One of my favorite holiday activities when I was a kid was going for an evening ride to look at the Christmas lights—and it remains one of my Christmastime pleasures to this day. If a drive in search of neighborhood lights doesn't fit your schedule this season (or even if it does) you may enjoy an armchair peek at some of the most extravagant holiday light displays around the nation—from New York to Los Angeles (with forays into Boston, Connecticut, and Orange County as well). Read on for some Christmas eye candy, featuring the most over-the-top light displays we know!
All of the light displays featured in this slideshow are free to visit...
Candy Cane Lane in El Segundo is a cul de sac not far from LAX, where residents have been doing their holiday thing for more than half a century. The display is open only to pedestrians (with plenty of parking in the neighborhood); the only person allowed to park in the street is Santa - which he does every night at 7pm.
Wonderland at Roseville shares its love of the season in grand fashion. An electric train winds all around, and it's anyone's guess how they hang the Star of Wonder. Donations are accepted for the Shriners Hospital for Children.
The Garabedians' famous Bronx Christmas House on Pelham Parkway North is a New York favorite, with its mixture of traditional Nativity scenes, corpulent angels, and nearly 200 animated figures all glammed up in old-school Hollywood-style gowns.
La Salette Shrine's Christmas lights have been shining each year since 1953. Visitors can see angels, snowflakes, the Three Kings, the Peaceable Kingdom, and more, lit up with more than 300,000 lights.
The North Kensico Christmas Light Show is the most extravagant of four decorated homes on its White Plains block, that together create a one-of-a-kind Christmas light display synchronized to a radio station playing holiday tunes.
Santa's Corner in Queens is completely wrapped in thousands of twinkling lights, with lawn figures and a glass display case filled with moving toys to complete the flamboyant neighborhood favorite.
Lindy Christmas House on Long Island is strung with 40,000 to 50,000 lights, synchronized to music, and features nightly snowfall. Visitors are asked to make a donation or bring an unwrapped gift for a child in need.
Holiday Lights Spectacular at Turtle Back Zoo illuminates the night each season with animal and holiday-themed figures, including wooden soldiers and stars to delight little ones.
Candy Cane Lane in Woodland Hills - LA's other Candy Cane Lane - actually covers at least four lanes, down which cars drive slowly in a holiday evening parade, with kids hanging out of sunroofs singing along to carols and cheering the many displays.
The Christmas House in Torrington is covered in tinsel like you can't imagine; every square inch of lawn and house is covered with a colored light, candy cane, or Santa figure - some in motion, and some not.
Dyker Heights in Brooklyn is known for its overwhelming number of decorated homes in one area: block after block of twinkling lights, illuminated inflatables, animatronic figures, giant nutcrackers, and one insanely massive Santa.
The Balian Mansion, home to Altadena's Balian Ice Cream family, has been gifting the community with opulent Christmas light displays for generations, attracting Angelenos to stare in disbelief since the 1950s.