It starts the day after Thanksgiving … people adorn their homes with twinkling lights and holiday decorations, turning the neighborhood or the entire city into a winter wonderland. While most people choose to place just a few strings of lights on the roofline, there’s always at least one home that goes all out with inflatable snowmen, plastic reindeer and thousands of lights, like Clark Griswold’s home in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”
Every longtime resident knows of at least one Griswold-style home in their area; word spreads and, soon enough, hundreds of families come to visit each year. But for people who have just moved to a city, it can be difficult to know where to see the best holiday lights and decorations.
To find out, we asked for help from Redfin real estate agents, who are the ultimate neighborhood experts, constantly driving around to take clients on home tours or attend open houses, and living in the community.
Based on their responses, we compiled a list of the five best neighborhoods to see holiday lights in the nation and in 34 metropolitan areas around the U.S. For the most part, these are old-fashioned home displays that don’t cost a thing, making a trip out to see them a budget-friendly holiday activity for friends and families.
Here are the top five neighborhoods in the U.S. for 2014:
- Dyker Heights – Brooklyn, NY
- “Christmas Town” – McAdenville, NC
- Interlochen – Arlington, TX
- “Miracle on 34th Street” – Baltimore, MD
- Peacock Lane – Portland, OR
This is the third year we’ve compiled the list, and there are a few changes since last year. McAdenville, North Carolina, and the Interlochen neighborhood of Arlington, Texas, made the top five list, replacing South 13th Street in Philadelphia and 37th Street in Austin. While the displays in Philly and Austin are still beautiful and highly recommended, we thought McAdenville and Arlington deserved the spotlight this year.
McAdenville’s nickname is Christmas Town, thanks to the elaborate displays that the residents put up every year. There are more than 375 lighted trees and 200 wreaths adorning the lamp posts, and most residents decorate their homes, drawing a crowd of more than 600,000 people each year! In Interlochen, there are more than 200 homes decorated with extravagant displays, and it has become a holiday tradition for friends and families in North Texas to make the drive out to see the lights.
If you’re thinking about trying this at home, be sure to read tips from Redfin agent John Malandrino on how to do your holiday lights right. And if you’re planning to visit these displays, please bring some non-perishable food or cash, as many of them accept donations for charity.
Allentown, Pennsylvania, Area
Reading: The West Reading Borough hosts a holiday lights decorating contest, encouraging residents to participate. And one elaborate display is worth the drive to the next town over, Wyomissing. The home known as Christmas on Lincoln is at 2031 Lincoln Court.
Bethlehem: With more than a million visitors to Bethlehem during the holidays, Pennsylvania’s original Christmas City is a must-see destination for holiday-light enthusiasts.
Northampton: While Allentown’s Lights in the Parkway attracts countless holiday light gazers, don’t forget to visit Northampton. The neighborhood has many Griswold houses including 4049 Heather Court and 914 Wood Road.
Bath: Many homes off Highway 512 in Bath go all out with lights, including 2500 Cherrywood Lane.
Decatur: One must-see home in Decatur is Christmas in the Grove at 1428 Oak Grove Dr. It has more than 115,000 lights and was featured on ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight” last year. Each year, Decatur hosts a holiday display contest called Decorate Decatur, so many residents get into the holiday spirit.
Dallas: There are several Griswold families in Dallas, Georgia, including Felix Family Christmas Lights at 224 Oliver Overlook, Aubuchon Lights at 28 Southshore Pass and Riley’s Rockin’ Christmas 2014 at 1 Severn Way.
Alpharetta: The Christmas in Castille display at 4220 Tivoli Way has thousands of lights synchronized to music. The show runs Thursday through Saturday, from 6pm to 9pm in December. Please check the Facebook page for weather updates.
The area around 1670 Gladewood Drive, in the Johns Creek subdivision of Hillbrooke, is also known to have a lot of festive homes. A few updates this year: The Mint Julep Christmas Display has now moved to Ball Ground, Georgia, and Christmas at the Stack’s will not be doing a large animated display in 2014.
Kennesaw: Residents in the Calumet West neighborhood, around 1045 Peace Dr NW, decorate their homes to raise money for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. While you’re in the area, be sure to stop at Meckley Family Xmas at 4291 Edgewater Drive, which has more than 30,000 lights timed to music.
Cumming: Don’t miss Blink Midwinter, a synchronized light display at 7020 Cole Ct. You should also check out the Ashebrooke subdivision, which raises funds for charity through its Night of Lights event each year. The subdivision is located around 4905 Laurel Ridge Dr. Note that Christmas in Cumming will not be doing a display this year.
Hyde Park: For more than 20 years now, residents in this neighborhood have been going all out with their lights and then some! Visitors are encouraged to park nearby and then walk along 37th Street between Guadalupe and Home Street to witness the fantastic spectacle of homes dressed to the nines in sparkling lights and adorned with Santas galore.
Cedar Park: Anna Court is a great pedestrian attraction. Known for displaying over 125,000 lights, these residents certainly know how to share their holiday spirit. For more information, check out their Facebook page.
Tarrytown: Each year Tarrytown is recognized as a neighborhood with majestic lights. This year, Mozart’s Coffee is decked out in an extravaganza of beautiful blue lights and hanging illuminated snowflakes. The coffee shop created this great map that shows you all the best neighborhood spots to see the crème de la crème of nearby holiday decorations.
Georgetown: Don’t miss the epic Spindlers Family Light Show at 2441 Candle Ridge Trail for an interactive light and music show! Up for more? The Shady Oak Christmas Display at 107 Shady Oak Drive is also a lovely luminescent attraction.
Round Rock: The Rock’N Lights event at Old Settlers Park is back this year and just as good as ever. After you’ve sampled some tunes there and are hungry for more, swing by Elfvis & the Kringles. A third spot to visit is Jones Holiday Lights at 1005 Tom Seaver, which also coordinates lights and music (just tune into 100.5 FM).
Hampden: Now in its 67th year, The Miracle on 34th Street is a Baltimore tradition that is visited by thousands each year. The neighbors who live on the 700 block of 34th Street between Chestnut and Keswick Road have been decorating their homes and yards with holiday lights and displays for decades. With a hubcap Christmas tree and big lighted crab, Christmas Street does holiday decorating with Hampden flair!
Federal Hill: A number of residents participate in the Federal Hill Holiday Decorating Contest, with awards going to both the classiest and tackiest of displays.
Columbia: A visit to the home of Chuck Daniels in the Beaverbrook neighborhood at 5034 Durham Road East has been a tradition for many Columbia families for years. Daniels told the Baltimore Sun that this may be the last year for his display and it will be his grandest yet.
Dundalk: While it’s tough to compete with the famous 34th Street holiday lights, lots of homeowners in Dundalk decorate their homes with festive displays.
Other: There are several well-known Griswold homes in the greater Baltimore area, including the home of Mr. Christmas at 22 Kitzbuhel Road in Parkton, Mamulaville off Ringe Drive and Burns Crossing in Severn, the Yaglenski’s Dancing Holiday Lights Spectacular at 9056 Clendenin Way in Frederick and Lights On Ice Crystal in Odenton.
Emerson Street in Newton Corner: This is a decades-long tradition for the Hunter family. The late William Hunter, a former Cambridge firefighter, started the tradition 38 years ago and now his family keeps up the tradition in memory of their father. The home’s extravagant display has been featured over the years in the Boston Globe and Newton Tab.
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 at 5 Laurine Road.
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. If a self-guided tour is more your speed, you can buy a map of the decorated homes at the event for $3.
Malden: As highlighted on WBUR.org, a mother and her daughter and son-in-law have lit up houses down the road from one other on Bainbridge Street. Several neighbors got into the act over the years, turning it into a whole glowing holiday neighborhood.
Hyde Park: The Canale family has been decorating their home for generations. All visiting children get candy canes and Santa is known to drop by from time to time. The house is located at 26 Norton St. in Hyde Park. Visit their Facebook page for more details.
McAdenville: This small town is the Whoville of North Carolina; all of the shops and houses have adorable holiday decorations and lights. You can’t be a Grinch when your town’s nickname is Christmas Town USA!
Myers Park: Each year, the residents on Hillside Avenue string lights over balls of chicken wire, and then hang the glowing balls high in the trees to create a winter wonderland. They also host a Holiday Hunger Drive to collect food for Loaves and Fishes.
Indian Trail: There are quite a few Griswolds living in Indian Trail, including Nikitas Christmas Wonderland at 1417 Deer Spring Ct, Garden Oak Holiday Lights at 4026 Garden Oak Dr., Five Alarm Lights at 1001 Rosewater Ln., Fountainbrook Fallatts at 1028 Fountainbrook Dr. and Lake Park Lights at 4019 Lake Charles Way.
Huntersville: Several residents of Huntersville go all out with synchronized lights, including the Zimnowski Light Show at 15419 Hugh McAuley Road and Huntersville Christmas Lights at 13513 Melrose Meadow Ln.
Lincolnwood: Chicagoland’s beloved Christmas light hotspot is between the Edens Expressway and Central Avenue (east to west) and Pratt Avenue and Ionia Avenue (north to south). You’ll find a candy cane lane here, as well as the always popular home with a Christmas tree bustin’ through, which can be found at 6601 N. LeRoy Ave.
Aurora: Yes, the annual free Aurora Festival of Lights is worth the drive to the ‘burbs. Set up in Phillips Park, you can experience winterland magic on this landscaped one-mile drive. While in Aurora, also check out the Lehnertz Avenue Christmas Display, which officially starts December 14.
Naperville: Long known for its festive cheer, Naperville annually opens the Santa House on the Riverwalk. You’ll also find plenty of residents with great lights, including two in the Ashbury subdivision: 1127 Conan Doyle Drive and 3111 Wolfe Court. Also check out the one-two combo of 428 and 432 Bayview Ave.
Roscoe Village: Now in its third year, the Chicago neighborhood’s decorating contest is starting to take off.
Rosemont: The city decorates seemingly each and every tree in each and every of its parks – really. A lot of people catch a glimpse of the splendor from their seat on the El as they ride to O’Hare, but it’s worth the trip to see it all.
Dallas-Fort Worth Area
Arlington/Interlochen: Known as the Lights at Interlochen, each year more than 200 homeowners in this Arlington neighborhood go all out with extravagant lights, decorations and displays. The entrance point is at the intersection of Randol Mill Rd. and Westwood Dr.; a map can be downloaded online.
Plano: The Deerfield neighborhood in Northwest Plano, located between between Preston Rd. and Coit Rd., hosts a holiday decorating contest each year and the whole neighborhood turns into a winter wonderland. This year, visitors can vote on their favorite homes. Visit DeerfieldPlano.org for more information.
Highland Park: The residents of Highland Park get into the holiday spirit with beautiful displays, many of them professionally installed. There’s even a horse carriage tour through the neighborhood. The entrance is at Armstrong Parkway and Preston Road.
Kessler Park: The historic Kessler Park neighborhood has a group of volunteers who plan an annual Holiday Light ceremony and coordinate the holiday decorations on various traffic islands in the neighborhood.The brightly lit island at W. Colorado and Lausanne is professionally installed each year.
Lake Highlands: The 12 Days of Christmas come alive on Timberhollow Circle, where each home is decorated as one of the days, from a partridge in a pear tree to 12 drummers drumming. Several residents have moved over the years, but they’ve passed along the decorations to the new homeowners to keep the tradition alive.
Englewood: Drop off a letter to Santa in the animated mailbox at 6326 Florence Way, also known as Candy Cane Land. The Lohmans have been decorating their home for over 30 years.
Greeley: Get into the holiday spirits with the Greeley Grizwalds. Perhaps one of the best displays in the nation, these Lampoon lovers set their lights to music and attract onlookers from far and wide.The lights are on from 5:30 to 10 p.m. through New Year’s Day and are synchronized to music every 30 minutes. The music is broadcast over 92.9 FM.
Hampton Roads, Virginia, Area
Chesapeake: There are a number of fabulous Griswold houses in the greater Chesapeake area, including the Holt Family Lights on 900 Teakwood Court, the Priest Family Christmas display at 1001 Austin Drive, and the Pugh Family Christmas Light Show at 902 Heydon Court.
Virginia Beach: The homes along 43rd Street are known to decorate each year. The Anderson House at 5404 Brockie Street is a well-known holiday site in the neighborhood of Brigadoon. Visiting the display at 5316 S Palmyra Drive has been a tradition for many local residents and we’re hoping the residents put out their decorations again this year.
Hidden Oaks: The residents in this small neighborhood in Virginia Beach create a Hidden Oaks Wonderland of beautiful decorations.
Port Norfolk: Now entering its third year, the neighborhood association of historic Port Norfolk hosts a Holiday Light Show Contest encouraging residents to get festive.
Other: The Adams Family Light Show at 2061 Colane Road in Norfolk is a local favorite, and the Weems family decorates their home on 1420 Claudia Drive in the Lakeview Park neighborhood each year.
Woodland Heights: Residents in the Woodland Heights subdivision, which begins at Watson and ends at Florence, go all out with decorations for the annual Lights in the Heights festival. Homeowners on the route hire bands to play on their front porches and people park miles away to walk the neighborhood to see the lights and attractions.
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.
Prestonwood Forest: The residents of Prestonwood Forest in Northwest Houston have been decorating their homes in grand fashion since the 1970s. Hundreds of homes participate in the neighborhood’s annual Nite of Lites event that runs December 13 to 28 this year. Start on Prestonwood Forest Drive, just off of Texas Highway 249. Check out the event map to plan your trip.
Quail Valley: The Quail Valley Garden Club awards local residents for their holiday lights, based on three different categories. The whole community goes all out and they post the winners to their website, so you can make sure to see the best ones. Judging for this year will take place December 12 to 15.
Sugar Land: The city of Sugar Land has an annual holiday lights contest. Locals can submit their houses or their neighbors’ homes for consideration. The favorites are posted to the city’s Facebook page on December 12 at noon.
Hudson Valley, New York, Area
LaGrangeville: If you are looking for a visual and musical experience, you’ll love the ERDAJT Holiday Light Display. The display has 346,000 lights synchronized to music. Organizers will accept donations for the Union Vale Fire Department. You can find this display at 8 Patrick Drive, Lagrangeville.
Newburgh: Lights on Frozen Ridge is another spot to check out if you are looking for a fun holiday light display. The decorations are up through New Year’s Eve. This animated light show is synced with a soundtrack for your viewing pleasure.
Colden Hill: If you are in a giving mood this holiday season, you will want to check out the Christmas on Colden Hill light display. The 26-minute light show runs every half-hour. The display is free to view but accepts donations for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. You can find that display at 125 Colden Hill Rd.
Middletown: The holiday showcase at 346 Mullock Road offers a few unique decorations, including an eight-foot talking tree and an eight-foot talking star. This holiday extravaganza is also accompanied by some tunes.
White Plains: The North Kensico Light Show is one of the most elaborate Christmas light displays in the area. This decorations are accompanied by music much like other displays but this one has Santa Claus make an appearance in the attic window every fifth song!
Jacksonville, Florida, Area
Atlantic Beach: The home display at 402 Snapping Turtle Court East is called Atlantic Beach Christmas and attracts thousands of visitors each year. The homes around the crossroads of 8th Street and East Coast Drive also get into the spirit, incorporating a beach theme into the decor.
East Arlington/Blackhawk Bluff: The homes located around 1310 Blackhawk Trail West have hundreds of lights suspended on fishing line, giving the illusion that they’re hanging in the air.
Ponte Vedra/Nocatee: The planned community of Nocatee has a holiday decorating contest each year that encourages residents to get into the holiday spirit. They also host an event called Nocatee-A-Glow, with a light show at the waterpark and a tree lighting ceremony.
St. Johns: South Creek Lights, at 1749 Southcreek Dr., has thousands of lights timed to music. The homeowner also has a one-sheet with directions to other great holiday displays in the neighborhood. On your way there, you might want to stop at 12547 Woodhollow Court, which had an elaborate display last year.
Westside: The amazing light display known as Christmas on Crystal Springs, at 3403 Laurel Leaf Drive, collects donations for Operation Homefront. After checking out the display you should continue your drive to Orange Park and check out the home at 832 Wicklow Court.
Las Vegas Area
Henderson: Once again the city of Henderson is sponsoring an Outdoor Holiday Decorating Contest, ensuring that plenty of residents will be spreading holiday cheer. Winners will be announced on December 12, at which point you can download a map of participants from cityofhenderson.com. One must-see home is Deck the Hall Lights, located at 1054 Desert Olive Ct.
Spring Valley: The residents at 7951 Home Light Street have a great display known as Christmas in Vegas, and their website tracks computerized light displays around the city. There are several homes with great displays nearby, including at 4088 Mita Way and at 4424 Flowerdale Ct.
Enterprise: Marc Savard, a comedy hypnotist, has an elaborate display timed to pop music at 1420 E. Robindale Road. While you’re in the area, be sure to check out the homes around 1778 Quiver Point Ave., as well as 16 Spur Cross Cir. and 3540 Happy Ln.
Summerlin: The Strip isn’t the only thing that lights up in Vegas. Several homes in Summerlin go all out with light displays each year, including Sin City Holiday Lights at 4434 Rehoboth Bay St, Light O Rama at 3646 Carol Lark Court. and the home at 8080 W Red Coach Ave.
Winchester: Twisted Vegas, at 1941 Houston Dr, has lights, inflatables and music. Other great displays in the area include 4855 E. Twain Ave., 3671 E Cherokee Ave, and 4295 E Wyoming Ave.
Los Angeles Area
Pasadena: We’ll call this ‘hood a holly jolly triple threat and the absolute epicenter of Christmas cheer. Within a five-mile radius, you can experience millions of twinkly lights all in one evening by traveling from Upper Hastings Ranch in Pasadena, down Christmas Tree Lane in Altadena and then to St. Albans road in beautiful San Marino. If you see only one Christmas lights display this year, make it the Balian House. Located between Christmas Tree Lane and Upper Hastings Ranch, the Balian House is definitely the star atop the tree of the San Gabriel Valley.
Woodland Hills: Candy Cane Lane is still a Valley favorite. Located at the intersection of Lubao and Oxnard, neighbors on these spangled streets have been trying to outdo one another since 1952. You could spend hours cruising the displays, so bring plenty of hot chocolate and enjoy the splendor.
Naples Island: If you’re on the Southside this holiday season, the lights display on Naples Island can’t be beat. Park off Appian Way at the lot for Mother’s Beach. If you’re feeling amorous you can take a gondola ride through decked-out canals!
Torrance: Another Southside favorite this year will be the Sleepy Hollow Christmas Light Extravaganza, located on Robert Road. Residents recommend that visitors park on Pacific Coast Highway, Calle Mayor or Prospect Avenue and walk in on Robert Road. Bring a few dollars so you can patronize the neighborhood hot chocolate stands.
Burbank: Norton’s Winter Wonderland, at 513 N. Florence St, is a Burbank institution. Dick Norton started going all out in 1970 and his display gets better every year. The website is also a must see, complete with a live webcam if you’d like to just watch the lights from the comfort of your own home. Another must-see home is Winter Snowland, just up the road at 529 N. Florence St.
Monona: Monona lights attract thousands of visitors each year. Visitors can expect to see an array of decorations, statues and webs of lights. While in the area, be sure to check out 4205 Maher Ave and 907 Progressive Lane.
Cottage Grove: 2712 Nightingale Ln has 55,000 lights, hand-carved and painted trains complete with train station and dancing snowman that rock out to holiday music.
Jupiter: You’ll find hundreds of homes lit up in the Heights neighborhood; don’t miss the home at 6198 Hollywood Street! Other great displays in Jupiter are at 6190 Sand Pine Court, 604 Oak Terrace, 140 Sand Pine Drive, 206 S. Hampton Drive and 202 Woodbridge Drive. [UPDATE 12/18: We hear 202 Woodbridge is not doing a display this year.]
Lake Worth: There are quite a few Griswold families in Lake Worth. The Novak family’s home at 4988 Palm Way attracts hundreds of visitors each year, and the neighborhood throws a block party in anticipation. The Doyle family’s Wonderful World of Lights Christmas Display, at 74 West Palmetto Road, is another great one. [UPDATE on 12/19: Looks like the Doyle display won’t be up this year.] There’s also the display of Bill and Deb De Santis, located at 3066 Crockett Way. Other must-see home is located at 49 Springdale Road.
North Miami: Once again, the homeowners on the cul de sac around 1609 NE 137th Terrace will be enchanting visitors with their beautiful decorations and lights. You can get updates about the display on the Enchanted Place Facebook page.
Plantation: The Hyatt Extreme Christmas display, at 11201 N.W. 14th St., has thousands of lights, inflatable characters and music, and attracts hundreds of people every holiday season. The show will go on this year, despite complaints from neighbors. Another great display in Plantation is the Callahan house at 11480 NW 26th St.
West Palm Beach: The residents on Gabriel Lane go all out with lights and decorations every year. The neighborhood is located east of Military Trail, west of Parker Boulevard, south of Summit Boulevard off Florida Mango Road. Another great neighborhood for lights is Flamingo Park, which hosts an annual Holiday Historic Home Tour featuring eight historic homes. The neighborhood is bounded by Park Place to the north, Belvedere Road to the south and Parker Avenue to the West. While you’re in the area, don’t miss the home of Joe and Cathy Egan, at 727 45th St.
West Allis: The neighborhood known as Candy Cane Lane, bounded by Oklahoma and Montana Ave. and 92nd and 96th streets, collects donations for charity every year. More than 300 homes participate in the event, and Santa makes an appearance most nights.
Hales Corners: The H.C. Light Show, at 6235 S. 123rd St., has thousands of lights timed to music, and will feature “Let It Go” from “Frozen” this year.
Caledonia: The Jamestown Lights display, located at 6509 Williamsburg Way, has more than 21,000 lights synchronized to music, and attracts crowds every year.
Downtown: The Milwaukee Downtown Association decorates Cathedral Square Park, Pere Marquette Park, Zeidler Union Square and Wisconsin Avenue for its annual Holiday Lights Festival. You can get a tour of the lights on the Jingle Bus for only $1 per person.
Martin Drive: Each year the residents of Martin Drive hang more than 500 red bows on trees in the neighborhood, and they have a holiday party with caroling.
Minneapolis-Saint Paul Area
Apple Valley: Anderson Lights at 7877 131st Street West is a holiday lights extravaganza, complete with music synchronization. Similarly, Lights, Christmas, Action! has synchronized music and allows you to vote for the next song; “Let it Go” is currently the top choice among visitors.
Waconia: 1719 Park Point Road brightens the sky and warms visitors’ hearts with a computer-controlled light system that is synchronized to holiday music. The home has well over 100,000 lights and uses two miles of extension cords!
Lakeville: 16374 Harmony Path is a spectacular display in tune with music and even a donation bin on site to help everyone remember, “‘tis the season for giving.”
Eden Prairie: Vibrant Bellagio Poles, leaping arches and drafting snowflakes charm visitors at 7846 Donegal Cove.
New York City Area
Dyker Heights: Dyker Heights came in at No. 1 on list of the five best neighborhoods in the nation to see holiday lights. The entire community participates, drawing thousands of visitors each year. It’s a truly amazing display of lights, statues, inflatables and other holiday decorations that is bound to put you in a festive mood. You can stay up to date on the community’s Facebook page, Dyker Heights Christmas Lights.
Bayside/Whitestone: Many homes in Bayside and Whitestone are brightly decorated for the holidays, but the home of Kevin Lynch stands out. Last year Lynch competed on the ABC reality TV show “The Great Christmas Light Fight,” and won the top prize of $50,000. Lynch’s reputation now extends outside of New York — he told the local news that a tour bus from New Jersey and tourists from Norway made the trek to see his home. For 2014, Lynch is using LED lights to make the display brighter. His home is located on the corner of 166th Street and 23rd Avenue. Other homes in the area that go all out are at 212th Street and 32nd Avenue, and 160-15 13th Avenue between 160th and 162nd Streets.
Massapequa: If you want to make a night of it, head to Massapequa, where many homes have long-standing reputations for top-notch holiday displays. Here are a few to check out: 427 N. Bleecker Dr., 87 North Beech St., 158 N Kings Ave., 309 Philadelphia Ave., 544 N Oak St., 3 Cornelius Pl., 136 Cleveland Ave. and 122 Atlantic Ave.
Babylon/Deer Park: The home at 119 Liberty St. goes all out with its display, and neighboring homes get into the holiday spirit as well. There is also a stretch of beautifully decorated homes along Peninsular Drive.
Queens: Four homes in Maspeth, 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. Another great sight is Christmas in Jamaica Estates, which is covered in holiday lights from top to bottom, at 18507 80th Dr.
Orange County, California
Nellie Gail Ranch: This neighborhood in the Laguna Hills proudly tops our list this year for the best display in the O.C. Many homes in the neighborhood participate, but the Blount family is the honorary grand marshal. Check out their spectacular display nightly from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at 25473 Nellie Gail Road. Be sure to tune your radio to 100.1 FM to hear the coordinated holiday music!
Newport Beach: The Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade is a five-night spectacle that attracts 1.5 million viewers every year. Fun for the whole family starts at Bay Island and features extravagantly decorated boats. Homes along the bay also go all out with wintry decor.
Mission Viejo: The town of Mission Viejo really pulls out all the stops when it comes to spreading holiday cheer. From Santa’s arrival to the home lighting contest, it’s clear all the residents here know a thing or two about Christmas spirit.
Brea: A little further inland from the coast is a veritable winter wonderland. Visit the Eagle Hills neighborhood and witness over 100 homes decked out for the holidays!
Trabuco Canyon: Perhaps the most contentious lights display in SoCal, every year residents on Abilene Drive in Trabuco Canyon string lights between their homes. This wasn’t popular with the city, but the spirit of the season prevailed and the show continues.
Winter Park: The Eastbrook subdivision, off Aloma Avenue and east of Lakemont Avenue, offers a prize for the best-dressed house, encouraging residents to get into the holiday spirit. The home of Henry and Julie Sisk, at 5044 Lake Howell Road, is a must-see, as well as the home of home of Peter and Nancy Slage, at 2015 Taylor Road. Another great Winter Park display is the home of Rob and Betty Petersen at 5651 Garden Grove Circle.
Lemonwood Court: Check out the Spring Oaks subdivision of Altamonte Springs, off Montgomery Road and north of State Road 436. The home at 641 Lemonwood Court has a great display. On Christmas Eve, the residents place luminarias on the sidewalks, and Santa makes an appearance.
Mount Dora: The town of Mount Dora is transformed into a City of Light with the illumination of over 3 million lights each year. Homes in the Country Club of Mount Dora, particularly those on Greenbriar Trail, have beautiful light displays and decorations. Don’t miss the home of Wally and Monica Bush at 5014 Greenbriar Trail.
Kissimmee: The home of Ron Lister at 1642 Sunburst Way has its own website, Christmas Wonders, and has been featured in Reader’s Digest. On your way there, be sure to stop by Christmas in the Shire, at 14645 Grand Cove Dr in Hunter’s Creek.
Oviedo: The Bivona Christmas Light Show, located at 1601 North Wind Ct in Winter Springs, has a great display timed to music. On you way there, be sure to stop by 2909 Starwood Drive.
South Philly: The Miracle on South 13th Street returns with its elaborate displays of lights, inflatable characters, decorations and more. This year, activities at the 1600 block of South 13th Street include a holiday run on December 11 and a holiday lights bike tour on December 18.
Smedley: Coined The Christmas Street by its residents, the Smedley Street Christmas Light Spectacular is on the 2700 Block of Smedley Street.
Ambler: Located at 1320 East Butler Pike, this annual holiday light extravaganza is a rainbow of colors that wink and blink into the night. Also, there are weekly visits from Santa and Elsa to help spread the holiday cheer.
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.
Glendale: The town of Glendale sparkles each year thanks to its Glendale Glitters event, and it seems to have inspired homeowners to decorate as well. The home at 4237 W. State Ave., known as Phoenix Winter Wonderland, is a must-see. Other great displays in the area include 3353 W. Northview Ave., 3857 W. Rose Lane and 7734 N. 41st Ave.
Gilbert: The homeowners at Val Vista Lakes turn their community into a winter wonderland each year. Don’t miss the Holiday Mountain display, which includes 500,000 lights amid waterfalls and landscaping. There are five homes around 1410 E. Catamaran Dr. that are synchronized together to music. At 3642 E. Comstock Dr., the McNamara Family Christmas Light Show will again benefit Make-A-Wish Arizona; there are four houses with lights synchronized together, complete with a snow machine!
Mesa: The home at 8709 E. University calls itself A Magical Christmas Light Show Spectacular, and it’s pretty spectacular. The home at 3054 E. Inverness Ave. features the North Pole, Santa’s workshop and a manger, with appearances from Santa. The neighborhood of West Natal Circle near Cherry and Guadalupe Road also goes all out.
Anthem: The Anthem Community Council sponsors a Festival of Lights contest that encourages residents to decorate for the holidays. Participating homes will be added to a map that can be downloaded at OnlineAtAnthem.com.
Chandler: The Griswolds of Chandler include 632 W. Aster Court, 2660 S. Yucca St., 1075 W. Mulberry Drive and 1150 S. Sean Drive. A full map of homes with elaborate holiday displays is available on AZCentral.com.
Peacock Lane: Each house in this quaint southeast neighborhood has been decorating for the holidays since the 1920s. The adorable Tudor-style homes are adorned with lights, statues and Christmas trees, landing the neighborhood on our top five list. If you buy a home on Peacock Lane, the covenants, conditions and restrictions require you to decorate! To fully enjoy the scenery, we recommend that you park on Stark or Belmont and walk the street, rather than driving. You can download a printable map of the neighborhood at PeacockLane.net.
Gladstone: The homeowners on Ridgewood Drive go all out with lights and decorations. The homes are located off of Webster, around 7435 Ridgewood Dr.
Tualatin: Kawanda Court (around 20700 SW Kawanda Ct) is a suburban cul de sac where each home is decorated with both lights and cut-outs.
Beaverton: The Arbor Ridge neighborhood, located around 2900 Logandale Dr., encourages its residents to light up the night with a holiday lights contest each year.
Aspen Meadow: It’s worth the drive to see the Celebration of Lights at 24232 S. Upper Highland Rd. The homeowners’ light display started over 20 years ago with a few simple lights. With each year, more lights were added and more friends and family came to be a part of the festivities, growing the display into what it is today.
Wendell: Lake Myra Christmas Lights, at 10 S. Cypress Street, is one of the largest displays in North Carolina. As a result of all the visitors who now come to see the display, the town of Wendell created a Wendell Wonderland event, which took place December 5. On your way to Wendell, be sure to stop by the Piper family home, located 5725 Fixit Shop Road in Wake Forest.
Cary: Once again the home known as Carpenter Lights, at 121 Morris Branch Ct, has been decorated with an elaborate display, and many of the neighbors also decorate. There’s also a show in Hortons Creek just up the street, around 5707 Highcroft Drive.
Clayton: One must-see home is Valley Creek Lights at 213 Valley Creek Dr. The homes around 2720 Brigadoon Dr have also been known to decorate with elaborate displays.
Northwest Raleigh: Two homes in the Stonehenge subdivision have been known to go all out; they’re at 2216 Abbey Lane and 8501 Sleepy Creek Drive. Other displays in the area include the homes at 10200 Old Warden Road and 4920 Larchmont St.
Providence, Rhode Island, Area
Coventry: Two families in Coventry have teamed up to compete on ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight” this year: the Crazy Christmas House and the Conway Christmas Lights Extravaganza; both displays are at 265 Maple Valley Road.
East Providence: The Griswolds of East Providence include the Giroux Family Christmas Display at 69 Outlook Avenue, the Frisina Family Christmas Lights at 283 Massasoit Ave. and the Head Family Christmas at 6 Merchant St.
Pawtucket: The town of Pawtucket holds a Winter Wonderland event with 20 Victorian houses decorated for the holidays. While you’re there, be sure to check out Rhode Island Lights on Downes Avenue and Oakland Avenue.
North Providence: You won’t want to miss the Cavallaro Christmas Display at 6 Hebdeen Street, and the Zompa Family Display at 9 Hawkins Blvd.
Sacramento, California, Area
East Sacramento: Take a stroll through the Fab Forties neighborhood, on 40th through 48th St between J Street and Folsom Street, to see gorgeous holiday displays.
Orangevale: Dovewood Court, between Greenback Lane and Madison Avenue, is sometimes referred to as Candy Cane Lane thanks to the residents’ elaborate decorations.
Rancho Cordova: The Street of Christmas Dreams, at 10625 Lambrusca Drive, features music, a computer-controlled mega-tree, snowmen, reindeer with a sleigh and numerous other illuminated figures. Be sure to check out the home at 12295 El Portal Way as well.
Folsom: For years the residents around 120 Ledgemont Ct have turned their neighborhood into a winter wonderland, earning the nickname Candy Cane Court. While in the area, be sure to also check out the display at 1380 Copping Court.
Rocklin: Many homes have joined together on two streets (Pebble Creek Drive and Strand Road) to create a fabulous display. It’s best to park and get out and walk to get the full experience, which includes trains, sounds and life-size animated displays.
San Diego Area
Rancho Peñasquitos: More than 200 homes put up decorations on what’s known as Christmas Card Lane. Enter on Twin Trails Drive and Black Mountain Road. Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a little cash in case some homes are selling hot cocoa or popcorn as they have in the past. The neighbors tend to turn off their lights around 9:30.
El Cajon: Jingle Bells Hill, on Solomon Avenue and Pegeen Pace, has Christmas displays in approximately 140 homes.
Chula Vista: Known as Christmas Circle, this smaller version of Candy Cane Lane boasts more than 50 homes on Whitney and Mankato Street with 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 them the nickname Tinsel Town.
San Francisco Area
Livermore: The House of the Dove Christmas Display, with 30,000 new LED lights was kicked off on December 5 by a gathering including the Mayor and Chief of Police. The Rev. Deacon Dave has a web page for the event and outstanding reviews on Yelp. “Just seeing pictures of the display cannot capture its splendor, you must see it in person,” one review noted.
Marin County: The decorations at The Rombeiros Christmas House at 34 Devonshire Drive are so elaborate that the family starts setting them up in August so they’re ready in in time for the December 6 launch. Just around the corner, the homes at 2 and 5 Hune Lane pitch in with their own displays. Then, The Mickey Mouse Christmas House at 417 Blackstone Drive has its annual display featuring mind-boggling amounts of Disney characters.
Alameda: Christmas Tree Lane has been lighting up Alameda for the holidays since 1938. Stroll down the 3200 block of Thompson Ave. from December 1 through New Year’s Eve from 5:30 to 10 p.m. to catch brilliant light displays and a bit of holiday spirit.
Pleasanton: The Widmer family’s very first Christmas scene in the 1980s featured a few wood cut-outs of Santa and his reindeer. Now, the half-acre property includes programmed light displays on 304 individually controlled channels, a scavenger hunt and appearances by Santa himself. Widmer World is at 3671 Chelsea Court.
San Carlos: The folks on the 1900 block of Eucalyptus Lane in San Carlos make it easy to enjoy the holiday scene. Home after home has lights on display, often with festive gatherings spilling out into driveways and yards on the weekend. Park your car and take your time strolling down the street.
Ravenna: A Seattle neighborhood tradition for over half a century, Candy Cane Lane showcases 20 homes that light up the street every holiday season. The lane is at NE Park Road, off of Ravenna Blvd.
West Seattle: The Helmstetler Family Christmas Spectacular is a festive music and lights show on SW Charlestown Street. The Menashe family’s display on Beach Drive is another West Seattle staple, illuminating the block with more than 300,000 lights.
Sammamish: The Heritage Hills neighborhood is known for its bright lights, with the first cul de sac from the NE 28th Street entrance boasting one of the largest displays.
Woodinville: Woodinville Wonderland is the annual Christmas music and lights show by the Zembruski family. The colorful display attracts thousands of spectators every holiday season.
Everett: The holiday lights display in the Fir Grove neighborhood is in annual tradition in South Everett. Dozens of decorated homes can be found at the intersection of 21st Avenue SE and 104th Street SE.
Tampa, Florida, Area
Seminole: Known as The Lights of Lake Park Estates, the neighborhoods of Lake Park Estates, Wieker, Lakeside Estates and Lake Seminole Village generously decorate their homes and yards with more than three miles of lights to raise money for charity. You can get to the entrance by traveling southbound on Starkey Road to Bryan Dairy Road, make a right onto Bryan Dairy; at the next light, make a right onto 109th and follow the signs. Don’t miss 10712 109th St.
St. Petersburg: The Old Northeast Neighborhood offers a Candlelight Tour of Homes every year to raise money for charity; the entire neighborhood will be filled with decorated homes and luminarias. There are companies that offer carriage rides through the area, which is bound by Fifth Avenue North on the south, Coffee Pot Boulevard and 30th Avenue North on the northern end, North Shore Drive on the east and Fourth Street on the west.
South Tampa: The residents along South Boulevard between Bayshore and W. Swann Avenue decorate the trees with sparkling white lights. While in South Tampa, don’t miss the home at 3611 W Jetton Ave.
Pinellas Park: The homes around 5660 82nd Terrace N have come to be known as Candy Cane Lane thanks to their elaborate decorations. While you’re there, swing by the home at 7120 44th St N. for a great display.
Hyde Park: The beautiful historic homes on North Avenue and Bayshore Boulevard in Hyde Park are a sight to behold when decorated for the holidays. The Hyde Park Village also has a great display.
Tucson, Arizona, Area
Winterhaven: For 64 years, the residents of Winterhaven have hosted the Festival of Lights, with dozens of homes decorated for the holidays. It now attracts hundreds of thousands of people from all over southern Arizona. The entrances are off Ft. Lowell and Prince. There is no fee, but donations are accepted.
Civano: Several residents in this community have beautiful light displays. It is bounded by Irvington Road on the north, Pantano Wash on the east, Bilby Road on the south and Harrison Road/Davis-Monthan Air Force Base on the west.
Northwest Side: Dozens of residents in the area of Oldfather and Plantation put up elaborate decorations each year. And while you’re in the area, don’t miss the home at 3073 W. Wildwood Drive.
Marana: There’s a neighborhood called Disney Lane that decorates with their favorite cartoon characters each year. You can find the homes around 8225 N Tammeron Ct.
Miraval Place: The home at 5650 N Camino Miraval has been known to go all out with over 90,000 lights, many of which are draped over cacti.
Washington, D.C., Area
Woodbridge & Dale City, Virginia: Residents of the Woodbridge/Dale City area have a lot of cheer and don’t shy away from high electricity bills. The Jeager family Christmas display on Reagon Court in Dale City is synchronized to music. The Johnston Christmas Wonderland is a spectacular display at the intersection of Evansdale and Edgewater. Don’t miss the Brittle family display at 14311 Fairview Lane in Dale City or the Andersons’ North Pole display at 15615 Bushey Drive off Cardinal Drive in Woodbridge. Continue your tour up the road to Lake Ridge, where you can find Lake Ridge Lights on Stone Lined Circle and a bright home display on the Corner of Smoketown Road and Cavalier Drive.
Alexandria, Virginia: An evening stroll through Old Town Alexandria will offer plenty of holiday cheer as many residents and local businesses decorate for the holidays. Must-see residential displays include Collingwood Lights at 1601 Collingwood Road, and the homes at 2507 Fairview Drive, 6634 South Kings Highway and 6412 Joyce Road.
Fairfax, Virginia: There are quite a few Griswolds in Fairfax. Must-see homes include 3308 Prosperity Avenue, 3522 Chain Bridge Road, 9804 Kirktree Court, 9806 Sharon Court and on Karen Drive off of Barkley. Photos are available on fairfaxchristmaslights.com.
Silver Spring, Maryland: Spectacular homes in the area include 15428 Baileys Ln and 12710 Laurie Dr. Just over the border of Maryland in the upper corner of DC, The Bishop’s House at 1665 N. Portal Dr. NW is reportedly covered in over 500,000 lights and timed to music.
Garrett Park, Maryland: Each year, the Garrett Park Women’s Club sponsors a holiday decorating contest resulting in a brightly lit and festive neighborhood.
Are there any great neighborhoods that should make the list next year? Let us know in the comments below! And if you’ve seen one of these displays, be sure to share your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, or G+.