By Dalia Colon for the CheapTickets Travel Blog
All is calm, all is bright. In some cases, really bright.
Here are seven of some of America's most over-the-top holiday light displays.
St. Augustine's Nights of Lights. Photo courtesy of St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra, & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau.
St. Augustine, Florida: During Nights of Lights, the 450-year-old city illuminates its landmarks with white lights in a display that's been called one of the world's 10 best. The festivities include a bunch of special events, such as carriage and boat tours, outdoor concerts and more.
Denver, Colorado: Denver Botanic Gardens sets the scene for a classy holiday with Blossoms of Light. The flora becomes even more inviting when it's illuminated with thousands of lights, including a spot named the Romantic Gardens full of aromatic plants and plum trees. (Can you say marriage proposal spot?) There's also live entertainment on select nights, and visitors can purchase 3-D HoloSpex glasses to enhance their view of the lights.
Richmond, Virginia: On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Richmond Times-Dispatch's annual list lovingly named the Tacky Lights Tour. Houses must have at least 40,000 lights to make the list; some are tasteful, some downright tacky. The newspaper alerts homeowners that they'll be included, so when you embark on a self-guided tour of the eyesores, you'll be laughing with them -- not at them.
Las Vegas, Nevada: There are drive-through light shows... and then there's Glittering Lights at Sin City's Motor Speedway. Roll down your windows, turn up your windows and cruise around the 2.5-mile track that proves the Vegas Strip isn't the only part of town that glistens.
Los Angeles, California: Come to see the stars, but stay to see the lights. Downtown L.A. Walking Tours offers a nightly Holiday Lights Tour showcasing how the City of Angeles celebrates the season. Stops include the Broad Museum, Grant Park with its illuminated fountain, Nutcracker Village at California Plaza and more.
The lights of Ohio's Clifton Mill combine old-school technology with new-school glitz. Photo by Tina Lawson/Flickr Creative Commons.
Clifton Mill, Ohio: Millions of lights brighten up this 19th-century the mill, gorge, riverbanks, trees and bridges. The decor includes a Santa Claus Museum, light show synchronized to music on the old covered bridge, 100-foot "waterfall" of twinkling lights and more. Legendary Lights is located about 40 miles southwest of Columbus.
Everything's bigger in Texas, even the holiday lights. Photo of Austin's Trail of Lights by Mark Scott/Flickr Creative Commons.
Austin, Texas: The city's Trail of Lights gets more elaborate every year. Zilker Park's display now includes a 155-foot-tall artificial Christmas tree, ferris wheel and carousel. It's one of the largest holiday events in Austin, with live performances, a lighted tunnel and more.