From those family drives as a child to now, neighborhood lights remain my favorite. Even as residential displays become more elaborate, there's something to the charm of simple string lights hung with care (and perhaps a little frustration) by the homeowner.
One of the city's toniest neighborhoods, Highland Park has everything from mansions decked out in professional exhibits to gingerbread-like houses you'll want to take a bite out of. Start at Armstrong Parkway and Preston Road and wind your way through a transfixing tour of lights. My son's favorite house has half a dozen giant jack-in-the-boxes with bobbing heads modeled after, what else, the homeowner's family members! Be sure to drive through Highland Park Village, a shopping center with trees wrapped trunk to tip.
While my mother is putting up the tree on Halloween, East Dallas' Swiss Avenue is positively packed with little goblins parading up and down the street begging candy off the festive homeowners. It's so popular that Adele even went trick or treating there in 2016 disguised as Jim Carrey's character in "The Mask." For the winter holidays, Swiss Avenue offers a taste of true turn-of-the-century elegance a la "It's A Wonderful Life."
South of Downtown lies the charming Kessler Park neighborhood in Oak Cliff. The lights are arranged annually by a group of volunteers; find five large, lit trees at the intersection of Colorado Boulevard and Lausanne Avenue and you know you're in the right spot. The Kessler Park neighborhood lights are even more beautiful backlit by the shimmering Dallas skyline.