North-side Christmas light route
Last Christmas, The Wichita Eagle performed a major holiday public service.
We compiled two separate lists of specific driving routes Wichitans could follow to see some of the city’s best, most famous Christmas light displays. We included houses decorated with computerized, dancing lights. Houses that looked like a Christmas light bomb had exploded in the front yard. Houses that offered glowing odes to famous Christmas movies. Giant displays put on by non-profits and venues that families have been visiting for years.
People loved it, and they used it.
This year, we’re expanding our lists. Not only have we beefed up and updated the east-side and west-side lists we produced last year, but we’ve added two more: one that snakes through north Wichita and one that hits several south-side spots. (Warning: Our two new lists require more driving, but the miles will be worth it.)
Our routes don’t include every fabulous light display in the city, but they include many of the most well-known, including the west side’s famous Candy Cane Lane and Lights on Texas displays and the east side’s light- and luminaria-lined streets in College Hill and Crown Heights.
Let us know whether we’ve missed anything major.
North-side Christmas light route
This route starts in Maize and goes all the way to Bel Aire. And even though you’ll spend some time on some dirt roads and out in the country, it’s an adventure, and there’s plenty to gawk at along the way. It could take you close to two hours to see them all, so pack a thermos of hot chocolate and turn on a Christmas-y radio station.
Stop 1: 11608 Cedar Lane, Maize: Start at this house, which sits at the end of a quiet residential street. The homeowner clearly put in days worth of work, and his large yard is positively covered with lighted snowmen, polar bears, soldiers and Christmas trees. There’s an animated helicopter piloted by Santa on the roof of the house and a moving carousel in the yard. Nearby neighbors also have been inspired by this homeowner’s Christmas dedication so the drive over is bright and colorful, too.
Stop 2: 820 James, Maize: On the way to our next stop, we spotted this home, which clearly belongs to a rabid University of Oklahoma fan. The lights are mostly red and white, and the words “Boomer Sooner” and “OU” are spelled out on either side of the roof.
Stop 3: 825 S. Longbranch, Maize: This is another house in a festively decorated neighborhood, and it is one that offers a dancing light show set to music that can be found on the radio dial. It has a lot of nice touches, one of which is a projection of Jayhawk heads floating across the front window.
Stop 4: 6726 W. Ocieo, Wichita, near K-96 and Ridge Road: You must traverse an unpaved road to get to this home, but don’t let it stop you. Joshua and Mildred Clyborne have been decorating their house for years, and each year, their animated display gets bigger. They now have 49,000 lights that dance to 15 musical sequences. Their display also includes two 27 foot mega trees, 20 little trees, a nativity scene and a sleigh and reindeer on the roof. When you’re done, drive straight and take the street that curves behind the house, which also offers a nice view.
Stop 5: 7541 N. 73rd St. West, Valley Center: As you leave Maize and head toward Valley Center, you’ll see this big display glowing in the distance. We had to drive down a few dusty country roads to get to it, but it was quite a sight, featuring a team of galloping reindeer, stars, trees, even a poor Santa Claus trying to escape up a tree while a dog tugs on his pants. You’ll have to flip a U-turn at the end of this driveway to get back out to the highway.
Stop 6: Redbud Lane and 82st St. N., Valley Center: This one also caught our eye on the way by. It’s right off of 82nd Street and includes lots of red and green lights, an adorable and tiny Santa’s workshop in the front yard
Stop 7: 230 W. Fifth Street, Valley Center: You’ll slam on your brakes when you drive by this house, but it’s on one of Valley Center’s busier streets, so do so with caution. The yard is filled with so many inflatables, you’ll wonder how the homeowner got them all filled up – and found space for all of them. Among the air-filled cast of characters is Snoopy, a Minion, a snow family, Santa in a boat, Santa about to jump in a swimming pool and Santa piloting a North Pole-bound helicopter with a rotating propeller. The whole shabang is surrounded by a fence of glowing candy canes.
Stop 8: 210 Southwind Drive, Valley Center: Another animated display decorates this house, and we caught the homeowner sneaking out of the garage to admire all the people admiring his hard work. Keep driving down the street and you’ll catch several more nicely decorated houses.
Stop 9: 5501 N. Porter, Wichita: The Honn Family, which has been putting on an animated light show since 2015, moved to a new house this year and took all their lights with them. It’s a little harder to get to, but it still has flashing Christmas trees, a big wreath, and arcs of traveling lights.
Stop 10: 5726 Perryton, Bel Aire: We drove alllllll the way to Bel Aire (about seven miles away) to see this house, but it was a nice finale to the night. It features a rooftop and a front hedge both covered with a netting of colored lights plus a father-and-son snowman duo, several lighted reindeer and other festive touches.
Refreshment stop: You’ve driven many miles. Stop for a peppermint mocha and a hot chocolate at the Starbucks at 29th and Rock
If you’re up for it: You’ve come this far. What’s another 15 miles? Although this lavish display at 10813 Tawakoni Road in Augusta doesn’t fit neatly in to any of our routes, those with stamina can head that way will be greeted by four acres covered in nearly 50,000 lights. The display includes two 30-foot trees, a flying Santa and reindeer, a sea monster, a tree and more. It’s three miles east of Andover off of 54, then another three quarters of a mile south on Tawakoni Road.
South-side Christmas light route
A word of wisdom: this route is for those looking for a full night of entertainment, as the houses on it are somewhat spread out. However, it is worth it, as you’ll see some pretty cool displays along the way. Your journey starts in Wichita.
Refreshment break: Start your south-side light adventure with some ice cream or coffee from Churn and Burn, 548 S. Oliver. This place, known for its Joyland memorabilia, freezes its ice cream with liquid nitrogen. It’s open until 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and Sundays, and until 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Stop 1: 1850 & 1844 S. Battin: Two houses next to each other have teamed up to form a lovely dancing light display that spans both homes – highlighted by a lighted arch over the driveway. The light show is set to music on 101.1 FM.
Stop 2: 4141 E. Mount Vernon: This is a quick, drive-by light stop, because you can’t exactly stop and look while driving down Mt. Vernon. Similar to the first stop, two houses have combined to decorate for the holidays with inflatables and a bunch of lights.
Stop 3: CLAUS, Inc., 1841 S. Glenn: The owners of this home have constructed what they call CLAUS Inc., an acronym for “Christ Living Among Us – Santa.” The North Pole Express Substation features lights and a sleigh display in the yard, as well as nightly appearances by Santa himself on the weekends. Just don’t come in when it’s not open – there are plenty of signs around warning of security cameras watching (talk about a twist on the idea that Santa’s always watching). To visit Santa, stop by between 6 and 9 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays until Dec. 23.
Stop 4: 814 Southerland Street: A trek down Seneca is rewarded with this train-themed holiday display, perfect for kids or anyone who loves trains. It’s not as over-the-top as some light displays, but the owners of this home have constructed a nice lighted Christmas village/train stop in their front yard.
Stop 5: Lights on Gold, 5336 S. Gold: A little further south you will find this home, complete with 13,000 Christmas lights set to music on 99.5 FM. The show runs until 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Stop 6: 5311 S. Pattie: Tucked away in the Lakestone neighborhood is this home, which can easily be seen from a distance. It’s a corner lot that features inflatables, a manger scene and basically whatever Christmas lights its owners could put out. A lot of homes in the neighborhood are also decorated for the holidays, so it’s worth a quick detour.
Stop 7: 207 E. Buckthorn, Derby: OK, so this may seem like a bit of a journey to travel out to Derby, but trust me – this house is worth it. It’s a choreographed light show unlike any you’ve likely seen before. The large tree, as well as other decorations in the yard, are not just lights that flash on and off – they’re LEDs. It makes for a super-cool show, especially when Straight No Chaser’s “Twelve Days of Christmas” plays, and the LED tree can display all 12 of the objects they’re singing about. You can find the music at 87.9 FM.
Refreshment break: Sometimes you just need some late-night fries. Or how about custard? Either way, cap off your night and fill up at the Derby Freddy’s Frozen Custard, 2100 N. Rock Road in Derby.
If you’re up for it: 1610 Tanglewood Road, Rose Hill: This is only for the most adventurous of light-seekers, but a trip out to Rose Hill will be rewarded with this Griswold-esque house. It’s just as decorated as Wichita’s perennial Lights on Texas, featuring about 20 inflatables and lights covering nearly every surface. Plus, there’s a guest book people are encouraged to sign when they come.
West-side Christmas light route
This route was so good last year, we haven’t changed it significantly, but it has a few new ideas for treats along the way.
Refreshment break: Before you begin any holiday-light tour, you’re going to want some hot drinks. Start your west-side holiday light tour at Milkfloat, 535 W. Douglas, where you can get a hot drink and a dessert – anything from a slice of pie to cake in a jar (convenient for in-car eating!) to homemade Pop-Tarts. It’s open until 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.
Stop 1: Friends University’s Davis Hall, 2100 W. University: One of Wichita’s most visible landmarks at night, this dramatic, lighted tower is readily seen from Kellogg. Every year, this centrally-located university lights up its clock tower during the holiday season. For best viewing, turn down South Hiram.
Stop 2: The Arc’s Lights on St. Paul: After finishing at Friends, drive to Douglas and take a spin through The Arc’s Lights. Formerly known as Lights on St. Paul, this display includes millions of lights, and frequent appearances by Santa Claus himself. It’s open nightly starting at 5:30 p.m., and organizers are asking people to pay $10 a carload to drive though the event on Fridays and Saturdays. All other nights are free, but the $10 carload fee is still suggested. The display is open through Dec. 28.
Stop 3: 9th Street Lights, 3821 W. Ninth St.: A short drive from The Arc’s Lights is this home, whose owner has dubbed his show “9th Street Lights.” The musical show contains more than 25,000 dancing lights, set to music on 101.7 FM. You’ll want to stay and watch, as there is more than one song the house is choreographed to.
Stop 4: 628 N. Flora and 635 N. Flora: Head back to Central and travel west until you reach North Flora, which is next to the Patrol West substation. There you’ll find two decked-out houses, right across the street from each other, that include lighted Christmas scenes and music.
Stop 5: 261 N. Robin Road: Continue driving west on Central until Tyler, and you’ll find this decked-out home near Wilbur Middle School. Its owner has covered nearly every square inch of his house, roof and driveway with colorful Christmas lights and displays.
Refreshment break: Refuel with some ice cream – or more hot drinks – at the Braum’s at 440 N. Tyler, which is open until 10:45 p.m. nightly.
Stop 6: 914 N. Crestline St.: The next house on the stop is two blocks north of Central near Maize and features a small house covered in neon-colored lights that dance to music found on the FM dial. This house includes a little hut in the front yard, and a hologram projected onto it makes it appear that Santa is busy at work inside.
Stop 7: 923 Toh-N-Hah Court: While you’re in the neighborhood, stop by this little cul-de-sac to find another Christmas treat. This house actually looks more impressive from the back, which faces Maize Road. But you have to crane your neck to the east to check it out as you drive by. It’s pretty impressive from the front, too.
Stop 8: Lights on Texas, 11603 W. Texas: The granddaddy of all Wichita Christmas displays is this house. It’s owned by Brad Short and Scott Lawrence, who have more than 300,000 lights and many of the decorations that once decorated the Wey Mansion on Park Place. Their show includes music broadcast over the radio and is so expansive and bright, it could likely be seen from the moon. Be sure to note the animated Santa in a clear box mounted on the roof. Occasionally on weekends, Santa Claus makes live appearances here as well. I’d recommend coming at the house from the west, as traffic seemed to flow better in that direction. It’s also perfectly acceptable to park in the neighborhood and just walk up.
Stop 9: Candy Cane Lane in the Deer Glen Addition, northwest corner of 119 and Central: This west-side neighborhood is known for going all-out for Christmas, and it won’t disappoint. Start your trip through the neighborhood by turning onto Cedar Park, where you will find two well-decorated houses at 810 N. Cedar Park and 818 N. Cedar Park (one of which is completely decked out in “A Christmas Story”-themed décor). Continue along the road until you get to Candy Cane Lane (otherwise known as Azure Circle). About 25 houses get together to decorate – and, boy, do they. Be careful on the way out, because on weekends, it can take up to 20 minutes to get through this short cul-de-sac, given the sheer amount of party buses and limousines that trek through here on weekends. On weekend nights, the street collects canned goods for the Kansas Food Bank, but otherwise it is free.
NEW! Stop 10: Firefly Street: One street to the west of Azure Circle is Firefly Street, and neighbors there are getting their own Christmas thing going. This year, the street has been transformed into “Reindeer Road.” Many houses down this street have light-up, 10-foot-tall reindeer in their front yards.
Downtown and east-side Christmas light route
Sadly, movie star and Wichita native Kirstie Alley has not erected her movie set Christmas Village at her home on Douglas this year. But Riverside and the rest of College Hill and the east-side do not disappoint.
Stop 1: Illuminations at Botanica, 701 N. Amidon: A good place to start this route is Botanica’s annual walk-through light display, which fills the gardens with thousands of twinkling lights. It’ll take at least an hour to enjoy it properly, so factor in some time. It’s open from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. through Dec. 31, though it’s closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Admission is $10, $7 for Botanica members and $7 for ages 3-12. Children under 3 get in free. Details at botanica.org.
Stop 2: Giant light-trees across from the Wichita Art Museum: From Botanica, head toward the Wichita Art Museum. Just across Museum Boulevard from the museum are two giant Christmas trees constructed using big, colorful bulbs. They’re put up every year, and they reflect beautifully on the river.
Stop 3: Lighted homes along West River Boulevard: From the museum, travel over to Nims, then turn northwest onto West River Boulevard. Several river-facing houses along the west side of the street are beautifully lit in colorful and dramatic fashion. (Hint for later: The houses look even prettier when viewed from across the river.)
Stop 4: Campbell Castle, 1155 N. River Blvd.: In short order, you’ll see the historic Campbell Castle all lit up on the west side of the street. It’s lined in white lights, which make the mansion look particularly stately.
NEW! Stop 5: 1400 block of N. Park Place: For years, Park Place was the home of one of Wichita’s most lavishly decorated holiday houses – the Wey Mansion at 17th and Park Place. But its owners sold the house – and all the lights (to the Lights on Texas guys) years ago. Now, that house is dark. But a few blocks to the south, the neighborhood is still keeping the spirit alive with a bunch of decorated houses. Careful: The street is is one-way, so don’t turn north off of 13th Street.
Stop 6: Christmas at the McKinneys, 1462 N. Coolidge: Head across 13th Street to North Riverside to see this popular display, put up for the past 11 years by Steve McKinney, whose display also encompasses his neighbor’s house. It features at least 100,000 lights that dance in sync to music you can hear by tuning in to a radio station on your FM dial.
Stop 7: City of Wichita light displays near Century II and Kennedy Plaza: Make your way downtown for a look at the city’s light display set up on and near Kennedy Plaza at Century II, 225 W. Douglas. The display always features saluting soldiers, giant lollipops and candy canes and a waving snowman alongside the city’s giant lighted Christmas tree. The snowflakes that line the lampposts and the new red-and-green lighted sculptures along Douglas also add a festive feel.
NEW! Stop 8: M&M Insurance Associates, 1700 E. Douglas: This office, set up in a two-story building at the corner of Douglas and Hydraulic, has a stunning second-floor display that has lighted reindeer and even a couple of decorated classic cars, including a Model T. One word of warning: The corner is fairly torn up with road construction, but you can see the display clearly as you drive by. Be sure and gaze inside the windows of several other nicely-decorated businesses on Douglas, including Reverie Coffee Roasters and Traditions.
Refreshment break: If you’re ready to stretch your legs, grab some coffee or ice cream at College Hill Creamery at 3700 E. Douglas in Clifton Square. It’s open until 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. on weekends.
Stop 9: 200 and 300 blocks of North Roosevelt: These two College Hill blocks contain several breathtakingly decorated houses, and some nights, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Allen House at the corner of Roosevelt and Second is lit up inside. It’s fun to peer in the windows as you drive by.
NEW! Stop 10: 121 N. Belmont Place: This house, near the corner of Douglas and Belmont, is resplendent in rainbow colors, including multicolored luminaria along the sidewalk and several trees decorated with large bulbs.
NEW! Stop 11: 104 N. Crestway: One block over, this stately white College Hill house is tastefully decked in lights, garland, wreaths and red ribbon. It looks like something right off the front of a Christmas card.
Stop 12: 100 block of N. Pershing: A few blocks to the east is Pershing, where the 100 block is famously lined with multicolored sticks of lights in an array of colors planted in the ground. The effect is awesome.
Stop 13: 100 block of South Pershing: Cross Douglas onto South Pershing to see some luminaria-lined streets. Just follow the glowing curb-level lights until you’ve seen enough. If you really like the luminarias, check out the Crown Heights neighborhood north of Douglas between Oliver and Edgemoor.
Stop 14: Marshall Family Christmas lights, 620 N. Stratford Lane: The next stop is near Central and Rock Road and features a musical display set up each year by Mark Marshall, his wife and their eight children. The family home is covered with 100,000 dancing lights choreographed to songs selected and approved by family matriarch Susie Marshall, including classics such as “O Holy Night.”
Stop 15: Bradley Fair Christmas tree: From the Marshall home, make your way to 21st and Rock Road, where your tour can pause around the beautifully decorated Christmas tree set up at the Bradley Fair shopping center.
Refreshment break: Reward yourself with a hot chocolate at Cocoa Dolce, some peppermint ice cream at Marble Slab or dinner at any of the center’s restaurants. And if you’re there on a weekend evening, you can take a free horse-drawn carriage ride as well.
Stop 16 Lights on Longview Lane at 3805 E. Longview Lane: On your way back toward downtown on Kellogg, exit on Hillside and trek over to see Clayton Gossett’s creation, which sits just south of Kellogg (and is visible from the highway) and includes a dancing light display, this one set to funky, electronica Christmas carol mash-ups that can be found on the FM dial.