Connecticut is known for its quaint New England charm, gorgeous rolling hills, and breathtaking outdoor scenery. Although it’s a relatively small state, Connecticut boasts plenty of winter activities appropriate for visitors of all ages. Accordingly, most vacation rentals in Connecticut are situated just a stone’s throw away from the best Christmas attractions. Whether you’re coasting on a snow tube at Powder Ridge Park or snowshoeing through Jones Mountain, there’s plenty to do in this New England state during the holiday season. The local winter celebrations are must-visit attractions that feature dazzling Christmas light displays. Here are five of the top places to see Christmas lights in Connecticut.

1. Hartford

With attractions like the Mark Twain House & Museum and the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, Connecticut’s capital city is the perfect place to look for vacation rentals if you’re interested in the area’s rich history. It’s also a fantastic place to celebrate the holidays. One of the most popular annual Christmas attractions in the state is the Holiday Light Fantasia in Goodwin Park. It’s a spectacular 2-mile drive-through light show that features over 200 displays with more than a million lights set to a soundtrack of holiday favorites. In addition to Christmas decorations, you’ll also be treated to Hanukkah, New Years, and Three Kings Day themes. If you want to meet Santa Clause, be sure to check the calendar before you go to see when he’ll be in town.

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2. Mystic

Mystic is a wonderfully charming seaside city that’s perfect if you’re interested in a scenic vacation rental by the water. It’s also one of the best places to get in the holiday spirit, thanks largely in part to the Lantern Light Tours that take place at Mystic Seaport, one of the country’s finest maritime museums. The interactive performances last approximately 70 minutes, and the audience stands on and walks through a variety of terrains, including grass, stairs, cobblestone, and gravel. It’s a heartwarming and sometimes hilarious play that takes place on Christmas Eve in 1876. Your whole family will love the various scenes that include a visit with Old Saint Nick, a circle dance, a horse and carriage ride, and more. There’s even a scene aboard one of the museum’s historic ships. If you’re spending the holiday in Mystic, be sure to stop by Yetter Christmas Tree Farm, where you’ll find a great selection of different tree varieties, as well as a lovely holiday gift shop.

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3. East Haven

East Haven is the perfect vacation rental destination for foodies, featuring a huge variety of exquisite restaurants and cafes. It’s also known as the birthplace of American pizza, so be sure to grab a slice while you’re in town. East Haven also offers one of the best Christmas attractions in Connecticut: Santa’s Trolley Winter Wonderland at The Shore Line Trolley Museum. Board an antique train fully decked out with Christmas decorations, and then enjoy complimentary hot cocoa and cookies as you ride to Santa’s Train Workshop where Santa Clause himself boards the train and merrily greets the passengers. Stick around at the museum as the sun goes down, and you’ll be treated to a dazzling display of lights as the museum transforms into a winter wonderland.

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4. Bristol

Bristol is a fantastic destination for families looking for suburban vacation rentals. The Holiday Lights at Lake Compounce is a must-visit holiday attraction, featuring hundreds of thousands of lights for visitors to enjoy. Enjoy light shows set to music every half hour, and then catch a thrill on some family-friendly amusement rides. The event has plenty of delicious food to offer attendees, and some days even include a dinner with Santa himself, so be sure to check the calendar in advance. While you’re in Bristol, you should also check out the annual Santa Land Village at Rockwell Park, a beloved local tradition that’s been going on for more than three decades. Activities vary depending on which day you go, but attractions include horse-drawn carriage rides, a live petting zoo, carolers, and photos with Santa.

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5. New Haven

Home to the distinguished Yale University, New Haven is a wonderful place to look for upscale vacation rentals in an affluent community. The Shops at Yale is the ultimate spot to do some shopping for the holidays, and it’s also a Christmas paradise. As you wander around the area, you’ll enjoy a wide range of different celebrations. CT Lasers puts on a breathtaking laser light show that’s choreographed to holiday music. On some days, you can enjoy a free horse and carriage ride through the scenic downtown area. Other attractions include meet-and-greets with Santa, ice sculptures, face painting, and carolers. Be sure to check the schedule before you head over, as events vary depending on the date and time. While you’re in New Haven, stop by Lighthouse Point Park to see the drive-through Fantasy of Lights display. It features over 60 animated light displays and over 100,00 bulbs. The event provides 3D glasses so you can really take the scenery to the next level. All proceeds from the event go to programs at the Goodwill of Southern New England for people with disabilities, so you can feel good about contributing to such a noble cause for the holiday season.

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