wondrous illuminated displays that can feature different objects and attractions, including Santa, snowy banks, and more. Yet, despite the elaborate lights and sights that visitors get to see, they only have to pay $6 to be admitted to the park.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium stands out as one of the most intriguing in the US, so it’s only right that the place hosts some of the best Christmas displays in the country. The Zoo and Aquarium feature an annual Wildlights display complete with huge, illuminated Christmas trees in the central pond.
Every section and corner of the zoo is brightened up by LED lights that dance and twinkle to provide a pleasing spectacle. There’s also the famous Clifton Mill, where more than 4 million lights provide ambiance.
For nearly 3 decades now, Oklahoma’s Festival of Light has been existing and has created some nice holiday scenery for residents and guests. As a result, the place has built a nice legacy as a place to be during the season.
The Festival of Light features more than 3.5 million lights, more than 100 light displays, and animated light shows that complement the displays and the holiday music that plays in the background. There’s also a 172-foot-tall Christmas tree for your delight.
Oregon’s Umpqua Valley Festival of Lights is quite famous among kids that love Disney, and even some adults that admire Frozen. There’s a display of half-a-million lights and about 90 animated displays that promote characters from Frozen.
The remarkable drive-through tour only sets visitors back $10 per vehicle, and the best part is the proceeds from it are given back to select local companies. Likewise, in Grotto, more than 160 local choirs and groups perform during the season so you can tune in to both the sounds and beautiful sights.
Bernville, Pennsylvania is home to Koziar’s Christmas Village, an intriguing tradition that is brought to life every year, from early November to January 1st. The Christmas Village is an ancient tradition that was started in 1948, one of the first attractions there was an articulately-decorated Christmas House by William and Grace Koziar.
As the years passed, the Koziars expanded their elaborate village by decorating the surrounding trees, walkways, and barns to make this remarkable Christmas village. Some of the things to be seen here are the over one million lights and miniature trains.
In many cases, having more Christmas lights is better if you want to create a gorgeous sight, so more Christmas lights are better. However, in some cases, some beautiful holiday sceneries can be created without a heavy reliance on lights.
This is the case in the Newport Mansions, where a subtle and refined approach to the holiday is what you get. The annual event is complemented by 28 Christmas-themed trees that include a 15-foot poinsettia tree that is a collection of 150 poinsettia plants. An unusual holiday attraction that deserves to be seen by more eyes.
Like Rhode Island, South Carolina is also home to a different kind of Christmas attraction. The state’s Brookgreen Gardens Nights of a Thousand Candles honors the fact that candles were the first Christmas lights by featuring about 5,500 hand-lit candles and hundreds of sparking, soft white lights that illuminate the entire gardens and provide a serenading effect.
A walk through the grounds during the season is a nice way to unwind and take in some nice views and see some striking lights. While there, you feel like you have traveled back in time to a simpler time when there wasn't so much to worry about.
In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, there’s an annual Christmas tradition that has been in place for more than 18 years now. To see a real-life winter wonderland, simply head to the city of Sioux Falls during the Christmas season to see the 23 miles of light strings, several animated lights, and hundreds of decorated trees.
The entire city has a vibrant holiday culture, and the Sioux Falls Christmas Lights events typically start from mid-November to early January. The best place to see all the sights is the five-story viewing tower that provides a 360-degree view.
Tennessee’s vibrant country music culture means Christmas celebrations are incomplete there without some country music. Gaylord’s Opryland’s A Country Christmas is an elaborate Christmas parade that features more than 3 million bright lights in the courtyard and lobby of the hotel.
There’s also an ICE display that features several ice sculptures with the only caveat being the freezing 9 degrees temperature the sculptures are stored in to preserve them. There are more than 17 hours of holiday activities and events to be enjoyed here.
Austin, Texas features some remarkable Christmas lights and attractions. The city’s Trail of Lights comes alive with over 2 million lights, 40 festive displays, four magically lit tunnels, and a gigantic Christmas tree.
The half-light festival and half-carnival event have been celebrated in Austin for over five decades yet, despite competition from other remarkable Christmas displays in the state, it remains Texas’ best display. There’s a drive-through for you to take in all the sights and activities at your own pace.
In Utah, thirty-five acres of the downtown section of Salt Lake City are transformed into a winter wonderland every Christmas season. The attraction is called the Temple Square Christmas Lights Celebration, and it's all about the lights.
Before the holiday kicks in, preparations are made for the attraction for several weeks. Bright LED lights are typically wrapped around trees and Christmas trees are elaborately decorated as well. From mid-November to early January, visitors can hop in to enjoy the incredible views and lights.
In Vermont, large-scale displays aren’t very common but Woodstock’s Wassail Weekend fills the void nicely. This holiday celebration was inspired by 19th-century holiday tradition so there are Capella performances inspired by the season, as well as lots of activities and hundreds of luminary displays.
There are also 19th-century holiday costumes and more than 50 people riding wagons drawn by horses. The effect is you get to enjoy a unique Christmas experience that is difficult to replicate anywhere else.
Virginia features lots of immaculately-decorated houses but the Meadowlark Gardens in Vienna is the place to be during Christmas. Every year, the garden comes to life with more than 500,000 LED lights that transform the entire space into a memorable holiday display complete with different natural themes, including a bubbling stream, dragonflies, and jumping fish.
There’s also a gingerbread village for visitors to see and enjoy an extra serving of seasonal delights. You can also find some delights in Richmond’s famous Tacky Lights Tour.
Washington, D.C.’s Smithsonian National Zoo’s Zoolights appears to get better every holiday season, and the best part is the remarkable sights and lights are free for all.
About half a million LED lights provide illumination in the zoo and create a vibrant holiday tradition in Washington, D.C. For those seeking even more thrills, there’s the BrewLights event that allows you to enjoy beer tastings from a dozen Washington, D.C. breweries.
The Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights stands out as one of the biggest displays in the US thanks to the illumination and ambiance provided by over one million LED lights that extend across more than 300 acres of Wheeling Park. There are light tunnels, displays of the Peanuts gang, and a Charlie Brown Christmas.
There’s also a gigantic snowman named Willard, and lots of other attractions and displays in this mesmerizing 6-mile display that runs from early November to early January. The best part is the sights can be enjoyed via a drive-through.
In Wisconsin, Christmas in the Country comes alive in the Grand Geneva Resort and Spa, where more than 2 million lights are placed outdoors and indoors to create memorable holiday displays. Visitors get to enjoy breakfast with the Clauses if they want, and you can even mail a letter to Santa Claus.
The state is also home to the Oshkosh Celebration of Lights where tickets are required for those that want to enjoy the remarkable sights. Proceeds from ticket sales are donated to nonprofit organizations like the Salvation Army.
In Jackson, Wyoming, the elk antlers in the town square are given holiday makeovers complete with Christmas lights during the season. Real elk antlers are used to make incredible arches that have a magical vibe to them during the holidays.
There’s also the Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley that enables fun-seekers to enjoy trolley rides during the Holiday Light Tour. These events and displays run from early December to early January, and all you need to enjoy the thrills is a ticket.