Since gifts have become so expensive and temporary, some families and friends opt to give one another experiences instead of material gifts. A trip or visit to a town decked out for the Christmas holiday is a great example of a gift that is also a memory-making experience. Not only do you get to see something lovely, but you'll get to spend quality time with the other person.
There are plenty of places in Florida that are nice to visit during the Christmas season because they go all out to embrace what makes Christmas festive and unique in the sunshine state. The travel website Trips to Discover has identified many towns as a holiday "must visit" as follows.
St. Petersburg: This vibrant city on the water has many opportunities for families to enjoy Christmas. The Tampa Bay Rays' home, Tropicana Field, comes alight during the season with Enchant Christmas, with its mazes, ice skating trails, and Christmas villages. If you'd like to embrace nature, try Florida Botanical Gardens' Holiday Lights in the Gardens.
Ft. Lauderdale: Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that the city known as the “Venice of America” would have Christmas celebrations centered on the water. And one of the best-known is Ft. Lauderdale Winterfest Boat Parade (this year on December 10th.) It's a display of all types of boats and yachts all decked out in lights and music, and you might see celebrities on a few.
Pensacola: This city in the panhandle is best known for its Winterfest celebration during the holidays. You'll enjoy the city's version of "snow," trolley rides, and Christmas performances.
Orlando: It would be nearly impossible to mention Orlando without also acknowledging that the theme parks have famous Christmas events. Disney World has Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. And Universal Studios, Legoland, and Seaworld all have their own versions of holiday celebrations. If you're not into theme parks, ICE! at Gaylord Palms has gorgeous ice sculpture displays and fun slides.
St. Augustine: This city is charming any time during the year, but it really shines at Christmas. Its Night of Lights means the city is alight with millions of lights and decorations. The trolleys offer special tours, and there is a festive boat parade to enjoy.
Celebration: Those who are looking for an old-fashioned Christmas experience may want to check out Celebration's "Now Snowing" event, which can give off the feel of an actual white Christmas. There are also horse-drawn carriages, old-time carolers, and an ice skating experience.
West Palm Beach: If you want to embrace a nautical, Florida Christmas, consider West Palm Beach. You can see the famous "Sandi Land," a huge Christmas tree made entirely of sand and then decorated with thousands of lights. While there, you can also check out the impressive sand sculptures and watch kids building snowmen.
Yes, you may have to adjust your expectations when celebrating Christmas in Florida. You won't get a true white Christmas, but you can easily have a memorable and festive one. Better still, you can share it with the people you care about.