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Like many, I love to tour the twinkling lights of December, especially wrapped in a warm scarf while sipping a hot cup of cocoa. Since holiday lights bring such good cheer to our early sunsets, I can almost forgive the winter solstice for existing. While I love to explore our immediate neighborhood and hunt out the best displays nearby, it’s also a lot of fun to go to those areas that have made this seasonal tradition a way of life. We’re going to send you to some of the finest sparkling neighborhoods, and to the nearest spots to grab some cocoa.12.08.15-DovewoodCourt-16Midtown

Lights: Fab 40’s, J street

The Fab 40’s are always renowned for their beautiful mid-century architecture, but their full splendor is on display during the holiday season. For several blocks, you’ll see candy cane trees below a canopy of string lights as well as impressive home displays. If you’re only going to make it out to one place, this is the quintessential Sacramento holiday light experience. You can drive through this display, which is best and brightest between 40th and 48th streets, but be sure to stop and walk around at 42nd and J.

Cocoa: Visit Chocolate Fish at 4749 Folsom Blvd and grab a cocoa or “fluffy,” a steamed milk. This East Sacramento location also offers a kids’ hot chocolate with mini marshmallows and sprinkles!fab 40 (1)fab 40 (5)East Sacramento

Lights: 53rd & T

On 53rd Street, between S and T, you will find some of the best individual home light displays. Nearly every house is elaborately decorated. Some carry a traditional style, featuring white lights, snowmen, and trees. Others indulge in a bit of whimsy, such as Santa’s submarine. This neighborhood is just a hop off of the 99, making it a quick visit, but it’s also a great one to walk around.

Cocoa: Visit Gunther’s before heading out to view the lights and grab a piping hot cocoa or maybe ice cream, if you don’t mind the cold! fab 40 (4)fab 40 (8)Land Park

Lights: Land Park Drive

Like the Fab 40’s, Land Park is known for beautiful architecture and some luxurious homes. Cruise along Land Park Drive to take in some of the area’s best displays that include sprawling lawns covered in lights, prancing reindeer and brightly lit trees. Take a side trip down Curtis Park Drive to take in some more impressive displays.

Cocoa: There’re a lot of options around here, but my kids love the cocoa and the relaxed vibe of The Coffee Garden. You can also grab some steamed milk at Old Soul right down the street.20151208-IMG_0796fab 40 (9)Elk Grove

Lights: Sassman Memory Farm, 3446 Point Pleasant Rd.

If you’ve never been to the Sassman Memory Farm, you really must go soon because this year is your last chance. What began 23 years ago as a tribute to a daughter lost to cancer has grown into an enormous display of over 100,000 lights. For the chilly nights, there is a fire pit from which you can watch a lit train build and release steam. Be sure to stroll the twinkling paths to enjoy the display as well. The Memory Trees hold 23 years of messages to loved ones. If you’re like me, you may want to bring the tissues. It opens each day at 5:15 p.m. until Christmas Eve.

Cocoa: The wonderful Sassman family provides cider and cookies, but if you want cocoa, you’ll have to bring it from home. For a decadent experience, we suggest Ginger Elizabeth’s cocoa mix ($15) and marshmallow batons ($5).sassman (6)sassman (8)Rocklin

Lights: Pebble Creek Drive & Strand Court

When neighbors work together, beautiful things happen. This is made clear by the people at Pebble Creek and Strand Court, who put together a fine show. Over 100 houses are lavishly decorated on the two streets, including a Disney ensemble cast, animated Santas, nativity scenes, sleighs and more. Be prepared to take it in at a a leisurely pace as this display attracts large crowds.

Cocoa: Drop by Origin Coffee & Tea on 2168 Sunset Blvd., a locally owned and operated shop dedicated to ending human trafficking. Get a side of humanity along with your cocoa.12.7.2015.HolidayLights.Jessica01612.7.2015.HolidayLights.Jessica012Orangevale

Lights: Dovewood Court

Some of you may have your own fond memories of visiting Dovewood Court, as the neighbors hereabouts have been pulling out all the stops for more than a quarter century. These extraordinary displays are also an opportunity to give back, with donation bins set up to receive non-perishables and cash for needy local families.

Cocoa: Bring cash and visit the cocoa and kettle corn stand right across the street!12.08.15-DovewoodCourt-2712.08.15-DovewoodCourt-21

Photos | Stacy AntonopoulosYesenia Lisette, Jessica Odnoralov

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