The grandkids are out of school for winter break, the leaves are beginning to change colors and there’s a cool breeze blowing across much of the Sunshine State.
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One of the best times to plan a Florida trip is during the winter months, when temperatures down south take a slight dip.
Florida offers a variety of activities and attractions throughout the holiday season, which makes planning a local winter vacation simple.
During the winter, millions of white lights create an enchanted holiday atmosphere in St. Augustine, the nation’s oldest city. The Annual Nights of Lights Celebration, now its 18th year, offers a spectacular array of special events and activities. Visitors can take an evening tour of the city accompanied by costumed storytellers in period clothing. Guests can also enjoy free holiday refreshments and ice skating. The Nights of Lights Celebration also features a live holiday concert and a Christmas parade.
The Orlando area is known for its larger than life attractions and sprawling theme parks, but the winter months bring a different kind of exhibit to Central Florida.
The Annual Poinsettia Festival and Garden of Lights in Winter Haven features over 400,000 dazzling lights that illuminate a maze of blooming gardens, stunning topiaries and a variety of artfully crafted animated holiday scenes. To complete the holiday experience, the event also features strolling carolers, live music performances and an amazing poinsettia display of more than 40,000 fragrant blooms.
If you are looking for other holiday attractions in Central Florida, be sure to head out with the grandkids and check out Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. In celebration of the winter season, the park transforms into a Wild Wonderland “where holiday magic runs wild.”
At night the zoo is illuminated by more than a million twinkling lights. Guests can visit with Santa and his reindeer and enjoy free rides and fantastic holiday displays. There are also several live shows and a variety of holiday refreshments available around the park.
Christmas in South Florida is quite different from any other winter holiday celebration in the country. Since it hardly ever snows and temperatures rarely drop below 50 degrees, South Floridians prefer to celebrate the holidays with a tropical theme.
Holiday boat parades have become one of the most popular events in South Florida and across the state. Boats of all shapes and sizes decorated from bow to stern with Christmas lights, Santa and his elves, palm trees, pink flamingos and flying reindeer, travel through the Florida waterways rocking out to classic holiday tunes.
The parades are a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get the whole family into the holiday spirit. Some of the largest boat parades or regattas take place in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and the Florida Keys.
Most of the parades are part of larger holiday celebrations featuring live shows, music and plenty of festive food. A good example is Ft. Lauderdale’s Winterfest Boat Parade, scheduled for Dec. 10 this year. The parade bills itself as the largest boat parade in the world, and an estimated 850,000 people turn out to see the gaily decorated watercraft.
No matter where you plan your winter vacation in Florida, there are plenty of wonderful winter holiday activities for you and your family to enjoy.