ZooLights – National Zoo, DC
If Uncle Sam had to pick his favorite zoo and seasonal celebration, we can only imagine that his pick would be the National Zoo in Washington, DC. After pulling out all the lights and decorations down from the zoo’s attic back in November, the place is now doing its seasonal stuff through through January 1—with a couple days off here and there. Obviously they’ve got animals here, but for the holidays there’s now more 500,000 LED lights doing their thing as well. The zoo promises lit animal silhouettes, musical light displays, and a new garden scene light sculpture. They have even added the chance to snow tube down two 150-foot tracks on the Lion and Tiger Hill. Admission here is free, but parking can set you back $20 or more—take Metro.
US Bank Wild Lights – Saint Louis Zoo, Missouri
They’re promising real life examples of swans swimming, frogs leaping, and everything else that’s needed to celebrate all twelve days of Christmas. Over at the Saint Louis Zoo they’ve got more than 500,000 lights, plenty of animated light displays, and seasonal sounds setting the mood as you stroll the grounds of the zoo. There’s a gingerbread village, a snowfall flurry walk, and a fantasy butterfly garden all doing their best to get you in the seasonal spirit. Free parking and admission start at just around $5 makes this a great deal, but just bring a couple extra bucks for the hot chocolate.
The Lights Before Christmas – Toledo Zoo, Ohio
We’ll give them the award for the most clever name, but the folks over at the Toledo Zoo also do a pretty darn good job at decorating the the place for the holidays. Things run through December 31, as the lights to their thing until either 8pm or 9pm most evenings—excluding Christmas and Christmas Eve. They have lights on the trees, lights on the ground, and the lights are pretty much everywhere else. Other stuff includes the chance to check out strolling carolers, ice carving demonstrations, and the opportunity to step inside of a life-sized snow globe. They even brought in some new stuff just for 2013, and this includes an ice rink right on the grounds of the zoo. Ordering online saves you a dollar, so it’s $13 for the big kids and $10 for the little ones.