The Holidays in St. Augustine, Florida
Sure, we all love the holidays. But sometimes they can feel like the same old, same old. Year after year, you attend the same Christmas parties, wrap similar square-shaped boxes, bake dozens of cookies and struggle to maintain your pre-Thanksgiving weight. What if you did something different this year? What if you spent the holidays creating new experiences and memories with your close friends and family?
St. Augustine, Florida is home to one of the most famous holiday lighting displays in the world. It’s also the Nation’s Oldest City having been continuously occupied by European-established settlements since 1565. And did we mention that this little city by the sea is situated on the Atlantic Ocean and boasts miles upon miles of white, sandy beaches?
There are thousands of reasons to spend the holidays in St. Augustine. Here are just a few of them.
Nights of Lights – Every year, millions of twinkling lights cover the cityscape of St. Augustine from November 18, 2017 and continuing nightly through January 31, 2018. Come see why Nights of Lights was selected by National Geographic in both 2011 and 2012 as one of the best holiday lighting displays in the world as you journey through old town by trolley, on foot or from a horse and carriage ride. Learn more here.
Support Small Businesses – Even if you’ve decided to forgo gift-giving this year, St. Augustine has hundreds of small, locally owned shops with one-of-a-kind items you won’t be able to find at home. Dozens of art galleries dot the cityscape featuring local artists creating everything from glass wind chimes to metal art. Tour an artisan chocolate-maker or pick up some holiday spirit at the St. Augustine Distillery, which produces small-batch gin, rum, vodka and bourbon. Learn more about holiday shopping here.
Holly Jolly Trolley – One of the best ways to experience St. Augustine’s famous Nights of Lights is aboard Old Town Trolley’s Holiday excursion dubbed the “Holly Jolly Trolley” by locals. Enjoy complimentary cider, cookies and caroling as well as super-cool, winter-themed viewing glasses that turn millions of tiny lights into snowmen, Christmas trees and other holiday favorites. Tickets are $6 for children and $14 for adults. Learn more here.
The Nutcracker – Mother Ginger, the Sugar Plum Fairy and Mouse King all come alive in St. Augustine Ballet’s annual rendition of The Nutcracker with shows slated for Saturday, December 16 and Sunday, December 17 at 1:30 pm and 7 pm at Flagler College’s Lewis Auditorium. Some of the area’s most talented dancers join local celebrities and guest artists in this holiday classic. Tickets are $20-$30 each. Learn more here.
Christmas Tour of Homes – Each year, The Garden Club of St. Augustine hosts its annual “Christmas in the Flagler Era” inspired by the Gilded Age opulence of oil tycoon and railway magnate, Henry Morrison Flagler. This year, the Christmas Tour of Homes will be held on Sunday, December 3 from 12 pm to 5 pm and will feature a walking tour through historic downtown to six private homes dating back to the early 1800s. Learn more here.
Historic Lodging – There is no shortage of beautiful inns, hotels and bed and breakfasts dotting the landscape of St. Augustine’s downtown. Built in 1865, The Kenwood Inn on Marine Street is an ideal locale for your holiday stay in the Nation’s Oldest City. Individually decorated guest room’s feature rich, hardwood floors, four-poster and antique beds for a mix of Old Florida elegance with a hint of the tropics. Learn more here.
Rest & Relaxation – Erected in 1888 and a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Historic Hotels of America, the Casa Monica Resort & Spa is the perfect spot for rest and relaxation while taking in the famous Nights of Lights display. Located on Cordova Street across from Flagler College, Casa Monica blends Moroccan-inspired décor with modern conveniences and the brand new, full-service Poseidon Spa. Learn more here.