Christmas Light Tour San Francisco Bay Area

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Published Nov 14, 2012 | Last updated Feb 23, 2015

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One fun thing I look forward to each Christmas season is packing my minivan full of kids … my own, kids’ friends, friends’ kids, neighborhood kids … whoever wants to come and squish in, and we go out on a Christmas light tour of the San Francisco Bay Area. Sound like chaos? Careful preparation can turn this annual event from kid chaos into kid bliss.

I also think of it as a special treat to my wife, who gets the evening “off” while I’m driving the children around, touring the lights, maybe stopping for dinner, etc.

San Francisco Bay Area has many special lighted treats during the Holiday Season, and so this is a quick guide on where to go, what to visit, and some tricks to making the evening special, smooth, and fun for all involved.

If you are in the City, some places to visit include:

  • Macy’s Tree in Union Square – this is a good destination for your Christmas Lights sojourn, if you’re in the city.
  • Holiday boats among Fisherman’s Wharf is really neat. Visit near Jones & Taylor on Jefferson Street.
  • Embarcadero Center’s Towers have an awesome light display.
  • The Hyatt Regency, just inside, has a great light display as well. The lobby is amazing.

If you are in the city, it might be worth combining your Christmas light tour with one of the several dozen Christmas events taking place in San Francisco throughout the season.

Along the San Francisco Peninsula, lighted houses are the thing to do.

The Chestnut Christmas Lit Houses having been doing special displays for over 20 years, and are a must visit destination. Seeing houses upon houses of great displays is really what this tour is about, and Chestnut Avenue does not disappoint.

Chestnut Avenue is in South San Francisco, and it is advisable to park your car and walk the houses. Also, be careful of families and young children when driving around this area, especially at night.

If in San Jose, Christmas in the Park is the place to go for Christmas lights and festivities. They even have a dedicated website

For the really hardcore Christmas lights aficionados, this is the be all and end all website for Christmas Lights tour planning in the San Francisco Bay Area, with listings for San Mateo County and Santa Clara County.

One great idea is to pair up your Christmas light tour with a special Christmas Event found on ChatterBlock. Here are our event lists:

Really, there are sooo many Christmas lights out, planning a destination or two, doing some random driving through neighborhoods for serendipitous finds, and maybe a treat or dinner out, is all great, and what the kids will love.

Also, part of the success of your Christmas light tour of San Francisco Bay Area is dependent on your attitude.  I try to make the treat special, I get excited myself, and the kids do as well.

Written by James DeGreef

Once a "Clueless Dad", now on his way to becoming a "Super Dad", James DeGreef is a father of two, husband of one, the CEO and co-founder of, and a lover of reading, skiing, and teaching his daughter Annika how to play the drums. 

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