If your vision of Miami is just bikinis and martinis, you haven’t seen Christmas in Miami. During the holidays it’s as magical, festive and special as anywhere with snow or pine trees. Here are some ways to celebrate the holidays, Miami-style:
Santa’s Enchanted Forest
Santa’s Enchanted Forest is the world’s biggest Christmas theme park, with over a hundred rides and attractions. Tickets are $27 for adults, $18 for children age nine and under. The carnival is at Tropical Park, S.W. 40th Street in Miami (open daily at 5pm, October 31, 2013 – January 5, 2014).
Zoo Miami has a Zoo Lights event, where thousands of lights in the shapes of animals are lit up at night from 7pm -10pm (mid December to December 23, 2013). You can also take pictures with Santa, drink hot chocolate, listen to holiday music and go ice-skating. Leading up to Christmas Day, kids can even have dinner with Mrs. Claus. To further explore Miami’s twinkling lights, a Miami Lights Evening Air Tour can be an excellent add on to your itinerary.
The Deering Estate at Cutler
The Deering Estate at Cutler, a 444-acre (180-hectare) historical preserve that blends archeology, nature and education, holds several events around Christmas, like Story Time with Santa (December 14 & 21, 2013), where kids can hear holiday stories in the historic Stone House Ballroom; a Tree Lighting Ceremony (December 6, 2013); a Holiday Bay Cruise (Dec. 15, 2013); and the Deering Holiday Wonderland (December 1 to 31, 2013, from 10am to 4pm), in which the estate itself is decorated for the holidays.
The Miami Children’s Museum
The Miami Children’s Museum puts on several holiday-themed arts and crafts programs. The MCM is a must for anyone bringing kids along on their Miami trip – after all, every third Friday of the month is free from 3pm to 9pm.
Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without The Nutcracker, and the Miami City Ballet has it covered with special effects, George Balanchine choreography, and superb dance talent. Performance locations change throughout the season, so check the schedule for more details.