Photo by David Minton

By Alex Gallagher | December 16, 2021

For the second year, Scottsdale Moms and North Phoenix Moms has developed a guided tour of the most decorated homes and neighborhoods around Scottsdale that can be viewed via the Built Story app. 

The self-guided “Holiday Lights Tour” begins on 19th Avenue and Thunderbird Road and goes as far north as Scottsdale Road and Grayhawk Drive before ending near 4th Street and Camelback Road. 

“This is something people can do from their car if they would prefer or there are a couple of neighborhoods people can get out and roam around in,” says Kate Eschbach, the co-owner of Scottsdale Moms and North Phoenix Moms.

Getting people out of their homes to discover the beauty of Scottsdale and North Phoenix is her sole goal. 

“I’ve been running this website for over a decade and our whole purpose is to share local things with moms,” she says. “When we first started the website, we realized that Scottsdale is such a transient place and a lot of people don’t have family here or a network of things to do.” 

During he pandemic last year, Eschbach noticed that members of her Facebook group were eager to find a way to spread holiday cheer while staying socially distant. 

It was when one mom mentioned that she was interested in taking her kids on a light tour that the ball got rolling on devising a route featuring the brightest neighborhoods around Scottsdale.

Eschbach received recommendations for houses and neighborhoods from contributors to her website, which she took her family out to see. 

From there, she began devising the ideal tour. 

“When we drove through the route, we tried to find the route that made the most sense and made getting on and off the freeway easier,” Eschbach says. 

Eschbach also found that the Built Story app could help patrons to find their way around and keep track of where they may have stopped touring for the night if they wanted to continue the tour another time.

There are 10 stops on the tour and “each stop on the map represents either a neighborhood or a house that you’re going to be blown away by,” according to Eschbach. 

While each house on the tour has immaculate decorations and vibrant lights, some homeowners do their best to set themselves apart from the rest. 

There are homes that feature an interactive display and have a radio station that guests can tune into for holiday music that synchronizes with the displays. Others serve hot chocolate or have Santa giving out candy canes. 

However, there is one house that goes the extra mile. 

Spot No. 9 on the tour is a home named “Winter Wonderland.” Located off McDonald Drive and Granite Reef Road, its backyard is open for guests to view even more whimsical decorations and buy hot chocolate and s’mores they can roast over a fire at the scene. 

Eschbach also encourages guests to visit the neighborhood on Scottsdale Road and Grayhawk Drive, as it typically goes all out with its festivities.

“Last year people dressed as Santa and handed out candy canes,” she says. “There were tons of moms and dads with strollers walking around greeting friendly neighbors on their lawns. After a year of not seeing people, it was fantastic.” 

For one home on the tour, it is more so about getting guests into the spirit while entertaining them with stunning decorations. 

At stop No. 8 on the tour, located off Indian Bend Road and Pima Road, guests are encouraged to bring canned and other nonperishable items for food pantries. 

“There’s all these hidden gems all over,” Eschbach says. 

While the beauty of these homes brings a smile to Eschbach’s face, she is most delighted by the friendliness of the homeowners on the tour. 

“There’s a lot of people smiling and waving at each other providing a sweet time during a sweet season,” she says. 

For Eschbach, this tour has expanded on a tradition she has had with her family for years. 

“I have two kids in college who will come home for the holidays and ask when we’re going to look at Christmas lights,” she says. “Getting hot chocolate and looking at Christmas lights is still family time to them and that’s really special and has become a tradition.”

She also loves how this provides families with the opportunity to experience the beauty of Scottsdale that they would not see otherwise. 

“It’s incredible to see what Scottsdale offers the community,” Eschbach says. “I think some of us get so used to our bubbles that we stop exploring after a while.”

Overall, Eschbach hopes that this is an experience that families will remember for a lifetime. 

“We want people to spend time with family and give them something fun to do together,” she says. “Making those memories for your kids makes it special.”  

Tour Guide

COST: $10

INFO: Download the Built Story app at Builtstory.com, phoenix.momcollective.com or scottsdale.momcollective.com