Most people assume that there’s no reason to hang around in Florida during the winter except for the warm weather, but that’s just not true. Floridians love to go all out for Christmas, whether it’s with huge light displays, parades, fake snow, or giant trees made of sand, Florida has plenty of amazing ways to celebrate the holidays. Try any of these for an awesome Florida Christmas:
1. Sandi, West Palm Beach
This 35-foot, 600-ton tree made of sand is quite the sight to behold. Nightly entertainment and thousands of lights dazzle in this month-long event. When: December 1st - January 1st. This incredible display definitely qualifies as "only in Florida," and we simply adore it.
2. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas, Walt Disney World, Orlando
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is a spectacular holiday celebration for children and adults who are children at heart. It's running through December 22nd at the Magic Kingdom. Get ready for parades, fireworks, and plenty of Disney magic.
3. Winterfest in Pensacola
Pensacola Winterfest: Falling snow, hot chocolate, holiday performances and magical train rides. November 25, 26, December 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 - 24 (with different events on different nights). Elf parade: November 25th. Santa's Express Tours: December 19th through 24th.
4. Stetson Mansion, DeLand
Florida's first luxury home, built by the famous hatmaker 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 5:00 p.m., every day except on Sunday mornings. Reservations required. 1031 Camphor Ln, DeLand, FL 32720.
5. ICE at Gaylord Palms, Kissimmee
Every year, this magical show of interactive displays and hand-carved ice sculptures brings stories to life. This year's theme is A Charlie Brown Christmas. When: November 18th - January 1st. At this frosty event in Central Florida, you can pretend you live somewhere with an actual winter. 6000 W Osceola Pkwy, Kissimmee, FL 34746.
5. Epcot Christmas, Walt Disney World, Orlando
Epcot is a fascinating place this time of year, because you can experience holiday rituals from all over the world (with plenty of delicious food and beverages).
6. St. Augustine Nights of Lights
From November 19th 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.
7. Decking the palm trees
This has long been a Florida tradition. We basically have two kinds of Christmas trees. If you have palm trees in your yard, you should really consider decorating them. Don't they look great all lit up?
8. Send a letter from Christmas, Florida
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.
9. Santa's Enchanted Forest, Miami
Santa's Enchanted Forest: The World's Largest Holiday Theme Park, featuring over 100 rides, shows, games and attractions. November 3rd through January 8th, 5:00 p.m. to midnight. Located in Tropical Park, 7900 SW 40th St, Miami, FL 33155.
10. Christmas Festival of Lights, Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center, Fort White
This park has so much holiday spirit, with marshmallow roasting, carol singing, millions of lights twinkling in the majestic oaks. The Festival of Lights will run through December 2nd through 24th this year, with some nights open for drive-through viewing only. 11016 Lillian Sanders Dr, White Springs, FL 32096
11. Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers
At the vacation homes for Thomas Edison and Henry Ford you can tour the homes and the 21-acre botanical garden. During December, the houses are lit up and hours are extended for Edison Ford Holiday Nights. This event begins November 25th, with the annual tree lighting ceremony. Nightly tours, river cruises, food service and entertainment (and on certain dates, visits from Santa), will run from November 25th through January 1st, 5:30 p.m - 9:00 p.m. Admission for adults (with tour) is $30. 2350 McGregor Blvd, Fort Myers, FL 3390.
12. Santa arriving by shrimpboat in Apalachicola
This Northwest Florida town is so charming, and it's worth a visit any time of year.
13. The Oakdale Dispaly In St. Petersburg
This huge light display, with half a million lights, is famous for its quirky charm. It's sure to put a smile on the face of even the grumpiest Scrooge out there. 2719 Oakdale St S St. Petersburg, FL 33705
Have you experienced any of these Florida Christmas pastimes? Do you have any favorites we might have missed?