Best Santa Trains and Holiday Lights in Florida - Create Your Own Holiday Traditions.
Even with sunshine and palm trees swaying in the breeze storybook travel is pure fun and during the winter months Florida destinations adorn trees with twinkling lights and excursion trains run just for fun.
Ft. Myers: Seminole Gulf Railway - Christmas Eve Murder Mystery Dinner Train and a Christmas Rail/Boat Train
(Mid December). During the holiday season the Seminole Gulf Railway runs a Christmas Eve - Murder Mystery Dinner Train, based on their popular Murder Mystery Dinner train series, but with a jolly holiday twist. In addition, Seminole Gulf Railway is featuring its annual Christmas rail/ boat train experience which will transport passengers to the old Punta Gorda Train Depot fo rholiday lights and dinner. Bonus points: Ride the Plymoth Rock Special and enjoy a traditional New England Thanksgiving Feast on the train. Daytime Excursion travels north through Fort Myers and then across Caloosahatchee River via the railroad drawbridge and into Northern Lee County, with views only accessible by rail. (Seminole Gulf Railway, Ft. Myers, FL. Toll-free 1-800-SEM-GULF or www.semgulf.com)
Parrish: Florida Gulf Coast Railroad – Hop Aboard North Pole Express & Santa Claus Special
The Florida Gulf Coast Railroad is the home of Florida’s railroad history and this holiday season it celebrates that history with holiday-themed events on board their trains. The North Pole Express invites passengers on a journey to visit with the jolly old elf himself at the North Pole including time for a special gift from Old St. Nick. Along the way carolers regale passengers with songs full of holiday spirit, and everyone enjoys complimentary hot chocolate. In addition to the North Pole Express there is also the Santa Claus Special train which allows passengers to ride the rails with Santa Claus himself – a true holiday treat. Bonus Points:
This rolling rail museum hosts a variety of unique rail experiences throughout the year including a great train robbery. Ride in the caboose or if you are daring rent a locomotive complete with and engineer and learn what it takes to drive the train. (Florida Gulf Coast Railroad, 12210 83rd Street East, Parrish 34219. Toll- free 1-877-869-0800 toll-free or www.fgcrrm.org
) St. Augustine, Annual Nights of Lights
(Mid November to January). The Nation’s oldest (continuously settled) city is alive with the holiday spirit during the Nights of Lights with millions of white lights throughout the historic downtown area. The event has its origins in the Spanish tradition of displaying lighted white candles during the Christmas holidays, and ties in to the city’s 433-year history. In addition to the stunning light displays, the city hosts a dazzling array of special events and activities including nighttime tours led by costumed storytellers, train and trolley tours, art walks, Florida ice skating, holiday concerts, a parade and much more. (Nights of Lights St. Augustine, 32084. Toll-free 1-800-653-2489 or www.nightoflights.com
) Lake Buena Vista: The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights
(Early November to January). The Streets of America back lot area of Disney-MGM Studios will sparkle with millions of lights during this year’s Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. Features of the presentation include choreographed “dancing” lights which swirl and soar to an exhilarating medley of holiday music and “Florida snow” flurries. In addition to the lights, the back lot will host three-dimensional and motion-based displays which celebrate the spirit of the season. Discovery:
There are over 40 hidden Mickey Mouses present in the display, so be sure to keep your eyes open for the little rascal. (Spectacle of Dancing Lights (407) 824-4321 or www.disneyworld.com