- Things to Do
- Food & Drink
- Where to Stay
- Travel Tools
From twinkling holiday lights to festive Christmas tree farms, the First Coast is brimming with holiday fun for the whole family.
By Tina Smithers Peckham for Jacksonville Mom
Photos by of Corinna Hoffman Photography
Lack of snow aside, there’s no better place than the First Coast for a fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. From cruising for Christmas lights to quite literally cutting down your own Christmas tree (little full, lotta sap), our fair city and its surrounding areas are bursting with family fun and holiday magic.
Oh, Christmas Tree!
Time to get into the Christmas spirit by decking the halls and trimming that tree. Speaking of trees, if artificial evergreens aren’t your thing, there are an abundance of Christmas tree lots around town. Or, better yet, pack up the family and venture out to one of Northeast Florida’s many Christmas tree farms! Located in Hilliard, A Southern Christmas Tree Farm provides saws so you can cut down your own Florida Christmas tree, along with plenty of holiday fun including nightly bonfires, hayrides, and train rides. And Santa’s Christmas Tree Forest in Eustis offers both choose-and-cut trees and potted trees, as well as a gift shop (lots o’ wreaths!), a petting farm, hayrides, a “Crazy Elf Maze Adventure,” and more. Some of the farms can be as much as an hour drive, so fuel up beforehand with some holiday lattes and treats courtesy of Jacksonville’s many local coffee shops. Located in Neptune Beach, Southern Grounds offers a delicious seasonal menu of drinks and treats, while The Mini Bar in Jacksonville Beach brews Bold Bean Coffee and is brimming with several varieties of house-made doughnuts.
Find the perfect holiday tree for your family with Jacksonville Mom’s Guide to Christmas Tree Farms In & Around Jax.
All the Holiday Fun
Is it truly even the holiday season if you haven’t gone cruising for Christmas lights? Jacksonville is sparkling with tons of twinkling lights displays! You can stroll on foot through the Deck the Chairs sculptural lights exhibit featuring several iconic lifeguard chairs in all their gorgeously decorated glory. Or remain in the comfort of your car with a festive drive through Jax Illuminations, including a full mile of thousands of dancing lights and beloved holiday characters. Other favorites include the annual ZOOLights exhibit at Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens and St. Augustine’s annual Nights of Lights, just south of Jacksonville.
And don’t forget to give St. Nick a visit — there are several places throughout the area where you can see Santa Claus and give him all your Christmas wishes. He will be at St. Johns Town Center through Christmas Eve and also at the Amelia Island Welcome Center throughout two weekends in December. Don’t want to leave the house? There are also a variety of ways to interact with the big guy virtually!
Other family-friendly holiday events we are looking forward to include Adventure Landing’s Winterfest, Dashing Through Downtown event, the First Coast Nutcracker with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, The Gingerbread Extravaganza, Merry and Bright Movie Night and the Holly Jolly Jekyll Parade in history Jekyll Island.
For more family fun, check out Jacksonville Mom’s Guide to Tree Lightings and Holiday Lights Displays, Where to See Santa In & Around Jacksonville, and Family-Friendly Holiday Events in Jacksonville.
The Perfect Presents
’Tis the season to give! Need great gift ideas? Look no further than several of the local shops and boutiques throughout Jax! From clothing and accessories to unique kids’ clothes and toys to fancy food and drinks, we’ve got you covered. For the littles, the Montessori-inspired Bay & Bee play space offers gift cards, at-home activity boxes full of crafts and products, and an extensive retail space with tons of toys and giftables for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. In addition, the mom-owned Villa Villekulla toy store recently opened a new location at St. Johns Town Center and is a great place for unique finds for littles and big kids alike — or visit their flagship location in Fernandina Beach. For kids’ clothing, shoes, and accessories, Kyds Children’s Boutique in Neptune Beach is a must!
For family, friends, and coworkers, visit Fig & Willow and Jaffi’s for women’s clothing and gifts, both located in Neptune Beach. (And be sure to check out Fig & Willow’s newest location in San Marco!) For the beauty and wellness lovers in your life, check out DryBar, Solé Spa Wellness Center, and Degree Wellness for products, services, and gift cards.
For more, visit ShopJax: A Locally Sourced Holiday Gift Guide and Jax Mom Favorites: Small Business Holiday Edition.