Take a shine to some of the most spectacular holiday lighting displays in North America. From Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Atlanta, Georgia, revelers in cities across the continent find creative ways to celebrate the holidays involving light bulbs, candles and high-tech arrays. Check out the following displays:
Hersheypark Christmas Candylane, Hershey, Pennsylvania
The home of a world-famous chocolate brand positively glows during Hersheypark Christmas Candylane, held from November 13 to January 3 in Hershey. More than 600 illuminated, animated displays amuse and inspire motorists who drive through the two miles of wooded trails that wind through the park. In all, more than 5 million lights combine to form a brilliant seasonal tableau. Visitors also can ride on the coasters as well as the new Cocoa Cruiser and Sidewinder rides.
Stay: Harrisburg East Campground, Harrisburg
Garden Lights, Holiday Nights, Atlanta, Georgia
The Atlanta Botanic Garden basks in ethereal lights during Garden Lights, Holiday Nights, November 14-January 16. This year, the event’s team of artists and technicians have created Alice’s Wonderland Reimagined, an interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s beloved children’s book with a holiday twist. Check out the world’s largest choreographed curtain of light and sound.
Stay: Atlanta South RV Resort, McDonough
Wildlights at the Living Desert Zoo | Gardens, Palm Desert, California
Exotic animals shine with sublime light during Wildnights at the Living Desert Zoo | Gardens in Palm Desert, California, held on select nights during December. Go on safari to see life-size, luminescent animal lanterns, including cheetahs and giraffes, then embark on a trip through the tunnel of lights and see lights flashing to holiday music. The event runs November 25–December 27.
Stay: Indian Waters RV Resort and Cottages, Indio
Tumbleweed Christmas Tree in Chandler, Arizona
Christmas Tumbleweeds? Why not! In Chandler, Arizona, south of Mesa, locals annually celebrate the lighting of the Tumbleweed Tree, which consists of more than 2,000 of the wind-driven desert plants packed into a wireframe and painted white. Standing 50 feet tall, the tree has been a Chandler tradition since 1957. This year’s lighting takes place in downtown Chandler on December 7.
Pro tip: If you’re camping in the desert, you can even make your own tumbleweed tree.
Travel to the suburbs of Chandler for more Christmas spectacle. The residents of the 2600 block of Upland Drive have taken the concept of home holiday decor to the next level. The houses in this neighborhood boast some of the most spectacular Santas, reindeer and snowmen you’ll find this side of the North Pole.
Stay: The Motorcoach Resort, Chandler
Arizona Christmas Trees in Phoenix
Who needs fir trees when cacti dress up just as nice? Many Arizona residents adopt this approach as they wrap colorful light strings around trunks and branches of towering saguaros. If you’re hunkering down in the Grand Canyon State for the holidays, you’ll find several of the colorfully decorated succulents in houses, gardens and public spaces. Check out the Desert Botanical Gardens for a Christmas light display featuring cactus and other desert plants and trees.
Stay: Royal Palm RV Resort, Phoenix
Christmas Light Paddle Party in Florida
Fort Lauderdale puts a distinctively Floridian stamp on Christmas celebrations. On December 11, the town will host a Christmas Lights Paddle Party, with paddleboarders and kayakers navigating the town’s many canals with festive lights. Many paddleboards are outfitted with underglow lights, adding a nice, ethereal touch to the festivities. Elsewhere along the coast, travelers can find several amazing Christmas lights in Miami, Miami Beach and Palm Beach.
Stay: Paradise Island RV Resort, Fort Lauderdale
LED Christmas Tree in Las Vegas, Nevada
In a city known for its over-the-top light displays, you can still find some yuletide lights that don’t get lost in the glare. During the season, the Venetian Hotel Resort’s Casino erects a show-stopping 65-foot LED tree that’s covered in glass balls. Morphing with changing colors and patterns, the tree towers over the hotel’s famed outdoor fountain — already a popular attraction on the strip.
Pro tip: Traveling with kids? Opportunity Village’s Magical Forest is a holiday wonderland lit up by millions of lights.
Stay: Riviera RV Park, Las Vegas
Holiday Lights in Taos Plaza, New Mexico
Historical Taos, New Mexico, is home to several time-honored holiday traditions, such as pathways lined with luminarias that symbolically light the way for Mary and Joseph in their search for shelter. For our money, the 400-year-old Taos Plaza is a great place to start, with LED lights wrapped around the trunks and branches of ancient oaks and other trees.
Pro tip: Make your own luminarias for the season.
Stay: Roadrunner RV Park, Santa Fe
Christmas on the Square in Cleveland, Ohio
Pack a thermos of hot cider and head to Public Square, a two-block winter wonderland in downtown Cleveland near Lake Erie. Go ice skating and take a walk through a magical landscape populated by some of the prettiest twinkling lights you’ll find in the U.S. See reindeer and walk through tunnels of light. The festivities kick off on November 28.
Stay: Hearthside Grove Motorcoach Park, Petoskey, Michigan
Dayton’s Carillon Tree of Light, Ohio
In Dayton, the Carillon Tree of Light takes holiday decorations to new heights. The “tree” consists of 20,000 lights strung from the base to the top of the 151-foot-tall Carillon Tower, a modernist structure built in 1942. At the foot of the tower, the Carillon Historical Park sparkles with lights decorating the nearby trees. It’s estimated that some 15-miles of Christmas lights are used to light up the holiday evenings in the park. The Tree of Light is lit on November 24.
Stay: Sun Valley Campground, Chillicothe
River Walk in San Antonio, Texas
Stretching along the banks of the San Antonio River, the San Antonio River Walk leads pedestrians to shops, restaurants, museums and art installations. From November 9 to January 4, the river corridor glows with Christmas lights strung from trees and buildings and emanating from luminarias along walkways. The reflection of the lights on the river creates a spectacle that will melt the heart of even the most bitter Scrooge.
Stay: Mission City RV Park, San Antonio
Trail of Lights in Austin, Texas
Marvel at spectacular holiday lights from the comfort of your vehicle. The Austin Trail of Lights winds through Zilker Park, leading motorists through a glittering wonderland consisting of 2 million lights with 90 illuminated holiday trees. Follow the trail through several lighted tunnels and see amazing holiday displays along the way. For 2020, the Trail of Lights is a drive-through-only event. The trail is open November 28-January 3, 2021.
Stay: Oak Forest RV Resort, Austin