This year we’ve missed out on big Thanksgiving dinners, weddings, graduation, hugs and handshakes, but we don’t have to miss out on the holidays too. There are many safe, socially-distant ways to celebrate the winter holidays.

Longwood Gardens

The spectacular holiday show at Longwood Gardens features 500,000 lights and was named "the best botanical garden holiday lights" by USA Today. The Garden Railway is a multi-level display on 500 feet of tracks with 31 locomotives including steam engines, diesel engines, specialty engines plus Thomas the Tank Engine and friends, all surrounded by plants. Other highlights include the Tunnel of Light and cozy fire pits. Timed tickets are needed. Through January 10, 2021.

South Jersey Holiday Show

A new outdoor holiday activity is the South Jersey Holiday Show at the Bridgeport Speedway in Logan Township. As you drive the mile long route, you’ll see displays that are up to three stories high and 50-feet long. You can tune your car radio into synchronized holiday music. This experience is safely done from your own car and the photo opportunities are designed to be car-friendly. The experience takes about 20-25 minutes. On Thursday through Sunday evenings through December 30.

Wild Lights at Elmwood Park Zoo

This charming zoo in Norristown will once again host its Wild Lights holiday event and this year it will be bigger than ever, with new lights, decorations, characters and music. Watch for unique animal encounters, a Christmas tree and glistening forest and appearances by Santa (who will pose for pictures). Plus carousel rides. This is an open air event that takes place rain or shine. Timed tickets are needed. Runs through December 30.

Chestnut Hill

Germantown Avenue, Chestnut Hill’s main street, looks like the set of a holiday movie this time of year with greenery and big red bows. You can stroll past 200 shops, including many that are family-owned, and more than two dozen restaurants. On Wednesdays there is staggered entertainment, plus holiday specials, horse-drawn carriage rides, music and visits from Santa. Be sure to stop at Bredenbeck’s Bakery, to see the gingerbread house display. And, if it inspires you, pick up one of the bakery's gingerbread house kits.

While you’re in the area, stop at Morris Arboretum to see the holiday garden railroad with one quarter mile of track running through towns, cars and figurines.

Holiday Light Show at Shady Brook Farm

The holiday light show at Shady Brook Farm in Yardley is in its 26th year and it is bigger and brighter than ever. The Bucks County farm has set up a tour with 3 million lights including an illuminated tunnel, icons from the 12 Days of Christmas and lots of holiday scenes, plus underwater and farm scenes, the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, and nods to fairy tales and nursery rhymes.

Stay inside your own car for the drive, which takes about 20 minutes (without traffic) or ride an open air wagon, with limited capacity. Timed tickets are needed and are available on the website.

To make an evening of it, reserve one of the individual camp fires then enjoy sipping hot chocolate, making s’mores, or diving into an Eggnog ice cream cone. And you can even take home a Christmas tree, wreath or other goodies as a souvenir from your safe holiday adventure.

On Monday, December 14, Shady Brook Farm is hosting a giant menorah lighting to commemorate Chanukah. There is also a giant menorah on the drive.

While we’ve missed a lot this year, we don’t have to miss the holidays. There are lots of safe ways to have create happy holiday memories this season.

Irene Levy Baker is author of the newly-published second edition of 100 Things To Do In Philadelphia and Unique Eats & Eateries of Philadelphia. For more information about the books visit Planning a staycation? Need gifts? Get signed copies of books on the website. Readers of this newspaper can use promo code NEWSPAPER for a discount.

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