Courtesy of Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Co.
In Hershey, Pa., a two-mile drive-through wonderland features nearly 600 illuminated and animated displays.
Magical Nights of Lights, Atlanta
For the 19th year, visitors across the Southeast will head to Lake Lanier Island Resorts' Magical Nights of Lights for an impressive seven-mile holiday light display and winter wonderland. Tune your radios to the local holiday station as you drive through animated displays featuring more than a million twinkling lights. Stop at the Holiday Village to roast marshmallows by the bonfire, sip hot cocoa, shop in a season store, ride on carnival-style rides and meet Santa Claus. A new attraction will even bring a smile to the faces of your adventurous teens: Night Light Canopy Tours, with 30-minute nighttime zip lining. Nov. 18, 2011 through Jan. 1, 2012, 5 to 10 p.m.
Hotel package: Stay overnight at Lake Lanier Island Resort with the Magical Nights of Lights Package, starting at $189. The package, for a family of four, provides accommodations, one vehicle pass, amusement rides for two children, and breakfast with Santa.
100 Miles of Lights, Virginia
Virginia does not take its holiday lights lightly. More than 2 million twinkling lights are offered in and around Richmond, Williamsburg, Newport News, Hampton, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach. In Richmond, more than 700,000 lights are on display at the Dominion GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Newport News offers a two-mile Celebration in Lights drive-thru. In Norfolk, walk beneath the two-mile sparkling Million Bulb Walk. In Virginia Beach, drive along the boardwalk for the Holiday Lights at the Beach. More holiday events include lighted parades.
Hotel package: Stay overnight at the Sheraton Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel and receive accommodations, admission to Holiday Lights at the Beach and hot chocolate and cookies starting at $119.
Hershey Sweet Lights, Hershey, Pa.
Hershey makes an evening drive a sweet adventure with its two-mile drive-thru wonderland featuring nearly 600 animated and illuminate displays. Before or after the drive, visit Hersheypark Christmas Candylane to see the Hershey characters in their holiday attire, visit Santa's reindeer, enjoy rides for all ages and more all beneath 2 million twinkling lights. Through Dec. 31, 5 to 9, 10 or 11 p.m., depending on evening.
Hotel package: Choose the Breakfast with Santa package and receive accommodations at Hotel Hershey or the Lodge at Hershey, breakfast or lunch with Santa and one-day admission to Hersheypark Christmas Candylane for a family of up to four. Rates start at $349 per night.
An Old Time Christmas, Branson, Mo.
Visit Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo., for its annual Old Time Christmas and watch evening turn to day as 4 million lights sparkle and glow. Christmas on Main Street features the attraction's biggest light show, while the five-story Special Effects Christmas Tree will dance to a number of holiday classics. Twice a night, the Gifts of Christmas Holiday Light Parade features more than 100,000 lights, and then families can enjoy Silver Dollar City's rides, attractions and musical adaption of "A Dickens Christmas Carol." Through Dec. 30, 2011.
Hotel package: Silver Dollar City's Christmas Getaway Package provides two days of play and one-night accommodations at a hotel of your choice starting at $86.49 per person. Included in the package are two-day Silver Dollar City tickets.
ZooLights, Washington, D.C.
Washington's National Zoo illuminates the night with its own holiday light show, complete with dancing trees, holiday decor and lights strung around the zoo's trees, walkways and buildings. Families can also skate in the iceless skating rink (it feels and looks like ice but is actually plastic!), check out the gingerbread habitat contest entry displays, and get a glimpse of the zoo at night -- all for free! (Parking, however, is $16, and ice-skating is $5 for 30 minutes.) 5 to 10 p.m., Friday through Sundays, Nov. 25 through Dec. 11, then nightly until Jan. 1. Closed Dec. 24, 25 and 31.
Hotel package: Stay at the Marriott Wardman Park, just a block from the zoo, and enjoy accommodations, free parking, kids' meal and zoo welcome kit with rates varying between $169 and $289 per night.
More from Family Vacation Critic