Christmas decorations are one of the first signs that the holidays are around the corner. After all, at what other time of the year do strings of light adorn every tree, house and storefront in town? Everyone has a favorite neighborhood or street where the Christmas decor gets better and better each year. For example, my personal favorite Christmas light display is in Spokane, Washington, in a fancy neighborhood full of old houses and massive trees. It’s gorgeous, and it’s become a holiday tradition to walk past the extravagant light displays with a cup of hot cocoa in hand, the lights twinkling in the glistening snow.
Southeastern Florida may not be chilly enough for snow and hot cocoa, but don’t think cold weather and a festive spirit are mutually exclusive. They aren’t: take it from someone who grew up in the Southern hemisphere where Christmas is in the dead of summer. Christmas lights and decorations are always festive and can be a part of anyone’s holiday traditions, no matter the climate. The trick is finding the best place to look for them.
Luckily, AMLI has found the best Christmas towns in Florida where you can experience all the lights and festivities needed to get you into the holiday spirit. Some are nearby, some are further away, but all are worth a trip. Besides, there’s no better time to visit new towns than when they are decorated top to bottom with holiday cheer.
So, take a look at these festive towns below and plan your next holiday vacation. It’s a great way to entertain family, explore a new area, boost your holiday spirit and support local tourism.
If you’ve been to St. Petersburg before, you already know it’s a gorgeous town. If you haven’t been there before, then take our word for it. White, sandy beaches, blue waters, swaying palm trees, you name it: it’s all there. Taking an already-perfect vacation destination and adding some great holiday festivities is a recipe for the perfect Christmas getaway.
Visit this oceanside city in time for the annual St. Pete Boat Parade & Winter Festival in the Park to enjoy a one-of-a-kind holiday experience. Beautifully-decorated boats bob gently down quiet waters, adorned with lights and festive cheer. Plus, there’s a lively holiday market and free music to accompany the twinkling scene.
It really does bring a whole new meaning to parade floats, doesn’t it?
If you want a family-friendly Christmas experience, what better place in the world to go than the happiest places on earth? Giant castles, magnificent decorations and all the happiness a few tickets can buy: these are what both Walt Disney World and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter have to offer.
Disney World cuts no corners when it comes to the holidays. Trees adorn every courtyard, lights cover every surface imaginable, costumed characters never fail to spread cheer and the schedule is booked solid with festivals of all kinds.
Disney’s Epcot hosts a great variety of international festivals and events. Visit the park for an extravaganza of holiday festivals from countries all over the world, as well as holiday foods, cultural entertainment and, of course, some unique Christmas shopping opportunities. At the very least, visit Epcot for one of the best firework presentations of the year that will be sure to end your year with a bang.
As for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, wizards can now unite under holiday wreaths, cozy cups of butterbeer and some floating candles à la Hogwarts style. Well, maybe not the floating candles, but the rest will be there. The magical park has only been open for Christmas since 2017, so each year is guaranteed to get better and better!
West Palm Beach
Bet you didn’t know that the largest sand-tree in the world adorns the beach at West Palm Beach. The 700-ton tree, affectionately named “Sandi” by its loving fans, lights up the oceanside in a gorgeous display of light and festivity all December long — a sight worth seeing, for sure. Sandi’s holiday display is made complete with nightly Christmas songs and light shows to entertain visitors arriving from far and wide.
Join us from 6-10 p.m. on the Great Lawn for the Clematis by Night Holiday Tree Lighting to see Sandi, the world-famous sand tree, burst into color as she lights up for the first time this year! The Bay Kings will be there to perform holiday and Top 40 hits! #iLoveWPB pic.twitter.com/luHrGlBYEa— West Palm Beach (@westpalmbch) December 3, 2019
While you’re visiting Sandi, don’t miss out on the opportunity to create a snowman as part of the SnowieVille festival. Also mark down the Clematis by Night festival, a weekly event overflowing with live music, surfboard displays and shopping opportunities.
This Christmas-y town may be a few extra hours away, but the holiday events are worth the trip out. Jacksonville’s WinterFEST brings the Hallmark-movie-holiday spirit right to you with a fun alpine experience. Bonfires, ice skating, hot cocoa, a 130-foot long ice slide and, of course, Santa, are all part of the holiday experience at this annual holiday event.
Finish up the night with a mile-long drive-thru light show featuring tunnels, holiday scenes, massive trees and millions of twinkling lights. This Jacksonville holiday tradition runs until Saturday, Jan. 4, so don’t worry if you can’t make it before Christmas.
How could we leave out good old Miami? It’s home to many of you, AMLI readers, as well as the largest Holiday amusement park in the world! Santa’s Enchanted Forest is a dream come true for those of you who live for the holiday season, as it’s 100% full of Christmas lights, holiday decor, Santa-themed everything and all the best parts about an amusement park. Munch on deep-fried Oreos or a turkey leg after visiting any of the 100 shows, rides and attractions the park has to offer.
This amusement park is only open for a few months each year, so make sure you take advantage of this small window of opportunity. You won’t regret it!
Well, there you go! These cities in Florida make for a perfect Christmastime vacation, and you’ll know you’ll not miss out on any festive activities while away from home. There’s no one way to bring on the holiday spirit, but these fun events, festivals and activities are sure to help the season become just a little merrier and brighter. So get out there, AMLI family, and have fun exploring these Christmas towns in Florida!
Featured photo courtesy Pixabay/Mariamichelle