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The Top 5 States to See Holiday Lights in the US

Posted on December 17, 2022

The holiday season is the time for festive cheer and bright lights.

If you're looking for the best places to see holiday lights in the USA, you're in luck! From coast to coast, cities across the country deck the halls and light up the night with their dazzling displays.

From states that are warm year-round to the ones that become frozen winter wonderlands, the 

Christmas spirit of the US does not disappoint.

Here is the Built Story recommended top 5 states to see the best light displays the US has to offer:

North Carolina

Known for its beautiful beaches and mountainous regions, North Carolina also boasts vibrant cities and small towns thriving with a sense of community. 

On top of its rich history and cultural heritage, NC knows how to put together some incredible Christmas light displays.


Wilmington, NC

The Wilmington Holiday Flotilla is a must-see holiday event, where dozens of boats decorated with holiday lights parade along the Cape Fear River. 

Coupled with fireworks under the night sky, it’s sure to entertain.

Photo: Charlotte Motor Speedway

Charlotte, NC

The Charlotte Motor Speedway hosts the popular Speedweeks event. It allows visitors to drive through a winter wonderland that’s made up of over 3 million lights and also consists of a Christmas Village.

The speedway isn’t the only place with lights and spirit, we rounded up Charlotte’s most festive homes in an easy-to-follow tour.

Photo: Triangle On The Cheap

Raleigh, NC

The North Carolina Museum of Art's annual Winter Lights exhibit features over a million glowing holiday lights, as well as upbeat Christmas music and delicious hot cocoa. 

Not to mention a brilliant Winter Solstice Lantern Walk. The event took place on Dec.10th, 2022 so be sure to toss it in your calendar for next year!


The lone-star state doesn’t just bring the heat when it comes to climate, Texas over-delivers when it comes to holiday light displays.

It’s the state where everything’s bigger, and that includes the holiday spirit. If you don’t believe us, these displays are sure to change your mind:

Photo: Houston Zoo

Houston, TX

The Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo feature over 2 million lights, as well as various holiday activities and live entertainment for all ages.

With water features and expansive LEDs crawling through treetops, it’s a beautiful sight to see.

There are also illuminated replicas of zoo animals and a 33ft tall Christmas tree, you don’t want to miss this one!

San Antonnio
Photo: TripSavvy

San Antonio, TX

The River Walk in San Antonio is transformed into a Christmas paradise with over 2 million lights and festive events taking place along the river.

With family or friends, it’s an experience sure to fill you with holiday cheer. Enjoy a bite to eat or a nice leisurely stroll and let this light experience light up your holidays.

Fort Worth
Photo: Fort Worth Report

Fort Worth, TX

The Fort Worth Botanic Garden hosts the annual Holiday in the Garden event, featuring over a million lights and enchanted holiday activities.

This lightscape becomes an incredible Christmas display drawing visitors from far and wide who want to take in the transformed garden.

It’s not just the gardens that are great, it’s the homes too. That’s why we made the best ones effortless to visit in our SoFortWorthIt Christmas tour.


During the holiday season, many cities and towns in Arizona come alive with festive lights and decorations.

The attractions and displays below often draw large crowds and are a beloved tradition for many residents and visitors alike.

Photo: Tempe Tourism

Phoenix, AZ

The Phoenix Zoo's annual ZooLights feature over 2 million LEDs, holiday activities, and live entertainment.

This annual tradition continues to expand each year with new music, more animal features, and an enchanted Santa experience for the kids!

If you’re looking for the best-decorated homes in AZ, our Phoenix tour is for you!

Photo: AZ Big Media

Scottsdale, AZ

The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort hosts the annual Christmas at the Princess event.

Featuring over 6 million twinkling lights, skating on a massive ice rink, and a visit to Twinkle Town, there’s fun for the whole family.

If you’re traveling from out of town, it’s the best place you can stay.


Florida's Christmas celebrations are one of a kind due to the state's warm climate and beautiful beaches.

Many people in Florida celebrate Christmas with outdoor activities such as swimming and barbecuing, as well as attending festive holiday light displays and events.

The state's diverse population also adds to the uniqueness of its Christmas celebrations, with a variety of traditions coming to life.

Check out what this state has to offer:

Photo: Disney Tourist Blog

Orlando, FL

The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando is a must-see for anyone looking for a magical holiday experience.

Pairing the nostalgia of Disney with the positive emotions of Christmas makes visiting over the holidays an absolute must.

The entire resort is decked out with brilliant holiday lights and decorations scattered throughout. No wonder it’s a family favorite!

Photo: Fairchild Garden

Miami, FL

Take a stroll through Miami’s breathtaking Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.

The expansive 23-acre gardens have been transformed into an illuminated holiday masterpiece with technicolor flowers and unique sculptures.

Travel down rainbow-colored paths, interact with the wise old tree, or embark on a Fairy Quest. There are great options for everyone!

If that’s still not enough, take a guided tour through Miami’s most festive homes.


Numerous cities in Kansas host holiday light displays and parades, which gather attention from both locals and visitors from around the country. 

The lights and decorations create a warm and welcoming atmosphere, making it a special time of year to visit.

These traditional displays are rich with history:

Photo: Visit KC

Kansas City, MO

The Country Club Plaza district in Kansas City is a must-see for holiday lights.

The Plaza’s first lighting took place in 1930. Take in the magnificent architecture, browse the shops or simply walk through to absorb the infectious holiday atmosphere.

If you’re in the area and want to view some stunning light creations, this Kansas City Mama Holiday Lights Tour won’t disappoint.

Photo: KC Parent

Lawrence, KS

The Lawrence Holiday Lights Parade is a must-see event with dozens of floats and vehicles decorated with holiday lights cruising through the city.

Grab a seat with the family and help keep the historical tradition alive with horse-drawn wagons decorated with bells and garland.

The kids will love this one!

Preparing for Your Next Holiday Lights Tour

Don’t see your state on the list? We’re sure you’ll find what you’re looking for on our Christmas light tour page.

All of the routes are carefully designed to maximize your viewing pleasure and minimize your driving time. Plus, we integrate turn-by-turn navigation to make it effortless to follow along.

While you're on the tour, you can also listen to holiday jokes and read the stories of the people who decorated their homes. 

Don't worry about rushing through it – you'll have unlimited access to the route for 30 days, so you can take your time and enjoy the tour at your own pace. 

A beautiful lights tour is the perfect way to unwind and get some quality time with loved ones.

Download the Built Story app and start touring today! 


Happy holidays!


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