Must-see holiday lights: Alameda’s Christmas Tree Lane

For years I’d heard that the best place to see holiday lights in the East Bay is in Alameda.  I knew that Santa Claus would be sitting on the median, and I knew that every house on the block would be decorated. Somehow I just wasn’t sure it would be worth the drive. Well, it is.

It’s not just the lights that make the 3200 block of Thompson Ave feel so special; it’s the people milling about, the Girl Scouts selling treats, and the sweet and nostalgic displays of decorations.


Plan to park and walk the length of the block and back again. My 6-year old sat on Santa’s lap in the median of the street, available to anyone who wants to stand in line. Donation suggested; take your own picture; Santa hours are 6:30 to 8:00 through December 23rd, weather permitting.

Neighborhood children gave out small candy canes. We spied so many favorite characters, from an oversized Grinch to Yukon Cornelius and the Abominable Snow Monster. These are homemade wooden cut-outs that you cannot buy at Target, people. One house has a light show timed to music with a Nightmare before Christmas theme. Another house is completely covered with pink, um, shingles?


We were lucky to be standing by as the Black Knight Motorcycle Club drove through, each bike decked out with lights and holly.

Several photos from this post are courtesy of Oaktown Art, who has many more on her website.

The lights will be on through New Year’s Eve from 5:30 – 10:00pm. Bring your camera and your Christmas spirit!

Fans of this ignited form of Christmas cheer can follow special announcements on the Christmas Tree Lane facebook page.

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  1. says

    Hi Whitney;
    Thank you for posting this great review. I have such an emotional holiday attachment to this place as I can remember driving from San Leandro with my folks when I was younger just to see the lights. And now that I’m a 48 year old father of 6 year twins (a girl and boy), I can see the same magic reflected in their eyes when we visit!
    We will be making the trip this week just before Christmas, bundling up the kids in their jammies and bringing a thermos of hot chocolate for the trip. And as we drive back to our home in Contra Costa county, the kids will drift to sleep with visions of lights dancing in their heads!

    Thanks again for the post!

  2. Anonymous says

    Thanks for posting this! We are the motorcycle club that decorates up our bikes each year. We will be through there this year on Dec. 17th, if you are around and would like to see all the lit up motorcycles again! We should have 10 to 15 bikes this year, quite a few coming out for the holidays.

    Find us on Facebook at