Places Tagged holiday lights

Peacock Lane

We absolutely love Peacock Lane! Dubbed Portland's Christmas Street, every single house on this block decorates their house to the nines for the holidays with lights, moving holiday displays, music and so much more -- it's the most extreme you've ever seen Christmas! Peacock Lane typically opens mid-December and runs for a couple of weeks. We suggest making plans to go on one of the Pedestrian Only nights, where they close off the street to motorized traffic so that gawkers can roam freely from house to house. If you do drive, don't bother parking close -- the crowds can get pretty thick.

Christmas Ships Parade

A holiday tradition in Portland for over 50-years, the Christmas Ships Parade is one of the most special ways to celebrate the holidays in this river city. Every night, for two-weeks over the holidays, 50-60 ships and boats, all decked out in amazing and creative holiday lights, will hit the Willamette and Columbia Rivers for a water-parade. There are dozens of places where you can watch the Christmas Ships Parade in Portland, including many restaurants and waterfront parks. Be sure to check their website before heading out -- sometimes they have to cancel due to fog or weather conditions.


A favorite anytime of year, the Oregon Zoo is also a hot spot during the holidays with their amazing lights display -- ZooLights! The entire zoo is decked out in over a million twinkling lights, making this the perfect place to spend a holiday season evening with your family or your sweetheart -- and you can even visit the animals while you're there (if they're still awake!). The train at the zoo is also operating during ZooLights and we certainly suggest splurging on the extra ticket to take a ride through the park. Want to beat the crowds? Visit the week between Christmas and New Years.

Christmas Ship Festival

Being surrounded by all these gorgeous waters in Seattle -- Elliott Bay, Lake Washington and Lake Union -- there's sure to be some great holiday activities on the water and the Christmas Ship Festival is just that! On various nights over the holiday season, ships and boats that are decked out with holiday lights hit the water and sail from different parts of the Seattle area, making it a floating parade of holiday lights. The great thing about the Christmas Ships Festival is that you can easily enjoy it without having a boat of your own -- grab a spot on one of the Argosy Cruise boats, which are decorated themselves, or watch from the shore!


Christmas lights and animals? Sounds fun to us! We're not sure who the brilliant mind behind the idea of ZooLights was, but we'd like to pat her on the back! Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, located just about 30-minutes south of Seattle in Tacoma, has a fantastic ZooLights display that everyone is sure to love. You can stroll through the ZooLights exhibit itself, plus you can still visit the regular animal and aquarium exhibits and even take a ride on the holiday camel and see Santa scuba diving! Be sure to buy tickets online in advance.

Garden d'Lights

There's something so special about an evening walking around Garden d'Lights at Bellevue Botanical Gardens during the holiday season -- all of those pretty, glowing lights (hundreds of thousands of them), make you want to snuggle up with your hunney, put on your coziest cashmere scarf and take a stroll outside. A couple of tips for making the most of your visit to Garden d'Lights -- be sure to buy your tickets in advance online to avoid standing in line too long when you arrive. Also, visit their website to read the details about where to park and take a shuttle to the gardens.

Snowflake Lane

They call it the Magic Season in downtown Bellevue and they are so right -- there is nothing more magical than a holiday evening at Snowflake Lane! Bundle up and take the entire family to Bellevue on Seattle's Eastside -- you'll want to park in the hotel parking lot that's kitty-corner to Crate and Barrell to avoid the crowd at Bellevue Square and then head across the street to get a spot on the sidewalk. Before you know it, there will be real life drummer boys and girls marching down the street, an amazing light show overhead and even snow!

Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light

For over 70 years the Museum of Science and Industry has celebrated the holiday season with Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light. The Museum's 45-foot Grand Tree lights up the night with more than 30,000 lights and 1,000 ornaments flanked by more than 50 smaller trees decorated to represent the different cultures and holiday traditions of Chicago's ethnic communities.

Zoolights at Lincoln Park Zoo

Chicago's beloved (free) zoo in the sprawling Lincoln Park neighborhood hosts this magical festival of lights each year. There are also holiday crafts and visits with Santa for the kiddos and hot spiced wine for the grownups. As a bonus, Zoolights remembers the reason for the season and collects warm coats for those in need in boxes spaced throughout the zoo.

Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival marks the official start of the holiday season in Chicago. Chicago's main throughfare glitters with thousands of festive lights and twinkles in the spirit of Christmas. A family-friendly affair, the festival is a beloved tradition for Chicagoans and takes place on Michigan Avenue between Oak Street and the Chicago River. Public transporation or cab are the recommended mode of transporation.

ICE! at Gaylord Opryland

In Nashville, a white Christmas (or Hannukah) is a rare occurance -- sometimes ice and snow don’t arrive until February. The Opryland's yearly ice show is a bit more reliable. Each year the resort puts on a display of incredible ice sculptures, with a different theme each year -- often based on beloved movies (like A Charlie Brown Christmas, or Dreamworks productions). The sculptures are made by world-class carvers and illuminated with beautiful lights; there are also fun interactive activities, like ice slides. Kids and adults love to walk around and explore. You'll want to dress warmly, and stop for hot cocoa afterwards!

A Croft House Christmas

Has the chaos of mall shopping, holiday traffic and travel plans got you stressed? Take a visit to a more leisurely time with Croft House’s Victorian Christmas. This historic 1810 home, on the zoo’s Grassmere property, offers yuletide tours every year on the weekends leading up to Christmas. The beautiful historic home is decorated vintage-style, with holly, spruce and ribbons. Visitors will assemble on the porch ad walk through the house, learning about Victorian life and 19th-century Christmas traditions, some of which are still around today. Tours are free with zoo admission, and take place multiple times a day on December weekends.

Zoo Lights

When the sun goes down at the Denver Zoo, the lights come on in the form of animated animal sculptures that make up this annual holiday wildlight menagerie. Walk through more than 38 acres of the zoo grounds illuminated with colored lights where the “animals” jump from bushes and swing through the trees. Then stop by any of the warming stations for hot drinks and treats like caramel apples, brownies and popcorn. Buy a souvenir mug and you’ll get unlimited free refills during Zoo Lights. Here’s a romantic idea: get engaged with a special "Woo at the Zoo" package deal. The zoo will provide a private meadow surrounded with twinkling lights for the memorable occasion. 


Trail of Lights

More than one million twinkling lights illuminate your way as you walk the trail on this 1880s homestead in the countryside at Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield. Take the short route to the children’s play area where lights are synchronized to holiday music and the kids can make holiday crafts in the warming hut. Or take the long route to explore the Green Farm Barn and silo. Along the way you’ll find antique tractors spotlighted in color. Hayrides are offered on Fridays and Saturdays if it’s not too cold for only $5 per person. And the always popular hot chocolate is there for warming young tummies. Entertainment is provided, too, for a fun family outing.

Fisherman’s Wharf Holiday Festival of Lights

For more than a month during the holiday season, San Francisco’s famous Fisherman’s Wharf sparkles brightly in the night, adorned with festive lights, Christmas sights and holiday entertainment. Spanning from Pier 39 to Ghirardelli Square, festive décor lines the inner and outer lagoons, lighting the way to the Wharf’s major shopping centers and world famous eateries. Start your journey at the Christmas tree beneath the Fisherman’s Warf sign and make your way through the Dickens Carolers at Anchorage Square and score face time with Santa and his elves at Boudin Bakery. Be sure to stop into Ghirardelli Square to check out the holiday-inspired red and green Ghirardelli Light Bulb Sign, 35-foot tree and 9-foot Menorah. And, wander through Pier 39 for a glimpse at their 60-foot tree and yuletide atmosphere.

Holiday Lights

Visit Carlisle Reservation, the biggest of Lorrain County’s metro parks, for a look at the holidays, mixed with the great outdoors. The walking trails are decorated by local business. Once you’ve walked as far as your feet will carry you, hop aboard the train for a ride down a different decorated path. Warm up inside the visitor’s center with free snacks and hot beverages. Get in for free when each family member presents a non-perishable food item. Call ahead or check their website before you go. Special events are scheduled throughout the season, including holiday crafts, gift wrapping and game nights.

Winter Night Hikes at Griffith Park

Take in the twinkling lights at night while melting away the holiday pounds with the Sierra Club’s nighttime hike at Griffith Park all winter long. Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night at 7 p.m., the LA Sierra Club treks the wide, dog-friendly trails for a 2-hour hike up the hill for a big payoff: breathtaking views of the entire city! But, you’ll want to keep your eyes to the ground to avoid the road apples. Be sure to bring 2 bottles of drinking water, a flashlight, shoes with good traction and some stamina, because the grade is steep along the 4-mile trail. The group meets up at the Griffith Park Merry Go Round parking lot along Griffith Park Drive; just follow the signs and look for the group at the entrance to the 1st parking lot closest to the merry go round.

The Domes’ Holly, Jolly Holidays

Locally referred to as simply  “The Domes,” the Mitchell Park Conservatory stages a special holiday display in it’s seasonally changing Floral Show Dome. More than just a flower display, the dome transforms into an annual, Christmas-themed fantasy garden complete with decorated Christmas trees, holiday flowers, buildings and statues of characters from various fairytales, such as Santa Claus’ from around the world and elves at work in toy shops. The Floral Show Dome typically closes for two weeks in between seasons, so call a head to ensure that the holiday-themed dome is currently open to visitors. If you want more than just a stroll through a holiday-themed garden, come to the domes at night for one of their Music Under Glass concerts during the Christmas season. 

The Country Christmas

Wisconsin’s largest outdoor drive-through lights display just a half-hour ride outside of Milwaukee in the city of Waukesha, at the Country Springs Hotel. Displayed amongst 40 forested acres, the Country Christmas display has over one million holiday lights shaped like holiday carriages, castles and candy canes. Make sure every seat in your vehicle is filled with a friend or family member as the event charges by the carload. After the drive, hop out to buy some hot chocolate at the refreshment stand to warm up with while wandering Christmas Village with its working model train. Move on from secular to sacred on the Streets of Bethlehem to view an exact replica of the Vatican’s nativity display. 

Milwaukee Holiday Light Festival

Downtown is ablaze with holiday light displays put up by local businesses and organizations participating in the annual Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival. Forget missing most of the displays by driving yourself around downtown  '96 instead, hop aboard the Jingle Bus  run by the Columbia St. Mary’s Healthcare organization. One buck per rider provides a 40-minute, narrated tour of all the best light displays, with cocoa, coffee, cookies and coloring books for the kids afterwards.  The bus boards at the Festival’s Warming House at the Plankinton Arcade in The Shops of Grand Avenue during the month of December through the first weekend in January -- check their website for dates and times. Don’t forget to get your Jingle Bus voucher to get discounted parking in The Shops of Grand Avenue’s public structure.