December is here and with it comes the holiday season. In between shopping, decorating, cooking, and spending time with family there are opportunities to experience some of the unique attractions in the Tampa Bay area. Not only are all of these options family friendly, they are also distinctive to the Tampa area. Tampa has a unique flavor, a fondness for boat parades, and is the only place in Florida with real snow.
Here are three perfect holiday activities to check out this month.
The Northpole Express Christmas Train
The Florida Railroad Museum is located in nearby Parrish, Florida, and is offering a once in a lifetime opportunity: a ride to the North Pole. If you like the Polar Express this is the perfect attraction for you as this is a real life train that will take you and your family from sunny Parrish to the North Pole.
Tickets start at $26 and the train runs on select days in December. Each day that the train is in operation has two departure times, 5:30 PM and 7:00 PM. The total trip takes three hours and features holiday vendors, food, drinks, and festive lights. Each ticket includes an unlimited amount of hot chocolate and holiday cookies.
More information, including how to book, can be found on the Florida Railroad Museum website.
Holiday Lighted Boat Parade
Tampa Bay has a growing tradition of throwing the best boat parades in the country. Each new championship has brought new vigor to the boat parade scene and now the city is hoping to carry that Champa Bay energy into their annual holiday parade. The boats are going to be decked out in their best lights and parade along Tampa's Riverwalk on December 18th.
There will be prizes awarded to the best sailboat and motorboat that participates. This activity is free and only requires you to find a spot along the Riverwalk to enjoy it. There is something magical about watching lighted boats drift slowly over the dark reflective waters of the Hillsborough River. Spectators are urged to arrive early to find parking and open spots along the Riverwalk.
This is a great activity because it does not cost anything to enjoy so bring as many people as you can.
Keep the Tampa Bay tradition of boat parades alive and stop by to see some of the most beautiful light displays of the season on Saturday, December 18th at 6:00 PM.
Lastly, we have Snowcat Ridge. This is one of the most unique attractions in all of the southeast. It boasts real snow, ice skating, sledding, snowperson building, and more. Located outside of Dade City in Pasco County Snowcat Ridge offers Floridians a taste of real winter, and real holiday magic.
In its second year, Snowcat Ridge has worked out the kinks and expanded its operation to offer even more activities than last year. In addition to the sledding hill and igloo, there is also an ice skating track and an expanded Christmas village offering goodies and trinkets to those interested. Snow rarely falls in Florida and this is the perfect way to show the kids how it feels to play, lay and sleigh in the white powder.
Tickets vary in price depending on the day and some dates have already sold out. The cheapest tickets start around $25 per person but can go up to $40 per person as Christmas approaches. You can check prices and available dates on their website.
If none of these activities tickle your fancy there are a couple more unique holiday activities to enjoy in Tampa this season. Zoo Tampa is hosting Christmas In The Wild, a light spectacle that allows you to stroll through the zoo after dark. Enjoy thousands of lights, sleepy animals and holiday treats on select nights. More information is available from Zoo Tampa on their website.
In St. Petersburg, Tropicana Field has been transformed into a winter wonderland. Enchant Christmas is a light maze and complete transformation of the Rays' stadium into a magical holiday experience. There are play areas for children of all ages, the maze, a Santa experience, and a Christmas village. Tickets start at $25.
There is truly something for everyone in Tampa this December.