The 10 Best Places to Visit for Christmas Holiday Displays

Best Places to Visit for Christmas

The travel network over at National Geographic  displayed the following picture of Vienna, Austria as one of their top 10 international Christmas travel destinations.

Best Places to Visit for Christmas

The holiday lights on display in Vienna, Austria.
See this picture in its original context at

Such a beautiful sight!

However, if you’re staying in the good old USA for Christmas, there are plenty of beautiful sights to see right where you are.  Here’s a list of the top 10 holiday light displays in America.

The Top 10 Places in America to Visit for Christmas Holiday Displays

#1 Oglebay Park Winter Festival of Lights, Wheeling, WV

Watch this video, and you’ll see why Oglebay Park Resort’s Winter Festival of Lights is one of the most beautiful light shows in the country.

OK, I really don’t know what the lovely lady at the beginning is saying, but I’m hoping it’s good, and the sights and sounds of the area and the light show will dazzle you.  I’ll tell you a little more after this 5 minute video, so watch the show here and then stick around!



What makes Oglebay Park in Wheeling, WV my #1 choice is a combination of a magnificent light display, the absolute beauty of the area (some of the most beautiful laying land in the country), and the usual winter feeling in the air in those foothills of the Appalachian mountains not far from Pittsburgh, PA.

OK, and I grew up there too, so this place is a part of my childhood memories.

However, don’t let my hometown bias get in the way.  This really is a top holiday destination for families and for romantic couples getaways during Christmas.

Oglebay park’s Wilson Lodge has accommodations perfect for holiday travel; there are also some great cottage and cabin rentals right on the park.  They are pretty hard to get so call them and find out how far in advance you need to reserve one.  Here’s some Oglebay Park cabin and cottage rental information:

You can also stay at one of the local hotels in the Wheeling WV area and drive in to enjoy the festivities.

While at Oglebay, make sure you also stop at the park’s zoo, open throughout the season, and definitely plan to tour the Oglebay Park Mansion Museum, a charming bit of history which will have every single room decorated in such a fashion that you will always remember your time there.

For an extra special treat, experience 1800s farmhouse dining at Drover’s Inn in Wellsburg, WV about 40 minutes away.  See their info and reviews here:

Also while there, you’ll find some other great down home American things to do in Wheeling, WV, or take the 40 minute drive up to Pittsburgh, PA to enjoy the urban center of southwestern Pennsylvania.

If you want to expand your Christmas family break and travel a bit more, you can add to a memorable trip by experiencing Christmas in southeastern PA.  See my article on Christmas Family Holidays in Southeastern Pennsylvania here:

Oglebay Park’s Winter Festival of Lights in and of itself is by far one of the best light displays in the country.  Add the beautiful area and the historical richness of one of the earliest gateways to the west, and you’ve got a great Christmas holiday destination.

For more information on Oglebay Park year round or to travel there over your Christmas family break, go to

#2  River of Lights and Luminaria Tour, Albuquerque, NM

Not only does the Albuquerque Botanic Gardens sponsor one of the most fascinating displays of lights in this country, the historically rich and richly beautiful city of Albuquerque comes alive with luminarias.  There’s a reason why Albuquerque NM is one of the most visited cities in the United States on December 24.

You can get an idea of the atmosphere you’ll encounter here in this video:


#3  Christmas at the Newport Mansions, Newport, RI

You’ll get a different kind of experience here in Newport Rhode Island but one that is well worth the trip to this quaint New England city.  The Newport Mansions, owned in their time by the likes of English families, French royalty, and some of our most prestigious first European and American summer dwellers here in America is prepared for the Christmas season to show all the splendor and grand scale elegance of such magnificent homes of America’s past.

Seeing these homes in and of themselves is a thrill.  Seeing their halls gracefully decorated with holiday cheer and remembrances of days long gone is an even greater treat.

Get a peak of the noble New England lifestyle and Christmas cheer you’ll experience in Newport, Rhode Island here:  (VIDEO:  5:53)

4.  The Holiday Road Light Show, 16204 Heather Ct., Spring Lake MI 49456

A group of families in Spring Lake, Michigan hits the top list here with their 360 degree surround sound, coordinated and computerized Christmas display.  Before you pffffhh it, thinking it’s just a bunch of neighbor guys who just like lights, check this out.  You’ll never be the same.

For more information on this extraordinary display of creativity and engineering, go to the website for this event at The Holiday Road Show.

#5 Holiday River Parade and and Lighting Ceremony, San Antonio, TX

The only way to make the San Antonio River Walk even prettier is to decorate it with illuminated boats and give it a holiday glow.  It’s already a tourist paradise.  During Christmas, it almost feels like a magical dream.

Holiday festivities including the parade of boats and the switch of the twinkling lights over the River Walk always begin at 7:00 PM the Friday following Thanksgiving with the lights shining brightly all the way through January 1.

#6 The Pigeon Forge Winterfest, Pigeon Forge, TN and The Smoky Mountains Winterfest, nearby Gatlinburg, TN

These two go hand in hand.  Check out Sevierville, TN as well.  All three areas are right together and even share a trolley.

While you’re there, visit Dolly Parton’s Dollywood Amusement Park.  Their Christmas in the Smokies Festival will keep you busy and put you in the mood to celebrate Christmas in a very special way.  Go here for more details and for show information:

#7  The Rockefeller Center and…  Well All of New York City, New York, NY

There is so much to see in NYC, and Christmas just adds to the appeal of this great city.  See all the different places in and around this great city where you can see great lights:

#8 Christmas at Biltmore, Ashville, NC

Enjoy the beauty of the season in America’s largest home.  From miles of real evergreen garland to dozens of Christmas trees, hundreds of Poinsettias, and thousands of ornaments, a walk through this richly ornamented home (even before Christmas), and you’ll be glad to go home to have just your own little kitchen to clean up.  It will be a special moment in time for you though, none the less!

#9 The Branson Area Festival of Lights, Branson, MO

In addition to this drive-through light display, Branson has two other major holiday light displays to enjoy as well.  Add some family oriented shows in there too, and you may just put this at the top of your list as the best place to go for a family Christmas.  Get info on the lighting shows here:

While in the area, do also enjoy Branson’s Silver Dollar City’s Old Time Christmas, rated one of the top holiday events of the country.  Silver Dollar City’s Festival website is here: 

Here’s a video from last year’s Christmas light display and info about the upcoming 2012 Christmas season:

#10  Your own hometown.

Never forget the treasures you have to enjoy right in your very own backyard!

If you would like to discover more places to go for Christmas to have fun and enjoy dazzling Christmas decorations and displays, check out this website at :

Have fun during your Christmas break!

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