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Best Bets for Christmas Light Viewing

A list of neighborhoods and local attractions that will boast beautiful displays of Christmas lights.

You know it’s the holidays when roofs become bright enough to guide airplanes to safety and flashing lights dangling from houses are synchronized with music.

Ready to travel the city and see some Christmas lights both near and far? We’ve got smaller displays that can hold their own and blocks that have become seasonal favorites. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas out there.  Here are the best bets to drive and walk through to soak in the magic of the season:

Here in Santee:

Santee, : Take Tomel Court off of North Magnolia Avenue to West Glendon Circle. Starlight Circle is more than just bright lights, colorful displays and nativity scenes this year. The neighborhood is holding a Food Drive for the San Diego Food Bank on Dec. 17. Bring a non-perishable food item and drop it in the barrels to help feed the hungry in San Diego County. See the light action 6-11 p.m. through Dec. 26.

Other winter wonderland neighborhoods:

La Mesa, Bob's Christmas Wonderland: 7171 Cornell Ave. In the past, Bob's Christmas Wonderland has featured over-the-top animated decorations, trains and even a mini drive-in theater. Sip on hot cocoa and cider and much on popcorn as you take in the sights and lights. Visitors are asked to donate a canned food item for his Salvation Army holiday food drive. Visit Bob’s nightly from 5-9 p.m. in December.

El Cajon, Jingle Bell Hill: Solomon Avenue and Pageen Place. A holiday tradition for more than two decades, Jingle Bell Hill attracts thousands of visitors each year. From 6-9 p.m. weekdays, and 6-10 p.m. weekends through Jan. 1.

Chula Vista, Christmas Circle: Whitney Street and Mankato Street. A scaled-down version of the grand "Candy Cane Lane" of past years, Christmas Circle has also gained a name for its beautiful displays and abundant lights 5-10 p.m. Dec. 11-26.

Poway, "The Griswold's": 12631 Stoutwood St. off of Twin Peaks Road and Deerwood Street. The Griswolds (of the famed Family Vacation movies) should hide in shame after they see this neighborhood. See why this attraction has earned their infamous name nightly through Jan. 4 from 5:30-10 p.m.

Poway, Candy Cane Lane: Hickory Court, Hickory Street, off Twin Peaks Road and Silverset St. Also Includes Butterwood Ct. and Rockrose Ct. The cul-de-sac is lit up like a street on the North Pole. Visit the transformed neighborhood through Jan. 1 from 6-9 p.m.

Rancho Peñasquitos, Christmas Card Lane: Oviedo Street, just off of Black Mountain Road. Over the years, Christmas Card Lane has grown to include some 200 families, lighting up the area surrounding Oviedo Street and turning it into a twinkling Christmas paradise. Visit from Dec. 10-31, dusk to 10 p.m.

Bigger Bets:

Encinitas

The annual Garden of Lights at the in Encinitas features more than 100,000 twinkling lights, a poinsettia garden stocked with several varieties of the Christmas plant, live music (including carolers!), wagon rides, a nutcracker display, food, children's activities and crafts, and visits with Santa. Weather permitting, there will be snow at the gardens from Dec. 9-16 and again Dec. 26-30.

Garden of Lights is open from 5-9 p.m. Dec. 8-23, and 26-30. Tickets are $12 general admission; $8 seniors age 60 and older; military and students, $4 children ages 3-12. Children 2 and younger are free. Tickets for members are $6.

Del Mar

At the Del Mar Fairgrounds, view the lights from the comfort of your car at the . This seasonal tradition is the largest lighted holiday display in the county, featuring festive music and 400 sparkling and animated displays set up on a 1.5 mile route around the racetrack. A trip around the trick takes anywhere from 15-20 minutes.

Holiday of Lights is open from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, and 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday through Jan. 2. It is closed Dec. 13. Admission is $14 per car with up to five people; $19 per vehicle with six or more people; $49 per bus. Motorcycles and other two-wheeled vehicles are not allowed.

Illuminated with 100,000 glittering white lights, the Hotel Del Coronado becomes a holiday wonderland each night at dusk. You can check out the hotel’s 30-foot Christmas tree, which is lit up by 15,000 lights, 2,000 ornaments and hundreds of decorations. See the hotel all lit up display through Jan. 2.

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