Want to visit Florida at Christmas but not sure where to? This post will show you the most beautiful Christmas towns in Florida to consider!
Florida may be famed for its sunny skies and pristine beaches, but come Christmas, it transforms into a holiday wonderland.
From the historic perfectly-lit streets of St. Augustine to the tropical Christmas cheer of Key West, the Sunshine State surprisingly (at least to non-locals) decks up to bring the holiday spirit.
Several towns of Florida light up be it through a million light displays, Christmas parades, or festive markets.
To help you decide on where to go, we’re putting together this list of the most beautiful Christmas towns in Florida!
Best Christmas Towns in Florida
We’ve taken a number of Christmas vacations in Florida so you can trust that you’ll have an amazing time at any of these places.
1. St. Augustine
When we think of Christmas in Florida, the first place that comes to mind is St. Augustine!
As the nation’s oldest city, it takes on an extra layer of charm during the holiday season with its famed Nights of Lights.
From mid-November to the end of January, this historic city is illuminated with over 3 million lights on its colonial buildings, streets, and trees but our favorite spots to take in all this beauty are Plaza de la Constitución and the Bridge of Lions. You can even join one of the Trolley tours to see the decorations if you don’t feel like walking.
While the Nights of Lights festival is the biggest, St. Augustine holds other festive parades and activities that make it one of the best Christmas cities in Florida!
From the Luminary Night at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum to see the lighthouse beautifully lit up, The Holiday Regatta of Lights on the Matanzas Bay showcasing a parade of perfectly decorated boats, and the Colonial Night Watch & Torchlight Festival that depicts a bit of the city’s history with Spanish and British colonial military arts.
If you’re a fan of theme parks and Christmas, then Orlando is the perfect place for you! This proclaimed “theme park capital of the world” brings out its A-game with theme parks going all out with their Christmas celebrations.
At Walt Disney World, the magic of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party lights up the night with Christmas parades and fireworks in Magic Kingdom but you’ll find stunning decorations in all of Disney’s 4 parks.
On the other hand, Universal Orlando has a special Harry Potter Christmas celebration, where you’ll no doubt feel like you’re a character in a Christmas movie.
SeaWorld gets into the spirit too with amazing ice-skating shows, lots of holiday lights and shows, and a fireworks display known as Reflections: Fireworks Finale.
However, it’s not just the theme parks that go all out. Downtown Orlando also shines with its own Christmas tree, markets, and events around Lake Eola Park, particularly the Eola Wonderland Christmas Tree Show andSnowfall show. The Luminary Green Park also does an amazing job of filling the air with Christmas cheer!
Don’t rule out Orlando if you’re not into theme parks because this city still offers a lot that will keep you occupied if you’re looking for fun things to do in Florida at Christmas.
3. Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale is best known for its Winterfest Boat Parade, an annual event where boats of all sizes decked out in bright lights and festive decorations sail through the city’s waterways.
This parade draws crowds from all over Florida creating a festive atmosphere along the New River and Intracoastal Waterway! However, our favorite place to enjoy this parade is at Las Olas Intracoastal Promenade Park since it also hosts live performances before and after the parade.
Another event that makes Fort Lauderdale one of the best Florida Christmas vacations is the Christmas on Las Olas Boulevard. This free event is probably the biggest in the city, thanks to its live performances on different stages, a skating rink, Christmas stalls, and many more.
But there’s more to Fort Lauderdale’s Christmas than just these 2 events. The city’s beaches and streets get a holiday makeover with lights and decorations, adding a tropical twist to traditional festivities.
Local parks and community centers host various holiday events, including tree lightings, concerts, and craft fairs, perfect for family outings.
For those who love shopping, the city’s malls and boutiques offer a festive shopping experience with holiday deals and seasonal displays.
And, as the sun sets, the city’s bars and restaurants come alive with holiday-themed parties making Fort Lauderdale the perfect place to enjoy a tropical Christmas getaway without leaving the state.
The city lights up with various events with highlights including the annual Zoo Lights which transforms Miami Zoo into a sparkling wonderland every evening with bright light displays, a 26-foot-tall LED Christmas tree, holiday-themed entertainment, and treats.
However, you can’t visit Miami and not see Santa’s Enchanted Forest! Dubbed the world’s largest holiday theme park, this park is covered in Christmas lights, has over 100 rides, roller coasters, live shows, acrobats & magic shows, and so much more! This event alone makes Miami one of the best Christmas cities in Florida.
Other fun things to do in Miami at Christmas include; seeing Bayfront Park’s Christmas Tree in downtown Miami, experiencing the Christmas wonderland in Tropical Park, admiring NightGarden in Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables with its dazzling light effects, attending the Winter Festival at The Berry Farm (this is one of the popular sunflower fields in Miami if you’re not familiar with it), and being part of the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony and Holiday parade on Lincoln Road.
For those who enjoy the arts, Miami offers Christmas concerts and ballet performances, including the classic Nutcracker.
Originally developed by Disney, Celebration is a picture-perfect setting for Christmas festivities, especially during its signature event, Now Snowing.
Running from the end of November to the end of December, this celebration (pun not intended) has become a hit among locals and tourists ever since its inception over 2o years ago.
As you might have guessed, Now Snowing transforms Market Street into a winter wonderland with snowfalls every night to give a glimpse of a white Christmas in Florida.
Although Snowfall is the main event, there are a number of other activities including ice skating at the Endless Ice Skating Rink, horse-drawn carriage rides, and the Celebration Express Train that offers tours around the town.
If you can, we recommend attending the Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony which is the official start of the entire “Now Snowing,” event with the first snow flurries of the season, live music, and carolers inaugurated by Santa Claus himself.
However, if you can’t make it on day one, you’ll still be able to see the beautifully lit tree on other nights throughout the event.
The best part is that this event is completely free!
6. West Palm Beach
Have you ever seen a Christmas tree made entirely of sand? If you answered no, then you need to make your way to West Palm Beach to see this unique tree named Sandi.
Towering at 35 feet and weighing 700 tons, Sandi is the world’s largest and heaviest sand Christmas tree!
Throughout the entire month of December, West Palm Beach’s Great Lawn (or Sandi Land as commonly known) comes alive with Sandi’s Music & Light Shows where you’ll listen to Christmas songs while watching a dazzling display of lights that beautifully complement Sandi’s own illumination.
There is also a Ferris wheel which offers a fantastic view of Sandi and the surrounding festive decorations.
While still in West Palm Beach, be sure to check out Mounts Botanical Garden for its tropical trees exhibition, see the beautifully decorated houses in the city on a Winter Wonderland Holiday Lights Tour by Manatee Queen, and the Palm Beach Holiday Boat Parade which sees decorated boats float on the Intracoastal Waterway from North Palm Beach to the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse.
With all this, it’s not hard to see why West Palm Beach makes it to our list of Christmas getaways in Florida.
There seems to be something festive happening in Pensacola every day right from mid-November to the end of December!
From the First City Lights Festival which sees the city get a Christmas glow to the Pensacola Winterfest which is the biggest event of the season.
During the Pensacola Winterfest, the city is bathed in half a million lights, and a number of parades are conducted including the Winterfest Elf Parade, live performances, holiday trolley tours to travel around with The Grinch, and even a chance to take photos with Santa. But probably the most exciting part is taking a ride on the Polar Express.
Want to fit in a few holiday shopping sprees? Be sure to check out the holiday market at Community Maritime Park.
8. Key West
One of the best places to visit in Florida in December for Christmas is Key West!
Like most coastal towns in Florida, Key West has its own annual Lighted Boat Parade where boat owners, regardless of size decorate their boats with festive lights and decorations to create a beautiful parade for revealers.
But that’s not the only reason this Southernmost city in the US is worth visiting at Christmas!
You can join the Old Town Trolley’s Holiday Lights Tour to see how locals decorated their houses, attend the Annual “Bight” Before Christmas Celebration at the Key West Bight Marina and the Harbor Walk of Lights, a nautical-themed event which lights up every evening through New Year’s Eve.
And if you’re traveling with kids, take them to meet Santa at the shops at Mallory Square.
9. St. Petersburg
It might still be sunny in St. Petersburg since it has the record for the most consecutive sunny days in the world but the Sunshine City also knows how to bring Christmas cheer to its streets.
The city’s holiday kicks off with the Santa Parade and Tree Lighting event which turns downtown into a little Christmas village with lights and decorations.
For a touch of winter fun, Snowfest at North Straub Park is the place to be! It has toboggan slides, Santa greet and meets, gingerbread decorations, and a variety of activities for both children and adults.
If you want to enjoy a cozy evening, we recommend heading to Crescent Lake Park to watch a Christmas movie.
However, the biggest event of the season has got to be Enchant at Tropicana Field. The event hosts a Light Maze where you can look for magic bells under a beautiful light display, do some holiday shopping from artisanal vendors and crafters, or go ice skating at Ice Skating Trail.
Next on our list of the best Christmas towns in Florida may be a big city but it definitely has some kind of small-town charm, especially during the Holidays.
With events like the Naples Players Trees & Teas Festival which celebrates local artists’ creativity and good tea, Snowfest which brings a winter wonderland to sunny Florida with snow-themed activities for kids, and the Christmas Boat Parade which showcases boats all decked up for Christmas on Naples Bay, it will be impossible to run out of things to do in this city.
Then there’s Christmas on Third, where the street sparkles even brighter than usual with lights, music, and a bit of snow magic. The highlight? Santa and Mrs. Claus arriving in style for the tree lighting.
But if there is one event you can’t miss in Naples is the Christmas Walk & Tree Lighting Event on Fifth Avenue South. It combines al fresco dining with Christmas activities like skating, live Christmas music, and a Christmas market to pick up some holiday goodies.
Other places that make Naples worth visiting at Christmas include Cambier Park to watch their Candlelight Christmas Carols and Victoria Park neighborhood with its dazzling lights!
Final Thoughts on The Best Christmas Towns in Florida
And that wraps up our list of the best places to visit in Florida at Christmas!
While Florida is usually not the first place that pops to mind when it comes to a Christmas getaway, we hope that this post has convinced you to visit our beautiful state!
Although some cities and towns just do the bare minimum, these ones go all out to make sure that the holiday spirit is alive even among the swaying palm trees and sunny skies.
Whether you’re looking for beach towns with laid-back holiday vibes or big cities with grand parades and festivals, you’ll be spoilt for choices!
So where will you be going for your next Florida Christmas vacation?
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But before you go, consider sharing this list of Christmas vacations in Florida if you found the article helpful!