Nothing gets me in the holiday spirit quite like the traditional Thanksgiving night trek out to Shore Acres for Holiday Lights. I mean, what better way is there to burn off all that turkey and mashed potatoes before your 2nd or 3rd helping of pie, than to take a nice brisk walk through gardens filled with Christmas lights? You know I’m right! See the lights of Oregon’s Adventure Coast.
In the late ’80s, the Friends of Shore Acres decided to string a few lights, 6,000 to be exact, to spread a little holiday cheer. They never imagined that over 9,000 guests would show up to share the experience. And so, a tradition was born, each year getting a little bigger and more extravagant. The entire community now starts prepping for this event in mid-October, when every Saturday, groups of volunteers begin showing up to strategically hang lights, more than 350,000 or so, with 30 large landscape lights, dozens of small landscape lights, 30 large holiday trees and dozens of lighted sculptures. Holiday lights have an average of 60,000 visitors each year.
This Coastal Winter Wonderland boasts festive lighted displays ranging from simple, lovely flowers to a 45-foot animated Gray Whale and much more! New displays are added each year, making a game of what you remember from the previous year as you stroll the lighted walkways, around the pond, out to the rose garden, and back to the garden house.
This truly magical experience includes cookies and cider at the Garden House, where a variety of local non-profit groups and businesses play host for a night; local choirs and musicians perform in the gazebo; and each room in the garden house is decorated in a different holiday theme. This picturesque experience is at the top of my list each year. I even have a friend who had a very intimate wedding ceremony next to the pond a few years ago. Talk about magic.
Side Note: Thanksgiving night is opening night and the busiest night of the season, which can create quite a lot of traffic. For a less busy night try Monday – Thursday or come out at opening time to see the light displays the transition from day to night. Even a rainy night can be magical with the lights twinkling against the watery backdrop along Oregon’s Adventure Coast.
Holiday Lights runs Thanksgiving night through New Year’s Eve each year; from 4:00pm – 9:30pm daily. Cost for parking is $5 per car — cash, check or existing state park pass only. Shore Acres State Park is located at 89039 Cape Arago Hwy, Coos Bay OR 97420. Please call 541-888-2472 or toll-free 866-888-6100 for more information.