As December is just around the corner, here's a great map to show you where all the best holiday lights are around the bay area.
20 illuminated spots guaranteed to bring cheer
The Bay Area is no slouch when it comes to decking the proverbial halls. There are plenty of spots that take the business of holiday light decorating seriously—from a lavish private residences in Marin to a well-known cemetery in the East Bay Hills, these illuminated destinations will get you in the holiday spirit and light up the darkest of winter nights.
Bundle your family and friends into a car (or an Uber) and check out the biggest and brightest this holiday season that the Bay has to offer.
1. Rombeiro’s Christmas House
Unapologetically extravagant, this family home in Novato is truly a holiday miracle with 140,000 lights decorating the outside. Guests are treated to five decorated spaces inside the house, including a train room that boasts an impressive miniature winter wonderland scene.
2. Mickey Mouse Christmas House
It is hard to go wrong with this Disney-themed holiday display in San Rafael. The Mize families stared collecting Disney memorabilia since the 1970s and proudly display it each year amid their holiday decorations. A must for any Disney enthusiast.
3. Holiday Circle of Lights
Do not let the fact that this light display is in the Mountain View Cemetery deter you. The elaborate setup is at the front fountain, where glowing trees, trains, reindeer, skating figures, and scenes from Santa’s workshop light up the night.
4. Fisherman’s Wharf Lighted Boat Parade
This legendary boat parade takes place on December 15, where boats decorated to the nines will parade along the waterfront. The staring point is at Pier 39 and goes all the way down to Crissy Field, passing the Marina Green, and Aquatic Park. If you miss the parade, fear not since the Fisherman’s Wharf Fishing Fleet stays lit all season at Sport Fishing Harbor.
5. Oakland California Temple
Illuminated palm trees in the foreground of the temple makes for a holiday light display that is worth trekking out to Oakland for. Bonus: there’s a spectacular view of the twinkling city lights from this elevated spot in the Lincoln Highlands.
6. Holiday Nights & Sights City Tour
Jump on a motorized cable car to be whisked around the city to decked-out sights like Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, the Embarcadero and Pier 39. This 80-minute tour is the perfect way to show off San Francisco during its holiday finest. Ideal for family and friends visiting from out of town.
7. Jack London Square Christmas Tree
Admire a 55-foot Mount Shasta fir tree that is adorned with 5,000 sparkling lights on Oakland’s waterfront. Make it an evening, and grab dinner before strolling along the water afterward amid the highly contagious holiday cheer.
8. Fairmont San Francisco
As one of the city’s iconic hotels, the Fairmont has decades of experience under its belt with spreading holiday cheer to all who visit. There is an impressive decorated floor-to-ceiling tree, but the star of the show is the life-sized gingerbread house that has holiday lights dripping from the eaves, and fills the entire room with its delicious, spicy aroma.
9. Union Square
There is nothing more classic San Francisco during the holidays than joining the maddening downtown crowds, and admiring Macy’s sky high Christmas tree in Union Square that brightens up the night with 43,000 LED lights.
A few feet away is the Macy’s building that does not skimp when it comes to holiday decorations, with all its windows and exterior ablaze with lights.
10. Westfield SF Centre Inverted Christmas Tree
Take a break from your holiday shopping to admire the city’s most Instagramed Christmas tree. Hanging upside down from the domed skylight, this tree is made out of thousands of tiny crystals. Talk about holiday bling.
11. Holiday Train
Make your way to a Caltrain station on December 2 or 3rd to witness the holiday transformation of this train decked out in lights as it makes its way from San Francisco to Santa Clara. Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the crew are the only passengers allowed on board this holiday express, but you can say howdy to them at each station on the way.
12. Illuminate SF Festival of Light
36 light installations in 16 neighborhoods light up the night in San Francisco. Choose a neighborhood and view local artists’ illuminated masterpieces. Best of all, all the light installations are all accessible by public transportation. There are also free guided tours to learn the inside scoop on the art and artists.
13. McLaren Lodge Holiday Tree
Located at the eastern edge of Golden Gate Park, this holiday tradition will celebrate its 88th year this holiday season. Participate in the tree lighting ceremony on December 7th at 4p.m., which includes kids activities, live music, and even a visit from the old man himself.
14. Christmas Tree Lane
This festive neighborhood block in Alameda features homes that go the distance decorating for the holidays. Each house has its unique holiday themes, and if you are lucky you might spot Santa strolling around.
15. Tom and Jerry’s House
A longtime San Francisco tradition, this house in Dolores Heights is hard to miss with its giant illuminated Christmas tree, oversized toys decorating the exterior, and the owners’ huge stockings hung over the garage with care. If you are lucky enough, Santa Claus will make a much-anticipated appearance.
The twinkling animal light displays throughout the park will bring a smile to visitors both young and old. Catch a ride on one of the lit-up gondolas that soars through the night and provides an uninterrupted view of the Oakland Hills. For a grand finale, make sure to stay for the impressive laser light show.
17. Widmer World
This Christmas wonderland created by the Widmer family in Pleasanton, has been outshining all its neighbors for decades. Elaborate light displays are featured in both the front and back of the house, but it is the backyard that goes above and beyond with over 30 miniature decorative displays.
18. Christmas Tree Lane
Fulton Street in Palo Alto has a special tradition of decorated holiday houses that has been going on since the 1940s. Visitors are recommended to park nearby and admire the lights on foot. Decorations are brought out two weeks before Christmas, and the lights are turned on from 5 p.m.-11 p.m. daily.
19. Willow Glen Holiday Lights
Wander through this San Jose neighborhood, where residents go out of their way to light up the night with impressive holiday displays. The stretch from Markham and Mayette Avenue (nearby Willow Glen High School) is a good place to start observing the magic.
20. Fantasy of Lights
This spot allows you to fully immerse yourself in the holiday spirit by driving through this Los Gatos park with miles of light displays while listening to holiday tunes. Most nights are dedicated to driving through, but a few nights are reserved for walking if you prefer to see the lights up close.
Free shuttles care of Netflix are provided since there is no parking on-site.