Looking for a little illumination this season? You're in luck. From Petaluma to San Jose, the San Francisco Bay Area is bringing on the cheer (not to mention brightening up the nights) with an array of drive-through holiday light displays. Not only do they provide socially-distanced fun, but they're also guaranteed to thrill, delight, and uplift the whole family.
Illuminate SF, Festival of Light, San Francisco
This creative show brightens the city's skies from Thanksgiving through January 23, 2021 with more than 60 works of public art that shine and sparkle. An online map shows their locations throughout the city, including favorites like the permanent Bay Lights of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and Hope Will Never Be Silent in the Harvey Milk Plaza. The dedicated Light Art Trail showcases 11 distinct art works that can be seen from the road, including the luminous Buckyball outside the Exploratorium and the changing hues of the Moscone Center’s Point Cloud, made up of 858 steel rods and 28,288 LED bulbs that switch colors every 30 seconds.
City of Lights Driving Tour, Petaluma
Once the sun goes down, the lights come on along this self-guided driving tour through picturesque Petaluma, in Sonoma County. About 20 or so homes go all out for the holidays, with festive décor ranging from candy cane–lined walkways to trees decked out in bright lights and baubles. Simply download this year's map on Visit Petaluma's website and set out at your convenience. Lights typically run December 1 through December 31.
Christmas Tree Lane, Alameda
The spectacular yuletide pageanty of Alameda's Christmas Tree Lane (located along the city's 3200 block of Thompson Avenue) continues to delight hundreds of onlookers with wondrous lights, decorations, and ornaments early December through January 1. Visitors are encouraged to take in the lane's magical décor, which typically includes handmade wooden cutouts like The Grinch and Rudolph's Abominable Snow Monster, and kids can also drop letters into Santa's mailbox and, with a legible return address, even receive a reply from the man himself.
Vista San Ramon Luminary Night, San Ramon
Marvel at the ethereal glow of hundreds of luminaria, or small candle-lit paper lanterns, lining the streets of the Vista San Ramon community beginning at dusk on December 17. While this in-car event is one night only, most of the neighborhood's 161 homes feature holiday lights and décor throughout the bulk of December. Alcosta Blvd. and Woodland/Overlook Drives.