One of the great joys of the holiday season is viewing festive displays of holiday lights. Get into the spirit with a family-friendly activity to delight all ages. Here is a list of five of the best places to see the lights in the Bay Area. For even more ideas, see this list of the Best Neighborhoods For Holiday House Decorations.
Christmas In The Park
Plaza de Cesar Chavez
S. Market St.
San Jose, CA 95113
This holiday season marks the 35th annual Downtown San Jose Christmas In The Park. Each year, the entirety of the Plaza de Cesar Chavez is transformed into a magical winter wonderland. Visitors flock to this free family event, enjoying the numerous animated holiday displays, including elf workshops and caroling mice. Many local community groups and schools have exhibits, and there is also a 60’ tall Community Giving Tree. There is daily live entertainment, and food and drink available for purchase.
352 Hillcrest Ave.
Livermore, CA 94550
Each Christmas season, Livermore’s Deacon Dave displays over 100,000 holiday lights around his home and property. Every year the light extravaganza has a different theme, and past years’ themes have included Elfland, Toyland and Christmas Around The World. With set up starting on Labor Day weekend, Deacon Dave’s 2014 is open to the public from Friday, December 5 through the evening of January 1. Visit this free attraction in residential Livermore on Monday or Tuesday nights for the shortest lines.
Vasona Lake County Park
333 Blossom Hill Rd.
Los Gatos, CA 95032
Throughout the month of December, visitors flock to Vasona Park’s annual Fantasy Of Lights. The park is decked out in enormous light displays of everything from Santa Shooting Hoops to penguins and pirates. Accompanying music is available through visitors’ car stereos. Pack a thermos of hot chocolate and load up the family car to enjoy a leisurely drive through the display. Entrance is $15 per car, and make sure to head out early in the season as the line to get in sometimes becomes very long.
3200 – 3299 Thompson Ave.
Alameda, CA 94501
Light displays on Alameda’s Christmas Tree Lane have been a neighborhood tradition since 1938. Residents began by putting up holiday lights in the small trees in the street’s center divide. Today the residents of these 55 Thompson Avenue homes all contribute time and resources to make the holiday season truly special to everyone. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, residents take turns dressing up as Santa and elves and interacting with visitors. Have the kids drop off their letters to Santa in the specially marked mailbox, and then look forward to receiving a reply!
South San Francisco, CA 94080
Pack up the family and head over the South San Francisco’s Parkway Estates neighborhood to see some of the best holiday lights around. Each year, roughly 100 residents of the Chestnut Street area band together to put up extravagant displays. Streets are open to drive through, but as crowds increase during the season, the best way to view the lights is on foot, strolling around the neighborhood. All displays are free and open to the public.