When I was a kid, one of my favorite holiday moments was when my mom loaded me and my siblings into the car and we went in search of the best Christmas lights. I don't remember the houses or the displays, but I do remember us scouring the local neighborhoods in search of the brightest spots, like moths to the flames.
All these years later, I'm still on the hunt every Christmas for the best lights – the most festive offering of holiday decorations – the most fantastical displays. But it's a lot easier these days: I just have to visit some of my favorite Missouri attractions.
One of the newest and coolest has to be Holiday Lights at Warm Springs Ranch in Boonville. The home of the Budweiser Clydesdales offered their spectacular for the first time in 2017. This year, the event is scheduled Thursday through Sunday, Nov. 23-Dec. 30. Admission is $10 per person (aged 2 and older), and reservations are required.
Staying with the Anheuser Busch theme, the brewery in St. Louis offers their fun-for-the-family Brewery Lights 2018 Tour Thursday through Sunday, Nov. 15-Dec. 30. In addition to enjoying more than a million twinkling lights, ride the Brewery Express train (perfect for kids of all ages), skate at the Bud Light Ice Skating rink and then warm up at the Soup Bar. The event is free, but several special packages, a la carte options and food tokens are available. If you're only interested in the light show, drive-through tours are available Monday through Wednesday evenings.
You may think this is really not the season for gardens – but you couldn't be further from the truth when you experience Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis and the Festival of Lights at Powell Gardens near Kansas City. Celebrate the season with more than a million dazzling lights, s'mores and a train show at the Missouri Botanical Garden daily, Nov. 17-Jan. 1. Tickets are $6-$14, with bargain and family nights offered. Powell Gardens features includes botanically-themed lighting displays stretching along a mile-long walking path and is open Thursday through Sunday, Nov. 23-Jan. 6. Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for children 5-12, with several packages available.
Make your holiday celebration a little bit wilder this year, with a visit to Wild Lights at the St. Louis Zoo. Whimsical animal-themed displays grace the zoo grounds, along with fire pits where you can warm your paws and toast a s'more, strolling live performances, and holiday carolers. Then stop by Penguin & Puffin Coast to wish nature's best-dressed birds a Merry Christmas. Admission is $8-9 Monday through Thursday and $10-$11 Friday-Sunday. The festival will run Nov. 23-Dec. 30 on select nights.
The big three theme parks are all getting into the holiday spirit, too.
And finally, there's the granddaddy of them all: the Plaza Lights at Country Club Plaza in Kansas City ... a local tradition for nearly 90 years. The area shops have extended hours during the holiday season, and it's the best time to take a carriage ride on the famed Country Club Plaza. The 15-block holiday spectacle is lit up every day, 5 p.m.-3 a.m.
So now you know – it's entirely possible to get your holiday lights fix all in one place with lots of extra entertainment and activities thrown in for good measure. It's all designed to put you in the Christmas spirit! Enjoy the holidays!
Written by Barb Brueggeman