Season Greetings – Explore west Iowa’s holiday lights

Blue lights hanging from water fountain at Bayliss Park
Bayliss Park in Council Bluffs is decorated in blue and white lights for the holiday

From Santa Claus to farms, west Iowans enjoy their holiday season. As neighborhoods take holiday light displays to a new level, they’re at a point where they challenge cities’ holiday decorations. One of the fun parts of the holiday season is exploring lighting exhibits. Western Iowa features unique and fun experiences.

While Council Bluffs is one of the first communities to kick off the celebration with its holiday festival taking place before Thanksgiving, Bayliss Park brightens the area until early in the New Year. With blue lights enveloping the park’s water fountain, as well as white snowflake decorations hanging off trees, downtown Council Bluffs annually shows why it’s one of the best areas to explore holiday lights.

Disclaimer: Thanks to Caffeine Crawl for the complimentary tickets. "100 Things to Do in Omaha Before You Die" was also a sponsor of the crawl. However, all views and opinions are ours.
Disclaimer: This article is a joint venture between Travel Iowa and us. However, as always, all opinions and views are ours.

With white lights illuminating trees on Broadway, enjoying an evening downtown walk is perfect for a night out. Consider grabbing dinner at any of the area restaurants such as Caddy’s Kitchen and Cocktails with its Caddy’s sign displaying green and red colors for the season.

In Glenwood, the holiday season kicks off after Thanksgiving dinner is done, and dishes put away. Wilson’s Winter Wonderland entertains passers-by nightly through New Year’s Day. With plenty of yard decorations – Grinch and several snowmen among them – joining strings of lights that come close to challenging Clark Griswold, the Wilson family helps get people into the holiday season. The lights stay on nightly through Jan. 1.

As visitors drive by, they’re often entertained by carolers sharing the season’s songs. And, Santa Claus can be found handing out candy canes.

House with Christmas lights and displays in front
Wilson’s Winter Wonderland has become a Glenwood tradition. Photo courtesy Wilson Winter Wonderland

Santa and friends

In Sioux City, head to the Morningside neighborhood – or is it the North Pole? – for a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Morningside Santa and Friends not only decorate their home, but Santa also makes public appearances. With their Santa and Mrs. Claus inflatable lighting in the neighborhood at night, visitors enjoy driving by or walking past to enjoy the seasonal attraction. The holiday display last until New Year’s Day.

Santa and Mrs. Claus as inflatable light display
Santa and Mrs. Claus are the main attractions at Morningside Santa and Friends in Sioux City. Photo courtesy Morningside Santa and Friends.

For almost 50 years, Red Oak residents have enjoyed visiting Baird’s Christmas Lights. Covering about 10 acres of the family farm, visitors are treated to impressive holiday displays, such as a 25-foot-tall toy soldier and a star hovering 40 feet in the air. The display runs through Jan. 1.

With the family home decked in seasonal red, Baird’s Christmas Lights is a southwest Iowa tradition. Oh, and don’t forget the combine decorated for the holiday season.

Sky view of farm decorated in holiday colors
Baird’s Christmas Lights covers 10 acres on a farm near Red Oak. Photo courtesy Baird’s Christmas Lights.

Thousands of colorful lights illuminate the night at Christmas Acres in Le Mars. Visitors enjoy driving past the displays, soaking in the holiday attraction’s inflatables and figures, including Santa and his reindeer, candles, and religious items. Open since 1995, Christmas Acres accepts donations for charity. Enjoy the nightly show through New Year’s Day.

I’ve enjoyed checking out holiday light displays since my youth when my parents would load us into the car and travel to nearby towns to see their displays. Today, not only do communities share outstanding holiday lights, you can find neighborhoods putting on impressive shows. Fill a thermos with some hot chocolate and grab some tasty treats as you explore western Iowa’s holiday lights. For more Iowa holiday attractions, visit Travel Iowa’s website. Happy Holidays.