From a botanical wonderland to a neighborhood so bright that even Santa makes an appearance, these dazzling displays are lit
Bundle up your babes and prepare to be dazzled with these must-see holiday displays around San Diego These twinkling destinations light up the night and can be found in gardens, fairgrounds, on the water—even in neighborhoods where residents break out their holiday cheer and brighten up the whole block. Once you’ve followed our Christmas tree buying guide to San Diego, stocked up on holiday gifts from our favorite local toy stores, and blocked out your calendar for the must-see holiday events around town, hit up these must-see holiday light displays for a bright and magic night with the kids.
1. Lightscape at the San Diego Botanic Garden
Stroll outdoors along the 1-mile glowing pathway that meanders throughout this Botanic Wonderland. Each area is transformed into dazzling holiday displays and children’s gardens filled with delights. Make a night of it with dinner from the on-site food trucks, sing along with carolers, and kids can write letters to Santa after they play in the magical treehouse. Make this unique wonderland part of your winter holiday tradition.
Good to Know: Some walkways are uneven dirt pathways, so comfortable walking shoes are suggested. Advanced timed tickets are required.
Dates: Nov. 18-20, 23, 25-27; Dec. 1-4, 8-11, 14-23, 26-31; Jan. 1; 5-9 p.m.
San Diego Botanic Garden
230 Quail Gardens Dr.
2. Lights at the Lakes
Over 35 displays will light up the night during this one-mile drive-through holiday display. Music will synchronize with your car radio, and every visit will be a different experience. Tickets must be pre-purchased before the event, and prices are $30/vehicle with up to 8 passengers.
Dates: Fri.-Sun. beginning Nov.25-Dec. 24; 6-8:30 p.m.
Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve
9120 Carlton Oaks Drive
3. Starlight Circle
Since the 1980's, this east county neighborhood has been lighting up the holiday skies. Over 75 houses around the circle decorate with individual themes making this one of the best-dressed communities north of the 52. Some homes offer treats like cotton candy, kettle corn, tamales, and hot chocolate for sale in their driveway, so bring cash if you want snacks and drinks.
Dates: Dec. 1-31; 5:30-10 p.m.
Santee at West Glendon Circle & East Glendon Circle
4. Christmas Card Lane
Nothing says larger than life like these colossal “Christmas Cards” that light up these landscaped lawns. Dawdle or drive down this magical street, and your eyes will enjoy this feast of lights.
Dates: Dec. 1-31; from 6-9 p.m.
Rancho Penasquitos at Oviedo St. & Black Mountain Rd.
5. Candy Cane Lane
This neighborhood transforms into a twinkling wonderland, and you’ll be amazed by large lighted displays, giant inflatables, and holiday decorations. If you're viewing lights from your car, pack your patience and plan on moving at a very slow pace. Many opt to park their car, bundle up the kids in strollers and walk through the neighborhood to see the lights at their own speed.
Dates: Dec. 1- Jan. 1; 5-10 p.m.
Twin Peaks Rd. & Silverset St.
6. Fairway Village
Almost 100 homes on this friendly residential street turn up the wattage and amp up the brightness to really shine. Drive on out to one of the best neighborhood light displays in the county. Some houses will have hot cocoa, cookies, and music to fill you up with holiday cheer.
Good to Know: The annual block party is held on the Sat. before Christmas; this year, it’s on Dec. 17, 2022. This isn’t just for the neighbors, it’s open for everyone to join in the merriment. Almost every home has treats, some project holiday movies on the side of their homes, carolers and dancers perform, and sometimes Santa will ride on a fire truck down the streets.
Dates: Dec. 1-Jan. 1; dusk-10:30 p.m.
Fairway Village & Stoney Gate Pl.
7. Carlsbad Christmas House
For a truly charming experience, take your little elves for photos with Santa and mail their letters to him at this one-of-a-kind Christmas House. Free treats will be given out to kids nightly who send a letter, and not to mention, Santa writes back to every child. This home is completely decked out with an endless array of twinkling lights and holiday decor.
Dates: Dec. 5-31; 5-9 p.m.
7607 Romero St.
8. Snow N Glow Holiday Festival
Experience the holidays at the Del Mar Fairgrounds featuring more than one million LED lights, holograms, and projection mapping animation to the tunes of holiday classics! In addition to walking through the dazzling light displasy, you can rent private igloos, reserve firepits for roasting s'mores, play in the snow and go snow tubing on their hill.
Good to Know: Advanced timed tickets are required
Dates: Dec. 8–Jan. 1; 4-9 p.m.
2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd.
Del Mar Fairgrounds
9. 52nd Annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights
The boat parade on San Diego Bay is a time-honored tradition bringing the boating community out in full force to dazzle and entertain the bayfront crowds. The theme this year is fantaSEA and over 80 boats are expected to participate in this free event.
Dates: Dec. 11 & Dec. 18; 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Shelter Island to Ferry Landing Coronado
10. Enchanted Village
Surround yourself with over 200,000 lights amongst 8 acres of brightly lit trees, magical cottages, light tunnels, carolers, giant candy canes, and interactive displays to walk through. This is an annual event for Noah Homes; which provides housing and care for people with developmental disabilities. Santa will make an appearance nightly so bring your littles for some fun photos!
Good to Know: Early bird discounted tickets available if purchased before Nov. 27
Dates: Dec. 16-22; 5-8 p.m.
12440 Campo Rd.