Residential neighborhood displays offer a fun and free holiday activity
For many families, it’s a Christmas Eve tradition to grab some hot cocoa, turn on holiday music, and drive around neighborhoods to look at homes adorned with lights and decorations. But unless you’ve been a long-time resident in your city, it can be tough to know where to go. While there are many parks, gardens, zoos and tree lightings this time of year, most require you to purchase tickets, or show up on a certain day and time. Fun, old-fashioned family displays aren’t often advertised, but can spread Christmas cheer faster than Buddy the Elf.
So to find out where all the Griswolds are hiding, we asked the experts: Redfin real estate agents. Redfin agents know their neighborhoods like the back of their hand, thanks to all the home tours and open houses that they attend each week. Based on their input, we identified the best neighborhoods to see holiday lights in 23 metropolitan areas, and the top five neighborhoods in the nation. These are homeowners that see Christmas as a frame of mind, with lights, inflatables, statues and music that will make your heart grow three sizes just looking at the display.
Top Five Neighborhoods to See Holiday Lights in the U.S.
The top five neighborhoods in the U.S. are ones that go above and beyond every year, with the whole community getting involved. They attract thousands of visitors, who often get out of their cars to stroll through the streets and gaze at all of the lights. We’re pretty sure these places could be seen from space. Drumroll please…
If you don’t live in one of the top five cities, don’t despair. Redfin also gathered a list of the top five neighborhoods in each of the following cities and their surrounding suburbs…
Top Neighborhoods By City
Decatur: The home located at 1428 Oak Grove Dr., known as Christmas in the Grove, is participating in “The Great Christmas Light Fight,” a new reality TV show on ABC. According to AJC.com, there are also several home displays around the corner at Candler and Memorial Drive.
Hyde Park (on top five list): The 37th Street lights attract thousands of visitors each year. You can expect to see an array of lights, decorations, statues and more. The participating homes are located on 37th, between Guadalupe and Home St.
Cedar Park: The Rhodes Family, at 2410 Sharon Drive, is competing in “The Great Christmas Light Fight,” a new reality TV show on ABC. Also nearby, the homes in Anna Court (crossroad: Nelson Ranch Rd) all participate to raise money for the Austin Police Department Operation Blue Santa program. Another must-see home in the area is known as Acosta Christmas, located at 122 N. Saddle Ridge Drive.
Hampden (on top five list): Otherwise known as the “Christmas Street” or “Miracle on 34th,” the lights on 34th street attract thousands of visitors each year. The homes are located on the 700 block, between Chestnut Ave and Keswick Rd.
Glen Burnie: The Iorios Lights display, located at 528 Delmar Ave, includes 2,000 sets of lights, inflatables, and visits from Santa. The home at 200 4th Avenue also goes all-out with a variety of decorations, including Santa in a hot-air balloon.
Edmondson Village: According to the Baltimore Sun, the home located at 4708 Edmondson Ave, and the home next door, are covered in twinkling lights.
Other: There are several well-known Griswold homes in the Baltimore area, including “Mamulaville,” off Ringe Drive and Burns Crossing in Severn, Al Saunder’s home at 5109 Ritchie Hwy in Brooklyn Park, the home of “Mr. Christmas,” located at 22 Kitzbuhel Road in Parkton, and “Lights On Ice Crystal” in Odenton.
Saugus: There are several homes located on Lynn Fells Parkway that sparkle with holiday spirit. They’re located at 7, 16, 22 and 401 Lynn Fells Parkway. Another must-see home in the area is located at 5 Laurine Road.
Malden: As highlighted on WBUR.org, over the past decade, a mother and her daughter and son-in-law have lit up houses down the road from each other on Bainbridge Street. Several neighbors got into the act over the years, turning it into a whole glowing holiday neighborhood.
Leominster:Louis Charpentier, the oldest Boston resident, has been decorating his home at 522 Merriam Ave with hand-carved styrofoam figures for the past 60 years. The city of Leominster gets into the spirit as well, with a parade, tree lighting, and street decorations.
Somerville: The residents of Somerville, particularly the Winter Hill area, have inspired the Somerville Arts Council to create a trolley tour of holiday light displays. It all started with a home owned by John Ragano, located at 12 Otis St.
Tewksbury: Most of the homeowners on Rockvale Road, off Shawsheen Street, decorate their homes with elaborate light displays.
McAdenville: Known as “Christmas Town USA,” the small town of McAdenville attracts visitors every year thanks to the hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights displayed throughout the town.
Myers Park: Hillside Avenue is known for it’s display of light-covered globes hanging from the trees. Each year neighbors get together to put up the display. In the past few years, the “Christmas Balls” have even spread to Greensboro, particularly the Sunset Hills neighborhood.
Mint Hill: The town of Mint Hill is no stranger to out-of-this-world holiday displays. In 2011, three families with homes on Invershiel Court, located in the Heathergate neighborhood, competed on HGTV’s “All Out American Christmas.” Other homes keeping the spirit alive include “A Mint Hill Light Show,” located at 8427 Rolling Fields Rd, and the Parks Christmas House, located at 13226 Farington Oaks.
Ardrey/Provincetowne: The Ardrey community south of Charlotte is known for its decorative lights. One must-see home is owned by the Cook family, located at 10732 Honeynut Drive.
South Charlotte: Jim Miller, otherwise known as “South Charlotte Santa,” puts on an amazing display each year, located at 7323 Sherwood Forest Drive. The Millers expect to hand out 10,000 candy canes to children who pass by this year. Other homes on Sherwood Forest also decorate with elaborate displays.
Sauganash/Lincolnwood: Many homeowners in the area go all out with lights and decorations. The Lincolnwood Towers area is a must-see, with Central Avenue on the east, Cicero Avenue on the west, Pratt Avenue on the north and Devon Avenue on the south.
Other: Two families in the area are competing to win $50,000 on a new reality TV show called “The Great Christmas Light Fight” on ABC. The Larsen Family lights show, located at 42W891 Beith Rd. in Elburn, and the Kowalczyk family, located at 17300 Avon Ln. in Tinley Park, are sure to be a spectacle.
Arlington/Interlochen: More than 200 homeowners in Interlochen decorate their homes for a grand display every year. The entrance point is at the intersection of Randol Mill Rd and Westwood Dr. A map of participating homes is available online.
Highland Park: The Highland Park neighborhood is known for having dozens of homes decorated with lights, inflatables, statues and more. Many residents take carriage rides to see the lights. The entrance is at Armstrong Parkway and Preston Road.
Kessler Park: Homeowners in the Kessler Park neighborhood all get into the holiday spirit, and many volunteer to decorate the traffic islands as well. The brightly lit island at W. Colorado and Lausanne is professionally installed each year, paid for by community contributions.
Plano: The Deerfield neighborhood in Northwest Plano hosts a holiday decorating contest that encourages residents to participate. The neighborhood is located between Preston Rd. and Coit Rd.; enter from Legacy on Colonnade and Archgate.
Lake Highlands: The homes on Timberhollow Circle all decorate based on the 12 days of Christmas, from a partridge in a pear tree to 12 drummers drumming.
Broomfield: The Northridge neighborhood in Broomfield sponsors an annual competition as well, encouraging residents to participate. According to the Broomfield Enterprise, participants agree on a day to start decorating, then pull out all the stops with lights, inflatables and moving props in their yard.
Prestonwood Forest: The annual Prestonwood Forest Nite of Lights competition encourages residents to compete for awards in various categories. The winner of the 2013 “Best All Around” award went to the home located at 13911 Charlynn Oaks Drive.
River Oaks: The estates along River Oaks Boulevard are brightly decorated with lights, ornaments and wreaths. Be sure to check out Inwood and Bellmeade streets for great holiday displays.
Shepherd Park Plaza: Shepherd Park Plaza gives awards like “Best Overall” and “Children’s Favorites” to the homes with the best holiday lights and decorations for that category.
The Woodlands: There are a variety of Christmas light displays in The Woodlands. The Creek Pines neighborhood within the Village of Panther Creek is particularly festive. According to Chron.com, the lights started in honor of Cort Martin, a teenager who used to live on Tangle Brush Drive, but who died in an auto-train accident. Over the years, the project has grown into a blitz of holiday lights and decorations.
Henderson: The City of Henderson sponsors a holiday decorating contest each year. Once again, the 1700 block of Quiver Point Avenue went all-out. Other group displays and participating homes can be found on the city’s website.
Sun City Summerlin: Several residents in the area get festive with elaborate holiday lights and decorations. Must-see homes include “Sin City Holiday Lights,” located at 4434 Rehoboth Bay St, and “Light O Rama,” located at 3646 Carol Lark Court.
Southeast: The home of Marc Savard, located at 1420 E. Robindale Road, has thousands of lights synchronized to music, including “What Does the Fox Say.” Another festive home is located at 4255 El Cid Way; it has a mini Christmas Village built into the garage.
Summerlin South: As highlighted on Classic Las Vegas Blog, there are a few homes off of West Sahara that have elaborate displays this year, including those at 10878 Milbank Ave, 2757 Grande Valley Drive, 3308 Surfline Dr, and 7040 Darby Ave.
West Sahara: The Lakes Association sponsors the Lakes Festival of Lights each year. In addition to a holiday boat parade, many residents decorate their homes with lights.
Woodland Hills: The residents of the famousCandy Cane Lane, located at the intersection of Lubao and Oxnard streets, have been trying to outdo each other since 1952. The lights and decor seem to get more extravagant with each passing year.
Torrance: The Sleepy Hollow Christmas Light Extravaganza, located on Robert Road, features homes adorned with tens of thousands of lights, a display that is sure to delight, not fright. Residents recommend that visitors park on Pacific Coast Highway, Calle Mayor or Prospect Avenue and walk in on Robert Road.
Burbank: Norton’s Winter Wonderland, at 513 N. Florence St, is quite the spectacle. The home features a North Pole express train, a full train station and a merry-go-round. Another must-see home is “Winter Snowland,” located just up the road at 529 N. Florence St.
Altadena: Christmas Tree Lane, located on Santa Rosa Avenue, between Woodbury Avenue and Altadena Drive, is the oldest large-scale Christmas lighting spectacle in the United States; the first lighting ceremony dates back to 1920. Every year, the mile of decorated Deodar Pines are strung with 10,000 lights.
Pasadena: Upper Hasting Ranch,located in Northeast Pasadena, west of Michillinda Ave. and north of Sierra Madre Blvd., is a community of ranch style homes that coordinate their holiday lights. Each street in the neighborhood features a different holiday theme.
North Miami: Homeowners on the cul-de-sac at 1609 NE 137th Terrace, known as “Enchanted Place,” decorate with elaborate holiday lights and decorations every year.
Plantation: The Hyatt family puts on an “Extreme Christmas” show, and are participating in “The Great Christmas Light Fight,” a new reality TV show on ABC. Their home is located at 11201 N.W. 14 Street. Three other homes in the area that go all-out are known as the “26th Street Lights,” located between NW 112 Avenue (old Hiatus) and NW 118 Avenue on NW 26 Street. The Callahan house, located at 11480 NW 26th Street, is also a must-see.
Sunrise: There are several great holiday homes in Sunrise, including “Happy Holiday Lights of Florida,” located at 10660 N.W. 32 Street, and Richard Altimore’s home, located at 13169 NW 11th Place.
Pembroke Pines: The Griswolds of Pembroke Pines include the Sumby’s, located at 20360 NW 4th Street, the home at 12016 SW 13th Street, and the home at 600 Cypress Pointe Dr.
Margate: One of the most famous displays in the region is Jeff Ostroff’s home, located at 7706 Northwest 25th Street. He has been decorating his home with thousands of lights for decades.
Dyker Heights (on top five list): The residents of Dyker Heights put up an amazing display of lights, statues, inflatables and other holiday decorations. The entire community participates, drawing thousands of visitors each year.
Bayside/Whitestone: Many homes in Bayside and Whitestone are brightly decorated for the holidays, but the home of Kevin Lynch stands out. This year, Lynch is competing to win a cash prize on the new ABC reality TV show “The Great Christmas Light Fight.” His home is located on the corner of 166th Street and 23rd Avenue. Other homes in the area that go all out are located at 212th Street and 32nd Avenue, and 160-15 13th Avenue between 160th and 162nd Streets.
Maspeth: Four homes (that look like one), located on 69th Street and 60th Ave, light up the night with decorations. Other festive corners include Caldwell Avenue and 72nd Street, and Metropolitan Avenue and 56th Street.
The Bronx: After checking out the holiday lights at the Bronx Zoo, be sure to check outthe home at 1605 Pelham Parkway North. It’s known as the “Christmas House,” and has lights and music all animated and synchronized to make a three minute show.
Long Island: The Griswold home of Long Island is the “The Lindy Christmas House,” located at 405 N. Broadway in Lindenhurst. Another block of homes that gets into the spirit are located in Massapequa Park, on the corner of Atlantic and Violet.
Mission Viejo: All residents in Mission Viejo are encouraged to decorate their homes and participate in the the Mission Viejo Activities Committee’s annual Holiday Lighting Contest. This holiday lights tour map includes of all the winners’ homes from this year’s contest.
Trabuco Canyon: Every year residents on Abilene Drive string lights between their homes. This year 35 homes participated, and when faced with a potential fire hazard fine , the residents banded together and were able to get approval to keep the lights.
Newport Beach: The Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade is a five night spectacle that attracts 1.5 million viewers every year. The parade starts at Bay Island and features extravagantly decorated boats. Homes along the bay also go all out with wintry decor.
Long Beach: This year the neighborhood of Bluff Heights is hosting their first annual Holiday Lights Contest that is sure to yield some prize-worthy results.
South Philly (on top five list): Known as “Miracle on South 13th Street,” the 1600 block of South 13th Street is a Philadelphia holiday destination. Most homes in the neighborhood put up elaborate displays of lights, decorations, inflatable characters, statues and more.
Smedley: The “Smedley Street Christmas Light Spectacular” is located on the 2700 Block of Smedley Street, between 16th & 17th, Moyamensing and Oregon Avenues. The bright displays have caused the street to be referred to as “The Christmas Street” by locals.
Levittown: The suburb of Levittown has many festive homes. One display that often draws crows is the home of Neil J. DiSpirito, located at 1 White Spruce Ln. Another great display is “Stonybrook Lights,” located at 56 Stonybrook Drive.
Warminster Township: Several homes have bright displays in Warminster, including those at 801 County Line Road, 901 Catalpa Road, 1168 Oak Leaf Lane, and 43 Spencer Lane. More information is available via the Bucks County Courier Times.
Reading: The West Reading Borough hosts a holiday lights decorating contest, encouraging residents to participate. And one elaborate display is worth the drive to Wyomissing. The home known as “Christmas on Lincoln” is participating in the “Great Christmas Light Fight,” a new reality show on ABC. It’s located at 2031 Lincoln Court.
Glendale: The Glendale Glitters holiday lighting event is in its 20th year and has become a family tradition across the Valley. Many residents in the area can’t help but get into the spirit. Take a look at the home on 4237 W. State Ave, which boasts 300,000 lights, 60 trees and 100 animated figures.
Ahwatukee: Check out the sparkling display on Chandler Boulevard in Ahwatukee from 24th Street to Desert Foothills Parkway. The street has been illuminated in more than one million LED lights. You can take a tour nightly from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. until New Year’s Eve.
Mesa: Since the 90’s, neighbors on West Natal Circle near Cherry and Guadalupe Road have been pulling out all the stops for the holidays. From tens of thousands of glowing bulbs to life sized inflatables, the 14 homes on this street won’t disappoint.
Gilbert: The McNamara Family Christmas Light Show is a technology-powered holiday lights extravaganza, complete with music synchronization. The four homes are located around 3642 E. Comstock Drive. All donations collected on-site will benefit Make-A-Wish Arizona.
Anthem: 20 homes in the Anthem neighborhood registered for the community’s Festival of Lights contest. You can download a map of this year’s participating homes and take a tour.
City of Newberg: The people of Newberg delight in holiday decorating. You can use this interactive map to take a tour of the neighborhood and let the glee ensue.
Westlake: Edenberry drive in Lake Oswego has a 4-6k Holiday Lights Walk that meanders through the beautifully decorated neighborhood. Any participants should come armed with a flashflight for the less merry and bright sidewalks.
Clackamas: SoutheastSedona Drive features some festive homes that showcase an array of inflatable holiday friends and twinkling lights.
Knightdale: Every year residents along Planter’s Walk decorate for the season. You can find the homes around 901 Lynnwood Dr. It’s also worth the drive out east to see “Lake Myra Christmas,” located at 6605 Lake Myra Road in Wendell.
Cary: The home known as “Carpenter Lights,” located at 121 Morris Branch Ct, puts up a beautiful display, and many other homes on the cul de sac also participate. While you’re there, be sure to check out the Horton’s Creek neighborhood just up the street. A few miles away, across 540, on Highcroft Drive, there are four great displays next to each other.
Northwest Raleigh: The home at 2216 Abbey Lane is back this year! Other displays in the area include the homes at 10200 Old Warden Road and 4920 Larchmont St.
Holly Springs/SW Raleigh: “Happyland Christmas Lights,” located at 5504 Huntingwood Dr (crossroad Penny Rd), is one of the largest displays in Raleigh.
Clayton:“Valley Creek Lights,” located at 213 Valley Creek Dr, is an elaborate display of lights, inflatables, and statues.
East Sacramento/Fabulous 40s: Take a tour of 40th through 48th St between J Street and Folsom street to the north and south, to see some of the most beautiful homes in Sacramento dressed to the nines.
Northgate Park: Head to 2973 Mendel Way between 5:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. to check out Rick’s Lights, a fabulous light show set to music.
Elk Grove: 9855 Oak Ranch Place is a vibrantly decorated home featuring thousands of lights and some dazzling animation.
Antelope: Visit 1380 Copping Court between 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.to see more than 6,000 lights synchronized to music, as well as decorated trees, penguins and Santas galore.
Rancho Cordova: A group of five houses known as “The Street of Christmas Dreams” features music, a computer-controlled mega-tree with 3,600 lights, a family of LED deer, snowmen, reindeer with a sleigh, and numerous other illuminated treats.
Rancho Peñasquitos: More than 200 homes put up decorations on what’s known as “Christmas Card Lane.” Enter on Twin Trails Dr. and Black Mountain Rd.
El Cajon: “Jingle Bells Hill,” near Pepper Dr. and Millison, has approximately 140 homes decorated for Christmas.
Chula Vista: Known as “Christmas Circle,” more than 50 homes on Whitney and Mankato Street put up elaborate displays.
Point Loma: Many homes on Garrison Street (off of Catalina Boulevard) go all out with lights.
Lakeside: Approximately 20 homes around 10248 Paseo Palmas Dr. decorate for the holidays, earning the nickname “Tinsel Town.”
San Francisco/Bay Area
San Carlos: This time of year, you’ll probably hear people on the 1900 block of Eucalyptus Lane in San Carlos say things like “amazing” and “beautiful.” That’s because it’s one of the best neighborhoods to view holiday lights in the Peninsula. Also know as Christmas Tree Lane, holiday light seekers recommend parking and taking a stroll through the brightly lit homes.
Alameda: Christmas Tree Lane in Alameda is a decades old tradition in the Bay Area. The lights on the 3200 block of Thompson Ave. are sure to get anyone in the holiday spirit.
Pleasanton: What started in 1980 with a plastic Santa and some other run of the mill decorations has turned into almost an acre of glittering lights that includes a mini Christmas village, computer animated displays, and over a dozen scenes such as “Santa’s Golf Fantasy.” The half acre estate is known as “Widmer World” and is located at 3671 Chelsea Court.
Marin County: Two homes in Marin are definitely worth mentioning.The Rombeiros Christmas House at 34 Devonshire Dr has been decorated to the nines for the last 22 years. Not only is the outside decorated, but every room on the inside is too. The Mickey Mouse Christmas House at 417 Blackstone Drive is going to be featured on the ABC reality TV show “The Great Christmas Light Fight.” The house features a two car garage filled with Disney figurines, plus the entire driveway, lawn and windows are adorned with Disney characters.
Ravenna: Candy Cane Lane has been a Seattle holiday tradition since 1949. More than 20 homes on the street decorate with lights every year. The lane is located at NE Park Road, off of Ravenna Blvd.
Ballard: TheOlympic Manor neighborhood, around NW 85th Street and 23rd Ave NW, gets festive with lights, inflatables, and more.
Sammamish: The Timberline and Windsor Greens neighborhoods in Sammamish are known for bright displays. Don’t miss the cul de sac at 204th Avenue Northeast; eleven homes each decorate with a different theme.
Mountlake Terrace: The “Mountlake Terrace Christmas Light Display,” located at 228 St. SW and 42nd Place, has been a holiday tradition for years. Around 25 homes create magical light displays for all to enjoy.
Issaquah: Nutcracker Lane, located at 190th Avenue Southeast off Southeast 44th Way, turns into a winter wonderland this time of year. Each house on the cul de sac has a painted nutcracker statue and lights. Residents along Southeast 35th Place also get into the holiday spirit; one must-see home is located at 24218 SE 35th Pl.
Alexandria, VA: Alexandria has been named a “Top 10 Christmas Town” by HGTV, and the residents clearly aren’t afraid of large light bills. Must-see displays this year include the “Collingwood Lights” at 1601 Collingwood Road, and the homes at 2507 Fairview Drive, 5601 Hereford Court and 8433 Washington Ave. Further down, in Dale City, the “Johnston Christmas Wonderland,” at the intersection of Evansdale and Edgewater, has a great display.
Fairfax, VA: There are quite a few Griswolds in Fairfax. Must-see homes include 3308 and 3309 Prosperity Avenue, 3522 Chain Bridge Road, 9804 Kirktree Court, and 9806 Sharon Court. Photos are available on fairfaxchristmaslights.com
Sterling, VA: The homes on E. Juniper Street (between N. Sterling and Oaktree Ln) have earned the nickname “Candy Cane Lane” for the elaborate displays they put up every year.
Silver Spring, MD: Many neighborhoods in Silver Spring go all out for the holidays. The Bishop’s home at 1665 N. Portal Dr. NW is a well-known holiday spectacle. Other homes in the area with large displays include 15428 Baileys Ln and 12710 Laurie Dr.
Springfield, VA: Must-see homes in the area include “Frank Christmas,” located at 7780 Tangier Dr, the Berner’s home at 5406 Fremont St., and the home at 8515 Innisfree Drive.
What’s your favorite neighborhood to check out lights? Are there any great homes that we missed? Tell us in the comments!
Christin covers a variety of topics for Redfin Real-Time, ranging from “best places” lists, to Redfin client stories, to celebrity news and everything in-between. Her dream home would have an enormous walk-in closet, a home theater and a room dedicated to her cats. Redfin is a full-service real estate brokerage that uses modern technology to make clients smarter and faster. For more information about working with a Redfin real estate agent to buy or sell a home, visit our "Why Redfin?," page.