40 Places to See Stunning Holiday Lights and Sights for Free

All across the country hotels and merchants are stringing up lovely lights and decking their halls for us to enjoy – for free.

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Alabama

Alabama

Bellingrath Gardens Christmas in Lights in Mobile, AL. 960 1280
Alaska

Alaska

Alaska Center for the Performing Arts in Anchorage, AK. 960 1280
Arizona

Arizona

Mesa Arizona Temple Christmas Lights in Mesa, AZ. 960 1280
Arkansas

Arkansas

The state capital building in Little Rock, AR, at Christmas time. 960 1280

Jerry Driendl/Getty Images  

California

California

Enjoy the 100-foot-tall Christmas tree at the Grove in Los Angeles. 960 1280

Piriya Photography/Getty Images  

Colorado

Colorado

Colorado is full of beautiful buildings but perhaps none shines brighter than the Denver City County Building on Christmas. 960 1280

By Thirteen Of Clubs from Minneapolis (Denver Civic CenterUploaded by xnatedawgx) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Connecticut

Connecticut

Constitution Plaza is decked out for the holidays in Hartford, CT. 960 1280
District of Columbia

District of Columbia

Attend the U.S. Capital Christmas Tree lighting ceremony in Washington, DC. 960 1280

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images  

Delaware

Delaware

A curvy lit path leads to a cottage on a wooded lot in Ardentown, DE. 960 1280

Lisa J Goodman/Getty Images  

Florida

Florida

Mark and Kathy Hyatt celebrate the holidays with an outrageous display of holiday lights decorating their home in Fort Lauderdale, FL, known as the Hyatt House. 960 1280
Georgia

Georgia

The Atlanta Botanical Garden in Georgia puts on quite a show for the holiday season. 960 1280
Hawaii

Hawaii

The US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy sits piered during the annual Pearl Harbor Festival of Lights in Hawaii. 960 1280

By U.S. Navy photo by Ensign Joshua Flanagan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons  

Idaho

Idaho

Take in the holiday display outside the Idaho State Capital Building in Boise. 960 1280
Illinois

Illinois

Christmas lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, IL. 960 1280
Indiana

Indiana

Drive through PeteyVille in Hammond for one of the best displays in all of Indiana. 960 1280
Iowa

Iowa

Leading up to the big tree in front of the Iowa State Capital Building, the Des Moines streets are lined with various Christmas decorations. 960 1280

Suwandi Chandra Photography/Getty Images  

Kansas

Kansas

Dubbed "The Christmas City of the High Plains," WaKeeney, Kansas been celebrating Christmas in a big way since 1950. On the Saturday following Thanksgiving each year, Santa Claus flips a switch lighting up a wonderland of over three miles of electrical wiring, 2,000 perimeter lights, a 35-foot pine Christmas tree and 1,400 pounds of fresh greenery. Photo courtesy of WaKeeney Travel & Tourism 960 1280

Harland Schuster  

Kentucky

Kentucky

Jefferson Square lights in Louisville, KY. 960 1280
Louisiana

Louisiana

Stop by the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans for some of the best holiday lights in Louisiana. 960 1280
Maine

Maine

Check out the holiday displays at one of the many lighthouses in Maine, including the Nubble Lighthouse in York (pictured above). 960 1280
Maryland

Maryland

Baltimore, MD, recreates its very own 'Miracle on 34th Street' as neighbors decorate their homes in the quirky Hampden neighborhood. 960 1280

By Flickr user: sneakerdog http://www.flickr.com/people/sneakerdog/ [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Massachusetts

Massachusetts

Take in the holiday cheer at the Quincy Market in Boston. 960 1280
Michigan

Michigan

Rosa Parks Circle in Grand Rapids, MI. 960 1280
Minnesota

Minnesota

There’s no better place in Minnesota to celebrate the holidays than at Bentleyville "Tour of Lights." 960 1280
Mississippi

Mississippi

City Hall is lit up for the holidays in Meridian, MS. 960 1280

By Nathan Culpepper [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Missouri

Missouri

Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO, always puts on a spectacular show, especially during the holiday season. 960 1280
Montana

Montana

The Anaconda ‘Christmas Stroll’ in Montana. 960 1280
Nebraska

Nebraska

The county courthouse in Kearney, NE. 960 1280

By Ammodramus (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Nevada

Nevada

A 7-story Christmas tree sits on display in front of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, NV. 960 1280

Ethan Miller/Getty Images  

New Hampshire

New Hampshire

Stop by Enfield’s La Salette Shrine in New Hampshire to celebrate the holidays. 960 1280
New Jersey

New Jersey

Take in the festivities at the Holiday Light Show at the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, NJ. 960 1280
New Mexico

New Mexico

Enjoy the luminarios and holiday lights at Historic Plaza in Santa Fe, NM.
960 1280

Bill Heinsohn/Getty Images  

New York

New York

The bedazzled Rockefeller Christmas Tree in New York City is draped with 5 miles of LED lights and topped with a sparkling Swarovski crystal star. 960 1280
North Carolina

North Carolina

Take in the holidays at one of the most famous estates in the country, the Biltmore Manor in Asheville, NC. 960 1280
North Dakota

North Dakota

Kick off the holiday season at the Downtown Fargo-Moorhead Holiday Parade in North Dakota. 960 1280
Ohio

Ohio

Enjoy the holiday spirit at Clifton Mill in Ohio. 960 1280

By No machine-readable author provided. Moofpocket assumed (based on copyright claims). [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons  

Oklahoma

Oklahoma

Take a stroll down the Bricktown Canal in Oklahoma City, OK, to enjoy the many holiday decorations. 960 1280

By Kool Cats Photography over 2 Million Views (flickr.com) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Oregon

Oregon

There is no better place in Oregon to see holiday lights than Peacock Lane in Portland. 960 1280
Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania

Koziar’s Christmas Village near Bernville, PA, embodies the holiday spirit. 960 1280
Rhode Island

Rhode Island

Spend Christmas at the Breakers in Newport, RI. 960 1280
South Carolina

South Carolina

Christmas time at Homeland Gardens in Aiken, SC. 960 1280
South Dakota

South Dakota

Several light-laced trees at Christmas at the Capital in Pierre, SD. 960 1280
Tennessee

Tennessee

Revisit classic Christmas scenes while exploring the Enchanted Garden of Lights in Chattanooga, TN. 960 1280
Texas

Texas

Christmas along the San Antonio riverwalk in Texas. 960 1280

Carol Wood/Getty Images  

Utah

Utah

Temple Square Christmas Lights Celebration in Salt Lake City, UT. 960 1280
Vermont

Vermont

The Church Street Marketplace in Burlington, VT. 960 1280
Virginia

Virginia

Part of the Tacky House Tour in Richmond, VA. 960 1280
Washington

Washington

Enjoy the lights at the world-famous Pike Place open-air market in Seattle. 960 1280
West Virginia

West Virginia

Drive by one of the many holiday-themed covered bridges in West Virginia. 960 1280

Leonard Maiorani/Getty Images  

Wisconsin

Wisconsin

Cathedral Square Park in downtown Milwaukee, WI. 960 1280
Wyoming

Wyoming

Holiday lights decorate the antler arches on the Town Square of Jackson, WY. 960 1280

demerzel21/Getty images   

PNC Festival of Lights at Cincinnati Zoo

PNC Festival of Lights at Cincinnati Zoo

Strolling entertainment awaits visitors to Cincinnati Zoo's Festival of Lights, who will also be privy to a "Wild Lights" show at Swan Lake and a black-light puppet show. It's possible to see the lights from aboard the North Polar Express Train, and pay a visit with Santa -- and Mrs. Claus. 960 1280

  

Wildlights at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Wildlights at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

More than 3 million lights spread holiday cheer to adults and children at the Wildlights celebration. Kids can decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus and get photos with Santa; it's even possible to take a camel ride or whirl around an ice skating rink. 960 1280

Grahm S. Jones  

Zoo Lights 2015 at Denver Zoo

Zoo Lights 2015 at Denver Zoo

The Denver Zoo's holiday light safari leads visitors through 38 acres of dazzling light displays, including more than 150 animal sculptures that leap across lawns, dangle from trees and appear in the most unexpected places. You'll even hear holiday songs from children's and handbell choirs. 960 1280

  

Zoo Lights at Utah's Hogle Zoo

Zoo Lights at Utah's Hogle Zoo

You'll feel festive amidst the 250 illuminated sculptures and displays at Utah's Hogle Zoo. Walk through the 135-foot twinkling tunnel while wearing hologram glasses before riding the carousel or telling Santa what you'd like for Christmas at Santa Station -- with real, live reindeer. 960 1280

  

Lights Before Christmas at Toledo Zoo

Lights Before Christmas at Toledo Zoo

Millions of lights deck the halls -- and trees and lawns -- at the Toledo Zoo, included a dancing lights display near Cheetah Valley. The celebration is marked by carolers, live reindeer, and a glowing ice slide, as well as a buffet-style Festive Feast in The Lodge. 960 1280

  

Houston Zoo Lights

Houston Zoo Lights

Millions of holiday lights are draped in displays throughout the Houston Zoo, and visitors can experience the world from inside a life-size snow globe or stroll through the illuminated African Forest past enormous glowing ornaments. Carolers sing nightly at the Reflecting Pool stage. 960 1280

  

Los Angeles Zoo Lights

Los Angeles Zoo Lights

Those aren't the flashes of LA's paparazzi cameras -- its simply LA's Zoo Lights, designed by Bionic League, who have created light shows for Daft Punk and Kanye West (only in LA, right?). The park fills with LED-sculptures and lasers that visitors can see on a 90-minute self-guided tour. 960 1280

  

SunTrust Zoo Lights at Memphis Zoo

SunTrust Zoo Lights at Memphis Zoo

There's guaranteed to be "snow" at the Memphis Zoo's holiday display; folks looking to see the white stuff can visit Snow Alley, or take a stroll past twinkling light displays to meet Santa in his shop, and even get a peek at his helpful reindeer friends. There's even a Zoo on Ice performance. 960 1280

DONNY_GRANGER  

ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo

ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo

More than 2 million lights dazzle ZooLights visitors at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo, and the zoo has made the event an extravaganza beyond the twinkling lumens. Visitors can take a spin around the park's ice skating rink, snap photos with Santa, and watch "arctic artists" carve ice sculptures. 960 1280

Todd Rosenberg  

ZooLights at Oregon Zoo

ZooLights at Oregon Zoo

Ride through the Oregon Zoo in twinkling style aboard the ZooLights train, past more than a million sparkling lights. You'll see tunnels of light near the African Rainforest and can warm up with hot chocolate and the zoo's signature elephant ear treats from vendors along the ZooLights path. 960 1280

  

Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium

Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium

Zoolights at Point Defiance bedazzle the Pacific Northwest with more than 500,000 LED lights and animal-themed displays, including a 3-D light display of an entire polar bear family. Visitors can take spin on the zoo'z antique carousel and see scuba diving Santa at the aquarium. 960 1280

  

ZooLights at National Zoo

ZooLights at National Zoo

Visitors to the National Zoo will feel the electrified as more than 500,000 environmentally friendly LED lights fill the park with a sparkly glow. You can warm up with hot chocolate or watch the nightly live performances, while little ones can take a spin on 150-foot-long "snow tubing" tracks. 960 1280

JAMES D JENKINS  

Jungle Bells at San Diego Zoo

Jungle Bells at San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo transforms into a Winter Wonderland, and you can admire the lighted animal sculptures while riding the Twinkle Light Trolley through the zoo. You'll hear Dr. Zoolittle's version of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," hear carolers  sing and gape at Toy Shop Hop acrobats. 960 1280

Photo: Ken Bohn  

ZooLights at Phoenix Zoo

ZooLights at Phoenix Zoo

Feel the glow at the Phoenix Zoo's celebration of nearly 4 million lights, where in addition to the glowing displays, visitors can also experience The Polar Express in 4-D, with special effects like snow and fog. Ice sculptors carve a 300-lb. block of ice and the zoo even has camel and wagon rides. 960 1280

  

Wild Lights at St. Louis Zoo

Wild Lights at St. Louis Zoo

The St. Louis Zoo comes to life after dark with animated Wild Lights displays like the Arctic Wonderland, Swan Lake and fantasy butterfly garden illuminating the property. Storytellers like Tundra Tom spin tales around a fire as visitors stay warming sipping hot cocoa. 960 1280

  

Sufganiyot (Israel)

Sufganiyot (Israel)

It’s not uncommon for Jewish people to eat fried food for Hanukkah to celebrate the miracle of oil, which refers to the oil in a lamp in an ancient temple lasting 8 days when there was only enough in the lamp for 1 day. Potato pancakes (latkes) are usually a common staple at the beginning of dinner, but sufganiyots (pictured) – jelly- or custard-filled doughnuts – are the most popular food eaten in Israel during this religious holiday. 960 1280

David Silverman / Getty Images  

Mince Pies (England)

Mince Pies (England)

Christmas dinner in the UK is similar to a typical Thanksgiving meal in US, which is usually comprised of roast turkey or duck with cranberry sauce, served with potatoes and vegetables. In addition to Christmas pudding, mince pie (pictured) is another popular food in the UK. This holiday treat is filled with minced meat, raw beef or mutton fat, fruits and spices. 960 1280

Donald Lain Smith/ Moment/ Getty Images  

Panettone (Italy)

Panettone (Italy)

In Southern Italians and Italian Americans celebrate the holidays by eating fish and other seafood for the Feast of the Seven Fishes. However, panettone, is a popular sweet bread loaf that contains raisins, citron, lemon peel shavings and candied orange. It is usually served with a hot drink, sweet wine or crema di mascarpone during Christmas and New Year’s Day. 960 1280

Vincenzo Lombardo / Getty Images  

Tamales (Mexico)

Tamales (Mexico)

With Aztec and Maya origins as early as 8000 to 5000 BC, tamales are a popular food eaten in Mexico during the holidays – sometimes replacing traditional turkey or bacalao. This delicious holiday treat – filled with meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables and chilies – is usually wrapped in corn husks or plantain leaves and steamed to perfection. 960 1280

Karin Dreyer/ Blend Images/ Getty Images  

Bûche de Noël (France)

Bûche de Noël (France)

Looking for something sweet in France? Don’t miss out on tasting the bûche de noël! This traditional dessert is a frosted sponge cake filled with chocolate buttercream or other flavored fillings. The cake resembles a yule log. In the medieval era, families would gather and throw a yule log on a fire at the end of December to welcome the Winter Solstice. The ashes were saved for good luck.  960 1280

Junghee Choi/ E+/ Getty Images  

Melomakarona (Greece)

Melomakarona (Greece)

Pork, egg-lemon chicken and rice soup, christopsomo, baklava and yaprakia are few traditional Greek food and dishes eaten during the holidays. Top it all off with melomakarona cookies made with cinnamon, cloves and orange. After they come out of the oven, the baked goods are dipped in spiced syrup and sprinkled with nuts. 960 1280

Steve Outram / Getty Images  

Babka (Poland)

Babka (Poland)

The first star seen starts the big Christmas Eve feast in Poland. Twelve dishes, usually a variety of fish and vegetables, are served as a reminder of the 12 Apostles. Beetroot soup, carp, pickled herring, potato dumplings and cabbage rolls are a few dishes served. Don’t eat too much and save space in your stomach for some delicious babka or cake. 960 1280

Boston Globe / Getty Images  

Kentucky Fried Chicken (Japan)

Kentucky Fried Chicken (Japan)

It’s not uncommon to see a crowd at the local KFC during the holidays in Japan. Why? Because it’s usually the popular food choice for Christmas dinner since turkey is nonexistent in the country. Japanese patrons have been known to place their KFC order 2 months in advance. So plan ahead and place your order early if plan on celebrating a Christmas like the locals. 960 1280

David Silverman/ Getty Images  

Saffron Buns (Sweden)

Saffron Buns (Sweden)

Swedish meatballs, Christmas ham, sweet and sour red cabbage, mulled wine, sliced beet root and an assortment of other goodies are traditional holiday food in Sweden. Don’t forget to add a basket of saffron buns – spiced sweet buns flavored with saffron, cinnamon or nutmeg. 960 1280

Rhoberazzi/ E+/ Getty Images  

Kutia (Ukraine)

Kutia (Ukraine)

Start your 12-dish meal on Christmas Eve in the Ukraine with kutia, a sweet grain pudding made with wheat berries, poppy seeds, raisins, honey or sugar and milk or cream. 960 1280

Izakorwel/ iStock/ Getty Images  

Christstollen (Germany)

Christstollen (Germany)

Taste christstollen, the German version of fruit cake eaten during the Christmas season. The traditional German cake is filled several ingredients such as almonds, cinnamon, dried fruit and marzipan. 960 1280

A.&F. Michler/ Photolibrary/ Getty Images  

Spiced Hot Chocolate (Peru)

Spiced Hot Chocolate (Peru)

Add chili to sweet hot chocolate and you’ve just made a traditional holiday drink in Peru. Spiced hot chocolate, served with panettone (traditional Italian bread), is usually given to the poor or less fortunate leading up to Christmas. Similar to Mexico, Peruvians holiday staples include tamales and roast turkey. 960 1280

Bhofack2/ iStock/ Getty Images  

Stroopwafels (Holland)

Stroopwafels (Holland)

These deliciously thin treats are a traditional dessert in Holland. Stroopwafels’ or syrup waffles’ main ingredients are butter, brown sugar, syrup and cinnamon. Try ginger nuts, Dutch Christmas bread and bishop’s wine if you’re looking for other traditional food and drink to sample in Holland or the Netherlands during the holidays. 960 1280

Dima P/ iStock/ Getty Images  

Kimchi (South Korea)

Kimchi (South Korea)

Don’t stay in … take your significant other out for a romantic dinner at a restaurant if you’re in South Korea. It’s normal for families to go out for Christmas dinner and attend holiday-themed events at local venues and theme parks. Kimchi is a year-round staple for families dining in for the holiday. After all, it is Korea’s national dish. 960 1280

Jukree/ iStock/ Getty Images  

Egg Nog (US)

Egg Nog (US)

Turkey, apple cider, candy canes, Christmas cookies, gingerbread, fruitcake are typical traditional foods served during the holidays in the US. But eggnog – made with milk, cream, sugar and whipped eggs – is a popular holiday treat, too. Add brandy, rum or bourbon to warm cold spirits and garnish with cinnamon or nutmeg for a decorative touch. 960 1280

Lauri Patterson/ E+/ Getty Images  

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