Visiting Dyker Heights Christmas Light Without a Tour to See the Best Decorated Houses
Christmas decoration in Dyker Heights is a must-see during the holiday season in NYC and you can go to Dyker Heights by yourself without a tour! This blog shows you how to get to Dyker Heights and where to find the best decorated houses in Dyker Heights.
New York City is famous for many things, and Christmas is one of them. While most visitors flock to Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park, Dyker Heights in Brooklyn is actually the best place in NYC to see Christmas lights and decorations.
Each December, houses in the Dyker Heights neighborhood put on a show of holiday cheers. And when I say a show, it is one spectacular show of festivity. You may think you’ve seen well-decorated houses during Christmas but wait till you visit Dyker Heights! You will be absolutely amazed by how beautiful this neighborhood becomes in December.
Since Dyker Heights is quite far from Manhattan and not the easiest place to get to (especially if you are a tourist), many do opt to take a tour from Manhattan to Dyker Heights to see these houses. But I am here to show you how to go to Dyker Heights by yourself and save up to hundreds of dollars by not taking a tour.
I have gone to Dyker Heights multiple times in the past few years (and will be going again this year) so I can share tips on how to visit and where the best decorated homes are in Dyker Heights.
Visiting New York City for Christmas?
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Where is Dyker Heights
Dyker Heights is a residential neighborhood in southwest Brooklyn. It borders Bay Ridge on the west and Bensonhurst on the east. It is pretty much across the bay from Staten Island.
Dyker Heights has a large Italian-American population, and this heritage is reflected in various aspects of the neighborhood, including the local businesses and restaurants.
This neighborhood is renowned for its holiday decorations as these are really elaborate and extravagant decorations and light displays! Most of these decorations are actually done by professional lighting companies each year and not by the homeowners.
When does the Christmas decoration start and end at Dyker Heights?
The famous holiday decorations in Dyker Heights are best viewed from early December to the first week of January.
Although many sources say the Christmas lights in Dyker Heights are up after Thanksgiving, but not every house is ready at that time. Therefore if you want to be safe, I would suggest visiting the first week of December.
As you can imagine the area gets super crowded between December 15th to Christmas day, with tourists from all over the world coming to admire these lavishly decorated homes. You can also expect buses and buses of tours in Dyker Heights during those few weeks.
What’s the best time to visit Dyker Heights to avoid the crowd
If you are planning to visit Dyker Heights and have some flexibility, I highly recommend visiting early December (like the beginning of the 2nd week of December) and on a weekday!
New York City gets dark after 4:30pm in the winter, so if you can visit around 5pm on a weekday before the holiday rush then you will certainly have a more pleasant experience. It is easier to find parking if you go during the week as well, but more on that later!
Keep in mind that the lights turn off between 9pm – 10pm depends on the house!
Can you go to Dyker Heights without a tour?
You do not need a tour to see the Christmas lights at Dyker Heights.
The only reason people take a tour is because Dyker Heights is far from Manhattan and it is harder to get to. Many visitors also do not know where to go in Dyker Heights to see the holiday decorations.
Many of the tours are 4 hours long and you actually spend 2-3 hours on the bus. You only really spend a little bit over an hour in Dyker Heights.
I am by no means against tours to Dyker Heights, I think they are convenient and definitely meet the needs of tourists.
But if you want to save money, then I recommend just walking around the neighborhood by yourself. You can take as long (or short) as you want and take as many photos and videos as you like.
How to get to Dyker Heights
There are 3 ways to get to Dyker Heights from the rest of New York City: public transportation, Uber or drive. Depending on where you live, one method may be better than the other.
Getting to Dyker Heights on Public Transportation
The cheapest way to tour Dyker Heights this Christmas is to take public transportation and you are probably wondering how to get to Dyker Heights on the subway or bus.
There are 3 main ways to get to Dyker Heights by public transportation:
- Take the R or D train and walk 15-20 minutes
- Take the R or D train then take a bus or an Uber
- Take the 1, 2, 3 train to financial district in Manhattan, then take the X28 bus
The closest subway station to Dyker Heights include:
- 86 St on the R Train
- 79 St on the D Train
However both are rather far from where the Christmas Lights are in Dyker Heights. From the 86 St (R train) you have to walk about 15 minutes and from 79 St Station (D train) you have to walk 20 minutes. It is quite a long time to walk in the cold if you ask me.
If you don’t want to walk, you can take the B1 bus after getting off the train at either station.
Alternatively, if you are in Manhattan, you can take the 1, 2, 3 train to Financial District then catch the X28 bus, which will drop you off at 86th St and 7th Avenue, only a block or two from where all the holiday decorations are in Dyker Heights.
Example of getting to Dyker Heights from Times Square
I use Google Maps and Citymapper to get around New York City. I prefer Citymapper for subway directions because the timing is more accurate than Google Maps. Citymapper shows you precisely when the next train or bus will come, and if you should be in the front, middle, or back of the train.
Each subway ticket cost $2.90 in NYC regardless of distance. You can use your contactless credit card, debit card, Apple pay or Google pay to pay for the subway at the reader. You CAN buy a metrocard from the machines but contactless cards just make it a lot easier.
To go from Times Square to Dyker Heights, load up your Citymapper and you will see a few different options.
The direction above shows the approximate time it takes to get to the Dyker Heights Christmas light area from Times Square. If you pick the first option (2 or 3 Train then X28 bus), the app will show you detailed directions as well as when the next train is.
Getting to Dyker Heights by Uber
Not a fan of walking or the New York City public transportation? The easiest (but most expensive) way to get to Dyker Heights is by Uber or Lyft.
Assuming you are leaving from Times Square at 4pm in the afternoon, it will cost you between $75 to $100 on Uber (depending on the type of car).
The pro of taking Uber to Dyker Heights is that you don’t have to worry about parking. You can literally get dropped off as close as possible and you don’t have to worry about being on a crowded subway train.
However the con is that it can take over an hour to get to Dyker Heights so you don’t really save any time by taking an Uber or Lyft. You will also need to get an Uber to go back. Depending on how many people you have, it might end up costing more than a tour.
In general I do not recommend taking an Uber or Lyft to Dyker Heights simply because of the cost.
Getting to Dyker Heights by Driving
Lastly, if you have a car, you may be tempted to drive to Dyker Heights. Some people may say this is a bad idea but I say IT DEPENDS!
Some people really do not recommend driving to Dyker Heights because traffic is terrible unless you are planning to go around 8pm. But keep in mind the lights turn off between 9pm – 10pm at night so you don’t want to go too late.
In addition, during the weekend and even on the weekday between mid December and Christmas, parking may be hard to find. It’s pretty much impossible to park right next to the super festive houses. You may need to park 15-25 minutes away.
However, based on my personal experience, if you visit early December on a weekday, parking is not too bad.
I found parking 10 minutes away, grabbed food (and used the bathroom) and saw all the Christmas decorations in Dyker Heights. I got there around 5:30 – 6pm because traffic was just so bad.
You can actually drive through the streets and see all the Christmas decorations from your car. There are a lot of people doing that when it’s really cold so you should expect bumper to bumper traffic on those streets.
Best Areas of Dyker Heights for Christmas Lights
Now that you know how to get to Dyker Heights by yourself, your next question is probably where exactly are the Christmas lights in Dyker Heights?
In general the best decorated houses in Dyker Heights are located between 83rd to 86th street between 11th and 13th avenue.
There are a number of REALLY lavishly decorated homes in Dyker Heights but other houses in these few blocks are also decorated.
To help you find the best Christmas decorations in Dyker Heights, here are a few houses I would recommend (with photos so you know what they look like).
The Spata House (1152 84th Street) is the most famous Dyker Heights house for Christmas. If you can only see one house in Dyker Heights then this is the house to be. This is also the house that started the Dyker Heights Christmas decoration tradition in the 1980s.
Click on the video below to see what it looks like!
Corner of 12th avenue and 84th street is another large beautiful home in Dyker Heights that you cannot miss. You can spot this house as you walk towards the intersection. One side of the house is decorated with a huge nutcracker whereas the other side is decorated with lights.
8514 Dyker Heights Blvd is characterized by 4 large columns which are wrapped in colorful lights. The yards and trees are also decorated with lights. Since this is on Dyker Heights Blvd, if you are taking the bus, this is probably one of the first houses you will see.
Click on the video below to see what it looks like!
84th Street and 10th Avenue corner is another large house decked out for the holiday. There are blowup snowman, inflatable toys and even a fake snow machine! Nothing screams festive than some snow in December.
10th Avenue between 84th and 85th Street is another super cute house with tons of cute winter characters like snowman and Santa. Click on the video below to see what it looks like!
1134 83rd Street, otherwise known as the Forest of Lights got its name because all the trees near the houses have green lights on them, making you feel like you are walking into a legit forest of lights as you walk towards the house.
1023 83rd Street just down the street is the BELIEVE House by Frank Mangano. They even have their own Instagram page which you can follow so you know when the decorations will be ready.
Besides the houses listed above, there are a ton of other really nicely decorated houses on 84th street and 85th street. As you walk around you will definitely see them!
Click on the video below to see what it looks like!
How long does it take to see Dyker Heights?
You need at least 1 hour to 1.5 hours if you plan to see most of the houses mentioned above and explore the area between 83rd to 86th street between 11th and 13th avenue.
If you want to take a lot of photos and videos then you might take longer. But you need at least one hour at a very minimum.
Tips to Visiting Dyker Heights in the Winter
If this is your first time to Dyker Heights, you might find some of these tips useful for your trip
- Go on an empty bladder: this is a residential neighborhood, there are no bathrooms for you to use. If you are the type to pee a lot, especially when it’s cold, then I suggest getting a slice of pizza or a drink at a nearby restaurant before exploring the neighborhood
- Bring a wide angle lens: if you are a photographer and iPhones are not enough for you, then I hear you! Since you are viewing most of these houses up close, you definitely need a wide angle lens in order to capture everything.
- Bring cash: you never know when you’ll need some cash
- Prepare for traffic if you want to drive through: during peak December weekends, the police direct traffic and may even shut down certain streets to traffic. If you are planning to visit on a Friday or Saturday night you might want to reconsider driving through the streets.
- Respect people’s houses: people live in these houses! If you want the tradition to continue, please be respectful of people’s homes. Do not cross any barriers or try to get into people’s decorations. If they want you to take photos there, they will let you.
Where to Eat in Dyker Heights
I always suggest going early (like around 5pm) and grab something to eat before exploring the neighborhood. Or I suppose you could eat after but some places mentioned below close early.
- Lioni Italian Heroes: If you come to Dyker Heights you really can’t miss the sandwiches from Lioni. The sandwiches are huge and they are not stingy on the ingredients. They close by 7pm so you may want to eat here first before checking out the holiday lights in Dyker Heights.
- Tasty Pastry Shoppe: Not hungry? Just grab some pastries before you explore. They close by 8pm
- BurgerFi: if you are coming on the bus, this would be the closest restaurant for you (they also have good burgers). They also open late, at 10pm.
- Tony’s Pizzeria: If you want some pizza (this is a predominantly Italian neighborhood after all), then stop by Tony’s. We parked around here last time and came in to get some pizza and it turned out really good!
If Dyker Heights Christmas lights worth it?
Dyker Heights Christmas lights and holiday decorations are absolutely worth the trip. It is so lavishly extravagant that you will not find that anywhere else.
It is perhaps the best Christmas attraction in New York City other than the Rockefeller Tree. Come see it, you won’t be disappointed.
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Planning a trip to New York City for Christmas? Check out my seasonal content as well as itineraries and local guides!
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