Ever spent the holidays in Florida? If not, you’ve at least thought about it. Maybe you’re concerned that the “holiday cheer” is diminished by the warm weather. We’re here to dispel that myth. There’s plenty to see and do in Florida in the winter.

Winter events and activities are held throughout the state, from the Emerald Coast down to the Keys. We wanted to call out 12 of our favorites today. Start planning your winter trip and check out these activities ASAP!

Top 12 Winter Activities in Florida

Zoo Miami | Miami

Zoo Miami (also known as The Miami-Dade Zoological Park and Gardens) is the largest and oldest zoological garden in Florida and the only sub-tropical zoo in the continental United States. Zoo Miami’s lush, tropical, open-air exhibits replicate the animals’ natural habitats and allow you to enjoy beautiful and endangered wildlife at a safe, yet remarkably close range. Animals are grouped according to their geographic territories, with species that live together peacefully in the wild placed in exhibits together at the zoo.

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Night of Lights | St. Augustine

During the Christmas holidays, the city of St. Augustine lights up and becomes a festival of twinkling white lights as it hosts its annual Nights of Lights holiday display. Visitors and long-time residents alike are treated to a wonderland of lights adorning the ancient city, beginning at the Plaza de la Constitución, with its stunning holiday tree in the center and oaks strung with lights, and stretching out to illuminate all of St. Augustine’s historic district. From roof shingle to doorway entrance, the downtown buildings take on a glow of holiday cheer, with millions of twinkling white lights covering the historic sites, bed and breakfasts, museums, restaurants and shops of the nation’s oldest city.

St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights celebrates its 28th anniversary this year. The festival traces its origin to the Spanish tradition of displaying a white candle in the window during the Christmas holidays. In 2021-22, the tradition continues, with some three million white lights twinkling on the wonderful old buildings and landmarks along the bayfront and throughout the city’s brick-lined streets. The lights will be up from Saturday, November 20, 2021, to Sunday, January 30, 2022.

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Holiday | Fort Myers

Thousands of lights, hundreds of historic decorations, and one unique holiday experience await you nightly from 5:30 – 9 p.m from November 26 through January 2 (closed on December 25). Enjoy exciting new lighting displays, visits with Santa, carolers and musicians, refreshments, family science shows, and more on select evenings. Plan on at least an hour to enjoy the display.

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History of Diving Museum | Islamorada

The Florida Keys History of Diving Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, displaying and interpreting artifacts, antiques, books, documents, photographs and oral history relative to the History of Diving. They tell the international story of the attempts to explore, understand and venture under the sea. They also celebrate the special role that South Florida and the Florida Keys played in this untold story.

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Santa’s Enchanted Forest | Hialeah

Santa’s Enchanted Forest is the World’s Largest Holiday Theme Park with over 100 Rides, Shows, Games and Attractions. Thousands of visitors come every year to experience the magic of South Florida’s tallest Christmas tree, millions of dazzling lights, hundreds of themed displays, festive Christmas music, delicious foods from around the world, live show entertainment and carnival rides suited for the entire family.

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Winterfest Boat Parade | Fort Lauderdale

The Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade is the “Best Show on H2O” and the traditional kickoff to the South Florida Holiday Season. Bringing together our community and visitors from around the world, this one-of-a-kind parade of beautifully decorated boats of all sizes is a can’t miss extravaganza. With over a million viewers along the 12 mile parade route and an economic impact to Broward County of over $50 million, the parade where the floats really float is a Fort Lauderdale institution.

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Surfing Santas | Cocoa Beach

Before Santa delivers toys and gifts, he’s been breaking away to catch some waves in Cocoa Beach on Christmas Eve morning. Pretty cool, right? The Surfing Santas event is an annual Cocoa Beach tradition that brings hundreds of surfers dressed up as Santa. They’ll ride in on the waves and walk among us barefoot in the sand.

Surfing Santas started on Christmas Eve 2009 when founder George Trosset put on a Santa suit and decided to catch some waves. He had such a great time that the next year he invited some friends to join him and that is how the event has grown over the years.

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Winterfest | Pensacola

Through the magic of Pensacola Winterfest, the moment you enter Christmas Town at the old Courthouse on Palafox Street, the snow begins to fall. A cup of hot chocolate and the sound of a trolley bell bring back memories of the Polar Express. The conductor calls your name: All aboard for the most wonderful journey you’ll take this Christmas season.

The tours and performances light up beautiful Downtown Pensacola from Historic Seville to the Palafox Business District. Join the many different Winterfest characters on journeys through their stories!

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Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival | Palm Beach

This year the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival will celebrate the 14th year as one of the country’s most prestigious and delectable culinary getaways. Held at the quintessential Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach and at select locations on the island of Palm Beach and beyond, the festival showcases some of the world’s most renowned chefs and wine industry leaders through a collection of dinners, tastings, seminars, and more.

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Night Garden | Coral Gables

Walk through Miami’s most gorgeous Garden at night and find it brought to life with stunning illumination, spectacular special effects, and unbelievable surprises for the whole family. Come suspend reality for a few hours and enjoy enchanted activities, such as talking to the wise tree, interacting with our light and sound experiences, and the FairyScope augmented reality app. Plus, dine with some of Miami’s most popular food trucks featuring first-rate food and drink options.

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Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden | Key West

This historic, rare ecosystem provides a safe and educational alternative through these trying times. There are 15 acres of native garden and forest to explore on the six-to-10-foot-wide, ADA compliant boardwalks and nature trails. Visitors have plenty of room for social distancing, walking your dogs and breathing the fresh air under a magnificent open sky in the company of abundant native flora and fauna.  This outdoor refuge is the antidote to the coronavirus blues. Spring and summer are glorious with native plants in bloom and plenty of birds and butterflies as part of Mother Nature’s annual migration wonder.

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Holiday Fest | Key West

Throughout the holiday season, the Harborwalk at the Key West Historic Seaport, stretching from Greene to Grinnell streets, is to glimmer with thousands of holiday lights and displays themed to celebrate Key West’s maritime history. Elements are to include dozens of lighted palm trees, a lobster trap holiday tree and a tree adorned with fishing buoys that resemble giant ornaments.

Holiday Fest’s subsequent highlights include tours of historic lighted inns on two consecutive Fridays, Dec. 10 and 17. Visitors can discover the Yuletide spirit — and Key West’s unique architecture and heritage — by exploring several lavishly decorated bed-and-breakfast properties each Friday. Sweets, treats and libations are to add to the merriment.

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Jen Robertson
Author

Hi, I'm Jen and I love to travel, go to the beach and write about all the places I have visited. I also have a bucket list of places I can't wait to try! I've visited Cape Cod every summer since I was a kid and now enjoy traveling to all great beach destinations, including Florida! I have worked in the travel industry for all of my career. I love sharing my experiences of different restaurants and places and helping travelers find the best fit for them!

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