SoCal Families | Four Places to See Holiday Lights

By: Jamie Durante


When we think about impressive holiday lights, the image of something equivalent to Chevy Chase’s illuminated masterpiece in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation comes to mind. Single string lights just don’t do it for us anymore—we want to be blown away by giant inflatable reindeers and Christmas Santa-bears with handmade wooden scenes littered about and enough lights to give the Las Vegas Strip a run for its money.

If you have similar expectations, visit one of these places in the IE to see holiday lights that go above and beyond when it comes to decorating for the season.

Festival of Lights at Mission Inn in Riverside

As one of the most iconic places to go in the Inland Empire, it’s no surprise that Mission Inn’s Festival of Lights celebration is a must-see holiday happening for anyone in or around the Inland Empire. This magical hotel is transformed into an illuminated wonderland. You can even take a ride in a carriage if that is what tickles your fancy. No matter what you decide, Mission Inn is a beautiful destination to get you in the jolly spirit.

Visit Festival of Lights at Mission Inn at 3649 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA 92501. For more information, visit their website.

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WildLights at The Living Desert in Palm Desert

If you’ve visited WildLights before, you know the tunnel of lights is one of the most magical attractions of this beautiful light display. With holiday music complimenting the beautiful lights and live entertainment on certain days of the week, this is an all-around fantastic holiday experience. You won’t want to leave the kids at home for this one; there is a train or carousel ride that children just love! Check online for admission prices and hours.

Visit WildLights at The Living Desert at 47900 Portola Avenue in Palm Desert, CA 92260.

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Thoroughbred Street in Alta Loma

We can still remember the first time we visited Thoroughbred Street in Alta Loma. You will be in disbelief by the wonderland of twinkling lights and moving displays like a ferris wheel that filled to the brim with elves. Busy weekends guarantee crowds, however you will also be able to purchase hot chocolate and other goods while enjoying the mouth-dropping holiday decorations and displays. A word of advice—if you choose to head north onto Sapphire Street from 19th Street to take a left on Thoroughbred Street in order to reach the lights, it will be extremely crowded (especially on weekends). We suggest trying to find an alternate route and walking in. 

Visit Thoroughbred Street in Alta Loma off Sapphire Street and Thoroughbred Street. 8287 Thoroughbred Street, Alta Loma, CA 91701

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Candy Cane Lane in Corona

Whether you like to ring in the holidays with nachos or hot chocolate, this block has you covered! Happy Holidays welcomes the neighborhood’s guests across a rooftop, while inflatable snowmen, bright red candy canes, giant nutcrackers are coming to life in the front yards of this brightly lit neighborhood. There is magic to be felt at Candy Cane lane in Corona. Candy Cane Lane hours are Monday through Thursday from 6-10p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 6p.m. to 12a.m. 

Visit Candy Cane Lane off Main and Ontario in Corona. Put address 326 West Mission Road in Corona, CA 92882 in your GPS.