'Tis the season for decking the halls, and while some families focus on trimming the tree, others are all about the twinkling lights. America has a reputation for going big, so it's no surprise that holiday lights displays across the country amp up the Christmas magic with lots of megawatts.
See what your local neighborhood has to offer this holiday season. Bring a hot cup of cocoa, snap a few pictures, and bring along your friends and families while you're at it!
1. Oldie & Goodie: Christmas Tree Lane, Altadena
Purported to be the oldest large-scale Christmas light display in the country, Altadena’s Christmas Tree Lane is sure to get you in the spirit. The more than century-old trees get all lit up for the holidays, thanks to volunteers and community donations, and are a beautiful spectacle to behold by car.
Dates: Dec. 9 and the lights will stay up through Dec.
Address: 2600 Santa Rosa Avenue, Altadena (between Mariposa and Mendocino)
More Information: www.christmastreelane.net
2. Jolly Ice Cream: Balian House, Altadena
“Balian,” home to the famous ice cream manufacturer, "George Balian," this estate sits on 4 acres and is decorated with 10,000 colored lights and numerous holiday depictions. That first gasp-worthy glimpse as you turn off of Allen Avenue makes the house a must-visit. There's plenty of street parking along the residential streets (be courteous) and Christmas Tree Lane is only a few blocks away.
Dates: Dec. 9 and the lights will stay up through Dec.
Address: 1960 Mendocino Lane, Altadena
More Information: Balian House Altadena
3. Thematically, Spot On: Upper Hastings Ranch, Pasadena
This northeast Pasadena neighborhood will be a sure hit with your little elves. Starting the first weekend of December, each block has its own theme, from Santa's Toy Shop to a snowy Winter Wonderland. This is a large neighborhood with a ton to see, so driving is recommended. Most drivers go slowly so you can enjoy it as if you’re walking.
Dates: Dec. 10 and the lights will stay up through Jan 1.
Address: North of Sierra Madre Blvd and east of Michillinda Ave, Pasadena
More Information: www.upperhastingsranch.org
4. A Majestic Stroll: St. Albans, San Marino
Saint Albans is lined with tall majestic pines that are all bedecked in colored lights for the season. This old San Marino neighborhood will delight munchkins and grownups alike with its stately old California architecture all dressed up for the holidays. This is a short trek, so bundle up, park the car and take a stroll.
Dates: This is a neighborhood display so dates vary, but the lights are typically up in early Dec and run through the month.
Address: St. Albans Road, San Marino
More Information: St. Albans Majestic Pines
5. Mystical Lights: Enchanted Forest of Lights, Descanso Gardens, La Cañada Flintridge
Descanso Gardens lights up its lush landscape for the second year in a row with their one-of-a-kind holiday light display called, Enchanted: Forest of Lights. The light show features several interactive displays. Our favorite? The Symphony of Oaks walk-through exhibit, which lets you manipulate lights and sounds in the garden’s historical Oak Grove. Pro Tip: Make sure to bring the stroller for little ones. This is a popular event with peak times already selling out, so if you’re hoping to go this year, get your tickets ASAP. Bonus: Special entry tickets also include a dinner reservation at Maple restaurant.
Dates: Beginning Nov. 19 and running through Jan. 7
Times: Timed entries run from 5 -10pm each evening
Cost: $28/person while kids under 2 are free
Address: 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge
More Information: www.descansogardens.org
6. Wild for Lights: Los Angeles Zoo
See the zoo come alive while most of the animals sleep (though you can catch the nocturnal creatures for once!) After the daytime crowds leave, the zoo transforms into a magical winter jungle with lights, lasers, 3D projections and interactive displays. Animated LED “monkeys” lead the way through various only in LA displays (including animals on a freeway). A black light party in the LAIR reptile house, weekend visits from Santa, holiday-themed treats, and the only place in town to visit real reindeer make this an experience your family won’t forget. This is only the third year of Zoo Lights, and it’s extra special as it kicks off the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Zoo so there will be new features like the new light waterfall and shadow puppet installation.
Dates: Beginning Nov. 17 and running through Jan. 7
Times: 6 -10pm
Cost: $10-$19.95, kids 2 and under are free
Address: 5333 Zoo Drive, Griffith Park
More Information: www.lazoolights.org
7. All Aboard: Griffith Park Holiday Trade Ride!
Climb aboard the Griffith Park Railroad for a magical train ride after dark. From Nov. 24-Dec. 30 (closed Dec. 24 and 25) the miniature Southern Railroad train (not to be mistaken with the Travel Town railway right around the corner) glows with displays made up of thousands of twinkling lights. The first ride departs at 5pm and the last one runs at 8pm, Monday through Thursday and 9pm Friday through Sunday.
Dates: Beginning Nov. 24 and running through Dec. 30 (Closed Dec. 24th and 25th)
Times: 5-8 p.m. (Friday - Sunday until 9pm)
Cost: $4, 18 months and under are free
Address: 4400 Crystal Springs Dr, Griffith Park
More Information: www.griffithparktrainrides.com
8. 100-Foot Christmas Tree: The Grove, Los Angeles
Complete with Santa and his reindeer streaking across the sky, The Grove shopping center in Mid-City is a great spot to see beautiful holiday lights. With Los Angeles’ largest Christmas tree and the fountain’s water show set to holiday tunes, this place is sure to elicit “oohs” and “ahhs” from your little ones. Your drought-tolerant tots will be especially ecstatic to experience the “snowfall” that happens every night at 7pm and then again at 8pm. While you’re there you can try to catch Santa in his gingerbread-themed workshop. And if giant trees are your (Santa’s) bag, check out our list of the best tree lightings in town. Even if you miss the lighting ceremony, the trees all twinkle from Nov. 15 through Christmas.
Dates: Dec. 13th - 25th
Times: Nightly, with snowfalls at 7pm and 8pm
Address: 189 The Grove Dr, Beverly Grove
More Information: https://thegrovela.com/
9. Candy Cane Lane: South Bay Edition
Not to be confused with the Candy Cane Lane in Woodland Hills, or Sleepy Hollow in neighboring Torrance. This El Segundo neighborhood along the 1200 block of Acacia Street lights up with unique home displays and has been since 1949. You’ll need to park your car and walk through, but it’s a short few blocks so nothing little legs can’t handle. The walk is well worth it when kids get to meet Santa waiting in his sleigh at the end of the street. Santa makes his appearance most nights, but the line can get long to say hello and take pictures so try to arrive early.
Dates: Starting in mid-December
Times: 6 - 9pm
Address: 1200 E. Acacia St, El Segundo
More Information: Candy Cane Lane El Segundo
10. Not so Sleepy: Sleepy Hallow Christmas Lights Extravaganza, Torrance
One of the more popular light displays on this list, the entire neighborhood comes out with lights, Christmas icons, and tons of holiday cheer. You’ll find this California winter wonderland at Robert Road off Pacific Coast Highway, north of Calle Mayor. This neighborhood comes out in full force for the holiday with groups touring the area in golf carts and local kids selling hot chocolate and churros. Park and walk—traffic moves at a turtle’s pace.
Dates: This is a neighborhood display so there are no set dates, but typically runs from the second weekend in Dec. through Dec. 23
Times: 6 -10pm
Address: 23220 Robert Road, Torrance (Robert Road off Pacific Coast Highway, north of Calle Mayor)
More Information: Sleepy Hollow Christmas Lights, Torrance