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Best Zoo Lights (2022)

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Each winter, zoos across the country get into the holiday spirit with their own festive displays. Once the sun sets and the animals go to bed, these 10 U.S. zoos celebrate the season with incredible light displays. 

  • PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo

    PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo
    Cincinnati, Ohio

    During the annual PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo, some four million LED lights illuminate the night. Visitors can meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus, watch a Wild Lights show on Swan Lake, drool over a gingerbread village, munch on s'mores or ride the North Polar Express train. 
    Photo courtesy of DJJamm Photo

  • Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo

    Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo
    Toledo, Ohio

    Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo will feature more than a million-holiday lights and some 200 illuminated animal images, as well as an ice slide, photo ops with Santa and an 85-foot Norway spruce tree decorated with 35,000 LED bulbs. 
    Photo courtesy of Toledo Zoo

  • Electric Safari at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

    Electric Safari at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
    Colorado Springs, Colorado

    Some 50 acres at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo are illuminated with 85 light sculptures during the park's annual Electric Safari. Select animal exhibits remain open during the festivities, and warming fires spread throughout the grounds offer a place to thaw those cold fingers.
    Photo courtesy of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

  • Wild Winter Lights at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

    Wild Winter Lights at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
    Cleveland, Ohio

    More than a million lights illuminate the night at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo this holiday season during the annual Wild Winter Lights event. Guests move through more than a dozen interactive zones, with themes like Snow Safari, Glacier Glade and Santa’s North Pole Lodge.
    Photo courtesy of Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

  • Christmas at the Zoo at the Indianapolis Zoo

    Christmas at the Zoo at the Indianapolis Zoo
    Indianapolis, Indiana

    For over fifty years, Christmas at the Zoo has brought family fun to the Indianapolis Zoo. Visit Santa’s Village to see St. Nick’s sleigh and reindeer or snap a selfie in front of a Christmas tree. The Indianapolis Symphonic Choir provides a cheerful soundtrack.
    Photo courtesy of Indianapolis Zoo

  • Philadelphia Zoo LumiNature

    Philadelphia Zoo LumiNature
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    LumiNature features 14 illuminated experiences, like a 21-foot tall snake, hundreds of illuminated penguins, and a 25-foot tree made of flamingo lawn ornaments. Plenty of lights, music and special effects round out the offering.
    Photo courtesy of Winnie Chung, Philadelphia Zoo

  • Zoo Lights Miami

    Zoo Lights Miami
    Miami, Florida

    Zoo Lights at Zoo Miami offers a fun opportunity to celebrate the holidays and see the animals at night. Over a million twinkling lights illuminate the zoo grounds as guests explore the zoo grounds, participate in arts and crafts, sip on hot chocolate, write letters to Santa, and more. Florida native NikkyJ shares, "Zoo Lights at Zoo Miami is a fun way to enjoy all of the Christmas festivities along with an appearance from the man himself, Santa Claus!"
    Photo courtesy of Zoo Miami

  • Dallas Zoo Lights

    Dallas Zoo Lights
    Dallas, Texas

    The Dallas Zoo Lights Presented by Reliant features more than a million lights, animal lanterns, meet and greets with Santa, musical performances and much more. 
    Photo courtesy of Dallas Zoo

  • U.S. Bank Wild Lights at the Saint Louis Zoo

    U.S. Bank Wild Lights at the Saint Louis Zoo
    St. Louis, Missouri

    While enjoying over a million holiday lights, guests of the Saint Louis Zoo during its annual Wild Lights event enjoy campfire s'mores around warming fire pits, holiday carolers and plenty of holiday cheer. 
    Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Zoo

  • WildLights at Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

    WildLights at Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
    Palm Desert, California

    The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens celebrates with more than a million lights decorating its pathways and life-size animal lanterns. Visitors can walk through a tunnel of lights, visit with St. Nick, ride a carousel and roast s'mores.  
    Photo courtesy of Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

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The top 10 winners in the category Best Zoo Lights are as follows:

  1. PNC Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo - Cincinnati, Ohio
  2. Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo - Toledo, Ohio
  3. Electric Safari at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo - Colorado Springs, Colorado
  4. Wild Winter Lights at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo - Cleveland, Ohio
  5. Christmas at the Zoo at the Indianapolis Zoo - Indianapolis, Indiana
  6. Philadelphia Zoo LumiNature - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  7. Zoo Lights Miami - Miami, Florida
  8. Dallas Zoo Lights - Dallas, Texas
  9. U.S. Bank Wild Lights at the Saint Louis Zoo - St. Louis, Missouri
  10. WildLights at Living Desert Zoo and Gardens - Palm Desert, California

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.

Congratulations to all these winning zoos!

License the 10Best Readers' Choice Award Logo

 

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AlertThe Experts

10Best Editors

10Best Editors

10Best Editors

Deborah Fallows

Deborah Fallows

Deborah Fallows

Nikky J

Nikky J

Nikky J

Robert Niles

Robert Niles

Robert Niles
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