A lot of people leave the cold north weather and come to the Sunshine State to enjoy the warm weather and the beaches. However, that does not mean they want to forego the Christmas spirit and there are places here ready to provide it for tourists and Floridians alike.
One of the most famous displays is in St. Augustine. For better than a quarter-century, they have been hosting the “Nights of Lights” celebration in America’s Oldest City. In fact, the display has been billed as one of the best in the world.
St. Augustine Ablaze in Lights
From mid-November through the end of January, the buildings in St Augustine are bejeweled with millions of lights. The white lights are everywhere. The Plaza de la Constitucion and The Bridge of Lions in particular are cited as two of the must-see best decorated locations.
Fortunately, there are many ways to see the citywide display. Some people walk around, others drive, yet others take pre-arranged trolley tours that wind their way in and around the streets of the city so that you don’t miss a thing.
In addition to the trolley tours, there are tours on train and by several by boat. For a spectacular overview – you might want to climb to the top of the St Augustine lighthouse. Or to get higher yet, there’s an Old City Helicopters tour that will get you way above the madding crowds.
For a more cozy view, there’s a luxury golf cart tour and even a tour in a horse drawn carriage. In any event – it’s something to see and you’ll have a lot of company – no matter when you go.
Other Florida Can’t Miss Christmas Sights
A bit further down the Atlantic Coast is Melbourne, where each year Wickham Park has more than a mile of illuminated displays through which you can drive. Some of them are stationary, some of them move but all of them glow with Christmas cheer.
Of course, there’s a giant nativity scene, plus Santa, Frosty. Rudolph and others. We have a short film from a couple years ago on our website. It’s changed since then.
There are oodles of lighted elves and other seasonal displays. However, there are some things you don’t expect – like some illuminated rockets and satellites – a tribute the the Space Coast where Melbourne is located. There’s an illuminated RV as well – a salute to the many snowbirds who join us each year. But the star of the show is a huge lighted tunnel you drive through.
But even when you don’t seek out a lighted display, the spirit of the holiday is everywhere. We spent one Christmas in Fort Meyers Beach. There were hand-made “snowmen” (fashioned from sand) all along the shoreline as folks enjoyed the Gulf shore. There were holiday themed parties as we walked along – some had even brought their own trees decorated with shells, sandals and other such decor.
In Other Places Around the State…
The year we were in Tarpon Springs, a giant tree was set up along the sponge docks and some of the captains had decorated their boats as well. One of our favorite displays were the lights down the canal that we could see from our room at the Vista Inn Lake Tarpon in nearby Palm Harbor.
Our first Christmas in Florida was in Mount Dora. This year, their two million light display has been spread out over the city. It will include Simpson Cove as well as Gilbert Park. That one is slated to remain up until February’s planned art festival.
This year, we expect even more holiday celebration as many of the hotels, motels, restaurants and attractions work to recover economically from the ravages caused by shutdowns earlier this year from the coronavirus. Sadly, there have been some casualties. For instance, there’s no Christmas show at Weeki Wachee this year. The park has been shut until further notice.
That being said, many more restaurants have announced they will be open for Christmas eve and Christmas day this year. Plus, a lot of lodgings have announced special holiday rates for those who want to give the gift of time this year.
We always love Christmas, and this year, Florida may have more Christmas spirit than ever.
Photos from Florida Fun Travel