Load the family in the car, turn up the tunes, and enjoy the tastes, sights, and sounds of the holidays without leaving the safety of your vehicle.
Drive-through: The only drive-through Peet’s Coffee in the East Bay is on the island, at 1901 Webster Street. Swing by for holiday-spice lattes to warm your evening outing.
Drive-by: Christmas Tree Lane—where you can see up to 50 festive houses on Thompson Avenue—is a favorite. This year, Santa won’t be on hand to greet children, but his mailbox will be there for dropping off letters. (Those with legible return addresses receive replies.)
Drive-through: En route to Antioch, pull off for Krispy Kreme in Concord. The detour will yield festive donuts, which in previous years have included pretzel-adorned Rudolphs and belted Santa bellies.
Drive-by: Known as the “Disney House,” the home at 3732 Colonial Court features Mickey, Minnie, and several of their friends (spot Jiminy Cricket!) hand-painted on wood cutouts, as well as 35,000 lights.
Drive-through: Head to the tiny Alamo offshoot of the Coffee Shop for a peppermint hot cocoa before making your way toward Blackhawk via Diablo Road or Camino Tassajara.
Drive-by: Among the dozen must-see houses in the state, according to the California Christmas Lights website, one is near Blackhawk Plaza, at 108 Dana Highlands. Nearly every surface is covered with twinkle, from the grass to the hundreds of icicles hanging off three garage doors.
Drive-up: Order ahead and swing by Denica’s Real Food Kitchen to pick up a box of large, decadent treats, including snickerdoodles, “ube-bae” cookies, and bright, sugared shortbread.
Drive-by: Celebrating its 29th year, the display at 467 Knottingham Circle is an eclectic blend of candy canes, trains, and a nativity scene—plus a Light-O-Rama show programmed to music, which you can tune into on your car radio, at 107.9 FM.
Drive-through: At Dunkin’, you can score both good coffee (eggnog latte, anyone?) and holiday sprinkle donuts in one stop—and there’s a drive-through on Hegenberger Road. Stock up, then head a few miles north.
Drive-by: In a tradition dating back more than 80 years, the residents of Picardy Drive, near Mills College, all decorate their storybook-style houses with lights strung together in a symbol of friendship and unity.
Worth the Drive
For a longer excursion, head to San Jose’s annual but reinvented Christmas in the Park. The new mile-long drive-through experience in History Park boasts 30 displays and 150,000 lights, including a 300-foot tunnel with lights animated to music. Advance reservations required.