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Christmas light display in front yard
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The 23 Best Christmas Light Displays in the U.S.

SmarterTravel

Nothing lights up a dark winter like millions of twinkly lights, and there are so many places in the U.S. that go all out with outdoor Christmas light displays that bring major holiday cheer. Here are the best places to see Christmas lights and Christmas luminaries throughout the country, whether that’s on a busy city street, a neighborhood cul-de-sac, a zoo, or a botanical garden.

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Cityscapes and Neighborhood Light Displays

Brick building decked out in Christmas lights for the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights event
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

Rockefeller Plaza, NYC

Arguably the most famous Christmas tree in the world is at Rockefeller Center in New York, with a display of angels that’s just as iconic. 

Baltimore, Maryland

The “Hampden Maryland Miracle on 34th Street” is a neighborhood where you absolutely have to decorate with Christmas lights: each house on this block in Baltimore is more decorated than the last. 

St Augustine, Florida

Downtown St. Augustine is renowned for its Nights of Lights display, featuring millions of tiny white lights strung along historic Spanish Colonial architecture spanning 20 blocks.

Dyker Heights, Brooklyn

After checking out Rockefeller Center, head to Brooklyn where the neighbors in Dyker Heights string lights on every branch of their trees and fill their yards with hundreds of nutcrackers.

Koziar’s Christmas Village, Pennsylvania

In the town of Bernsville in Pennsylvania, a family began decorating their house and yard in 1948 so much that it became known as the “Christmas House,” and now it’s transformed into the incredibly elaborate Koziar’s Christmas Village.

Clifton Mill, Ohio

More than four million lights decorate the historic Clifton Mill in Clifton, Ohio, which includes a Santa Claus museum and a light show synchronized to music over a covered bridge.

Austin Trail of Lights, Texas

Austin decorates its Zilker Park with more than two million lights for the holidays as part of the Austin Trail of Lights, and the drive-through route is so bright it’s practically visible from outer space.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Drive through Celebration in the Oaks at New Orleans’ City Park and see historic oak trees covered in over a million twinkling lights.

Zoo Light Displays

Visit California

Indianapolis Zoo

The Indianapolis Zoo’s holiday festival Christmas at the Zoo goes back to 1967, and besides twinkling lights, there’s “Santa’s Barn” with reindeer and a chance to meet and greet with penguins.

San Diego Zoo

Often ranked one of the best zoos in the world, the San Diego Zoo‘s Jingle Bells holiday display brings in a Twinkle Light Trolley to explore lit-up animal habitats, including a Northern Frontiers Holiday Forest.

Cincinnati Zoo

For Cincinnati Zoo’s PNC Festival of Lights, four million LED lights are strung up around the zoo, along with a light show on Swan Lake and strategically-placed oversize animal lanterns. 

St. Louis Zoo

St. Louis’s historic zoo established in 1910 gets dressed up for the holidays during the St. Louis Zoo’s U.S. Bank Wild Lights festival, featuring animal-themed light displays and a chance to go in the zoo’s Sea Lion Sound Tunnel.

Dallas Zoo 

Drive through a mile-long route of holiday lights at Dallas Zoo Lights, including high-tech projection mapping and a holiday village to explore at the end of the ride.

Botanical Gardens

Atlanta Botanical Garden

Descano Gardens

In Los Angeles, take a one-mile walk through Descanso Gardens’ Enchanted Forest of Light display, featuring dramatic lighting in an ancient forest and stained glass creations from sculptor Tom Fruin.

Longwood Gardens

This botanical garden near Philadelphia is one of the most famous in the U.S., and for Longwood Christmas, find half a million twinkling lights, illuminated treehouses, a colorful fountain display, and a “frozen” succulent fountain.

ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden 

New Mexico’s largest walk-through light show is the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden’s River of Lights, with 600 holiday displays.

Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Illuminated sculptures light up the night at Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Garden Lights, Holiday Nights, including a Glowing Grove along the garden’s flower walk. 

The Morton Arboretum  

Each year, 50 acres of tree groves are awash in color during Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum near Chicago, with s’mores stops along the walking route.

Amusement Parks and Pop-Ups

Family exploring the An Old Time Christmas event at Silver Dollar City
Silver Dollar City

Busch Gardens, Virginia

Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Virginia puts up a whopping 10 million lights during the holidays, making the Christmas Town festivities one of the largest light shows in North America.

Hersheypark, Pennsylvania

Naturally, this amusement park has a sweet theme for its light display: Hersheypark. Christmas Candylane boasts more than five million lights and a Santa display with reindeer.

LuminoCity, NYC and D.C.

LuminoCity, an immersive pop-up light show in Vienna, Virginia and Manhasset, New York, revolves around larger-than-life illuminated sculptures.

Silver Dollar City, Missouri 

Over six million lights illuminate Silver Dollar City’s An Old Time Christmas display In Branson, with a parade every night featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Disney World, Florida

At the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, rides like Jungle Cruise get a holiday makeover during Disney Very Merriest After Hours and there’s a “magical snowfall” to see on Main Street, U.S.A.

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