Being home for the holidays is heartwarming, but if you’re not going to be home, you might as well go somewhere where it’s warm and cozy year round. Just as there are places to go for Thanksgiving, as featured in the Guide for Thanksgiving Weekend Visitors To South Florida, there are plenty of South Florida Christmas-themed activities. See South Florida’s tallest Christmas tree or watch floats literally float across the water in a parade. Then finish it off with some holiday shopping, dinner and a place to sleep in the center of it all. Follow this guide and you’ll find the North Pole in the heart of the south.
Hotel Indigo Miami Dadeland
7600 N. Kendall Drive
Miami, FL 33156
There are plenty of hotels that give you the feel of Miami but not many are in your price range. Hotel Indigo Miami Dadeland is a boutique hotel with an outdoor patio that lets you soak in the Miami sun. The rooms include a king or twin bed, a desk and are spacious enough for families to spread out. Best of all, it’s only minutes away from Santa’s Enchanted Forest, so gas won’t be an issue. If you have a little more dough to spare, you can also try the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables instead and attend a holiday party open to all booked guests.
3300 E. Commercial Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308
Kaluz Restaurant has the best of both worlds: a scenic intracoastal view and a dash of the Christmas spirit. While many restaurants just serve an upscale Christmas dinner, Kaluz serves up a direct view of the Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade. The Winterfest Boat Parade is the annual cavalcade of immaculately decorated yachts and string-lit sailboats cruising The New River and the intracoastal waterway. This year “The Greatest Show on H2O” takes place on December 13, 2014 and instead of finding a seat amongst the grass, you could be eating a gourmet American New dinner in a modern restaurant. Be sure to reserve your seat early as tables fill up early.
The Christmas Palace
9820 N.W. 77th Ave.
Hialeah, FL 33016
You could browse the Christmas section at a department store, or you could visit The Christmas Palace and browse an entire store of Christmas goodies. This permanent fixture in South Florida is open year round but its super bowl is around the holidays. Buy Christmas decorations, trinkets and a tree to make your stay just a little more festive. Bring your friends back a warm souvenir with a Christmas twist or find a little something for yourself. With a selection this large, you won’t run out of gift ideas.
Santa’s Enchanted Forest
7900 S.W. 40th St.
Miami, FL 33155
Have you ever wondered what the state fair would be like at Christmastime? Santa’s Enchanted Forest is the world’s largest Christmas-themed amusement park and it features the region’s tallest Christmas tree. For under $30 per person, adults and children alike can watch countless shows, play games and ride the most awesome rides this side of the North Pole. Spoil yourself by trying the caloric fair food and make your Halloween candy binge look minor in comparison. This is one carnival that will trump Christmas gifts you get this year.
The Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade
512 N.E. 3rd Ave.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
South Florida is obviously big on Christmas, but it doesn’t get much bigger than The Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade. The city of Fort Lauderdale makes use of the intracoastal waterway by turning multimillion dollar yachts into Christmas parade floats. This year’s theme is TV’s Greatest Hits so you can be sure to get a little bit of nostalgia along with your holiday cheer. You can expect some celebrity star power along the lines of past marshals like Debra Norville and Kim Kardashian. The event is free excluding the grandstand and as an added bonus, families can participate in the free Family Fun Day on Sunday, November 23.
Niema Hulin was born in Newark, NJ but raised in Lexington, South Carolina for the bulk of her formative years. In 2002, she moved to Miami after graduating from the University of Florida. Since then, Niema has worked in film, television and commercials as a Production Assistant and Production Coordinator. Some of her films have included Bad Boys II and I Am Number IV. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.