We may not have a lot of snow in Florida, but we have plenty of holiday cheer. We make our own winter wonderlands, with lots of lights, and maybe even a snowman made of sand. Floridians know the scene outside your window isn’t what matters, it’s the joy you share with family and friends. If you know anyone who still needs some convincing, these gorgeous parks and displays will get them in the holiday spirit right away.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. St. Augustine
From November 18th through the end of January, our nation's oldest city is covered in millions of lights to celebrate the season. Stroll through the historic streets or catch a trolley ride with cookies, cider, and "magic" glasses that make the lights even more spectacular.
2. Mount Dora
Many of you already know and love the town of Mount Dora, so you should definitely schedule your next visit soon. The town is covered in more than two million twinkling lights to celebrate the holiday season. The lights stay on from November 25th through the month of December. There will be various events throughout the month, including bus tours, a boat parade, and a magical train ride.
3. Edison & Ford Winter Estates Holiday Nights, Fort Myers
These stunning homes were once the vacation homes for Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Visitors can tour both the homes and the 21-acre botanical garden. During December, the houses are lit up and hours are extended for Edison Ford Holiday Nights. Nightly tours, river cruises, food service, and entertainment (and on certain dates, visits from Santa), will run from November 24th through December 23rd and December 26th through the 31st from, 5:30 p.m - 9 p.m.
4. Pensacola Winterfest
Pensacola Winterfest is a magical event that features falling snow, hot chocolate, holiday performances, and magical train rides. Different events take place throughout the month of December.
5. Stetson Mansion, DeLand
Florida's first luxury home, built by the famous hat maker blends different architectural styles and Gilded Age decorations. The house is especially charming dressed up for the holidays. Christmas tours are given November 15th through January 15th. Tours run 75 to 90 minutes long, at 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 5 p.m., every day except on Sunday mornings. Reservations required.
6. Florida State Parks
Folks rave about the dazzling Christmas displays that stand out against the beauty of Florida's natural environment. You might not think about going to a state park in the winter, but many of them actually transform into winter wonderlands the whole family will enjoy. State parks that celebrate the holidays include Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon, Homosassa Springs State Park in Homosassa, and Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park in White Springs.
7. Rogers' Christmas House Village at Saxon Manor, Brooksville
This longstanding Brooksville landmark closed in 2010 and reopened a couple of years ago to the delight of many. It will take time to return to its former glory, but even today Rogers' Christmas House Village carries a mind-boggling array of Christmas decor, ornaments, and collectibles, plus antiques, teacups, jewelry, dolls, teddy bears, and special items for other seasons as well.
8. Florida Botanical Gardens, Largo
These gardens are always full of color and beauty, but decked out in holiday lights they become truly magical. During the Holiday Lights in the Garden celebration, which runs from December 24th through the 31st, bright lights cover this tropical paradise, making a stunning combination.
9. Santa's Enchanted Forest, Miami
Santa's Enchanted Forest: The World's Largest Holiday Theme Park features more than 100 rides, shows, games, and attractions. The enchanted forest is open from November 2nd through January 7th, 5 p.m. to midnight.
10. The Town of Christmas
Wouldn't it be magical to send a letter from Christmas? It's totally possible, if you take a trip to this tiny town, and bring all of your Christmas cards with you.
How many of these Florida Christmas pastimes have you experienced? Do you have any favorites we might have missed?