Nov. 30, 2012 at 1:18 PM ET
Stringing holiday lights is so old school.
There are countless holiday light displays around the country that won’t require a ladder, an extension cord or a trip - or three - to the hardware store. They’re guaranteed to jump start your Christmas celebration before you've worked off those extra pounds from Thanksgiving dinner.
You can see how the pros do it in big cities like Philadelphia and small towns around the country (virtually every house is decorated in McAdenville, N.C.), museums (it’s a NYC tradition to see the 13-foot Origami Tree at the American Museum of Natural History, complete with 500 origami ornaments), zoos and botanic gardens (Wild Lights at The Living Desert in Palm Desert, Calif., literally lights up the desert) and theme parks (picture a 30-foot Christmas tree made out of 270,000 LEGO and DUPLO bricks that’s lit each night at Legoland Florida).
Here are five terrific places around the country where you can light up your holidays:
Galveston Island, Texas
Featuring the biggest holiday lighting festival on the Gulf Coast, Festival of Lights at Moody Gardens boasts a mile-long trail of more than 100 lighted holiday scenes, shows, and a “Snow Zone” for kids.
The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival has more than a million lights strung along Michigan Avenue while for the 60th year, the Museum of Science and Industry ‘s Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light has nearly 50 trees decorated to showcase traditions of Chicago’s different ethnic communities.
Indianapolis is celebrating the 50th anniversary of “Circle of Lights” by illuminating the Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Monument with 26 gigantic toy soldiers and sailors, 26 giant peppermint sticks and nearly 5,000 lights and thousands more on the trees. Check out the entries from the famous Gingerbread Competition and experience an 1830s Christmas at Conner Prairie just outside the city. Furthermore, visit the annual Jolly Days Winter Wonderland exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the largest children’s museum in the country.
Pigeon Force, Tenn.
Take in more than 5 million holiday lights in gigantic displays during Winterfest which you can enjoy through February. The Dollywood theme park adds another 4 million lights to illuminate the park and special entertainment during its Smoky Mountain Christmas including Dollywood Christmas on Ice.
The Emerald City's illuminated Holiday Carousel in Westlake Park is a holiday tradition and a way to give back as donations benefit programs for foster children. The Seattle Center’s Winterfest features thousands of twinkling lights and a 74-acre winter wonderland that includes a turn-of-the-century miniature Winter Train and Village, ice sculpting and free entertainment for six weeks. Find out more here at Seattle’s special holidays website.
Eileen Ogintz writes the nationally syndicated column TakingtheKids and is the author of the new Kid’s Guide to New York City and Kid’s Guide to Orlando from Globe Pequot Press.