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Dyker Heights December Lights: Christmas Extravaganza in Brooklyn

Updated: Mar 8

Dyker Heights Christmas Experience

There's a little square of Brooklyn that lights up for Christmas like the Holidays themselves just embraced each home personally. The Dyker Height's December lights is nothing new, in fact, it has continued to grow yearly into quite the attraction! Add this stop in Bay Ridge to your bucket list!

 



As a little girl I drove to Brooklyn with my parents where we parked and walked through the streets just feeling like we’d officially entered Christmas village. I remember drinking hot cocoa and taking photos with my parents in front of frosty the snowman light ups and beautiful Christmas garlands next to candy cane lined walkways. We walked around in the cold and admired the houses all decked out. And this is why I returned with my own children, because it is memorable and leaves you feeling all ready to celebrate. The grandeur of Dyker Heights will stay with you long after leaving.


Taking photos with the Christmas lights
Happy Mom in Dyker Heights

** This year, we actually visited a few days after Christmas, which seemed like the smart thing to do, but apparently everyone else also thought to do the same! We were walking through thick crowds. Luckily, most traffic avoids this area and people can move pretty easily. I will say, we found the crowd to be festive and jovial.

 

When I say Brooklyn, you may be picturing rap videos of Biggie standing in front of the urban zoo, but you’d be totally shocked to see this Bay Ridge section of the borough lined with million-dollar homes and marble colonnades. Dyker Heights is known as “the Handsomest Suburb in Greater New York” for its tree lined streets and elaborately landscaped yards, not to mention mansions on hills, that have modern flair. This area is easy to get to if driving as it’s a few blocks from the Verrazano Narrow’s Bridge, and the ride itself can be pretty scenic. For those looking to come earlier and stay later, I recommend catching the sunset by the bridge. More on that below….

 

If you’re visiting New York for Christmas, which is considered any time in the month of December, it’s worth a drive to this amazing neighborhood to experience the unique culture of Dyker Heights. By the way - I strongly recommend everyone experience NY in December least once in their lifetime. For more about Christmas in New York, click here.

Underlined text links to the accompanying website for your convenience!


If you are anything like me, you want to fully experience the moment, feel prepared and know what to expect. Things change and coming this year I found myself debating driving vs riding the train, or even Ubering. We will go through your options below.


My recommendations will help you plan your evening adventure, and whether you are driving or taking a train help you to navigate to the must-see locations. Knowing where you are going helps relieve any stress of traveling.


Also, please eat while you are here! Brooklyn is known for its authentic Italian food. And I will list a few favorites to help you make this night much better.


Is it better to take a bus tour or go on our own?

I'm here as the most economical mom telling you save your money for other things, this experience can be just as grand on a budget. For the cost of the subway ride (or gas and parking) and some leg work you can really make the most of this night. If you REALLY want the history of each home and to ride the bus with 20 or more others, then the tour options are plentiful, and costly.


Where are we going?

The main attraction of Dyker Heights Christmas Lights is located on 11th, 12th and 13th Avenues between 83rd, 84th, 85th and 86th streets, these blocks are filled with holiday cheer, lights, beautiful decorations, and lots of people! Awesome displays, photo ops, and good cheer in abundance. Plan to zig zag through the streets and take in all of the scenery.

Times: Lights go on around 5pm and most stay lit until 10pm nightly.


How long is the walk around and view the lights?

Plan at least an hour. We spent closer to two and a half hours because we were taking photos, and it was very crowded. We parked and walked to get food, then made it to 13th Street, where the adventure began. I would have taken more time as I was enjoying myself, but the boys got tired and were ready to go. We looped the streets then headed back to our car.

If it’s cold or you walk fast and want to do it quickly, 45 minutes.


Can I drive and park or do I have to take the train?

You can do either!

Parking sounded atrocious in my researching process, but turned out to be easier than anticipated. Either way this night will include a bunch of walking. We drove in from Long Island (about an hour) and parked with no problem. I parked too soon, we could have parked closer.  We parked a few blocks away on 86th and 16th (there is no parking close to the lights) and walked to 13th towards Krispy Pizza. Public parking can be found at: Brooklyn Public Library, McKinley Park Library.

Also metered parking is available on the streets: especially 86th Street. Read the signs, only pay for what you need! We parked at 5:30, and only paid for 90 minutes as parking was free after 7 pm.

*Look for parking between 79th and 86th Street. (We parked off 86th Street by Advantage Chevrolet).

After you pick a place to eat, GPS to that location you plan to eat, you may be able to find parking close to the restaurant. Just check the street meters as typically after 7pm, it is free.


Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Stunning corner home with nativity

Public Transit

Subway – The three subway lines that will get you here are the R, N, and D trains. Depending on the time of day and where you are coming from, which the MTA site to determine which train will be best. Train fares are $2.75 each ride. Subways run often.

**There's an App for that! I found Apple Maps to have GREAT subway directions and options for walking/ busses. My son also references Google Map for info on subway times and locations. If you prefer an app download City mapper, or NYC subway app.


Most popular is the R train to the 86th Street Station, then walking over to the Dyker Heights lights!

There is still a 10 – 15-minute walk from the subway station. You'll get off at the 86th Street stop, and there are several places to eat along the walk to get to the main attraction.

You could Uber or Lift from there if you prefer.


Google or Apple Maps is very helpful and has options for using public transit or walking.

Timing: From Times Square this is a 35 - 45 minute subway ride. Walking to the houses from the 86th street stop is another 15 - 20 minutes.

Food Options:

There are plenty of food choices! I recommend eating a place with a restroom, as the chilly weather, time spent in commute and then walking around in a residential area all adds up to a full bladder! Corner pizzerias like Ah Pizza, have great pizza but no restrooms. There are also several corner cafes and coffee shops which may not give you access to this fine commodity.

** There are no public bathrooms in the residential neighborhood.


Along 86th Street are several chain style restaurants. You'll find Starbucks, Panda Express, Chipotle, Burger King, Fire Kabob, Hawaii Poke One, and Thai Leaf.


Map of Bay Ridge Brooklyn
Dyker Heights Map, 86th Street

PIZZA!

We loved and recommend:

7112 13th Ave. Brooklyn NY 11228

718-745-9618

Closes at midnight Fri and Sat, 11 pm all other nights

It’s a bit of a walk from the lights (several blocks) but worth it just for having the best garlic knots you can get. Prices are decent, indoor sit-down restaurant (about 12 tables) with lots of options and great bathroom. This location is a half a mile from the main attraction of houses and if you don't want to add that many steps to your map, consider one of the options below:


1406 86th St. (the corners of 86th and 14th Ave, more centrally located)

Only open till 8pm most nights.


1454 86th St. Brooklyn, NY 11228

718-621-4714


8216 13th Ave

347-868-9007

Variety of cookies, cakes, pies, pastries, pizza, stuffed bread and more.


Dress Warm!

A layered approach is always best for Decembers in NY. Gloves, hats, earmuffs, scarves, all of the warm stuff. No one will see your long johns, just you'll be glad they are there.


Don’t miss these homes:

1152 84th Street – Lucy Spata Home

1145 84th Street – The Polizotto Home

1135 84th Street – the Saita Home (listed on the National List of Historic Places)

71st St & 14th Ave (Corner) - Home of Sam Livos


The culture of Brooklyn has always been hip and stylish. You will see lots of Catholic Churches and architecture that captures a time in history with all the minute detail. While many people walking through are tourists, you still feel the vibe in the air. And it feels electric.


The families who live in the HOA community of Dyker Heights pour so much love and thought into their designs. What started back in the 80's as a nuisance, gained community support and has turned into a local wonder. Unique individual styles are expressed and some of the designs are more overwhelming and a mass of yard statues, while others are refined and classy. Come enjoy them all.


Tips:

*Prepare: street vendors may be there selling various lights, bubbles and holiday items

*Consult the map or app of your choice.

*Bring cash for hot cocoa or food trucks which are also available.

*Some homeowners have snacks and hot cocoa out of their garage. I like to purchase some items here to support the cost of lighting the neighborhood.

*Plan to arrive around 5:00 to get ahead of the crowds. (It will still be crowded)

*Wear comfortable footwear!

*Keep ChapStick or lip balm close!

*Get gloves that have the touch screen fingertips so you don't keep taking off gloves for snapping photos!

*Be patient! You'll see a lot of people taking photos and going with the flow.

*There are many group tours available - these are often booked far in advance.

Pick the warmest and driest night of your stay to visit Dyker Heights. You will be outside in the weather for several hours and want to enjoy it as most as possible. The real cold can make this hard.

*The infamous house known as the Gingerbread House, is located at 8200 Narrows Avenue. Looking like a fairytale cottage, the ironwork and rustic architecture will melt your heart. This is outside of the square where the lights are but a fun extra with a little planning.

*Many homes have a story. Some share their stories 💗



Itinerary Ideas!

Want to make a day of it? Other fun things to do in the area:

Fort Hamilton – 114 White Ave, Brooklyn NY 11252 Open Tues – Friday 10-4

Free parking, small military museum, lots of historical reference, photo id required for reference as this is an active military base. Monuments, and John Paul Jones Park at the Base. The old fort looks over the Narrows and offers breath taking views.


The 69th Street Pier offers a panoramic view of the enormous Verrazano Bridge, which spans the skyline with green lights. Capture the Statue of Liberty, and Manhattan skyline in one place. This is a popular place to catch a sunset. There is a seawall walkway known as the Shore Road Promenade, that continues for 4.5 miles to Bensonhurst Park in Bath Beach. This path gets a lot of pedestrian traffic during the day, but lacks good lighting in the dark.


The Narrows Botanical Garden is a GREAT spot to stop and enjoy the moment. Located at Shore Road between Bay Rudge Ave and 72nd St., this small four-acre volunteer garden is also home to chickens, turtles, and a variety of birds. Free of charge and great views of the Bay. Less than one block from the NYC Ferry.


Brooklyn Bridge: Consider Adding this evening to a Day activity of iconic NYC Adventure: Walking the Brooklyn Bridge This amazing free activity needs to be on every NY itinerary, regardless of the time of year. I would not recommend on freezing windy days or stormy days, so check your weather while visiting and chose the best conditions for your scenic walk.


With so much fun along the Brooklyn waterfront and connecting lower Manhattan, the options for time spent on this trip are endless. The NY subway system is fairly easy to navigate and connects to the majority of destinations. Brooklyn is a Borough not to be skipped with so much rich history and beauty, as well as the striking views of the Manhattan skyline.

Boys on a corner enjoying lights in Dyker Heights
Brothers in Dyker Heights

Planning Suggestions:

**Check the sunsetting time for the day. Arrive 30 minutes prior to sunset at either the 69th Street Pier or the Shore Road Park Gazebo for some amazing photos with the Verrazzano Bridge and Manhattan skyline. (apx. 4:45 pm)

**Head to your place of dinner. See list of recommendations above. Krispy Pizza or BKLYN's pizza are my top two favs. (5:45)

**Walk over to the lights on blocks 11 - 13th Avenues, and 83rd - 86th Streets. Zig Zag through the roads, stopping for hot cocoa, bubbles, ad snow. Take photos, enjoy the nostalgia!

**Plan to leave by 9:15 - 9:30 at the latest. Many lights turn off after 10pm.




Affordability meter: 9/10

On a scale of 1-10 how affordable is this trip?

With 1 being utterly unaffordable and 10 being basically free I rate this evening adventure a 9.

This trip can vary depending on your itinerary. Dyker Heights itself is free to walk around, possibly one of the reasons for its popularity. How you arrive, and what you eat are the main factors of this trip, and I rate this an economical 9/10. The value of this experience is worth the traffic, commute, and headache of figuring out how to get there and how long to stay outside in the cold enjoying the festivities. Costs are: gas/ parking or the subway/ Uber. Additional costs may include eating, and this would again be to your discretion. Pack a picnic lunch if looking to save money. Grab a $4.00 hot cocoa though, you won't regret it.


~When in New York, a little planning goes a long way! Screen shot your directions and know your timing and routes

~Allow those you travel with to participate in the itinerary building

~Keep the people prioritized over the things (you keep the people the stuff all fades)

~Wherever your travels take you, be sure to keep your presence in the moment

~Nature is healing, grounding and living. Tune in

~Enjoy where you are at. Be a little flexible with people and their navigation of time

~Let go of things you can't control

~Remember to put your people above things, and cherish the memories

~Do things that will make you proud of yourself when reminiscing

~Live more, in abundance and walk in your own footsteps

~Breathe fresh air, feel the flow of water, and find your own level

~ All of my travels are intended to uplift 🥰



A note from the editor:

The information in this article was accurate when published but may change without notice. Confirm details when planning your trip.

I appreciate you stopping by today, please subscribe and share so we can stay connected.

My goal is to make traveling easier for families and cut down on the planning process. 💜


As a New York native, I love this city and it's my pleasure to return visiting all my favorite places.

We are fortunate enough to stay with family when we return to NY, however I do recommend the Holiday Inn or Hilton for spending the night in the City. There are several, but I like the one's in lower Manhattan for price, parking, and cleanliness. A quick search will show you available options. Now I usually stay somewhere that offers free breakfast, but in NY I want close to public transportation. There are so many places to eat and no it isn't cheap, but the food is just part of the visiting experience here. I love the vibe of NYC. The easiness of moving around and exploring. NY is well marked and labeled; it's laid out in a way that is easy to understand. The system makes sense. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!


Dyker Heights Christmas Lights and tree
Tree with autumn colors in December

How exquisite!!! I am a tree lover. Finding a tree still decked out in it's autumn crown of yellow, red, and orange leaves in December was a rare surprise! I stopped in my tracks so excited to see this. Many of the others then started to say how odd that one tree still had it's leaves AND color. This is NOT a warm December, it had already frozen several times. All of the other trees are already bare. I couldn't help but feel this lone tree stole the show, with nature speaking up for the win.


We did choose the warmest night of our December week in NY to venture to Dyker Heights knowing we'd be outside in the elements for a few hours. My Florida boys didn't expect they'd be THAT cold. Yes, we were freezing in the 40-degree temps. I will say the crowds to add a little warmth, people generate heat.


I am posting photos here, but really pictures can't do this experience justice. To capture the awe, and fun you've just go to go and experience it yourself!


Thank you for visiting my site and 'd love for you to share your comments below about Dyker Heights at Christmas time!


Mz. Savvy



The green house of Dyker Heights
A house with a story, information available

Come Travel With Me! My 2024 Yoga & Art retreat in Noxon Montana still has 2 rooms available! Budget self-love and restoration in this new year and plan for some time to dive deeper int your own creativity and purpose. More info at: https://www.wholeimagewellness.com/montana



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