Few things say Christmas as well as a soaring evergreen tree bedazzled with lights and ornaments.
BOSTON, Massachusetts: See the largest Christmas tree in New England. Take a Freedom Trail Holiday Stroll with a costumed guide, learn how Christmas and holiday traditions evolved in Boston and end your tour with hot chocolate and Boston Cream Pie at the Omni Parker House Hotel. This tour is offered at 3:30pm, Thursday to Sunday from Nov. 17-Jan. 20.
BROOKLYN, New York: Brooklyn twinkles with the “Lights of Dyker Heights,” (between 83rd and 86th streets from 11th to 13th avenues between Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst) that attracts 100,000 visitors to view amazing decorations. Visit between 5 and 9 p.m. for the most intense lighting
HERSHEY, Pennsylvania: Hersheypark’s “Christmas Candylane” is transformed with rides, Hershey characters, Santa and reindeer. Hershey’s “Sweet Lights” is a 2.3 mile drive-through spectacle with nearly 600 animated, illuminated displays. Nov. 16-Dec. 30.
MYSTIC, Connecticut: “Christmas by the Sea” at Mystic Seaport allows you to stroll through the decorated 19th century village, hear stories of holidays aboard historic vessels, print a Christmas card or build a creation at a Gingerbread Workshop. Nov. 23-Dec. 31.
NEW YORK, New York: See the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting (Nov. 28) and the world’s largest (32 feet tall) menorah at Grand Army Plaza (5th Avenue and 59th Street)and the New York Botanical Garden’s “Holiday Train Show” with miniatures of NYC landmarks made entirely out of plants. Nov. 17-Jan. 13.
NIAGARA FALLS: The Canadian side has a drive-through “Festival of Lights ” with more than three million tree and ground lights featuring 125 animated displays, making it Canada’s largest illumination festival. Nov. 3-Jan. 31. The Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara puts up more 25,000 lights and, like its sister resorts, hosts a huge Snowland celebration complete with indoor snow and a life-size gingerbread house.
OCEAN CITY, Maryland: “Winterfest of Lights” in Northside Park features a mile-long path of illuminated displays, Santa, caroling and more. Hop on the Winterfest Express to take a train ride through scenes of your child’s favorite fairy tales (and the 12 Days of Christmas!) The Winterfest Village is another must-see, located inside a heated pavilion decorated to holiday perfection. Nov. 15-Jan. 1.
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania: Franklin Square is lit with thousands of festive lights and Longwood Gardens Christmas featureshalf a million glowing lights Nov. 22-Jan. 6. The Independence Seaport Museum’s third annual Parade of Lights boat parade is Dec. 18 and two New Year’s Eve fireworks displays are planned,one at 6 p.m. and one at midnight.
PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire: “Vintage Christmas” features sparking lights and a festival of strolls and shows on select nights in December. A free Vintage Christmas Trolley shuttles patrons around the historic seaport. Visit Strawbery Banke Museum, a living history museum celebrating holiday traditions from around the world and join a Candlelight Stroll (Dec. 1-2, 8-9 and 15-16), to experience the sights, sounds and smell of a traditional New England Christmas. Santa arrives at Waterville Valley by dogsled on Nov. 24.
SPRINGFIELD, Massachusetts: “Bright Nights,” a three-mile driving route through historic Forest Park is filled with exhibits and displays such as Seuss Land (Dr. Seuss was from Springfield), North Pole Village and Jurassic World created with holiday lights. Nov. 21-Jan. 1.
SYRACUSE, New York: “Lights on the Lake” is a two-mile drive through one of the largest and most colorful light shows in the Northeast. The light extravaganza features several themed scenes including Land of Oz, Fantasy Forest and a Fairytale Grand Finale. Nov. 15-Jan. 6 (except on New Year’s Eve.)
Eileen Ogintz is a leading national family travel expert whose syndicated column Taking the Kids is the most widely distributed column in the country on family travel. She also is the author of seven family travel books. Special thanks to Becca Tasch for her invaluable research assistance on this story.
Check out all 52 Holiday Lights displays across the country:
Southeast Holiday Lights
Celebrating Christmas in the Northeast
Light Up Your Holiday in the Midwest
Holiday Lights of the South and West
Or see them all in our gorgeous ezine, 52 Holiday Light Delights
You can also read the full package of stories on family travel sites, Taking the Kids and Family Travel Forum.