Merry & Bright! Must-See Christmas Lights in San Diego

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Make this holiday season merry and bright by taking your family to one of these twinkling places that light up the night. Lots of neighborhoods go all out to light up their entire block and you’ll also find fun places like gardens and fairgrounds that will dazzle your eyes. Most of these you can drive through and some are fun to get out and walk around. Read on for these can’t-miss bright spots around town.

Holidays in Your Car, Del Mar Fairgrounds

Discover a symphony of sight and sound at one of southern California's largest Drive-Thru Holiday Light Spectaculars! Experience Holidays in Your Car at the Del Mar Fairgrounds featuring more than one million LED lights, holograms, and projection mapping animated to the tunes of holiday classics! They have a separate walk-through option this year as well in their Winter Wonderland; next to their new snow-tubing hill and snow-play area. (*Advanced timed tickets are required.)

Lights On: Dec. 4 – Jan. 2 from 4-10 pm

Holidays In Your Car
2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar Fairgrounds

Botanic Wonderland, Encinitas

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. (*Advanced timed tickets are required.)

Tip: Santa Claus will be there for photos from 5:30-8:30 pm

Lights On: Dec. 4-5, 10-23, 26-30 from 5:30-9pm

San Diego Botanic Garden
230 Quail Gardens Dr., Encinitas

Enchanted Village, Spring Valley

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 the Noah Homes; which provide housing and care for people with developmental disabilities. Their residents have been mostly unemployed due to the pandemic and this is an exciting way to provide seasonal employment for them this year. (*Advanced tickets are required; discounted if purchased before Nov. 28th.)

Lights On: Dec. 17-22 from 5-8pm

Safety: Since this event includes a high-risk population, health and safety are top priorities for wearing face-masks and social distancing.

Noah Homes
12440 Campo Rd., Spring Valley

Starlight Circle, Santee

Over 75 houses light up the night around this circle and each house dresses up in their own themes. Some usually offer treats and hot chocolate for sale in their driveway, so bring cash if you want to partake.

Lights On: Dec. 1-31 from dusk-10pm

Where: Santee at N. Magnolia Ave. + Tomel Ct.

Candy Cane Lane, Poway

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.

Lights On: 2nd week of December from 5-10pm

Where: Poway at Twin Peaks Rd. + Silverset St.


Fairway Village, Carmel Mountain Ranch

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.

Save the Date! The annual block party is held on the Saturday before Christmas; this year it’s on Dec. 18, 2021. 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.

Lights On: Dec. 1-Jan. 1 from dusk-10:30pm

Where: Fairway Village at Stoney Gate Pl.

Online info:

Christmas Card Lane, Rancho Peñasquitos

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.

Lights On: Dec. 1-31; from 6-9pm

Where: Rancho Penasquitos at Oviedo St. + Black Mountain Rd.

––Bonnie Taylor, Leah R. Singer & Beth Shea

featured photo: iStock


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