Best places to see holiday lights in the Bay Area
Everybody loves a festive holiday light display. But, in a region like the Bay Area – where the population is constantly evolving – not everybody knows where to go to see the best holiday light displays. The Gig team is here to help! We’ve recalled our childhoods, polled our colleagues, and assembled a list of the best places to view the Greater Bay Area’s best and brightest.
Zoolights at the Oakland Zoo
Featuring more than a million glowing lights, what would Rudolph say? Presented by the Oakland Zoo and the Conservation Society of California, Zoolights has it all: Festive gondola rides, soaring vistas of the Bay Area skyline, laser shows, kids' rides, and more. And by “more” we mean lights – enough lights to brighten the spirits of the even the biggest Grinch. Zoolights runs Dec. 7 through Jan. 6. Cost is $10 for adults, $9 for children ages 2-14. Admission is free for children under 2 and children over 76.
Christmas Tree Lane / Alameda
The 3200 block of Thompson Avenue in Alameda is a must-see holiday lights extravaganza. Fifty homes join forces to create an event that includes the world-famous Tap Dancing Christmas Trees and a special mailbox rumored to be a direct line to Old Saint Nick. Each house has a unique theme. Display Runs Dec. 1 through New Year’s Eve, free admission.
Widmer World / Pleasanton
Widmer World shows how much holiday cheer two people can create when they set their minds to it. Bob and Susan Widmer’s tribute to the holidays is a gift to anybody who happens across their home at 3671 Chelsea Court in Pleasanton. The couple has been decorating their property since 1981 and each year brings new additions to their epic holiday light display. Display runs Dec. 1-31, cash donations are accepted.
Union Square Christmas Tree / San Francisco
The bustling ice skating rink. Macy’s famous holiday windows. It’s all part of Union Square’s holiday appeal. But it’s all about the tree. This year’s holiday tree is 83 feet tall and features more than 30,000 lights and around 1,100 decorations. (O’ Christmas Tree, indeed!) The tree will remain lit each night through the end of the year. Free.
Fantasy of Lights / Los Gatos
Sure, Los Gatos is a bit of a drive. But, each December, Vasona Lake County Park is transformed into an electric winter wonderland with what may be the best holiday light show in all of Silicon Valley. This sparkling 1.5-mile “drive-thru” display includes ice-skating penguins, flying reindeer, the famous poinsettia arch, and much more. The best part is, you don’t even have to leave your car! The Fantasy of Lights is always brilliant, always original, and always a crowd-pleaser. A pre-paid ticket is required. Cost is $10 per vehicle through Dec. 8, $15 through New Year’s Eve.
Nobody decks the halls quite like the Bay Area. You could do worse than spending the month of December exploring the region’s most magical lighting displays. Whether it’s cruising the hills of Oakland or piling the family into the car for a ride down the Peninsula, it’s a great way to light up your holiday season.