Celebrate the Holidays at Florida State Parks

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CONTACT: DEP Press Office, 850.245.2112, DEPNews@dep.state.fl.us

Celebrate the Holidays at Florida State Parks

~Spend time with family and friends at one of Florida's 175 state parks~

Washington Oaks

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection invites residents and visitors to spend quality time and make new memories with family and friends at a state park this holiday season. 

From visits with Santa to holiday hikes and light displays, many parks are hosting special holiday events throughout the month of December. Additionally, while some locations may be closed, most of Florida’s state parks and trails will be open 8 a.m. to sunset on Tuesday, Dec. 25.


Search for Santa Clause Hike at Blackwater River State Park 
Friday, Dec. 21, 2 to 3:30 p.m. CST
Join park staff in the search for Santa Claus while hiking the Juniper Trail. Following the hike, enjoy toasted marshmallows and hot chocolate around the campfire. 

Red and Green Walk at Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park
Tuesday, Dec. 25, noon to 1 p.m. CST
Join a ranger-guided leisurely hike on Christmas day on the 1-mile round-trip ADA-accessible Tarkiln Bayou Trail. Along the way, staff will share their knowledge of native plants found in the park. 


Festival of Lights at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park
Saturday, Dec. 15, 4 to 9 p.m.
The 2018 Festival of Lights flipped the switch on Nov. 30, and will remain ablaze throughout the holiday season until Dec. 24. Enjoy hot cocoa, marshmallow roasting by the bonfire, crafts, snow flurries, a train display, music in the Carillon Tower, and visits with Santa.

Holiday Lights at Ravine Gardens State Park
Saturday, Dec. 15, 5 to 8 p.m.
Watch as the historic Court of States is transformed into a winter wonderland with snow, music, dancing and lights. The event will also feature games, face painting and cookies with Santa.  


Santa Over the Rainbow at Rainbow Springs State Park
Friday, Dec. 14, 6 to 8:30 p.m.
Bring the family to see Christmas lights illuminate the park, and welcome Santa as he floats down the river on his pontoon sleigh boat. 

Holiday Open House at Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park 
Saturday, Dec. 15, 5 to 7 p.m.
Enjoy holiday charm and a twilight tour of the historic farmhouse, decorated with a tree, mistletoe, and fruit and pine boughs. The event will also include live seasonal music and refreshments.


Hammock North Pole at Highlands Hammock State Park 
Thursday, Dec. 13, through Saturday Dec. 15, 6 to 9 p.m.
Take a Christmas sleigh tram ride and enjoy the peace and beauty of the park after dusk. This special holiday event includes a stop at the North Pole, where visitors may depart for a visit with Santa and his elves. 

Seashells and Santa 2018 at Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park 
Sunday, Dec. 16, 1 to 3 p.m.
Enjoy crafts, snacks and pictures with Santa on the beach. Visitors are encouraged to bring a new unwrapped toy, game or book, which will be donated as Christmas presents for children in need in the Southwest Florida region. 


Holiday Moon Gazing Event at Savannas Preserve State Park
Saturday, Dec. 15, 5 to 8:30 p.m.
Get an up-close look at the moon through one of the several telescopes that will be set up by the Treasure Coast Astronomical Society. Additionally, a short, kid-friendly film will be playing continuously throughout the evening starting at 6 p.m.

Christmas Bird Count at Savannas Preserve State Park 
Sunday, Dec. 16, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m
Every year, throughout the Americas, thousands of volunteers collect data on bird populations. Participants should bring lunch, plenty of drinking water, field clothes, binoculars, and a bird ID book if possible.

Learn more about holiday events in your area. Additionally, Florida State Parks Annual Passes and Deluxe Real Florida Passports, which make for great holiday gifts, are available for purchase online and in-person at select parks.