‘Tis the season for crazy holiday lights! And while you may not want your own home to become a spectacle, that doesn’t mean you don’t want to be dazzled by other people’s holiday spirit.

Here are 5 awesome holiday light displays from around the country. Prepare to be blinded by the lights and to find the holiday spirit.

1. Dyker Heights (Brooklyn, NY)

Near New York and finding Rockefeller Center a little ho-ho-hum? Turns out they’re not the only bright lights in town. The Brooklyn neighborhood of Dyker Heights goes all out with numerous blocks participating in the spectacle tens of thousands of lights, we hear. And speaking of hearing, many houses are even blasting holiday music. Since this is New York, after all, most of the displays are professionally done (no risk of blowing a fuse). Walking around on your own is free, but there are walking and bus tours available too.

2. Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center (Nashville, TN)

In Nashville, they do things BIG, from the hair to the belt buckles, and the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center Christmas light display is no exception. The resort features 3 million lights illuminating every corner and every pathway, but that’s just the beginning of the holiday fun. There’s also photos with Santa, cookies with Mrs. Claus, a gingerbread decorating station, and an outdoor nativity.

3. Winter Wonderland Holiday Light Show (Portland, OR)

Who wants to wander around and look at lights in the rain? Not us. That’s why we love this concept of driving through Portland International Raceway (leisurely, of course) to take in what they claim is the “Largest Holiday Light Show in the Northwest.” The destination features more than 250 displays, including many animated scenes. In true Portland fashion, they do allow you to keep the light nights weird: special events include a “Bike the Lights” night and a “Lights and Leashes Dog Walk” night.

P.S.: If you’re dying to walk around in the rain to look at lights, Peacock Lane, known as “Portland’s Christmas Street” is only a few miles away.

4. Toledo Zoo Lights Before Christmas (Toledo, OH)

Many zoos around the country feature amazing “zoo light” displays. They’re sort of a two-fer because it’s not often you get to see zoo animals at night (which is cool since many of them are nocturnal). And you know it has to be good since this zoo is a frequent guest on the “Top 10 Zoo Light” list. Check out its one million lights and 200 lighted animal scenes, as well as a new 3-D holiday scene set to music projected onto the zoo’s café.

5. Tacky Lights (Richmond, VA)

Want tasteful lights? Then this is not the tour for you. But if you’re a fan of super, uber tacky, this tour, sponsored for the past 27 years by the local newspaper, is a must-see. Residents can nominate their own house and then a list is compiled. The requirement: houses are supposed to have at least 40,000 lights (sunglasses not required).

Happy holidays!

Travel hacks | Destinations


about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.