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?
We live in a city where that’s pretty easy to do. But maybe you’re not quite sure where to start or maybe you’re just a visitor to the area. Either way, there are thousands of reasons to spend your 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. For more information, visit www.nightsoflights.com.
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. For more information on local retailers, visit www.staugustinesocial.com/service-type/retail.
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. For more information, visit www.trolleytours.com/st-augustine/nights-of-lights.
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. For more information, visit www.saintaugustineballet.com.
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 12-5pm and will feature a walking tour through historic downtown to six private homes dating back to the early 1800s. Learn more about the Christmas Tour of Homes by visiting www.gardenclubofstaugustine.org/TourofHomesInformation.
Historic Lodging – There is no shortage of beautiful inns, hotels, and bed and breakfasts dotting the landscape of St. Augustine’s downtown. Whether you’re just visiting or planning a relaxing staycation, a historic setting makes the perfect backdrop. 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 rooms feature rich, hardwood floors, four-poster and antique beds for a mix of Old Florida elegance with a hint of the tropics. For more information on The Kenwood Inn, visit www.thekenwoodinn.com.
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 about the Casa Monica Resort by visiting www.casamonica.com.
Images provided by Florida’s Historic Coast
To find more events in St. Augustine, visit our online calendar of events!