Christmas in Florida – an insider’s guide
Florida in winter has always been an amazing place to take a vacation – and while the weather can be variable, it’s usually gorgeous. Christmas in Florida is extra special in Tampa Bay, starting with the boat parade on the Hillsborough River from early December, right throughout the month.
Between December and late February, holidaymakers from around the world come, in essence, for our weather. There’s sunbathing and swimming in freshwater springs that are 72 degrees all year. In fact, once Labor Day is over, savvy travelers book winter breaks to get the perfect vacation rental – because by Thanksgiving availability lessens. For overseas visitors, remember the Snowbirds who visit Florida for the entire winter and who book between May and August. Beginning September 30, night rentals begin, and by late November generally only weekly rentals and short stays are left.
Tampa – a relaxed winter destination
Tampa is easygoing over Xmas – of course there are wonderful events taking place but they are more laid back. This gives vacation rental visitors time to relax and take Christmas in Florida at their own pace. A Florida Yuletide contains wonderful weather, good old-fashioned Christmas cheer and a peaceful vacation.
What to expect?
- Busch Gardens is a wonderland of wintery delights, lit with thousands of tiny lights. You’ll also find live music, holiday shopping and seasonal entertainment.
- The Henry B Plant Museum hosts a Victorian Christmas stroll every year, comprising fourteen gloriously decorated rooms, antique artefacts, games and activities. Finally, spiced cider and cookies on the veranda make this a delicious sensory experience.
- Bok Towers brings the noise with popular seasonal music at Bok Sanctuary where there’s daily carillon music. All concerts are free with Sanctuary admission. We love the Candlelight Tour of Homes in Old Northeast, undoubtedly one of St. Petersburg’s most historic neighborhoods.
December – February Vacation Rental in Florida
Top tips for a perfect vacation rental indoors:
- No need to pack your stockings – at Erehwon Retreat we’ll hang them ready for your arrival. If you’re staying in the bungalow, they’ll be over the fireplace mantel. Lucky guests spending Christmas in the bungalow also have an oven, so they won’t need the recipe in tip 4!
- Want to cook your own turkey, but staying in the Erehwon Retreat cottage so you don’t have a stove? No worries, we have a recipe for you. Buy a turkey of less 12lb or less, and thaw it thoroughly. Heat some vegetable oil in a Dutch oven or pot big enough to hold it. Fry some onion, carrot and celery just until the onion is translucent and then put the turkey on top of the vegetables. Add around two inches of stock, white wine or water or mixture of all three. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Check every thirty minutes to ensure the liquid level doesn’t drop below an inch, if it does, top it up. After two hours, check with a meat thermometer – the thickest part of the thigh should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Continue to cook for at least another hour, carefully basting the turkey with the liquid every 15 minutes. Remove to a carving board, and cover with tinfoil to relax for 20 minutes before carving. While you wait you can reduce that delicious stock to make gravy!
Top Tips for a perfect Christmas in Florida outdoors:
- Take a stroll, because there is something truly special about wandering through Florida’s lush landscapes in winter. Our wonderful overhead canopy of tree growth is a century’s worth of verdant greenery. One fantastic way to start your day is to take a cup of coffee outdoors and enjoy this beautiful scenery.
- Remember to pack a range of clothing, some warm socks and a lightweight fleece alongside your shorts and sandals ensures you have everything you need to enjoy every minute of your stay.
- If you’ve been sea-shelling, remember many Floridians make their holiday decor unique by showcasing shells from the beach. Why not add yours to a string of lights or use them as decorations on your holiday tree? You’re only limited by your imagination.
- Many grocery stores don’t open on Christmas day, meaning you must buy groceries in advance or book a table at one of the many hotels providing festive fare over Christmas. If you’re lucky enough to be spending New Year’s in Tampa, you can enjoy dinner at The Refinery, Rooster and the Till, or Ella’s American Café.