Magical Nights of Lights, Atlanta
For the 20th 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, shop in a season store, sip hot cocoa, ride on carnival-style rides and meet Santa Claus. The Night Light Canopy Tours return for a second year with 30-minute nighttime zip lining, and new in 2012 is a live nativity show nightly. November 16 through December 31, 2012, 5 to 10p.m.
Hotel Package: Stay at the Legacy Lodge & Conference Center with the Magical Nights of Lights Package, starting at $209 per night. The package, for a family of four, provides one night of accommodations, one vehicle pass for Magical Nights of Lights, unlimited amusement rides for two children and a buffet breakfast with Santa.
100 Miles of Lights, Virginia
Virginia does not take its holiday lights lightly. More than two 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. (November 23, 2012 to January 7, 2013, 5 to 10 p.m. Closed December 24 and 25). Newport News offers a two-mile Celebration in Lights drive-through. (November 22, 2012 to January 1, 2013, 5: 30 to 10 p.m.) In Norfolk, walk beneath the two-mile sparkling Million Bulb Walk. (November 17 to 21, 2012 and January 1 to 6, 2013, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.) In Virginia Beach, drive along the boardwalk for the Holiday Lights at the Beach. (November 16, 2012 to January 1, 2013, after sundown.) More holiday events include lighted parades.
Hotel Package: Stay at the Sheraton Virginia Beach Oceanfront Hotel for two nights, and receive 40 percent off your second night. If you stay three nights, you'll enjoy your third night free! Rates start as low as $87 per night.
Hershey Sweet Lights, Hershey, Pa.
Hershey makes an evening drive a sweet adventure with its two-mile drive-through 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, see Santa's reindeer, enjoy rides for all ages and more all beneath two million twinkling lights. November 16, 2012 to January 1, 2013, 5 to 9, 10 or 11 p.m., depending on the evening of your visit.
Hotel Package: Choose the Breakfast with Santa Package at either the Hotel Hershey or the Lodge at Hershey, and you'll receive overnight accommodations, breakfast or lunch with Santa and one-day admission for a family of up to four to Hersheypark Christmas Candylane, Hershey Sweet Lights, Hershey Gardens and the Hershey Story's Museum Experience. Rates at the Hershey Lodge start at $359 per night, and rates at the Hotel Hershey start at $509 per night.
An Old Time Christmas, Branson, Mo.
Visit Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri for its annual Old Time Christmas, and watch evening turn to day as four 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. Families can enjoy Silver Dollar City's rides, attractions and musical adaption of "A Dickens Christmas Carol," as well as the new adaptation of the classic "It's a Wonderful Life." November 3 to December 30, 2012.
Hotel Package: Silver Dollar City's Christmas Getaway Package provides two days of play and one-night's accommodations at a hotel of your choice, including Castle Rock Resort & Waterpark, Best Western Center Pointe Inn and Barrington Hotel & Suites. Rates start below $100 per person, and two-day Silver Dollar City tickets are included in the package.
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 and ice-skating are additional.) 5 to 9 p.m., Fridays through Sundays, December 1 through 31.
Hotel Package: Stay at the Marriott Wardman Park, just a block from the zoo, and enjoy accommodations, free hotel parking and a zoo map with the National Zoo Package. Rates vary between $139 and $209 per night.