Holiday season is a magical time of year. Warmth and holiday movies and family and a general, pervading sense of mirth make for a potion that can rejuvenate even the darkest spirits. But let's face it – capturing that holiday spirit can be tricky when you're in a place like sunny Florida, where the temperatures rarely dip below 50 degrees and snow seems more like something from a book rather than an actual meteorological event.
Don't fret, though. There are still plenty of ways to kindle your holiday spirit even in a state that's more at home in summer than winter, and we're here to share them.
Lighthouses have played an important role in the history and development of communities on Florida's East Coast, so this is a great place to celebrate National Lighthouse Day which is coming up on August 7th. National Lighthouse Day was established to celebrate the history of lighthouses, along with their importance to maritime trade, the protection of sailors, and their role in helping coastal communities throughout the country prosper.
There are three historic lighthouses located on Florida's Northeast Coast, all built in the 1800s and preserved beautifully to the present day. We've got all the details you need on the historic lighthouses that you'll spot during your travels along Florida's East Coast.
Any city that's been around for as long as St. Augustine is bound to have its share of spooky corners to explore. That holds true for the country's oldest city; there's so much frightful fun to have here come October! Check out these Halloween attractions in St. Augustine, FL for a terrifyingly good time.
St. Augustine's famous red-tipped lighthouse is one of the city's most popular landmarks. It's also notoriously haunted, having been featured on CNN, Fox News, and even TAPS Ghost Hunters. Discover the lighthouse's paranormal residents on the Dark of the Moon Tour or interact with them on one of the more exclusive Investigation Only tour.
Want to discover what still lurks in the darkest and most forgotten parts of St. Augustine? Then grab your K2 Electromagnetic field monitors, steel your nerves, and secure your spot on the 90-minute Dead Walk tour.
For one of the more family friendly Halloween attractions in St. Augustine, FL, check out Creatures of the Night at the Alligator Farm. Kids will love costuming up and hunting down collectible creature cards throughout the zoo, while the whole family can enjoy the hands-on interactions with the park's creepiest critters.
Sometimes, real life can be just as terrifying as fictional horror stories. So even though the History, Mystery, Mayhem, & Murder Tour warns you it is explicitly not a ghost tour, the macabre and lurid historical tales you'll learn about make it a worthy Halloween attraction all the same.
But if ghost tours are exactly what you're after, why not go for the oldest and best? You'll tip-toe through haunted back alleys guided only by the soft glow of lantern light as you learn about the city's gruesome past and the ghosts it left behind on this award-winning tour. Keep your eyes peeled for supernatural shadows or strange orbs of light; it's all evidence of the paranormal that many tourgoers have experienced.
St. Augustine has been around so long, even its water is haunted. We're only half joking; hop aboard the Schooner Freedom and let Captain Andy Wiggins bewitch you with tales of the country's most haunted seaside. Like many of the attractions on this guide, Haunted Waters bases all its ghastly stories on St. Augustine's own grim history.
Owning a second home in a Florida beach town is a surefire way of knowing you've made it. Year-round sun, palm trees swaying in the wind, and the salty coastal air combine to create an atmosphere of relaxation, warmth, and comfort. In other words, paradise. When you're in the market for a second home, consider shopping for some prime Florida beach town real estate in these seaside cities.
Located on the prized Treasure Coast, Vero Beach offers up some of the most alluring coastal views in the state. Vero Beach's barrier island features 20 miles of gorgeous waterfront vistas from the Indian River on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. Just as charming is the unpretentious retro style on display in downtown Vero Beach, most pronounced in the shining neon lights and art deco storefronts. Featured Vero Beach luxury homes: 3554 Ocean Drive #1201 9309 Orchid Cove Circle 1611 W Camino Del Rio
Ponte Vedra Beach is Northeast Florida's prized jewel. Sitting just 20 miles outside Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra Beach is home to white sand, cool, crystal-blue waters, and multimillion-dollar estates. And, of course, there's the area's largest non-beach attraction: TPC Sawgrass, where golf's legends gather every year for one of the sport's most famous tournaments. Featured Ponte Vedra Beach luxury homes: 8039 Whisper Lake Lane 217 Isle Way Lane 335 Ponte Vedra Boulevard
Daytona is synonymous with stock car racing, and for good reason: it's home to the legendary Daytona International Speedway. But it's also home to dazzling drive-along beaches, clear waters, and the historic Daytona Beach Pier. Racing fan or not, there's a whole lot to love about Daytona Beach. Featured Daytona Beach luxury homes: 3000 N Atlantic Avenue #12 5 Widmer Circle 316 Ocean Dunes Road
Life in Fernandina Beach is akin to a daily personal escape. How could it not be? Lush marshlands and oak-lined trails surround, giving way to 13 miles of private, white-sand beaches. Get out on the water for some of the best deep-sea fishing you'll find in Northeast Florida, or head to historic downtown for tons of shopping and dining opportunities. Featured Fernandina Beach luxury homes: 3 Dunes Court 95094 Arbor Lane 6537 Spyglass Circle
The Nation's Oldest City is rich with culture, charm, and coastal vibes. Historic downtown St. Augustine features a litany of unique shops and attractions like Castillo de San Marco. If the beach is truly calling your name, though, St. Augustine doesn't disappoint. Bask in the laid-back lifestyle of St. Augustine Beach, only five minutes away from downtown. Featured St. Augustine luxury homes: 6 Oceanside Drive 648 Ocean Palm Way 4 Oceanside Circle
Much like St. Augustine, New Smyrna Beach has deep-running historical roots. Not content to live in the past, however, New Smyrna Beach seamlessly blends the old-school with the new to create an aesthetic all its own. This Central Florida oasis is also home to 13 miles of beaches, loads of golf courses, and so much more to explore and enjoy. Featured New Smyrna Beach luxury homes: 3309 Hill Street 6130 Turtlemound Road 5255 South Atlantic Avenue #1402
St. Augustine might not pop into your mind when you think "destination wedding," but maybe it should. The gorgeous city is awash with one-of-a-kind attractions and it drips with historical significance. It also happens to be packed with tons of unconventional and breathtaking places to get married. If the typical churches and venues aren't capturing your imagination, check out these truly unique wedding venues in St. Augustine.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="800"] Tringali Barn | Photo: Tringali Barn[/caption]
Country chic is an immensely popular wedding theme now, and you'll understand why when you see Tringali Barn. The rolling green fields, the shimmering lake, the classic red barn; everything about this countryside venue looks ripped straight out of a fairy tale. For elegance with a touch of country, Tringali Barn is your spot.
Villa Zorayda cuts a striking figure the moment you see its Spanish-inspired architecture towering over the landscape. It's within this enchanting museum you can celebrate your nuptials surrounded by exotic flair. Inspired touches like the beautiful horseshoe arches and romantic hanging brass lamps will give you and your guests a wedding experience like no other.
Okay, we can hear you sighing already. But believe it or not, this venue isn't just for golf fanatics (though it doesn't hurt to love the game). Indeed, the natural beauty of the golf course and golden sunset serve as a picturesque backdrop for your special day. Unique landmarks like the Pool of Unity even makes for eye-popping photo opportunities.
Located in historic downtown St. Augustine, The White Room offers a few different venue options, each more beautiful than the last. There's the Grand Ballroom with its classic wedding vibes or the crisp Villa Blanca, which evokes the purity and sanctity of the moment. Then there's The White Room's rooftop venue, providing stunning waterfront views to accompany your ceremony. No matter which option you choose, you'll end up with one of the most captivating and unique wedding venues in St. Augustine.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Lightner Museum | Photo: Kandice Story Photography[/caption]
For a truly ornate wedding celebration, check out Lightner Museum. The venue was originally built in 1888 by Henry Flagler as the grand Hotel Alcazar. In the century-plus since its inception, it's transformed from flashy hotel to one of the best collections of fine 19th century art in the country while still retaining the exquisite elegance that sets it apart. It's also a surprisingly versatile wedding venue with multiple indoor and outdoor spaces.
In a city full of unique wedding venues, Marineland might be St. Augustine's most one-of-a-kind wedding destination. At this oceanfront playground, you can celebrate your special day with a few extra special guests: the famous Marineland dolphins. Marineland offers three different packages to accommodate large and intimate weddings as well as elopement ceremonies.
There are historical wedding venues, then there's The Treasury on the Plaza, a veritable time capsule ready to transport you several decades into the past for an unforgettable wedding celebration. Situated in the very heart of St. Augustine, The Treasury initially opened in 1927 as the area's central bank. The iconic giant vault doors and classic architecture have since been remodeled to play host not to money, but to ceremonies where memories are made. You can see for yourself just how striking The Treasury is in the photo at the top of this post, courtesy of wedding photographer Ken Thomas.
If the Fountain of Youth can grant you eternal youth, then it can certainly grant your marriage eternal goodwill. At the very least, the fountain and its surrounding archaeological park can serve as a magical setting for your wedding. Views of the Matanzas River and the sight of native exotic peacocks wandering the grounds will transport you to a dream world as you join your soul with another.
One of St. Augustine's most iconic attractions can also play host to your special day. Castillo de San Marcos, the famous St. Augustine fort, presents a unique venue space: you and your spouse will exchange I do's in the verdant lawn overlooking pristine water views. You'll also be able to capture wedding photos amid the historical beauty of the fort itself. The fort's historic significance means you'll need a permit to host your wedding there, but it's well worth the effort.
Is there anything that says Christmas quite like getting the family dressed up and paying a visit to jolly old St. Nick? We don't think so, which is why we've compiled this list of where to see Santa Claus in Jacksonville and St. Augustine. Whether it's a classic photo op in the mall or breakfast with Santa at a local restaurant, there are plenty of ways to make Christmas memories this December.
Time to put the finishing touches on those Christmas lists and get your best sweater on, because Santa has his sleigh parked at the Avenues Mall from now until Christmas Eve. Head here to check his schedule and reserve your time!
Head to Seven Bridges in Jacksonville and grab breakfast with Santa! In addition to a tasty meal, kids get a gift bag of goodies and a personal visit with Santa. Professional photo services will also be available.
From 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., Santa will be at the Embassy Suites in the Southside/Mandarin area of Jacksonville. In addition to enjoying a tasty breakfast buffet, you can bring Toys for Tots donations – and children 12 and under who donate a new, unwrapped toy get in for free.
Santa will be waiting between Tory Burch and Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics. Don't miss your chance to meet the big guy!
Every year, fun park Adventure Landing transforms into WinterFEST, a frosty destination with ice skating and a 130-foot ice slide. And on select dates throughout December, Santa himself will be onsite! Check here to see when Santa is at the park and plan your trip to WinterFEST.
Santa's set up shop at the Orange Park Mall in front of JCPenney through December 21. Reserve your spot here and ensure you don't miss out on your chance to give Santa your Christmas list in person!
Who says Santa doesn't like the beach? You'll find him at the Beaches Town Center every Saturday before Christmas from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Arts and crafts, delicious breakfast buffet, and a visit with Santa – this is what you'll get at Conch House's Breakfast with Santa event. Call them at (904) 829-8646 to reserve your time. Tables will fill up fast!
Head to the food court at the St. Augustine Outlets for a free visit with Santa. Make a donation to the local organizations acting as Santa's helpful elves and you might even find a spot on the nice list!