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Holiday Lights at Nights of Lights in St. Augustine

Holiday Activities in St. Augustine and Jacksonville

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Don’t let the balmy weather fool you — northeast Florida has some great winter events for kids of all ages. Here are some of our favorite holiday activities in St. Augustine and Jacksonville.

St. Augustine

Nights of Lights

St. Augustine was selected by National Geographic in 2011 and 2012 as one of the ten best holiday lighting displays in the world and I would agree!  The historic town is transformed in December with a spectacular display of lights.

One of the best ways to experience this magical event is on an evening trolley ride. Trolleys leave from the Visitors Information Center nightly until January 4.  They run continuously from 6:00pm to 8:00pm so even youngsters with an early bedtime can participate. The trip includes caroling, hot cider and cookies as an extra treat. For more details, click here.

A December to Remember

There are a variety of Christmas activities at A December to Remember (formerly known as Winter Wonderland) at St. Augustine Amphitheater. The amphitheater is turned into a playground of winter fun with train rides, bouncy houses and an “Elf Village.” In the evenings, Santa makes an appearance and there is snowfall. The amphitheater is a performing arts arena, so there are also holiday performances and family movies throughout December. Check out the full schedule here.

A December to Remember is one of the fun holiday activities for families in St. Augustine and Jacksonville

Hanging out with Santa and the reindeer at A December to Remember in St. Augustine.

Jacksonville

Adventure Landing WinterFEST

Adventure Landing is an all-ages play place offering mini golf, Go-Karts, a gaming arcade, laser tag and much more. During the holidays it transforms itself into a winter wonderland known as WinterFEST. WinterFEST includes a winding snow village, ice skating, s’mores roasting, cookie decorating, and my kids’s favorite — the Alpine Racer. The Alpine Racer is a 130-foot ice slide which one or two people can ride down on an inner tube.  Wheeeeee! WinterFEST’s schedule can be found here.

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens ZOOLights

At the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens ZOOLights, our kids were allowed to explore the zoo at night as it is was turned into a luminous landscape with thousands of lights, moving sculptures, and animal silhouettes. If your kids aren’t old enough to walk the whole zoo, you can get a great view of the lights on the Zoo’s lighted train.

Besides wandering through the breathtaking light display, families can ride the carousel, see the movie The Polar Express at the 4-D theater, roast marshmallows, and ice skate on a “warm weather ice skating rink”. Although we had been to the zoo before, seeing it during ZOOLights was an entirely different and fun experience. For more details and to buy tickets click here.

One of the magical light displays at ZOOLights at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

One of the magical light displays at ZOOLights at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

If you would like to check out any of these special winter events, a great place to stay to see the sites is Hilton St. Augustine Historic Bayfront.  It is steps away from the lights in Historic St. Augustine, a quick 10 minute drive to St. Augustine Amphitheater, and a 45-50 minute drive to Adventure Landing and the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. Happy Holidays!

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Susan is an enthusiastic traveler and mom to a 11 year-old boy and eight year-old girl. Originally from North Carolina, Susan is a Southerner at heart, although…

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