With Thanksgiving in the rear view and December coming up FAST, now’s the perfect time to get into the holiday spirit! And what better way to do so than checking out some breathtaking light exhibitions? Here are some of the most dazzling displays of decorations across the United States.

Menorah Lighting in San Francisco, CA
Dec 2 – 9

The City by the Bay (and home to our headquarters!) was the first in the U.S. to create a public menorah lighting and celebration in 1975. Although now more than 500 cities around the world have followed suit, the Bill Graham Menorah Lighting remains the “Mama Menorah” festivity of them all. Check out the giant menorah in Union Square each night of Hanukkah. The first lighting will feature food, live music, and kids craft activities along with the ceremonial lighting.

Sweet Lights in Hershey, PA
Now – Jan. 1

Spend some time this December at the “Sweetest Place on Earth”: Hersheypark in Hershey, PA. Be dazzled by the 4 million lights illuminating the park this season, have breakfast with Santa, or take in Hershey Sweet Lights, a 2-mile drive with more than 600 lit-up, animated displays. (Bonus: you don’t even have to leave the comfort of the warm, cozy car!)

ZooLights in Washington, DC
Now – Jan. 1

Holiday decorations at zoos are common all over the country, but our nation’s capital takes the tradition to another level. The ZooLights at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo are a spectacle for adults and children alike. With more than 500,000 lights (they’re even environmentally-friendly LEDs!), 2 laser shows, and a reindeer games fun zone, this special event is not to be missed. Best of all, it’s free to visitors.

Christmas Around the World in Chicago, IL
Now – Jan. 6

For a unique cultural holiday event, explore the annual Christmas Around the World exhibit at the Windy City’s Museum of Science and Industry. The museum’s tradition of putting up a Christmas tree began in 1942 and has now evolved into decorating more than 50 trees to represent holiday customs from around the globe.

Honolulu City Lights in Honolulu, HI
Dec. 1 – Jan 1 

It may not be a white Christmas, but it’s hard to go wrong any day with blue skies, palm trees, and beautiful beaches. Change up the holiday routine this year and check out Honolulu City Lights. Opening night events include multiple tree lightings, an electric light parade, live music, and more. Don’t forget to commemorate your visit with an ornament tribute to King Kamehameha — dressed as a ukulele-playing Santa, of course!

Christmas Town and Glittering Lights in Las Vegas, NV
Now – Jan 6 

Expect nothing but over-the-top from a city that lights up all year round. Las Vegas sparkles through December, with almost every casino offering a special holiday display. Cowabunga Bay Water Park transforms into Las Vegas Christmas Town, where visitors can take a ride on the Polar Express and even play Yuletide laser tag. Don’t forget to visit Glittering Lights, a stunning drive-through display at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Winterfest of Lights in Ocean City, MD 
Now – Dec 31

Ocean City, Maryland may be known as a beach destination, but this festive summer hotspot will be lit up this holiday season. The town will be celebrating the Winterfest of Lights all December long with events such as a Jingle Bell 5K, a holiday artisan fair, the Winterfest Express train, capping the month of fun with a New Year’s Eve fireworks show.

Travel hacks | Destinations


about Hannah

Hannah Fairbanks is a freelance writer living in San Francisco with her husband and 2 daughters. When she’s not writing, you might find her reading, packing bento box lunches for her kids, and making sure she gets in at least 10,000 Fitbit steps a day.