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Northern California Christmas Light Displays

Updated on December 13, 2014


            One of my favorite Christmas traditions with my kids is taking a trip to go look at Christmas lights on houses.  You can make a whole night out of this, if you want.  You can pack a dinner and drinks, head out and have a fun dinner on-the-go with your family.  It’s a nice winter take on the traditional picnic!  If this is too much effort, you can just make some cocoa for you all to enjoy while looking at the lights.  Last resort if this is too much effort is hit a drive thru Starbucks and buy everyone a hot cocoa to enjoy.  The homemade stuff is better because it is made with love but if you’re busy, like most of us are, your kids will just appreciate the effort.  For a little added magic to your cocoa, drop a mini candy cane into the cocoa and enjoy the chocolate-minty goodness!  This is a small thing that you and your family can do, that requires very little on your part, other than a little gas, that your kids will really enjoy.  If you are willing, and can afford it, many Limousine companies offer packages to drive you and your family and friends around to look at lights. 

Every year I really have to gear up for this, especially since I really dislike driving, and after a 45 minute commute home, the last thing I want to do is get back in the car and drive some more. However, once I am in the car, looking at the lights, I find it rather difficult to not be overcome by the Christmas spirit. Some displays are just plain lights, which are beautiful in the dark, and when a whole street has different lights a simple lighted house becomes a thing of magical beauty. However, other displays are huge, elaborate and full of character! I suggest either bringing a CD of your favorite Christmas music, or just put your radio on your local channel that plays Christmas music. This will help you and your family get into the Holiday spirit.

At first your tween or teen kids might whine and complain about a family outing where they are stuck in the car. However, once you are out there, looking at the lights, even they will enjoy it; though they may not admit it if asked directly. Just occasionally look in your review mirror and the smile and awe on their faces will be all the confirmation that you need to prove that you made a good decision in dragging them along. Younger kids always enjoy the lights, and even the less elaborate displays fascinate them, just the simple brightly colored lights in the darkness of the evening is enough to make their eyes twinkle.

You can either plan out where you want to go, and maybe even map it out, so you are sure to see all the displays you want or you can just head out and be surprised by what you can find in your own neighborhood. If you live in the Sacramento area, there are several light displays all within a half an hour drive. You can visit the KCRA website for a list of some local light displays that would be worth your time this Holiday season. Some of the displays encourage that you park your car and get out and walk the neighborhood to really enjoy the displays, but when the weather is really cold and rainy, I would not suggest this. Many light displays also collect donations of canned foods to donate to charities this time of year. This is an added nicety, if you can afford to do so.

Some of my favorites in the Sacramento area are the Pebble Creek Drive / Strand Road display in Rocklin. Two streets have joined together to create one of the largest displays in the area, and they feature moving and speaking displays as well. Another is the display on Meadowhill Court in Carmichael. It is a very large display that is actually on my drive home from work, and each day that I drive past it I am overwhelmed with the immensity and beauty of this display. I have also been told that East Sacramento has some pretty displays in the fabulous 40's area, which is around 40th and 41st in East Sac. Not to mention that the homes in this area are beautiful mansions; this only adds to the beauty and magic of the light displays. has a comprehensive list of displays, including maps, photos and descriptions of what you will find for Northern California, including the Bay Area. Please see the links below for more!


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