One alternative to driving around aimlessly in search of holiday lights on houses is to hit the jackpot of lights at the Oakland Zoo. Every evening from December 2 to January 1 (except for the 24th and 25th), the Zoo is open until 9 pm so that families may enjoy the animal-themed light show. In addition to neon-lit structures around the Zoo, the main meadow has display of animated lights which runs every 8 minutes or so. The children's zoo area also has a maze (think corn maze) that my kids enjoyed.
My children loved seeing Santa Claus, running around the zoo in the dark, yelling, and riding the Outback Express train through the lit up night. And we saw wallabies hopping around!
It is can be especially cold, especially if you choose to ride the train, so be sure to bundle up.
ZooLights is a separate event and is not included in regular Zoo Admsission.
Children (2-14) and Seniors (65-79): $7.00
Children under 2 and Adults over 80: FREE
Members: $1.00 off regular ticket prices (or FREE on Monday Dec 5 and 12)
Rides (even the train) still cost $$ but parking is free.
Santa is on hand for photos on some nights only.
Photo Credit: Oakland Zoo Website