Christmas in Florida, the Best of the Sunshine State for the Holidays

Florida decks the halls…

Christmas is hotter than ever in Florida!

Thinking of Christmas in Florida? You’re in the right place. There’s no place in America quite like Florida for Christmas. It’s warm, sunny and there’s always room in the sand for one more. So come on over to my neighborhood where we replace egg nog with margaritas and shrimp cocktail with stone crab. This is Florida living. Flip flops welcome.

After living in the sunshine state for more than 17 years, I’ve learned a few things about Christmas Florida style. So, I’m bringing you the best of Florida for Christmas. It’s over the top, bigger than big, and yes…there’s even snow! Here are my absolute favorite, worth your money, worth your gas, and worth your time, places to go, play and sleep in Florida for Christmas.

Drumroll…

Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center, Orlando

Christmas in Florida

Location, location, location! For starters… Situated minutes from world-famous attractions like Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World, this luxury resort property is bringing hospitality to another level. It even blows most Las Vegas casino-hotels out of the water. 4.5 acres of live botanical gardens beneath an indoor atrium emulating 4 different Florida landscapes will raise your brows and drop your jaws. With live animals like Florida alligators, marine life, reptiles, and a complete waterway system of streams and waterfalls, you are getting the grand tour of Florida wildlife.

Christmas in Florida

Yes, an ice slide made of ICE! Everything you see made of ICE!

Now deck these halls with boughs of holly, and you get the most festive hotel in all of Florida, all inside a climate controlled paradise. Think that’s sweet? They have a light spectacular, live Christmas performances and since they are partnered with Dreamworks, they even have character meet and greets with Shrek and friends! This is all included with your hotel reservation…WIN! But the magic doesn’t end there. Take a stroll to Holiday Hall and enjoy Gingerbread crafting and Ice with the classic Frosty the Snowman! You have never seen anything like this before. This cartoon exhibit made entirely of sculpted ice, complete with ice slides, is the coldest place in all of Florida.

FOR MORE INFO ON GAYLORD PALMS ORLANDO CHRISTMAS SEE MY COVER STORY ON THE HOTEL GUIDE

OR VISIT GAYLORD PALMS 

Sea World, Orlando

Killer whales at the Christmas show at Sea World Orlando, FL photo by Killergeek.com

Killer whales at the Christmas show at Sea World Orlando, FL photo by Killergeek.com

I have been to every single theme park in Florida during Christmas, many, many, many times. The magic is not at Disney alone. If you want a smaller crowd with a huge splash (literally and metaphorically) and a bit more magical on the wallets, then hit Sea World. This place is AWESOME for Christmas!

For an AWESOME PHOTO ALBUM on this event click here,

Ricky Brigante’s Flickr page totally rocks this better than I could

Just one of the many light displays in Sea World Orlando. I love these changing lights reflecting off the water... photo by Orlando Sentinal

Just one of the many light displays in Sea World Orlando. I love these changing lights reflecting off the water… photo by Orlando Sentinal

Here’s why: Beautiful lights and festive characters all throughout the park, Christmas market food stands with traditional treats, special Christmas shows throughout the evening, and the crowd is bearable (unlike other well known parks with hours of wait time in lines).

For more information on Sea World Christmas Celebration, Orlando click here

I love this photo from the Ice show by Rick Brigante. see more of his photos at the link above.

I love this photo from the Ice show by Rick Brigante. see more of his photos at the link above.

Busch Gardens Christmas Town, Tampa

This is my official pick of the year right here. Moms if your’e reading this, you know what I mean when I say, “this place is serving memories that will last a lifetime”. Oh and surprise, they are under the same company as Sea World. No they don’t pay me to say that, again this is pure truth from a local.

WOW! This is Busch Gardens’ second year of Christmas Town and it blew me away over, and over, and over, again. Every single part of this entire park is made into a different winter wonderland theme. There are lights, lights, and more lights than I could’ve dreamed of, over a million if your’e counting. The Santa’s House was over the top awesome, it was so magical that it was impossible not to believe in the magic of Christmas; complete with elves, Mrs. Clause, cookies and a special photo with the main man. Another totally cool attraction in the park is the snow! Go tubing, snowball throwing, and play with your family in the enclosed Snow World Presented by Coca-Cola.

For more info on Busch Gardens Christmas Town click here

St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights

Nights of Lights in St. Augustine.

Nights of Lights in St. Augustine.

America’s only medieval city lights up for the holidays. This is one of the most romantic and festive places to be in the United States, and one of the most historic. This year St. Augustine celebrated it’s 450th birthday and marked 500 years of American soil discovery. With family fun places like the Colonial Quarter, the Pirate and Treasure Museum, the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park and Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum and Ghost Tour; there is fun for the whole family.

Here’s a little locals tip, stay at the St. Francis Inn, the staff is amazing, the digs are historic and close to everything, and the breakfast is just downright awesome. The great owners there at St. Francis are Irish bred and if you know The Fairytale Traveler, then you know how much I LOVE Irish hospitality. It really comes out at the St. Francis Inn. If you go, tell little Mr. Zeke I said hello.

Click here for up to date info on Nights of Lights from the Florida’s Historic Coast Visitor’s Bureau


About Christa Thompson

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Christa Thompson is the Founder and Senior Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. Christa has been traveling the world since 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

1 Comments on this post

  1. You should include Mt. Dora in this article. They have sled rides for the kids, a singing Christmas Tree….it is beautiful there during the holidays!

    Victoria Kee / Reply

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